Wednesday 18 October 2017

Small isn't always beautiful

The first of two workshops I went to on Saturday as part of Birmingham Lit Fest was hosted by Mslexia's editor Debbie Taylor, who I'm afraid didn't make a very good impression on me. She wanted to postpone the start in case anyone arrived late (a suggestion that was firmly quashed by the organisers!); she had rushed to get there and told us she hadn't had time to read through her notes: and when she did start talking she realised she was using the wrong notes! And she didn't know how long the session was supposed to last. Most unprofessional, I thought.

Anyway, the theme was: Meet the editors - specifically, the brains behind a selection of small press publishers. The panel comprised:
What was clear was that running a small press is a labour of love. All the speakers were keen to point out that they don't make any money. In particular, Carlotta said that despite not taking any advertising and not charging for the online edition, she still pays her contributors. OK, only a fiver a time, but still. That's just crazy!

Nor should you think that you stand a better chance of being accepted by a small publisher. Each was oversubscribed, whether operating a submissions window or an open-door policy.

Certainly the books on show were lovely, but I came away thinking that if you can't get a deal with a mainstream publisher, why not simply self-publish?

Does anyone have any experience of these or other small press publishers?


  1. I've had the good luck to find a small press that does a good job of promoting its authors. But I've browsed through lists and seen some of the problems you mention. Any way you cut it, getting published is a different world of endeavor than writing. I did self-publish one book, and after the excitement wore off, I realized how much work it was. I'm not sure I'm keen on doing it again.

    1. I'm sure there are some great companies out there, and no doubt they are sincere in their endeavours. It just seems like a lot of work for very little reward for anyone involved - but I'm happy to hear evidence to the contrary.