Monday, February 28, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 8: The Illustrator’s Contract

This is Part 8 of my blog series on publishing a children's book.  If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company
Part 6: Meet Your Illustrator!
Part 7: Hiring Your Illustrator

Drafting a Contract
The contract between the author and the freelance illustrator is a very important document to have squared away before anything is made or paid.  Personally, I write up my own children’s book illustration contract form for my clients; some authors may wish to present their own drafts to the individuals they are hiring. You can have a lawyer draw up a contract or look yours over if you wish to spend the money on their advice. Having this agreement in writing is not 100% fool proof protection for the parties involved, but is part of conducting business in the most ethical and professional way possible. A good resource for model contracts and fees is the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

Contract Basics
 Here are some things that are standard in a children’s book illustrator’s contract:
• A typical illustrator contract gives the publisher (you) the exclusive LICENSE to reproduce the images for that specific book. The illustrator retains copyright of the images and the originals. If you want to purchase the originals, you can negotiate that, but it still does not allow you to use the images for anything you want. You can usually use the images for book publicity only.
• The illustrator provides rough sketches for approval then final works with a limited number of revisions. Additional revisions would be covered under another set of compensation rates if the illustrator agrees to do any at all.
The compensation package should be delineated clearly in this document (see last post).
• Specify the number, size and type of illustrations to be created.
• Include a clear project time table with specific deadlines.
• Subsidiary rights (the rights to use the illustrations aside from the first edition printing of the book itself) should be in agreement with the illustrator and cause for additional compensation.  This means you do not get to use the illustrations from your book to create and sell T-shirts and mugs, to use as images on your personal web page, to copy and/or revise for a future book you think they would work just as well for, for an e-book or video, for your own logo or letterhead, etc. unless you hammer that out in a contract.
• The author/publisher may use full/cropped illustrations and cover illustration/design for the book’s marketing and publicity in any media.
• The illustrator’s name should appear on the cover and credited whenever an image is used for print/web publicity.
• Typically, the illustrator will be paid in thirds (at contract signing, after rough sketches and upon delivery of final work).
• Some contracts have a "kill fee", which means if the project gets abandoned, the illustrator is paid a modified amount depending on the amount of work completed, or if in the case of royalties, a set fee if the book is not published and sold within a specified amount of time.

Holding Up the Author/Publisher's End of the Contract
• Remember that you will most likely have a limited number of revisions allowed without additional compensation, so plan the amount of work you need done and communicate generally what you want to see before the work starts.
• Clearly articulate any specific imagery or descriptions you feel are important to your story, but beyond that, trust the artist to do the job.
• Make your payments on time.
• If there are mutually agreed upon changes made to the original contract agreement, amend the contract in writing.
• Make the full/final payment when the work is in hand.
• Keep good records of payments, especially if paying in cash.
• Keep the illustrator apprised of the book production during and after the artwork is complete.
• If your contract includes a royalty clause, report your sales and pay out the royalties when promised.

The moment you’ve been waiting for is almost here: The mail carrier leaves the parcel at your door, you pick it up, tear open the edge of the padded envelope, and inside you see...

...check my next blog post to find out what is in the envelope!...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 7: Hiring Your Illustrator

This is Part 7 of my blog series on publishing a children's book.  If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company
Part 6: Meet Your Illustrator!

You wrote and edited your book, researched publishers, and perused illustrator portfolios. You know what you want your illustrations to look like and who you'd like to create them. Here's your next step:

Make contact: When you find the illustrator you’d like to hire, you should contact and inquire if they have the time or interest in your project. Briefly explain the time table for the project as well as the number of illustrations you will most likely need. Give the illustrator a basic overview of your needs and if possible provide a synopsis or manuscript for the illustrator to read.

(At this point, I recommend that if you are concerned about having your work “stolen” you should have already copyrighted your manuscript through the U.S. copyright office. I assure you this is not something to be overly concerned about, but protecting yourself and your project is always smart.)

