Today, I want to address something that I have repeatedly seen among new authors and it worries and concerns me.
Many first time authors mention that they paid a publishing company to publish their work. This should never happen.
No legitimate publishing company charges the author to publish their book. A legitimate publishing company pays for all the costs of publishing up front, larger companies will also pay the author an advance, and they all sign a contract that states what royalties the author will be paid from their published work. The way a publishing company is paid back for this is through the sales of the book.
Let me give you an example: if your advance is £5000, You would not be paid anything more after that until your book had sold enough copies for the company to get back the money they had already laid out in the advance. Then you begin receiving royalties off every book sold after that. Smaller legitimate publishers may not pay an advance, but you will start earning royalties immediately your book starts to sell and the percentage of royalties may be higher.
Writers who are paying a so-called publishing company to have their books published are getting ripped off.
These types of publishers are called Vanity Presses, and they are often not even legitimate publishers. Some take all the rights to the author's work. This means they can never get it published anywhere else, and they never see a penny in royalties. Others do not register the author as the owner of the copyright while others claim the credit for your work. If an author is lucky enough to get a Vanity Press that does not do any of the above, and actually publishes the book for them, the comapny is still charging you far more than it costs to actually publish a book.
Of course, traditional publishing companies must make a profit and get an amount over and above the money they forwarded to the author when they produce their book, but not in the amounts taken by Vanity Presses. They also do not rip off authors the way these Vanity Presses do. In other words, the authors get their monies' worth. Traditional publishers, whether large or small, do more for their authors. They represent them and help their authors protect their work. They also help with some of the advertising because their authors are their investment and they want all of them to succeed. Vanity Presses do none of this.
If you are a new author looking to publish your work, there are several things you need to do to protect yourself and your work:
1) Do your research
2) Ensure you have copyright protection. This ensures that no one can steal your work.
3) Ask questions. Don't be shy!
4) If you get rejection letters - frame them! Most companies do not bother to send them because of the immense numbers of submissions they receive every day. If you actually received a rejection letter, it means they can see worth in your writing, but you may not be ready yet, or not the right fit for that company. Remember, Stephen King received 72 rejections before his first work was published.
If an author decides to self-publish, they should just do it and not look for other people to do all the steps for them. If they need help, ask other authors who are already established as self-published authors for legitimate references to the real people in the industry.
There are cover artists, editors, agents, and even small presses that are legitimate and know how to do their jobs. These are the people you want to work with, and they know their way around the industry. Many will also gladly answer any questions you have concerning the industry. It is horrible to see writers who worked so hard to get that first book completed ending up in some kind of legal battle to recover their work, giving up because they lost so much money, or not gaining the kind of success they hoped for because of a bad experiance with a Vanity Press.
The way these scam companies get to authors is by posing as a legitimate firm and let the writers submit work to them. It is only then that they rake the author over the coals. We as the writing community can stop this by working together to share the knowledge every new author needs to protect themselves from this.