Small Press Friday: Small Press, Big Role

Welcome to Small Press Friday. Today, writer Bonnie Hearn Hill shares her experience in the changing world of publishing. Bonnie worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.

Small Press, Big Role
When I began my career, there was only one way to reach numerous readers, and that was with a New York literary agent and a major publisher. Finding the agent took years, but those years allowed me an opportunity to learn and refine my craft. She wasn’t my first agent, but I knew the first time we spoke that if anyone could sell my books, she could. And she did.
The publishing world was different then. Distribution ruled, and the big publishers were the only way to go. Others—some who never traveled that path—will tell you how terrible the traditional route to publication is. Are you only a number with a large publisher? Do you earn a fraction of what the publisher does? Do you receive minimal promotion and attention? Perhaps. However, I would not have had the distribution, the multi-language titles, the advances, or the reviews had I not experienced that wild ride. Nor would I have the confidence to venture from that traditional publishing model.
The world has changed. Publishing has changed. It’s no longer a matter of if you can find a publisher for your book. You can, right now, choose from numerous independent publishers, or you can go with Inscribe, Authorlink and any number of companies that will format and distribute your e-book. Or you can publish yourself on Kindle, Nook, and all of the others. Does that make you nervous? It shouldn’t.
You are now the one in charge of your writing career. If you have an agent, you know that this person’s role is changing as well. Agents are partners now. As they negotiate the choppy waters of big publishing, they are also slip-sliding on the seas of co-publishing their authors’ e-books. If you don’t have an agent, that is no longer a hindrance.
Today’s small presses have an important role. No longer can they nor should they embody the old publishing model. Few pay advances, and the old model makes even less sense for them. Instead they can be the links to digital and paper publishing. Not every author wants the job of copyeditor and cover artist. There is a place, a significant one, for the innovative small press.
I will never regret signing with a major publisher at the time I did. I am thrilled, however, that we authors now have options. We can write the books we want to write, and in many cases, have cover and title control. We can sell our books at a price we feel is fair and still make money.
I was nineteen when I started writing professionally. In the many years I have worked in this business, I have never been this excited by the opportunities for writers. Finally, we are the ones who can do the choosing. Writers and readers will be better for it.
Bonnie Hearn Hill is the co-author, with Christopher Allan Poe, of Digital Ink: Writing Killer Fiction in the E-book Age (, as well as six thrillers for MIRA Books, three young astrology novels and a paranormal love story. A former newspaper editor, she is the proud mentor to many published writers. Her website is