This post, from Jason Sizemore, originally appeared on the Apex Books Blog on 6/10/09.
Even in the best of times, making a small press successful is a tough maneuver that few have accomplished. The current economy exacerbates the difficulty level, as well. All the small presses are hungry for your dwindling spare change. That’s why I find the common notion of many authors to believe that once they sell a book to you, their obligation to the publisher is done, to be confusing and irrational.
From my perspective, this almost feels like the author is saying “Okay, buddy, you’re lucky none of the big publishers grabbed my collection/novel/novella/anthology and paid me the five-figure advance I deserve, so you are granted the right and privilege of publishing my work. Have at it.”
I’m not sure why authors feel this way. Why wouldn’t you want to promote your work? Everybody knows that most small presses pay little to no advance. Apex pays an advance, but it’s about 1/4th professional rates. Any noticeable amount of money you’ll earn will come through royalties. To earn royalties, the book has to sell.
Many small presses have little to no budget for advertising. We advertise in Cemetery Dance, Weird Tales, Albedo1, Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Space and Time, Electric Velocipede, Shimmer, on the ProjectWonderful banner system, on SFScope.com, and on any surface that we can slap our beloved Apex alien head on. Many publishers never get out and run the convention circuit to promote their authors. Not so for us on both accounts. We actively travel to promote our books. We have dealer booths in the halls of at least a half-dozen conventions a year, almost always done at a loss because you (the publisher) have to sell a lot of books to compensate for the costs of the tables, food, gas, lodging, etc.