The benefits of a small press

The Fourth Wall Cover

I had an excellent experience publishing with a small press, Dream of Things. Meeting my publisher, Mike O’Mary, was the best thing that happened to my book, Leaving the Hall Light On. My Choices guest today, ElizabethMaria Naranjo, also enjoys a similar experience.

Please welcome Elizabeth who has just launched her debut novel, The Fourth Wall, through WiDo Publishing.

To enter to win a free eBook version of The Fourth Wall, please leave a comment on this post. Winners will be announced at the end of her WOW tour.

Benefits of a Small Press

by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

Writers tend to separate publishing into two camps: traditional and indie. Indie publishing is often thought of as self-publishing, while traditional publishing gets described as finding an agent, landing a contract with a big publishing house, and reaping the benefits of a nice advance.

Arguments in favor of indie publishing include retaining creative control and bypassing the long wait and frustrations that can come with traditional publishing. Arguments for traditional publishing include validation, access to bookstores, and the benefits of editing and marketing support.

What gets missed in many of these conversations are small presses publishers who typically publish a dozen or fewer books per year or whose sales fall below a set figure. Sometimes small presses get grouped with indie publishing, and sometimes they’re grouped with traditional publishing. This makes sense, since really a small press can incorporate the best of both worlds.

For example, like a big publishing house, small presses can get your book into brick-and-mortar bookstores, and they also have editing and marketing support. But like self-publishing, you have a greater chance of maintaining your creative vision, and the years-long wait from contract to printed book is greatly reduced.

Small presses come with their own unique benefits as well, including

  • A closer relationships with authors. When you publish a book with a big publishing house, your chance of publishing with them a second time are perhaps no better than your original chances, and might be worse. Your relationship with them is on a book-to-book basis; a small press is more likely to cultivate relationships with their authors and think long-term.
  • A simplified submissions process. With a small press, you usually submit straight to the publisher. Which means you can skip the search for an agent. Are agents wonderful? Yes, of course. They’re there to negotiate the best possible terms for you throughout the publishing process. But if you don’t have an agent, there are other ways to try and protect your interests, including speaking with a lawyer familiar with publishing law or utilizing your Authors Guild.

Speaking of your best interests, it’s important to recognize the difference between a small press and a vanity press. The easiest way to do that is to remember Yog’s law: money flows toward the author. If you’re looking at small presses and you come across one that sounds great, but they ask you for money, that is not a publisher. That’s a vanity press, and you’re better off self-publishing.

This is worth saying one more time: an author should never pay a publisher.

One con of publishing with a small press is that you usually don’t get paid an advance. If there is an advance, it’s likely to be very small. But it’s worth noting that you have to earn out an advance before you’re paid royalties. It’s not bonus money.

Not all small presses are created equal. Even those with the best intentions may produce substandard books, or their business may be young and therefore at greater risk of folding. It’s worth your time to do a little research on a publisher before submitting: Do they have a professional looking website? How long have they been in business? Where are their books sold? If you can, get a copy of one of their titles to see the quality for yourself. You can also search Writer’s Beware for any topics related to the publisher.

I learned about WiDo Publishing through one of their author’s blog tours. The author sang the praises of her small press, and her book sounded interesting. I checked out her book and was impressed with the quality. Then I checked out the publisher. They had a beautiful website, had been in business since 2007, and had plenty of titles to their name with professional looking covers. I submitted my manuscript, and the rest is history.

I’ve enjoyed the process of publishing with a small press. My opinion counts not only did they choose to keep my original title, they asked for input on my cover. I can always reach my marketing director and my editors. With a limited number of authors to work with, they give us a lot of individual attention reposting our social media updates, checking in to see if we need anything, supporting our own marketing efforts and struggles with writing that next novel. If you find the right fit, a small press really can feel more like family.

About The Fourth Wall
The Fourth Wall is a fabulously written first novel. When Marin was little and monsters chased her through nightmares, she learned to weave her own dreams. Her mother called the lucid dreaming a gift, and when an accident takes her mother and leaves her baby brother an empty shell, Marin uses this gift to spin a new reality for herself. One without time or sorrow. A world without memory.

But just when Marin thinks she’s safe in her make-believe fantasy world, the monsters come back and her dream turns to a nightmare. Something in the dream doesn’t want Marin to wake up. In order to heal herself and her family, Marin must face the truth she’s forgotten and conquer what lies behind the fourth wall.

Paperback: 237Pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (June 10, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-937178-51-2

The Fourth Wall is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.

Elizabeth-Naranjo-42iAbout Elizabeth
Elizabeth grew up writing short stories and bad poetry before escaping the cold winters of Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abigail (11) and Gabriel (6). She still loves to write, but fortunately gave up on poetry. The Fourth Wall is her first novel.

Elizabeth’s creative nonfiction has appeared in Brain, ChildPhoenix New TimesLiterary Mama and, and is forthcoming in Brevity. Elizabeth is also an award-winning fiction writer; her short stories have been published in The Portland ReviewHospital DriveSLAB Literary Magazine, and Bartleby Snopes. Links to her work and information on classes/critiques can be found at


Elizabeth’s Blog Tour Dates
Monday, July 21 @ The Muffin

Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, July 22 @ The Lit Ladies

Don’t miss today’s interview with Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she talks to Margo Dill about The Fourth Wall. Once you’ve found out about Elizabeth’s debut novel, get in on the giveaway to get your hands on your own copy!

