In a few short minutes a contract was cancelled.
I was lucky to get out of a contract. My publisher, who was editing my novel MS felt too ill to concentrate and diligently work on it. The warning signs were there, but I was excited to be accepted by a traditional publisher after just turning down my first traditional contract. I wanted to be in that less-than-two percent. And I am, but with a price.
No matter how excited you are to get published by a traditional house, make sure you vet them the way they vet us. Actually, do this for self-publishing also.
Check their Web site for the year they started and how many books they have. This is more important than I initially thought. If they have few books compared to the length of time they’ve been publishing, they may be short staffed. Worse than that, you don’t know if anyone is being payed or if it’s a group of friends helping one another get the company going. Books, books and how many tell a story of their own. If no one is collecting a paycheque, the incentive likely isn’t the same. Who works hard and invests themselves for free? Even with the frail promise of a booming future business, most people are not driven if they have a job, and volunteer on the side.
If there are major delays in sending out a contract, keep looking for a publisher. Be aware, fully aware there may be delays in editing, too. There were delays with my MS, and it was frustrating to sit here in my writing lair hour after hour for weeks, then wait for months for a return.
Talking yourself into believing it’ll be okay, is not the way to start a contract or a publishing journey. Once you have a contract, in most cases you’re bound and there is nothing to be done but be at the mercy of your publisher.
I’m grateful my publisher is a fair person, and she wanted me to be happy when I was not. I lost eleven months, but I am on my way with a publisher who needs to be paid, but I get all the support of a traditional house. He was able to help me leave the contract, simply because he knows the publisher I was with. Moreover, he has paid staff.
Be vigilant with edits. Keep a copy of previous edits you’ve worked on. My publisher edited dramatically. Half pages at a time were deleted and her writing replaced mine. Her voice, her style, and ideas. My characters were doing things I never had them do, and they said what I didn’t have them say. She was showing me what I could do in trouble areas, but her text should have been alongside mine if it were to change so much. Had I not retained a copy, I would never have never been able to restore my work and edit in my own voice. I’m sure I would have had a nervous breakdown. I’m serious.
This is so recent, the knot in my neck is still pulling all the way to my shoulder blade.
My intention with traditional was to be accepted as it was important to me. I needed the risk-taking approval of a publisher. I’ve been accepted twice now with a query. I practised my query for a long time, then started getting action. If you are seeking traditional, ask questions. Ask how many are active on staff. Do they have volunteers? Ask how long edit rounds usually take. Ask what your gut prompts you to ask. It is your manuscript. It’s your slow return on book sales.
I have found since being accepted by a reputable publisher, one I will pay, that once the dust settles a bit and I can purchase books to sell, what I pay in is an investment with return as long as I don’t slack off in selling.
If your first book will be self-published, there’re contracts, so be vigilant. Take the time to study, what’s good and what’s not. Google will get you there, just type in bad authors’ contracts. The good authors’ contracts. Take the time to study, and hope you get a good publisher.
I studied hard. My downfall was trusting because this publisher I met in a writers’ group. I liked her. I still do. Keep personal feelings separate from business sense.
Thanks for reading