Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Old Publishers are like Old Dogs

A: Last year Crone Publishing added errors to books, had all the covers drawn by a five year old and slipped into foul mouthed and paranoid tirades when asked for royalties that were due.

B: So, any news about them lately?

Repeat after me: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. A new publisher is a mystery, but an old one is too--unless you do your research.

Bear in mind that one or two complaints are likely to be down to the author. And amicable debates about minor things like house style, website design and so on are actually a good sign. In terms of utter silence, rule one (see yesterday) still applies. The worst publishers may release books contingent on a gag order or keep unhappy authors silent with the help of a pack of AULs (authors of unquestioning loyalty).

First check out Preditors and Editors, Piers Anthony's website and forums such as Absolute Write and ERWF. Look for sales figures at Show Me the Money and EREC.

There are two types of publisher that will get a lot of positive hype, very good ones and very new ones with a fresh crowd of cheerleaders. The main difference is that good publishers get specific praise from their authors (include some of the old hacks), and favorable mentions from readers who are not authors.

But the only way to be sure is to make a few specific enquiries direct in private to the publisher and/or some of their authors. If you approach an author you have some connection to, share a forum or write in the same genre for example, they will almost always give you the real deal, although you may need to read between the lines a little. Do try and be aware of which authors also have a direct interest in the press--often under a different name.

Defensive or aggressive replies are instructive, unpleasant admittedly but it is better to be snarled at before signing any contracts than have things go sour afterwards. If you spend months or years writing a book a few days of market research is a good investment.

All this cynical talk about dogs may make me sound like a bitch ;) -- but a little caution helps authors find epublishers they will love as much as I love mine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that the real problem is not that a lot of authors don't want to do the research, its that they just want to get published now. They know deep down that FlyByNight Press has shitty covers, bad editing, and questionable quality books, but they want to see their book out in the world and proclaim themselves as real authors. Maybe if more romance writers would stop all this passive-aggressive cheerleading and really sit down to discuss the facts about different publishers as professionals then there would be less of these tiny, shady epubs because people wouldn't submit to them and wouldn't buy their books as research so they can submit to them.

...I know. I know. When pigs fly and Arthur comes back.