Wednesday, July 23 @ All Things Audry

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo makes a visit at All Things Audry and shares her thoughts about “Lucid Dreaming” and offers a giveaway of her debut novel, The Fourth Wall. This is a blog stop you won’t want to miss!

Friday, July 25 @ Renee’s Pages

Find out what Renee has to say in her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s debut novel The Fourth Wall. Elizabeth is also offering a giveaway of her fabulous book. A blog stop too exciting to miss!

Monday, July 28 @ Create Write Now

Join Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she shares information about her debut novel The Fourth Wall and provides insight into “The Advantages of the First Novel.”

Thursday, July 31 @ CMash Reads

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her debut novel, The Fourth Wall will be highlighted on CMash reads today. Tune in and participate in the giveaway for this highly acclaimed first novel from a very talented young author!

Monday, August 4 @ Choices

Learn about the “Benefits of a Small Press” with Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and she gives insight about the publishing process of her debut novel The Fourth Wall

Wednesday, August 6 @ Blue House Review

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo takes her debut novel, The Fourth Wall and stops at The Blue House Review where she shares some little known “Facts About Elizabeth” and offers a giveaway of her highly acclaimed first novel.

Friday, August 8 @ I’d So Rather be Reading

Today’s spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading is none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo with her debut novel, The Fourth Wall. Find out more and read a review by Crystal Otto of WOW! Women on Writing as she shares her thoughts of Naranjo’s work.

Tuesday, August 12 @ Romance Junkies

Today’s interview at Romance Junkies gives us a glimpse into the writing life of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her debut novel The Fourth Wall. This is a “can’t miss” blog stop!

Thursday, August 14 @ Bring on Lemons

Read Crystal’s review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s debut novel, The Fourth Wall and get in on the giveaway to receive your very own ebook copy of this fabulous book!

Wednesday, August 20 @ A Writer’s Dream

Today you won’t want to miss a review and giveaway for Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s The Fourth Wall. Stop by and see what Rae Lori has to say and learn for yourself why this debut novel is receiving such high praise!

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real-time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

And please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Fourth Wall.


  1. Congratulations on the fourth book. I appreciate the information about the small publishing places. I don’t know if I will ever use a small publisher or even a large publisher. I can understand the benefits of the marketing and editorial support that they may help with. I have heard that publishers now don’t want to bother much with editing and just want a book that is ready to hit the shelfs.

    I prefer self publishing. I am in a great position in that I can pay for editors and I know how to market. On the split side, it would be cool to see a book in traditional brick and mortar stores.

  2. Thanks, Sebastian!

    I think self-publishing can be a wonderful option, especially for wise authors like yourself who understand the importance of good editing and marketing. 🙂 And some wonderful brick and mortar bookstores sell on consignment and really support their local authors, so there is always that too.

    Take care!

    • Hi, Elizabeth. One of my writing friends has a lot more questions about publishing with a small press. Would you be willing to respond?
      from Susan G. Weidener:
      I would like to know more about royalties. What percentage does the author get with small presses? Price setting – how much or little input does the author have into what to charge for the trade paperback? Does the author have the creative leeway to offer her own promotions like Kindle Countdown? What does “helping you get into brick and mortar stores” mean in terms of distribution, nationally, not just locally? Thank you for an informative piece.

      And thanks again, for your thoughtful piece. Madeline

      • Hi Susan,

        Thanks for commenting. I can’t speak for all small presses, but my publisher pays 10% royalties on print books. That number increases to 12% after 5,000 sales. Ebook royalties are 40%. Also, they encourage authors to get creative with their promotional efforts. WiDo uses Ingram for distribution. These are all great questions every author should ask before submitting to a small press. WiDo lists all of this information on their website, so that was a good sign.

        Thanks again!

  3. I enjoyed the article with first hand experience of the author in publishing with a small press publisher. I learned new things about publishing. I like that Elizabeth gives pros and cons and that she gives the name of her publisher. The novel sounds interesting. I hope I win it. 🙂

  4. Dear Elizabeth, I have had a very positive experience using a small publisher , Paul Burt of Pen & Publish for my first memoir. He has been a trusted guide and advocate, while allowing me creative control. My royalties are 30% for print books. This can go up to 40-50% based upon increased sales. I recently returned from the Writer’s Digest Annual conference in a NYC and was pleased that the traditional vs self-publishing debate has been replaced with the focus on reaching readers and delivering a quality product. I enjoyed your post and wish you success on your book. Thank you, Madeline for hosting Elizabeth.

    • Dear Kathleen,

      Thanks so much for posting your positive experience here. It’s nice to hear from another author who found a good fit with a small publisher. Wishing you success as well! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Kathy, for sharing your experience both with your publisher and at the writer’s conference. I feel if we deliver a quality product we’ll have no problems finding our audience. Wishing you all the best with your new memoir.

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