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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why Chasing a Big Six Contract is Like Crushing on a Bad Boyfriend

While I’m teaching at the Central Coast Writers Conference this weekend, we have a guest post from the awesome Michelle Davidson Argyle, Literary Labster and author of the thriller, Monarch, which debuts this week from Rhemalda Publishing. Michelle did an  in-depth study on her blog last year on small presses. That study helped me make my decision to go with a small publisher myself. It’s an alternative most writers don’t consider, but in this era of upheaval, the small press is a strong choice for writers who don’t feel they have the time or skills to run their own self-publishing business.

Right now, corporate "Big Six" publishing can be a dangerous place for writers. Advances are shrinking, contracts are going draconian, and corporations are acting out their collective fears on unsuspecting debut authors. 

A horrific story emerged this week from a debut author who was “fired” by a Big Six publisher just before her novel’s launch, because she self-epubbed a collection of previously published short stories. She’d intended for the ebook of stories to promote her debut novel, but the corporation doesn't seem to care about motives or results. What they care about is that authors to know their place. Which is under a very big thumb. Big Six authors are currently considered corporate property. They are not allowed to write, publish, or distribute one word—even a word written and published before the book contract—without express permission from their corporate owners.

This author’s editor called and screamed at her and demanded the return of her advance. The book is now being held hostage while she goes through an expensive lawsuit. (And she’s been “muzzled” so she’s not allowed to give us any more information on this.) 

The corporate overlords are trying to destroy an author's budding career because of something she did at her own expense for the purpose of promoting their book. (If you want to help, you can buy the ebook of Kiana Davenport's short stories here.)  

I don’t know where the author’s agent was during all this, but AAR's response to the situation has been less than supportive. It seems some agents are more concerned with pleasing publishers than in  protecting their clients' interests. I’ve read about this phenomenon on more than one blog this week. I suppose it makes sense. Fewer editors are buying fewer titles as bookstores close and print fades, but 1000's of potential clients are still showing up in agents' slush piles every week We are expendable.
So what’s the alternative to this kind of horror, other than self-publishing?

The small press.

Small-to-medium independent presses are an increasingly attractive alternative.

  • Small presses usually price their ebooks more reasonably than the Big Six. (The Kindle version of my new novel FOOD OF LOVE will cost $2.99--shameless plug there--as opposed to $11+ for Big Six ebooks.) This allows new writers to make more sales and establish a fan base.
  • Small presses usually pay higher royalties. They don't often pay advances, but Big Six advances now only average in the four figures. (I heard from agent Laurie McLean this weekend that offers of advances of $1000 are not uncommon these days.)
  • Small presses usually use POD technology. That means book can stay in print for years. Big Six books often are pulled from shelves within weeks if they aren't meeting sales expectations.
There are drawbacks, of course:

  • Small presses ask you to do a lot of your own promotion. But so do the Big Six. In fact, in my experience, small presses actually offer more promotion than big corporations give to non-superstars.
  • It's tough to get small press books into big chain bookstores. But the chains are dying.
  • Small presses come in all shapes and sizes. Lots are in precarious financial health. So do some research and check them out, preferably with one of their authors, before you sign. Run all contracts by a lawyer. Check Writer Beware and other watchdog sites before you query them.
And remember: a struggling young writer named J. K. Rowling, who’d been rejected by all the biggies, was first published by a smallish, independent press.

by Michelle Davidson Argyle

I’ve noticed a trend in the writing world lately. Maybe it’s not even lately. Maybe it has been happening forever, but within my own circles it's popping up everywhere. The trend is to make it big as fast as you possibly can. Right out of the gate. Bam. You’ve got it made. Money, fame, a career where you can write books at your own pleasure and not worry much about anything except enjoying respect and validation that the world will give you.

The reality is, however, that most authors do not make it big right out of the gate. Most authors don’t sell millions or hundreds of thousands of copies of their first book (or second, or third, etc.) Many of them don’t even sell thousands. Some not even hundreds. As sad as that is, it’s a fact. Some of my favorite authors have been around for over ten years, and most of them have a huge backlist of books. Get this. Most of them started out small. Their debut novel was not a smashing success according to industry standards. They simply sold well enough to keep writing books and eventually they became more well-known and widely-read. They climbed that ladder nice and slow. They were patient.

