C is for Check Out

I'm interested an a small-press. They managed to impress me, and I'm hard to impress. I know they don't pay a good advance, but they put out a nice product. How do I check on them further without actually submitting to them?

I'm interested, but i'm not totally stupid. Or, at least I strongly deny being that stupid. Ok, so maybe I'm an inch away from being stupid. I still want to check them out before I send them anything. How do I do it?

When you say check them out do you mean find out if they will break your heart by taking your book out of print if it doesn't sell 2000 hardcover copies in three months? Do you mean will they not pay royalties till a year after the money is earned? Do you mean even then they won't pay you if the distributor or wholesaler goes broke?

Cause if the answer is yes to any of those questions you're in a world of hurt cause that is standard industry practice.

If you mean, will they put out a book that looks good and you'd be proud to give your mom, feed to the goat, show off at your high school reunion, the best way is to actually buy the books they publish and read them. Or, if you don't have a couple hundred lying around to do that, get them from the library.

One of the very best ways to know anything about a publisher is read the books they publish AND see if the library system owns them. Librarians, those finicky beasts, tend not to waste their precious dollars on vanity press items. They are almost as flinty eyed as Miss Snark when it comes to sniffing out publishers who should be alphabetized as C not P.

And if you want to know what they are like to deal with, email their authors. Particularly the ones who aren't on the front list. Authors will give you the scoop, particularly if you ask "would you go with these guys again".

Small publishers are good people as a rule. The good ones love books and want to create good and lasting ones. The realities of the marketplace make that very very hard to pull off, but there are some good successful small presses.

If you are writing in a genre, check out the list of acceptable publishers for membership in MWA, SFFWA and the Romance folks. If this publisher isn't on that list, tread warily.


Unknown said...

It has suddenly become clear to me that Miss Snark has a book in her on the subject of writers and agents and pulishers - and this is a perfect example of one of the chapters.

Miss Snark said...

Heartbreak Hotel?

Rio Bravissimo?


Half the charm of this blog is the readers; that would be missing in a book.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, though, RWA requires a publisher sell at least 5000 copies of a single title in a year to qualify. A press might be small, and still good, while not making quite that goal.

Plus, some of RWA's recent decision have made it less attractive for soe publishers to strive for RWA recognition.

Eva said...

Miss Snark,
You could include some of the comments from this blog and create the book to look like the blog, maintaining the dialogue and its charm. The character you've built up here along with that of Killer Yap, this would go over well in the book.

You could keep your psuedonym so that this blog wouldn't die with the birth of your book. Only a few people would have to know your true identity. If you appeared on talk shows, they could blur out your face and deepen your voice.

You have hundreds of readers here who would buy it. I sure would. In fact, I'd prefer having a book as my reference to trying to hunt down topics from your archives. (I'm assuming you'd organize this book by topic.) And even though I'd have the book, I'd still want to read your blog.

You could have a few of the "readers" in your book have some memorable qualities just like you and Killer Yap. You could have your depressed commenter who thinks she sucks as a writer and who thinks every rejection letter is a personal affront, your naive hopeful, your overly arrogant bully-grouch, etc. In other words, you could make composites out of some of the real people here and form them into characters that stand out in the book among the many commenting.

Think about it. And try to time its publishing debut around Christmas. Every writer (and many agents) would want one as a gift!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, no one said a word about RWA or romance, and you never specified "qualify for what." What you mean, is that a press needs to sell 5000 copies of a romance novel for a romance novel published by that company to be eligible for entry into the yearly RWA contest.

If you don't want to enter into the contest, and, more importantly, if you don't write romance, what RWA "qualifies" means NOTHING to you. And their guidelines are also a cinch. Anyone who thinks differently is kidding themselves, scandal or no.

A romance writing friend of mine was published by a spectacular small press that doesn't commonly do romance. She got press all over, and a cover blurb by a BIG author of a love story. But her press didn't apply because they didn't want every romance writer from here to Calcutta rushing them because they were on the RWA list.

Unknown said...

I agree with Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms A. -
each chapter will have advice interspliced with the queries that suggested the topic,followed by some of the responses and then your responses to those responses.

Now if there are any agents (since an agent who represents themself has a fool for a client)or editors or publishers lurking out there - now is the time to reverse query our Miss Snark on this book....

Unknown said...

Sorry. In a lot pain lying on floor and missed seeing it was Eva and not 'A' who made that last comment...

Unknown said...

Miss Snark Explains It All; Everything Any Writer Needs To Know About Anything

Anyone who wants to be a writer will buy it for the advice; anyone who is a writer will buy it for the humor. The glossary alone should put the Devil's Dictionary to shame...

Let the pre-empts begin.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, SFWA is not a useful resource for checking out small presses. Small presses do not count as 'Qualifying Professional Markets' for SFWA membership. Indeed, according to the guidelines on their Membership Requirements page, merely being listed as a small press in LMP is enough to disqualify a publisher from SFWA's list.

Anonymous said...

