Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Should You Consider Submitting
to a Micro-Publisher?

By Deb Salisbury
Copyright 2009 by Deb Salisbury, All Rights Reserved


Having published with a micro-publisher, I can offer a few hints about how to choose and work with one. Micro-publishers are usually in the business because they love the written word, and want to see more well-written books available. Some of these houses began as self-publishers, then expanded to include other good authors. There simply are not enough slots available in the big publishing houses for all of the great books written each year. Don't rule out micro-publishing houses just because they are not big name publishers.  They may fit your style now and they might become well known in the future.

One way to think of a micro-publisher is as an agent who owns a publishing house. Treat the publisher with all of the respect you would give any agent or editor. Format your query letter exactly as you would for any agent you hope to work with.

Always read the guidelines carefully. Micro-publishers have a very clear idea about what they want and even stronger opinions on what they don't want. Here is a micro-publisher's blog as an example: http://5riversnews.blogspot.com/2009/05/advice-to-writers.html

Always edit your material carefully, including your query letter. A micro-publisher, like any publishing house, will not correct your spelling or grammar. The owner will send you an automatic rejection letter without considering of the brilliance of your work if she finds many errors. Consider the words from an earlier blog, http://5riversnews.blogspot.com/2009/02/language-rant.html.

Never email a micro-publisher with the words: "The editor will take care of problems."  You will guarantee yourself a place on her blacklist. The micro-publisher is the editor, and she definitely will not fix obvious mistakes the author could have corrected.

Check to see what marketing the micro-publisher does before you submit. Does the company link to Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, Chapters and other retail outlets? Does it have a website? How about a blog with books listed? Look for the sites that are important to you and even ask if the publisher has considered sites they do not work with at this time. Most serious micro-publishers are looking for new ways to market and promote their list. Keep in mind that the publisher has a tight budget and cannot pay for much advertising.

Also consider the number of books the micro-publisher has listed. The larger the number, the more likely the imprint is going to be noticed, especially if your book is similar to the backlist. Does the publisher have several books in your genre, which might create connections to the community you hope will buy your book. 

Read reviews about the micro-publisher's recent offerings. Look for things like spiral bound or poorly printed. There is no excuse for bad quality in the physical product.

Check into the payment methods. Be aware that most micro-publishers do not offer advances. You will be paid strictly on sales completed, probably quarterly. The micro-publisher's website should state her terms clearly.

With the new Print on Demand technology, micro-publishers need not create a limited run of your book. As books are ordered, they are printed and delivered. This means your book will rarely go out of print and you can receive royalties indefinitely. It is one big advantage over the larger publishers.

Find out what the publisher will expect from you before you sign a contract. Be honest with yourself about your willingness to promote your work and what types of promotion you can do. Be aware that you will need to work harder to promote your book if you publish with a micro-publisher. Your work will not automatically go on bookstore shelves. Even when the micro-publisher has relations with the large outlets, many will not put your book on the shelves until after you have achieved a certain level of marketing and promoting.

Working with a micro-publisher is not for everyone, but it is an option worth considering.

Deb Salisbury is the editor of
Elephant's Breath & London Smoke:
Historical Colors, Names, Definitions & Uses
ISBN: 978-0-9739278-2-5
Published by Five Rivers Chapmanry, Canada