The Hook

When you’re an author and you start to look at the publishing world, something changes inside you…like a seductive man or woman eyeing you from across the room, it reels you in. You want to be published. You want it so badly you’ll do anything to get it, and just like that you’re hooked. You dream about it. Eat it. Drink it. For some authors it kind of consumes everything they do. They start molding their books to specific boxes so they can sell easier, bigger, faster. Authors might not mold their books on purpose; they do it because it’s nailed into their heads that if you don’t write X, Y, or Z and you don’t write them a certain way you might as well kiss Big-6 Bestseller Huge-Career Publishing goodbye. So many authors stand up and start twirling around the room with that hot love affair and they don’t look back. They start writing for the wrong reasons—and like any hot love affair it is all-consuming.

Ok, so maybe that’s not you and you write what you want how you want it. There are alternatives to big publishing. Or you can get lucky and someone big takes a chance on you and your work. Maybe what you write just happens to fall into the nice little box the big guys want. Yay!

The Alternatives?

So there are alternatives! There is self-publishing and small presses. Those are hot-ticket items, too, right? We’ve seen small guys go big this way. You can, too. You don’t have to waste years of your life querying agents and piling up hundreds of rejections. Wow, an easier way into the career you want. Sounds pretty great, huh? Just skip the gatekeeper and do it yourself or find a small press. Right?

I’m here to tell you I’ve done both. I haven’t gone the Big Route yet into the huge publishing arena, but like I talked about above, I’m starting small and I’m exercising my patience in this career that I’ve been working toward since I was ten years old. Last year in 2010 I self-published my fairy-tale themed novella, Cinders, about Cinderella after she gets married. It is a tight, dark literary piece that I knew would not sell big. It was small and didn’t fit anywhere. In fact, I wrote it to self-publish it because I wanted to learn all about that arena. So glad I did. Through some twists and turns it landed me with my current publisher, Rhemalda Publishing—a place where I am valued and I’m extremely happy because of it.

So I’ve found a good spot for me, but let me tell you that I haven’t avoided the hot love affair of publishing. I want you to know that it exists no matter which route you take.

No author can avoid the politics, the stress, the nightmare, the beauty and excitement of publishing a book. It really is an intense, amazing process no matter which route you go. It’s personal. It will probably change your life and it’s up to you to decide if you want it to turn into more than a quick affair or if you’re in it for the long haul.

The Illusion

I think the most frustrating thing I’ve seen happen in the publishing world is new, young writers looking at authors who have “made it” and not seeing how hard it was for them to get there. It’s an illusion that they made it big out of the gate.

Some other illusions I’ve seen are:

(1) Self-publishing is easier.

If you think starting your own business and making it succeed in a timely manner (while also riding an insane rollercoaster of emotions) is easy, you’re deluding yourself. Sure, it can be easy if you don’t put much into it. Good luck succeeding that way. Self-publishing is just as hard as traditionally publishing, if not harder to succeed. It might feel faster and easier, but in the long run it is not. Everything is just spread out differently.

(2) Publishing with a small press is settling for less.

Actually, publishing with a reputable small press can be a very smart move. As my friend who introduced me to Rhemalda Publishing told me – “A small press can be a really great way to get your feet wet.”

I was impressed that Tinkers, a novella, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. Guess what? Tinkers was published by a small press. When I heard that I started thinking about small presses in a different light. All of a sudden they became a little more elite in my mind. Cool. Indie. Smart. And a really great place to start my career.

I happen to write things that don’t fit into any box. They might look like they fit into a box when you see them marketed, but when you read them you see quite quickly that they are in some world just off the mark of anything you’d expect. Quite a challenge to find an agent let alone a publisher for that kind of work. Small press? That’s another story. They fill all those gaps the bigger publishers leave wide open. The gaps where I usually find my favorite type of literature.

Publishing with a small press isn’t settling; it’s simply one step in a ladder going up. I plan to stay with my publisher for many years down the road as I gain more readership and release more books.

