Publishing can seem like a big, scary experience to the first time author. And there are those who would take advantage of your overwhelm.
Here's how you can be sure the publishing deal you get is legitimate.
If a "publishing company" seeks you out and makes an offer to publish your book, sight unseen, beware.
Unless you are a high profile celebrity, it is unlikely that any scrupulous publisher is going to come knocking.
Believe me, they have plenty of manuscripts in house already. They have no need to go hunting for yours.
Rather, if you go the traditional publishing route, you have to seek them out by sending query letters, book proposals, securing an agent and a host of other methods.
In traditional publishing, you have no costs. Zero. After writing and submitting, if your book is accepted for publication, the money will flow to you, not the other way around.
For example, let's say you write a book about homesteading. You edit and revise the manuscript and begin submitting it to known reputable publishing houses.
You receive an offer to publish. It should come with a contract. That contract will lay out how the publishing process will play out, what the publishing company will do for you and what your advance and royalties will be.
At no time will a reputable publisher ask you to pay for editing, cover art or any other part of the publishing process.
They will recover those costs through sales of your book. This is why you'll only receive a small percentage of each sale.
That's not to say that you won't be an active part of the process. It simply means that the publisher carries the financial burden of getting your book out there.
We've been asked multiple times about publishers that offer contracts with a price tag. Some of these are the same ones that will deliberately seek you out.
However, there are others who disguise themselves as legitimate publishers until you submit to them.
And once they have you in their clutches, it's almost impossible to get them to leave you alone.
We call them vanity presses. They were originally established for individuals who wanted to print limited copies of their books for personal reasons, such as gift giving. But they saw that they could make more money taking advantage of novice authors.
Stay away from them.
Before you submit to any publisher, do your due diligence. Find their listing in the newest Writer's Market. It's available online and at your library.
Search them online and see what others have to say. Find a list of the other books they have published and check their performance.
You can never be too careful with your book. It is representative of a lot of hard work on your part. Don't let someone steal its potential from you.
Publishing is changing and many authors are choosing to skip publishing houses and presses and go straight to market. They are choosing to self publish.
It's a different animal from submitting your manuscript to publishers. In this case, you will have some upfront costs. However, they will be far less than vanity presses would charge. And the work will be far better.
For instance, you can get quality editing and cover art done for a few hundred dollars. It's a matter of finding the right people.
If you are going the self-publishing route, beware any company that promises to do all of the work for you. They are the vanity press of the indie world.
If you have written a book or have an amazing idea for one that you want to propose, please just do your homework. And if, for any reason, you feel something isn't right, listen to your instincts.
Publishing, however you choose to do it, should ultimately enrich you. Anyone trying to charge you an exorbitant fee is up to no good.
The money flows to the writer. As long as you keep that in mind, you'll be on the right track.
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