Big fish, little fish
Since signing my book deal, I’ve been asked by a few other writers why I decided to go with a small publisher rather than one of the biggies. Before I address that, let me ask you a favour – it will require some imagination.
Close your eyes for a moment and pretend that I did, in fact, have a massive queue of the biggest publishers beating at my door. To be clear, I didn’t.
Having said that, I did have another offer, which I did turn down. I also had my manuscripts out with a couple of other publishers, but as I have now made my decision, they can’t sign them now even if they do want them! I clarify all this because I don’t want anyone thinking I signed with my publisher because I had no choice or other options. There is always a choice.
So, let’s get back to the question. Which is really about why I signed with THIS publisher, and not specifically why I chose small over big, although the two things are linked. Look:
This picture isn’t to do with my goldfish memory, although that could be another story… nope. It’s about small fish. Bear in mind I have no experience with any big publishing houses, but I imagine them to look a lot like this picture. Lots of small fish. Some seem bigger as they are near the front. Some are at the back of the tank and look very small. Then there are some that aren’t gold. Did you notice them at all? There are also some that blur in amongst the background and the other fish swim over them. And they are all swimming in different directions. That’s how I visualise signing with a big publisher.
But, in my mind, a smaller publisher feels a bit more like this:
The pond is still big. It’s a truly massive pond, this publishing thing, to be quite honest. ENORMOUS. But now, we are a smaller group. We are focusing on the same thing. We are a close-knit group who will help each other and offer support, advice, and friendship. We feel as if we are bigger fish because our publisher has time to chat to us, to get to know us, and to teach us how to swim in this massive, massive pond. (Besides, going by this picture, now we are dolphins, and who doesn’t want to be a dolphin?)
In the very short time – five, six weeks, who’s counting? – since I signed with my publisher, I have talked with her alomost daily. Many times daily, often. I have also talked to the other authors she has signed for 2022 book releases. We have met online in a Zoom chat, with another scheduled for next week. We have our own little ‘club’ and our publisher is right there with us, holding our hands (fins?), but also encouraging us to hold each other’s.
And then there’s more: In the few weeks since I signed, I have written more than I’ve written in ages. Because I have a publisher who is willing and happy to take time to explain what is important and how to make the best use of our time between now and the publication dates of our books (and onwards beyond) I have a driving force to propel me forwards.
‘Write a short story to link to your novel,’ she said. ‘It’ll help attract readers in advance of the book release.’ So I did. And it’s pretty good. (It’ll be available soon, watch this space.) And in writing that story I learned some stuff about one of my characters that I didn’t know before, and now I know that from that one little shove from my publisher, I will go on and write more short stories featuring more of the characters from my Cosy Mystery Series and then you, who will become my readers, will have a whole collection of ‘extra knowledge’ to dip into, so you too, can learn more about the characters. I know you know don’t know who Declan is yet, but even I didn’t realise he was quite such a ‘lad’ until I wrote a backstory for him. Poor bloke. I can’t wait to write more about Alice. Or Bert. None of them are main characters, but writing more about them helps them grow and helps me grow. It’s been character building, literally.
And there’s more: ‘Submit a story for our anthology,’ said my publisher. ‘It’ll help to build your audience before the novels are released.’ So I did. And suddenly I have sold two more stories and they will be published, by my new publisher, a whole ten months earlier than my CJM publishing debut was initially expected. Can’t argue with that.
I think that because the publishing house I have signed with is new and small, it will mean that they are hungry, driven, and very determined. Small doesn’t mean they can’t have the knowledge, the contacts, and the nous. It also means we have to prove ourselves by being good at what we do. I expect my publisher to work hard for me, just as she expects that I will work hard for her. To me, this is joint effort; teamwork. I want her to succeed and she wants me to succeed. We’ll have each other’s backs.
I already know that my publisher is being VERY PICKY about the authors she is selecting, and I know that she wants to build a reputation as representing great books, great writers, and books that are important and tell stories that need to be heard. I’ve seen some of the books she has signed and trust me, they are awesome. I am excited to be a part of something new and exciting, and happy to be swimming with my pod, together, holding flippers, with someone behind us to push us, steer us, and believe in our power as a team.
It’s a big pond, but I’ve found my pod to swim with.
Here are links to two of them:
Kate Martin, whose topical debut YA novel, Are you Okay Elliot Hart I am predicting is going to be huge.
Henry Mitchell – I can’t wait to finish reading his new novel The Winged Child
I’ll add in the others over the next few weeks. Check out these two though, and follow their pages. Their books are amazing.
And that, I hope, helps to answer the ‘Why choose a small publisher?’ question. Next time I’m asked, I can skip the rambling messages and link them to this post instead.
Happy swimming, whichever pond you are in!