Monday, July 25, 2011

If it smells like crap, it’s probably crap.

I have touched on this before, but previously skirted the issue because of friends of mine that had fallen into this trap. I always felt very guilty about not telling you the complete truth, I after all, prefer to always be honest even if it’s not easy.

Well I am not friends with those people anymore so now it’s entirely too easy.

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How To: Spot a Dead Beat *Indie* Publisher

I use the term indie loosely because loosely is all it’s ever used these days. This of course does not mean all indie publishers are bad, but I am going to tell you how to spot the really smelly ones, and show you how people wind up falling into these traps.

Indie publishers are any publishers independent of the big time publishers and their imprints. Sometimes you don’t even realize you are reading a book by the main guys because they have so many names, so many aliases that oddly often do the same things and the same genres.

But I digress…

If you really wanted too, and trust me, you don’t. BUT IF YOU DID you could find a crappy little e-book only (or mostly) publisher to ‘publish’ your book no matter how bad it is. WHY? Because it’s almost impossible to lose money on an e-book if they aren’t going to invest any money to begin with. This to me, is more of a vanity publishing than going your own on Amazon ever could be. You want to be able to say you have a publisher (even if they suck) you want to have that validation.

Oh trust me, I do too, but not at this kind of cost!

Red Flag #1: Publisher Website. Does their website look like something I could have designed in 1994 with remedial html skills in under five minutes? Are their broken links? Could your mother do a better job? Professional publishers need to have a professional website. End. Of. Story. NO EXCEPTIONS!! If they don’t care enough to put their best cyber foot forward, how are they going to treat your book?

Red Flag #2: Fill in the blank contracts, or contracts with unspecified terms. I will preface this by saying, everything I learned about publishing contracts I learned from people on Twitter, but a little common sense in this industry can go a long long way. A professional contract is NOT fill in the blank. All terms and lengths of time should be clearly defined, nothing should be left hanging. The contract should clearly state how long it is good for, I have actually seen fill in the blank contracts that state they are good until basically the ‘publisher’ decides otherwise. I have seen contracts that state they basically own your next book(s). Sure, that would be great (maybe) if you are with random house, but your crappy little e-book publisher could go under tomorrow and then you are in a mess of trouble.

Red Flag #3: You do all the work they still get half the money. If they are taking 30-50% (or God more) of your book sales ask yourself WHY. Most bad indie publishers will require you provide your own cover art, all of your own marketing. (Yes I know even the big six publishers don’t do much marketing these days BUT ask yourself why a small press can’t even have a Twitter account to tweet about new releases) You will have to pay for any review copies. They do not offer any editing services, or worse make you pay them for the services, or they will even claim that your book is good enough with out being professionally edited. YES! I have had friends who believed their publishers when they said they did not need to be edited! AHHHH!!! If all a publisher offers you is to put your book on their crappy little website (see red flag #1) and format your e-book run away! These things are not worth their price tag of never ending profit splits.

Any questions? Really, I could go on all day.

17 comments :

Karen said...

Oh how I've missed you these last few weeks! Excellent post!! :)

ajkulig said...

Aww I missed you too!

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

I tried to post a comment and blogger ate it!
I have seen a few of these around and they bug me; people get really excited to be signed up by a publisher and then they start looking down on low-life scum who self publish(like me)
*sigh*
This crossover time is going to be so interesting...
Viv

Patricia Lynne said...

Nice post. I can I just ask how someone can believe a so-called publisher about not needing editing? I honestly can't wrap my head around that. Given what I've learned about writing and publishing, it just seems common sense that everyone needs an edit of some sort (even if it's just a friend beta reading. It's still an edit!) But I guess people just get too caught up in the dream to stop and THINK.

Also, what's up w/ Pigments? I thought it was supposed to be out months ago? Is it out and I just missed it? I want to buy it. (also, I'm almost ready to self pub my own book. squee!)

SP Sipal said...

Good to see you back, Angela. And such a good warning. There are soooooo many writers out there who haven't taken the time to learn the business and can easily get suckered in by these scams.

ajkulig said...

Patty- because they think they are THAT good or because they have worked on it so long it MUST BE PERFECT!

You didn't miss Pigments. I don't know if you remember but I lost and editor and had a bunch of other drama, got some more awesome friends but then I hit a road block. My husband is in the military and he went away, I thought I would have time to work while he was gone but I was sooo wrong it was not even funny. Then after that I went on vacation- once again I thought I would have time to well relax, (and for me that meant working) but YEAH hahah anyway more on that later. I am about ready to puke just thinking about it. Expect and Angela's midtweenties life crisis post coming later this week.

Viv- I hate that attitude. I just shrug it off, I feel better know that I have 1750 more twitter followers than them. I am such a twitter snob ;) but who are they going to sell their book too?

Patricia Lynne said...

Ahhh, I thought it was ready to be published and the date was pushed back, not life being evil and getting in the way.

ajkulig said...

It's done, but it needed it's final edit... well it needs its last 2/3 of a final edit.

Patricia Lynne said...

Ugh! I can't imagine how frustrated you must be about it then. So close and hell breaks lose.

ajkulig said...

YEAH it was prettu sucky, but that is OK everything happens for a reason. Now I have to reevaluate and get a new game plan.

Patricia Lynne said...

Fingers crossed and good luck because, ya know, I'd like to read the book. =)

ajkulig said...

And hopefully the one that will come out on it's coatails right? ;) SKELETON LAKE is after Pigments

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

Ha, Angela, you are so right.
I had to be very nice about one, but after I had done some brief research, I really wanted to ask, just who is paying for this signing tour?
Then I just felt sorry for her.
Mind you, she has a lot more Twitter followers than I do, so perhaps she will sell plenty. I've just let mine build without seeking people out. I suspect my blog is my main selling platform with Twitter as my roadside banners.
Viv

ajkulig said...

I think I am a bit in the reverse, I have way more twitter followers than blog followers. But you know, I am working on it ;)

Orlando said...

Good information that we all can use. Thank you!

Janet Reid said...

good post. Particularly the part about fill in the blank contract terms.

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