If the person is interested in your project, follow-up with more information:
• Provide the most accurate information about your project as possible so you can both decide if this person is right for the project.
• Explain what your plans are for publishing now and/or future publishing options (if you plan to shop the book around to publishers later).
• Provide your project time-table and deadlines.
• Give them the specs and what you have in mind for materials. 
• Ask what the illustrator’s rates are or ask if they can provide a quote for your project.

Which reminds me... YES, you ARE going to have to PAY your illustrator.

If right now you are thinking you might be able to get a student or freelancer to do this for free or cheap, stop. Just stop. Illustrating a children’s book is a huge amount of work and time requiring specialized skills (if you want it done well, which I’m sure you do). You can’t expect someone to do this for “experience”, “exposure”, or for small royalty based on your sales. None of these will remotely compensate a person for the time and effort they will spend on your project. You will be taking advantage of someone, whether they are an experienced professional or novice.

Remember, paying your illustrator’s fees is no different than paying for any other expense tied into publishing your children’s book, expect for one thing: it’s the MOST IMPORTANT piece. You’ll pay your printer, shipper, retailer. etc. Of all of these people, including you, your illustrator will be investing the most labor and time in this project. Treat them accordingly. Remember that your reputation as an ethical business person is reflected in how you treat the people who work with and for you throughout this process and may effect your dealings with people in your future projects.

Fees & Compensation: There is a wide range of fees which depend on who the illustrator’s level of experience, demand, and the scope of the project, but generally for a full-color 32-page book, you should be paying a minimum of about $3500. And that would be a huge bargain. You can easily triple or quadruple that for a more experienced professional.

Many free-lancers want to be paid outright for their work with no tie-in to your sales. This is the easiest type of contract for all parties involved since you as the author do not have to deal with future sales reporting and sending out royalty checks, the author likewise is happy to be paid a satisfactory amount for services rendered.

The reality is that self-published books typically sell much less volume than traditional, so if you are intending to offer a royalty (% of book sales) as compensation, that will most likely not come close to what the artist’s time was worth.

An advance is non-refundable and paid for services regardless of how well the book sells. Typically, royalties are paid after a specified amount equalling the advance is sold, if ever. If you are offering royalties, it would be appropriate to give the illustrator an advance, or again they will most likely not make enough from sales to be considered fairly compensated.

Also, with a royalty contract, you will need to be responsible for reporting to the illustrator quarterly regarding sales and writing checks to that person for as long as your contract states or the book sells. That can be time consuming for self-publishers. And, you don’t get to blow this off if, for example, you only sold a couple copies, or none, this quarter. You are contractually obligated to follow through.

Now, a signed document with all of the agreements regarding the illustrator’s fees, work expectations and rights is VERY IMPORTANT for both parties. In my next post, I’ll run down those basics for you. Don’t skip this step!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 6: Meet Your Illustrator!

This is Part 6 of my blog series on publishing a children's book.  If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company

Yes!! NOW it’s time to get the art together for your book! Incidentally, this is usually the part people are most excited about and try to do first. If that is you --yes, YOU-- go back and read the last 5 posts! There are a bunch of other things you need to deal with first. Trust me.

You can hire a freelance illustrator yourself or use someone provided by the self-publishing company. Hiring a freelancer yourself will most likely give you the most choices, though if you want to get an estimate for the publisher’s illustration service rates and see their artists’ portfolios, you can determine if their work quality and cost would be right for you. So either way, let’s figure out who Mr. or Ms. Right will be...

Okay, wait, I lied. One more thing:
Call your publisher and find out this important info your illustrator will need to know:
• What are the specs for the size book you are going to produce?
(Specs are the measurements an illustrations will need to be, including a bleed edge. Ask for single page and spread (double-page) sizes as well as the cover. Some people will tell you that it doesn’t matter, they can work with any size but that could become an image quality issue later. Artists usually create the illustrations in actual book size so that the art will be as true to what was created when reproduced as possible.)
• Is there a design format for the cover the artist must use?
• Do they provide scanning services? If yes, you may need to pay them an extra fee for this  If not, ask at what resolution will the art need to be scanned. Usually 300 dpi is the norm for art, but it varies.

To choose an illustrator, start by doing some internet research:
• Check out illustrator web sites for an online portfolio or book list.  Try looking through the illustrator portfolios on SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Illustrators and Writers).  (I'm listed here, too!)

