As authors, every time we submit a story we take a risk. That risk is tenfold when you don’t have an agent, because all the homework is on our shoulders. We’re forced to research each publishing house before we become involved with them; not doing so will undoubtedly result in poor handling of your manuscript, or nonpayment of royalties. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the rotten apples from the good ones. *everyone nods in agreement* All of us have been forced to eat a worm or two over our writing career. Some of you have already been through at least one horrible fiasco. Some of you have had the misfortune of becoming involved in multiple bad experiences—through no fault of your own. So, today I want to talk a little bit about something I find very disturbing, lack of integrity.
The definition of integrity: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
I’m seeing more and more publishers forgetting that this is a business involving real people, not machines. We work hard to create a story worthy of reading. Most of us spend hours and hours at the computer, day after day, just to get a rough draft. Laundry takes a backseat. Our kids are sometimes forced to play outside while we attempt to think over a particular scene. Lots of sacrifices are made. Therefore, when a publisher doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain it’s like a big slap in the face. We’re forced to adhere to their guidelines or don’t even bother to submit, right? So why is it okay for their personal lives to interfere when it comes time for them to hold up their end of the bargain?
I’m not talking about breach of contract. I’m talking about honesty. Once upon a time, deals were made based solely on shaking a man’s hand. We trusted them to keep their word. But with some publishers all you hear are excuses, sometimes nothing at all. Emails are ignored. How does this make us feel? Frustrated. Angry that we kept strict to our moral code, but the publisher thinks its okay for them to make the rules up as they go along.
No, it’s not okay. We’re not machines! We’re human beings, working hard to create a wonderful tale filled with love and emotion and believable characters. A tale they’re going to profit from, I might add. The least they can do is honor their end of the handshake.
What do I look for in a publisher before I submit?
1. Primarily, check out their website.
2. Buy a book and do your own little critique. Is the story edited well, or are there many things that were missed?
3. Is the cover art well done or something your kid could have colored?
4. How many authors do they have on the payroll?
5. When was the company established and by whom? Most times, you can Google the woman/man behind the name and find information about them. This is a good way to learn more about this person’s company.
6. Ask your fellow authors a few pertinent questions--privately. If they’re unhappy with their publisher, most likely they’ll let you know. This is also a good way to find out who the good guys are.
7. Lastly, check out the Piers Anthony and Predators and Editors sites for any negative feedback.
Now for a list of things publishers do that put them on my no-no list (this list came from a member of my yahoo group, The Romance Bistro After Dark):
1. Publisher doesn't answer emails. Cannot be reached by phone or reg. mail. Basically falls off the face of the earth for an extended length of time.
2. Publisher does not pay on time.
3. Publisher pays but checks are short-changed (I'll pay you the rest later. or Ooops, my mistake. I'll send you the rest soon.), unsigned (Ooops, my mistake. I'll send you another one.), or bounce (It's the bank's fault).
4. Website is not updated for new releases. New releases are pushed back or postponed.
5. Editors are not paid. Cover artists are not paid. Other employees are not paid, and publisher does not answer their inquiries.
6. Fictionwise and ARe sales are not commiserate with author's spreadsheet. (Clue: The new release has 8 ratings, which means AT LEAST 8 people bought the book, but when paid, author is stated "No Sales". or Author's book is sitting at # 1 or # 2 for publisher, but author is stated single-digit sales.)
7. Google search discovers another website and publishing company under publisher's name.
8. Google search discovers author's books for sale on eBay and overseas Amazon sites that authors were not aware of.
***Now I’d love to hear from readers, writers, editors, anyone in the industry who has more insight into this. Or, if you’d like to share your own horror story, we’re here to listen. After all, the Romance Rules tagline is: a bunch of romance authors ranting about writing!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Professionalism in Publishing
Posted by Anne Rainey at 10:38 AM