Posted by Rita Lorraine

Be Sure to Follow Directions, Rita Writes History

Hi Everybody,

I’m flabbergasted. That’s the only word I can think of, but I am…flabbergasted, I mean. A friend who’s trying to break into the publishing world made the biggest mistake of all. Read on, and you’ll find out what I mean.

Okay, let me first say that I’m sharing this information to help others. I’m not trying to be mean or shine the light on my friend’s mistake, I just want to help.

Second…the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the most likely to be tarred and feathered if she finds out I printed this…ME!).

Here’s the scoop. A friend wrote a book, and wants to get it published. Since she didn’t know how to proceed, I directed her here to my website, and I searched for publishers for her, too. A few months of searching turned up what I thought was a wonderful publisher (which shall remain nameless), so I gave her the website and told her to read everything…everything, and follow directions.

Guess what? She didn’t. Follow directions, I mean. She called me and said the publisher was actually a vanity publisher, and wanted $6,000-$8,000 from her upfront to print her book. I was shocked, because I checked that publisher out myself. I just couldn’t figure out how I had missed something so earth-shattering as an upfront cost of $6k!

I called the publishing house, and it just so happened the publisher herself answered the phone (it’s a small press; it happens!). “Are you a trade publisher,” I demanded, “or are you a vanity publisher? I just want to know before I refer anymore writers to your site.”

To my surprise, the publisher was very nice, and quite patient, actually. “We’re a royalty publisher,” she said. “If a writer submits two sample chapters and a good marketing proposal, and if we like what we see, we take on the project without a dime of cost to the writer. The writer gets a 10% royalty.”

To make a long story short, I was shocked. Again. It seems this publishing company is on the up-and-up, but they—like every other publishing company out there—expect people to follow their guidelines. Their most important guideline is to FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. That means, if they say no phone calls, then doggone it, no phone calls! And if they say to submit two chapters, then submit two chapters. Don’t, under any circumstances, pick up the phone and call them to talk about the two chapters, or to ask them to explain what they do; just submit the two chapters.

A bit more discussion revealed that whomever my friend talked to when she made that illegal phone call, must have asked her how many books she thought she could sell. She admitted to me that she said she knew at least 250 or 300 people who might buy her book.

The rest, I suppose, is history.

The person on the other end quickly told her they would be glad to print books for her to sell to her friends and family, and then quoted a price of between $6,000-$8,000. My friend then deduced that this must be a vanity press, since they had the nerve to ask for money upfront.

CONCLUSION: This was not a vanity press, this was a business-savvy royalty publishing company that was not about to sink thousands into a book by an author who would be satisfied selling only a couple hundred books. But, ever thinking of the company’s welfare, the rep quickly offered to print a few hundred copies of the book for the author. At a fee, of course.

MY ADVICE: For Pete’s sake, follow directions! If my friend had just read the submission guidelines and done as asked instead of picking up the phone and calling the publisher, this misunderstanding would never have happened. Granted, her manuscript still might not have been accepted for publication, but at least it would have had a chance, because it would have been viewed by the editor/publisher and judged on it’s merits, not on a telephone conversation.


1. There is no shortcut to getting your book published, so quit looking for one.
2. Publishers are busy people. Don’t call them, unless you are instructed to do so.
3. No one’s going to change their rules and procedures for you.
4. Be business-savvy. Follow the rules.

Best wishes and happy writing,

Rita L.

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