• Visit your local bookstore and look for books with art created by illustrators in your community. Often, contact information can be found in or on the book itself or from the publisher. If you are interesting in using an illustrator who is from your local area who does not have a web presence, call and ask to arrange a meeting where you can view his or her portfolio in person.

• Look for an illustrator whose work catches your eye. The illustrator’s site may have samples of different styles and materials in which the artist works and maybe a listing of the type of projects the illustrator is interested in working on.

• If the illustrator’s current work doesn’t look like the type of style you had in mind, move on. Some artists say they are willing to work in or copy “any style”. My advice is be wary of that claim and stick with an artist who shows a consistent approach so you can better know what to expect when they create the art for your unique project.

• Styles in illustrating are widely varied and good illustrators pride themselves on their unique personal styles. It’s difficult to categorize, but you see everything from highly realistic (Chris van Allsburg) to abstract (Eric Carle), minimalist (Roger Priddy) to painterly (Tasha Tudor) to cartoonish (Dr. Suess).

• The materials used often dictate the overall look of the final book as well. Typical materials include watercolor, pencil, charcoal, colored pencil, acrylic or oil paint, ink/marker, pastels, and digital software. Block printing, textiles or photography can also be used in illustration.  Again, select an illustrator whose work shows experience in using the style and materials that most reflect your vision for the book.

Okay, so now you have found the perfect person to bring your book to life! What next? Check my next blog post for the answer...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company

This is Part 5 of my blog series on publishing a children's book. 
If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

First, you had your manuscript makeover. Now, choose your publisher!

The best thing to do next if you plan to use a self-publishing company is to research which companies will be able to produce the product you want, figure out all of the technical aspects the company needs from you, and get an idea of cost.

Self-Publishing Companies:
Here is a list of some popular self-publishing companies out there today:


Dog Ear Publishing



Outskirts Press

Trafford Publishing



I have used and recommend Dog Ear Publishing. I found that their design options, product quality, internet sales set-up, POD convenience and overall cost worked the best for me. I know authors who have used other self-publishers for different reasons and have had good experiences with them as well. Who you choose depends on what your wants and needs are, what works for your project, and what you want to spend.

Be wary of companies that claim no costs at all. They should be straight-forward about what they charge, and believe me, they will charge you something. Dog Ear actually has a good cost/services-comparison resource for this on their site. (Mind you, they are trying to sell you their company's services, but it has honest stats.)

What to ask:
Research, and if you can talk to a representative, do so. Ask a lot of questions if their web site does not give you all of the information you need. Make sure you find out the following things:
• Does the author retain all copyrights, publishing rights, and ISBN number (If no, look elsewhere.)?
• What retailers and e-retailers will your book be listed with?
• Does the publisher provide a web page or publisher web presence for you or your book? Is that included in cost?
• How are author royalties determined and paid? *
• What document formats will they accept for manuscript/illustration submissions?
• Do they provide image scanning services? Is there an extra fee for that service?
• How long will it take to produce the book and have it print- and sale-ready?
• How long does it take for the company to complete author web site and other marketing materials?
• Does the company do any marketing of your book at all as part of their publishing package?
• How quickly does their POD service print and ship a book?
• How many children’s book authors do they publish at this time?
• Are there extra fees for producing a full-color children’s book?
• Is there a paperback or hardcover option?
• How long will the book be listed in their catalog?
• What if you want to pull your book from their catalog?
• Who owns the digital productions files used to create your book?
• Is there a way for you to track your sales?
• Ask the publisher if they could send you a sample of a book similar to the type you wish to publish, or purchase one yourself.

*Most publishers (traditional, too) pay royalties in yearly quarters, well after the quarter is finished. It’s not unusual to be paid in March for the quarter that ends in December, and so on.

Questions for YOU:

As far as gathering information on what the company will charge for their publishing services, you have to have some idea of what you're going to need.  The information you will need to give your publisher to determine cost will be:
• # of pages
• Size of book
• Hardcover or paperback or both
• Will you need them to provide a cover design and/or illustrations?
• Will you need to use their editing services (You should have already done this but if not, last chance!)?
• # of images
• Color or black and white
• Will you want extra marketing services and merchandise?

