Monday, November 9, 2009

Small Independent Publishers

copyright by Deborah J Ledford

First of all, let me say what an honor this is to appear on the Murder by 4 blog. I have been a follower of this unique and insightful writers site since its inception and I truly appreciate this opportunity.

When it came to publishing my debut thriller I made the decision to go with the small independent press Second Wind Publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I tried going the big publisher route, even had an agent pitching “A” tier editors at houses for the second book in my thriller series, however I grew quite tired of waiting for others to decide when it was time to be published.

The downside is that small indie’s rely on the authors to promote their own books. Authors of Second Wind are fortunate to have an excellent promotion and PR guru, the talented novelist Pat Bertram who also hosts an excellent writers blog Bertram’s Blog, who spends endless hours touting Second Wind books. Many small houses don’t have in-house PR ability.

As for what I do to create awareness, months before the release of my debut thriller I began establishing a presence on the social sites Facebook, Goodreads and Gather. The plan is to send out personal invitations to each of my “friends” on these sites, but this will take time…a lot of time—unfortunately, time away from writing—but what better way is there than to spread the word virally?

Big publishers push their authors’ new releases quickly and with a loud bang because they only have two weeks to establish a presence for these new titles. During this short timeframe their push is to get these books on bestseller lists and pay for premium space at big box stores and on front tables in Barnes & Noble and Borders. Beyond that amount of time, sales either take off or the books are shelved with the other thousands of books, discounted, or sent back to the publisher as returns. However, small independent titles have a never-ending shelf life. These titles can be touted, for years if necessary, until the writer releases a new book.

If you’re like me, I find typos in nearly every big publisher’s books I read. Another element small independent publishers and their authors have going for them is the ability to make immediate changes in the books. Files are generated in Word for the Print Proofs, therefore irritating typos can be rectified for the next print run.

Independent Presses also tend to be more open to the latest technology. My publisher offers not only printed versions of their books, but also a PDF download, all are available for the Kindle, and many of the titles are available for virtually every Portable Entertainment Device through services such as Smashwords and Mobipocket.

The biggest advantage I found in going with a small indie is the control I have over the end product. My publisher allowed me to keep the title, cover concept, and every creative element I found imperative in order to showcase my original vision. I’ve heard horror stories from writers with big publishers who have been allowed no such control—a few even had to change their name to suit their editors. As a first-time writer, when you sign a big publisher’s contract you are essentially signing over work to a board to individuals who often have a hidden agenda. In many cases you will need to undergo a rewrite that no longer resembles your true vision. Their main goal is to sell as many copies of “your” book as possible, but it is really worth the cost to the writer’s soul?


Additional to her recently published debut novel STACCATO, Deborah J Ledford is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Her award-winning short stories appear in the print publications Arizona Literary Magazine, Forge Journal literary magazine, Twisted Dreams Magazine, AnthologyBuilder and the collections “Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales,” two Red Coyote Press mystery anthologies, and the mystery anthology “How Not to Survive the Holidays” published by the Sisters in Crime chapter Desert Sleuths.

You can visit her on the web here: Deb's Site


Anonymous said...

Hi, Deborah! I was thrilled when you decided to submit Staccato to Second Wind. For small independent publishers to gain respect and recognition, they need quality books, books that are not just as good as those published by the major presses but that surpass them. Staccato is such a novel -- excellent writing, wonderful images, real characters. You grace us all by your presence.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Most authors, unless they are really big name, even if they are published by a New York publisher, still have to promote their own books.

Of course with the small publishers--and I'm published by two of them--the author must promote if they expect to sell any books.


Marta Stephens said...

Deb, what an on-the-mark article. My first two books are with a small press and can appreicate everything you've mentioned here. I'm currently working on a novel that is not part of my Harper series and I'm toying with the idea of seeking respresentation to attract the interest of a large publisher or go with another small press. So far, the small press idea is more appealing.

Thanks so much for you sharing your wisdom with Murder By 4!

Sheila Deeth said...

It seems like more and more of the books I enjoy are from small presses. But finding them in bookstores can be so hard. I assume that must be as frustrating for the author as for the reader.

By the way, Pet Bertram's on my blog today, telling her writers' journey.

s.w. vaughn said...

Thanks for being here, Deb!

This is an excellent look at indie publishing. It really does have several good points. Another is access to readers - through my indie pubs, I get to chat and network a lot more than I will be doing with the big publisher.

Best of luck to you!

Kim Smith said...

So glad to see you here Deb!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Deb. Thanks for guest blogging on MB4 today. ;o) Your piece is spot-on, with many good points. But I'm most interested in your book. I've loved all of Pat Bertram's books, and know her pub chooses high quality writers. Your title intrigues me - I use all musical terms in my LeGarde series book names (Double Forte', Upstaged, Tremolo, Mazurka, Firesong, Virtuoso, Portamento, Counterpoint, and Lady Blues)I love Staccato - great title! Tell us more about it!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks for the post, Deb. I just signed with a small Canadian publishing house, and I'm thrilled. They accept very little fiction from Aboriginal authors, so when they accepted my ms, it took a few weeks for the news to sink in. I've heard enough horror stories from friends published by the big guns to feel very appreciative of my present circumstances.

Deborah J said...

I'm so pleased to see all the comments here. Thank you so much for your interest in STACCATO and my road to publication. Kudos go to Second Wind for allowing me to present the vision I always intended for the novel.

Aaron, here's the logline for STACCATO: Three world-class pianists. Two possible killers.
One dead woman. Who is her murderer? Who will be next?
STACCATO: Retribution played double-time

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Joylene! Congrats on your new publisher. Way to go! ;o)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Deb - love that tagline! My father and grandfather were classical music professors (piano) so I love that topic. ;o)