As large publishing houses get more swamped and harder to please, smaller presses have cropped up like spring flowers. Some fill a void, like Marcher Lord Press, and others were developed primarily to publish the founder's work (I've seen a few; they shall remain anonymous). New authors shouldn't rule out small presses as a viable alternative to the giants in the industry, but they need to do their research before signing the bottom line.
Among the things to consider:
- The contract--what is your cut? What is expected of you? Of them? Are you signed on for just one book or for the rest of your life? Understanding your contract is vital. Several agent and editor sites give an idea of boilerplate and pitfalls. If you intend to work this end by yourself instead of through an agent, research and know what you're getting yourself in for.
- Where will your book be distributed? Amazon and B&N at the very least, but smaller presses are also getting their books into chain stores like Hastings, WalMart, K-Mart and Target.
- Look through the other books published by the company. Do the covers look professional? If possible (and on Amazon, it usually is), look at the type, illustrations (if applicable) and page set-up. Professional and appealing?
- Read a few of the books before you submit and judge the writing as you would your own. How do they measure up? You want your book published by a company who puts out only the best. I've read small-press novels that shouldn't have gotten past a critique partner, much less an editor. If a publisher puts out mediocre books, their philosophy centers around quantity instead of quality. Be careful of the company you keep.
- Contact some of the authors and shower them with questions. One thing about us writers, we are willing to help each other out. Present a professional letter with specific questions, and you're likely to get a response.
Congrats to Jill and MLP, and reputable small presses everywhere!