Small vs Large Publishers: The Upsides and Downsides


How do you know if you should submit your manuscript to a small publisher or a large publisher? Here is a list of upsides and downsides for both to help you make the right decision for you and your manuscript.



Small publishers are more personal. They have fewer members of staff and publish fewer books each year than large publishers do. Typically because small publishers publish fewer books each year than larger publishers do, small publishers are very invested in each book.

Small publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. This is not true of all small publishers, but generally, small publishers are more likely to accept unsolicited manuscript. An unsolicited manuscript is a manuscript that does not have an agent attached to it. This means that it is often a much simpler process for authors to submit books to small publishers because the authors do not need to find an agent first.

Small publishers are more flexible and willing to try new things. The great thing about being small is that it takes less effort to move, to change, to shake things up. Large publishers are complex with infrastructure and many balls to juggle, so it becomes much more difficult for a large publisher to try new things.

Small publishers give higher royalty rates. Again, this is not true of all small publishers, but without the huge infrastructure and overhead costs, coupled with a more personal relationship with the author, small publishers are often able to give higher royalty rates to authors than large publishers can.

Small publishers continue to market and promote your book, even after it has been out for a year. It is common with large publishers to push hard for the first year and then let a book slip away into oblivion. Small publishers are much more likely to take on a book and keep promoting it.



Small publishers have limited resources. With fewer staff members and books published each year than the large publishers, small publishers are stretched thin. The main downside for authors in this regard is that small publishers do not have the money to spend on marketing that a large publisher would.



Hello_my_name_is_stickerLarge publishers have large marketing budgets and specialized staff. The biggest reason that going with a big publisher could be beneficial to you is that large publishers have large marketing budgets and specialized marketing and rights-selling staff. Smaller publisher often do not have designated marketing and rights departments, and they certainly do not have the same kind of cash that a large publisher would have to market your book upfront.

Large publishers are big names. There is something to be said for being able to tell your friends that you signed a book deal with Simon and Schuster. However, you have to discover for yourself just how important a big name is to you.

Large publishers can offer larger advances. While a small publisher is more likely to give higher royalties, the author advance (money you get up front) is higher with a large publisher.



Large publishers are not as ‘author-friendly’. What I mean by ‘author-friendly’ is that large publishers are not as personal with their authors, everything is done through an agent, and often large publishers are more about getting to business and less about making sure the author is getting something out of the relationship too.


In the end, as you decide whether to go with a small or large publisher, you need to consider what your goals are with your book. How important to you is the environment and closeness to your editor? How important to you is having a big marketing budget? How important to you is having the publisher be a big name that all your friends would know? How important to you is having a literary agent? How important to you is having more ownership (and possibly royalties) for your book? These are the questions that, once answered, will determine which publisher size is right for you.

Mental Health Awareness Week – Relationships

A post from Deborah Malcom, author of Meh.

Disclaimer – I am not a mental health professional. This blog is based on personal experience, and not to be taken as medical advice.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with this year’s theme focusing on relationships.  I decided I would write about my own thoughts and experience building and maintaining relationships between friends whilst suffering from long-term poor mental health.

Marcus and I (2)

For as long as I can remember I have suffered from social anxiety.  This has made it difficult for me to make and maintain strong friendships. There is a constant fear in my mind that friends that I make will soon realise how “boring” and “stupid” I am, and will do everything in their power to avoid me.  Even after socialising with friends I will quickly convince myself that I said something wrong, or acted awkwardly, and that those friends (who were more than happy to be in my presence) now despise me.


katy and I (2)Since I can’t rely on believing that just being myself is enough to retain friendships, I sometimes buy small gifts for them.  I understand that material goods are not the way to making and keeping friends, but when your mind tells you that you need to if you want people to like you, then you do it.  (If you have ever received random gifts from me, it’s my way of saying I really like you and enjoy your company!).  Of course, the positive feeling from random acts of kindness can only go so far if you don’t treat yourself as kindly as you do others.

