Hello all of you wonderful people you! I know it’s been a bit, but I wanted to talk about something pretty serious. I have recently been talking with a fellow author about a publisher who has absolutely screwed her up. To the point where lawyers had to get involved on both sides. I will not be mentioning the authors name or the publishers name, even though I want to drag the company through the mud… I will be civil.
But I did want to make this blog to warn unbeknownst writers who have considered going to a publisher to publish their very first book. This list can also be used if it’s not your first book and you’re tired of this self-publishing stuff.
Publishing a book for the first time is a very scary process. You don’t have any idea where to start, who to talk to, which publishers are great, who the bad ones are, etc. Hopefully I will be able to help with all of these questions because I for one am angry with certain companies who prey on innocent writers who didn’t know any better.
The first thing I will say on any of these points is to please do research before picking one out of random. I am making this blog which is an opinionated based source, but I will do my best to help with some of that research.
Things to keep in mind when looking for your publisher:
- Copyrights – They will never ask for the rights of your book. Most publishers know how important it is for an author to keep their rights because without them, they will have zero control over anything and will also most likely lose their name on the novel. Seeing as it’s probably your first book, you do not want this to happen. If they ask or it says something in the contract about it, do not sign and walk away. (There are several more things to come, but this is the biggest red flag. If this occurs, you can ignore everything else cause nothing else matters at this point.)
- The Website – I feel like in 2020, businesses should have a pretty clean, organized and professional website. With all of the tools out there with sites like WordPress or Wix, they pretty much do most of the work for you, you just have to have a clear idea of what you want it to be about. If it’s messy, broken or doesn’t have links where links should be, I would be cautious. This doesn’t deem a bad publisher, but most good ones don’t have these minor issues. There should also be a clear understanding of what the publisher strives for or a mission statement. If they have a 2-3 paragraph “About Us” and that’s it… uh yeah, look elsewhere.
- Submissions – Publishers will have a period of where they have open submissions and in this process they will ask for extremely detailed book submissions. You also want to make sure the publisher is right for you and has a good selection of books already published. (great reviews, best seller lists, New York Times Best Sellers, etc). If the publisher does not have any guidelines or the books you see published don’t seem like they are doing very well (low reviews, bad reviews, inside looks are riddled with errors), don’t submit anything. If the books they’ve already published are like this, chances are yours will end up the same.
- Social Media – This is nit picky, but in my personal opinion, if the posts and tweets are strictly about promoting themselves instead of lifting up the authors or the books they work with, chances are they won’t give you the attention either. Also, if they don’t interact with comments on their posts or try to build any type of relationships with fans of theirs (potential authors), stay away.
- The Team – Depending on how big of a publisher you’re looking at, there may or may not be a list of editors you can expect to work with. I usually find smaller companies do this and may have a picture, a name, their title and why they are qualified to be doing what they are doing. This can be found right on the website, and should be somewhat easy to find. If you know it’s a small potato company and you don’t see names, or anything of who you may be working with or the qualifications, you could always reach out to them and ask, but really, it should be public knowledge.
- Money – Probably the easiest way to tell if they are a legit company, they will never ask you to pay to publish your book. If they tell you it costs x-amount of money to publish with them, no doubt about it; it’s a vanity publisher. Do not ever fall for this. As I mentioned before, the publishers you want, YOU will seek them out and they will then tell you’ve been accepted and will take care of all the costs for you.
- Marketing – While publishers will do some of the marketing for you and your books, you still need to do most of it. However, if the publisher ever asks you to make tweets and posts to promote the publisher… Nu-Uh. You should never have to do this. You simply being a client of theirs should reflect the business enough. If the book they published is doing fantastic, the publisher will be recognized and bring more authors to them for that alone.
I hope this helps any writer who is looking for the next steps in the publishing process. If this stresses you out or is just to risky, keep in mind, there is always self-publishing! Be your own boss! Also, if you have been a victim to a terrible publisher, I encourage you to comment below so that we may all know who to stay away from. Or if there is another red flag I missed, feel free to comment.
As always, happy reading!