This is tricky. Too many authors have been taken to the cleaners by those who are supposed to be taking care of them. The most important thing is to do your research. Find authors under their imprint and talk to them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the publishers themselves. How they answer you can be telling in itself.
Spotting the good ones:
- Communication: This is the number one thing. How quickly do they get back to you? What is their overall tone? As the author, you are NEVER bothering them. Your publisher works for you. They may own the publishing rights, but the book is still yours. If you ask questions and they get snippy or *GASP* don’t respond at all, don’t walk, run far far away. You don’t want to work with them.
- Advances: Okay, most indie publishers don’t pay advances. Heck, the practice isn’t even always done with the traditionals. BUT occasionally you’ll find one that does. I can think of one off the top of my head. What does this say to you? They believe they can sell your book. They believe in you. So, the lack of an advance shouldn’t scare you off from a publisher, but if you find one that gives them, give it a longer look.
- Marketing: One of the awful things about indie publishers is that many many of them no longer pay for marketing. Why would I give you the rights to my books and a cut of royalties if you’re just going to put it for sale then sit on your ass? No. Not happening. If a publisher doesn’t help with marketing, it isn’t worth it. Don’t worry, there are still some out there that do.
- Covers: Find books they’ve put out and look at the quality of the covers because most use the same designers for all their books. If you don’t like the covers they’ve done, that publisher isn’t for you.
- Editing: Once again, you’ll have to use their editors. Read something by one of their authors.
- Rights: How long do they want your publishing rights for? If you’re lucky enough to find a year by year contract from a good publisher, jump on it. I wouldn’t do more than three. Also, ask what kind of rights they want. If they also want audio and foreign rights, does it mean they’re going to produce and translate the book? If they don’t plan to do that, don’t sign those away. Try for an exclusive eBook and non-exclusive paperback contract.
- Professionalism: Look to their website, Facebook page, etc. to see the face they put on their business.
It may seem daunting to find an indie publisher that is right for you, but research is important. Don’t forget, by signing with them, you are giving the publishing rights to your baby that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Don’t jump at a publishing contract just to have the stigma of “being published.”
If you don’t find one that suits, don’t be afraid to do it yourself.
Still deciding if a publisher is right for you? I discussed that last week HERE.
In need of a publishing assistant? Learn more HERE.
I’m published by Creativia.