Small Press Friday: Publisher Billie Johnson

Billie Johnson

Today my guest is publisher Billie Johnson. Find out what she has to say about the advantages of serious writers publishing with a small press. 

Just Like Random House, Only Smaller…..NOT!

Setting aside the obvious elements of authors and books, there are few similarities between indie presses and the biggies. I think authors would be better served if they mastered these distinctions. Like many relationships, a successful author/publisher relationship hinges on managing expectations.

We’ve all seen the fact lists contrasting large and small publishers, so let’s focus on what I see as the primary one…duration. Perhaps there is an inverse relationship to the size of the house and the length of time your title will be its focus….the bigger the house, the shorter the time your title has to make its mark?

At Oak Tree Press, we plan for a year of active promotion, whereas major publishers compress this into a short few weeks. Plus, we expect the author to be a vital part of the process. Our goal is to separate the career writer from the hobbyist, identify those with a long-range vision of their book-business path, then support them in our system.

Our guidelines outline OTP’s posture on authors and promotion, and advise that the query cover the high points. We check an author’s visibility on the Internet, the social networking sites. Is there a blog? Contributions to someone else’s blog? A website? A newsletter?

This is all vitally important to us because, if we go forward together, OTP will be putting its resources into the production and distribution of the title. And if we pick wrong, there are no deep corporate pockets to pick up the shortfall. A Random House editor once told me they expect to go big on one out of ten titles, so they accept the nine lackluster ones. That doesn’t work for OTP, and I suspect, not for most indies. Survival means a much better ratio than that.

Hmmm….Maybe there is an inverse relationship for margin of error as well!!