Top Tips for Start-Ups

Part of the raison d’être of the Indie Press Network is to pull together the collective wisdom of our member presses, and to pass this on in our free, open-access Indie Press Network Guide, to help remove obstacles for others starting out.

As part of our launch, we asked a few of our publishers for their top five tops for start-up presses. Read on to find out what the publishers at these presses suggest…

Cahill Davis Publishing

  • Buy a block of at least 100 ISBNs straight away. Don’t bother with just one or ten. They don’t expire so you’ll have them for when you need them.
  • You don’t need to buy the barcodes. There are plenty of ways to make a barcode that don’t cost anything and work perfectly well.
  • Vet your authors thoroughly. It’s a partnership at the end of the day, and you can’t want their book to be successful more than they do. It’s incredibly difficult to market a book with zero input from the author.
  • Print PR does still sell books, but links you can share online sell faster. Online reviews can be shared over and over too.
  • There will be times where it’s incredibly hard to keep going, and there will be problem after problem, to the point where you feel like giving up. But don’t. There’s always a solution, and there’s always something else you can do in the mean time.

Ghost Orchid Press

  • Think carefully about contracts – get advice to ensure what you’re asking for is fair to authors and that you’re not inadvertently taking rights you don’t intend to use.
  • If you’re going to be printing your books on demand, consider using another supplier like Ingram instead of, or as well as, Amazon KDP, so that your books are more accessible to bookstores.
  • If you’re taking unagented submissions, consider contacting Submission Grinder ( to make sure your press is listed on there – lots of authors use this free resource when looking for markets.
  • Start small and be cautious of cashflow – don’t take on more books than you can manage time- or finance-wise.
  • Above all, enjoy it and trust your own judgement about the books you love and which you want to see in print – passion is what drives you through when times get tough!

Renard Press

  • Knowledge is power. At every stage make sure you’ve done your research – find out what cut sales reps typically take before contacting them; what contractual terms are problematic for authors; whether it’s worth your signing up to this scheme or that software, or if there’s a perfectly serviceable alternative.
  • Your metadata should be in top-top condition from day one. Even if you don’t have the funds for a bibliographic data system (newsflash: it’s pricey!), make sure you keep your own impeccable records. Many companies accept spreadsheets in lieu of a feed, and it will save you time if you keep a detailed database from day one.
  • Membership organisations (the IPG, the PA, etc) are welcome community, incredibly important banks of knowledge and offer opportunities and offers you might not otherwise come across. The initial cost might have you thinking, but in my experience it’s worth signing up (to at least one) straight away.
  • As passionate as you might feel about what you’re doing, you’ll undoubtedly be hit with imposter syndrome at some point(s). This industry isn’t great with change, so hang on in there, realise it’s probably their problem, not yours, filter out the Angries and find your tribe. (I have to confess I nicked this term from one of our authors, but isn’t it good!)
  • No press is an island. Remember that the bookish community is largely very caring and compassionate. If you’re stuck or find yourself in front of a seemingly unsurmountable problem, have a look round and see who might be able to help. Then grit your teeth and get in touch. They’ll likely be chuffed to be able to help.

SRL Publishing

  • Make sure it’s the right decision for you at the right time.
  • Recognise your strengths and weaknesses and use these to your advantage.
  • Don’t expect overnight success – build up your headroom so you’re ready for growth and it doesn’t come as a sudden shock.
  • Ask for help if you need it and reach out for support.
  • Retain the passion for storytelling.