Validating the three publishing options: Traditional, Small/Independent, DIY

Honestly, when in the company of commercial press authors, defending my place as independent press author can be difficult. To those who have “made it” into the commercial presses, I would assume my defense comes across not nearly as articulately and convincingly as I would hope. Afterall, the examples of small press authors immigrating into the world of commercial presses far outweighs the number of commercial authors willing to emigrate to the small press world. The commercial press gatekeeper is much more discriminating than the indies; I understanding the disbelief. I too would go commercial if given the right opportunity.

But things are getting easier. Not only are small press books showing face on historically commercial press-dominated shortlists (the recently announced 2010 National Book Critics Circle award finalists includes quite a few small press titles), but with the help of Jane Friedman the various publishing paths have been defined, and by extension, validated.

In the summary of her Writers Digest Conference 2011 talk on publishing options Friedman very clearly explains what she sees as the basic three options for publishing:

  1. Tradition
  2. Independent or niche presses
  3. Self-publishing/DIY publisher

But more, she outlines the viability of each path and goes even further to categorize according to which path that might suit them best. Her bullet-points follow:

Pros, Cons, and Requirements:

Traditional publishing:

  • It’s a commercially-driven business
  • Competitive – many people are trying to break in
  • National distribution – your work needs to merit that
  • Slower to market (usually)
  • Not the time to experiment
  • Persistence & patience
  • For non-fiction: you need a platform

Small/independent press:

  • Weaker distribution, smaller print run
  • More personal attention, dedication
  • Usually less money
  • Niche marketing – smaller, specialized market; they’re experts in the field
  • More accepting of “art” (could be nonprofit), more service-minded


  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Direct connections with readership (for sales)
  • Must be comfortable with technology
  • Must enjoy connecting with people (online and off)
  • Requires energy to market and promote

ALL of the options actually require energy to market and promote.

It all boils down to you – your strengths, your work, your readers – to determine what’s best.

Hell, just read the original post.

Original photo credit:

Subscribe to my amazing, hilarious YouTube channel. Just click the button below.


Consider sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Think of it as a way to tell a friend “I’m thinking of you.”

Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Tumblr
Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Marketing, Study (the world/the craft)

About Caleb J. Ross

began writing his sophomore year of undergrad study when, tired of the formal art education then being taught, he abandoned the pursuit in the middle of a compositional drawing class. Major-less and fearful of losing his financial aid, he signed up to seek a degree in English Literature for no other reason than his lengthy history with the language. Coincidentally, this decision not only introduced him to writing but to reading as well. Prior this transition he had read three books. One of which he understood.

Add a Comment