The Challenges of an Indie Publisher

When I decided to become the first author of an independent Publisher, I had no idea what I was getting into. There are benefits to being part of a small independent publisher who’s just starting out, but there are also drawbacks. Since I’m the type of person who prefers to make lemonade out of lemons, I was up for the challenge.

After the exhausting process of querying my novel, I was elated when I was offered a contract by a small independent publisher. Then I read the contract offered and was a bit floored. No, I wouldn’t get a big author’s advance check, but I’d get a tiny one. Then I’d give up virtually all my rights with nothing to show for my hard work other than to be able to say that I was published.

The Benefits of being an author of a Small Press / Indie Publisher:

I get to have a voice. When I look over the contract I have the ability to negotiate. If they don’t agree, they usually state why. I have input in the cover design, marketing, event planning and every aspect of the promotion of my book. For me, a control freak, who was also a business major in school  – this was wonderful!

The pitfalls of being an author of a Small Press / Indie Publisher:

Stigmatism of not being an author from one of the big boys is typical, yet changing. There were times when my publisher asked me to send out review request and the responses of reviewers were ‘we don’t look at small press’, ‘no indie here’, ‘are you their only author? If so don’t send your book for review’. I would forward these emails to the publisher and he would get angry. He owns several other businesses and stated that he’d never seen such prejudice against a small startup company.  To be fair, with as many nay-sayers we ran into there were staunch supporters who were impressed with my publisher’s business model. So much so, they requested to send in submissions for when he took on new authors. Stores and other promotional outlets offered their support. What garnered their support was the professionalism and the quality of the product offered.

Overall I’ve learned a lot:

As an author of an indie (Independent Publisher), I’ve learned about team work. I realized that being an author means a lot more than writing a book. I haven’t gotten paid millions, probably put out more than I’d make with marketing, time and promotion – but for me I’m happy. I’ve learned every part of the inner workings of all publishing companies and if I should ever decide to go with one of the big boys – I’ll know my worth to them as an author. I will also know every single aspect of the publishing business and what I give up when I sign away my rights to my work. That’s why I advise all authors to research and learn everything about the publishing business possible. It will help you make an informed decision about your career as a writer.

LM Preston is the author of Explorer X – Alpha and The Pack,


  1. BubbleCow says

    ‘I realized that being an author means a lot more than writing a book’ is my take away from this article…

  2. Loni Emmert says

    Good article, very insightful. Small publishers do give authors the experience that they need and, in reality, if you want anything you create to sell you have to help get out and promote it. I think that the new wave of authors have realized that and embrace every opportunity to grow their audience. I have heard some authors complain about how much they have spent and invested in their writing career but they need to realize that no one is forcing them to be a writer and, if they love what they are doing, then it is time and money well spent.