Brooke Warner, author and publisher, writes on Huffington Post: “Most writers have traditional publishing aspirations. They want an agent to fall in love with their project and champion their work; they’re looking for the external validation of being accepted by a publishing house; their fantasies about getting published involve a red carpet experience that’s increasingly elusive in this industry.” But she also cautions: “Be vigilant, self-advocating, and savvy during this process.”
Caveat. Scriptor: Let. the. Writer. Beware!
Be Careful What to Wish For.
Following blog posts of “published” writers, you might have read similar remarks as I found on the website of a bestselling author, who went for many years with traditional publishers. She explains in her blog that she has never been paid on time. She had to threaten her publisher more than once to pull her books, in order to get her royalty payments that were months overdue. This author sometimes had to wait only for her royalty statements two months.
But that’s not all: “The production on my last two books ran so late that there were no review copies sent to major markets and reviewers. I had turned in my manuscripts early, so the problem was entirely on the publisher’s end.” For her latest book she had to remind them for the copy edit because the book – its launch was only two months away – had no copy editing, proofing, or Advanced Review Copies (ARC’s). Her e-book came out nine months after the print book…
She is talking here only about book production and payments. Another example how unprofessional publishing companies are handling the book promotion and sales pages of their authors at online retailers, can be found in two of my recent blogs :
Check the Publisher Before you Sign an Agreement.
Talk to a variety of authors who work with this publisher, bestseller, mid-list and first-time writers, but also with authors who left the publishing company and are now self-publishing. Ask these writers:
- Has the publisher lived up to its contractual obligations?
- Has the publisher tried to change the terms of the contract after signing?
- Does the company pay on time (within 30 days of the payment’s due date)?
- Does the company issue royalty statements on time?
- Has it published the books in a timely fashion?
Before you ever contact a traditional publishing company, do your research. Start with Publisher’s Marketplace, and don’t forget to google the publishing company with the added word: “complaints”.
Websites that are stating complaints and are giving advice what to look out for:
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing
Predators and Editors
Author Beware Thumbs Down Publisher List
So far you will not only find complaints and cautionary stories about trade publishers, but also about Vanity publishers.
Vanity Publishers or so-called “Self-Publishers”.
“Self-publishing companies” – the worst of predators – are really an oxymoronic: you are either self-publishing or someone is publishing you. Paying someone to be your publisher is like hiring someone to take a vacation for you so you can stay home and work. Read my former articles about Vanity publishers:
Here is the definition for the term, “publisher.” A publisher is an entity that invests in and assumes the risks for the producing and distributing a piece of media, such as books, e-books or audio-books. And you as an author license the copyright (or parts of it) of your manuscript.
What to Look for in the Publishing Contract?
Find out if the trade publisher company:
- will negotiate certain points of its contracts
- will reserve the right to revise my manuscript
- will try to buy all book rights
- will want to own all rights to any pen name used by the writer
There are many more traps in publishing contracts, such as mentioned in these blog posts:
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign a contract without having your contract lawyer going over it and explaining it to you in detail – sentence for sentence.
“There is no consumer-type protection for authors, the laws governing (publishing) business contracts assume that each party to such contracts will watch out for themselves.
If both parties sign a contract, the strong presumption is that each party understood what the contract meant and voluntarily agreed to be bound by it. In extreme cases, if a lawsuit were filed, a contract might be deemed unconscionable and voided in whole or in part, but that is a high (and costly) hurdle to clear.”