I've been holding this in for a few weeks, but it's now official! My third historical romance is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press. They are a relatively new epublisher, but growing steadily and I'm thrilled to be working with them.
Okay, so RWA has backpedaled their little selves as fast as they could, and the furor over their newest guidelines seems to have died down a bit. They've revamped those guidelines and I'm hearing have put together a task force to do a little research into the epublishing biz. Hmm... you'd think a romance writer's organization (heck, you'd think any writer's organization) would have done this research prior to their hellraising announcement, but better late than never, I suppose.
RWA has revised their definitions of "vanity" and "subsidy publishing" once more. Here they are:
1. "Subsidy Publisher" means any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the costs of production in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs.
2."Vanity Publisher" means any publisher whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing and distribution are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and/or associates.
Maybe not entirely perfect, but they are a heck of a lot better than the original nonsense they'd posted.
My last post on RWA led to a very interesting comment regarding choosing an epublisher because, as common sense should tell you, they aren't all created equal.
December Quinn did a series of posts on her blog regarding this same topic and she offered up some great advice. One of the things she mentioned is in regards to a publisher's website. Check it out - does it look professional? Free of typos? Up to date? Those are a few things to check out, but remember, the scammers can look just as good.
How is the website set up? Is it set up to draw in readers? Are books covers displayed on the home page - perhaps that month's releases, or the most current releases? Are there blurbs about each book to give a reader an idea of what the publisher offers? How do the covers look? Are they obvious clip-art nightmares or do they look professionally done? Are there links to purchase books and are they easy to find? Are clear-cut genres offered?
Is there an "About Us" section listing names and contact information for acquisitions editors, editorial director, art director? Is there a customer service link? Yes? Good signs - both.
Are they listed on Fictionwise? If so, it's a good start, it isn't necessarily a bad thing if a publisher is not there. Some choose not to list with them. That's okay.
Don't rely on an Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com listing - vanity publishers such as PublishAmerica (more on that in a bit) and iUniverse can be listed there. It doesn't offer up legitimacy, so it shouldn't wield as great an influence.
Then, check out Piers Anthony's Internet Publishing guide. It's one of the most complete and informative guides to epublishing out there. It's only updated quarterly, but it is one of the best reference sites for any new writer looking into epublishing.
Also, be sure to check out places such as Absolute Write's forums and Writer Beware's blog. Both are excellent sites offering up a lot of do's and don'ts and what to look out for's.
And now, a few words about vanity presses that try to make you believe they are legitimate, commercial publishers.
Our old friend - PublishAmerica.
Take a look at the PA website. The most eye catching portion of their homepage is the submissions section. Their online bookstore is a teeny tiny tab along the top of the page. This is a huge red flag Why? Because they don't care about selling books to the general public. They are a vanity press, interested mostly in selling books back to their authors, the authors' friends and family. That's it.
Don't be fooled by PublishAmerica's claim about being a "traditional" publisher. There is no such animal. They are a POD publisher, or printer, for lack of a better word. "Traditional Publisher" is a phrase coined by them in order to make them sound like a commerical publisher, to disguise the fact that they are 100% vanity press. They are worse than a vanity press, because they lie and deceive the people who submit to them. They do shoddy editing. Their books are of shoddy design and their book covers are clipart. Shoddy clipart that one can buy easily enough for themselves and do cover design. They don't edit. They do little more than run a file through a spellchecker, and often, they add in mistakes. There is no marketing department, nor is there even a marketing person. The PA author is expected to do any and all promotional work and marketing themselves.
Now, most epublishers are also POD - which is print on demand. POD in and of itself is not a red flag. As the epubs grow, they might move away from POD - I know Samhain and Ellora's Cave books are available in brick and mortar stores, already stocked on the shelves. But be careful of publishers who want you to pay "setup fees." While this is also not entirely a red flag, it can raise eyebrows. RWA frowns on writers having to pay for any sort of service in conjunction with the production of a book - a guideline I tend to agree with as well. If you, the author, hand over a cent towards the production of your book, this is considered at the very least a subsidy press.
So, there are a few tips, and I highly suggest taking a peek at December Quinn's blog - she has a multi-part series on the things to look out for with both print and epublishers. Also, take a peek at Writer Beware and the other sites I've mentioned. They are great resources to make you a bit more informed. If you're considering submitting to an epublisher, research carefully and then make an informed decision.