Monday, 25 April 2011

Desmond Haas opens Pandora's Box...well, kind of!

Today I am happy to welcome Secret Cravings author, Desmond Haas. Having only just met over the internet, Desmond has already made me laugh out loud several times as well as introducing me to his interview & website:

Over to you, Desmond!

Who’s Your Publisher?

One of my friends has shopped for an agent for more than a couple of years. In most instances, he hears nothing back, even though email takes but a minute or two. With his frustration level peaking, his words to me were, “I can’t even get anyone to read my book.”

He and I talk frequently and we’ve shared war stories. During one conversation, I asked if he had thought of publishing his back-list as eBooks and that question opened a dialectic on the contrasts between traditional publishing and electronic. We’re still sipping coffee and discussing our ideas.

However, the conversations opened a door on my thoughts. How do you find and contract with a publisher? If you’re putting your first book out ‘there’ for publishers to weigh and you get an acceptance, your emotions rise like a firecracker into the sky. At this point, all you care about is you’re going to be a published author--fame and riches await.

I have worked with three publishers over the past year. When I got a contract for my first book, Never Let You Go, I did a small happy dance and took my wife out to dinner to celebrate and with the second to the same publisher, we celebrated at home. Six months later, the dream of being a published author collapsed when the publisher failed--went out of business. I placed the two orphans at a new home within forty-eight hours, because of another writer I met online. It doesn’t always work like that.

The acceptance email burns so bright, it can obfuscate critical judgment. In the eBook industry, what constitutes a good publisher? What should you look for when comparing one against another?

1. Royalty: Too often, I hear of authors judging publishers by the royalty rate only, but this is only one part of the package and not the most critical criteria. Certainly money is a large motivator, but you need to stop and think of what’s important. If you have a publisher willing to pay a high royalty, it doesn’t amount to much until you sell books.

2. Cover:
Let’s make the book more attractive and work with the artist to create a fantastic cover image. Cover images can attract eyes, but the attention is fleeting and transitory.

3. Editing: Good editing helps, but can stymie sales if your book reeks of mediocrity and is infested with typos and poor grammar.

4. Distribution: This is the most critical comparative criteria. A publisher with agreements to get your book in many venues is far more important than all of the above put together. If the public can’t see it, they can’t buy it.

I don’t want to negate the importance of the first three items in this list as they are worthy criteria. Certainly you need to make money and you want to look good, but getting eyes on your books is what you want; is where you serve the reader.

Evaluating publishers on all four of the above is necessary to make good choices, but if few readers can see your book, it doesn’t matter how good a cover you have, how well it’s written or how much the publisher will pay per book.


Desmond Haas lives in upstate New York, USA, where he hides himself from his family, two dogs and five cats, and pounds on a keyboard to try and make sense of the words and images in his head. Writing, he says, is an invisible performance art.

He considers himself to be a renaissance man, stuck in time, working with various media, including photography, to express himself. While most of his books and short stories are contemporary erotic romance, he is secretly working on other genres in his underground lair.

Above this lair, he lives with his wife, two teenagers, two large dogs and five cats. As he is a reverse snow bird from Florida, Desmond relishes the four season climate, but hates cleaning the snow off his car in the winter.

Interesting post, Desmond...I agree entirely. We can write the best book ever, with the most gorgeous eye-catching cover but if no-one knows about it, what's the point?? Great way for newbies and established authors to get into a good debate. Let's open this up!



  1. I'd add to this list--REPUTATION. Before signing with a publisher, an author really should seek out authors already published there and ask questions. Authors are usually pretty forthcoming.

    Lots of authors think that LONGEVITY in the business is another factor. I don't agree with that one. Good publishers have gone into business in just the last year. And I know of two, personally, that have been in business for several years now and I'd never sign with them.

    It's all about researching the publisher in general and getting the most for your books.

    Great post! Nice blog, too!

  2. I agree with Tess about Longevity and Reputation. My first ebook sales (2 of them) were with a huge company with a good reputation. My sales were great. As time went by though, the owners of the company began to treat authors with such disregard and negative commentary that it began to feel uncomfortable. Many of the big money authors left and I was grateful when my contracts ran out. My valuable lesson was to look up reviews and complaints about the publishers I'm interested in querying. I checked out Piers Anthony's publisher reviews for the next publisher and was satified with the results.
    It is a turmultuous world in publishing and you never really know what can happen next--like the fall of Dorchester. I think another item on the must do list for a sensible author if to be published with several publishers to break the fall if one doesn't work out.
    Great, thought provoking blog, Desmond.

  3. Thanks, Sarah and Tess. It's gotta be difficult when you get the first acceptance letter; finally validation for all the work, but as you write more books, I believe you're correct to not put 'all your eggs in one basket.'

  4. Great blog Desmond. I agree with what was said and now that I've been writing a little longer, I look at the publishers a little closer and ask around to other writers before submitting!

    S.Lira aka Mike M/Rawiya

  5. A good publisher is an active one, one who gets out there on the cyber board and is seen in all places. One that has a budget to advertise with, one that stays active long after they have been in business. Communication is of the utmost importance.

    Check them out, do they have a staff, if not be wary. Is their contract for three years or more. If more, be wary. Do they want all rights up front, or do they simply offer first the e-rights?

    Do their authors talk enthusiastic about them or grunt and grumble.

    Advertising, communications with the author, good solid contracts with no hidden agendas these are the things that are important to you in the long run.

    Covers, yes, they should be presenteable, if not, look somewhere else because if they don't have a decent cover, then they don't take pride in their business.

    Editing, yes, they should have several editors.
    They should have a staff to work with to produce the best products. And they should have connections with other sites that will work with them to make a success.

    Love and blessings

  6. Good post, but I would also add that you are not just selling your book, you are selling yourself and that takes time. Often, authors give up when their book isn't a best seller in whatever amount of time they've alloted for themselves. Building up a following takes time, energy and perseverance. There's a young lady I know who is on the right track, she hasn't even written her first book yet, but she has gotten her name out there by reviewing books, interviewing authors, and having her own blog talk pod cast. I will venture a guess that when she is published, she will have excellent sales because she has already put in the time to sell herself.

    Great post, Desmond.

    Rie McGaha

  7. Great post, Desmond. I think everyone has covered the criteria. One thing I've thought about lately is that publishers ask authors for a marketing plan, but shouldn't we be asking them for one, too?

    Just a thought...

  8. Loving the discussion - I had a feeling this one would stir up a few responses!

    Rachel x

  9. Very good post, Desmond. Definitely something worth taking the time to think about!

  10. Great Post! Reputation and Longevity are very important. Nice to see all the great and informative comments!