Pros & Cons of Small Press Publishing

Pros & Cons of Small Press Publishing

Gifts of Writing - Author Rachel Dacus's GiveawaysSelf-publishing fiction versus small press publishing? Making that choice can be tricky. Most of the articles I’ve encountered weigh the options as “self-publishing versus traditional publishing”. I had  experience with small press publishing for my first novel, a time travel Renaissance romance  called The Renaissance Club. One thing I learned is that small press publishers are as different from one another as humans are, because most small presses are run by one to three individuals, and they can invent their own rules. Is it traditional publishing? Depends on the publisher.

When my book came out in January 2018, it arrived in both ebook and print-on-demand formats. People ordering the paperback through Amazon or Barnes & Noble would have no idea that it wasn’t a print-run publication — except that it wasn’t shelved at the local Barnes & Noble, and could only be special ordered in print through B&N. Being a new novelist, I felt I was traditionally published — except for that print run/bookstore thing.

With my small press, I had good editing, presentable cover art, and social media support. A good month of touring book blogs helped sales. I felt “traditionally” published. But when I proposed to my publisher some modestly priced ads, I suddenly felt v ery “Indie” or self-published. Subsequent conversations made it clear I was my own publicity department.

Differences between Small Press and Being Your Own Publisher

The big difference in self-publishing and small press publishing can vary from company to company, but here are the components that should be present with a small press, and that you’d pay for, and also that would take a lot of your time and energy, if doing it yourself.


  • Professional editing — from development to proofing, the publisher pays
  • Cover art and interior layout — a small press publisher pays and ideally has professionals familiar with book cover design
  • ARCs =for book blurbs, advancef reviews, and pre-orders — the months before a book’s launch require a publisher’s support. If you’re doing it yourself, this is easy, but if choosing a small press, it’s vital to make sure they have the book’s ARC prepared (and looking professional) at the three-month before launch stage
  • Book tours – online or in person, a small press publisher should arrange something for the launch week (mine got a whole month)


  • No control over pricing of the book — this can be a huge factor in sales
  • Can’t see sales figures except when (if) publisher reports them, so difficult to tie them to any promotions. My experience was lengthy delays in reporting meant I was paying for some promotions that did nothing for my sales
  • Have no control over design and placement of promotions — you may know your genre or category better than your publisher and have better ideas about promotion, which a small publisher may or may not be willing to consider
  • May have little say in cover design — a huge factor in promoting sales, and if you self-publish, you can hire the best

Useful Articles on Pros, Cons & Definitions

Here are some articles that help highlight the differences and outline what’s involved in successful self-publishing:

Kindlepreneur – How to Start a Publishing Company

Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Jane Friedman: Publishing With a Small Press

Marshall Moore on Advantages of Self-Publishing

That’s all for now!

For fans of Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon, an enchanting, romantic new time travel novel about a great artist and his superfan from another century …Click over to read inside The Renaissance Club, and see if you can find love in another century!