I read your piece last week about how long it takes to get published. I've written a book which I think would be most suited to a small press, but I have no idea where to start looking for one. I'm also a little nervous because I've seen a few authors complaining online about small presses going bankrupt or failing pay regularly and I really don't want to accidentally send my book to a bad one.
Can you give me any advice about how to pick a good one?
You are very wise to be cautious. It's very easy to set up a website and call yourself a small press, but much harder to actually run one and run one well.
In terms of finding a small press, Authors Publish have great lists for presses large and small that accept submissions without an agent across any number of genres.
Once you find one you're interested in, my first piece of advice would be to check how long it has been in business. If it's a year or less, I would be very wary. I would also check Writer Beware before sending any queries to a small press. They often hear about trouble far earlier than anyone else.
I also suggest you look into how they distribute their books. If you want to see your book in bookstores, you need to make sure your small press has a means to get it there. Many small presses are digital only or print-on-demand. This does not get your book onto bookstore shelves and you don't want to be in a position where the only way to get your books into stores is to buy them yourself and schlepp around trying to hand-sell copies to booksellers. You rarely make any money that way, and often end up losing it once you take into account freight costs to get the books to you and the bookseller's commission. Or you end up having to charge so much for the book to break even, no one is going to buy it.
And of course the most important thing is to read any contract you are given very, very carefully. If you can afford a lawyer, please get them to look over your contract before you sign it. Some presses have terrible contracts that are difficult to get out of should something go wrong down the track.
Hopefully that helps. If you have any further questions, just holler! And best of luck finding the dream home for your book.
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