Most authors are familiar with Preditors and Editors (www.pred-ed.com). It’s an excellent resource for writers, filled with alphabetized listings for literary agents and publishers. More importantly, the site flags publishers that are dead, dying, or best avoided for one reason or another.
The listings remind me of a Civil War battlefield. Okay, not really, but I like the image. At least a third, probably closer to a half of the listings are for publishers that are no longer in business or have engaged in unsavory and/or illegal practices. Some of the listings are for vanity publishers. Let’s be clear – a vanity publisher is essentially a vendor. Avoid them.
Why are so many small presses dying and where will it end? How should I know?
I do have a few thoughts on the matter. I think a lot of small presses are undercapitalized and unqualified. If you’re going to be a traditional publisher you have to pay for editing and cover art. If you plan to do all that yourself I hope for the sake of your authors that you have more than just a degree or aptitude for computers to bring to the table. If you’re a shoestring operation and you get sick or hurt things will grind to a halt and you may go out of business. I’ve been on the receiving end of this as an author and it’s no fun. Other problems? Well, you’re being killed by self-publishing Indie authors. You’re sabotaging yourself by being unresponsive to your authors and offering poor contracts. This may be because your publishing business is not making money and you’re working another full or part time job. I really hate publishers that do this. Either jump in with both feet or stay out of the business. Please don’t take a half-assed approach to publishing.
Where will it end? I think we will eventually reach an equilibrium point where enough writers quit because they aren’t making much money, and may even be losing money. Fewer books will be available for fewer publishers who have merged, been acquired, or gone out of business. More readers will emerge as people grow weary of spending endless hours on social media talking about nothing and taking pictures of themselves and their lunch.
So, yeah, I’m optimistic about the future. I’m here for the long haul. Oh, and if you have a few minutes check out Preditors and Editors.