Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Protecting Yourself as an Author

Over the past several months, this industry has seen many publishers go south. I'm referring to them closing for various reasons and/or getting exposed for not paying their authors. First, let's be clear that I'm not going to name any publishers or speak ill of any either. The intent of this post is to simply inform authors and help them in seeking a publisher for their work.

One question that seems to pop up a lot in writer forums is how to know if you're signing with a "good" publisher. To be honest, sometimes you can sign with a great publisher and then that publisher is bought out, which changes everything. Other times you sign with a publisher that has good intentions but winds up going under. And other times still, things look great on the surface but there's another world happening behind the scenes and it's not good in the least. 

So what's an author to do? The best advice I can give you is to find out which authors are with the publisher you're interested in and then contact those authors to hear what their experiences have been like. I have people do this with me all the time, and I'm very honest about my experiences, both good and bad (and yes, there have been bad ones). Also, if you notice an author has left that publisher, find out why. Keep in mind that nondisclosure agreements might keep some authors from dishing the gory details, but that should also send up a red flag. Nondisclosure agreements are set in place for a reason. As a writer, you should question that reason.

Please, research and contact authors to find out what's really going on outside of the public eye. Protect yourself and your work.  


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

18 comments:

  1. Good advice- and food for thought.

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  2. I've been so surprised by what's happened here recently, w/a well-known small press. Never would have thought it! But like you said, there's stuff going on behind the scenes that the general public knows nothing about. I just feel for the poor authors. =/

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    1. Yes. I feel the same way. Many authors aren't permitted to talk, but those who can need to in order to protect others.

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  3. Great advice. I do this and I'm sad that I didn't think to blog about it :)

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  4. Sound advice.
    I have found that professionals are loath to speak of the not-so-good for many reasons, and few will give an inquiring stranger the real scoop, lest some part of it will come to bite them back in some way. You are right that we need to inquire, but we also need to know that only personal experience, and the experience of those we know personally, gives the real story.
    You can tell from this comment that "I've been there..."

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  5. I've heard about so many publishers going under, but I didn't think about authors who were just out the royalties they should be getting. Such as sad, sad thing.

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  6. That is a HUGE thing now, especially with so many small presses. When I first started writing, it wasn't quite as complicated. You just had to keep up with the main publishers and focus on them.

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    1. It is a huge thing. And I know some writers are so eager to make their first sale that they just hope things will turn out okay. I've had to leave publishers, and speaking from experience it's never pleasant.

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  7. Great advice. I've reached out to some authors to feel out a publisher and they've reached out to me too.

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  8. Wonderful advice, Kelly! I have had authors reach out to me about my agent and publisher and I am very honest about my experiences. I am happy to help others and appreciate all the help I have been given from fellow authors. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. It's great that you share your experiences with others, Jess.

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