Decision time:
This information should help determine your cost of services and your per book cost. Now, compare the services from each of the candidates and decide which one produces the best product and services for the money you will spend.
Check the Better Business Bureau where your publisher is located, Predators and Editors web site, and if possible, contact other children’s book authors who have used that publisher and find out if they recommend their services.

It’s almost the time to finally choose that illustrator who will magically bring your children’s book idea into reality. I’ll blog about what you need to know to find just the right person for the job in my next article!...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

This is Part 4 of my blog series on publishing a children's book. 
If you missed the first articles, read  
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish

So, you’re going to self-publish! Congratulations! You join a growing community of people who are taking advantage of modern technology to make their voices heard. This is my advice for you if you are going to self-publish a children’s book.

Start with a Manuscript Makeover:
The first thing you should do is have someone else read, correct and critique your writing. You may need to hire a professional editor. Hire your own person from your local community, or some self-publishing companies have those services available. (I’d prefer to have the editing done before I even deal with the self-publishing company. Traditional publishers use their own in-house editors so if you are submitting to agents/commercial publishers I’d would not bother hiring your own editor.).

• Especially for children’s book genre, read it OUT LOUD. Read it to yourself and to others, preferably to children who are the age for whom your book is supposed to appeal.

• If you don’t know anyone who can help with this, there are critique groups out there you can join, or try social networking sites or children’s book/writers organizations where you might be able to contact fellow writers who are willing to read and give feedback.

• Know any teachers? They might invite you read to their class. They can also give good feedback on appropriate vocabulary and length of the writing.

• Your local children’s librarian may be a good resource for feedback about your wiring as well. He or she may be willing to critique your story themselves or read it to a story hour group.

• If you ask professionals to do editing for you, you should offer them fair compensation. Remember that this is just part of the investment in your project you may have to make.

• Be prepared to make changes for all sorts of reasons. Follow your vision but be open to advice about your writing style, mechanics, organization and concept. It’s not easy to take criticism, and you have to take personal opinions and taste into account, but remember that the people giving you feedback mean well and want you to succeed.
It takes me at least a half dozen drafts, and even then the editing process can continue for me throughout the process of doing my illustrations. I usually end up with at least 10-12 revisions, sometimes suggested by my editor, sometimes my own changes. I also like to step away and let some time go by, then re-read when I feel like I can look at the manuscript with a fresh eye.

Once your manuscript is truly ready for print, then it’s time for the next step. I’m going to walk through the process of using a self-publishing company in my next post...

Monday, February 14, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish

This is Part 3 of my blog series on publishing a children's book. 
If you missed the first articles, read “Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1! and Part 2: Know your Publishers!

Now, if you are not going the traditional publisher submissions route, you must be planning on independent or self-publishing. This allows you 100% of the control of your book project and can be a really great experience if you are financially prepared and know what to expect. There are two ways you can self-publish: use a self-publishing company or go solo.

Option 1: By going solo, I mean creating your whole project from scratch, not just conceiving and creating the book itself, but also acting as a contractor for every part of the book production and marketing. Here are some pros and cons for that type of project:

• Lower cost. It may be less money than using a self-publishing company since you may have more opportunities to negotiate various costs in your favor.
• You have options for printing. You can decide between Print on Demand (POD) and traditional off-set printing. POD usually costs more but you don’t need to buy any books up front, which means your initial investment is much smaller. Traditional off-set printing is cheaper, but you need to buy the books and store them until you sell them. If you buy small quantities, it’s can be just as much or more per copy as POD. To get the better price you’ll usually need to buy at least 1000 copies up front.
• You have total control over your project from start to finish and own all copyrights.
• You can spend as much or as little time as you want marketing your book.
• You receive all of the profit from sales (unless you have an illustrator tied into the royalties).
• If you are not a technology-savvy person, you can still usually do most of your publishing tasks without the use of a computer.

