As I’ve mentioned, I’ve decided to self-publish The Dark Queen of Darkness, but this is a long, difficult, confounding, and expensive endeavor. One of the key reasons I’d decided to go self-publishing was to avoid the time and effort involved with securing an agent and then hoping a large press would pick up the work. It is not, however, the only alternative to traditional publishing. A really excellent option, which I did consider, was submitting to smaller independent presses. Indie publishers offer advantages over both large presses and self-publishing. Below is my interview with Stephen John Moran of Moran Press on the topic.
D: Before I launch into my questions, could you tell me a bit about Moran Press, and yourself as an author?
SJM: I created Moran Press to be a hybrid between self-publishing and small press. The target indie author is one that intended to self publish and wishes to retain control over most aspects of the process. I seek authors whose books work with each other for maximum impact.
D: What does an indie publisher do for an author? What does an indie publisher not do?
SJM: I think the biggest thing an indie press can do for an author is help them produce a quality of book not likely to be produced through self-publishing. Having a team is important. That said, small presses are very limited in marketing budget.
D: As an author, if you’ve accepted my work, what does the process look like? What can I expect?
SJM: I treat authors as partners and work closely with them on all aspects of the process to produce a book all can be proud of. Authors retain full control over their books and help make the decisions that shape the final product.
D: You’re not just a publisher, you’re also a writer. From the perspective of an author publishing in an indie publishing house, what would you describe as your biggest challenge?
SJM: Getting the work out into the world is the most difficult part of the business. The price of ads and level of competition has risen and it’s tougher than ever to get your book to succeed in this super over saturated entertainment era.
D: A lot of authors approaching publishing for the first time imagine that getting published is going to mean fame and fortune. I think anyone who has seriously looked into this industry understands that’s not reality. What sort of sales numbers might a brand-new unknown author expect with an indie publishing house, like Moran Press? How much would an author expect to make, per book sold?
SJM: I hope writers don’t have that impression because they will be sorely disappointed with the publishing experience if that’s their expectation. The average release sells less than 500 copies lifetime – the average author at Moran Press getting approximately $2 per unit (roughly) so it would take sales of a level far beyond the ordinary to gain ‘fame and fortune’.
D: What would you describe as the biggest advantage for an author to submit to an indie publisher as opposed to trying to publish with a large traditional press?
SJM: Your book has a much better chance to be published with a small press. At big trad you’ll be competing with far more authors so getting published is much more difficult.
D: What would you describe as the biggest advantage for an author to submit to an indie publisher as opposed to trying to self-publish?
SJM: The biggest thing a small press can give an author is editorial help. Self-publishing’s greatest weakness is one person (the author) in control of all aspects of a process that said author might not be qualified to complete. That’s the biggest weakness I see in self-published works. One or more of the basic aspects of publishing has received less than optimal expertise and the overall product suffers.
D: How do you decide which books are going to be the best fit for your publishing house?
SJM: I try to have the books work together – so that if you read the books as a group there’s something extra a reader will get – books will similar themes.
D: Except for writing the book, what is the most important thing an author needs to do after being published by an indie publisher, like Moran Press?
SJM: Know that you’re responsible for marketing your book. Don’t sit back – it needs to be important to you if books are to be sold. Even with a trad press authors must market so this is the single biggest piece to take away – be ready to work to sell.
D: Would you ever tell an author not to consider an indie publisher, such as Moran Press?
SJM: Yes – if an author is primarily focused on getting marketing help – first step is to get an agent and submit to big trad.
D: Do you have anything else to add that I didn’t cover –any further sage wisdom or cautionary tales?
SJM: To all the authors – temper your expectations and be prepared to work. There’s not going to be a viral tale in your future – that’s the math 99% certainty – so get yourself mentally ready to make it happen instead of waiting for others. Be an entrepreneur. If you want to sit back and collect royalty checks, you missed 1985 and for that I’m sorry.
Thank you, Stephen John Moran, for taking time for this interview. Stephen is the author of Ella, The terrorist of Providence Street, and Server, among others, which you can get over at Amazon. He is also the owner of Moran Press (https://www.moranpress.com/).
To conclude, I want to make a quick point about the publishing business from this author’s perspective. While I believe that becoming published with an indie press is a really, really great idea and you should totally look into it, know that not every publishing house is going to be interested in your work. Smaller groups like Moran Press are not in a position to accept and market everything that comes across their doorstep. However, the decision not to pick up a book is not a personal decision, it is a business decision, and so I want to reiterate how critical it is to make sure that when you submit to a publishing house, that you are carefully assessing their call for work. While it’s true I’m a bit confounded by the self-publishing route at the moment, and Moran Press is a really great publishing option, my work does not fit Moran Press’ platform and so it’s not a viable avenue for my work. But, the only way to determine whether or not any publishing house is a viable option for you is to look at their call for work. You can find the current call for work for Moran Press at https://www.moranpress.com/submissions.html.