Sunday, May 2, 2010

Options for Publishing Equestrian Fiction

One housekeeping note: I added a search option to this blog. You can now search for your favorite posts. It's at the top of the right column.

I know a lot of people who read this blog are aspiring authors in equestrian fiction. I thought I'd blog today about publishing alternatives for equestrian fiction.

Equestrian fiction is a hard-sell to a large publisher. The books just don't sell well enough. Of course, there are always exceptions, such as The Horse Whisperer, but those exceptions are few and far between. Authors today have some exciting options in publishing which weren't available in the past. I thought I'd cover those options for our aspiring authors out there.

Small presses are becoming a home to niche markets. Fiction which only serves a specialized group of readers isn't a good risk for large publishers. The writers might be as good or better than writers for big publishers, but they've chosen to write in an area which is not popular with the masses.

There are three basic kinds of publishers, you can consider:

New York Publisher (large press): These publishers typically have offices in New York City. They do large print runs for their author's books, which are distributed to book stores. They pay royalties (a percentage of the book's cover price, usually about 6-8 percent). The author gets paid an advance before the book hits the shelf.

Vanity Publisher (Self-Published): These presses typically publish anyone if you have the money to pay them. You will be expected to pay for things such as cover design, editing (if there is any), may have limited distribution, if any. They are good choices if you're publishing something for a targeted group of people, such as a family history.

Small Press (includes epub or Epublisher): These presses operate like NY presses. They do not charge any fees to the author. They provide editing, cover art, and distribution. The distribution varies between publishers. They pay a small advance nor none at all.

I find that there are two primary types of small presses:

Electronic or ePubs: Their books are primarily available electronically. They usually do not pay an advance unless it’s quite small. The author earns royalties (usually about 30-40 percent) from the cover price of the book sold in the small press’s bookstore and royalties from the distributor (usually a percentage of what the publisher receives). Many of these presses also offer their books in print via print on demand (see definition below) and through distributors such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Traditional Small Presses: These presses do small print runs. Their books may or may not be available via other distributors. They may pay a small advance. I'll admit that I don't know much about this type of press. So if someone can fill us in, that'd be great. I think Laura is with a press like this.

Here's some other terminology you might have heard batted around:
Print Run: NY pubs do a print run of each book published. The books are then distributed to bookstores. Unsold books can be returned to the publisher for a refund. Returns of fifty percent or more are not uncommon.

Print on Demand (POD): This is a green alternative to print books. Over half of the books printed by NY pubs are not sold and are destroyed. Print-on-Demand books are printed when the buyer places an order. They are usually more expensive to buy as the process is more expensive than a print run. POD books are rarely available in bookstores because they are not returnable. POD is often confused with self-publishing. While it's a method self-publishers use, it's also used by small presses to get their books in print.

I'm finding more and more equestrian fiction available through small publishers. They're willing to take the risk and fill a niche with readers hungry for such books. As I do searches on Amazon for horse-related fiction, I find more and more popping up every month, compared to years ago when there were few choices.

If you're interested in knowing more, let me know.

On a personal note, Gailey is doing very well. We're back in full work, and she's moving well and seems to be pain-free. The leg is still big, and I'm considering some alternate therapies.


Laura Crum said...

You're right, Jami, I'm currently being published by a traditional small press that specializes in mysteries, particularly mystery series (Perseverance Press). I did eight books with a large NY press (this would be St Martin's Press) and three with Perseverance Press. Both companies pay an advance, both companies pay roylaties. The publishing process is much the same. St Martin's paid a slightly larger advance; I have gotten better royalty checks from Perseverance. All my books have been reviewed by the major reviewers and are available through the big online booksellers and the major distributors. The books I've done through Perseverance are still in print, the ones through St Mart's are out of print and can be bought used through Amazon and others. If anybody has any interest in asking questions about this part of the business, I'm happy to give more info.

Susan said...

My two cents:I self-published A STORY OF THE WEST because I didn't want to become discouraged by rejections. Also, I didn't realize the implications of self-publishing. Since it's only me doing the publicity, it's been slow getting my book out there. But the feedback has been excellent. It seems every time I do start becoming discouraged someone will tell me what a good book it is. Right now selling regionally as local history by a local author has helped me most, even though it's fiction. Around here those books sell, and tourists buy them, which means they can end up anywhere (I signed one that went to Australia). It seems people on the internet, even those who follow my blog and friends on facebook are reluctant to buy. I will continue to push my book through both those avenues and know eventually it will catch on as it is a quality book.

Laura Crum said...

Susan--believe me, I was astonished at how much friends didn't buy my books when I started out. I've been in the author trade for twenty years now, published by "respectable" publishers the whole time, and I've learned that you can't take it personally when people for whatever reason, don't buy your book. I've done booksignings where people chatted to me endlessly, and didn't buy my book. Lots of people who read my blogs don't buy my books. My family members (mostly) don't buy my books. Some of myy friends don't buy my books. Sometimes people don't like the genre, or like me, have virtually no time to read in their lives. Sometimes they can't afford to spend extra money, and buying books is one of the things they eliminate from the budget. And, no matter how much I think my books are good books, there are people who like them and people who don't. This is inevitable. And, though I sell enough books that I have been able to stay published, my books never "caught on" to the degree that I became well known. I wish you good luck in your career as an author--and "luck is mostly attitude and timing".

Linda Benson said...

Jami - Thanks for this post. There are so many types of publishers out there, that not only the general public but authors themselves can barely keep it all straight. I'll just chime in to say that my first two books are with a small educational publisher that sells primarily to schools. At least they are getting to their target market! The Horse Jar is, at this moment, not available on Amazon, but if anyone would like a copy, shoot me an email - linda (at) - and I can arrange it.

Jami - I'm so glad Gailey is better and you are riding her. Good deal!

Susan said...

Jami and Laura, I really appreciate the information and encouragement. The past year has certainly been a learning experience.

joycemocha said...

There's always genre fiction, especially fantasy fiction. Horses might not be the main focus of your story in fantasy, but they are certainly a strong element (and I wince every time I hit a clinker in fantasy). Interestingly, there's a lot of dressage riders in fantasy and science fiction...and a lot fewer Western riders!

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to give me the names of some small press publishers that print young adult equine fiction? I currently blog and write for and I'm working on my first YA fiction manuscript. I've done some research online, but I thought maybe you could point me in the right direction. Thank you!