The internet has been a blessing to fiction writers all over the world. There are so many outlets for writers to get their work published and out for people to see that, really, any writer can find at least a small degree of success.
With the self-publishing boom, and the availability of print-on-demand and ebooks, it’s never been easier to publish a novel. And if you’re willing to put the work in and spend countless hours marketing your novels, you even might make a name for yourself self-publishing.
But self-publishing is not the only option. There are also the small press publishers. Small press companies spring up all the time in various formats. And thanks to the internet, they no longer have to try to pry their way into indie book stores and coffee shops to find an audience. Thanks to the print-on-demand sites, just about anyone can start up a publishing company to produce print and electronic journals.
This brings a tremendous opportunity to new writers of all genres.
When it comes to short stories, small publications, due to the fact that they are, well, small, generally pay a fraction of what the more established publications pay. This fact alone helps open the doors for new writers. If you look at the newer, smaller markets on a site like duotrope or ralan, you’ll see that the smaller markets often have a much higher acceptance rate and a much lower number of submissions than the professional payers.
As an example, my ezine, Theme of Absence, has an acceptance rate around 25%. And even at that rate, I’m still turning down a ton of quality stories. So while submitting to a small press token paying site means you have less competition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality of the submissions are any lower. But it does mean that with a smaller slush pile, your story will have a better chance to stick out.
The other great thing about submitting to small press markets is that it’s a win-win situation. Just like you and me, the new and aspiring writers, these folks are aspiring publishers. The more they grow, the more exposure your story gets and the more prestigious their publication looks on your writer’s bio. Likewise, if you “make it”, you’re helping them by giving them your name value.
But as for novels, be careful with your small publisher. It’s not uncommon for a small or medium book publisher to forgo an advance payment and pay on a post-sale royalty only. I’m okay with that, and that’s how my book publisher pays me.
But if a small press wants you any money from you, either in actual payment or in the form of purchased copies, than they are not a publisher. Call them a vanity press, or whatever you want to call them, but either way, stay away from them and never give a “publisher” money. So be careful; there are lots of publishing scams out there.
But let’s end on a positive note: Whether you’re looking to self-publish, or submit your work the traditional way, don’t forget that you’ve got so many options that you never need to feel discouraged. If one route doesn’t work, keep trying until you find one that does.
What about you? Have you had any experience with small publishers? Negative or positive, leave a comment and let us know!