• It takes a lot of time to do it well.
• You have to be a business person not just a creative mind. Some people establish themselves as an independent publishing company which is one way to deal with taxes and other business aspects of selling your books.
• You may have to hire an editor to proof your writing. I would not recommend being your own proofreader.
• You must organize and pay for all advertising, marketing, and publicity.
• You pay for everything. For a children’s book you need to be prepared for an initial investment of at least about $3 to $10000. These types of books are the most costly to produce because of color printing,etc. (If you are an illustrator you can subtract the cost you would pay an illustrator from those figures.) There will be costs such as shipping, copyright, marketing and advertising... all of that adds up. But hopefully you will start to recoup with your book sales!
• You will have to manage all of the retail sales tasks: contacts, deliveries, retail discounts, restocking, shipping...
• National in-store distribution is a very large financial investment and risk.

Option 2: Self-publishing companies are not new idea (the “vanity press” has been around for decades) but technology has allowed for a much different experience for those who choose to go this route today. The main difference between Option 1 and 2 is that a large portion of the book production is taken care of for you.

• The cost is affordable even if not as inexpensive as going completely independent. As of Jan 2011, you can get a children’s book set up for around $1000. (Web sites may say you can get started for $0, but you are going to spend more on a children’s book no matter which company you use. Their rock bottom price usually does not cover what that really entails.)
• Most use POD, which means you are not required to buy a minimum stock of books, ever.
• You have total control over your project from start to finish and own all copyrights.
• You can spend as much or as little time as you want marketing your book. The companies offer some marketing services as well, including web hosting.
• You receive all of the profit from sales (unless you have an illustrator tied into the royalties).
• You do not have to manage all of the retail sales tasks: contacts, deliveries, retail discounts, restocking, shipping...*
• Your book is available around the world, on line at major retailers. The company sets this up. Shipping is handled by the vendor and paid for by the customer. You just collect the "royalty" check each quarter.
• Since you own all of the book rights, you can still seek a traditional publisher and pull your book out of the self-publishing venue if you get a bite.
• If you have less time to spend on the business details of self-publishing, the self-publishing company handles some of that end.

• It costs a bit more than completely independent publishing, and you pay for everything.
• It still takes a lot of time and effort to publish and sell.
• You may have to hire an editor to proof your writing. I would not recommend being your own proofreader.
• You have to be a business person not just a creative mind. You need to understand how the retail business works so you can make decisions, such as how much of a discount you will offer a vendor to carry your book, etc.
• You must organize and pay for all advertising and publicity.
• You do not have to manage the e-tail sales tasks: contacts, deliveries, retail discounts, restocking, shipping...but you still do have to handle sales with local vendors. You must contact and keep locals stocked. The large bookstore chains will probably not stock your book on shelves, but people can order the book on site and pick it up at the store.
• National in-store distribution is a very large financial investment and risk. Often you can get the book stocked with the big guys through your publisher if you agree to buy any books back that do not sell or pay fees (BAD idea).
• You must be computer literate, comfortable with e-retail or email, and have easy access to technology.

If you’re still not sure if you want to wait out the publisher/agent game or dive into self publishing, here are a few more things you should know:
• Neither of these approaches are a money-making bonanza.
• Traditional publishers are less interested in risking their investments on new authors right now due to the economy. You could have a great book and still struggle to find a taker for it. It can take weeks, months even years. But hey, if that manuscript is going to just be sitting on your desktop anyway...
• If you self-publish, almost no one will review your book. Book reviews are helpful in getting schools, libraries and retailers to purchase/carry your book.
• A self-published book is sometimes not eligible or not likely to be seriously considered for industry awards.
• If a retailer stocks your self-published book, there is a good chance you will not see it prominently displayed unless you arrange some incentive for them to do so. The big publishers get the best territory.
• If you have a “niche” book, such as something about a very specific or unusual topic or a local interest angle, you have a good chance of being more successful with self-publishing.

SOAPBOX ALERT! About self-publishing vs. traditional publishing... It is all “real” publishing, but there is a stigma with self-publishing that still part of the industry. Self-publishing can be a choice, but traditional/commercial publishing is not. You can’t make a traditional publishing house choose your book or an agent choose to represent you. Yet, there are thousands of talented writers and artists out there who just can’t get in the door because the number of acceptances is so small. If you can self-publish and want to, I say go for it!

