SFFMP 41: From Indie to Small Press (why and how) with Claire Frank

Tonight, after dealing with a few technical difficulties, we interviewed up-and-coming epic fantasy author Claire Frank. She got started in December, 2014, and did well enough to attract a publisher (Realm Walker Publishing), and we asked her about what it’s like for new authors getting started today. When our guest went AWOL briefly, Lindsay started talking about pre-orders and some of her notes from panels at the big RWA Con; we’ll continue discussing pre-orders, iBooks, Facebook advertising, and some of those other interesting topics in next week’s show.

Here are some of the highlights from Claire’s interview:

  • Finding time to write when you’re homeschooling three kids and working a part time job
  • Some of the perks of bouncing ideas off your Lego-loving significant other
  • What made Claire decide to sign on with a small press versus sticking with indie publishing
  • What can a small press offer, and are they more flexible with contracts than the Big 5 publishers?
  • Getting invited to cons and onto panels with a publisher’s help
  • Getting reviews as a first-time author
  • Finding cover art designers and how a good cover can help with everything from reviews to sales
  • Participating in anthologies to increase awareness of all authors under a publisher
  • Who should consider a small press publisher, and how do you get in touch with one if you’re interested?

Make sure to check out Claire’s books and the lego art on her website too!

Update Feb 2016: Claire sent me an email, letting me know she decided to part ways with her publisher and is going it on her own now. Best of luck to her in the future!


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  • Hi,

    I checked out Claire’s books published with Realm Walker Publishing and was shocked to see in the front matter that they have the copyright. There’s the copyright symbol and then the name of the publisher. Is that right? Did Claire sell her copyright? If so, I can’t believe that’s a good way to go. No honorable publishing house buys an author’s copyright! You grant certain time-limited rights and that’s it. I just can’t figure what this means otherwise?

    • SFFpodcast

      Hi, Austin! I don’t know anything about that. I’ll see if I still have Claire’s email and can send her a note to ask.

  • Hi Lindsay,

    I have heard of certain unscrupulous small presses with a convincing front that issue contracts in which the author signs over copyright. In fact, it’s something I ought to write a post about at some point – when I finally get my blog properly timetabled into my writing schedule!

    I sincerely hope Claire hasn’t fallen for that, but I can’t see any other way to interpret that copyright notice at the front of the book. They’re bad news if that’s what they’re doing.

    Never but never sign a contract until you’ve had it checked over by someone with expert knowledge. Of course, in the traditional publishing world, your agent would be that person. I think it is vitally important for Indies to be aware of the legal issues. Membership of the Society of Authors (who vet contracts for their members) or whatever the equivalent organization is in one’s home country, is well worth it.

    Buying your rights back can be very, very expensive! Best never to sell them in the first place.

  • Claire Frank

    Hi Austin – thanks so much for your concern. I did have the contract vetted. It grants the copyright to the publisher only for the time period specified in the contract. It also specifically states that, should I want the rights to my work back for any reason whatsoever (in other words, there does not need to be a specific grievance), I simply give them written notice and they will return the rights to me within 30 days. I would not have to buy the rights back. One of the reasons I chose to sign with them were the fair terms in the contract, the ease of getting the rights to my work turned over, and the lack of any rights grabbing, right of first refusal, or non-compete language. I’m free to write and publish other works in any way I choose and can get the rights to my work back without any fuss or financial hassle.

    There’s definitely plenty of reasons to be concerned about any publisher and the contract language, I absolutely agree. I have heard many horror stories and was very wary and careful about what I signed. Thanks!


  • Hi Claire,

    Thanks so much for getting back to me on that. Firstly, I’m so happy that you haven’t given up your rights – although I don’t understand why they have to claim them at all?

    I’m always quite anxious about these things as many years ago I did write and sell a book (under a pen name) to a small press and at the time was very naive. They effectively stole the book, sold it (it sold well) and I never made a single penny!

    For the rest of your interview here, thank you, too – you’re very inspiring. I wish you all the best!

    Kindest regards,