Friday, October 14, 2011

Why I’m Happy with My Small Press Publishers

© Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith 2011 all rights reserved

Recently, I attended a writers’ conference that gave a lot of information about epublishing. One of the main speakers was Mark Coker who owns and runs Smashwords. He had a lot of interesting information to impart, the majority about Smashwords and how you can publish an e-book through them. One of his comments, though, was that Smashwords publishes anything—the good, bad and ugly.

He cautioned anyone using Smashwords to make sure the writing was as good as possible, the manuscript properly edited and that the cover professional looking with all the correct information. He shared some examples of covers that were awful.

I’m sure everyone knows about publishing on Kindle too, but the same cautions apply: a good book first, properly edited and a professional looking cover.

With both entities, you must follow their guidelines to put it in the proper format so it flows and looks as a book should.

I write two series, producing two books a year. My goal, of course is to produce a good book. Every chapter I write is heard and critiqued by my writing group. Of course, I do multiple rewrites, and I have a couple of beta readers.

When I send off my book to either one of my publishers I know that the book will be edited once again. I’ll get to go over the galley proof. The formatting of the book will be done by the publishers. For one publisher, I have a questionnaire to fill out about what I’d like or not like for the cover of the book, the other publisher asks me informally. I don’t have to design the front, back and spine of the cover. If I don’t like what the cover artist has come up with, I can ask for changes.

Both my publishers do trade paperbacks using the POD printing process and see that the books get onto the proper book sites. They both also make sure that the book is set up for all the e-book readers.

Some promotion is done by both publishers, books are sent out for review—though I still have to do a lot of the promoting. No matter who I was published by, I’d have to do the major share of the promotion.

Frankly, I barely have enough time to do what I’m doing now, writing and promoting my books, I don’t want to take the time to first learn how to produce an e-book and then do it. I have a life to live too.

I’m quite happy to let both my publishers, Mundania Press (publishes my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series) and Oak Tree Press (Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series), do what they do far better than I would do—or even want to do.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith
Latest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series: BEARS WITH US

CONTEST DETAILS: Would you like to be immortalized in print? Marilyn Meredith is running a contest during her BEARS WITH US virtual book tour. Whoever leaves a comment on the most blog sites during the tour, will have his or her name used for a character in Marilyn’s next book. Please visit for her entire schedule. Good luck!


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

Thank you, Murder by 4 for allowing me to speak my piece. I'd love to hear what others have to say.


Anne K Albert said...

Food for thought, Marilyn. I agree with the advice of editing and having a great cover. Like you, I'm happy with my publisher, but also curious about trying it on my own.

It's an exciting time to be an author. So many possibilities!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for having Marilyn as your guest today. This is a great topic. I know I love my small press publisher too. Like Anne, I think it's an exciting time to be an author.

Wishing you the best,


Jean Henry Mead said...

A number of my books were recently orphaned and we've been busy placing them back online in print, Kindle and Nook. The process is time consuming but worth the effort. Photoshop makes designing book covers easy if you're good at taking photos for the background. Kindle produces the most sales and I've heard from other writers that Smashwords only accounts for about 5% of sales, so we haven't gone there.

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

Hi, Anne, I wish I had time, I'd try it, but I barely can get done what I need to do each day.

Cheryl, you're a peach for many reasons.

Jean, I admire the fact that you're doing it on your own--but I notice you said "we"--I don't have anyone who could possibly help me with Kindle and Nook.

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

Oh, and a P.S. Mark Coker of Smashwords started out with doing the work himself, then he had to have his wife help him, and when I talked to him after his talk, he said he had to hire 6 more people.

carl brookins said...

Good col. Marilyn. Sage advice re editing and rewriting.
Folks, don't sell Smashwords short! If your books makes it to their premium calendar it goes to a bunch of e-tailers and that can only increase your circulation.

WS Gager said...