The best thing? With a small press you can have a lot more control and say over your work. Less sales? Less money? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Less happiness in your career? No way.

In the end it all depends on what you want as an author. Don’t kid yourself thinking there’s only one way to publish or that any path is easier than another. And don’t jump into that hot love affair with your eyes closed. It’s a wild ride and one that could end really ugly if you don’t research, gain a great amount of patience, and work hard every single day. Luck only happens to those who put themselves in its path.


Michelle Davidson Argyle graduated from Utah Valley University with a BA in English/Creative Writing in the winter of 2002. To date, she has completed five novels, and has published several short stories and the novella Cinders. With her two fellow members of the Literary Lab, she has edited two anthologies, Genre Wars and Notes from Underground. Her novel, Monarch, a contemporary thriller, was released by Rhemalda Publishing this week.

What about you, fellow scriveners? Are you still holding out for the overnight-success, hot Big-Six affair? Have you considered the alternative of a small press? Are you less likely to read a book published by a smaller press than one with a corporate logo?


Next week, on Sept 25th, Ruth Harris will bring us some inspiration from a writing superstar—the man who was chosen to step into the shoes of mystery writing icon, Robert B. Parker. Michael Brandman is the television and film producer who, along with Tom Selleck, wrote and produced Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone movies for CBS. Production was recently completed on an eighth Jesse Stone CBS movie, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. After Mr. Parker's death, Michael, who had a long association with the author, wrote a new Jesse Stone novel, KILLING THE BLUES, which debuts with Putnam this month.

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Anonymous Diana Stevan said...

Great post, outlining the dreams of every author and the realities of publishing. It made me think about my choices,as I have a novel ready to go. Loved the introduction by Anne as well.

September 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Thank you, Diana! I wish you the best of luck with your novel and publishing. I'm always open to any questions if you have them. You can contact me on my blog. :)

September 18, 2011 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Wendy L. Callahan said...

Great post, and I'm heading back to Michelle's blog to read her study of small presses.

I've contracted with small presses on 3 different books and been very pleased with the experiences. Admittedly, I am aiming my next novel for a much larger publisher, but I won't shed any tears if it finds a home at a small press either.

It's the readers who matter the most!

September 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Wendy, I'd like to aim bigger eventually, but I'm so happy where I am right now that I'm sticking around for a bit. I wish you luck with the larger publisher! It truly is about the readers.

September 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

If anyone is looking for my Small Publisher series, it's right here: Should You Consider a Small Publisher?

September 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa Shafer said...

Wow. Scary stuff about the publisher who's punishing the author for thinking for herself!
Great thoughts from both of you.
And the main reason I even ventured to try self-publishing is because of Michelle. (PS I finally got around to posting a review on Amazon today!) And, yes, self-publishing is pretty tough. The formatting part of it drives me nuts!

September 18, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Lisa, I agree about the scary part! Unfortunately I'm afraid we all here these scary things and tend to overlook the good because going with a big publisher can also be a very, very good and positive thing, too. Going with a small press can be really bad. Every circumstance is different.

You're one of the many people who has said I influenced them indirectly about self-publishing. This is very awesome because it's one of the reasons I self-published - I wanted to show that it could be done well because there was such a stigma against at the time. I think there still is, but it's twisting in a different direction. Thank you for your review!

September 18, 2011 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

And please excuse my typos. Sigh.

September 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm on your side in this. I publish all my romance novels with a small press. I love them. Could I make more money self-publishing? Maybe, but it's a lot of work. I recently took back my fantasy books from the mid-size publisher who broke our contract(long story) and I'm going to try the self-pub route with those books.

September 18, 2011 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I understand and agree with all the points listed in the beginning. I like my small publisher. They work with me. And they've never screamed at me.

September 18, 2011 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Lee said...

Great thoughts, Michelle, as always. :)

I honestly have no idea what I want to do. No idea whether I should self-publish or go with a small publisher. I'm not even really daydreaming about the Big Six because I don't write boxy stuff.

I don't know what to do or even what I'm doing but posts like this certainly help while I try to muddle my way through.

