In an effort to grow my Quarter Castle Publishing business and publish books by more authors, I’m looking for help from authors who have been published by small presses. I want to be fair to authors while still being able to operate a successful publishing company that can expand and stand on its own two feet without government assistance.
I have never received nor will I ever request any money from government sources to publish books. You’ve seen those little notes of acknowledgement in the front of books, where publishing companies thank the government for funding. Getting money from government means following their rules and fitting into their mould. Government money always comes with strings, and I don’t want them.
As more manuscripts arrive in the proverbial ‘slush’ pile and my assistant and I review them, I’m thinking about contracts, treating these authors with respect and wondering how their stories will perform.
I already have a fair contract for short stories that have been published in anthologies, and the books I’ve published by other authors were done on a case-by-case basis. But now, I have a few questions so I can get a better view of publishing as a small press.
When answering the questions, I don’t want specifics. I don’t want the name of the publishing company. I’m looking for information in general.
1) In your experience, do authors in small presses get an author’s advance? If so, about how much? You can use ranges ($100 to $500; $500 to $1,000, etc.). I already know many authors in large publishing houses do, and well-known authors do, but what about very small presses?
2) When it comes to exclusive rights, in your experience, how long do publishers want to be the only one publishing your book? Again, ranges work (1 to 5 years; 6 to 10 years) Or is it forever until the publisher decides to return the rights? Which seems rude, but I’m sure some do that.
3) I’ve heard author royalties are between 5 and 10%. Is this what you’ve experienced? Or is it different. If different, what is it?
4) With regard to these questions, what would you consider a reasonable author advance, length of exclusive rights and author royalties? The key word is reasonable for a small press with an unknown author, who might be getting their first book published, a book that won’t sell a thousand copies, maybe not even 500.
If you have experience with small presses and answer these questions, I really appreciate it. Thank you. Diane