Monday, October 24, 2016

The Publishing Journey: Reflections & Lessons


Most of you know that I left my publisher this summer. It's not a journey I regret, for I learned much through the process, from signing the contract and publication to the hard decision to part ways.

Reflecting on the experience - it's had its benefits. These three things stand out:

  • New friends - I had the privilege of meeting talented writers from around the globe. (You've met a few through interviews here.) These lovely people are kind and smart, and a great testimony to the wonderful writing community. Best of all, we're still friends.

  • The importance of a good contract - While I thought the one I had was good, it did have items that I'd be more mindful of next time. It'll be worth the investment to have my lawyer's input before signing on the dotted line. 

  • Better social media skills - I'm no social media pro now, but I gained insight and helpful tips through the necessary promotional activities. These skills continue to be an asset. 

In the big picture, this event was but a blip on the screen. I'm grateful for what I've gained and learned. Looking forward to the next chapter of the adventure. That said, I have a few suggestions for anyone seeking a book publisher. These tips can also apply to freelancers who write for websites, magazines, and other publications.

1) Heed the legal and other details. Review guidelines and other paperwork thoroughly. Get a lawyer familiar with publishing to review the contract. When in doubt, ask - the publisher and staff, the lawyer, etc. There are no stupid questions here.

2) Do your homework. Talk to authors published (past and present) through the company. Ask about their experience with royalties, payment terms, promotional requirements, response time and ease of communication with staff, etc.

3) Read books published by the company. Is it quality material? What do the covers and formatting look like - are they polished and professional? Would you be proud to be associated with this firm?

4) Check their reputation. From the Better Business Bureau to sites for writers like Writers Weekly and Preditors and Editors, research the company's history, status, and integrity. Google not only the company, but its key staff members. Have they had complaints or lawsuits against them? Heed the red flags.

While these tips aren't a guarantee for success, they can help prevent a difficult situation later.


Do you have any related tips or advice to offer? What have you learned through challenging situations?  How do you keep a good perspective?

Happy writing,

Karen


31 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing what you learned from your experience with your publisher. Yes, having a contract reviewed by an attorney or an agent is important. And you're right, the attorney needs to be familiar with publishing contracts. I'm an attorney, but don't know anything about this, so would have to hire someone too. As for getting through challenges, I think we have to rely on our coping skills and try to do what we can to fix a challenging situation. Support of friends and family is essential.

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  2. Good points to consider. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. But you took away the positive of this experience and that's a great attitude to possess.

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  3. Natalie,
    You are welcome. We're always learning something, aren't we? I agree, the support of family and friends is crucial. :)

    Alex,
    Thank you. It was a challenge but I learned so much in the process. So grateful for that!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  4. JENNIFER BROWN BANKSMonday, October 24, 2016

    You've said a mouthful here, Karen. Been there, done that. :-) Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I always stress to writers that they need a lawyer to look over a contract before they sign. They have to know their rights and what rights they are giving up.

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  6. Hi Karen - I'm sure we learn through doing ... just occasionally the doing goes wrong - but we can only do what we do and learn more - broaden our experience ... I like positive takes as I go through life, however hard the knocks ... cheers Hilary

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  7. Hi Karen! I was a little sad when I read this post, knowing that you were not happy with your contract. I don't have any experience with publishing my own words, but maybe someday? I have often wondered how I would know I'd get a good deal, or if I'd be easily taken advantage of...I think the lawyer take-away, and researching the topics of the publishing house are the things I'll remember from your post.

    Wishing you a better, brighter next step!
    Ceil

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  8. Excellent advise, Karen, as always. I've left my publisher also and am debating publishing myself or going the long haul with finding another publisher. Sigh. Such is the life of a writer. Blessings.

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  9. Your posts always give me strength, Karen. I left my publisher over a year ago and I still can't write about it. I was so disheartened, until I realized that was me making me feel that way. Today I have a new publisher who is fabulous, inspiring, and in-tuned. Wouldn't have happened if I hadn't gained the courage to say goodbye to my last. Thanks for reinforcing my desire to write about it.

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  10. Jen,
    This trade has its ups and downs, doesn't it? But it's still what we do. :)

    Diane,
    Yes, that's such a good move. Appreciate any publisher who encourages their authors to do so.