Interesting post Marilyn. Like you I barely can find time to write. I seem to be obsessing about promotion. I don't want to learn how to do my own publishing!
W.S. Gager on Writing

The Daring Novelist said...

I'm sticking to self-publishing for the time being, but I hope (and expect) to see that as changes shake through the system, small publishers will see a real blossoming.

Small publishers provide a personal touch for both authors, and _readers_, and also have a more flexible business model.

Coco Ihle said...

One word of caution. I am with a small publisher, too, and have found out I am not eligible to be on a panel or recieve an award at some mystery conventions because my publisher is not approved by Mystery Writer's of America. Convention booksellers also will not order my books. They have to be consigned. If I had it to do over, I'd try to get a publisher who is listed on the MWA site.

Marta Stephens said...

Marilyn, welcome back to Murder By 4! It's always such a pleasure to host you.

My affiliation with a small press began in 2007 when the published the first book in my Sam Harper series and I have to say, they've been very good to me. They have an excellent editorial team and graphic artists. They've also been instrumental in promoting my novels, and getting me interviews and reviews. I agree with you that no matter how large the publisher, the bulk of the marketing and promotions falls squarely on the author's shoulders.

Coco brings up an excellent point too. I used to get so frustrated when my novels weren't showing up at conferences. I don't like the limitations either, but I've come to accept them only because my readers enjoy the books and in the end, that's all that matters!

I have a stand alone book in the hands of an agent (no news in a while though). I also considered trying my hand at self-publishing, but the idea of not having a publisher and editor backing my work makes my skin crawl. So, I'm staying where I am. :)

All the best with "Bears With Us!"

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

Hey, Carl, thanks for stopping by.

Wendy, I'm with you, I'm struggling to find the time to write--but I'm doing it.

The Daring Novelist, I've been so fortunate with my latest two publishers.

And Coco, I've been on panels at Bouchercon, LCC, and all the smaller cons. Sometimes I have to bring my books, other times not. But at the big cons, you probably aren't going to sell many books, too many big name authors--have fun and meet readers.

Again, thanks, Marta. Love this blog.

Jenny Milchman said...

I'm glad there are a range of publishers--from self to the big 6--so that writers can find which one fits them at this particular time, and for this particular book. It's upsetting when there's a disconnect, and the writer feels frustrated either not being able to be at a bigger house--or not being able to get rights back and go out on his or her own.

I waited 11 years, trying to break in, before getting a deal with a traditional publisher. It will still be 15 months before my book is out. That's one of the drawbacks to that route.

But the excitement of having a whole team behind you, as Marilyn says, an editor who knows my book better than I do, the marketing people who know *everything* better than I do ;) makes it just the right path.

I'm glad you've found your right fit, too, Marilyn--and hope that every writer here does as well.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Marilyn,

Like you, I am published by two different independents. They edit my work in a professional manner. Although I have input into the cover design, they create professional covers for my work and send it out to many reviewers. I'm a bit too tech challenged to start doing my own e-books. However, I greatly admire those who can create a quality product on their own.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE TRUTH SLEUTH--check it out at your local library

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

Jenny, I know that you'll do well, I just got too old and had written too many books to wait for one of the big 6 (if that's how many are left now).

Jacqueline, it's great when any of us can find publishers we're happy with--and are happy with us.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Marilyn! Just back from a non-Internet weekend visiting my mother in Mass, so I'm late commenting. Loved your article - so many truths in there. I'm crazy about my small press publisher - Twilight Times Books. It's nice to have a pub who is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and who is featured off and on in Publisher's Weekly Magazine - it's a genuine nod of "approval" from the big boys out there.

I will check out your new book - I have several of yours on my Kindle to read - can't wait to get to them! Thank you so much for being here with us at MB4, we love it when you are our guest!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I think it's a good idea for every writer and author to sit down and figure out what they do and don't want out of being an author. For you, that means small press and not having to deal with all the formatting and making/buying covers. For others, it'll mean other things. But to have it worked out already takes a lot off the mind, eh?