Many times, newbie authors have tons of information at their finger tips about what “to do”. Although there is plenty of information that will guide that author to beneficial resources, there are few bits and pieces of information instructing the new writer as to what “not to do”. Many times, new authors have to fall into the same traps that the experienced authors had to rise above. That is senseless. We need to do better with the “each one, teach one” concept.
I was speaking to a couple of my author friends about this problem, and they agreed: we to get taught what “not to do”. Below is the experience of one of my author friends that shares the experience of the school of hard knocks so you don’t have to.
“I submitted my first book to over 40 publishing companies before being picked up by one. The company was a new and still in the learning phase just as I was. The most important thing I learned with dealing with an (unknown or new) publishing company is to check them out thoroughly. Check references if you can. Find out if they are a legitimately registered business. Also check to see if they are registered with the Better Business Bureau. Most reputable companies are registered. Maybe not with the BBB, but in that case they will definitely have references for you.
Demand to be in contact with their editors. How can someone edit your book and NEVER be in contact with you? My second book left the publisher with so many errors in it. I am embarrassed to say I wrote it. This is after receiving an email telling me, “Your book is with the editors right now.” Be very careful, and check everything out.
Demand to be in contact with the cover designers as well. At least be allowed to have some input. These people are representing your work, and you must demand to be represented accurately. These are things that can either make or break your success. If a publisher tells you he/she has the final say in what happens to your book…run, and run fast.
I had a book release. Three months later, the publisher decides he doesn’t want to publish the book. Go figure. After all my hard work and then about a year to get it into print, the company decided to go in a different direction which did not include me.
I had the unfortunate experience of submitting to a company after I paid my own editor and typesetter, and the publishing company is reaping the profits from that. At that time, I was assured the company would take care of. When we finally severed our contract, the company wanted me to pay for the cover design. They never offered to pay for the editing and typesetting that I paid out-of-pocket for. Be sure to keep a good record of your expenses.
Make sure you get tax papers at the end of the year from your publisher to take to your tax people.
Some publishing companies will bully you and treat you as if you have no sense at all. They will not respect your opinions and ideas. Instead, they want to make your work their work. They end up with the credit, and you end up feeling like just an employee.
I had a publisher want to change the name of a book I was thinking of writing because he thought that most (black) people would not understand the words. I feel that serious readers will look up anything they don’t quite understand in order to comprehend a good story. I do it all the time. It’s all part of the learning process. If you don’t understand, or Â a word frustrates you, then it is a good idea to look it up. You will feel enlightened. There is no winner if you dummy up your work.
Lastly, beware of faulty contracts. Some people are writing their own contracts and piecing them together using Internet sites instead of real lawyers. Have a lawyer or a paralegal take a look at your contract before signing. There are many publishing companies out there who do not fully understand all of the ins and outs of publishing. This may be fine with the understanding that they are willing to keep you posted and that they are constantly doing research in the business to ensure good service to you.
Although I have had some trying times in this business, I still appreciate the learning experience. I have learned what to look out for, and I have learned that no matter the experience. I still feel blessed to have my very own work in print. I still have the ability to write and create new stories. Now that I know better, I feel sure that my future in this business will be a brighter one.”
This author shared a lot of good information for anyone looking to get a publishing deal and is not exactly sure about how to start the process. If you have some good information you would like to share as a continuation to this post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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