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Thread: Go with small publisher?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Go with small publisher?

    My issue is that I have some agents looking at manuscripts and proposals. I also got strong interest from a smaller agency, and they do indeed get deals but relatively small places: Fairchild, New Page Books, Rowman & Littlefield, or Potomac Books, and AMACO. Hard to tell what is too mall, what is glorified vanity press, or what my options are. Anyone familiar with these publishers?

    I am also curious about university presses? My book is pretty scholarly. Obviously I want a best seller, but as first time author without a major platform, where can I still get published with some credibility? the above presses may well be but am just a little unsure.
    Last edited by timtimmerson; 02-01-2013 at 05:42 AM. Reason: clarify

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW areteus's Avatar
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    Define scholarly? University presses usually deal with stuff that is of interested to students and university lecturers and therefore tend to sell at high prices in low volume - not best seller material. if your book is a proper, peer reviewed, accepted scholarly study of a subject then this may be a good place for it as it is unlikely to get a great deal of interest outside of academia... though some University press books do seem to make it on the outside, I think they are the exceptions. It may depend on how mainstream acceptable your writing is and whether the topic is of current interest in the world outside academia.

    If your work is being considered by agents already, surely you should wait until they have had their say before deciding? Are all the agencies you have sent this to aware that you are making simultaneous submissions? It's usually ok to do that but I think they like to know there may be someone else interested in it. If it were me, I'd have sent it to all the agents I could find on the list for my specific area, waited until they had all replied and if they all replied No then considered either smaller publishers or self publishing.

    I am also concerned that you seem to consider this smaller agency not 'legit'. Do you have any grounding for this accusation? If you have any suspicions of them being dodgy in any way you should avoid them like the plague. If, however, you are merely referring to them not being a big hitter in the industry, I'd consider using a less inflammatory word. A good place to look for the reputation of publishers or agents is the predators and editors page and the bewares and recommendations forum on this site. Search the forum first to see if the name appears already and if not post a thread on it. You'll very quickly get replies with opinions and evidence of any malfeasance or suspicious goings on.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by areteus View Post
    Define scholarly? University presses usually deal with stuff that is of interested to students and university lecturers and therefore tend to sell at high prices in low volume - not best seller material.
    Thank you. Well, I didn't "accuse" anybody of anything, but you have a point and I did make an edit. What I really mean is that one of the agencies is exclusively working with smaller publishers. I am a little paranoid/careful, but I have read about some small publishers that you don't need nor should you get agent to submit for you, though others seem to say that it is still better because the agent will know the publisher,and get you a better deal, etc. Further, it seems some pubs are so small you don't even get an advance.

    Long story short, if I can;t get a top six publisher, I will do whatever I have to, I just want a credible publisher. Maybe the above are perfectly fine, small publishers and I am overreacting, I don't know.

    Any insights on small publishers?

    Any insights on

  4. #4
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    /...I'll add that, people on this board had raised certain issues with this agency before--the agent also ran a small publishing service of some type and they co-authored with a lot of people and people had questions about conflict of interest, etc. The agent came on the board and answered some questions. The agency may very well be completely above-board, but I can't say 100% of all doubt had been erased. So, I am checking out everything I can.

  5. #5
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Of the small publishing houses listed, Rowman and Littlefield is highly reputable. Don't know about the others.

    Blessings,

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  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I would suggest making a list of the top 5 publishers you really (but realistically) want to publish the book, and asking if they would query them and if they have any contacts there.

  7. #7
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Adding links:

    Fairchild Books accepts submissions direct from writers.

    New Page Books
    don't require agents and are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.

    Rowman & Littlefield
    accepts submissions direct from writers.

    Potomac Books
    accepts submissions from writers without the involvement of agents.

    AMACO: this was all that I could find.

    I am suspicious of agents who only submit to publishers which are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.

    This agency might be fine, but it does sound to me as though there might be better agents and agencies out there. But without knowing who it is, it's difficult to tell.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Adding links:

    Fairchild Books accepts submissions direct from writers.

    New Page Books
    don't require agents and are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.

    Rowman & Littlefield
    accepts submissions direct from writers.

    Potomac Books
    accepts submissions from writers without the involvement of agents.

    AMACO: this was all that I could find.

    I am suspicious of agents who only submit to publishers which are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.

    This agency might be fine, but it does sound to me as though there might be better agents and agencies out there. But without knowing who it is, it's difficult to tell.
    AMACOM--my fault.

    Thanks.

    Ya, I have a couple of other agents I am waiting to hear back from but i am starting to see what all of my options really are.

    I just don't know the industry that well and I hadn't really thought about really small publishers. I have read what you said some others also say that it still makes sense to have an agent because it still increases your chances and they are likely to make up their 15% by knowing the ropes and the pub. I don't know.

