Big, Small, Micro Publisher in a Self-Publishing world. Is there room for the Micro Press?


It is natural for any struggling business to do some navel gazing and wonder about the future. New Libri Press (our press) is what is commonly referred to as a micro press. We publish less than ten titles per year. Like most micro presses, we really don’t make money. This is no surprise to many. One of the reasons micro presses have existed in past has been to offer interesting writers an entree into being a published author, with the costs of self-publishing being prohibitive and having a stigma. As anyone not asleep for the past seven years knows, this has radically changed.

It begs the question: Is there still room (and a need) for a micro press?

We think about this every year. The answer has gone from a fairly strong YES to a qualified MAYBE.

One (main) reason micro presses exist is passion. It is not money. Passion for books and writing. Sure, we dream of finding that writer that everyone has ignored, but we know will be a huge hit. But, we know that dream is the same as saying “what would you do if you won the lottery?” Our fulfillment is really that we THINK we are helping the author. That we are teaching them and maybe giving them the confidence to potentially springboard their career.

A second reason is that even in today’s very flexible climate, not all authors can afford even the vastly lower prices of self-publishing. The hundreds of dollars to get it out there and the thousands of dollars for editing. This is also ignoring the cover art (more on that later, or maybe another post).

Still, the reasons as an author to go micro publisher versus self are diminishing and it would be foolish for us and authors not to acknowledge it. Why in the world would you go with a micro press?

To answer that, I will steal from a web post on Writer’s Digest:

“The advantage of being a published author is what most of us want, and a small press can do that tremendously well,” Gatza says. “A small press is the stepping-stone to bigger and better things, and not an end for a book—it is a wondrous beginning.”

Unlike with self-publishing, this beginning is endorsed by an objective gatekeeper who believes in your work enough to invest time and energy in the project—and pay you for the effort.

Of course, small press authors are expected to do their part.

“We expect our authors to be actively publishing nationally and promoting through local and regional events and activities,” Watson says. “You can’t sit back and wait for readers to find you. Creativity does not end with writing the book.”

But, what about a micro press in particular? I think that with New Libri, we provide a bit of additional flexibility and by actually approaching what you would have if you self-published we are providing you with three future avenues (if you so chose) for future books. 1) Self-publish based on what you learned with us; 2) renewed focus on big publisher and an agent; 3) stay with us and we continue to change with the times and the forces.

The reality is, if I were to predict the future, that most micro publishers will become “hybrid” publishers. The hybrid publisher charges similar to a BookBaby, or Createspace (the latter is beholden to Amazon). However, unlike those, the hybrid publisher still filters who they accept and the editing is built into the process.

Oh, book covers. I think I will postpone that for another time, but it is one of the areas that causes the most tension between a micro-press and an author.