Most writers aspire to see their books in a bookstore and published by a big New York publishing house like Simon and Schuster or Harper-Collins. With the increased proliferaiton of small presses who focus on epublishing, there are more options than ever before. Unfortunately, there is also a snobbery toward these small presses and a prevailing attitude that if you aren't published with big house, you're not really published. Add to that a lot of confusion between being self-published and being published by a small press.
Over the past few years, I've watched fellow writers get a NY contract only to be dropped after their first couple books because they didn't make enough money for their publisher. Most of these authors were unintentionally "setup" by their publishers for failure. They were given small print runs, next to no marketing dollars, and very poor distribution. Once the publisher drops them, other big presses are reluctant to give them a chance.
If you're considering a writing career, especially writing equestrian fiction, don't discount the small press option. It's extremely difficult for debut authors to make it with bigger publishers in this economy. Also, if you're thinking of writing as a good way to quit your day job, don't quit yet. Advances are getting smaller and smaller as are print runs for debut authors. I've heard the average NY advance in romance fiction is in the $2000 to $6000 range right now. The earn out can be as little a $6000 a book, and you'll wait upwards of a year or two to get your royalty check.
It's not my intention to discourage aspiring writers, I just want you to be realistic about your goals. Most of us write because we have to give life to the stories in our heads. We can't NOT write. It's as necessary as breathing. If you're one of those people, you need to ask yourself some serious questions.
What are your writing goals?
- Do you want to make money and write full-time? This is possible but you'll need to be prolific. Most writers are midlist and the only way to make a living as a midlist author is to publish 2-4 books a year. They say it takes about ten books to build a name and a following.
- Are your readers more important than the money? Do you write because you love sharing your stories with others and the money is secondary? Are you trying to reach a niche of readers who like to read what you write?
- Do you write to convey a message or emotions to your readers? Do you write about overcoming obstacles and bettering your life? Do your characters struggle but keep their hope and eventually triumph? Do your books contain a lesson? Such as good conquers evil? Is it this lesson you wish to share with your readers and inspire them?
All in all, when you're considering publishing don't discount small presses. Check them out carefully and make sure they're legitimate. They shouldn't ask for any money from you to publish your book. If they do, they're essentially "self-publishers." They should provide editing, cover art, and distribution free of charge to their authors. I have a a really good series on my Jami Davenport blog on writing for small presses that you might want to check out.
Whatever you decide to do, remember to hang in there and keep trying, Perserverance wins in publishing.
Next weekend, I'm participating in a equestrain pilates clinic. It should be interesting. I'll try to remember to take pictures and notes for my next post.