With hundreds of independent publishing companies producing work, writers—both professional and recreational—have more opportunities than ever before. These literary venues often offer a specific publication direction; some specialize in flash fiction, while others prefer lyric essays. Working within a category can increase your chances of publication, but it can also feel restricting. Edmonton Small Press is working around this issue by publishing work from all genres on all topics.
If, however, you want to work with a standard small press, we don’t want to stop you; the benefits of working with an independent publisher are manifold. Below, we have listed our top reasons for working with a small, independent press.
1. Small presses often have more contract flexibility. A large, traditional press will generally offer an author somewhere between 5% and 15% of gross royalties. Publishing through a small press may result in as much as a 50/50 net royalty split, and you have a greater chance of retaining subsidiary rights to your work. Negotiations are also easier; you will come to know the people working on your project, and they are more likely to hear you out.
2. A small press will allow more editorial control. At a larger press, manuscript changes are difficult to address and control. In most cases, a smaller press will allow you to be more transparent about the changes you would like to make to the final product
3. Small presses will often run the production and distribution processes for the author. If you work with a larger publisher, a production schedule can stretch on for more than a year. A smaller press has fewer projects and can therefore devote the time and resources necessary to turn your project into a reality. It can take as little as three or four months to turn a draft into a launch.
Have you heard the news that small press publishing companies are a dying breed? Well, don’t believe everything you read. With more than 500 small presses in operation today, this sector of the publishing industry isn’t exactly an endangered species. Many of them even maintain viable, robust print publishing operations.
Unfortunately, not all of them have the best track record in looking out for their authors. Look around the web and talk to people you know, and you’ll find some of the best and some of the worst experiences come from working with small presses. It’s really night and day. Some of them are set up and deploy deceptive publishing practices so as to cover their own risks at the expense of the treatment of the author. Some of them are downright scams. Again, we’re talking about dozens of bad apples among hundreds. Many of them fall somewhere in a gray area that they’ve deemed necessary for survival. Indeed, the small press is a volatile, surprisingly competitive market that draws on audiences from local communities, online communities, individual interests, and collegiate affiliations.
The Edmonton Small Press can offer some recommendations in specific genres that may have flown under your radar until now. Have a personal essay or piece of literary nonfiction you want to submit to a literary-minded small press, for example? We recommend River Teeth, but there are a ton of great options. To wit, we couldn’t possibly claim to tell you one-by-one which of the small press publishers you can trust and what you can expect from them and what their publishing model looks like. At least not yet.
In addition to providing an opportunity for writers to get paid something for the “stuff they write on the side,” we’re working to build out our reviews and general tips for submitting work to and then working with a small press publisher. As uncertain as the future of print publishing may be, the future of small presses themselves are looking as strong as ever. It’s much like the notion that “nobody reads poetry anymore,” when in fact more people read poetry today than ever. It’s just that nobody talks about it.