This anxiety grows, and I begin to believe that sending a short text message or a message on social media will be an inconvenience to them; that I’ll appear desperate for their attention. So more often than not, I leave it to them to initiate conversation. You can probably imagine how well that decision goes…

Martin and I (2)


Every relationship is a two-way commitment. Most of the time it’s fairly straightforward, but when one or both of them have issues with their mental health it becomes a daily struggle.  Talking about how you feel is incredibly difficult, especially if you feel that revealing your problems will only burden those you care for. However in my experience it is far better to try than to keep your worries to yourself. You don’t have to announce it to the world, just to those you feel you can trust. In turn they may come to you when they are in need of someone to talk to, showing their trust in you.



Laura(sis),Kate(mum) and I-1 (2)Although I can’t provide any advice on how to maintain healthy relationships, I can make a “resolution” on what I feel may improve my own. My Relationships Resolution is to build on my current friendships by initiating conversations, arranging days to socialise and not to shy away when I’m invited out by others.


What’s your Relationship Resolution? You can make your “pledge” on the Mental Health Foundation website.





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What if two kids became superheroes and set out to save the world through chemistry? In a new exciting and educational graphic novel from ThunderStone Books, two kids do just that!

ThunderStone Books is proud to officially announce that in March 2017, CheMystery, the tale of science and superpowers, will be hitting the shelves.

Today we welcome author, Christopher Preece, who is going to introduce himself CheMystery, his upcoming graphic novel.



I hail from the foothills of Appalachia in Pilgrim, KY. I have an extensive background in chemistry with a B.S. from Morehead State University and many graduate chemistry credits from the University of Kentucky, where I will be continuing my education to obtain a Ph.D. in Science Education. I have been teaching high school chemistry for the past 5 years, which has been a blast, literally and figuratively. I enjoy reading comic books, traveling and eating. We all have to eat, why not make it an adventure? I love all things science, especially physical science and applying those concepts in different ways to educate others.

How did you get the idea for CheMystery?

The idea for a comic that teaches chemistry started to manifest after reading 3 comics: Solar: Man of the Atom by Jim Shooter (Dark Horse series), Suspended Language by Jim Ottaviani, Howtoons by Fred Van Lente and Think Tank by Matt Hawkins. I read all of these around the same time and each contributed a little more to the idea of a chemistry comic to teach being a possibility. Each contributed a unique idea to the melting pot from how to present heavy educational materials along side a narrative to how to integrate it into a narrative.

Do you have a favorite element?

Yes, 2 in fact. Mercury (Hg), which I did my graduate research on how to remediate it from coal burning power plants. How cool is it that it’s the ONLY liquid metal? Antimony (Sb) is the other favorite. Initially it was my favorite because of the obscure name and name and symbol mismatch but it has a lot of interesting chemistry and uses, like in cosmetics to provide luster!

What first got you interested in comics and graphic novels?

My uncle, Dan, was in the comic industry while I was growing up and his love of the medium spilled over to me. My passion for the medium has continued to evolve into incorporate my passion for science education. Firestorm is one of my favorite characters and his ability to transmutate matter always fascinated me.

Why do you love science, especially chemistry?

As a high school student I gravitated toward chemistry. The concept of atoms and subatomic particles really captivated me. To think that we are made of trillions upon trillions of atoms, and that a single one is invisible to the naked eye, is wild. To think that electrons orbit the atom and move to make light is intriguing and to think about how an electron is both a particle and a wave is mind-blowing. There are so many things in our world that are unknown and science helps us explain those things.

What comic books and graphic novels would you recommend for science lovers?

There are more out there than you would think!

Jim Ottaviani has written several great science graphic novels, which take us through the lives of great scientists like Neil Bohr. Suspended Language is my favorite, but all his books are very enjoyable.

Think Tank by Matt Hawkins, which has a science section in the back explaining all the science he researches and uses in his book.

Howtoons by Fred Van Lente. This is a comic geared toward engineering. It has a captivating narrative and shows how to make cool contraptions that are used in the story.

Most things that captivate me I discuss on my blog.

What are your favorite comic books and graphic novels?

As for non-science comics some of my favorites include: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Princess Ugg (Oni Press), Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press), Solar: Man of the Atom (Dark Horse), Captain America by Ed Brubaker (Marvel), Inhumans by Paul Jenkins (Marvel), Firestorm by Gerry Conway (DC) and Legion of Superheroes by Mark Waid (DC).


