Saturday, June 30, 2012

“Should I pay a fee to have my work published?”


“Have you heard of Tate Publishing? Do you think they are a reputable publisher? I submitted a children's book series and they said they wanted to publish it and sent out a contract. I am just worried because I have seen things on the internet saying that they aren't reputable and I am worried about risking the $4000 they ask for as a retainer fee. They said the $4000 is refundable once 1000 copies sell.”
--Anonymous

Never pay a fee to a publisher—or anyone—to publish your work.

Unfortunately, there are many companies and services and “publishers” out there that prey on unpublished authors and are merely out to make a profit. They will entice authors to publish in all sorts of ways. Sometimes they will request an upfront free; sometimes they will claim they have no fees, yet later present you with hidden fees, such as “editorial” or “reading” fees; sometimes they will claim they have no fees whatsoever, yet request you buy a hundred copies of your work at a high price; sometimes they will pretend to be running a contest or competition, and request an entry fee for that contest. Later, they will claim you are a winner, and request you buy multiple copies of your published book. Legitimate publishers and literary agents will never charge any upfront fees.

I always advise authors to never pay any upfront fees to publishers, reading or editorial services, or literary agents who charge them. This is especially true in this new day and age, where authors who wish to self-publish can easily use print on demand (POD) services like CreateSpace or Lightning Source. POD services are not masking themselves as publishers. They let you know upfront that they are just printing and distribution services. With POD services, you will pay a small, one-time setup fee, and then have control of your title’s pricing and receive royalties from the first copy sold. This is not to say I advocate every author go the POD route—but rather that if you wish to self-publish, this is a much better route than paying some “publisher” an exorbitant fee upfront.

Keep in mind, too, that most authors going the self-publishing route tend to earn more money on sales from ebooks than from their paperback POD editions. In many cases, the income earned from paperback sales can be just 10 or 20% of what is earned on the ebook sales--especially in popular genres like commercial fiction. And with ebooks, there are no setup fees, especially if you can design your own jacket and convert your own file. Thus, depending on your genre, it may end up costing less time and money to focus on your ebook edition instead of the POD.

27 comments:

  1. You mention designing your own "jacket" (I presume you refer to a cover) for an e-book. I've heard numerous authors, both traditionally published and self-pubbed via e-books, advocate hiring a professional editor and cover designer. Does this mean you have a different opinion?

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  2. This is a great post. I was curious about reading it because I'm an agented fiction author but I own a subsidy press which is for my non-fiction training books as well as books I design/print for clients. Most of those people are speakers who have an established platform but who don't want to learn all the ins and outs of publishing. I'm very clear up front that I help them self-publish with high quality stuff, but I don't charge the crazy fees other places. I started it for the exact reason you cite here. People paying THOUSANDS of dollars and then have no control over their work.

    Thank you for this post and for being clear and direct. It breaks my heart that so many people who genuinely are trying to get a story out are being so taken advantage of. And thank you for recognizing POD as a legitimate way for people who have a niche market or need low volume to publish.

    Tiff

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  3. This is a wonderful blog and a super post. I read a few of the earlier posts and its a blessing for a writer like me who is based in India and has only the medium of the Internet to search for Literary Agents. I am glad I came across your blog via a blog I visit frequently (Literary Rambles).

    Rachna Chhabria

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  4. Hello Noah, I'm a grammar freak and I am updating a post I wrote about your book, "A Dash of Style." Please let me know if the use of the photo is not OK. I'd like to give a photo credit. I hope you will read the post and find it amusing. Thanks for being there.
    http://barbarafalconernewhall.com/2009/08/14/the-writing-room-ah-the-colon-that-most-majestic-of-punctuation-marks/

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  5. This is good advice, provided you want to win a traditional publishing contract, after you win the right to pay for an agent's services. Even the publishing services companies such as Greenleaf LLC -- which charge up to $20,000 for a POD-plus-ebook release, then take 30 percent of net revenues -- heck, even they are vetting fiction authors. In a tough environment where such a company says they reject 97 percent of fiction submissions, and then collects 20 grand to put out a POD book for retail sale plus sets up some blogger and NetGalley views, getting an agent who does real publishing deals looks like a sweepstakes win in comparison.

