Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. holds a picture book contest each year, which is a wonderful opportunity for authors and illustrators to get their books in print. I entered my manuscript, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, in the 2009 contest and won 1st place out of hundreds of entries. The prize was a contract with DFP and I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, DFP has picked an illustrator, Chet Taylor, who is currently bringing the story to life, and the finished book is due to release in September 2010.
Maybe it has something to do with my college days. I chose to attend a small, liberal arts college in Pennsylvania over a number of other larger schools. The feeling of camaraderie and the individual attention drew me in. It’s the same with small presses. I can pick up the phone and talk to my editor or send an e-mail and know I’ll get a prompt response. It’s close-knit, and I like that feeling.
I firmly believe the work I share with the public should give back in some way as well. My first novel, O.Y.L., partners with American Forests. A one dollar donation goes to American Forests for each book sold, which results in a tree planted in the U.S.–One book, one dollar, one tree.
Mice Don’t Taste Like Chicken will team with Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and proceeds from each sale will benefit the organization. As far as effectiveness goes, I know it’s effective because of the good feeling I have in my heart and the response I receive from the organizations.
I do belong to quite a few associations. I give them one year, and if the benefits of joining are not yet evident, I don’t renew. But I think within my niche of outdoor adventure writing, it can only improve my visibility to belong to larger organizations.
Mush with PRIDE is a big one for me personally because they promote the sport of dogsledding as well as promoting good dog care. Their name stands for Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment.
The Outdoor Writers of Canada are a natural fit since I write for outdoor magazines. They are doing a spotlight on me in the next issue of their newsletter, so that’s a definite bonus.
I joined the Dog Writers Association of America mostly because I heard about the dog book contest they have each year. I’ve just joined that group, so I’m not sure how much it will benefit me. But with all those fellow dog writers, I’ll be making new friends and that’s always good.
I do most of my nonfiction writing for the educational market. The books are usually part of a series that is developed by the publisher. They send me a topic assignment and give me guidelines to follow – such as word count, number of chapters, tone, target audience age. To be considered as an author for one of these series, I sent an introductory packet which included my resume, writing background and writing samples. Some of it is being in the right place at the right time – your packet crosses an editor’s desk right when she needs to assign a new series for an age group that you have written for in the past.
The publisher discusses the options and to what is appropriate for the book and then the author makes the final decision on format. My story book, The Golden Pathway, will be available as E-book, Traditional print book, and Audio/Book Video DVD. Once the illustrations for the book are completed, an audio of the text is completed and then compiled into a video with the illustrations.
DANIKA DINSMORE: I’d say don’t just go with someone because they offer to publish your book. Do some research and speak to some of their clients. Talk about the project in detail with them and then go with your gut instinct.
AMY COOK: PM Moon is a traditional press. They print an initial run (for my book, we’re thinking around 2,000 books) and sell through independent bookstores, Amazon.com, Borders and their own website.
LORI CALABRESE: Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. specializes in print-on-demand (POD) books. DFP offers professionally edited fiction in both electronic and hardcover/ paperback versions. Hardcovers are available at the DFP bookstore, Lulu.com and Qoop.com. Paperbacks are available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Boone Bridge, Createspace and Tower.com. Ebooks are available through Lulu.com and Omni-Lit. Titles are also listed by wholesalers Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
DONNA MCDINE: Guardian Angel Publishing works the same as the big boys. They have wholesale books distributed around the globe with Ingram, Baker & Taylor and many more distributors. They have distribution with Canada and Euro countries and most of our books are picked up in English speaking countries.
GAP’s print books are available at all the online bookstores from Amazon, B&N, Borders to Target.com and many more. GAP ebooks also have distribution networks: Follett Digital Resources sells our ebooks to libraries and schools. LSI distributes our ebooks for resale.
Some (and more as time progresses) of our small word count picture books sell on iTunes for iKidsPlay using touch screen technology for phones and iPods and will be available in other formats for phones too.
TERRY LYNN JOHNSON: 4RV Publishing uses Ingram.
CARLA MOONEY: My book will be distributed by two wholesalers, Ingram and Baker & Taylor, and a distributor specifically for library sales. They are also negotiating for general distribution services. My book can also be purchased directly from Soto.
MIRIAM FORSTER: Oaktara does primarily online distribution , though they also work with the author’s local bookstores. Books are available at borders.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com (including the Kindle) and through other major retail websites. They recently hooked a distribution deal with CBD, the major Christian book distributor as well.
DANIKA DINSMORE: Right now the publisher is investigating our options. At first, it’s simply going to be up to us to create reader interest to attract a good distributor.
AMY COOK: This is a great question. I think a couple years ago, small presses definitely were stepping stones, but in the age of POD and in light of the struggles of the larger houses to stay afloat, small presses have a unique opportunity to step into the void. Being small and having lower overhead, they’re better able to adapt to changes in the market and in technology. Publishing is on the cusp of dynamic changes and I hope to see some small houses emerge as pre-eminent, independent publishers instead of imprints of something larger.
LORI CALABRESE: I think publishing with a small press is a great stepping stone for an aspiring writer to break into publishing. The experience I’ve gained by publishing my first book with a small press, DFP, has been great. I don’t see small presses as replacing the larger publishers, but the world needs small presses to champion new voices, focus on niche markets, and reissue out-of-print titles. Thankfully, the internet has made it easier for small presses to reach their customers and share some great stories that might not have been published for one reason or another.
DONNA MCDINE: I see small presses as the wave of the future. While I don’t have experience with large publishers, the one-on-one attention provided at Guardian Angel Publishing is beneficial in learning the correct steps in marketing.
SCOTT HEYDT: I’m too new to the industry to give a confident answer to this question. I’d like to think that one day I might achieve publication by one of the famous New York presses, but that doesn’t have to happen for me to believe in my work. As long as I have the opportunity to share my passion with others, no matter how large the crowd, I feel rewarded.
CARLA MOONEY: I see this a needed and valuable part of the publishing industry.
JO RAMSEY: I think it is what you make of it.
MIRIAM FORSTER: Quite frankly, I have no idea what the future of publishing is going to be, and I try not to think about it too much. For me, worrying about what is coming makes it harder to focus on the writing that I want to do. As far as small presses go, I’d be completely open to doing it again if it was the right fit for the book.
DANIKA DINSMORE: I think, like other entertainment industries, the publishing industry got a bit out of control and out of balance. I think new technologies and social media have leveled the playing field. Just like indie film and music companies bring us important work, so do small presses. I’m glad I chose this path. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I want to support the independents out there!
Learn more about these authors through their website, Indie-Debut 2010.