5 Ways to support small publishers (and why you should)

A strampunk anthology by one of several Musa authors I represent
A strampunk anthology by one of several Musa authors I represent

This month I’ve been talking a lot about how we can support great authors, and today I’d like to expand on that. It’s not only important to support great authors, it’s crucial that we support small publishers, especially if we want to become published authors ourselves.

Here’s the thing: there has never been a more exciting time in the history of humanity to become an author. Thanks to the digital revolution, there are more publishing options available than ever before, and the best thing for an author is options. With such a wide range of options available, authors can choose the best publishing option for them.

There are dozens of small publishers online, and the Big 5 are just that–5 big publishers. We might all daydream about getting published by the big 5 and having our books come out in shiny hardcover all over the world, but realistically, most of us are going to someday find a home with a small press. Many small presses focus on specifically print or ebook formats, but many also do both. The options are pretty much endless.

Small presses also tend to be more author focused, offering higher royalties and friendlier contracts. The sheer number of these publishers means you can choose exactly what kind of contract you want and what kind of company you want to work with.

If we want to continue having these options, we have to support small presses. Publishing is a huge industry, and it’s easy for voices to get lost in all the noise. Most authors go through a phase where marketing feels a lot like trying to yell through a tornado. Even most authors published by the big 5 don’t get a huge marketing budget to work with. Selling books is almost entirely up to the author and word of mouth.

This is even more true of small presses. To be heard above the noise, small press publishers and authors need people like us to support them.

How to support small press publishers & authors

1. Purchase books directly from the publisher’s website. Every third party vendor takes a percentage of royalties when they sell a book. When you purchase a book directly from the publisher’s website, all your money goes to the people who actually make the book: the publisher, the editors, the author.

I’m not saying you should never purchase books from Amazon or telling you to avoid the Kobo store, but if you’re purchasing a book you know is from an awesome small press, consider purchasing it directly from the publisher.

2. Always review books you enjoyed written by small press authors. Every author needs reviews to help them sell books, but the small press publisher with 3 reviews on Amazon will appreciate your review a lot more than the traditionally published author with over three thousand reviews.

If you’re not fully convinced, you can always read this article about why it’s important to review books you love.

3. Interact with them on social media. Writing reviews and sharing or retweeting an author’s content are obvious ways to support them, but I think people underestimate the importance of interaction. If you have 2, 000 or even 10, 000 followers but nobody comments on your blog or interacts with you on Twitter, you’re still going to feel like you’re shouting into the wind.

Taking the time to have a conversation with a small press author you love on Twitter or to comment on their blog can help encourage them to keep writing. Authors tend to be sensitive people. Many struggle with depression and pretty much all of us struggle with imposter syndrome, unable to acknowledge our actual skills and success. A single comment can brighten an author’s day and send them back to the keyboard eager to write.

4. Invite your favourite small press authors to take over your blog for a day. Most small press authors are always looking for new blogs to appear on and new audiences to reach. If your blog is related to fiction–or you can find another interesting reason to interview one of your favourite authors–reach out to your favourite small press authors and invite them over for an interview or guest post.

Don’t assume that your blog isn’t going to be helpful to an author just because it’s small. Every appearance helps, and every sale counts. And since small press authors tend to be among the friendliest people in the world, you’ll have a great deal of fun. You might even make some friends along the way.

5. Don’t just follow authors, follow publishers. I’d have a hard time naming a publisher with absolutely no social media presence. The vast majority of small press publishers have two or three social media channels, used to advertise new books and book promotions. Pick one to follow and pay attention when you notice  their logo.

Following publishers is often a great way to find out about blog tours, giveaways and discounts on books. Everybody likes discount books and interesting giveaways, so spreading the word about these events makes your followers happy and supports the publisher.

Publishers rely on readers for success, and you rely on publishers for books

It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. We need publishers–self publishing is great sometimes but it doesn’t work for everyone–and they need us. We learn from great authors, and they can only keep writing the amazing books we learn from if we keep buying them. Our support is crucial to their success, and a solid reading education is critical to ours.

Even if you don’t write, a great author can be responsible for dozens of hours of entertainment. That’s worth supporting, right?

Do you go out of your way to support authors published by small presses? Let me know why/why not in the comments below!

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