I need a book publisher! Slow down. If you are a nonfiction or fiction writer, be wary of small publishers offering you more than they can deliver.
I get many messages and emails from authors who have run into disagreements, problems, or serious doubts about their book publishers.
It is no surprise because the benefits of having a publisher can be difficult to justify nowadays. The essential publishing services and tools are readily available for authors, and they are all mostly free.
The publishing industry changed forever after the advent of self-publishing.
Always ask questions
In a recent blog post, I listed ten questions to ask a potential publisher.
It is a good place to start if you are thinking about publishing and selling your book.
But in the end, no matter what the answers to your questions are, most authors who finally decide to sign with a small independent publisher do so for two distinct, and if I may say so quite understandable reasons.
One is because you believe it is easier to rely on someone else to do all the work involved in your book’s publishing process.
You want a publisher to edit, do all the manuscript formatting, design a book cover, and upload to Amazon, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords for ebooks and print-on-demand books.
On top of that, you don’t want to spend the time learning how to do the work yourself.
The second reason is that you believe a book publisher will do a better job of promoting and selling your book.
The outcomes can vary from quite good to very disappointing.
A handful of new small independent publishers are trying very hard to change the self-publishing world for the better.
But many who advertise their publishing deals and services on Twitter and Facebook or by unsolicited email are themselves, self-published authors.
They are looking for another way to make a buck on top of their own book sales.
If you receive emails from a publisher that you don’t know, you should be very careful.
You need to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable publisher.
Highly recommended reading: The Best Publishing Companies That You Can Trust
Well, fair enough, why waste an acquired skill?
I have checked many of these types of small publishers. But there are warning signals that you should check before considering using their services.
One is that they usually have small social media followings. This bodes badly for achieving successful book promotion for their authors.
However, a few have huge numbers of followers on Twitter.
But a quick scan of their followers reveals that they are mostly bot accounts and have probably been purchased to give the appearance of popularity.
Secondly, these accounts are very often quite new, which is a telltale hint of inexperience.
Very often, these small publishers also have several easily recognizable linked Twitter accounts that have been set up to help earn Amazon Associates’ income.
Also, if they do have a website, which many don’t, there is rarely a mailing list to subscribe to. This is a big alarm bell.
Pay for what you need
Pay for the services that you need, but keep your book rights.
Many new authors want a book publisher because they prefer that someone else does all the publishing work and book promotion.
If this is true, then perhaps signing away the rights to their books is what they will decide to do.
But think for a minute.
Wouldn’t it be better to pay someone to design a professional book cover, format the manuscript, and upload it to Amazon and Smashwords for you, and still keep the rights to your book?
These services are not that expensive.
You can also buy book promotions on many established sites.
Sure, it’s not always cheap, but you are in control of what you invest in promoting your book.
Do you really need a publisher?
It is easy and inexpensive to self-publish.
No matter what a publisher might tell you, no one can promise you success after writing a book. No matter how much money you pay.
Don’t rush into signing a book publishing contract before considering what you can easily do or pay for to achieve the same, if not better, results.
It is not difficult to write and self-publish nonfiction and fiction ebooks and print books today.
Keep the rights to your book
It’s worth repeating that by signing over your book rights to a publisher, you have, in fact, sold your book.
You stand next to no chance of ever getting your book rights back.
Keep in mind, too, that the primary motivation of some of these new publishers is not necessarily to make your book a success.
It is a lottery for them, which can reap rich rewards.
Of say 500 books they can attract and gain the rights to, only a few titles need to sell well for them to make money.
Five hundred titles can earn very good Amazon Associates income for the publisher, which the author will never see a cent of as it will probably not be mentioned in a publishing contract.
Even better, they might get lucky in the lottery and attract the next great book to emulate Fifty Shades.
For a publisher, it’s about getting a few winners in their stable that will make money.
It is exactly the same logic as traditional publishers.
Publishing a new book is always a gamble because very few titles ever achieve reasonable sales.
So why give them this chance for free by granting these new opportunistic publishers your book rights?
If you are an author and want a fair and legitimate publishing contract, take the traditional route.
Find a literary agent whose job it will be to look after your interests with big publishing houses.
Send out your query letters and sample chapters, and hope you get lucky.
Sure, it’s tough, it’s hard, but it works for some lucky authors.
As for the many new publishers appearing on Twitter, Facebook, or in your email inbox, beware.
If you receive an unsolicited book proposal from a publishing business, be doubly cautious and check out the publisher carefully.
Signing away the rights to your book is a serious decision.
Especially with vanity publishers, when there is nothing at all guaranteed for you in return for the money you will have to outlay.
My advice is to either find an agent to go the traditional route, which isn’t easy.
Or become a true self-publisher and pay for the services you need. It’s a tough route as well.
But don’t be lazy and think that just because you pay a lot of money to someone who calls themselves a publisher that they can make all your dreams come true.
As the messages I get from many authors confirm – it can often turn out to be a costly nightmare.
Related reading: I Want Someone To Help Me Publish My Book