Red Flags


Red Flags

So you are ready to publish your book that you’ve work hard on. You are ready to make that dream become a reality. Let me share with you some of the things I learned with getting my first book published. They have been hard lessons to digest. For someone who has had the dream of becoming a published author for the last 35 years or more, when the contract came via email you can imagine the excitement I felt. Even though I posed very articulated questions and received vague responses, I just figured it would work itself out in the end. It didn’t matter that all of my questions weren’t answered. No big deal, the biggest thing was getting that book published. That is what every author wants when we first set out.

About Editing:

So the process began. First the book went to an editor. She sent it back to me for my approval three days later. Her comments were indistinct, and I really had no idea what I was supposed to be looking for. I asked. She responded with ‘click on the check mark if you agree. If you don’t, add a comment and we will discuss’. She also pointed out that the edits weren’t that much, mostly compound words. I wrote the book, the publisher liked it so much they wanted to publish it, what could possibly be wrong with it? Not to mention that the editor told me the edits ‘weren’t that much’. That being said, I approved what the editor changed and posed that needed to be changed. I signed off and it was forwarded back to the publisher.

So the process continued.

About Publishing:

The publisher found some serious errors that she would have expected to be corrected in editing.

{Out of curiosity, I asked what was expected of the editor. I had never been through this before, I didn’t know.}

This was the publisher’s response:

What we expect of our editors is this:
1. Manuscript review and recommendations to ensure logical development of content.
2. Substantive editing to determine what should be added, developed, or deleted to enhance the structure, completeness, and tone of the manuscript. If there had been major revisions required, your editor would have to have contacted me before those could proceed.
3. Copy-editing to eliminate incorrect or unclear grammar, word choice, factual inconsistencies, syntax, and inconsistent style.
4. Editors are necessary to making sure a book is the best that it can be. You certainly don’t want the embarrassment of a reviewer pointing out the bad grammar, misspellings, and missing punctuation. So, don’t argue with the editor. Don’t tell them that they don’t know their job and have to listen to you.

She asked for my feedback on how the editing went with the editor. And she wanted me to be honest. What was I supposed to say? I wrote the perfect book. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  She pointed out a whole list of things she saw while proofreading my book to give the reasons why. Normally, she doesn’t proofread books, but her proofreaders were all busy, and she doesn’t like to see books sitting around, so she was doing that until they were free.

What to expect from the proofreader.

Once the editor is done. Proofreaders are vitally important, to catch the things your editor missed. They are very good at what they do. So, give your proofreader the time to painstakingly read your book, word by word and then line by line. You’d be amazed at all the little things they catch.

After she finished with all that she found wrong and corrected, she attached a copy of my manuscript for my final review. I needed to take my time going through the book, correcting anything I found wrong, paying particular attention to the items that she mentioned. One reason is these kinds of errors can get bad reviews and lose you readers and fans. So she told me. The second reason is that the publisher recently implemented a new policy regarding making changes or correcting errors to books once they’re published. They no longer do this due to abuse by a few authors in the past. If something is missed, which by should have been caught in editing and proofreading plus your final review, we can do nothing about that.

{Pointed out to me after the contract was signed. Red flag!}

Again, I will mention I wrote the book, the publisher liked it so much they wanted to publish it, what could possibly be wrong with it? She said she finished with all that she found wrong (...proofreaders are vitally important, to catch the things your editor missed) and corrected, and attached a final copy. What else could possibly be wrong?

There was plenty. I found several mistakes and corrections that were said to have been made that were not made. If you take the time to read my book, Blackhorse 2015, I can assure you if you are looking, and even if you are not, you will find several errors that were missed in the steps that were supposed to have been taken. {My fault?}

About Promotion:
What kind of marketing/promotion will the publishing company do?

The publishing company promotes the work of our authors on Facebook and Twitter daily/weekly. Not every author is promoted every day.

{Would you like to know how many times my book has been promoted by the publisher on Facebook since it released on June 9th? Once. I found Twitter to be a waste of time so I deleted my account so I don’t know if it gets promoted there. Quite frankly I believe this publisher leaves all of the promoting up to the author unless for some reason it’s going to promote their company. Red flag?}

About Royalties:

Our statements are done on the 20th of the month. {I didn’t get my statement until the 29th of the month. Red flag.}

I questioned the report.

10% of what we were paid was the $-.– that was put in your statement.

The contract I signed:

Print Books: “Ten percent (10%) of the retail selling price of each copy sold. Books are not guaranteed to go into Print”
“20% for sales up to 300 books”

{I know … very misleading…is it 10% or is it 20% for the first 300? Red flag}

“We drafted new contracts in April to make that all more clear. If you would like a new contract we would be happy to send you one.” {Really? After I already signed the first one? Red flag}

“Your book is listed at $–.–, which is set by (blank company). We can’t raise or lower that price.”
{I recently self-published a couple of books with (blank company) and found this statement very misleading. Red flag.}

“Either you trust us, or you don’t. We aren’t here to screw you over. But, if you feel we are, you are welcome to request your rights back.”

“The only way to guarantee you know exactly how many have sold is if you had access to the accounts. For obvious reasons, we do not allow this for our authors…”

{If a bank can do it with millions of customers, why can’t a publisher do it for a few hundred authors? BIG ASS RED FLAG!}

“If you still don’t understand, email me. This is not something we will discuss further in group.”

“That’s the cold hard truth. If you can’t let go and trust your publisher then you need to put your stories on a blog or try self-publishing.”

“The only place in the contract where it states retail sales is with print books. While that is a typographical error, we will honor it.” {It was their typographical error shouldn’t they honor it?}

I don’t mean this to be a “bash the publisher” post. I am telling it like it is. The trust issue was pointed out to me more times that I care to mention. {Red, red, red flag!} I wish I took the time to read things more clearly and wasn’t so gun-ho to hurry up and get my book published. It is just a warning to you: the writer, the author, the next New York Times best seller. Be aware of what you are signing on to. If it’s not black and white ask. If it’s still not clear, ask again. Don’t make the mistakes I made. I’m sharing this with you because I know there are people out there wanting to publish their books. There are people out there who will take advantage of your naivety and inexperience. Publishers are out there to make money, not to make you the next best seller. They don’t care that you have busted your butt for the last two years on writing your book. They want to make money. Heed the warnings. Research everything you can, and most importantly, listen to your heart. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is.

1. What would you do?
2. Has this ever happened to you?
3. How would or did you react?
4. Do you have any other suggestions for future authors?

I would love to hear your comments.


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