Red Flags and Risks – Part 1

UK Meet iconI was at the wonderful UK GLBT Fiction meet last weekend, where I presented a panel along with L.A. Witt called Demystifying Publishing. To get the maximum use out of the work for that, and for those who weren’t there, but would find the info useful, here’s the first of two blog posts summarising the information. This week, how to understand publishing as a business based on risk.

Part 1 – RISK!

No not that game where you’re not supposed to take Asia too early. Publishing is a business all about risk.

It’s not like a more normal business where you get an order in, supply the product, and send an invoice. If the customer doesn’t pay their invoice you sue them for the money owed. But you can’t sue the public for not buying your book.

A publisher takes a risk on your book, investing in it in the hope of future returns. A good publisher can recognise the books that are most likely to sell. But it’s a calculated risk. Always remember that they are not doing you a favour by accepting your book. They’re doing so because they think they can make money on it.

So it’s your job to make yourself and your book appear to be a good risk. Imagine you were going to the bank to get a loan for a business. You have to convince the bank you’ll be able to pay the money back. With a publisher you have to convince them that not only is this a good book, but that you are someone they want to work with. How do you do that?

  • Act like a professional even before you are one.
  • Don’t act like a crazy person. Don’t be demanding and needy.
  • Behave yourself online. No fighting on Goodreads, or anywhere!
  • Reply to emails promptly.
  • Get the basics right so they can see you pay attention to details.

The risk is not all on their side. You are also taking a risk trusting this publisher with your book. If convincing them to buy your book is like applying to the bank for a loan, then deciding which publisher to trust with your book is like choosing a babysitter. You have to do your calculations about risk too.

  • Are they the right publisher for you? If not, then keep looking. Better to keep looking than regret the contract you signed when it’s too late.
  • Do they produce a quality product? Are their books well edited? Do most have appealing covers? Does the publisher have a good website?
  • Imagine you were not signing your book to them but investing money in the company. Would you do it? Do you think you’d get a good return on investment? Will they still be around in a year? Two years?

Next week – Red Flags. Dodgy publishers and publisher fails.

3 thoughts on “Red Flags and Risks – Part 1

    1. Thanks, Jamie. I think the thing with breaking down how it works is not to get hung up on the details, but step back and see the big picture.

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