Please welcome Kell Andrews to my blog. She’s my publishing sister with Pugalicious Press and after her cover reveal I invited her to talk about her decision to go with a small press. I absolutely love the cover and can’t wait to read the book!
Why I Chose a Small Press
My debut middle-grade novel, DEADWOOD, will be published later this year by Pugalicious Press, a new small press that is releasing five new titles in its first year of publication. I didn’t start out my publication journey with small presses in mind, but I’m convinced I found the right place for my book.
A few years ago, I had an agent and all the big dreams that go along with that – maybe a six-figure deal from a Big Six publisher. It didn’t happen. My agent and I parted ways. I wrote another middle-grade novel, which turned out to be DEADWOOD, and I felt that it was better than my first novel had been. But when I queried it, I had some close calls, but no offers of agent representation.
So then what? Trunk it? No. I felt that it was a good story that deserved a chance to reach kids. Self-publish? Maybe. A lot of self-published e-books are breaking through but from my observations, the middle-grade market still seems to lags. Younger readers haven’t adopted e-readers as widely as adult readers, and children’s novels still have to pass muster with additional gatekeepers. To get into readers’ hands, a middle-grade novel needed the support of parents, librarians, teachers, and reviewers.
To win that support, I thought I needed a publisher, and that’s why I began researching small presses.
Small Presses: The New Midlist?
The heated discussion seems to be the issue of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but small presses are hot too, snapping up books that once would have been on a bigger presses’ midlist.
Certainly all small presses aren’t the same. There is a wide range in the category — new and old, tiny and mid-size, traditional, e-only, and POD. Some offer advances, and some don’t. Some are genre specialists, and others are literary fiction vanguards. Some are open to unagented submissions, and some are closed. Some have great bookstore distribution, and others sell chiefly online. Inevitably, some will grow into the big presses of the future (look at the growth of Entangled!), and others will disappear. And yes, there is a range of quality in acquisitions, editing, marketing, and covers, from the highest standards to strictly amateur.
I studied my options and sent my queries.
Finding a Home
When Pugalicious offered, I was thrilled. I loved their artwork, their narrow focus on middle-grade and YA adventure, historical fiction, and fantasy, and their emphasis on building relationships with reader communities. It was a match for DEADWOOD and for me.
I’m realistic about what being published with a small press means: my book will have an opportunity to reach readers. I have a gorgeous cover and an expert editorial and marketing team behind me.
I also know what it doesn’t mean: I probably won’t be in the major bookstore chains and big box stores. But you know what? A Big Six publisher is no guarantee of B&N placement either. The playing field isn’t even, but at least I have a chance.
And next time? Well, another book is always another story.
Kell Andrews writes picture books through middle grade. DEADWOOD is her debut book for young readers. Visit her at kellandrews.com or operationawesome6.blogspot.com.
DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews
Coming from Pugalicious Press, December 15, 2012
There’s something evil in Deadwood Park.
Twelve-year-old Army brat Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed — and so is he. It’s not just any tree. It’s the Spirit Tree, the ancient beech the high school football team carves to commemorate the home opener. And every year they lose.
But the curse is no game, and it gets worse. Businesses fail. Trees topple like dominos. Sinkholes open up in the streets, swallowing cars and buildings. Even people begin to fade, drained of life.
Martin teams up with know-it-all soccer star Hannah Vaughan. Together they must heal the tree, or be stuck in Deadwood Park at the mercy of the psycho who cursed it.
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Thanks Kell! What a great post! Kids are going to love this!