Getting a traditional publishing offer can be exciting, but not all publishers are equal. Choosing the best publishing company is important for your future career as an author.
This week Romance Writers Association (RWA) put Dreamspinner Press on probation for failing to pay their authors their full royalties for the past two years. Picking the wrong publisher can be a huge financial mistake.
Find the best publishing company:
Research the company
Get a literary agent
Consider your options
One of the first things I suggest everyone does when they are contacted by a publishing company is to check that company is in good standing with the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli).
This nonprofit association has the most detailed list of publishing companies and author services professionals that I have seen. With a simple search, you may discover that the publishing company who contacted you really makes money when you pay them to advertise your own book. (Ick!)
In order to become a member of the IAA, my company had to go through a four-stage audit. It was an honor to be accepted.
Just because you have already heard of the company, don’t assume that it is a great company to write for. I know an author who turned down a publishing offer with Harlequin because she thought the contract wasn’t fair.
Literary agents have even more updated information. Even if you have not found an agent before the offer came in, you should be able to get one now. Literary agents are happy to work with writers who already have publishing offers on the table.
It may seem silly to give up part of your royalties if you think that literary agents only help you get published. Literary agents do a lot more than that. An agent is your advocate with the publisher.
A literary agent will be able to review your publishing contract and make sure that it is fair. She has insider knowledge about how the publishing companies are treating their authors. She will help you negotiate your contract and ask questions you might not think to ask, like how much marketing you are expecting to do and if your travel to reader events will be reimbursed.
I got to see one of my favorite authors, Jane Ann Krantz, in a live video conference last week. She revealed that one of the reasons for her many pen names was that she did not have a literary agent when she started writing professionally. Her very first publisher convinced her to sign away her rights to her own birth name. When she wanted to write for another publishing company, she had to use a new name. Now she uses a literary agent for every deal.
Of course, another option to avoid signing an unfair contract with a traditional publishing company is to choose to self-publish. It’s still a good idea to check out your author service providers to make sure they have a good record.
I hope this information helps you choose the best publishing company for your book. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions and share this information with other writers who might need it.