Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Publishing 101: Publisher Picking
One of the big lessons I learned by being a published author was that not all publishers are the same. The first publisher I signed with was actually a pretty bad experience and the publishing house ended up closing down about a month after my book was released. After that incident, I learned how to tell the good from the bad. Here's a few tips on how to avoid bad and shady presses from the first glance.
1. Study the publisher's site for a couple of months. If they only release one or two books a month, and have been around for several years, there is something wrong with them. A new publisher doesn't have a large following so it's natural that they would release only a small number of books, but if the press has been around for a few years and they haven't build up an authorship or a readership something is seriously wrong with them.
2. Read a few of their books (one book is not enough) by several of their authors and see how you like them. Is the editing good or crappy in them? Do their covers pull you in? Do they put out good stories or do they give the impression they would accept anything?
3. Study their authors. Does the publisher have a long list of authors that write for them? How many books do most of those authors have with the publisher? If the press has 100 authors and a good 80 of them only have one book with the publisher, something must be wrong. Most authors like the security of sticking to the same press they feel comfortable with, so if most authors don't come back for a second book with a certain publisher, you shouldn't publish with them either.
4. How many authors are published with ONLY that one publisher? Believe it or not, but that is also a bad sign for the publisher. You see, most authors don't put all their eggs in one basket. It's natural that an author will have ten books with Publisher X, seven with Publisher Y, and three with Publisher Z. However, if you study all the authors from a certain publisher and find that all of them are ONLY published with Publisher X, something might be wrong. I've heard of cases where publisher told their authors not to publish anywhere else because all other publishers are crap and they will treat the author like scum. This author should be very happy with this publisher and the pub will be offended and hurt, and will refuse to publisher future books from the author if author 'cheats' on her/his publisher. I hear those vary same publishers also forget to pay royalties to their authors. You see, a good publisher will not care if you publish anywhere else. They will not have to manipulate you to stay with them, because they are good enough for the author to come back on his/her own.
5. Last but not least, if you are still unsure about a certain publisher, ask several of their authors (privately). No, not the author who is only published with them, as that person doesn't know how other companies function and can't advice correctly. Ask the authors (always ask more than one) who have published with several companies. Most authors, after making a mistake with a shady publisher, will not want other authors to make that same mistake. They will tell you what they think of that company.
For those of you who have made publishing mistakes, what other advice could you offer to the newbie author?