September 18, 2011 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Susan: I'm sorry to hear that you've had a bad experience with a small press, but it looks like your good experiences are outweighing it! I wish you luck with the self-publishing! I loved publishing on my own, but I had to decide on one or the other considering some circumstances in my life right now - so I chose small press for now and self-publishing for any other small projects I might have.

Alex: I've heard nothing but good things about your small publisher! :)

Cynthia: Aww, well, nobody says you have to have it figured out right now or tomorrow. If you ever have any questions, just let me know. :)

September 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Great post. Thanks to Anne and Diana for all their hard work.

I know I am swimming upstream in this giant "tank" yet I still like the (D) choise: All of the above.

I am currently sending out a straight literary work to small press lit. pubs. My goal is to use this venue for the work I believe is not "commercial" for agents or major publishers. Also, it is one of three novellas and that word is a horrible concept to major pubs these days.

In my future (hee hee) I wish to go through all three; popular fiction with an agent/my personal bent for lit. to small press/and my shorter YA and MG novellas to indies; Create Space or the like.

Since I believe you and Anne that these are hard times, I see no reason to wait to pub the work I find most dear, and the other can go through the mill grinder and I'll see what happens.

Loved your series on small press, Diana and took note of many names.

September 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous India Drummond said...

I'd add a word of caution about small presses. My first book (a paranormal romance titled Ordinary Angels) was published with a small press (I've since gotten back my rights and self-published it), and my second book I self-published. My experience with that small press was sadly not a good one. I realised they didn't do anything for me I couldn't either do myself or hire done (and contracting someone was MUCH cheaper than giving away 60% of my royalties for 5 years--the only way this is a bargain is if you plan to sell small numbers of books, something no author should have in their plan.) Things got bad with that publisher, and I feel lucky to have gotten away with my rights, especially when I've seen other authors fare very badly when relationships soured. The stories are common, but authors seem to keep them private because they dont' want to be seen as complaining or negative by potential readers.

I would never sign with another publisher unless they offered either a huge advance or something I wouldn't have access to as an indie, such as a promotional budget or shelf space in big bookstores, translation deal or a film deal, etc (I know film isn't handled via the publisher, but that's the kind of thing I mean--something I can't do on my own). I make SO much more money as an indie author, and sales of my self-pubbed version of the book that small press put out are much bigger because I sell at a more attractive price (2.99 compared to 5.50) and I have a better cover (a fun, custom illustration depicting my exact characters rather than a $10 stock photo image.)

So, not all small presses are equal, and I would personally never encourage someone to sign with one, especially if all they're offering is 'validation.' I get my validation in the form of a monthly direct deposit from Amazon. =)

September 18, 2011 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger jbchicoine said...

The longer I delve into the whole publishing process (right now it's just researching and submitting), the more scared I am of the Big 6 and the direction in which they are moving.

I have never given consideration to the publisher when I choose a book to read--it's almost always by referral, and I think I like that avenue for getting published, too.

As for my hopes? I'm with Michelle--slow and steady and happy! Great posts, ladies! Thanks for the analysis!

September 18, 2011 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

fOIS: Thank you for your comment. It looks like you have a good plan ahead of you and most importantly, you know what YOU want and you're going after it. I think the key to any of this is doing your research and knowing what you want. I also think you're smart for considering different publishing avenues for different projects. Sometimes different books need different outlets.

India: Thank you for your words of caution. I've included a similar caution in my small publisher series and I hope that people read thoroughly through that if they are considering that route. Not all publishers in ANY arena are equal - and I must add that not all authors are cut out for self-publishing. In fact, I must say I don't think most of them are. Many authors write amazing books, but make a terrible president of their own publishing company.

I understand why you'd be wary to sign with another publisher because of your experience, but there are so many others out there who have had amazing experiences with their small publishers that it's a shame if you discourage everyone from signing with a publisher and only going the self-publishing route. This is why I try to strongly make the point that no one route is the best way. It completely depends on the individual.

I love your covers, by the way! I think you've done an amazing job with independently publishing. :)

Bridget: I think you and I write fiction that's far enough from the mark of mainstream that going slow and steady is the best way. For other authors, maybe not. Although aiming big is a wonderful thing to do, it's good to have realistic expectations.

