The Benefits of Small Press Publishing

Weighing in on Alternative Publishing Options

Guest post by David J. Kirk

publishing options for fight for your write

Stuart Miles for

I would like to thank Jen and Melissa for allowing me to guest post on this great new site.  Being a small press author, I am here today to talk about the benefits of publishing in this venue.

I have to begin by admitting that, yes, I have submitted to the big six (or five, or however many there are now).  I also received five or six very nice rejection notices, mostly on postcards so my mailman could read them.  Like many of us who have been submitting for years, my first goal was to get published, and how wasn’t a major concern.  However, I started to look into independent publishers as I became more realistic.

University and small presses have had their famous authors and best sellers.  The Dummies and Chicken Soup books started out this way.  Plus, the independents may also be willing to take a chance on an offbeat story or an unknown author.  I hear they give smaller advances, if at all, although I don’t know this from experience.  However, keep in mind that advances are not bonuses; they are just what the word implies, advances on royalties.  If you receive a generous advance, and your book starts out slow, it may be quite a while before you receive a royalty check.

Generalities aside, I can only speak of my experience with my publisher.  I signed with Martin Sisters Publishing and my experience couldn’t have been any better.  I entered into an agreement with them on April 1st and my book was released August 11th of the same year.  My first expense was the purchase of my marketing copies.  Editing, proof reading, cover design, and formatting were all completed by the publisher.  I was highly involved in the editing process of the entire book via email.  My book is now available in almost every online selling point imaginable in this and several other countries.  I have also placed it in several retail outlets through buyback agreements.

While my publisher did not take out full-page ads in the New York Times, they did keep me involved in the development of my release press kit.  I was allowed input in personalizing press releases to the targeted markets.  I am also free to purchase copies at the wholesale price and sell them as I see fit at signings and other events.

My overall favorite aspect of small press publishing, however, is the almost family atmosphere of the whole organization.  I’m never more than an email away with any question I have for my publisher.  There is just no substitute for the personal attention I receive.  I also have access to a group of accomplished fellow authors, my host Jen Barry being one, who have literally taught me this business.  Many of us MSP authors stay in touch and help each other out with promotion.

I just can’t say enough good things about this publishing venue.  I hope you give it a try.  I also hope that you keep reading this blog as I’m sure Melissa and Jen have many more great things to come.

David is the author of Particular Stones by Martin Sisters Publishing which can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other online outlets.  His author page and blog appear at and please follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  Watch for his new book Cornerstones.

J to tha M: Talk About Submission

The Pain and Anguish of Rejection

Novel submission, agent submissionJ: For this week’s talk, I’ve been thinking about the whole submission process, especially since I’m considering querying for the new series.

M: Yeah? We need to start considering that for our hockey hero story, too. Getting any closer?

J: Not really, but all this makes me think. It’s never too early to think.

When you started the submission process, what did you look for?

M: I looked for publishers specifically in the romance genre

made sure they published other books similar in scope to mine, my heat level

It was fairly broad in scope as far as that went. I started getting nitpicky when it came down to reputation and track record

J: I know working with an agent crossed your mind

That whole process is so nerve wracking. I started thinking about it when a friend revealed he’d been rejected several times

but I read the book, and it’s fantastic

M: oh, yes, I think being agented crosses every writer’s mind

it’s still so ingrained in us

used to be the only way to go, and it still has that cache

I figured why not try it, did my research for agents who represented my genre and type of story, sent a bunch of letters out

Ran the gamut of rejections, from no response at all, to I liked it, but…

J: exactly

Here’s why I think so many great authors see rejections

We all do so much research when we start the submission process, but I think maybe our research is too targeted

We write a fantastic book. It’s clean, it’s thoughtful, it’s well written

but it’s not what’s hot right now

Is it something to be ashamed of if you’ve written a great book that just doesn’t happen to be what Wal-Mart stocks on the shelves?

even further, we have to be able to see into the future, because it takes so long to get a book from agent to shelves

so even if we write what’s popular now, who’s to say it will still be popular when we reach the release date?

M: everything is changing so quickly, both with readers and the publishing industry

it’s hard not to fall into that trap of writing what sells, what’s popular, but it falls back to just write what you write to the best of your ability

we all want to sell, to reach people, to make some money to support ourselves, whatever your motivation

but you can make yourself crazy trying to second guess everything instead of just writing the characters and story in your head

J: of course. but we shouldn’t take that rejection as a reflection of the quality of our writing

M: can’t escape the fact everything is money driven What makes the most wins

J: No, but it’s important for authors to know there are other options. There are people who want to read those books.

It’s why I chose small press instead of chasing an agent.

M: It sucks, but rejection is such a big part of this business. You hear it over and over, how necessary it is to develop a really tough skin, and it’s so true

Once you get through the agent and publisher rejections and you get published with whatever path your choose, then you deal with the reviewer and reader rejection in the forms of reviews and opinions

and again, it’s not necessarily a reflection on you personally, but everyone’s thoughts, experiences, and opinions they bring into your words

it still hurts like a knife to the heart, though, no matter how prepared you think you are

J: Thick skin is important, but so is the realization that not everyone is going to like your book.

A bad review doesn’t necessarily mean you wrote a bad book

it could just mean the person who read it was looking for something else

M: exactly. still hurts, though

J: of course. but no one can write a book that EVERYONE loves

even the biggest sellers out there have their bad reviews

and even the biggest selling authors received rejection letters

Dean Koontz openly admits he was rejected 75 times even after he sold his first story

M: And Christina Dodd is very frank about how she tried to get published for ten years before she finally got rolling

J: The point being, of course, that rejection sucks, but it’s not the end of the world

and in many, many cases, it’s not the end of a career, either

M: it’s only the beginning of the rejection. heh.

Why do we do this again?

J: siiiiiigh. sometimes I don’t remember, either

I’m so glad this author took another route and didn’t let rejection keep him down, though

M: You just have to find a way to deal with it when it comes, because it will. You have to find the way for yourself to keep going. If you’ve got a story to tell, tell it. Don’t stop working until you find it a home, get it out into the world. It’s worth everything to make that one connection, get that one “loved your story.”

J: Right. And when someone has something constructive to say, we learn from it. Don’t hate the rejectors. Or the bad reviewers.

M: Oh, right. That. let me go cancel the voodoo doll



Talk to us about your query process. How do you deal with rejection? Do you have other options you’re pursuing? Have encouraging stories to help others through the pain and anguish? We want to hear it!

Image credit: Miles