    I'm not making a case for paying a publisher. I think "publishing services company" is a better word for a company like Greenleaf. But as an author, I think you're going to have to invest in your career at some point: hired publicist, substantive editorial reading, maybe outside proofing before you get ready to send your book out to agents and editors. It's really competitive out there, especially in fiction for a new author. But yes, it's giving away a percentage of your royalties without having a publisher's sales force selling your book -- that's a line I'd draw in the sand. An agent's 15 percent is taken against an advance, after all, that loan you get against royalties. In contrast, that $20,000 you're parting with at a Greenleaf would be the agent's share of a $140,000 advance. That's a very nice deal.

    However, I've come to believe that it's rarely free, even with talent and drive, to win your way into print. How much you choose to pay might be a better question than saying that zero is the correct amount. A good services company won't portray themselves as a publisher. The sales force, and a commitment to print books before sales begin, is what makes a company into a publisher.

    There's no easy way here. It helps if you love being a writer. There's plenty of time you'll need to spend doing that, before you become an author who's published.

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  6. Dear Mr. Lukeman,
    I've read three of your books and you've been an amazing inspiration. Thank you for all your work in adding to the writing community. I have a question - actually more of a worry. I was recently signed on by a new literary agent in a small agency. I was so excited to have landed an agent after a year of sending out over thirty queries that I signed the contract (after showing it to two lawyer friends who thought it was a standard contract). The agent is new, but she has over twenty years editorial experience in publishing and I know that she's in "acquire new clients" mode at the moment. But I've heard nothing from her since I signed the contract three weeks ago and she said she'd read my manuscript asap and help me polish it a bit more (minor changes) to get it ready for submissions. I sent her a friendly email ten days ago and no response. I know she's busy and I'm totally not the annoying type. I'm patient. But I'm also worried that I may have been hasty in signing a contract with someone who was abrupt on our phone chat (only gave me fifteen minutes) and didn't respond to my email. Should I be worried? Thanks so much. As always, your advice and guidance is greatly appreciated.

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  7. Mr Lukeman,
    My husband has written a wonderful children's book and a book of poetry. He also has a great start to another book about the articles he used to write for The Van Buren county democrat newspaper.
    My husband is bound to a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy that he has had from birth. He can not write by hand but instead does everything by typing. His work is inspiring. He also writes songs that are amazing.

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  8. Mr. Lukeman, A small but seemingly genuine publisher has accepted my mss with 100 poems which I have on a website with a large subscription list. The publisher wants the whole payment to commence. I thought payments were made in stages, proof reading, editing, printing etc. I feel the sum is reasonable 1K but now read that one should not pay all upfront. I wonder if you could kindly guide me on this. I am not really interested in making a lot of money but do want a book that is well advertised which is part of their package.

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  9. What are some good publishers that we can use? I have recently written a book and received an offer from Tate Publishing but turned it down due to their contract. So now I'm off to looking for another publisher. Any suggestions?

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  10. The original question is innocent in comparison to what the stark, disturbing reality is regarding Tate Publishing. As an author who signed on with them recently, I am just now reaping the blows from being taken by a company that does indeed prey on unsuspecting writers wishing to see their work published. I would advise anyone to simply search on Google regarding Tate and their practices. Find those submissions that were written by those who know what is really going on, not by the flood of misrepresentation that Tate has cluttered the internet with in order to boost sales. The tragedy of their layoffs and the remarks by the president are (http://journalrecord.com/2012/05/31/trouble-at-tate-publishing-company-fires-25-as-outsourcing-rumors-fly-general-news/) are disturbing to say the least. They are indeed a vanity publishing firm in sheep's clothing. Do not be fooled. Like a bad-credit used car dealership, they will say anything to get you thru the door and plunk down upfront money. When they at last give you the "car" 13 months later? you find that there is no engine, you have to push it yourself and no one fulfills any of their pre-production promises. Let me end by saying, they hide behind a "Christian" way of living ... Christians are always the first to pick up a stone.