    Otherwise, it would be a slight blow to my (large) ego, but I don't really want to self-publish either. I am guessing others have gone through this? I suppose if I self-pub, I can continue to shop around a finished product--book fairs, etc.--I probably couldn't do that with a small publisher--I don't think?

  9. #9
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    You can still sell your books in fairs if you go with a small publisher. I do. What you can't do is resell to a retailer.

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  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    If you self-publish, you can continue to look for a bigger publisher, I guess--which you would not necessarily be able to do if you have a small publisher--or dopes that happen?

  11. #11
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    If you self publish you can continue to look for a trade publisher for your book, but there are a lot which won't consider books which have already been published.

    If you sign up with a small publisher, you can't continue looking for a larger one as the book will be under contract to the smaller publisher.

    You are right that writers with agents routinely earn more and sell more rights than writers without agents, even on published books: but why submit to agents which only work with smaller publishers? You're better off submitting to agents which have a good track record of selling to the biggest and the best.

    Who is the agent in question? If you're not happy naming them in public, you could PM me in confidence.

  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimmerson View Post
    If you self-publish, you can continue to look for a bigger publisher, I guess--which you would not necessarily be able to do if you have a small publisher--or dopes that happen?
    I think that the self- to third party route occurs even less often in non-fiction than it does in fiction. It is not something I would try.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    I think that the self- to third party route occurs even less often in non-fiction than it does in fiction. It is not something I would try.
    OK--Do you mean that self-pub you are pretty much committed to selling yourself and that few end up with big publishers (although I think a few do every year?)?

  14. #14
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimmerson View Post
    I sent you an email.
    I've not received an email from you. Where did you get my email address from?

    You'd be better off sending me a private message here, like I suggested in the first place.

    This is a fall-back, I guess. i may have jumped the gun, I sent a lot of queries out when I was wasn't getting responses, at first. May ave jumped the gun a bit.
    Self publish because it's what you want to do, not because you can't find anyone else to publish your work.

    Can a small, reputable pub still get sales--and some reviews?
    Yep. Much depends on the press and the book, but it can happen. Look what happened to The Lighthouse this year, published by Salt. It's the exception, of course, so don't bank on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by timtimmerson View Post
    OK--Do you mean that self-pub you are pretty much committed to selling yourself and that few end up with big publishers (although I think a few do every year?)?
    Only a miniscule proportion of writers who self publish end up with a trade publishing deal for that same book.

    While it's also true that only a miniscule proportion of writers who submit their work to trade publishers end up with a trade publishing deal for the book they're submitting, most publishers are far more interested in a book which has never been published before.

    Unless, of course, your self published book sells in high quantity (I've seen suggestions of fifty thousand copies and over being the point at which publishers become interested, which is huge considering that most self published print editions sell less than two hundred copies).

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I've not received an email from you. Where did you get my email address from?

    You'd be better off sending me a private message here, like I suggested in the first place.
    Thanks. I feel a lot better--I am a little paranoid but then again better safe than sorry for something like this, right?

    I thought I sent you a private message but I'll have to send it again.

  16. #16
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimmerson View Post
    OK--Do you mean that self-pub you are pretty much committed to selling yourself and that few end up with big publishers (although I think a few do every year?)?
    Yes, that is what I am saying. And maybe there are a few each year (I can't think of any off the top of my head, can you?). That is a negligible amount and not a good basis for an individual writer's strategy.

    Generally I think any writer should aim directly for the type of publishing they want. If some other opportunity comes along in the process, all the better. But don't depend on being one of the lucky few.

  17. #17
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post
    I have no idea why you think Rowman & Littlefield publishers are no better than a vanity press. They are my publishers. Books from R&L are edited very carefully and sold in bookstores all over America. According to my publisher, my book has sold over 1500 copies since it was released in August. They are a respected academic publisher with serious credibility in the market, not a scam like Publish America.
    I've skimmed through this thread and didn't spot any suggestion that R&L is a vanity press. I'm not sure what you're objecting to. However, your suggestion that presses aren't vanity publishers if they edit the books they publish is flawed, and needs addressing.

    Many vanity presses "edit" the books they publish, and suggest that this means they're not vanity presses, but this isn't the case. PublishAmerica claims to edit the books it publishes, and I'm sure it does some sort of editing although the quality of that editing is far from good. The deciding factor is if the publisher makes most of its money from the writers it publishes, it's a vanity press.

  18. #18
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post
    I have no idea why you think Rowman & Littlefield publishers are no better than a vanity press.
    The only suggestion I see here are that they are a "small" publisher and OP is not sure how to distinguish a good small press from a vanity. No one here has put R&L in the latter category.

  19. #19
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I think he is pretty clearly asking the question. I don't think it is insulting to ask a question. He also got an answer when it comes to R&L. And if OP has not seen book by R&L he doesn't know what quality they are.

