I’ve dealt with said publisher. I expressed my issues quietly and went straight to the source. I gave the benefit of the doubt. More than once. Finally, I quietly asked for rights to be reverted back to me for a book that was under contract. I asked for the rights because of non and/or consistently late payment.
In the middle of me trying to be civil, there were several people on the publisher’s roster who had either never been paid a penny or hadn’t seen their royalties for quiet some time. When I found this out, my voice got a little bit louder, but only to friends. And that’s when I ultimately pulled my book.
However, I still kept quiet publicly. I believe in second chances and forgiveness and acknowledging that behind every keyboard is a human being. One with feelings and with issues going on in their own lives.
The problem with my being quiet was not knowing how many others were suffering too. And worse yet, how many more would sign up for a press that I now consider to be nothing short of a scam.
I learned a lot from this experience, and I’d like to offer some advice when considering a publisher for your book. I’ve said all this before, but I’ll keep it posted here on my website for future reference.
- Ask around. When signing up with the problem publisher mentioned above, I did ask around. The problem is I only asked one person, and that person happened to be the publisher’s “golden egg.” Golden eggs are going to be treated differently. They’re going to be given special attention and paid on time. What I should have done is ask lesser known authors how they’re being treated, if they’re getting paid, and if they’re happy with the attention they’ve gotten as well as effort toward promo. Don’t ask the golden egg. They’ll most likely not be privy to what’s really going on.
- Visit the publishers website. Make sure it’s up to date. If the last three books they put out aren’t even listed, they’re lazy, and it’s a red flag. They’re not doing their job.
- Visit their social media pages. If your publisher uses the same place to promote your hard work as they do to promote their political opinions–even if you agree with those opinions–just know that they are alienating an audience. Social media is the worst place for political discussion anyway. Because there is no discussion. It’s bitching, looking for like-minded bitchers. Whether you’re bitching about how slow service was at the restaurant last night or how much you hate the president or about someone else’s views, this causes negative somatic markers, which are like little parasites the reader soaks in, letting them know, even on a subconscious level, this place is not a good time. That’s why everyone likes hanging out with the person who makes them feel good. Sure, most of us love dark movies and dark books. But when it comes to living life, we all just want to be happy and to maintain that happiness. By constantly bitching, you’re poisoning yourself, and if that publisher can’t treat their own company with respect and professionalism, they’re losing sales and driving people away, and this hurts you.
- Take note of book sales. Look at the roster of books the publisher has to offer. Check the sales rankings and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Do take note that at least the first 10-20 reviews on a book are usually friends or acquaintances of the author who are going to offer kind words no matter what. Read recent reviews. The ones from complete strangers who have no obligation to stroke the author. If the reviews state things like “Loaded with errors…needed to be edited” that’s a red flag. The publisher may not be doing their job.
- The book covers. Are they good? A lot of authors and publishers are using AI art these days so the art may be good but the font and placement godawful. Pay attention to that. Also, have you been seeing the book cover all over Twitter and Instagram? If so, that’s a good sign the publisher is doing their job promoting.
- Ask to see a contract. Look it over carefully. If you’re not familiar with current rates, ask around. And make sure the publisher isn’t asking for movie rights. I probably don’t need to expand on this. Also, make sure you’re getting copies of your own book. I’m not talking e-copies. Get those trophies for the shelf. You shouldn’t have to pay for a copy of your own book. If a publisher like Thunderstorm Books can offer their authors two to three copies of a limited hardcover that goes for $100 a piece, a publisher can definitely offer you a few paperbacks.