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  11. I recently also had looked into Tate Publishing. Without even seeing my work they said that I would need to pay an up front fee of $1,200.00 for a literary agent. Not having the money to give them at the time I decided not to go with them, that and I was under the assumption that most of the time a finished manuscript would allow you an andvance even if you are a first time author, though you may not get as large of one if your not a best seller or had a few novels under your belt. They ended up calling me four times trying to get me to send my work in and though it was very tempting Im glad to see I didnt make the mistake of doing it.

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  12. I have been working on several projects for many years now. With several setbacks, including the loss of my computer, the death of my Mother and my own cancer diagnosis, I find myself easily distracted, even defeated. I've had to start from scratch on two major projects due to the loss of the computer they were saved on. I was wondering if you had any advice on surroundings or atmospheres that can boost one's 'muse'. I write fantasy/fiction. My brother, who is my biggest critic and supporter, tells me that I seriously need to submit the material I do have to see if a Publisher will bite. This all sounds well and good, unfortunately I've gotten myself into a rut of 'side stories', and I believe this is due to being so distracted. Any advice you may have regarding this would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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  13. I have completed my (memoir) manuscript and submitted it to Tate. I was offered a contract and had it revised by a lawyer. When I talked to someone in aquisitions about the revisions they were not willing to negotiate any changes including the $3990.00 for marketing because I am a new author and they don't know how my book will sell. When they said that to me it threw me through a loop because at first they said I had a great and powerful story. ( I grew up in childrens homes and foster homes for 14yrs never having a family of my own)I guess my question is "Where do I go from here?" I don't mind paying for services when I get paid but I don't have money to put up front to get the book going. This is my first book (I am starting my second book about what it was like for me once I was out of the system) and I'm not sure what the best avenue is for a first time author. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Just read your comment so you have probably already moved on. I am also a first time author with a wonderful book (many great reviews) but we are at a disadvantage. You can query book agents in your gene, but it is hard to obtain them and they are a must for traditional publishing. The alternative is self publishing and that road is filled with traps. Several of these companies, in fact, are owned by the same company and utilize the same practice. Most of them really are in business to sell their services not to sale your book. Is difficult to recoup your costs because you don't get the marketing support required to reach the buyers. I am now talking to Tate, but have bot made a decision because I am researching the complaints, etc. Lot's of luck

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  14. I have written 15 books and have five out on the internet as e-books. Copyright them yourself. This will save you money. Then submit them as e-books for awhile. If you decide you want to distribute printed copies then go with a publisher you feel comfortable with. For more info you can contact me at: actc252525@yahoo.com

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    1. I have a couple more books I'm about to start on. what advice do u have?

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  15. I, in fact, chose Tate as my publisher and also paid the retainer and so far, they are doing all that they said that they would. The release date for my book, "Suspicious Behavior" is 11-12-13. They are still also selling through Tate's website. I have to say that I am pleased with the service that I'm getting out oTate and would recommend them to anyone who's just starting.

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    1. Hi, did they ask you to pay anything?

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    2. Yes they did ask me to pay 150 Dollars for admin fees. AuthorHouse Publisher

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  16. I am with Tate also and I feel they are with me also; I have a team behind me. I call my market rep for any questions and help, and he is there. I think no matter the publisher, any new unknown author must work hard to promote books. And the publicist media alerts they send for my book signings has gotten me on my areas local news twice.

