A Tale of Six Publishers – Part 3.1

You’re an author, not a mushroom. Don’t go with a publisher who keeps you in the dark and feeds you bullshit! (part 1)

Part 1 of this series shared three critical issues to ask any publisher before signing with them:

  1. Marketing – how would the publisher get word of my book out to potential readers?
  2. Distribution – how would the publisher get my book into potential readers’ hands?
  3. Career Development – what would the publisher do to help me become a better author?

This post deals with publisher #3 and I’ll add another item not on the list:

Make sure the publisher doesn’t bullshit you. If they lie, exaggerate, or obfuscate, get out! You and your book deserve better!

Publisher #3 was such a flying fuckup (yes, I’m that pissed about it) that I’ve written about them before in:

Aside from what’s in the above posts, the next three posts in this series give you a play-by-play of my involvement with publisher #3.
1. It started with one of their authors not quite stating all the facts.
I asked one of their authors if the publisher paid for marketing. The author replied “They contribute to the marketing.”

I asked how much they contribute. The author replied with a percentage. It seemed reasonable for a small publishing house.

I asked the publisher when we were going over the contract if what the author stated was accurate. “Yes, that’s about right.”

Welllllll…no it wasn’t. The publisher offered discounts on marketing packages…

Which it put together…

Based on the even greater discounts it was getting by bringing a group to said marketing site.

Let me make sure you understand this: The publisher promises to bring X number of authors to the book marketing site. The book marketing site tells the publisher it’ll give the publisher a 50% discount on the combined purchase if all X authors take part.

The publisher must now push its authors to take part in order to make good on the promised deal, but the publisher tells its authors it’s managed a 25% discount, which means the publisher’s making money off their authors above and beyond the publisher’s take on the royalties from any sales.

I completely accept people making money from their efforts. I love it and encourage it.

I completely reject deceptive practices; The publisher denied getting a percentage when I asked them point blank if they did. A sadder note about this is it demonstrated the publisher either didn’t expect or didn’t know at least one of its authors knew about due diligence and fact checking any claims.

Worse note: whether intentional or not, it shows a lack of business sense on their part.

And the worst note? Such behavior demonstrates a lack of respect for said publishers’ authors.

2. Told they use human editors only to find out they use machine editing
I know human editors are expensive (especially the good ones). There’s a reason for this: they know what they’re doing.

Machine editors work via an algorithm. That algorithm’s accuracy depends greatly on the programmers’ knowledge of what’s correct versus incorrect editing.

In my case and because I use a) foreign languages in my books and b) break up long paragraphs to add flow and information, the machine editor came back with over a thousand required corrections…

…after two editors had already reviewed and edited the work.

“Jesus Christ, and Tom said that?”
“Jesus, Christ, and Tom said that.”

The highlight – the one I remember most because it confused the hell out of me – was a piece of dialogue: “Jesus Christ, and Tom said that?” became “Jesus, Christ, and Tom said that.”

Yep, the machine editor decided I named three people in the sentence, not one, and it changed the punctuation from a question mark to a period.

Which it refused to change back until ten emails had gone back and forth.

The machine editor refused most of my corrections. Originally told they don’t have a style sheet it turned out they did, and it was run by an AI idiot.

3. “Your book cover is weak and cheesy.”
I worked with a graphic artist (who worked for Disney, among others) to come up with a cover I thought shared the novel’s story. When publisher #3 accepted my book, I asked if they wanted to see our mockup cover.

Sure, send it.

And they rejected it because it was “…weak and cheesy.”

Okay, could you describe “weak and cheesy”?

It was weak and cheesy because it looked amateurish.

Okay…seems surprising considering the person who put it together’s won awards for his work at Disney, but okay. (i’m always willing to learn from my errors).

But when they sent me their cover art, it was the cover I submitted. The only change was to the color the main character. Which wasn’t the color described in the book.

I asked publisher #3’s art manager to explain their choices. “It looks better.”

Okay…it looks better because…?

“Because it looks better.”

Oh, well, excuse the fuck out of me, idiot moi for not realizing that.

Take-Away: People who can’t defend a decision with numbers and a clear, easily understood explanation, are using ego and emotion to make a decision, not data and logic.

Caveat here. Ego- and emotion-based decisions are fine. They are wonderful and excellent.

Provided they and you know that’s how the decision’s being made.

Next time, more on publisher #3’s bullshit.

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