07 Dec The Small Press and Publishing at Arm’s Length
A small press that only produces 2-3 books per year can have challenges when it comes to choosing the next manuscript. Often, new authors are referred by friends and family, but this comes with challenges. My company does not solicit manuscripts, nor does it receive commissions to publish. So what sort of company is it? And what happens when the author’s name and the publisher’s name are the same?
Certainly, I am not a traditional press, unlike the big houses like Simon and Schuester, Berkley, Penguin, Macmillan, etc. They employ lots of assistants and have strict submission requirements. Often the only way onto their slush pile is through a literary agent. The author can wait more than 6 months for an answer, which is often a curt “no, or needs more work.” Authors have very little influence on the look and feel of their book, and the cover design may not even reflect the book’s interior.
So is Crossfield a self-publisher or Indie publisher? Not really, although some folks say I am. The term Indie is one of true independence where there is no separate publisher or partner involved. Many Indies set up their own micro-presses, and use a different name on the spine other than their pen name. This way they look separate, and not self-published, but they are the same entity. These Indie companies do not provide any author services to others.
The small press does provide author services, such as editing, proofreading, peer-review, and marketing. It manages the ISBN, copyright, designing/formatting, printing, listing with retail sites, marketing materials, and expanded distribution. (There is a cautionary note here on marketing, in that the author must also help to market and distribute his/her book.)
So how did the two Crossfields appear on the cover of The Granby Liar? Maurice Crossfield and I are first cousins, separated by about 12 years and until 2013, thousands of miles. We seldom crossed paths until 2010, when I was launching a new book in Montreal. Maurice and his wife, Sarah, attended the event, and he quietly mentioned to me that he had written a mystery novel. Seven years later, his manuscript found its way onto my desk. It was excellent work, well-conceived and deserving of publication. Is it at arm’s length? Without a doubt.