What Not to Look For in a Publisher

I was just on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, checking out a "publisher" someone asked about.

The site is nice to look at, and the owners are very up front about why they decided to start up their publishing empire: They received rejections from agents stating that those agents don't deal with unpublished authors.


My question to the owners would be: Which agents told you this? I would insist on names, because my suspicion is that either the owners sent their mss. to a scam agent (maybe with such scam agent "suggesting" a $100 critique to make it better) or they somehow misunderstood a rejection from a legit agent who is closed to new submissions. You know, the mind can blow things all out of proportion, I suspect that's what happened here.

Another knock against this particular "publisher": You have to buy your own books. Why? They entrust it to you, dear author, to pay tribute to the Fates or something with the idea that your book may - just may - be handed to someone in Entertainment Land who will give it some sort of exposure. Or something.

Yup, just what I want the publisher of my "baby" to do. Just leave it to me and luck to get my books onto bookshelves or whatever.

Hmm. So let's recap here. If we're going the publisher route (after we've tried, and failed, to find an agent to take an interest in our book), we would steer clear of:
  1. Places that insisted we have to buy X amount of our book;
  2. Places that left it to luck for publicity/marketing purposes; and
  3. Places that said they took all genres.
Oh, didn't I talk about that last one? Yeah, that's another thing. This start up is looking at all genres. What's that old saw, jack of all trades, master of none? I've read quite a bit about the publishing business (not that I know it all; I leave it to those who've been in the biz to that), and from what I've gleaned, if you want to give your publishing company any chance to make it, you're better off concentrating on one or two genres. Case in point? Try Ellora's Cave, which honed in on the erotica market; they started off as e-book only, but now can be found with print books in major bookstores.

They became expert at picking out the good'uns in the erotica field, had people in the back office who had book biz experience, and they're still in business however many years later.

Smart. And just the kind of published I'd be looking for (if I wrote erotica).

So don't sell you and your book short. If you've taken the time and the care to learn how to write and do it well, shouldn't you start at the top and work your way down? Shouldn't you give yourself some respect?

I thought so. :-)

Keep writing!


writtenwyrdd said...

Whew! A vanity press by any other name.

~Nancy said...

Exactly right.