The Anonymous World of Tumblr: What “Makes” an Author

The Anonymous World of Tumblr: What “Makes” an Author

After the press release from YA Interrobang, I received a rather, well, insulting anon on Tumblr who basically told me I was cheating myself by going with a small press–and a new one at that. I will admit upfront that I did take a chance knowing they were new. Oftentimes experts will tell you to wait a year or two to see how the press does before submitting to it, but there were so many factors involved in my decision to submit to them that it would take too long to list them all, but one factor was that I was tired of holding my book back, not submitting it because I was afraid it wasn’t ready enough, and I just wanted to take a chance. I was at that point in my life where I realized I needed to take chances, and I was very happy that I did. 

In any case, not only did they insult AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. and call them a vanity press because you don’t receive advances (but the royalties we receive can more than make up for the advances), but they insulted me by saying ‘you SEEM like you want to be an author, so why did you cheat yourself?’

Apparently I’m not an author, even though I have a book published with good reviews (only 23, I think, but still, that’s good enough, and they’ll keep growing, I know), with a publishing house that is a small press and not a vanity publisher, a book with a beautiful cover, a book that received great editing, and a book that received amazing exposure, a lot from me, but my publishing house is so flexible that they were/are willing to listen to advice to make them better, even though I think they’re great already because they produce great books in the first place. Plus, I do need to speak up more about what I want. And even though they don’t offer advances, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a legitimate house.

Some authors will tell you that you deserve an advance and shouldn’t settle for less, but if the house offers great royalties, I say, go for it. It doesn’t make them less legitimate than a house that does offer advances, but pitiful royalties. I even had this discussion with indie authors on Twitter. Some houses have you pay for a few things for your book, but the money DOESN’T GO TO THEM. IT GOES TO THE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDED THE SERVICES. And these indie authors agreed that that was still a legitimate house.Doesn’t mean your royalties will make up for the average advance (which, on average, can be anywhere from 500-1000), but I care more about readers reading my book, and even at a big house, the average book only sells 500 copies. Ever. 

I’m tired of this attitude that you’re not an author if you go with a vanity publisher or self-publish. You are an author, ESPECIALLY if you took the time to make your book into a product that deserves sales. I would never ever recommend a vanity publisher, as you can do it much cheaper yourself, but if you can find a good, honest vanity publisher, know what you’re getting into, know the ins-and-outs of publishing from an author’s perspective, then I will not judge you for choosing this path. You are an author, regardless. A published book means you are an author.

***Repeat after me: A published book means you are an author.***

A published anything means you are an author. Ky Grabowski has a short story published, but she is still an author, even if it’s just one thing. I have been an author since I was in high school, although, admittedly, I didn’t feel like a real author until When Stars Die was published, but, you know, that’s my own personal insecurity that I eventually got over. 

Overall, I did not cheat myself. I don’t feel like I cheated myself. Does this mean I won’t consider an agent in the future? No. I MIGHT, but I will still publish with AEC Stellar. You cannot tell me I cheated myself when you have no idea what the process was like for me, and that you have no idea what was in my contract, which I am not allowed to speak of. 


My next post is going to be an interview that Mariah Wilson did of Writers AMuse Me Publishing, as they are now accepting playwrights. 

What to Look Out For to Avoid Scams

What to Look Out For to Avoid Scams

70 years of Penguin design - the logo
70 years of Penguin design – the logo (Photo credit: rich_w)

Penguin and Authors Solutions are being sued for deceptive practices, including the withholding of royalties from writers, breaching contracts, establishing web brands that just lead back to Authors Solutions, among other deceptive practices that have brought about this lawsuit. Forbes wrote about it here.

This incident brings me to the topic of scams and how writers can best avoid them. I am with a partner publishing firm, wherein earnings are split among author and publisher. Your publisher isn’t some mysterious entity, but you actually work with your publisher to produce your book. Partnered firms are also the most flexible among publishing presses because you have control over your cover art (granted it is within reason, as in an accurate reflection of your book and as well as marketable) among other things involved in the process of creating a book. Heck, you can hire your own editor if you want to if you do not like the current press’s edits–within reason. It leverages existing self-publishing options, is much cheaper than self-publishing (you might not be spending anything at all if you choose not to), and you get marketing support to boot. There are no fees involved. I mention all this because someone was curious about partner publishing firms, and I want to talk about some important clauses in publishing contracts when you’re choosing presses that can help you avoid scams. These aren’t surefire ways, as publishers can still run off with your money, but when you sign the contract, and they sign it agreeing to what I’m about to list, you have every right to sue.

For one, when it comes to bigger houses, agents exist for the purpose of helping you negotiate contracts, such as making the copyright yours and being able to get out of a contract if you don’t like how things are going. But if you’re on your own, you’re going to want to know some major things to look out for in contracts that could raise red flags, especially with smaller presses or newer presses.

You deserve to know your amount of royalties, and especially with small presses, you should be receiving more. I would say 50% or more is fair, especially if you’re not getting an advance. Otherwise, take your stuff elsewhere.

You’ll want your copyright, especially if your book goes out of print or whatever that way you can self-publish it and still sell it. This is a big problem among larger publishing houses because oftentimes you give up your copyright, your book risks going out of print, and then once that happens, you can never do anything with that book ever again. Just because a book doesn’t sell now doesn’t mean it won’t sell later, so you deserve your copyright.

Look out for no competition clauses. Some publishers do not want you publishing with other houses because they consider it competing against your own book. Negotiate those or get out.

You should be able to opt out of your contract should you decide that you don’t like how things are going.  If this isn’t an option, either negotiate or get out. It is your book, your sweat, blood, and tears, and so you shouldn’t immediately jump on the first house, agent, whatever, that decides to take you on. You need to read your contract carefully, ask questions, negotiate, and then decide from there.

It is my opinion that no one should use a vanity press. That can save you a lot of grief that people constantly experience going with a vanity press. If you’re going to self-publish, do it yourself. Plus, vanity presses often employ editors who work like they’re in a factory line, so it becomes about quantity instead of quality. And you end up spending more than anyone should have to.

It’s a shame that such a well-known publishing establishment bought out a vanity press that has always been known for scams, but this becomes one of those buyer beware situations. So the above points are just some things to look out for in your own contracts.