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.
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!