Chemystery page 3Chemystery page 2Chemystery page 1


Thanks, Chris, for introducing yourself and your upcoming book! You can look out for CheMystery, coming March 2017. Check out more at his website!

The Inspiration for Elements of Evil

A blog post from the author of Elements of Evil.

Note from ThunderStone Books: The road that led to the publishing of Elements of Evil was paved from a young age by those who got us excited about science. These taught us that science is more than a class at school, it’s a way of looking at the world. Through authors like Brooke Arnold, Bill Nye and Ms. Frizzle not only live on but continue to reach and inspire new generations.


When people hear that I wrote and published a book, usually their first reaction is “Wow! Really?” followed by “What’s it about?” I get mixed reactions when they hear that it’s about a girl who wants to become a supervillain by using science. Most kids get a big grin on their face. Most adults do a double-take, usually accompanied by either an appreciative laugh or a quizzical smile. “Where on earth did that come from?” they seem to be asking. To me, it just makes sense.

Bill Nye

When I was little, even while I dreamed about becoming a “draw-er” or “professional horse rider,” I also loved watching shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy or The Magic School Bus and learning about how things work. I’ve always discovering the “how” and “why” about life, especially things that seemed particularly mysterious.

The curly hair and love for science are just a few of the things that Brooke and Ms Frizzle have in common!

I feel that way about books too–hand-waving should be used judiciously. You should always be able to explain why and how something happens. So when I grew up and decided to write a story about a child supervillain, I realized I had a challenge to overcome. Superheroes and supervillains aren’t “super” without an extra something to make them that way (like Dr. Horrible’s freeze ray or Superman’s x-ray vision). Rather than trying to create my own magic or use fake inventions, I realized I wanted my super-person to use something that already exists: real-life science. To a little girl like Bernice in my story, and to a grown-up girl like me, that was by far the most sensible thing. After all, the reality of life is as magical and powerful as anything imaginary.

Elements of Evil is available now from,, Barnes and Noble, or our website here!

The Meh App: A Visual Storybook

Meh, the beloved wordless picture book about depression by Deborah Malcolm, is the inspiration for a new app. Using the same boy and white cat characters in an interactive storybook, the app allows the user to become part of the story.


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The app, like the book, is particularly appropriate for children but can be engaging for all ages. Objects in the visual storybook light up and when users tap those objects, the boy moves through the story and sounds of scribbling, tweeting birds, and cat “meows” can be heard.


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The app allows for scrolling to move side to side or upwards with the boy and discover what is lying just around the corner.


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One of our favorite parts of the app is when cracks begin to appear in the boy’s gray world. By tapping on the white cat (who is getting bigger and bigger) the cracks appear more frequently, and make sounds of the gray world crumbling. Tapping on the cat repeatedly, with the cracks appearing more and more often, is an empowering feeling as the user helps the boy to find his strength and return to the colorful world.

The app was created by a team of talented developers and animators from the Computer Arts Programme at Abertay University, Dundee. The team consists of Ewan Duncan, Michael Philp, Alan Hunter, Stephen O’donnell, and David Ferguson. We owe thanks to this team, to Lynn Parker (Computer Arts Programme Tutor at University of Abertay Dundee), and as always to Deborah Malcolm, who created this beautiful story in the first place.


Download the app for free for Android and don’t forget to leave a review!


Elements of Evil Launches!



Brooke Arnold, author and scientist, announced Bernice and Bunsen to the world on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at Provo Library in Utah.







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There were activities such as coloring, code-cracking, playing with oobleck and seeing the world through a microscope to entertain all the young scientists in attendance.



And don’t forget delicious veggies, “worms” and Bunsen cupcakes: food fit for a hedgehog!




Congratulations to Brooke on her brilliant debut, with many more Bernice and Bunsen adventures to come in the future.




You can get your own copy of Elements of Evil here.

The Wisdom of Wordless

Storytelling is an art to which I am in awe because of the difficulty in doing it right. There are certainly many plot-hole-ridden, flat-character driven, boring stories out there. But there are also some beautiful stories that pull it off, and do it well. And what is even more impressive to me, is when a story is told without using words! That is why the theme of today’s blog post is wordless picture books. Here are a few of my favorites:


Time Flies by Eric Rohmann

This was one of the well-worn books on my childhood bookshelf, read and reread. It follows the flight of a bird who travels through a museum of dinosaur bones but as the bird passes each display, the dinosaurs start to come to life and it is as if the bird is traveling back in time. It’s the kind of book that ignites childhood imagination and it was one that I liked to get lost in.



