Recently I’ve had conversations with caring friends who are concerned about the amount of work I’m doing for my soon-to-be-published novel. They say a “real” publisher would be doing much of this work for me, and that in reality this publisher is a vanity publisher in the disguise of a traditional publisher. In other words, they’re saying they are scamming me. I’m not going to mention the publisher’s name. Suffice to say that I’m well aware that a major publisher would do more for me than this publisher is doing. However, even major publishers are very limited about what they do on the marketing end for new or mid-list authors. And I want to add that I’ve not been expected to do anything that wasn’t clearly spelled out in the beginning of my experience with them. And that they have provided resources for me to learn about the things I have to do that may be foreign to me. I’ve actually been grateful for this part of the experience, since I’ve amassed a huge array of skills and knowledge that I never would have if it had all been done for me.
The odds are stacked heavily against finding a publisher who will take a chance on a new writer who is not a celebrity. There are exceptions, but they are miniscule minorities. Many authors who are committed to seeing their book in print will resort to self-publishing. I was reluctant to do that, for many reasons which I will go into later. When my book was accepted by Publisher X, I was elated. The fact that they told me up front what my obligations would be, which were above and beyond what most traditional publishers would do, did not deter me. They offered enough of the services I associate with a good publisher, and I had read enough about publishers losing money on most of their books to understand why a publisher would be conservative in its investment in any new author. In my view, they were sort of a hybrid, offering more than a vanity press while limiting their financial investment while I was an unproven asset. As I said in a prior posting, I tend to be gullible and trusting, so in the beginning it was possible to believe that the naysayers could be right. But my experience since last August, when the book was accepted, has only reinforced my position. Granted, I don’t have the book in hand yet. But that to me is proof they are more traditional than vanity. They put me through multiple (4 or 5 – I lost count) content and copy editing cycles, cleaning up the language and flow and reducing the word count to a more marketable level. In other words, they took their time and resources to get the book as good as it could be. Their cover designer produced two covers in response to my input, and I chose the most appealing one. Yes, I paid a small, refundable fee up front. But the hours my editor and the design and PR folks have put in have more than covered that – and I still expect to get it back. Otherwise I don’t pay a penny until I get my book supply, and then what I pay is determined by how many books I choose to order myself. Would I have preferred to have my publisher seek the reviews and endorsements that could make the difference between success and oblivion? Of course. But they don’t. That’s up to me. I’ll be sending out close to 500 copies of my book in hopes of getting a handful of reviews and endorsements. And that’s if I’m lucky. But I’m a pragmatic person, and if that’s the way it has to be, I do what I have to do, and hope that some kind reviewers and celebrities will decide my book is worthy of their words.