    OP is apparently hoping to submit to a larger press that might does require an agent, hence his hesitancy when it comes to this agents who may have little to offer on that front.

    That is why I suggested OP start by being specific about which publishers would be his/her top choices. At that point it should become clear whether an agent is required, and which agents have the best track record with those presses.

  20. #20
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post
    I think we all know the difference between the sort of badly put together books pumped out by a vanity press and the sort of book published by a good mainstream publisher like R&L.
    I've seen all sorts of books published by vanity presses. The majority of them are bad, but good ones get published by those publishers too. Quality isn't an indicator of a vanity press.

    The OP wrote:


    This pretty clearly implies that R&L is a vanity press or lacks credibility when it most certainly is not and does not.
    Judging from the other comments here, you're the only person getting this from the OP's post.

    I have no idea why the OP would believe that working with a publisher like R&L is a waste of time. They are a highly respected publisher focusing largely on books for the academic and popular non-fiction market.
    The OP was asking a question, not stating an opinion. You're adding all sorts of excess value to his comment.

    One of the primary advantages of working with them is that they read unsolicited manuscripts. So I'm not sure why the OP is even bothering with an agent.
    To play devil's avocado here (yep, I know), perhaps you should look at this from the other side: if the OP has an agent, why are they bothering with R&L?

    To answer your question, writers with representation routinely attract higher advances and sell more foreign and subsidiary rights, regardless of which publishers they sign with.

    An agent is a far better idea if you're aiming for a far larger publisher. But there's nothing particularly wrong with a midlist company like R&L.
    A publisher can't be a "midlist company". Only authors can be midlist, because the midlist exists between a publisher's frontlist and backlist.

    It's good to get an agent if you want to make a living as a writer, or if you want to get the best possible deal that you can, or if you want to sell as many rights as you possibly can. It has nothing to do with the size of the publisher you want to sign with, or where you sit in relation to your publishers' lists.

    And none of this has anything to do with the OP's original question, so shall we get back on topic now?

  21. #21
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post
    If you have to resort to a vanity press it almost always indicates that what you've written probably simply isn't good enough for publication. I have no idea why this is even being discussed or why the OP would confuse the two.
    Plenty of writers on this forum have, for one reason or another (lack of research, naiviety, or just misplaced trust) landed up with a vanity press.

    These writers don't knowingly resort to a vanity press, they go with them thinking they're going to a valid small publisher. PublishAmerica, the particular vanity pub you mentioned, is particularly good at tricking writers this way. If a writer wants to pay to publish their own work, they're more likely to go the self-published route these days.

    It's not a reflection on the quality of their writing, and I feel like tarring them all with that brush comes close to breaking the forum's one rule, "Respect your fellow writers."
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    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post

    R&L is a quality publisher.
    Yeah, we got this. Multiple times.



    Is it time to move on?

  23. #23
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anastacia View Post
    Of course quality is an indicator of a vanity press.
    No, it really isn't.

    If something is good enough the odds are that it will eventually get picked up by a reputable publisher as long as you do your homework and submit it to the right place.
    (My bold.)

    True.

    But what if the writer doesn't do their homework? What if they submit all over the place and get offered a contract from a vanity publisher, and don't realise that paying for publication isn't how it's done?

    AW has plenty of members who got caught out by vanity presses. You're implying that they're all bad writers, and that's neither true nor logical.

    R&L is a quality publisher. They publish books that wind up on library and bookshelves. The company has nothing in common with a vanity press.
    We know that. We understand that. You might want to read this thread a little more closely if you think that anyone here is disputing that point.

    If you have to resort to a vanity press it almost always indicates that what you've written probably simply isn't good enough for publication.
    You're completely wrong on this point.

    I have no idea why this is even being discussed or why the OP would confuse the two. Or even why anyone would dispute this fundamental point and obvious point.
    It's being discussed because you misunderstood the OP's original comment and keep bringing the subject up again.

    If the OP has an agent I strongly wonder why the agent hasn't bothered to help him understand this.
    Read the OP's very first post in this thread. Try to understand it. Please.

  24. #24
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    I appreciate all of this. I probably could have worded the OP differently but for someone that is just learning this industry, it helps to hear people's input. I understand those publishers I list are perfectly reputable. Just want to make sure what I (might) be getting myself into. Only a couple of years of my life writing this thing, ya know. Hate to f[udge] it up now!

  25. #25
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Adding links:

    Fairchild Books accepts submissions direct from writers.

    New Page Books
    don't require agents and are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.

    Rowman & Littlefield
    accepts submissions direct from writers.

    Potomac Books
    accepts submissions from writers without the involvement of agents.

    AMACO: this was all that I could find.

    I am suspicious of agents who only submit to publishers which are happy to accept submissions direct from writers.
    Oh God yes that is irritating to see. I've noticed people like them in the fiction writing world. *smh*
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