Saturday, October 27, 2012
Where There's Smoke...~
There have been a few e-publishers that have imploded over the last two-three years, and you can bet there will be more. After we type 'The End' on a manuscript, now comes the big decision. What publisher do we send it to?
I have received more than a few personal messages asking about this publisher or that. Do they pay on time? Do they offer support and promo your books? How is the communication? Maybe, you do google searches on publishers to see what the scuttlebutt is. More often than not, you are directed to a forum for writers, Absolute Writers Water Cooler. I think that forum is a fair judge of prevailing winds. If someone posts a concern, you can bet they're is probably ten or more on the side-lines keeping quiet with the same concerns. However, any on-line gossip must be taken with a grain of salt. All it takes is one disgruntled ex-employee/writer spewing poison either anonymously or not to put flint to tinder. First thing you know, you have a forest fire.
The one thing we ask as writers is "show me the money".
I don't think it is too much to ask to be paid in a timely manner and be shown a detailed accounting of how many books we sold and where. Pay a writer on time and accurately and believe me, we will overlook the other annoying items a publisher may dole out.
I believe third-party distributors should provide accurate book sales to every author, whether they self-pub or not. We have to take the word of the publishers for how many books we sold. Those on the NYT best-selling lists have to do the same. I've had more than one person tell me to self-publish. Not all of us can or even want to self-pub for various reasons, either personal or professional. So when you send your manuscript off to a publisher, you are also sending off your trust.
Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Even if when you submitted, everything could be fine. In this Biz, it can turn on a dime, so as writers we all have to be prepared.
Know your rights. Know your contract. Follow the author loops and groups, check out writers forums. Follow your fellow authors on Facebook for any whiff of impropriety. Everyone says the first signs a publisher may be in trouble is lack of communication and late or no payments at all. Don't be so quick to get the pitchforks and torches out of the shed if there is lateness, sometimes, there are extenuating circumstances. If you go public with your grievance, all that happens is others will torch and pitchfork right back. You get labelled a 'troublemaker'. Be VERY sure before you go public.
Step one should be to contact the publisher directly. If the problem persists then begin to sweat. Every office building has a 'fire escape' plan. As writers, we should have the same. Many romance writers have been burned by publishers. The majority of epubs are professional in their dealings with writers. Unfortunately, there are a few who are not. Be vigilant.