News Ticker

[GUEST POST] Gail Z. Martin (IRON & BLOOD) on Small Press vs. Self-Publishing

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books and Orbit Books. In addition to Iron and Blood, she is the author of Deadly Curiosities and the upcoming Vendetta in her urban fantasy series;The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga from Orbit Books. Gail writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures and her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies.

Larry N. Martin fell in love with fantasy and science fiction when he was a teenager. After a twenty-five year career in Corporate America, Larry started working full-time with his wife, author Gail Z. Martin and discovered that he had a knack for storytelling, plotting and character development, as well as being a darn fine editor. Iron and Blood is their first official collaboration. On the rare occasions when Larry isn’t working on book-related things, he enjoys pottery, cooking and reading. Find them at, on Twitter @GailZMartin or @LNMartinauthor, on, at blog and, on Goodreads, and Wattpad.

Small Press vs. Self-Publishing

by Gail Z. Martin

Which is better—a home-cooked meal or a dinner out at a local, one-of-a-kind diner with food that brings people from miles around?

The answer is, it depends. And in my experience, that’s also true for self-publishing (that home-cooked meal) vs. small press (the locally-run diner). There are pros and cons to both, and the fit will vary with every author. But I believe that vibrant small press publishing and quality self-publishing are here to stay, and an important part of today’s book industry.

‘Small press’ covers a wide spectrum, from publishing houses that put out scores of books from dozens of authors to micro-presses that may only do a few titles a year from a handful of authors. The services provided for authors can vary tremendously depending on the size and professionalism of the publisher, as can advances (if any), promotion (if any) and store distribution (if any).

The real value of small press publishing lies in the sheer breadth of diversity their books present. Small press publishers can take risks on new authors, niche readerships and non-mainstream concepts more readily than the big publishers because their business model is more agile. In fact, agility is a key trait, able to quickly adapt to changing readership demographics, shifting tastes or preferences, or emerging publishing trends.

Small press publishers were at the vanguard of embracing ebooks, digital distribution, print-on-demand while bigger publishers were still wringing their hands about the scary changes in the marketplace. They’ve been at the forefront in utilizing Kickstarter and other crowdfunding programs, experimenting with new pricing and delivery models like Storybundle, and satisfying the needs of readers with niche interests. Small publishers can, and often do, succeed by appealing to a subset of readers that might not be a large enough group to be profitable for a big publisher, but which can provide a healthy margin for a well-managed small press.

Several industry developments favor both small press publishers and self-publishers. The rise of ebooks and print-on-demand, along with user-friendly design and layout programs leveled the playing field in terms of being able to put out a physical product of equivalent quality to that of books produced by big publishers. At the same time, the ascendance of online booksellers (and the demise of many physical bookstores and big chains like Borders) lessened the distribution advantage claimed by large publishers. Social media, with its ability to reach millions of people with a message for free, also changed the industry. As traditional newspapers and magazines went out of business or stripped down their emphasis on book reviews, bloggers and ‘citizen reviewers’ rushed in to fill the gap in formats that were much more open to publicizing books by small presses or self-publishers.

Self-publishing presents numerous advantages. Established authors can bring out reverted-rights books on their own, making old, formerly out-of-print titles available to readers (and making a profit on previously mothballed books or series). Authors who are currently publishing with big and small presses can bring out short stories and novellas that expand and extend their fictional worlds, or that continue series dropped by publishers but popular with readers. Self-publishing provides a way for established authors to experiment outside their usual genres, with books for niche interests that their larger publishers might not find profitable on a mass scale. And for emerging authors, well-produced and edited self-published works can build a following, prove a concept, attract a loyal readership, and potentially attract the notice of (and possibly a contract from) a larger publisher.

I find it really exciting to see authors developing ‘hybrid’ careers that incorporate small press, self-publishing and big traditional publishers. I also believe that hybrid careers are the way of the future, since they afford authors more control over their work and their income. Let’s hear it for small press and self-publishing!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat!

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors.

Trick or Treat! Read an excerpt from Jonmarc Vahanian Adventure Raider’s Curse.

Treats not Tricks! Excerpt from our new Steampunk novel Iron & Blood.

More Trick or Treat goodies! Win some Weird Wild West awesomeness! 

Trick or Treat excerpt from my friend, Jennifer Estep. 

%d bloggers like this: