Friday 3 December 2010

Home Sweet Home - Karen Ball

Your perfect home?

What type of publisher would give you the perfect home? 'Any publisher that will have me!' some authors might be tempted to cry. Do you enjoy the small but perfectly formed, or are you more inclined to play with the big boys? Now, more than ever, this question is worth thinking about. What are the publisher pros and cons?

The lean, mean running machine
I've been watching these types with interest. Specifically, I'm thinking about Strident Publishing and Nosy Crow. Small enough to be able to move quickly, adapt, and be flexible. In our fast-changing world, do you want a publisher that is light on its feet, open-minded and able to move with the times? You may not receive the biggest deal in monetary terms, but you'd be on an exciting ride.

The weighty
I'm talking about the big corporate publishers that can change an author's world with huge advances, online marketing, author tours, international attention... The world is your oyster - and what a big world it is. Authors either sink or swim in this environment. It can be breathtaking, exhilarating, terrifying. It's the dream most of us are encouraged to chase, but is it the right dream for you? I'd encourage writers to look at themselves and ask some honest questions. Would I thrive under this scrutiny? Can I confidently satisfy my part of the deal? Is big best? It can be - oh, it can be! But remember, it's not the only option.

The man in the middle
An imprint can give you the best of both worlds. The weight and financial security of a big publisher but with the cosy, personal touch of a small, finely selected list of books. What an honour to be hand-picked! What an added bonus that the eccentric publisher has a finely oiled publicity machine behind him!

The independent publishing company
There are still a few commercially successful publishing companies that haven't been gobbled up to become a slice in a large corporate pie. These homes usually have a USP - investment in quality production, a picture book list that thrives, an ethos of publishing such as cultural diversity. There will be eccentricities to these lists and their ways of working, but something very special too - the independence to make brave publishing choices.

The ???
With the advent of ebooks and apps, are there brand new publishing companies out there waiting to burst into existence? Possibly ones that don't have an office, a printing press, or a single book to fill a shelf? Digital content only. Interesting times. Would you play?

Have I missed any out? Is there a publishing home that has earned your loyalty? Do you know what suits you best? If you're on the cusp of a deal, it's worth pausing and thinking, Is this the right home for me?

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Julie P said...

Hi, Karen

There certainly is a bewildering array of publishing options out there and something writers should give a great deal of thought to.

Great post. It's certainly given me something to think about. I'm nowhere near needing a publisher, but if I ever do need one I'm not looking forward to wading through the many that are out there!

Julie xx

Anne Cassidy said...

Karen, this presupposes that we are the ones doing the choosing. Not the case in my experience.

karen ball said...

Oh, I know, Anne! But it's worth being aware which type of publisher you're throwing your lot in with.

Stroppy Author said...

Anne, you do have some choice in who you submit to. If your first choice of publishers don't like your book, fair enough, you have to move on. But I think Karen is right to recommend thinking about it. And you don't have to take a deal from a publisher you don't feel 'fits'. I've walked from deals in the past - even with no other home for the book - rather than sign up with the wrong publisher.

Karen- I hope to be one of your '???' publishers in the new year!

karen ball said...

Ooh, Stroppy Author - that sounds exciting!

35jupe said...

Self-publishing. Or, rather, founding one's own tiny publishing house.

I realize that it's not the dream that we're encouraged to chase. However. If you've the money, the business head, research capability and the time to do it, it's a possibility.

Admittedly, personally it's my last choice. But it is still an option.