I've really enjoyed being on this journey with you!

September 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Clarissa Draper said...

What a wonderful post. I agree with you that the big six are in bad shape. I think more and more are going with the small publishers. I know that I don't buy from the bookstores anymore, only Kindle.

September 18, 2011 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Amber Argyle, author said...

Good job, Michelle!

September 18, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Spook said...

As a young author who will, hopefully, be self-pubbing her first ever (co-written) novel soon, I think this post is fab. Thankfully I have a veteran pubber on my team (*waves to Mark!*) who can help us through the tricky bits. I'm looking forward to the learning experience, actually!

Now I just need more time to write! o_O

September 19, 2011 at 2:37 AM  
Blogger Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Thank you for the extremely helpful post. After going back to read Michelle's post on her blog about small publishers, I've just about decided to pursue that path.

September 19, 2011 at 6:04 AM  
Anonymous Tiffany Cole said...

What an awesome post, and one I totally understand and agree with! I feel like I want the publication of my first novel, my first series, to be by a smaller house with supportive staff and authors because I *know* I'll need that atmosphere just to understand what I'm getting myself into. I do my research; I mostly pretend to come across as a person who really understands the publishing game, but the truth is that I'm still not even old enough to (legally) drink. And I know I need to start somewhere small.

September 19, 2011 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Sarah Pearson said...

I'm almost glad I don't have anything ready for publishing yet. Thanks for an interesting post.

September 19, 2011 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Clarissa: I seem to be buying the same amount of print books and Kindle books, but who knows what that will hold in the future. I sure do love to look at them on my shelf. :)

Amber: Thank you!

Spook: Sounds like you have some great help for your publishing adventure! Self-publishing will teach you a lot about the industry. It's pretty fascinating!

Susan: It's a great path to consider if it's a right fit. I wish you the best of luck!

Tiffany: I get that 100% because that's how I've felt - that I needed this really supportive and close atmosphere at first. It has been wonderful.

Sarah: Haha, I totally get that. It's certainly a lot to jump into!

September 19, 2011 at 7:47 AM  
OpenID celiahayes said...

I'd be wary of signing with the Big Six myself - I've been indy-publishing since my first HF ... five years ago. Now, four books later -- and the last two through a teensy regional boutique press, I've developed the connections and the expertise -- and the patience to wait for my pay-off. I'd rather hire an editor, a cover artist, and an interior designer, then hire a publicist, all of whom would work for me first ... rather than have their first loyalty to the Literary Industrial Complex.
The publishing world is changing, radically, and I don't believe the Big Six are adapting very well.

September 19, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger February Grace said...

Amazing post.

I'll admit, all of my angst about the lingering fantasy (and for me it was mostly just fantasy) of getting big-sixed died when I found out who actually owns them via a post by Victoria Mixon awhile back. Actually, it more like just 'poofed' away in a little flitter of pixie dust, and I felt free.

Until then, for a long time I wished I had the emotional fortitude to deal with the mounds and mounds of rejections it would take to try to get there (and I don't, I'm just not emotionally built for it) but then I realized that I didn't want to write 'X Y and Z' as you put it just because that is what they want to sell.

So slowly- very, very slowly, I'm doing what Yoda suggested- I must 'unlearn what I have learned' and go back to writing as I write- for the reasons I originally wrote.

The voices of the characters are barely whispers- hard to hear just now, but they're there and after so long in dead silence, it's a relief to know they still exist. It's ironic that what I've seen/learned about the publishing world in the past year and a half almost killed my ability to write anything, anywhere.

Thank you so much for this-- that story about the author punished for epubbing her short stories just goes to show that the thumb is very big indeed.

I have no desire to be trapped beneath it's crushing force.

thanks for this.


(PS to Anne- I am so, so so sorry I owe you so many comment replies. Bear with me- difficult time right now. xoxo ~bru)

September 19, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Jack LaBloom said...

Thanks for an informative post. Good information to know before we jump into the publishing pond. It may be quite a bit deeper than we think, or not deep enough.