    Hilary,
    I agree - this "doing" thing can trip us up sometimes but as long as we get back up, we're learning something. I always take inspiration from your blog, you're such an upbeat writer and friend. :)

    Ceil,
    Thank you so much! While not a fun stretch, the working of it all out, it did work out for good in the end. Appreciate your support! :)

    Susan,
    Aww, thank you. You're such a wonderful cheerleader! :) I didn't know you'd left your publisher too. So we're heading out in this direction together, then, aren't we? :) Couldn't imagine better company!

    Joylene,
    Will look forward to your thoughts about the whole deal. I knew you'd left but I didn't realize how much it challenged you. So glad your new publisher is terrific - what a blessing! :) Thanks so much for your kind words!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  11. Those were all very helpful suggestions to look for before putting pen to paper, Karen. Thanks so much. Susan

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  12. Good advice, Karen. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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  13. Susan,
    You are welcome. Glad you found them helpful! :)

    LD,
    Thanks so much. Appreciate your input here. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  14. Great tips, especially about the contract. We can't get so excited that someone is willing to publish our work that we forget to read and understand the small print.

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  15. Hi Karen - Excellent post! I wish I'd read more about the business side of publishing before I signed on the dotted line. It's also important to know that your vision and your publisher's vision are a good match.

    Like you, many good things came out of my experience. Now, I'm ready to move forward.

    God bless,
    Susan :)

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  16. Lynda,
    Thank you. Yes, sometimes the draw of being published outweighs the practical. :)

    Susan,
    Thanks so much! :) Well, live and learn, right? And we did learn much in the process, that's for sure!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  17. Great tips, Karen. I'd add, don't hesitate to gently correct an editor if you find a glaring mistake. I hesitated to do so, but recently approached an editor who had changed my story from past tense to past perfect, which I try to avoid. I received an apology and correction. Always be nice.

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  18. All valuable pieces of advice. I think the biggest indicator is speaking with other authors who are published by a house. The inside story is often VERY different from the outside story. I do actually have my eye on a couple publishing houses that I would go with in a heartbeat if I ever decided to move--because I've heard such positive things from authors publishing with them.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your insights. There really is so much to take in.

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  20. Great advice! Now, if I could only follow half of it on a regular basis;)

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  21. Thanks for sharing your advice, Karen!!! I haven't had a publisher yet, but I'm considering sending some material to one in the next three months.

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  22. Linda,
    Thank you. Yes, that's a good tip. Communication is important - the good kind, anyway! lol :)

    Crystal,
    Yes, this is such an important step. And talking to more than one author as you said, helps fill in a more comprehensive picture. Wishing you well no matter what direction you choose! :)

    Holly,
    You're welcome. There is! And who knew it was such a process, right? :)

    Mark,
    Thank you! Yes, well, me too. lol My experience would have been a little different had I done so. :)

    Tyrean,
    You're welcome! Seems you are doing well on your own too. But you'd be an asset to any publisher, I'm thinking. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  23. So many good pieces of advice and so common sense! Thanks, Karen.

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  24. Great post! (I came to your blog from Kenda Turner's blog.) Right now I'm looking for an agent for a mystery I've written, but I'll also be perusing publishers. These are great points to keep in mind.

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  25. Thanks for the tips, Karen, though it sounds like a tough journey in order to compile them. I haven't gotten to the point of signing up with a publisher yet, but when I do (she says hopefully) I'll keep these points in mind. In advance I'll put #4 to work right away--check their reputation...On another note, it's nice to see Elizabeth in comment above!

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  26. Lee,
    Thanks so much! Just sharing from what I've learned and observed. :)

    Elizabeth,
    Thank you! Kenda's blog - I thought your name sounded familiar. :) Welcome! Appreciate you coming by to see me. Appreciate the follow as well.

    Kenda,
    You're welcome. There were some bumps in the road, but it's all a part of the journey. :) I'm sure you'll be published in good time! Yes, was happy to meet Elizabeth!

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  27. All great advice, Karen. To your points the only thing I would add is "sleep on it." Don't be so eager to sign that you do so prematurely.

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  28. I always learn new things visiting here :) have a great weekend, Karen!

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  29. Lisa,
    Thank you. Yes, that is good advice. Applies to most anything, right? :)

    Keith,
    Well, thank you! Glad to hear that I'm not boring my blogging friends too much these days. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  30. Thanks for passing on your wisdom in this area. I would say your advice could be used in many areas of life. Blessings.

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  31. Betty,
    You are welcome. That's a good point - these could apply to other areas as well. Glad you brought that up! :)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!