Monday, February 4, 2013

#SmallPress411 is Here!

A quick post to get this party started with your hosts, Danielle Ellison and Jennifer Iacopelli

First up, Danielle Ellison: 

As writers, we have a mission. Almost as soon as we enter this wonderful community it’s imprinted on our brains: write a book, get an agent, get a book deal. Anything that doesn’t fit in that plan is failure, or a hindrance, or something that obviously means you aren’t good enough. This order – book, agent, deal – is the only way it can happen. Even as I write that I sort of laugh, because we all know it’s not the only way. It’s probably, honestly, not even the most popular way in half the cases.

 There seems to be a common trend lately with writers, especially newer ones who I’ve encountered in both my positions in the writing world—editor at a small press, author at two. I’ve noticed that writers don’t seem to be informed about small presses. It’s a bit crazy to me, considering how much small presses are doing and how popular they’ve become over the last two years or so. (Honestly, before I started working for one I didn’t know much about them either.) But, it’s our duty as writers to know our options. Not just know about our options, but to really know what small presses have to offer.

In this changing climate of publishing, in all the pitch contests online, small press people are probably going to get involved–and when you get that request from an editor at a small press, it’s important that it’s not just pushed away because the author wants an agent. Wanting an agent isn’t a bad thing, but ignoring the validity of a small press could be.

And that’s why I wanted to do this segment.

I wanted to help writers get the information about small presses. I didn’t want it to be all sunshine and roses for the small presses I’m involved with—but I wanted it to be informative, a place where we could discuss the facts about multiple small presses from various points of view. I want people to be informed, and if I have access to the information, then I should share it. So that’s we’re doing here. All the girls at Tangled are somehow involved in small presses, but we’re not alone. I was ranting on twitter after I had this realization about new writers and the lack of small press information, when my friend Jennifer Iacopelli tweeted something like “amen.” And then we emailed. And her passion for small presses, as well as ours, have led us here. To this segment.

And now from Jennifer Iacopelli: 

I was so excited when Danielle ranted on twitter that day, because she was saying exactly what I was feeling.

When I was working on the manuscript of what would eventually become my debut novel, I did copious amounts of research on the publishing process and immediately recognized that the standard practice of unpublished writers was (like Danielle said above): write a book, get an agent, get a book deal. And that’s exactly what I did. I’m represented by Michelle Wolfson and my book deal is with a small press called Coliloquy.

At the time I was on submission, my novel was considered a part of a niche market people insisted didn’t exist (new adult) and thus was a risk. The general feedback from larger publishing houses was that they liked it, but didn’t know what to do with it from a marketing standpoint. Coliloquy, a small, digital-only press, had the ability to take a risk on my book. They had a marketing plan, one that not only supported the story I wanted to tell, but approached marketing in an entirely new way, one I’m more and more excited about the closer we get to release date.

And that’s why I wanted to do this series. I want authors like me to know that their book can find a home, that the options aren't only to self-publish (and all the work that entails) or to shove the manuscript in a drawer if their book isn’t quite the right fit for a larger house. Small presses are a viable and exciting option in the rapidly shifting world of publishing and I promise, after the next three weeks, you’ll think so too!

What is #SmallPress411? 

The intended audience for this blog series is the writer community and agents who haven't worked with small presses before and are interested in them as potential options. We want to the information and put it out there in a non-aggressive, unbiased (as much as possible) format. For the next three weeks, we will be featuring information about small presses. We’ll address business models, the types of projects presses looking for, agent takes on presses, what works or doesn't works in today's rapidly changing market, successes, even failures, distribution/marketing of books, what small presses expect of authors and all about publicity. This is to show writers/agents who have never considered a small press, know next to nothing about them or THINK they know about them, exactly what it is a small press does. This is a platform to put the correct information out there. Here’s a breakdown of the next three weeks:

Agent Week: February 4-8 

Four agents talk about small presses; how they submit, why they submit, if they are valid options, when they aren’t, and what it does (or doesn’t do) for your career.

Publisher Week: February 11-15 

We will be featuring five small presses—Coliloquy, Month9 Books, Entangled Publishing, Luminis Books, Spencer Hill Press/Contemporary—and each day there will be an interview with an editor or owner to talk about their small press does, what they look for, and what they have to offer. This is no way is a pitch for that small press, but a platform to provide information.

Author & Publicist Week: February 18-22 

The last week we have insight from authors at the five featured small presses, as well as publicists from a few of them who will address the biggest concern/misconception/question surrounding the small press: marketing. It’s going to be a great segment. We hope that you participate and really take the time to review the posts. Each day, we encourage you to ask questions in the comments.

On the very last day of the blog series, we’ll be answering as many as we can. We’ll also be all over twitter at #SmallPress411 so promote, ask questions, be involved. We really want this to be a great experience for you, and a tool to help shape your career. So, we’ll see you back here tomorrow with our first agent interview!


  1. Great post - I spread the word on FB, Twitter, and! I LOVE small presses!

  2. Great post! Excited to follow along with the series!

  3. Fabulous start to what will surely be a fabulous series! :D

  4. Such a great idea! Excited to read the upcoming posts!

  5. Awesome!!! Can't wait to follow Small Press #411! We're sitting in the front row with our smart-girl glasses on, ready to learn :-). We're working with a small press (shout out for Spencer Hill- woot!) and yet there's a lot we don't know as publishing is changing so fast. Great idea, ladies!

  6. I am so glad I saw this post! It's something I have started to think about, but I don't know much at all on small presses. I look forward to this series!