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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The small press publishing model: Lessons from Joy, Interrupted

Almost this same time a year ago, the book I "birthed," Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss, was published..

I had great joy over the release of the book. It allowed me to connect with over fifty wonderful people on a similar "grief path" and get much needed support to help me move towards acceptance.

Publishing Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss was a turning point both personally and in developing my small press, Fat Daddy's Farm.

Thinking back to the push to get the book out and efforts to market it, I have been taking stock of some of the lessons I gleaned from that experience.

The most practical lesson I learned is:

The publishing model of big presses and self-publishing doesn't work for small presses.


The publishing model for big presses relies on two things a fledgling small press doesn't have much of::
Money & Access 

The publishing model for those self-publishing relies on:
Time & Access

Time and money are pretty self-evident, but what do I mean by access? Access is the ability to get press exposure, get your book in a bookstore, get cheap printing, etc.

Money and Access: 
You know how there are so many reviews for books of larger presses, whether Amazon customer reviews, from bloggers or in publications? There are actually networks of reviewers that publishers pay a fee to get access to. They also print Advanced Review Copies to send to a large number of reviewers on Goodreads and/or to do giveaways. They have a network of print reviewers that they rely on, some of which they also pay to have access to and/or invest in a publicist who nurtures and develops those contacts.

Time and Access:
In the self-publishing world, the advice is for writers to contact reviewers individually and/or swap reviews. So you might not see lots of reviews for an individual book, but they are often heartfelt and positive. Writers contact press, especially local press, directly to get reviews. They rely on their established network of people, many of which will include other writers who are friends, to get reviews. All of this takes a lot of time.

For a small press who has multiple books and authors, you are going to be pretty spread thin trying to contact reviewers with the same passion and diligence as someone self-publishing.  That one book you want to promote? It is one of many children you have to attend to.

And, using the parenting analogy, a small press simply doesn't have the number of nannies a big press has and can't be a stay at home parent like the self-publisher can.

Effective marketing for a large publishing company and an individual self-publishing might be cost-ineffective vanity for the small press.

Instead, what I learned from publishing Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss, is that I had to create my own publishing model.

Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss is on sale right now on Amazon and I have some copies people can buy directly from me.  If you are in the UK, the book will be free this weekend on Amazon.