You’ve typed up the final paragraph of your historical reference or modeling manual and find yourself facing one of the toughest questions a writer has to answer – “How will I get this published?”
There are several options available when it comes to publishing for the wargame and miniature communities. A traditional publisher may sound like the most attractive choice, but before you start making contacts, there’s another option worth considering. Independent publishers may be smaller than the “Big Five” publishing houses you’re considering, but the more intimate experience has some merits that may warrant you shifting your focus.
As you finish your writing project and prepare to contact publishers, keep the following in mind to determine whether independent publishing will work for you.
Pro: Shorter, Intimate Production Process
Large-scale publishers aren’t going to be as quick as you’d like them to be. To avoid having your book trapped in a lengthy production schedule, you’ll want to go with an indie publisher. Though their resources may be less abundant, independent publishers are a bit more driven to produce a product and start selling. The quicker they can get a project out, the more they release in a year, and the bigger their profit is likely to be.
That’s not to say the quality of service you receive will be diminished. On the contrary, indie developers are typically more attentive to their clients. Again, it all links back to the idea that a quicker turnaround, higher quality, and more intimate experience will lead to greater profits for both parties.
Con: It can Be Costly
Now, this isn’t a given with all independent publishers, but some may cost a bit more than traditional publishing. When you work with a traditional publisher, marketing, editing, and design are usually included. With independent publishers, it’s less likely that you won’t be shelling out money for your own marketing and design. It may be rare to find an independent publisher that doesn’t cover these costs, but it’s worth looking out for.
Pro: Higher Royalties
Even if you do find that the process is costlier with an independent publisher, you’ll likely be walking away with a higher royalty contract. With bigger publishers, royalties can be as low as 15%, whereas indie publishers may range from 30 to 70% of all sales. The higher upfront cost is mitigated by larger payments received over time.
Con: Distribution May Be Limited
If there’s one thing one of the Big Five publishers has that an indie publisher does not, it’s near-unlimited access to large-scale distribution channels. Getting an indie-published book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble may require a little finesse without any real guarantee. Before you sign on with an independent publisher, ask about their network to see if you feel it’s large enough for your publication.
Self-Publishing vs. Indie Publishing
Though independent publishing and self-publishing sound like they’d yield the same results, there are far fewer pros to publishing your own material. It’s worth noting that some websites refer to independent publishing when they’re talking about self-publishing, but we create a distinction between the two. The reason being is that self-publishing is a far more involved and challenging venture that has a much higher rate of failure.
Without anyone backing your publication, all aspects fall on you. You can use outlets like Amazon to print on demand, so a third party handles distribution, but with self-publishing, marketing, building an audience, and design fall on the author.
Working with Military Miniature Press
As an independent publisher of the wargaming and historical miniature space, we strive to touch on all of the pros mentioned above. Curious about how to submit your historical nonfiction piece? Check out our submission page for brief guidelines and contact information.