Saturday, December 27, 2014

Writers Beware: A Cautionary Tale

Years ago, when I first started out as a writer, I submitted one of my children’s stories to a publisher that I had really no knowledge of. I got the contract in the mail, as vague as it was, but asking for 300 dollars, I convinced my husband into going ahead with it. Months went by, no progress at all. I’d email once a month, asking what will be the next step and the publisher kept putting me off. Nine months went by with nothing done until I started receiving illustrating for it. My heart sank when I saw them. It looked like a three-year-old did them. Granted, some three-year-olds are great artists, but unfortunately this particular artist that had done my drawings was very amateurish.

Then when I started receiving edits, which was nearly a year later, my writing had improved and I was telling the editor of errors—errors which should have been easily picked up by an experienced editor. Clearly he was not.

That was the last straw for me. One year after I signed and sent my money, I terminated the contract. Since they had done a few homely drawings, I couldn’t get my money back. I was pissed off to say the least. But eventually I moved on, chalked it up to a lesson learned—never send money to any publisher. That’s what a vanity publisher is. If they are asking for money, run away like a scared wild animal being hunted. These publishers prey on writers all the time and a lot of times, get away with it. I assure you, if they are asking for money, the end result will not be good. No matter how much you love the idea of being published, don’t do it.

Later on, I started writing novels and my first novel was accepted by a publisher, again, that I didn’t have much knowledge of. But they weren’t asking for any money, and clearly they published their books and it seemed okay at the time. They were pumping out 10 to 15 books a month and I saw nothing wrong with it at that time. It wasn’t until after I started receiving my royalty statements that I made yet another mistake. My royalty statements were so sad, I couldn’t even buy a roll of toilet paper even if I wanted to. Not with that kind of money. Basically it was pennies.

Luckily I wrote more books and really cracked down on researching publishers before I even submitted to them and thankfully connected with better publishers. So the lesson to this story is, do your research before you sign the dotted line and never spend any money doing it. There are a lot of reputable sites to help you with the search.
Here is the list of very resourceful sites that will help you find a good fit.

AbsoluteWrite: Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks 
Preditors & Editors 
Agent Query 

But sure to ask as many questions as possible. Keep all emails, perhaps in a separate file. Contact other authors of that publisher in question. Check the books and their Amazon rankings. Are they low? (good sign) Are they high? (bad sign) Run a Google search and see what pops up. Are they a small publisher (authormill type) publishing several books a month? (could possibly be another bad sign) And again, I repeat, do as much research as possible before you sign. Good luck on your submission journey. It can be very daunting at times, but never rush into a hasty decision you may regret later on. It may take a long while to find the right publisher, but it will be worth it in the long run.


OEBooks said...

Happy New Year, Lisa!

I'm on She Writes and making my rounds to wish bloggers, and writers the very best this year.

'Disconnected' really sounds interesting. Congratulations on publishing it.

Rhonda | RYCJ

Lisa M. Cronkhite said...

Thank you so much, Rhonda! And a Happy New Year to you too!