I need a publisher! Be wary of small publishers offering you more than they can deliver.
In the last week or so, I have received more than my usual number of messages and emails from authors who have run into disagreement, problems, or are having serious doubts about their publishers.
This is no surprise really, as the benefits of having a publisher can be difficult to justify, when basic self-publishing tools are easily available, and are also totally free.
In a recent post, I listed 10 questions to ask a potential publisher. But in the end, no matter what the answers to these 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, understandable reasons.
One, because it’s easier for someone else to do the manuscript formatting and uploading to Amazon and Smashwords, rather than spending the time learning how to do it. And secondly, because they believe a publisher will do a better job at promoting their book.
In both of these respects, the results can vary from quite good to very disappointing.
To be perfectly frank, and without wanting to alienate the handful of new independent publishers who are trying very hard to change the self-publishing world for the better, many small publishers who advertise their services on Twitter and Facebook are themselves self-published authors, and are looking for a way to make a buck on top of their own book sales.
Well, fair enough, why waste an acquired skill?
I have checked a number of these types of small publishers and there are warning signals that should be checked before considering using their services.
One is that they usually have small social media followings, which bodes badly for achieving successful book promotion for their authors.
However, a few have a huge numbers of followers on Twitter, but a quick scan of their followers reveals that that they are mostly bots, and have probably been recently 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 a number of easily recognisable linked Twitter accounts that have been set up to earn Amazon Associates income.
In addition, 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! How can a publisher hope to sell books without a mailing list?
If my assumptions are correct, in that some authors really want a publisher because they would prefer that someone else does all the grunt publishing work and book promotion for them is true, then perhaps signing away the rights to their books is what they will decide to do.
But with one minute of logical thinking, wouldn’t it be far better to pay someone to format the manuscript and upload to Amazon and Smashwords for you, and keep the rights to your book?
This service is not expensive. You can also buy book promotion on a number of 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, when you can so easily self-publish?
No matter what a publisher may say, no one can promise success.
Don’t rush into a publishing contract before considering what you can easily do yourself, or pay for yourself to achieve the same, if not better results.
It’s worth repeating that by signing over you book rights to a publisher, you have in fact sold your book and stand next to no chance of getting your book rights back.
Keep in mind too that the main 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 that they gain the rights to, only a few need to sell well for them to make money. 500 titles can earn very good Amazon Associates income as well for the publisher, which the author will never see a cent of as it will not be mentioned in a publishing contract.
Even better, they might get lucky in the lottery and attract the next hot book to emulate 50 Shades. For a publisher, it’s about getting the few winners in their stable that will make the money.
This is exactly the same logic as traditional publishers. Publishing a new book is always a gamble, as only a very few 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 you really want a publishing contract, go the traditional route and find a literary agent, whose job it will be to look after your interests. Sure, it’s tough, it’s hard, but it works.
As for the hundreds of new publishers that are appearing almost daily on Twitter and Facebook, beware. Signing away the rights to your book is a serious decision, especially when there is nothing at all guaranteed for you in return.
My advice is to take either 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 someone calls themselves a publisher that they can make all your dreams come true. As the messages I have received this week confirm, it can very often turn into a nightmare.