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Navigating the Publishing Industry

You’ve written your manuscript. It’s done and ready for the fun part, turning the manuscript into a published book! Unfortunately, for some authors, this statement isn’t true. The indie publishing industry is filled with groups that can lead some down a slippery path with no cushion to absorb their fall. At 2Nimble, a huge part of our overall mission is to not only be different from the aforementioned service groups and publishers, but to educate authors on finding the warning signs and knowing when something isn’t quite right with their chosen publishing partner. So, let’s break this down.

“You’ll be a bestseller!”

All for the small total of: $That can’t be the right number of zeros.00…

“…And by the way, we’re keeping the rights to the book.” We see this a lot in the indie publishing industry. Companies market out to authors, guaranteeing success, only to take thousands of their dollars leaving their pockets empty and their dreams crushed.

The more unfortunate part of this type of publisher is that they keep the rights to your book after you’ve paid them for the services done. If an indie publisher wants to do this, it most likely means they will attempt to reproduce your book under other ISBNs, meaning your book doesn’t sell, but “their book” does, and therefore they get to keep all the royalties.

The fact of the matter is, there are no guarantees in this industry. Without the backing of either a top industry player like Hachette or Penguin, or the support of a high-quality, top-rated publicist like our partner Smith Publicity, it is extremely difficult to break into the market with a best seller right off the bat. Even if you work with one of these industry leaders, you’ll need to do much of the footwork yourself. That’s just how the industry works.

“Our marketing service will take your book to trade shows.”

  1. Unless this group is also your publisher and has a vested interest in your book, they’ll know nothing about it except for the information you’ve given them accompanying your submission. Typically, they’ll only ask you for a one-page sales sheet and if you think that they’re going to read your book, they aren’t. Marketing groups like this need volume to make money so they’ll surely have several shelves-worth of books in their arsenal.
  2. No brand consistency. Those shelves of books will not only be inconsistent in imprint, but in quality. Should you be the unlucky winner of a spot next to the book that looks like its title is Word Art from the 90’s and the cover image that looks like a bunch of pixels got together and ate it, it’s possible that your book will also be overlooked by a potential buyer.
  3. Should the marketing group have a good sales season, don’t think for a second that they’ll purchase more space to properly accommodate the extra books. Instead, your book will be marketed spine-side out. This makes it nearly impossible for your book to be noticed. A quality cover is the first impression of your book. A good cover will draw people in, a bad cover will draw them away, but a spine will just do nothing. You may be able to avoid this by getting some type of “premier placement” but that would mean spending a larger sum of money again, on a marketer that knows nothing about your book.

Understanding how marketing groups work is key in knowing that you’ve chosen an appropriate partner. Something that most authors don’t know is how affordable it can be to sell your book at an event like BookExpo. If you are local to an area where large book events are held, consider representing yourself. Booth space is typically affordable and there’s no better way to market than connecting with other writers and publishers.

“We’ll pay you a high percentage of your royalties.”

Take a look at any indie publishing group out there that offers pay-up-front services. One of the services such companies sell is setup and distribution of your title, 2Nimble included. However, there are some groups out there that insist on keeping a portion of your hard-earned royalties for themselves. You’ve paid them for your book production, you’ve paid them for any marketing or promotional services rendered, and now you must pay them again for what? 2Nimble is different in that regard. As we’ve mentioned before, every dollar that is earned on the sale of your book is passed right along to you. We don’t keep a penny.

Protect yourself and your intellectual property.

We are living in the age of the scam. It’s unfortunate to think of it that way but in this industry your objective is to find the most ideal outlet to sell your pride & joy and it’s imperative that you stay on the lookout for those that will mishandle it. So, follow these steps to ensure you make the right decision in picking a publishing partner.

  • First, throw the obvious scams out the window. If an indie publisher promises sales, if you don’t get to keep 100% of the royalties when you’ve paid for distribution, or if the company keeps the rights of the book, run away and don’t look back.
  • Do your research. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a group of publishers that looks promising, do a Google search. There are several watchdog groups out there exposing those publishers that are not even worth a phone call. Then, take a look at the Better Business Bureau. Are they listed? Do they have an “A” or “B” rating? Are they accredited? Do they have positive reviews?
  • Call or set an appointment with the publisher. Ensure they sound interested in your book and ask questions about their business and the experience of those on the team. Are they truly industry experts? Do they sound like they care about your success or are they just trying to make a sale? (We at 2Nimble pride ourselves on our personal approach and helping you with problems that may not even have to do with the services you purchase from us).
  • Determine their overall quality. Amazon has made this easy to do. Search for books with the “publisher” filter on. Type in the imprint of the publisher and take a look at as many covers and previews that you can stand. If the quality looks good and they’ve passed all of the above steps, you’ll be in good hands.

As a wise man (me) once said, “we are living in the age of the scam.” While this is true, think of the positives that this creates. Scammers have been brought to the forefront of consumers’ attention by the media, watchdog groups, non-profit organizations, and even governmental bodies, providing us with the most important tool of all. Knowledge of information. Imagine how quickly the snake oil salesman would have been outed if he were reviewed on the Better Business Bureau. “One Star. This does nothing.”

So, do your research, talk to the staff, check their quality. Three easy steps to successfully avoid the wrong turns as you navigate the labyrinth that is finding the right indie publisher.