Everyone wants a giant contract (how wonderful), obscene advance (how nice), and well known editor (woohoo) for their work. Who wouldn’t?
But the climate has been a tad chilly for new authors recently. One needs a million-dollar platform, celebrity endorsement, and marketing background to navigate the murky waters and come up with a contract.
Is it impossible? No. Authors get contracts every day. But is it the norm for a new author who spends his or her day writing instead of scanning social media? No, also. My heart breaks to see so many amazing people with great stories to tell without homes for their work.
The dilemma is this: many of these folks would like to go to smaller presses where they can learn the process, work with many wonderful editors, and have a chance to get their stories out. Chances are they will have to work their backsides off marketing, but many are willing. They understand they probably will NOT make a lot of money initially. So why do they want this chance? That’s the answer. A chance. They want to learn the ins and outs of working with editors, publishers, publicists. They want to move forward.
Many say to forget it if there aren’t advances in the works. If there isn’t a ton of money to spread around. If there isn’t a huge marketing machine behind them.
I know. I’m probably wrong, but I say why not? Give the author the opportunity they might not get anywhere else. There are a few smaller and/or emerging publishers who are doing more than merely a decent job, they are killing it working with new authors. Granted, there are plenty who could care less: bad covers, bad editing, bad promotion, and bad contracts. But some are really in it to get authors out there who might not otherwise stand a chance.
So, what do you do? Research the smaller presses. Talk to their authors. See who is editing the work. Check out their reviews and numbers on Amazon. Are they rarely or readily in the top 100 in their categories? Are their reviews strong? Numerous? Do they have winners in literary contests? How do they stand out in positive ways? What are readers saying? Other well-established authors? There ARE times when it seems appropriate. Don’t judge a book…er…publisher by its cover. Wait! Sometimes that IS a good place to judge it. Are they killin’ it with their covers?
In the end, it’s up to the author. Are they willing to take a chance at a smaller house?