When You should Turn A Publishing Deal Down

By on September 29, 2016
When You should Turn A Publishing Deal Down - Writer's Life.

It is every author's dream to land themselves a publishing deal, and many authors spend years trying to secure one. The publishing business is hugely competitive, now perhaps more so than ever, and so if you do get that letter or phone call from a publisher saying that they would like to represent you, it can feel like you have won the lottery!

However, believe it or not, there are some instances where authors need to be wary. Understanding what exactly is being offered to you and whether your offer is genuine, in your best interests and from a reputable publisher can make all the difference, and can stop your dream deal turning into a nightmare situation.

To ensure that you don’t get fooled by a publisher offering something that seems too good to be true, take a look at these common traps that every author should know to look out for.

How to know when your publisher is trying to scam you

It is a horrible thought, but there are publishers out there that will try to scam you into parting with your money in exchange for a book deal. While there is nothing illegal with this, if you were hoping to secure a traditional publishing deal, you would never be asked to pay something upfront for their services. If a publisher believes in your book they will think they will make money from it, and so will be willing to invest their time and money into it in return for lucrative rewards when the book goes on to sell.

If a publisher is asking you to pay expenses or insists you buy a certain number of copies of your book, proceed with extreme caution. They may well sell themselves to you as a reputable publisher who can do loads to market your book, and even may make it sound like they are selective in who they deal with, but the truth is they make their money from you, the author, not through the books that they sell.

How to understand your contract

Publishing contracts can be complicated to understand, and if you are offered one it is always advisable to seek the opinion and expertise of a legal professional. If your publishing contract binds you to terms you are uncomfortable with, is completely different to a standard publishing contract (you’ll be able to find examples of one online), or the publisher point blank refuses to negotiate on any terms, you are probably right to feel suspicious. Professional assistance when it comes to contract negotiations is strongly advisable, that way you can rest assured you are not being cheated out of anything, and that the terms of your contract are reasonable and fair.

Do they have experience?

There is nothing wrong with signing a deal with a brand new publisher but you need to understand what this means. If your publisher doesn’t have the experience, connections or capacity to properly market and distribute your book you can’t assume it will sell. You should be able to ask your publisher what their marketing and distribution plans are for your book. While a larger publisher has far greater budgets, smaller houses can offer you more personalised attention, so it depends on what you feel is the appropriate route for your book.

Is it the best deal for you?

Publishers tend to take a significant cut of any book sales made. So if your book is in demand, you need to think carefully about whether or not going down the traditional publishing route it right for you? Publishers can are brilliant at promoting and marketing your book. However, it could be that self-publishing is a better option for you. Before accepting a deal make sure you weigh up all the possibilities and be sure that your publisher can do a better job for you than the one you could do for yourself!

At then end of the day walking away from a publishing deal is not a decision any author should take lightly. However, there is nothing worse than signing on that dotted line and coming to regret it. So whatever you do, make sure that you have done your research, and are acutely aware of what signing your contract means, before you make it official.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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