I have a novel submitted all over the place and have a few requests for fulls. I also have a bite from a very very small press that usually only sells between 100 to 500 copies of a book and usually poetry.
My question is: if the big/medium presses don’t come back with a contract, should I pursue the small press. Knowing I’d have to do all the publicity etc. I think I could sell 500 books easily.
Im working on my next novel which I think will be much better than my first.
Should I shelve my first novel or go with the small press? If I go with the small press and only sell 500 copies, will this hurt me if a I look for an agent for my second (and better) book?
If you get no hits from the big presses, go with the small press. You don't have to take my advice here. It's not a hard-and-fast rule I'm laying down. But I am saying that it is awesome to be published, especially for the first time. You don't know when the next time is going to come, so shoot for the stars. If the small press is your only offer, you should go with it.
The other legitimate option is to shelve it and focus on your new work. I've certainly shelved a lot of work - in fact, most of my work - either to revise it later or never to look at it again, but usually I shelved it after it was turned down everywhere, a surefire sign that something was wrong with it. Some people are not proud of their early stuff. Some people believe that a small press is harmful to your resume. This is not true, necessarily, it just isn't as helpful as you would think in comparison to having a shorter piece published in a major magazine.
A lot of people talk about waiting to have written the "right" book which will land them a good advance at one of the big 5/6 publishing companies. These people generally do not get published.