Take care when you imprint

I'm going to be polite and not name names, but I just saw an article promoting a new publishing house for first time, unagented authors, and it reminded me that while I'd enjoy having representation, I won't just desperately go anywhere. Here are some big red warning flags to let you know you might be in for more trouble than it's worth down the road:


-It's natural for an imprint to request an author provide a marketing/promotional platform (especially if the author in question is unagented and untested). However, if this is requested repeatedly, but there is no word at all about what the imprint is going to do to promote on their end, you might want to look the other way. Especially if the imprint is POD. If the promotions and marketing are going to be entirely your own responsibility anyway, you might as well go POD on your own and not have your rights tied up with anybody else. Should you be responsible for promotions and marketing? Of course you should. But it's a mutual relationship -- why are you seeking a publisher in the first place if not to utilize their added power to help make your book a success?

-Submissions should be detailed, but there's a limit. If you see all the usual requests, but then it's followed up with a dissertation on how every bit of english punctuation should be used in lieu of a simple comment that your manuscript must be properly edited, or a long list of extremely specific "don'ts" that go so far as to say "we want sci-fi, but no stories about space" (yes, I have actually seen this in so many words), then you might want to bring the imprint's professionalism into question. There are certain, very reasonable expectations a publisher should be able to hold you to if you intend to be taken seriously when you submit to them. But you should have your own professional expectations of them as well.

-It's not necessarily bad that an imprint publishes their author contract to view right under the submissions link, but ask yourself why they are doing this. The contract is not step one. Or step two, for that matter. Is there anything in there they might be eager to come back later and say "hey, we showed you the contract before you even submitted to us" about?

-This one should go without saying, but at the first instance of any sort of request for money from the author, head for the hills. Professional publishing houses do not charge their authors for the priviledge of working with them.


I wish anybody who has written a book great success, but by the same token, if you're not willing to go POD then you're going to need to have great patience. Don't let that extreme desire to see your book in print draw you into agreeing to just anything.

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