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  17. The problem with literary agents and publishers is they now look for well established authors. No one wants to take a risk anymore on an unknown. I recently wrote a novel and tried to get a literary agent to represent. 90% of them wanted to know if I had previous published works. Correct me if I'm wrong but if I had previously published works why in the world would I be looking for a literary agent? Wouldn't I have one already? I have found in this field especially with literary agents themselves they want to do little to no work. They want to represent authors who have already established themselves and that these authors are shopping for a new agent. They are actually the ones who have created a countless number of self publishers because an unknown can't get representation anymore. Publisher's like Tate publishing is quite different from a self publishers. First off Tate publishing puts up 26k of their own money if they choose your work. The fee they ask for is to pay for the promotion of the book. They do this for one reason, they are a small company. Everything from print to cover of your book is done in the same place, because of this they can't take the influx of submissions that your traditional publisher like Random House could take. They want a smaller amount of submissions and one way of doing that is by charging a fee, and that is why if you sell a thousand copies they refund you your 4k

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  18. Mr. NOAH LUKEMAN'
    Very impressive!
    Can you please provide me your email address.
    Thanks!
    Dr. Amrit Lal
    Washington State
    USA

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    1. Hi Dr Amrit Lal, Authorhouse publisher requested me to pay 150Dollars before they move on with my manuscripts, is that fair?

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  19. I've been approached by Rocket Science Productions who expressed a lot of interests to publish my novels that have received a lot of notice in the ebook site world. However when they sent over the information for me to go over, they stated the following:

    " The world has changed a bit in the near 2-1/2 years since we met, and our prices have gone up to pay those professionals and experts who will lend their expertise to your book. However, because I like you very much and I believe you are going to become a great young author, I am going to discount your costs.

    The Phase One cost today is $595.00 and includes a whole lot of work by individuals to register your book with the Federal Government (to protect your copyright), your ISBN, and all the registrations required for selling your book in every place where books are sold. I can discount this cost to $550.00. This fee must be paid upfront in completely when you send the MOU.

    Phase Two for novels now (which includes editing and art direction) is $1,975.00, but I will discount you to $1800.00. Instead of requiring 60% upfront, you can send 50% upfront and the rest can be paid over 6 or 12 months with no interest.

    Phase Three is still variable...every book is different in cost, but generally novels can range in cost from $4 to $10 depending on size and number of pages and cover design materials. We'll know more about this as we get closer. Whatever cost this is, you still need to send 60% upfront and the rest can be added to your monthly payments over 6 or 12 months.

    Ebooks are $395.00 to convert to the dozens of different algorithms necessary to sell it on the many platforms. This is a one-time fee. "

    Is this legit? I mean I would love to have my novels published this year, and so far this is the only company that has gotten back to me that could put my novels in bookstores. Any advice?

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  20. Hey Mr. Lukeman, I hope you can offer some advice, experience, suggestions and knowledge about publishing a book for me. I tried to self publish my first book but it was very costly. I recently finished my second book and was looking for a publisher. I was contacted by and chatted with Page Publishing in NCY. When I described my book to the guy and told him everything is done, illustrations, type, cover he said to send the file to the submissions link for review (this was Friday), I got a call today saying they loved the illustrations and the story and that it would do very well and they want to take it to the next level. So I get the contract and they want $795 initial up-front payment and (10!!!) monthly payments of $295 for a whopping total of $3745 for them to publish my completed book. I have everything ready for publishing and they want to publish my book but it's costing me this much! I had several people tell me I shouldn't have to pay up front fees. Are there publishers out there who will accept new artists and publish a first time illustrator? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.


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  21. I haven't published yet, but this is very helpful. I wouldn't want to be sucked into stuff like that. I know that there are some good publishers out there somewhere. http://www.peanutbutterpublishing.com/services.html

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    1. HI there this is a minefield... I have been told by a publisher my short stories are very good and should publish asap
      they require a one off payment only. what should I do? emick523@yahoo.co.uk England

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