September 19, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Kiara Davenport is in a tight place right now, but this is a symptom of something bigger. The Kindle market will soon call the shots if the big publishers won't start to embrace it rather than fight it. The Kindle success stories are multiplying. If the big six don't go with it, they won't win this.

September 19, 2011 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thank you all for all of these great comments. And thanks especially to Michelle for taking over duties here while I was hanging out with people like agent Laurie McLean and Smashword's Mark Coker at the CCWC. Mark gave this blog a shout-out on Smashwords today. I'm so jazzed.

It's great to hear from people like Susan and Alex--and of course Michelle--who are so happily publishing with small presses-but it's also very helpful to hear from people like India who have had bad experiences.

Small presses are not created equal. Like any small business, they are often on precarious financial footing. This can mean anything from slow payment of royalties to "creative" accounting, to the sudden demise of the company. That happened with my first publisher, Babash-Ryan. The death of one of the partners, combined with an epic flood that destroyed all their inventory and printing equipment left them unable to keep going or to pay their staff.

Bru--No need to apologize for not commenting. I'm just so glad to have you back. The way you fight your health challenges is an inspiration to us all.

Jack--Glad this helps. You've got some fun creative ideas that I think will be perfectly suited to indie publishing.

Ben--You're so right that the Big 6 are not getting it. I don't think they'll go out of business entirely, but they're going to have to downsize, and they may be publishing nothing but Snookibooks, which is what Mark Coker sees coming.

September 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous D. August Baertlein (Dawn) said...

Another great post. Thanks, Anne, for sharing Michelle with us.

Anne, it was so great to meet you this weekend at the Central Coast Writers' Conference. You are every bit as entertaining and informative in person as you are on your blog, and it was a great pleasure to pick your brain in person.

For better or worse, you are the number one reason I have found the courage to pull some manuscripts out of my drawer, clean them up (again!) and look for a non-Big-6 way to get them out there. Thanks!

September 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Ranae Rose said...

Whoa. What that publisher did to Ms. Davenport really does make them seem like the business equivalent of a jealous, overreactive boyfriend. What a suckfest for her. Yikes.

September 19, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article on alternatives to Big6 publishers. I would have liked a link to a list of small publishers. I'm sure I can find a list on my own, but having such a link seemed appropriate. (I know, picky-picky.)
---Rrrandy Wurst

September 19, 2011 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dawn--So great to meet you, too. I'm so glad I've helped inspire you to get your writing out there. It's such a great time to be a writer!

Ranae--Yup. Big Six is acting just like one of those battering spouses. Luckily there are shelters for most of us. But Kiana is going through some seriously bad times.

Rrrandy--I wish I knew of a list of vetted small publishers. There's a well-known guide to small presses and literary magazines that comes out once a year from Dustbooks.com, but I think the subscription is $50 a year. Also, it doesn't tell you if they're sucky or not. Mostly you have to ask around and network with other writers. Michelle has more info on her site.

September 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Rrrandy: If you go to my small-publisher series linked above in the comments you'll find that the posts have a lot of author's testimonials about their small publishers. That should be a good starting point for you. However, Anne is right - you just need to research and network.

September 19, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Sorry to run off! I will answer the other comments at a later time. Gotta get my child to bed and then get some solid revision time in while she's actually asleep. :)

September 19, 2011 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

Anybody who has been writing and seeking publication for a while would be wise to do their research before signing with anybody.

Sad, that a publisher wouldn't understand the writer taking the initiative to try and create a demand for her upcoming book.

As we know, all small publishers are not created equal, but there are some great ones out there.

I've given up on chasing the seemingly unattainable. Having published with two small publishers and now putting a small collection out on my own, I have the courage to continue taking small, but progressive steps. The last thing I want it to be steam-rolled or taken advantage of because I've deluded myself into thinking I'll hit it big in a jiffy.

Anne and Michelle, thanks for the info.

September 20, 2011 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

J.L. I'm so impressed with the dynamic ways you're pumping up your career. I think the move from small pub to indie makes sense. But it sure helps to start out with a publisher behind you. (One that you've carefully vetted, of course.)

Your new book DON'T GET MAD, GET EVEN looks like a must-read. A book that involves revenge AND a little literary journey to Jamaica sounds like a must-read to me. It's on my list.

