So… I got this email, which wrapped up with this question:
I’ve been in contact with Christian faith publishing the past year but haven’t submitted my manuscript because I recently finished writing, reading and editing it, & wanted to know more info before doing so. They have finally informed me of production costs if my manuscript were chosen for publishing. It’s a little steep for my liking, not knowing if my book will even be successful. Could you give me a little information of what I should look for, what costs are appropriate & which companies could be suitable? I appreciate it.
And I’m beating my head on the desk, because if you’re me, you’ve already covered this on your site in a lot of places and a lot of ways, but on a really BIG site like mine, you can’t always get folks to the places they need to find.
So, because so much is on the line, I answered this one personally. As follows:
Hi, <NAME WITHHELD>
You do not pay to write. Writing is a JOB, and people who work get paid.
If you are submitting to a legitimate commercial publisher, the publisher pays you.
With a contract that explains your initial advance, subsequent payments, your royalty schedule, what rights you retain to sell elsewhere, AND which includes details of the reacquisition of your rights if the book does not do as well as the publisher had hoped.
If the publisher wants you to pay it, and the payment is large, then you are that publisher’s product, not its client. That publisher makes its money off of you, and your book will get no distribution, no promotion, and no sales, and you will never make a dime off of it.
It you want to publish independently, that’s a completely different conversation. You can publish your own work well for free, or very nearly free, and make pretty decent money doing it. And actually get your story into the hands of readers who want to read what you’ve written, and will benefit from it.
Do not pay these thieves anything. Learn more about the business part of writing fiction, including writing Christian fiction, here:
Starting with THIS article:
DISCLAIMER: I am not a Christian, and I am not always warm and fuzzy in what I write (and while I generally don’t use profanity on my site, occasional words do creep in when I am incensed). I get incensed about seeing writers misused as this reprehensible scumbag is trying to misuse you and your work. If I whip out the wicked wango tongue in what you read, please understand that I do so because sometimes you have to call these abusive creeps what they are.
I want the assholes who do this to new writers to be eaten by rabid weasels one slow bite at a time.
And that’s my cheerful thought for the day.
Thank you all, I am still researching of what to do and how to do it. I am so glad I didn’t submit my manuscript for them to read and possibly claim as their own. I didn’t want to pay to have to get my book published. It’s the first book I’ve ever written and it’s inspired me to possibly write others if I ever figure out what to do and how to do it. I guess I need to talk to an agent & go from there. I need to get my manuscript copy written so no one can try to claim it as their own. I just don’t know how to do it. Thank you Holly for your info.
Sigh. So would I, Elise. Very hard for Christians to have charitable thoughts about these ‘thieves’ creeping into the ambitions/hopes of beginning authors who just want to get their books out to the world. I’ve seen their ads, too, but didn’t pay much attention.
OMG, vanity presses that don’t admit to what they are … May they get caught in their own presses … although that might make the equipment difficult to sell afterwards …
I’m a Christian, am in total agreement with the thoughts of those above, and…I just used some real nasties of my own directed at this “publisher” and its predatory ilk to vent all over these vultures. Have to say it put your mild ranting to shame, Holly.
Somewhere in the early 60’s I came across a beast called VANTAGE PRESS, who advertised all over the place in Writer’s Digest. I investigated and learned really fast that they were very different in every way possible from legitimate, well known commercial publishers. There were zillions of large publishing houses then, and I spent a lot of time checking. Sure wish they were still around because they did more than pay advances to promising writers. THEY DID IT ALL! Royalties might be less than LARGE, BUT THEY WERE HONEST and if the author proved out, well…we all seen the number of books published by these houses per REALLY GOOD WRITERS! Their compensation rose with each good book. It took time, and that’s always a good thing because as an author, time is what helps you stretch your wings; that’s what helps you to grow.
So sorry I let the JOB outside of writing get in my way back then. Things are very different now.
I was in a writing group and a woman recently was talking about the “costs of going with a publisher.” When I told her that legit publishers don’t charge you money to publish your book, she insisted that some smaller publishers do and things had changed. I pointed out that if the publisher is so small they can’t afford to take care fo the publishing costs for you, then you would be better off self-publishing anyway. I still think it was a load of b.s. and whoever she went with was not legit, but maybe people can’t admit they were had??? It was also a “Christian” publisher. I use that term loosely, as I am a Christian and people like this just make my blood boil!
As someone who started out with commercial publishing, and who does know of some legit fee-charging book printers who also distribute — Booklocker.com at the time of this writing being one such hybrid entity — I’ll note that the world of publishing HAS changed.
Booklocker couldn’t work with the files I generated, or my fonts — but within their limitations, they were still reputable when I tried them out again after having been one of their earliest customers with my first indie book, Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love & Money.
Those of us who walked away from commercial publishers years ago after living through horror stories of bad editors wrecking our books, publishers sitting for six months on money they owed us before paying us (while insisting the check was “working its way through accounting) have discovered that not all book setups are equal.
Amazon isn’t bad, but is hated by other bookstores. Having your own ISBN is important for crossing barriers, but even if you have that, if you want to offer your book in hardcover, using Amazon won’t get you there. If you want wide distribution, using Amazon won’t get you there, either.
And some companies print books, and maintain a store on their site that will sell copies of your books and pay you from that site. If you want to get them broader, you have to deal with OTHER entities like Ingram.
This is not an easy gig, no matter whether you’re going commercial or indie. But knowing ALL the options — and which of them are nothing but thievery — makes it a bit easier
Totally in agreement here, BJ Steeves! As a fellow Christian, it disgusts me to see companies promotes themselves as faith-based, and then use that as a shield to hide their baser motives.
And Holly, we love you! The words you choose to express your feelings simply let us know how much you care for our well-being and we deeply appreciate your open willingness to assist us in the endeavor to become published writers.
Christian Publishers are one of 3 or 4 others that I see advertised on TV a lot. I believe they are all owned by the same holding company. From what I can research, they are worse than blood suckers and prey on authors wishing to get something published.
I am a Christian, and there is nothing Christian about any of their business practices. They should be shut down for fraud in my opinion.
This makes my blood boil. I’ve seen those TV ads, too, and the fact that they portray themselves as Christian is unconscionable. They’re bloodsuckers hoping to take advantage of the naivete of new authors who think “They’re Christian. They must be reputable.” I’d throw these guys in the lion’s den in a heartbeat.