Please welcome mystery writer, William Doonan, and follow him as his navigates through those publishing minefields.
Navigating the Small Press Minefield
As the entire publishing industry implodes, morphing into something still unrecognizable, small presses are blooming. Some are good. Some are really good. Others are shabby rip-offs. Caveat scriptor!
My first mystery novel ‘Grave Passage’ was published by The Glencannon Press, a small publisher that focusses on maritime books. Since my mystery was about an investigator who solves crimes on cruise ships, I thought it would be a good fit. And to some extent it was. The editor was encouraging, and the cover is beautiful. On the other hand, they priced the book at $22.95, which for my money, is too expensive.
I self-published the sequel ‘Mediterranean Grave.’ I learned how to design books using InDesign, the industry standard, and worked with Lightning Source, an POD printer to produce and distribute the books. The cover came out nice. The editor (me) was extremely encouraging, and the book retails on Amazon for $9.95.
For my archaeological mystery ‘American Caliphate’ I went with Oak Tree Press, one of the larger independent presses. This was a very different experience. The editor, Sunny Frazier, while encouraging, was also demanding. I worked through several drafts before turning in my final manuscript, and the result was something far better than I could have achieved on my own. $15.95 is a reasonable price. And the cover rocks!
So here is what I’ve learned the small press minefield:
- Shop around. This is not a one-size-fits-all industry.
- If a publisher asks you for money up front, run away.
- If the publisher tells you they’ll take care of the marketing for you, either run away or have another drink, because in reality, that doesn’t happen. You’re going to be doing the bulk of your own marketing anyway, so get to work.
- if you want to go it alone and self-publish, make sure you know what you’re doing. Because if you need even the slightest bit of hand-holding, you might be in trouble.
- The small presses that are going to make it, once the dust settles, are those that build communities of writers. Book marketing and promotion is a collaborative effort, one that Oak Tree Press excels at. For my money, that’s the right size for me.
William Doonan is an archaeologist and mystery writer who lives in Sacramento, California. His first two novels recount the adventures of Henry Grave, an octogenarian detective who investigates crimes on cruise ships.
12 million people take a cruise each year.
Most have fun.
Henry Grave investigates.
Doonan's archaeological mystery 'American Caliphate' was published in April by Oak Tree Press.