Red Flags in Publishing

When I signed a book contract about two and a half years ago, I thought, and rightly so, that I had stepped into the glamourous lights of publishing. Like an actress in New York or a movie star in Hollywood, my day had finally come to put my star in the Walk of Fame. Now true, I had signed with a small publisher, but the benefits of the contract made it financially better than any of the big three houses.

All of the excitement, the glory, and the anticipation were to come crashing down, however, when the red flags of impending doom surfaced.

First, the editor-in-chief who had been the original person to like and accept my manuscript left the house. Now, although this is not all that uncommon, the reason behind the departure revolved around some not-so-nice interpersonal reasons at the press.

Secondly, not all editors are created equal. Assigned to a woman who provided no plan of action and, worse yet, no means of contact, caused weeks to whittle by with no communication and no forward movement on the book.

After the manuscript was edited, which basically became a line edit rather than a content one, I reassured myself that just maybe the manuscript needed no more major revisions.

Every time I would ask where the manuscript stood in terms of publication dates, I was given red flag number four:  “We want to put out the best work possible for our authors and will not go to publication until everything is the best it can be.” Although not sure exactly what this meant, I heard the laments over and over for months.

With my patience waning and finding myself two years into the contract, I asked to be given a date. Red flag number five came as a major surprise:  the book would be on Amazon in two weeks, but only if I signed a written agreement to pass on any final proofs of the book. As a side note, I learned that this is something never to do. No matter how perfect the manuscript might appear in its final revision, there is always the possibility of spacing errors, chapter and page heading errors, etc. at the last minute. Pdf copies should always be proofed and more than once!

From there, red flags flew wildly. The rush to get cover art for the book became nothing merely than a clipart. Oh, and the photos I had in my book would have to be removed as there was not time to get copyright authorization.

The staff who had originally been respectful turned from Jekyll to Hyde. Suddenly the publication of my book became the press’s rush to get the book out in their determined time frame of two weeks! I became the source of the stress and pressure in the hurriedness to publish. But, I might add, I never asked for the this deadline.

One of my published writer friends mentioned getting previews on the book before the book went “live” on Amazon. In less than two weeks, who could I possibly expect to read the pdf of my book and write a review? No one.

Of course with this being my debut novel, I had no idea what pre-readers even were.

One morning, a few days before I was to be a published novelist, an email popped in my box, saying that due to my lack of faith in the press, they were terminating my contract.

Almost two and a half years later, many red flags along the way, and I’m finally happy to say my mystery novel will be coming out next month…thanks to self-publishing.

Think it’s almost time to polish my star!

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  • delphine boswell Delphine Boswell is a published writer of fiction who writes suspense, mystery, psychological horror, and dystopian stories. Her short stories have been published in numerous anthologies, and she has written several novels to date.
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