Small Press Publishers: Creating Smarter Business Plans

I’d like to start shining the spotlight on small press publishers, and talk about some of the behind-the-scenes factors that affect writers, editors and business owners. Many of these mistakes can be applied to other small businesses as well, but in the publishing world — these pitfalls can affect how and when contributors get paid, the success of a book and the financial solubility of a publisher. One of the most common scenarios, is when a publisher either doesn’t create a business plan, or neglects to revisit it even when there are changes and fluctuations within the industry.

It’s not uncommon for a small press publisher to produce books for the sake of producing books or for a small press publisher to regard their business as a “hobby.” From all outside appearances, it appears that the small press publisher knows what they’re doing — they publish a book or imprint that appears to be of decent quality, and they do so when they can. While we writers may never know if their numbers are “there,” if the small press publisher doesn’t have a plan, anything that happens beyond the status quo (success or failure) can hurt their business. A huge spike (or drop) in sales can cause small press publishers to have knee-jerk reactions that affect everyone involved with the business. Reactions can range from cutting communication to public attacks or halting production, affecting more than just the people that are involved with the business.
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