Friday, March 18, 2011

NY House Publishing Versus Small Press

Part III:  NY House Versus Small Press

Picture this.  After a satisfying dinner out, you and your spouse decide to while away the rest of your evening at Barnes and Nobles.  You walk in the door and there, conveniently located by the registers is the loveliest piece of reinforced cardboard you’ve ever seen.  It’s the book display designated for your very first published number one bestseller.  Oh what a feeling!  

What writer doesn’t dream of becoming a household name?  Exactly how does that happen anyway?  Well, there are a lot of contributing factors, but certainly the odds of achieving this status are much greater if you go with NY House Publishing.  As I said in the first part of my publishing series, NY House is any one of a number of publishers located in NYC.  Popular names include Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and many others.  

The advantages of having your book published through NY House are numerous.  They are:
  •   Larger cash advances
    • The publisher helps market and sell the book - resulting in bigger sales. 
    • Your book ends up in bookstores and supermarkets everywhere.  This is really a part of what the publisher does to market and sell your book, but it's significant.  Greater exposure helps sell your book and even make your name familiar among readers of your genre.
    • Greater royalties from your book.

    As with most things writing, publishing with NY House isn’t easy and there are drawbacks to this method as well.  

    The problem is NY House publishers tend to be very unapproachable for new writers.  Many times they won't even deal with a writer without an agent.  Plus, it's uncommon for them to accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Even after a manuscript has been accepted, it can take up to two years before it actually hits the shelves.  That's a long time.  

    Other drawbacks include the fact that there's little control over the outcome of your book, and you relinquish all rights to your book.

    In light of the fact that traveling the publishing road to NY House is so difficult, many authors choose to go with small press.  Not a bad choice at all.   There is an estimated 50,000+ small or independent presses in the US, making them a much more viable option for new writers.  And even though they may not pay the huge advances that the major publishing companies pay, there are certainly great advantages to going this route.

    One of the biggest benefits is that since small press publishers usually only publish ten books or fewer a year, their schedules aren't cluttered with meetings, deadlines, and other time constraints.  For you, that means more one-on-one time, more input on details like what your cover will look like, and a faster turnaround for your book.  Furthermore, they are far more likely to take a risk on new authors or books that are considered "out-of-the box."

    The cons are that it's harder to have a huge success when going with small print.  They are much more limited in finances and what they can do for you in terms of marketing.  Here are a couple more disadvantages. 
    •  Due to the huge expense of printing, it isn't uncommon for publishers to print fewer than a couple thousand books at a time.  Consequently, if few books are printed, it’s harder to get distributors to purchase them. 
    • Smaller and shorter print runs also make it harder (albeit not impossible) to hit the bestseller list.  
    • Smaller advances – if any at all, and lower royalties.

    So there’s a brief breakdown of the pros and cons of NY House v. Small press.  Both paths are difficult, yet with hard work and diligence, and of course, a great book the potential for amazing results is great. 

    Be sure to be watching for the final post in this series when my friend and fellow writer Lillie Ammann from A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye contributes the last post in this series on subsidy/self-publishing. 


    AshleyWrites said...

    Hi! I really enjoyed these three posts you wrote. I am a graduate student at DePaul University in Chicago and I am writing an article for my publishing class over the advantages and disadvantages of small/independent presses publishing ebooks and I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the matter? Thank you for any help!

    Lisa Vella said...

    Hi Ashley!

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm really glad you enjoyed this series, and hope you found it helpful.

    I apologize for not getting back with you sooner. I had a very busy weekend with my family and never even checked my email. I hope it's not too late to answer any questions for your paper. Please feel free to email with any questions at

    Looking forward to hearing from you and hopefully helping in any way I can.