Small Presses – My Personal Experience

I’m far from being the most prolific author you’ll have read, but nevertheless I’ve written a good number of books that have been published (I’m into double figures now).

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I’ve written in a number of genres which has necessitated getting deals with a range of publishers rather than just sticking with one. If you’re wondering why a range of publishers was necessary, the reason for this is it’s horses for courses. The best horror publisher on the planet is unlikely to be a great publisher for your latest crime thriller.

I’ve been through the publishing process several times and got to know the strengths of some of the best small presses going. These are my thoughts on the ones who have published me.

Santa Monica Press

Until recently Santa Monica Press specialized in publishing ‘an eclectic mix of non-fiction books’. They have now branched out into fiction in a very targeted way. They’re looking for YA Historical Fiction.

They also want ‘Young Adult Narrative Non-Fiction (Both Contemporary and Historical Narrative Non-Fiction)‘.

I approached Santa Monica Press because I’d written a novel which was a good fit for their list – The Revenge of Joe Wild. They will publish it on July 12 2022. It’s currently available to pre-order just about everywhere you can think to buy a book.

A Santa Monica Press YA novel

My experience of the press is that it’s an amazingly professional outfit. Absolutely everything they do is to the highest possible standard. They are very much a traditional press, offering an advance and having their books produced as a print-run rather than POD. Their books are also available as eBooks.

Jeffrey Goldman, the man behind the press, is a former journalist who has personally met a lot of people who have made significant contributions to music and literature. And he’s a very nice guy. It’s not everyone who would do this, for instance.

If you want to pitch your book to them, the details are here:

My author page with Santa Monica Press

Tartarus Press

Tartarus Press is another traditional publisher. They pay advances and royalties, and although they sell eBooks their focus is on limited edition hardbacks produced to the highest standards. You’re unlikely to sell a lot of books working with Tartarus Press (although it’s been known!), but you should regard it as an honour to be published by them if you’re fortunate enough to have them publish your work. They have a huge reputation in the publishing industry and are known for the quality of literature they publish, as well as their production standards.

They publish ‘Literary, Strange Fiction’. This means Literary Fiction with a supernatural twist. You could call it upmarket horror.

I approached Tartarus Press because my novel Ezra Slef, The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature contained ingredients that made it right for them. It was literary and it had a supernatural element. Happily they accepted my submission and I have had the pleasure of seeing my novel published in a sumptuously-produced hardback.

Tartarus Press is a micro-press run by two people – Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker. They do an amazing job and somehow find time to write fiction themselves even though they must be run off their feet with their publishing projects. They go to amazing lengths to promote the work of others, even though they are accomplished authors in their own right. (And artists in other fields, come to that).

They make sure their books are edited to a high standard.

Rosalie is responsible for acquisitions and Ray produces the books. They have two things in common with many people I’ve encountered in the publishing world:

(1) They are in the business because they love literature, not money; and

(2) They are two of the nicest people you would wish to meet.

This is how you submit to them. Good luck! –

My author page with Tartarus Press

Bloodhound Books

Bloodhound Books don’t pay advances on hard copy books and eBooks, but they pay good royalties. They pay negotiate advances on sales of audio rights, which they share with the author.

They concentrate on sales of eBooks and consequently when it comes to hard copies they are POD. In my experience they know how to sell books and if your novel has merit it’s in with a chance of selling well, albeit as an eBook rather than a hard copy.

They mainly publish crime novels which is why I approached them with my crime thriller Very Nearly Dead.

Bloodhound Books will provide you with effective editing and marketing and a pretty good cover. The full package, just like the previous two publishers I’ve described.

This is how to submit to them:

My author page with Bloodhound Books

Dark Edge Press

Dark Edge Press hasn’t been around for as long as the other presses I’ve talked about and because it was a new operation when Covid struck, it was less well-prepared to weather the storm. Nevertheless it survived and continues to publish books. As the name suggests, the press is interested in the darker side of human nature, particularly crime-related fiction. My novel Kill Me Goodbye was a very good fit for them

Dark Edge Press currently sell eBooks and POD hard copies. They aspire to sell hardback books via bookshops and had plans in place to do this before Covid disrupted the publishing industry supply chain. Their plans for hardbacks had to be put on hold when that happened.

Drak Edge Press are very strong on editing and cover design. If you sign with them you can be sure of being proud of the book they produce on your behalf. They probably won’t sell as many copies as the other publishers, because they are still adapting to a new business model that has been forced on them by circumstance.

They pay good royalties, but no advance

This is how you submit to them:

Next Chapter

This is a very interesting publisher that has been around for a number of years. During the period they’ve been publishing my work (4 years, give or take) I’ve seen them go from strength-to-strength.

Next Chapter were formerly called Creativia. I used to see negative posts about them on Absolute Write Water Cooler (or whatever that website is called). Next Chapter have improved in many ways since most of those criticisms were posted, and most of them are probably not an issue anymore.

What is my experience of Next Chapter? Anything I have to say about them that is less than fulsome praise has to be seen in the following context: (1) they are improving all the time; (2) they would be a far better home for your books than many publishers I could name; and – most importantly – (3) they sell books. (It may be worth noting that my royalties from Next Chapter go up with each successive royalty period. Often books do well, then the royalties decline. Mine are on the rise for books first published several years ago – which is a very favourable reflection of the abilities of this publisher. It may also reflect favourably on me as an author).

Pros: (1) Next Chapter make a very quick decision when you submit to them (which, let’s face it, every author wants); (2) if they offer to publish you, and you accept, you can expect to be a published author within 6 months in my experience. They turn projects around very quickly. (3) Their cover designs have got better and better and I rate them as excellent. (4) Final pro: as mentioned above, they sell books. And they produce hard copies in many formats which are sold by most book retailers. On a personal note, the vast majority of my Next Chapter royalties come from sales of hard copies via bookshops.

Cons: (1) Next Chapter don’t do an in-depth edit. You won’t get much more than a quick line-edit from them to correct typos. But if you produce polished work, that may not be an issue. (2) The quality control of audio versions of books has been open to question at times.

Mika Hannila, the CEO and founder of Next Chapter is a very enterprising individual who is constantly devising ways to improve his business and what it does for its authors. The company is going places and I’m glad I’m on board.

Long story short: I’m more than happy to have Next Chapter in my corner, as my publisher of choice for some of my books.

My books with Next Chapter:

My author page with Next Chapter


If you’re an author, I wholeheartedly recommend all the above publishers as potentially good homes for your your next book – but do remember, it’s horses for courses!

More posts about writing:

The Strange Tale of Jack Strange

What is it with Writers and Drink?

How to co-author a novel in 8 easy steps

In Praise of the Small Press


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