GBU: Publishers




Hey all, today’s GBU is about publishers.  Now before everyone get’s their hackles up, I am talking about general publishers, not specific ones.  You know we don’t like to name drop/smear.





If you are a writer and you have thought about publishing here are two good avenues to take.  Take these with a grain of salt because some traditional publishers fall into the Bad category for their antics, and some small publishers can fall all the way to Ugly because of their antics.  Do your research and ask around.


Traditional Publisher:  With traditional publishing you find companies like Tor, Penguin, etc.  These publishers are considered “Traditional” because they are part of the main group of BIG publishers who look at 1000s of manuscripts and choose maybe 100 to publish.  They like and some even prefer an agent to submit the manuscript and it can take months if not years to hear back/get published.  For example I am publisher through McFarland & Co, a textbook company.  They are traditional and we are almost going on a year since I signed the contract.  This is normal.  Traditional publishers usually do the editing and cover design in house, you don’t really get that much of an option, but the longer you are with them they more willing they are give you more leeway.  Their royalties are small, especially if you are new, and only those big authors who have standing contracts get advances.  Some new authors do as well, but advances are becoming a thing of the past to be honest.   Large publishers usually have a large network and spam your book in these networks.  Large publishers tend to publish everything under the sun, which further decreases your chances of being picked up.


Small (Indie) Publishers:  These are smaller publishers who may or may not only publish in Ebook format.  Their royalty rates tend to be higher (not always).  They also do not normally provide advances.  Being that they tend to be smaller, they do not have the staff to publish 100s of books a year so you get 10-100 each year.  They tend to give more leeway with editing and cover design, but that is not always the case.  Small Publishers may or may not do any publicity.  Some do but I have heard of others that expect the author to do that all on their own.   Small publishers tend to focus on one to three genres so the audience and the author pool are much more channeled.  This can be a good and a bad thing.





Again, take this with a grain of salt and do your research.  Now this type of publishing can go from Good all the way to Ugly, but I have seen a lot of “Bad” so we will stay there for the time being.


Self-Publishing:  Lately with the creation of Createspace and Lulu and Ingram Spark a rush of first time or seasoned authors that have taken to self-publishing.  This can be a great thing or a terrible thing.  It really depends on what you know about the book business, about your book, and about how to spend your time effectively.  When you pick up a book or get a review request you can ALMOST always tell if the book is self-published versus published by a company.  I have been surprised, and there have been some self-published books that I have loved far more than any traditionally published book.  Remember Publishers print what they think will be the NEXT best seller.  Self-published authors print what they write regardless of what is popular, although Romance is commonly a theme, since you know when is romance not popular.  If you take the right steps you can be a great self-published author and really succeed.  But if you don’t take those steps and wonder why you aren’t selling any books.. the answer may lie in the lack of due diligence done.  I am planning on writing another GBU on Self-publishing so this will be a quick overview.


1) Editing – No matter how good you think you are, or how good your spouse is, get a professional editor.  This is probably the best bang for your buck.  When you write something you brain will naturally overlook things, get someone without a vested interest and have them look at it.  PLEASE PLEASE from the bottom of our blogger hearts do this.


2) Cover – I have seen some really professionally done covers made by the author themselves.  I have also seen trash.  See our post on Covers for more information.


3) Thinking your book is going to fly off the shelves without any work –   Yeah not going to happen, you are going to have to hit the proverbial pavement, be it facebook, sending ARCs to bloggers and reviewers or just talking to everyone that will listen.  You have to get your book in front of people.  Be careful though.  See our post on Social Media for more information.


If you do your due diligence, you can be a successful self-published author, but if you don’t you could fall into our Ugly Category.





Now this one can be hard to notice if your not looking. Being in the field long enough you notice this type of publishing house and I personally find it Ugly.


Vanity Press:  Often advertised as a traditional or indie press these publishing houses are anything but.  When you think Vanity what comes to mind?  Yes Authorhouse and Outskirts.  These two presses advertise being your run of the mill press, even promise some things, but what they are in a vanity press.  So what is a vanity press?


The Worlds Greatest Book website has a really good segment on different kinds of publishing.  Here is what they said about Vanity presses or what they call “Subsidy Publishing”.


Subsidy Publishing


Also called “van­ity presses,” sub­sidy pub­lish­ers offer pro­duc­tion ser­vices like edit­ing and cover design that make them attrac­tive to writ­ers who want “one-stop shop­ping.” For a fee, you can have your rough man­u­script turned into a book and made avail­able through major book dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels. Basically, you pay some­one to be your pub­lisher (hence the term “sub­sidy pub­lish­ing”). The bait and switch hap­pens when your book becomes part of the “publisher’s” cat­a­log. Subsidy pub­lish­ers assign your book an ISBNnum­ber that belongs to them; they become the pub­lisher of record which enti­tles them to receive an addi­tional roy­alty when­ever a book sells. Charging for edit­ing, design, and pro­duc­tion ser­vices is per­fectly accept­able, but charg­ing an addi­tional publisher’s roy­alty is uneth­i­cal unless they’ve taken some risk. Also, the pub­lisher sets the book’s retail price so don’t be sur­prised if your book is priced higher than you’d like it to be.


Read the small print. Authors are often reas­sured by lan­guage in sub­sidy pub­lish­ers’ paper­work that allows them to can­cel their con­tracts at any time, but in most cases, the cover design, type­set­ting, and ISBN num­ber remain the prop­erty of the “pub­lisher.” Even though these assets were paid for by the author, the dig­i­tal files needed to repro­duce the cover and book­block are not made avail­able. In other words, chang­ing horses means you get to start over from scratch with a word proces­sor file.


If you’re a grand­mother who wants to dis­trib­ute twelve copies of your mem­oir to fam­ily mem­bers, sub­sidy pub­lish­ing may be a great way to get a fin­ished, “pretty good” book with­out hav­ing to learn about pub­lish­ing or mar­ket­ing. If you want to pub­lish, dis­trib­ute, and offer books for sale, pay­ing some­one to be your pub­lisher is like pay­ing some­one to take a vaca­tion for you so you can get more work done.


Risk/Profit/ISBN: With sub­sidy pub­lish­ing, the author takes the risk and then pays the pub­lisher! This is the exact oppo­site of how the pub­lish­ing ecosys­tem is sup­posed to work. Vanity presses are the #1 trap for new authors. The only claim they have to being your pub­lisher is based on own­er­ship of the ISBN they slipped into your “pub­lish­ing” pack­age to “make things easier.”


And now you can see why I don’t like Vanity Presses for the majority of published material.  I mean if you need an editor, you can find one, there are hundreds on facebook, heck I am an editor.  Publishers are just as easy to find, and trust me if you want to sell your book and be an author and make money, find people who you can trust to beta read, edit, and do a cover design and you will be so happy with the product.  I know I was.


So this morning I got this letter… I redacted my name, and while I do not usually list names this letter really upset me.  It is from a Vanity Press and here it is.




Yup the letter was full of Blahs, will I be going with them? NO.


Tootles all our Fair Fanged Friends, We have a week of reviews with us ending on Friday with our Feature and Follow.  So follow us on Blog-Lovin or on Facebook so you never miss a post.

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