A small correction, lest I should be rent limb from limb by loyal and pedantic SFWAns:

It may be possible for a house to get on SFWA's list even if it is listed as a small press by LMP, but there are so many other requirements that any house that can fulfil them all is probably no longer a small press by LMP's standards.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, no one said a word about RWA or romance, and you never specified "qualify for what." What you mean, is that a press needs to sell 5000 copies of a romance novel for a romance novel published by that company to be eligible for entry into the yearly RWA contest.

Anonymous 2, first of all, Miss Snark mentioned checking out a publisher with the Romance people in her post. Which would mean finding out if the publisher was recognized by RWA.

What I don't mean, is a novel selling x amount of copies to be eligible for the RITA contest. This is incorrect as far as I know from reading the RITA guidelines for the last several years-if your book is published by an RWA-recognized publisher it's eligible for the RITA regardless of how many copies it's sold.
A publisher must sell 5000 copies of a single novel to be recognized as a publisher by RWA-for sales to that publisher to count as sales for RWA members, for example, or for that publisher to be included in RWA's annual Market Update.

I don't really understand why you needed to take that totally nasty tone with me, either. Miss S mentioned "the Romance people". I said yes, that's true, but there are good small presses out there that don't have RWA recognition. Oooh, how dare I.

And your story about your friend illustrates my point, not yours-there are romance presses out there who do not wish to be RWA-recognized. Not sure why you used it to argue with me?

-Anon 1-

Anonymous said...

A publisher must sell 5000 copies of a single novel to be recognized as a publisher by RWA-for sales to that publisher to count as sales for RWA members, for example, or for that publisher to be included in RWA's annual Market Update.

Because of this ridiculousness. It does so count as a sale for the member, no matter who "recognizes" it. Are you getting money? then you've sold. Quit whining. And I haven't seen the last time the market Update said anyhting useful, or that hadn't already been on the web for three months.

The only thing it counts for is the RITA contest. That's it. If you don't care about the contest, then it shouldn't matter to you.

Anonymous said...

Once again, assuming you are the same Anonymous who replied before, why are you getting so shirty about this? It seems we agree-there are good presses out there who are not RWA recognized (and having your sale to an RWA recognized publisher means you get to join their Published Author's Network, for example. It isn't just the RITA.)

Who's whining?

-Anon 1-

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well, this was my question. Checking out the library was a great idea. My pet librarian, the one who sips tea and eats butter cookies with me, tells me she never heard of them.

Some additional research brought me to the conclusion that they may be legitimate, but they're not for me.

Now, you two Anonies, just be a quitin' the fightin' or I'll sic my killer goat on ya. And you know what goats do, don't ya? You'll need a bath after. So just you be nice, buster!

Oh, and a Snarkie book? Ummm dunno. I'd rather visit the blog. I think a book would lose the quirky flavor the blog has. Quirky is nice.

However, if Snarkie wishes to write a book based on the blog, its title should be: Adventures Among the Natives; or, How I Escaped Being de-Snarkified by Publication Hungry Writers, Being the Adventures of an American Agent, a Member of the Corps of Discovery, Seeking the Perfect Prose Rumored to Exist in the Unexplored Wilds of Farthest Scribletania, and Now Revealed for the First Time.

I have a weakness for long titles.

Anonymous said...

The merest mention of Rabbitania in any book guarantees many sales in my country. Please do include us, Miss S, and we will buy many copies of your magnum opus to shred for our beds.

Anonymous said...

I tremble, because I fear I must disagree with Miss Snark: Some of the small or indie presses do not immediately let your book fall out of print becasue of low sales.

Houses like MacAdam/Cage are known for keeping books in print longer and pushing their backlist. A lot of small presses differ from Standard Industry Practice in this regard. They can't afford to publish titles and then look at them two months later as if they've never heard of them.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark's post and some of the accompanying comments here have made me remember something in the category I'll call Regarding the Habits of Goats

When a goat likes a book, the whole book is gone
and the meaning has to go find an author again.

(From the poem 'The Trouble With Reading' by William Stafford)

Bad Pete sez: May that be an inspiration to all kinds of pixies!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Bad Pete,

Your post has inspired me to confusion. My goats inspire me to laugh, shake my head, and rake nasty smelling straw.

Was there a point to your post? Please explain it. I'm confused.

The Princess Herself, Pixie Warrior, Queen of Goats, Mistress of the Black Oreo, Conservator of the Sha Nesting Grounds, and humble seller of books.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Ms. P o' P--

Here was my mental process clarified: First, I encountered that bit of Miss Snark's post here that read "...they will put out a book that looks good and you'd be proud to...feed to your goat" and then you wrote in above comment to said post "you know what goats do." These two comments on goat behavior amused me and immediately brought to my mind the two lines of this poem, which also amuse me. And which I thought you might also enjoy and/or appreciate.

The final clue to my jig-jag mental process is that the author of the poem suggests that when a goat eats a book it is gone, but its essence could be/should be re-created in another book by another author. (At least that's how I interpreted it to suit myself) So okay, it's a weird few jumps of my mind (the lack of recommended ritilin d'ya think??), but it just made me think, all those books of yours that Bill E. may have appetized on...maybe one of them had an essence now freed up for you to possibly use to create/recreate into something cooly truly yours. But mostly it was just all in goat fun, nuthin too seeerious or literal. One can find ideas anywhere, i believe...even in a goat's munchies. Da's all!