If you want a second opinion about self-publishing, read the article Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know  by David Carnoy. The USA Today article Authors catch fire with self-published e-books by Carol Memmott is an optimistic report about self-publishing e-books.

So now, if you think you might want to try self-publishing, check my next blog post for what happens next...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 2: Know your Publishers!

This is Part 2 of my blog series on publishing a children's book. 
If you missed the first article, read “Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!

If you’re a brave and patient soul willing to submit your book to the judges and juries of the publishing world, you probably already know from your internet research that there are thousands of small and large presses out there. But did you know that not every publisher works the same way? Before you start contacting those companies, it’s important to know exactly what type of publisher you are dealing with and what they do and do not do for their authors.

• Traditional Publisher- A traditional or “commercial” publisher screens and chooses the books the company publishes and compensates authors with the royalties from the book sales. The contract usually includes an advance on the royalties. They will never ask the author for any money to produce the book. (Remember if you used an agent, she will expect to receive a percentage of the contract’s compensation when you sign with your publisher.)  The majority of the book production once a manuscript is accepted is handled by the publishing house’s editors and book designers. Traditional publishers assume all responsibilities for marketing and distribution of the book as well. Small presses may publish only a few children’s books each year. Larger publishers often have imprints (publisher’s trade names) which are like companies-within-the-company that specialize in specific types of books.

• Subsidy Publisher- A type of publisher that requires a total or partial investment from the author. Usually authors receive some royalties from sales, but the publisher owns some or all of the copyrights and usually retains ownership of the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Subsidy publishers are usually but not always selective: they screen and choose books using submission processes similar to those used by traditional publishers. And like a traditional publisher, once the manuscript is accepted, the author has little to no input on the book’s final editing, design and marketing. Be very wary of subsidy publishers that are not straight-forward about their practices.

• Self-Publisher- A publisher paid by an author to prepare, print and sometimes distribute the author’s book. The author assumes 100% of cost of publishing, retains all copyright ownership and remains in total control of the project both artistically and financially. These companies usually do not screen projects but might vet them for potential copyright conflicts. Authors have complete creative control over the entire book production, and can often choose what services the publisher will provide based on what their needs are for their projects. Print-on-demand (POD) services (which are used by almost all of the self-publishing companies you’ll find online) allow for books to printed on an as-needed basis, saving huge up-front printing investments, storage space and trees. The publisher makes money on set-up fees, book printing and additional packages such as marketing services and promo materials.

Book Packager- A middle-man for publishers and free-lancers, often used for producing book series and text books. A good explanation can be found here on The Purple Crayon:  Book Packaging: Under-explored Terrain For Freelancers by Jenna Glatzer.

• Vanity Publisher- This derogatory term refers to a less reputable type of self-publishing company. More shady operations are known for poor design, low quality work, and misleading contracts.  The costs are often more expensive for authors than other self-publishing options, and often the vanity publisher limits the author’s publishing rights and owns the ISBN and merchandise. Sometimes writers don’t realize they are being courted by a vanity press. The publisher says they’ve “chosen” your work when they don’t actually have a screening and acceptance policy, then later mention you’ll actually have to pay them to publish it.  Their web sites have vague information about their submissions policies and exactly how their company works. Some less reputable publishers also create their own books and anthologies and “accept” manuscripts for inclusion with no compensation to the author (other than the “honor” of being chosen) and require a costly purchase of the volume printed. This is a scam. Beware and do your research!  The SFWA (Sci-Fi Writers Association) has some great resources on their site about the publishing world, including this “Writer Beware” article titled “Vanity and Subsidy Publishers”.

The absolute must-see web site about all publishers is Predators and Editors which includes a listing of all types of publishers and links to their web pages. The site clarifies the publishing house’s category when possible and gives candid feedback about these businesses.

Now, if you are not going the route of traditional publisher/agent shopping, you must be planning on self-publishing. That is a whole other type of venture...more on that in my next blog post...

All illustrations created for this series © Kristine Daniels 2011 and may not be used without permission.