September 20, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

Anne, thanks for dropping by my blog and for your kind words.

Before I was published traditionally, self-publishing was something I NEVER would have considered. Matter of fact, publishing with a small publisher was not on my horizon either. And then reality hit. :)

In these changing times, most, if not all writers, will have to make some attitude adjustment if we want to get our work in front of readers.

I'm doing my research and learning as I go. Blogs like yours help keep me current in a fast-changing climate. Thanks again.

September 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I so enjoyed Michelle's small pub series the first time around, and this is a great (and timely!) reminder of it!

Small pubs are definitely a reasonable alternative, as is, increasingly, self-publishing. Authors should carefully consider all their options.

Great post!

September 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Celia: I think some authors are simply cut out to do things on their own. They would be much too stifled within the confines of a publisher. I'm kind of half-and-half. I'm happy to have a publisher who gives me a lot of freedom. I hope the Big Six keep up. It's sure interesting to watch!

Bru: I've loved watching your journey and I'm really happy to see you coming to a good place with your creativity and not feeling stifled by what you think an industry expects of you.

Jack: Hah, yes!

Ben: I hope the Big Six keeps up, like what I said up above, but I think either way publishing will thrive in some form or another.

D. August: You're very welcome! I'm jealous you got to meet Anne. :)

Ranae: I agree! I hope her experience is more isolated than not.

J.L.: I'm in the small-step phase, too. I think that's the best way to get anywhere for people with my type of personality, especially. Thank you for coming by to read!

September 20, 2011 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Susan: Thank you for coming by! I think these reminders are good for everyone, absolutely. :)

September 20, 2011 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger bob said...

Good post, Anne. The world of publishing is changing rapidly. Who knows where it will lead.

September 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous donna galanti said...

Great post! And very timely for many. I just signed with a small press as I dont believe anymore in wooing the Big 6. I also know as a first time author I'll have to do all the promotion myself whether small press or Big 6. I feel more in control of my destiny going with a small press. And who says I cant try again with the Big 6 or another press for my next book? I see many authors publishing their numerous books thru various small presses.

I also have a writer friend who was mid-list with the Big 6. They gave her a 2-book deal and then cancelled before the 2nd one went to print, so she was stuck. She self pubbed it anyway and making way more royalties!

Exciting time to be an author!

September 27, 2011 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Angela Ackerman said...

Great post. I think as writers we need to see the whole picture, and what different levels of publishing can offer us, not focus on one area alone. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

September 27, 2011 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Tahlia Newland said...

Wow that story about the author publishing her own stuff and the big publisher pulling that stunt on her really blew my sox off. I'm about to do pretty much the same, except that I haven't got a contract yet. My agent's still hanging out for one. I guess I'd better talk to her first, but I'm scared she'll try to talk me out of it. If I self publish on ebook before I sell the novel, it should be ok, shouldn't it? What do you think? Anyway I'm off to buy her book.

September 29, 2011 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

bob--thanks a bunch.

donna--Sounds like you've made a good choice. Thanks for sharing the story of your friend. I think that's happening more and more. Trad. publishers will have to come around or lose a huge share of the market. Some day they will be safe again. But most aren't right now.

Angela--we sure do have to explore all options.

Thalia--Run everything by your agent. The author I talked about had published all this stuff before she signed the contract (one anthology and all the stories in the second one had been published BEFORE she signed.) If your agent can make sure you don't have to sign a "non-compete" clause, you'll be OK. Some publishers aren't complete idiots and they have realized that two books out by an author means more sales of both.

September 29, 2011 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Fabulous post, Anne. The world of publishing is changing at such a rapid rate that one hardly knows which way to turn. I have tried my hand at epublishing too...

October 19, 2011 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Randy Ross said...

Can anyone recommend a good list of reputable or highly-regarded small publishers?

September 18, 2012 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Randy--Check my "Who are the Big Six" post--link in the sidebar. More info there on small publishers with a link to the Poets and Writers list of small publishers. It's hard to keep up, since they spring up and go out of business very fast.

September 19, 2012 at 9:42 AM  

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