Signing up with a publisher is not a simple decision
As the self-publishing industry has grown and matured, it is natural that new service providers are now harnessing the growth in book publishing to create new businesses.
Over the last few years, one of the biggest growth areas has been independent publishers. Many new authors are asking, ‘Should I Use A Publisher?’
For a lot of reasons, the services of a publisher can offer many tempting benefits to an author, especially for those authors new to self-publishing.
For the computer and Internet savvy, self-publishing is quite easy, yet there could well be time-saving possibilities that a reliable and honest publisher could offer.
If an author can spend more time writing rather than fighting with technology and wasting hours on social media, this may be one very good reason to engage a publisher.
- Independent publishers fall into two main categories.
- 10 Questions to ask a publisher BEFORE you sign.
- 1. Do I retain all the rights to my book?
- 2. How do I terminate our publishing agreement?
- 3. What is the total cost?
- 4. What services will you provide as my publisher?
- 5. What will my royalty rate be and how often or when will I get paid?
- 6. Will I get book sales reports?
- 7. Who will promote your book?
- 8. How long has the publisher been in business?
- 9. How many authors and titles does the publisher manage?
- 10. Can I contact a couple of authors who you currently publish?
Independent publishers fall into two main categories.
Those who offer ‘assisted‘ self-publishing, which is a service that is usually charged for with a ‘one-off fee‘ to get a book correctly formatted, a cover designed, perhaps a well-written book description and then publishing on retail platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords.
The second is a full-service publisher, who will manage publishing, marketing, sales and then make their money from a percentage of your book sales royalties. This type of publisher offers a more traditional route.
However, there are also some who could be classed as hybrid publishers, as they offer mix and match publishing services.
Independent publishing should not be confused with traditional publishing, which involves you signing with a literary agent. Your agent will then work to gain a publishing contract for you with one of the major publishing houses.
10 Questions to ask a publisher BEFORE you sign.
As with any service providers, there are good and bad, so make sure you do your homework and research before entering into a publishing agreement or contract and make sure you understand your publishing options.
If you are considering using the services of an independent publishing company, here are the ten most important questions to ask publishers that you really should ask before signing up.
1. Do I retain all the rights to my book?
There should be no reason whatsoever for a publisher to ask for the rights to your book. Unless the publisher is offering you a traditional publishing deal with a substantial advance, which is highly unlikely, never sign away the rights to your book.
2. How do I terminate our publishing agreement?
So many problems can occur in any contractual arrangement. When considering a publishing agreement, never sign up or agree without knowing how the contract can be terminated.
If the terms of termination involve losing the rights to your book, do not sign!
3. What is the total cost?
For assisted self-publishing, this is very important. Make sure you get a detailed account in writing of what services will be performed, and how much you will be charged for each item.
Make sure it is a fixed price and that you will not be charged for extras at a later date.
4. What services will you provide as my publisher?
Will the publisher edit, copy edit, or at least proofread your book before formatting and publishing it? Is there a charge for these services? Or are you responsible for undertaking the expense of preparing the final manuscript?
5. What will my royalty rate be and how often or when will I get paid?
A full-service publisher will take a percentage of your book sales royalty, so be certain of what this will amount will be.
As royalties vary with every online retailer, from approximately 35% up to 70%, ask for a detailed explanation of how much the publisher will take in each case.
Most importantly, how and when will your royalties be paid.
6. Will I get book sales reports?
If your publisher manages your retailer accounts to sell your book, you will probably not have access to this information, so you will have to rely on your publisher supplying you with sales and royalty reports on a regular basis.
These should be supplied to you on at least a quarterly basis.
7. Who will promote your book?
A publisher of any worth should have a solid marketing platform, and preferably one with a sizeable mailing list.
Of course, you will be expected to do a lot of book promotion for your own book, but be sure to ask the publisher how they intend to market your book and maximise its sales opportunities.
8. How long has the publisher been in business?
An obvious question. You should only consider a company that has many years of experience in book publishing.
While a publisher may be new and have only a small stable, this may not be a bad thing, as you may receive more attention.
This is by far the best way to find out if a publisher is worth considering. If the publisher refuses to give you referrals, beware.
There are more questions of course, depending on what you expect or would like from an independent publisher, so make sure you ask all your questions, well before making any commitments or signing a publishing contract.
You should also be careful to tell the difference between an independent publisher and a vanity press publisher.
There are many high-pressure vanity book publishers nowadays. You’ve heard of some like AuthorHouse and Author Solutions I’m sure.
If you receive an unsolicited approach to publish your book from anyone or any company you don’t know, be extremely careful.
You can check the reputation of many publishers and service providers on the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) website.
The Best and Worst Self-Publishing Services list is extensive and is updated regularly, with all listed services vetted by Alli. If you are considering a publisher, check the list to see if it has a red watchdog advisory notice or caution status.
Further reading: Is This Publisher Legit?