The Honeymoon Period
I see the same sad story all the time, and so have you if you’ve spent any time in writing communities.
A new publisher opens. Their site looks good, they post Calls for Submissions in all the big places, they seem intelligent and enthusiastic.
Writer X sends them a book, and it’s accepted. Instantly, whenever this publisher–let’s call them Books of Love, because I don’t know of any publisher with that name and doubt it would be used, because it’s pretty awful–whenever Books of Love are mentioned on any forum or in any chat, instantly Writer X pops up to say how happy s/he is, how great everyone at BoL is, how professional they are. Often this is echoed by several other Xs, all saying the same thing.
Here’s the problem(s). One, unless Writer X is already published with several other places, they really can’t say how professional BoL is, because they have nothing to compare it to. Two, being “great and nice” is, well, great and nice, but doesn’t mean the staff at BoL is actually professional either. Three, none of this has anything to do with what the actual job of an editor and publisher is, which are respectively to edit your book to professional standards, and to sell that book to the public.
Writer X, high on the rush of a sale and thrilled at the idea of publication, is in The Honeymoon Period.
This is the period of time between contract and royalty statement, and it’s the one time when you should probably pay little attention to Writer X’s effusive compliments.
The Writer X I’m thinking of specifically for this example was thrilled when BoL signed her, and continued to be thrilled while editing, while getting cover art, while receiving emails from BoL’s staff saying how her book was the top seller, and wasn’t it exciting?
Do I need to elaborate on what happened to Writer X when she got her royalty statement? She sold three copies.
Three copies in three months.
It wasn’t Writer X’s fault. It wasn’t BoL’s fault, either–they had done the best job they could. But BoL was new. BoL had not built a reputation or a readership. Which made BoL a bad choice for an author looking to place her/his novel.
This Honeymoon Period is eveident everywhere, on every blog and forum and website. A new publisher opens, people start selling to them, and before you know it Teh Internets are full of happy, chattery writers, encouraging all of their buddies to sub to BoL, discussing how they’re going places, they’re doing great, etc. etc. All of it meant kindly. All of it honest–neither BoL or the authors are trying to scam anybody.
But the fact is, and it’s one any writer should know and a writer interested in epublishing should tattoo on their arms, that ebook readers tend to be loyal to certain publishers and certain authors. They’re not necessarily going to take a chance on a new book by an unknown author from an unknown epublisher. (There are of course exceptions to this, but in general.)
Is this a set rule? No. If a new epublisher is opening its doors and the first books released ar by Patrice Michelle or Jaci Burton or Lora Leigh or any other big name, that publisher becomes a much safer bet. Chances are those authors are over there because they know these people, which means these people are connected and know what they’re doing. And readers will follow those big names, and reputation spreads from there.
But anyone can open an epublisher. It’s as easy as building a site and posting Calls for Submissions. No advances are paid in epublishing, so it requires little money to start up.
What this means is that every day, it seems, another publisher opens up. Every day new writers submit to and are accepted by those publishers. And every day a writer realizes they’ve made a huge mistake.
This is the one thing I only skimmed over in my last posts, and one of the most important things there is. Does this publisher have a reputation of sales? Have you heard of them? Have you heard of the authors talking them up all over the place? Are those authors discussing how good the sales are, or are they talking about how nice everyone is?
Don’t trust anyone talking up a publisher while they’re in the Honeymoon Period. It doesn’t mean anything.
Don’t submit your work to a start-up publisher unless you know someone in the organization and/or their background. Isn’t it better to wait however many months to get acceptance from a publisher you know, than to have your book out there and nobody knows about it?
Yes. It is. Don’t gamble with your book. Give it to someone you trust because they’ve proven they know what they’re doing, not because they seem really nice.
More next Friday.