Tips to Avoid a Publishing Dilemma by Julie Eudy

5:42 PM Posted by Lori Calabrese

For most authors, writing their books is a hurdle in itself to overcome. They have such aspirations about the success of their work, it can be devastating and costly to work with a publisher that doesn't meet their expectations. I recently worked with two authors using two different small publishers, both experiencing frustration and disappointment in their projects. One situation involved a full year of promises only to receive her children's book project returned with no progress ever started! The other did get to the finished product, but was disappointed on the communication, follow-through and turn around on the basic launch activities his publisher agreed to provide.

What most aspiring authors don't understand is that there has been such an increase in the number of people writing books that the larger publishers can be very selective in whom they choose to publish. This over population of authors has sparked an influx of the number of small publishing companies opening their doors for business. This also means that the Author can be selective and should be sure to protect themselves by doing a little research before they make their decision. Here are some things to consider:

  • How long have they been in business? The first five years for a business can be the most challenging. During this time, many mistakes will be made as they learn more about themselves, the processes for running a business and how to make it all work together. If managed by experienced industry professionals, they can also have great resources to share and might be very competitive on pricing in an effort to develop their client base.
  • Ask for References. If they're a new shop, ask about the background of their principals or management team. If they're more experienced, ask them for references. Contact those authors and ask them about their publishing experiences. Ask them to name one thing they'd improve upon on their next project when working with this company? You can identify some trouble spots ahead of time if you receive the same answer from multiple authors.
  • Be Clear on Deadlines and Expectations. It's typical to work within an agreement that outlines expectations of both parties; however, be sure goals aren't open ended or too vague. With so many stages involved in the publishing process, many smaller publishers may want to steer clear of specific dates allowing wiggle room for their learning curve, but be sure that you're listing deadlines. Pad the date with wiggle room, but list a date! Also, be sure you're clear on what they'll do to help you launch your book. Marketing is normally a separate package if even offered at all by most small publishers. Just as a precautionary measure, I highly recommend having your agreement drafted or reviewed by an attorney who has experience in publishing.
  • Be Proactive. Just because you have a signed agreement, doesn't mean that you're their only project they're working and that everything will happen as scheduled. Be sure to put your agreement deadlines on your calendar and follow-up on progress. You don't want to become the "client nobody wants" by being too pushy, but you don't always want to wait for them to call you either. If they're behind schedule, they're likely not going to call you to announce that fact. However, if they know you'll be calling, they're more likely to keep things on track as best as they can!
  • Have an Exit Plan. Not that you plan to execute, but it's better to have a plan in place and be prepared than sorry. Terms for separation or some sort of exit clause should also be outlined in your agreement. Be sure it clarifies who owns what on originals or ideas, and a time frame as to when documents are returned to you. Again, an attorney who has experience in publishing is recommended to review this information for your own protection.

There are many great publishing resources available - many that are actually "diamonds in the rough" but it's up to the author to help protect themselves with a little planning.

To learn more tips and tricks on publishing or how an Author's Assistant can help you reach your writing goals and market your work, visit Julie Eudy is a Virtual Assistant with a specialty in supporting Author's. She has over 20 years professional experience in traditional marketing and now works with her clients to implement new Social Marketing strategies to increase internet exposure and increase sales.

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