Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Self Publishing: Writer Beware.

I will, on many occasions I'm sure, say that things have gone wrong. They will. Of that I have no doubt, and of course, even with the best laid plans of mice and men, this cannot be avoided.

Self publishing is a minefield.

But every time I look at the minefield there are more mines.

For those of you who are looking into this for the first time, please, heed my words.

I'm not talking about Amazon or the likes, and I'm sure each of you could regale me with the best outlet for self publication, e-publication etc., but for me, where I am at, I keep seeing things that terrify me.

The next planned post is about the story, whether it is a novel or a short is of little consequence, but obviously I am thinking further ahead.

I have been looking at people and sites who design covers especially for ebooks.
I have been looking at publishers who specialize in ebooks.
I have looked far beyond the stage of I have a story and have decided to self publish.

I was on a site today that would publish chosen books (e-publish) and give a 50% royalty payment on sales. I didn't go into whether that was net of sales or blah blah, small print. I stopped before that. The gig was that if they published a book (it has to be novel length) the author would receive 50% of sales, but they would deal with cover work, and the actual publishing. (I know this isn't self publishing, per se, but my investigation in self publishing had me knocking at this door and hence it's not unreasonable that it wouldn't happen to others also)

Okay. That seems reasonable, to me, a layman.

Then I looked at the submission process.

Submit a book.
Get the book accepted. (this doesn't appear to have a 'condition')
In order for the publisher to put the book into publication, two existing authors must have agreed the book is good. (This seemed fair. Judged by your peers for consideration. Sorta cool)
The author must PAY the peers £60 ($85ish) to read the manuscript. Each.

The author has to hand over £120/$170 (non-refundable) to be judged by someone that they don't know and who doesn't work for the publisher, to back the book.

Sure, they provide feedback to the author, and you are 'paying for their time', as the site puts it. I can think of fairer ways to do this.

This is what terrifies me.

I have never handed over money to someone to accept a submission. I never will. It is not something that I think is right, or fair.

I pay for services, not chances.

I strongly recommend that anyone considering to do something like this, think again, and think carefully.

Please be careful. The minefield is wide. It is deep.

... I'll be back.


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  2. You're absolutely RIGHT, Mark. Never pay readers fees or pay a publisher to publish your book. You can do that all for free. I tend to shy away from things where they want me to pay and I'll get no return... Like paid writing contests, I won't enter them either.

    I also tend to be skeptical of publishers who want you to do your own formatting and art. Think about it... What are they actually doing for you if you're doing all the work yourself?

    1. Too write (geddit?). I don't like to use the word prey, but they do. And it's easy for some people to be suckered in to thinking it's what's right.

      This site I was looking at yesterday got me three or four pages in before I stroked my beard and backed away.

      And yeah, paid contest. How is that supposed to work?

  3. It's only natural that as self publishing becomes easier operations will open with the sole purpose of separating the writer from their money. As with any transaction one should remember "Buyer Beware," and "Always read the fine print."

  4. Great post, very nice info!!!


    1. Thank you, Bella. Always glad to help. :)