Self-Publishing: Taking Advantage of New Writers
When I was a glassy-eyed newbie, I ran into a lot of people and sites that promised me aid or exposure. This came with a cost, of course, whether it be money or just my time, but I learned not to trust the folks that jumped forward with a quick fix. A few still get past me. The editor who didn’t know how to edit romantic suspense and bailed halfway with no notice and no refund. Oh, he covered his tracks by making it seem it was me, but people knew.
I am currently delving into the world of online publishers. It seems to me that there are several reputable companies but you still have to read the fine print. They are not in business out of the goodness of their heart. If you make money, they make money. And they will make sure they make money first.
With the advent of ebook and Print on Demand publishing, there is no warehousing costs, no outlay for printing before the request for your title. Now here’s the hitch. Anyone who puts out a few thousand dollars for the equipment can call themselves a publisher. They don’t even need a POD printer if they partner with another publisher with a printer for a share of the profits.
Now I want to support small business and if you find people you can trust (and we are not talking about second-hand car salesmen trust) then get a contract, have it reviewed by a lawyer, and go ahead. But let me give you something to think about:
You publish your book with a small publisher. As you start to receive royalties, the figures don’t look right. You find your publisher took several ‘office costs’ from your royalties. What do you do?
Same scenario, but you decide to take your book elsewhere. Did the publisher get your ISBN for you or did you acquire one by yourself? Take a look at your contract. You may not be able to take your book elsewhere without getting an entirely new ISBN because that one and the book it is attached to are the property and imprint of that publisher.
Small publishers are popping up daily. They jump into the business, accept pretty much anyone who queries them, then dumps the ones it wants to weed out later. They farm editing out to anyone who will take it (sometimes paying against the profits of the book). If the book doesn’t sell then you will never see a cent for your work. And, for some, experience is not required for editors…they will teach you how to edit. Oh, come on! It’s a get rich quick scheme for them. FOR THEM. Not you.
Unfortunately, in this business, authors don’t get much respect. We are grist for the mill, so to speak. Any agent/publisher will tell you that they get hundreds of queries a day from hopeful authors looking for the one book they can sell. Not necessarily the best, but the one that will make them money. They or their associates look through, and depending on the decision of the reader, ask for the complete manuscript. The rest of us blow in the wind with not so much as a form response. They say they don’t have time but the hard truth is that if these professionals answer you back, communication is established. You might even, God forbid, write them back and that just won’t do.
Back to editors and such, do not…DO NOT…make your agreements over Facebook and expect it to stand up in court. You don’t even know where this person really lives or their phone number. Who are you going to address the lawsuit to? Get it in writing…ON PAPER…through the mail, have it reviewed, and keep a copy, keep the envelope it came in. Yes, it is an expense but let me ask you a question. What would be the loss if after all the sweat and tears you’ve poured into your book, you lost it to a clause in a contract?
Oh, and never, ever, ever say yes to a ‘publisher’ who cold calls you and offers to publish your book for a modest sum. Even if they use a recognized publisher as a cover…a division of…yeah, right.
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I’m not asking for you to give up on your dreams. Just be careful out there. Be aware. Don’t get so excited by the prospect of success that you end up a horror story.
As with any of my columns, these opinions and statements are my own and you can agree or disagree because that is what makes our country great.
Be sure to check out more of my self-publishing series!