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.