Do’s and Don’ts of Publishing
You did it! You completed your first manuscript, spent money editing and polishing it, and now you are looking for a home for it. Two avenues are available for all aspiring authors and even published authors. Self-publishing or traditional publishing? (Traditional publishing also includes Indie Publishers) The perks of self-publishing is far and few in between. You get all the profit made from sales yes, but you also have to factor in the cost of editing, the cover design price, advertising, etc. All of that piles up and a lot of authors decide that traditional publishing is the avenue to go. As an author myself, I have done both routes. For me, the cost is the same, as I own the publishing company I am published through. However, the authors that publish with me do not spend a dime in costs!
Lesson #1: If they ask you for money, don’t do it!
Vanity publishers are the bottom feeders of publishing. They lure you in with fancy contracts and dreams of your book going big. But what exactly is a vanity publisher? A vanity publisher is a publishing house that asks you to pay either half or two-thirds cost of publishing your book. Some may find this a steal, but in reality, you can do the same thing self-publishing your book and still make all the royalties instead of splitting with the publisher. Vanity publishing is frowned upon by traditional publishing houses. Once you have been a victim to the vultures, not many traditional publishers will take you serious as an author. The number one rule in traditional publishing is you don’t pay a cent out of your pocket to publish your book. That is why the company receives royalties from your publication. They spend thousands of dollars on you to edit, design, format, and promote your book.
Lesson #2: ALWAYS read the contract!
There are companies out there that may seem like they are out for the little guy, but the contract will tell you otherwise. I had the privilege of one of my books being selected by a publishing house that looked pretty swell. They had over 300 titles published and the covers looked amazing. The catch? They only published e-books. My book would not come out in paperback and my agent at the time was going to work a deal out with them to have it pushed paperback. Instead of making her go through the hassle of haggling, I decided to pass on the company. My gut was speaking to me. I didn’t want to push my book off with a mediocre company who doesn’t have a single paperback out on the market. I understand it is the digital age, but I wanted to hold my book in my hands and, with my weird quirkiness, sniff the pages.
Not only is it important to read the contract for fine print, but it is also important to read just so you know what you are signing away. Most traditional publishers give a small royalty to first time authors, normally around 10%. That is a very low number. If your book is selling $4 a copy, you get $0.40 per sale. I am not ok with that price at all. So I shop around. It is also important to note what the company plans to hold rights over. Check and see how much you make if your book is optioned for a movie. Most publishing houses retain those rights. Check and see if they hold claim to your series. Most publishers reserve first rights to a series and can pass on publishing it. Some companies reserve the right to change book titles, no insight to cover designs from the author, and edit without approval from the author. READ, READ, READ!
Lesson #3: Rejection
You submitted your book and it was rejected. You are heart-broken. Shattered. The person who rejected your book either A) didn’t give any detail as to why and just said sorry we are not accepting this manuscript. B) They give some feedback as to how to tighten up your story and tells you if you can resubmit or not, or C) is a total jerk and gives destructive criticism as opposed to constructive criticism and belittles you in the letter. We are focusing on C. I have had this happen. It is not the coolest feeling in the world especially when you already doubt yourself and your writing. Did I give up? No. I focused on parts of the criticism that were detrimental to my book, rewrote the opening chapter to my novel, and submitted it to another company. I was rejected ONLY because I was a new author. However, they praised my opening chapter and editing skills (I edited all of my books to where they only needed proofed.)
Lesson #4: Acceptance
Your books was accepted, you signed the contract, and now you are waiting on your book. Rule number 1: DO NOT pester the publisher as to when your book will be released. They have to design the cover, edit the book, polish it, schedule release dates and advertising, and a whole laundry list of to dos. They also have personal lives. So, if your company is an indie company, and you see your publisher online after hours, do not message them about business. If your book is accepted, and it is one month post acceptance, asking about anything to do with release dates will for sure get your book pushed to the back of the list. Give the publisher time to do what they need to do. It takes a good six months to a year to release a novel industry standard. You don’t want them rushing your book and missing critical errors because of your pestering and persistence of releasing the book when you want it released.
Author, poet, and publisher at Azoth Khem Publishing