Tuesday by David Wiesner

David Wiesner is one of the best and most prolific wordless picture book author/illustrators. Tuesday is about the strange happenings on Tuesday in which frogs magically fly on lilypads and travel through the town. If you are interested, you can check out some of Wiesner’s other wordless picture books such as The Three Pigs.



The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

This pick is a bit of a cheat because it is not completely wordless, but it does not have many words and it is by my absolute favorite children’s book author, Chris Van Allsburg, so I decided to include it here anyway. This book is a collection of random pictures and captions from the mysterious Harris Burdick. I remember looking through these as a child and writing short stories to go along with each mysterious and magical image. It’s great for igniting curiosity and sparking story ideas.



Meh by Deborah Malcolm

Finally, one of my very favorite picture books is written and illustrated by our very own Deborah Malcolm. The wordless nature of Meh makes it a book that everyone can read it differently and see their own situation within its pages. The cat, the boy, the darkness … these are all elements that can be interpreted in various ways. To get your very own copy of Meh, buy it here.

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What do you love about wordless picture books? Let us know which wordless picture books are your favorites!

NOT the Eve 6 song

Why I Love Inside Out’s Take on Depression

[Disclaimer: the author’s opinions do not necessarily represent the views of ThunderStone Books. The author reserves the right to change his opinion for reasons up to and including further discussion, indigestion, or abduction of a loved one.]

NOT the Eve 6 song

Sadness and Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out

Everyone has been talking about the new Pixar film, Inside Out, so I’m going to add my own thoughts to this discussion. The opinions and insights are my own, and I welcome dialogue and debate regarding what you thought of the film.

Rachel and I recently saw Inside Out and though I went into the theatre expecting a few hours of fun, entertaining fluff, I came out amazed by how the film affected me.

Let me start by saying that not everything in the movie struck me like it did others (here’s looking at you, Bing Bong.) I loved most of it, thought a few things were weird, but as it ended, I kept thinking of one core idea, and probably my favorite thing about the film — how it shows depression.

We tend to think of depression as sadness. That’s not entirely inaccurate, but there’s a bit more to it. Remember, Joy and Sadness are both missing from headquarters when Riley falls into a slump. Traditional wisdom might tell us that depression occurs when Sadness is in charge, or outnumbers the other emotions somehow. But depression isn’t simply a lack of happiness, but a lack of sadness as well: the lack of emotion is exactly what makes depression so hard to escape from. As we see in the film, sadness can lead to actions that create joy. But when we quit feeling, we lose motivation to pull ourselves out. Everyone gets sad, but it’s not usually a problem when we can see a way out. But sometimes we can’t recognize an escape, and worse, don’t even care.

That’s why I love Inside Out. Sadness isn’t something to be feared or unduly avoided; it’s an essential part of the human experience. Apathy is the enemy.

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Meh by Deborah Malcolm

It’s tough to talk about depression without feeling preachy. In our latest book, Meh, author/illustrator Deborah Malcolm avoided this issue by not using words at all—showing, not telling, a story of a journey through depression. In a similar way, Inside Out succeeds where so many other attempts fall flat, by not telling us how to fix depression, but by showing us that there is a way out, and the importance of just feeling.

Let us know what you thought of the film below!

Spreading Awareness

We love Deborah!

We love Deborah!


Sunday, August 2, 2015 was the official launch of Meh at the Waterstones in Livingston, Scotland. Our lovely author/illustrator, Deborah Malcolm, pulled out all the stops for a fabulous presentation complete with balloons, colouring activities, and sweets for the kids, and for the adults, thought-provoking insight into discussing mental health from a young age.



Deborah talked about how positive thinking is a technique to escape from a cycle of negativity that is often a part of depression. She had the children in the audience ‘fill’ their black balloons with negative thoughts and then release them into the air.  Next, they filled their heads with positive thoughts, drawing things that made them happy.

STV News was even there to document the event!

STV News was even there to document the event!

Missed the event? You can still get your very own copy of Meh to explore and discuss mental health awareness.