What Questions To Ask a Book Publisher

Learn what questions to ask a book publisher before making this important decision.

If you are reading this blog, that means you are interested in indie publishing, and why this form of publishing is a viable option for so many authors today. Today we want to share what questions to ask a book publisher before committing to one and break down the information over several posts so you can learn why these questions are so important.

First – the top TEN questions you should ask a publisher before signing.

Before choosing a publishing house to publish your work for you, there are 10 questions you should ask each one of them to help you find the right one for you. Here is the list if the most important things you will want to learn.

  1. What credentials do your editors have?
  2. Do I own 100% of the rights to my work?
  3. What kinds of marketing services do you provide?
  4. What type of quality can I expect?
  5. eBooks: What e-Reader formats do you provide?
  6. Am I required to purchase my book in quantity from you?
  7. How much would it cost to purchase my own books?
  8. What are my distribution choices? Who fulfills the orders?
  9. May I see a copy of your standard contract? Is there a royalty split?
  10. What if I wanted to opt out of our publishing agreement? Can I get all relevant files?

Today, we will focus on the first question: What credentials do your editors have?

The SINGLE most important thing you should do—and I can’t stress this enough—is to find the right editorial team for you! And remember that one size does not fit all.

First, you should be able to meet your lead editor live (video chat or audio) and decide if they are the right one for you in terms of likeability, (your personalities should gel) and ensure you are both on the same page (no pun intended) in terms of what the goals are for your manuscript? Specific questions for them:

  1. Have they edited similar books in this genre and do they enjoy this subject matter? A big question to ask is to help you examine comparable tittle and ensure your manuscript matches up and how can they help you achieve that? A warning: There are many online publishers out there that do not let you meet the editor… I would steer clear of that.
  2. What kind of background do they have? (majored in English? How many years working as an editor? And for whom? Have they published work of their own? Are they students doing an internship? Some of the online publishers are known for using inexperienced editors. You need to be careful of this.
  3. What are the differences between developmental editing, copyediting and proofreading? Make sure you know the differences! In my 30+ years in this industry I have yet to meet a manuscript that didn’t require at least three rounds from draft manuscript form: one or two rounds of developmental editing and a copyediting round (preferably by another editor). It’s always best to have a fourth and final round of a light proofread and full design/typography check right before it goes to press. Trust me, these steps are necessary to ensure as flawless of a manuscript as possible.
  4. What level of editing will I get? And How many rounds? What will I pay per round? What should you pay per round? That runs the gamut and I have seen great editors who charge a very reasonable amount versus other decent ones who I think simply are off the chart expensive. So you’ll need to balance that out. Most charge by the word and others by the hour. I prefer by the word as it gives you a fixed amount that you will pay for the service.

I recommend you take notes as you talk with each publishing group so you can compare the answers later. Also be sure to highlight things you really liked and those things you did not for easy reference when you are making your final decision.

Come back soon for a discussion around the next question: Do I own 100% of the rights to my work?

My goal is to empower you to know what questions to ask a book publisher so you can have all of the information you need to confidently and happily make your choice to get your work of art out to the world!

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