Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here. I thought I would tackle what can be a thorny subject for some, and that’s how to choose your publisher.
I’m assuming here that you’re not going down the self-publishing route, and are looking to submit your manuscript to a publisher.
While the publishing industry has been thrown wide open with the arrival of the e-book, and it has never been easier to get your book published, it has also opened Pandora’s Box. I’ve lost count how many small publishing presses have sprung up over the years, only to sink like a stone sometime later.
Heck, even the supposed big e-publishers have taken hits, and had to close their doors, or as in the case of one well-known publisher is still operating with more than dubious business practices at the expense of its authors.
That, right there leaves a foul taste in any author’s mouth.
Having been with a far from good publisher—remember the Noble Romance fiasco, anyone? Let me tell you, your stress levels go through the roof, when that happens.
Fortunately in the case of Noble Romance they eventually did the decent thing, closed their doors and we all got our rights back. Case closed, and the one book I had with them was re-written and found a happy home with Evernight Publishing.
In direct contrast, another one of my publishers, Breathless Press decided to close its doors well before it ran into trouble, and I have to say the whole thing was handled in a very professional manner, and I was sad to see them go.
So, how then do you choose a publisher?
Don’t do what I did. Do a google search for romance publishers and be swayed by a fancy website and promises of extra help to newbie authors and an advance like I was with Noble Romance. Whatever you do, do not sign a contract that commits you to any company for a ridiculous amount of time.
This is an extract from my contract:
VI: Term of Agreement : This Agreement shall commence on the date it is signed by both parties and shall continue until 7 years from the actual release date of the first released format covered in Exhibit A-1. Thereafter, this Agreement shall automatically renew for additional periods of 3 years each unless and until either party notifies the other of its or his/her intention to terminate this Agreement at the next scheduled renewal date.
Seven years, and it renews automatically for a further three years…. What was I thinking?
In truth, of course, I wasn’t thinking. I was so excited to finally get a yes for my story after umpteenth rejections that I signed and partied. Two more contracts quickly followed. One with Evernight Publishing and one with Breathless Press, both with far shorter terms, and it did make me think…
Hang on a minute.
You can see why I only ever had one book with Noble, can’t you. I was naive but I wasn’t stupid.
Of course, having signed with three different publishers at roughly the same time, I had a direct comparison going on. I will always be eternally grateful to both Evernight and Breathless Press for showing me what a good publisher is like, how edits ought to be handled, etc.
I shan’t bore with the litany of things Noble did wrong. It’s water under a long gone bridge, and it was only after the shite hit the proverbial fan that the truth came out.
Of course, had I known where to look, the signs had been there all along.
Which brings me to the next part of my post. How do you spot the signs?
Well, first and foremost do your research.
First step: Check out any publisher you’re considering on sites like Absolute Write. Their forum is a wealth of knowledge on background information.
A word of warning here. There will always be someone disgruntled with any publisher for whatever reason. If there is more than one person saying the same thing, or the same publisher/complaint keeps showing up… take note and dig further.
Having wheedled out the good from the bad, as best you can and you have your list, now what?
Well, contact one of their authors if you can. Most of us are only too happy to chat about publishers we love. If you don’t feel you can approach an author directly, ask on social media. What’s your experience with xyz publisher?
You will get back a plethora of answers, usually. Again be discerning and trust your instincts.
Check out their individual websites; see if you can find out contract terms, royalty rates etc.
Any publisher worth their salt will clearly state those.
It goes without saying here that you stay well away from any publisher, who charges you ANYTHING.
That’s a vanity press, and you want to avoid them. Money should only ever flow one way, from the publisher to you in the form of timely royalties.
When you sign with a publisher, the cost of cover art, edits, and to a certain extent promotion and advertising is met by the publisher.
Again, here, some publishers do more promotion than others, are more author centred etc.
Look around, see which one on your list placed adverts in the romance industry, and likewise check those bestseller lists.
A thriving publisher will have books on those lists consistently. It comes with the territory. Do authors submit time and time again to that publisher, or do they have lots of authors with just one book?
If the latter, ask why. It would send my alarm bells ringing, for sure.
When you have decided on a publisher, read the small print for their submission requirements. It saves everyone a lot of time if you get it right the first time, and your chances of an acceptance go up a lot, if you submit in the format and genre they’re looking for.
Once you’ve got that acceptance, by all means celebrate, but keep your head. Check that contract with a fine toothcomb when it arrives, and only sign it if you’re 100% happy with all the clauses. Query anything you’re unsure about, and don’t be afraid to step away, if there is something you don’t like and you can’t reach an agreement on.
Providing you are happy and have signed it, join any author group that publisher has. You can tell a lot from a publisher from its author group.
Evernight has a thriving one on Facebook and I’ve never met a more supportive bunch of people. Providing all that goes well, relax, and wait for edits and cover art, and once your book has released, eventually royalties.
Again, this will tell you a lot. As a brand new author you will probably not make a lot at that first pay check, but even it it’s just a handful of dollars, you’re owed that money, and your publisher should pay it as per the terms stated in your contract.
I always recall my first royalty report with Evernight. It came with a lovely little note to say these were websites sales only, and the next report would include third-party sales too, and be much higher. I really appreciated that thoughtfulness as a new and clueless author, and you know what, she was so right. 🙂
So, there you have it in a nut shell. Just some tips which should help you to stay clear of any potential pitfalls. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.
The publishing industry gets a lot of bad press at times, but, you know… a good publisher is worth their weight in gold. Hang onto them when you find them!
That’s all from me today.
Do stay naughty, folks.