Unpublished Author Lessons – Watching Out for the Wicked

Feb 22, 2018 | Pat's Chat

Author beware.

“We are interested in your manuscript.” THE PHONE CALL!!! Who doesn’t want to receive this phone call from an editor or agent? It would cause massive hysteria and probably mild incontinence…

And I received it! But then…

I submitted a picture book manuscript to a smaller publishing company in Florida. It was listed as a “traditional publisher” and appropriate for the subject of my book. I submitted my official query letter and manuscript and received – THE call. They were interested and wanted to talk. Oh… my… gosh.

It was my big break and I was gushing and spewing and dancing. The Assistant Editor called me and we spoke for over an hour on the phone. We discussed my other projects and my writing goals. He had a meeting with his executive board and he “proposed” my manuscript to their company. They wanted it!

The next step was the contract. This is where things changed. The editor told me they had two contract options: the traditional contract or another preferred option in which I give THEM money to promote and market the book.

RED FLAGS – ALARMS – AND SIRENS BLARING: I knew this was not right. A traditional publisher should never ask for money, and an author should not PAY to be published (unless self-publishing.)

The editor and his assistant pushed relentlessly their preferred contract and could not comprehend why I would not choose that route. I enlisted the help of my army of author friends! I was referred to a contract negotiator for backup. When I told the publisher that I would not give them money to publish, but I was obviously interested in the traditional route – their story changed. A contract was never offered and suddenly, there were “legal issues” (though I never spoke to anyone in a legal department.) Now they were no longer interested. SADNESS ENSUES.

This publishing company is what is called a vanity publisher in disguise preying on authors anxious to get their precious words out into the world. I was tempted, but know I deserve better. With patience and perseverance, it will come. If I choose to spend money, I can self-publish and avoid a vanity publisher. Vanity publishers have their place – you can pay high dollar for them to produce your book and put it into the world, but that is not true publishing and they would produce ANY piece of writing no matter what the quality for your money. If you are willing to spend that money, you can self publish at less cost. 

Lessons learned and an tough experience that may help other authors working their way through this difficult world of agents and editors. GOOD LUCK and rely on your network of author friends (family) for advice and support.  

Thank you Connie and Jill – you’re the best.

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