I have found, in the business of epublishing, that both authors and publishers have been known to enter into their business relationship with expectations that might not be completely reasonable—or sometimes even feasible. In order to get an article as well-rounded as possible, from both the publisher and author side, I asked two authors to help me brainstorm for this article, and they gave me some incredible insight into all sides of the subject. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather one to give some food for thought on what may or may not be reasonable expectations.
Mandy M. Roth is a multi-published author and cover artist who’s worked with a variety of epublishers over the past five years. Jaci Burton is a multi-published, bestselling author who’s written multiple NY and epublishers.
What can you expect from your publisher?
• You can expect your publisher to adhere to the terms of the contract you signed: You can expect that the publisher will pay your royalties on time, accurately and without excuses, provide you with author copies if your contract allows for them, release your book within the time limits set forth in the contract, or otherwise meet whatever terms have been agreed to and signed by both parties.
• You can expect your publisher to represent the company professionally and courteously both publically and privately in communications with authors and customers.
• You can expect your publisher to promote, market and grow the company to the best of their ability: growing the publisher grows your business, too.
• You can expect your publisher to provide you with professional editorial advice to improve your product as well as professional cover art that is representative of your book, and production (formatting, binding—if print, etc.)
• You can expect your publisher to respond to your questions/concerns within a reasonable time frame: reasonable will mean different things for different people, but you must take into consideration the nature of your request (will it take research/time/thought to respond), the schedule of the person you’re contacting, the time of day and the time of week you’re emailing (do not expect an answer to a question you send at 5pm on a Friday to be answered before business hours on Monday), and any other factors into consideration (such as did the person receive your email at all?)
What can your publisher expect from you?
• The publisher can expect you to read your contract, obtain outside assistance in making sure you understand the terms of the contract because…
• The publisher can expect you to adhere to the terms of the contract you signed: meeting assigned deadlines, fulfilling option clauses if you signed them, etc.
• The publisher can expect you to deliver a product as finished and clean as possible: a publisher expects every book to go through both the editing and copy editing process, but they do not expect the author to deliver a product the author knows is sub-par, expecting that the editor/copy editor will “fix” it.
• The publisher can expect you to take each step of the process seriously, treating it as a business, and behave in a professional manner both within the company and while representing it in public (ie at booksignings)
• The publisher can expect you to work in collaboration with the editor and to reasonably consider all suggestions from both the content and copy editor towards polishing and revising the book.
• The publisher can expect you to understand that while they will work with you on cover art, they have ultimate authority over the cover art and will do what’s best in the interest of shelving, marketing and promotion.
• The publisher can expect you to put time and effort into promoting your book, to position the book to obtain the best possible exposure in the market.
What can you (or should you) not expect from your publisher?
• You should not expect that your publisher (or editor) will be your “BFF” or your “family”: You are entering into a business relationship with your publisher and editor and, while you can expect that you’ll have a friendly and courteous relationship with your peers, editor and/or publisher, you should not expect them to be your friend or your family.
• You should not expect that you are your publisher/editors only priority, author or job duty: remember, they are running a company and you want them to put equal time and effort into your book as they do anyone else’s, as well as equal time and effort into efficiently running and growing the company.
• You should not expect your publisher/editor to be available 24/7: Being online does not mean working, no one can be expected to work 12, 18, 24 hours a day. Cut your editor a break and be patient!
• You should not expect that your publisher will contract every book you write just because they contracted one, or expect that your publisher will contract a book without perhaps asking first for revisions, expansions, etc.: Whether you write stand-alone books or series books, a publisher has no obligation to contract future books from you, so it’s up to you to write the best, cleanest book and market/promote it well to increase the publisher’s interest in continuing to publish your work.
Expectations on both sides of the publishing equation should be fair and reasonable. I think that one of the main breakdowns in a publisher/author relationship comes when either party doesn’t have reasonable expectations for the other. And, more obviously, doesn’t meet the reasonable expectations of the other.
Copyright 2008 Angela James