Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Does your publisher deserve you? Questions you should ask before you sign on the dotted line.

It sounds crazy doesn't it that you you work your backside off to get a publishing deal, but you might be offered a contract by a publisher and not take it.



But the truth is, not all publishers are good publishers. And the last thing you need or want is your precious manuscript that you've slaved over and put so much love and care into, to end up with a publisher that won't do you or your book justice.

Why is it important to get the right publisher?
Any publisher is better than no publisher. Right?

No.

It might cost you a deal with a better publisher because they'll look at the sales of previous books and go "Oh, they only sold 10 copies of their last book." They won't check to see how proactive your publisher was in selling books - even although promotion's a two-way street. They won't care that the price of the book (that'd you'd no say in) cost more than the new Harlan Coben.

So, how do you spot a good publisher from a bad one? Read on my writing friends -

1. How do they treat authors? Try a simple Internet check. You might get lucky, although authors are cautious about discussing publishers online, in case they come across as whiny or the publisher reads it and takes the hump, or other publishers read it and think, "They're trouble - avoid."

Also, visit/join writers' boards and see what they're saying about publishers. Many users use fictitious names so they're more likely to be honest.

2. What appearance do they present to the rest of the world?
At the bare minimum, every publisher should have a professional website, a blog, Twitter and Facebook account. If they can't present themselves well to the world, they won't be able to sell your book.

3. Do their books sell and how proactive are they in selling them? Try following one of their titles on Novel Rank (www.novelrank.com) for a few weeks. How are estimated sales?

4. Are their royalties and advances (if applicable) industry standard? One writer I know, was offered just 2.5% royalties on paperback sales. That's too low and no, they didn't offer an advance.

Remember, Amazon never pay the full price for a book. The trade price they pay might be as low as 30% of the cover price. If a book sells for 7 pounds or 7 dollars and the publisher gets £2.10 pounds or 2 dollar 10 cents for every book, the writer gets a measly 5 pence or 5 cents.

5. What kind of reviews do their books get? Ignore the "this zombie novel didn't have enough romance in it" (that's one of the reviews The Restless Dead got) comments and look for phrases like "badly edited" and "character died in one chapter and miraculously came alive in other."

6. Are their covers the kind that will sell books? Do they look professional or are they cheap and tacky looking? Covers sell books.

And, remember, there's always self-publishing so you can at least get your work out there:) 

K.I.S.S - Keep It Simple Stupid

I was working on a bit in my zombie novel Dead Bastards  where certain characters need to be in a specific place at a particular time. I&...