Below is a comment from a concerned writer about publisher picks:
My longer fiction is reserved for genre publishers my agent and I trust, after seeing their longterm performance.
My comments and experience:
Yes, mine too. She definitely storms the doors of the large, well
known commercial publishers and independents. However, my agent (when it
comes time) must diligently work a small press contract with much more
scrutiny than the larger pub houses. It's because there is so much
variation in small press contracts. I've seen 7.5% net on paperbacks and
20% net on e-books, with others offering slightly higher royalties.
Heh, this is an outright holdup.
Some e-book publishers actually insist that the author do ALL the
formatting of the book, e-book and paper, for retail placement. And they
claim that an author is responsible for supplying the blurbs--front and
back matter. Some small press owners are the sole editors of the book
because they cannot afford outside professionals.
Some will not make an expenditure for copyright, leaving that to the author.
Others SPs want World Rights for the life of the book or for unusually long contract durations, like six, eight or 10 years
I actually think that my small press credit history, which is very
sizable, hurts my chances for larger deals because after reviewing my
stats for any given book they show lackluster or even close to
non-existent sales. In the eyes of NYC publishers I've tanked with every
one of my books and their risk of publishing me are much higher. And if
you don't believe that a large house won't do a deep probe on your
publishing history, you have another thing coming.
A small press publisher might make some money if their author stable
comprises 30 to 50 (I've seen triple digit) individuals who sell in low
but consistent numbers. It adds up because the emphasis is on quantity.
This is where you approach or end up in an author mill. Mundania is a
prime example of a publisher who has an excess of authors, while they do
not invest in any significant marketing or promotion. With the profits
Mundania has made over the years there has been no attempt at legitimate
distribution outside of the Internet. I know dozens and dozens of these
small publisher types.
Distribution is critically important for the success of a book, along
with submissions to important and well known review sources that have
large and influential readership bases.
I am relatively stuck in the small chasm for a few titles. They've come
to the end of their agent sub trail. For 16 contract offers over a year
for both books, 14 of them have been kicked to the curb. The highest
advances won out. This might tell you something about the quality and
fairness of their contracts.
Advances say something about a publisher--they are equally, if not more
invested in the sales of your book. Royalty only publishers claim that
they pay no advances because they offer the highest royalty rates, which
is habitually untrue because these percentages are all over the map and
most of them are on Net proceeds which can vary in the extremes and
Small press publishers might give wings (so to speak) to a breakout book
while they leave the majority of birds languishing in the nest.
Small press has a terrible time managing their money and paying their
editors and cover artists a decent wage for work performed. Many of them
are late on royalty payments when the retail numbers have been turned
in. Lots of small presses flat-out fold within a year or two. Some can
go for several years and then have a catastrophic meltdown, filing for
chapter 13 and tying up copyright by failing to provide reversion.
Is there any wonder why self-publishing has skyrocketed in the past five-six-seven years or so?
In short, small press must shine and have, at least, nearly all their
ducks in a row. Then comes some notoriety. An expanded readership base
results--and this translates to sales. It IS all about money, to keep a
publisher afloat and their stable of authors happy.