Taking my own advice: Exploring Small Presses

small_press-300x214If you’ve ever finished a novel, you remember the euphoria of typing “The End,” even if you knew the next phase was going to be painful–revision. But eventually you finish the revisions, type “The End” again, and feel the euphoria once more.

Then, unless you’re terribly impatient and have opted for self publishing without setting foot on a traditional publishing path, comes the demoralizing part: the hunt for an agent. No matter how professional and nice many agents are, it’s still a horrible process. It’s worse than dating was. All the girls are on the prowl for good-looking jocks, but you’re the homely smart kid who plays piano and reads philosophy and flunked P.E. Who can compete? (That was hypothetical, by the way. I don’t play piano.) Agents aren’t necessarily looking for smart books. They’re looking for brawny, fast books. I don’t blame them. Those books are no doubt easier to sell to publishers, because the publishers think that’s what the public wants. And probably most people do. But that’s not what all of us want.

So I finished this terrific novel. I was excited to test it on agents and sent out some queries. I sent out some more queries. Some agents were interested and a few made offers. Hooray! I signed with an agent and thought I had it made. And then that agent screwed me over. No other word for it. Unfortunately, it happens, and I just chose an agent who does that sort of thing. Back to the agent drawing board, but this time nothing happened.

You know what? I’m okay with that. It would be great to have an agent who can approach the big publishers on my behalf, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. And as a result I am reminded that there is a big publishing world out there. Lots and lots of very exciting small presses are publishing terrific books every day. They aren’t hard to find. Look on your own bookshelves or go to a store and look on their shelves. And look at a wonderful site like New Pages, or pay to access the list at Duotrope. That’s what I’m doing. And I’m determined to find a match for this book. Because I think it’s a smart one.

About the author


  1. Cliff,

    You should check out Luminis Books. A small press publisher that focuses on literary and young adult fiction. They are looking for writers like you.


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