Saturday, March 17, 2012

Your E-Publisher May be in Trouble: Red Flags



Hindsight is twenty-twenty, right? Here is a list of some of the red flags to look for in your book publisher. Maybe this can help you prepare for their unfortunate closure, keep you from signing over the rights of future books, or warn fellow authors about said publisher.

These are just some of the red flags I myself ignored when a previous publisher I was contracted with went under. Just because your publisher is experiencing one, some or all of the red flags on my list doesn't necessarily mean they are doomed, although all reputable and professional book publishers should be up to par in regards to their business and not slack on these important issues.

Warning signs:

Lack of communication:

Your emails are starting to go unanswered or there's always an unreasonable delay in replies. Sometimes it's a week before someone gets back to you. Sometimes you never receive a reply.

Lack of professionalism:

A member of the publisher's staff writes an article on the publisher's blog about his or her distaste of multicultural books with paranormal themes. Or your publisher shares unwanted personal information such as having to fire a staff member and even shares the details in a mass email to all the authors.

Staff is changing frequently:

They're going through editors, cover artists, and other staff quickly. Every other week or month there's a rotation, someone leaves and someone new is taking that person's place. They rotate so fast and frequently you barely remember your last two editors' names.

Inaccurate or late payments:

That Paypal payment you were expecting from your publisher on the fifteenth showed up a couple weeks late. And didn't your statement say you made ninety sales? You're pretty sure a twelve dollar payment is a mistake.

No website or blog updates:

The same blog post is still at the top of the page every time you visit the publisher's blog. You've been looking at the same post for the past month.

Poor manuscript editing:

While reading other books from this publisher you notice a handful of spelling and grammar mistakes that should have been caught before publication. Come to think of it, you only had one round of edits from your editor too. You looked over your own manuscript more times, and although you have a good eye you still found a misplaced comma here or there.

No sales details:

Sure, you get a sales record but it's only a Word document containing a list of your books, the amount sold for the month and the amount of money owed. You don't know when the books were sold, from what retailer, or the publisher's cut. When you inquire about lack of detail, you're told the next statement will be more detailed.

Delve in shady practices:

You heard other authors discussing your publisher paying for five star reviews? Or part of your contract was to have at least five of your family members leave reviews of your book on the publisher's website? Other practices like these that are frowned upon and dishonest spells doom for that publisher.


Keep an eye out for red flags, listen to your instinct and act before it's too late to avoid being deceived. Are there any other red flags you might add to my list?

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