I’m seeing more and more writers jump from querying agents to submitting to small publishers. There are a lot of mid size publishers that pay advances and are very reputable that accept author submissions directly. Too many times I see writers on my writing sites totally miss this next step. This is due to a lack of research. You don’t want to be pitted with a contract from a small publisher you never heard of, or has barely any web presence and have to consider it. Don’t. At least do all the research possible about the publishing company before you make any decisions.
Don’t just submit to the first thing that pops up on Google. You should investigate thoroughly before submitting. Even if that means looking on the 25th page of Google. There are many sites to help you along the way. AbsoluteWrite: Bewares, andBackground Checks is a great source for writers. If you don’t see the publisher listed, become an active member and post a thread about that publisher. Find out if anyone else has had experience with that particular publisher. Ask a lot of questions. Get in touch with the authors. Check their books out on Amazon. Do they have good rankings? Can you find their books in the libraries? Find out their distribution and how they market the book. To widen your search get the Writer’s Market books. Inside you find out more info on if they pay advances, what books they publish and so on.
If you are iffy about a publisher, listen to your gut. It is trying to tell you something. Don’t just take the deal because you desperately want to get published. Do all your homework. If you are having a horrible time trying to find an agent and have pretty much exhausted the list, don’t just start submitting to small publishers. There are still big to mid size publishers you can submit to. Find out what genres they take, read all the guidelines and follow them properly. It might take a long time to hear back, but don’t give up. Don’t just slide down the publishing pole to the smallest of publishers.
Now I’m not saying that every small publisher is bad. Some are very reputable and will help you with your publishing career. It is a good stepping stone to getting published. You will build your publishing history and will develop followers. But don’t expect everything from them.
I am going to say it again, RESEARCH your heart out first before you actually sign on the dotted line. Ask yourself what you really want out of this? Is it just to be published? Do you expect to earn money from this? What are your long term goals in publishing?
I know it’s very difficult and when you finally do get that acceptance letter from somewhere, it may seem great. But when you find out the publisher is not what you thought, run like the wind. Always, always, remember, it is better to be unpublished than published by a bad publisher. It’s hard to get your rights back and even harder to sell it as reprints.
You’ve put your whole heart and energy into your writing. You owe it to yourself to put that much effort or more into finding the right publisher. Never make any decision in haste. You may regret it in the long run.