Five Questions to Ask Your Publisher

If you’re on track to have your book published, congratulations! This is a big step for your career as a writer. But before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask these questions so that you don’t end up getting taken for a ride. 

Is there a cost for publishing with you? 

You should not have to pay to publish your book. The publisher’s fees come from the sales of your book, so there should be no out-of-pocket fees unless they are planning on giving you 100 percent of the sales (which is highly unlikely). 

What formats will the book be released in? 

Nowadays common formats for reading are print books, eBooks, and audio books. You should be aware which ones will be used to release your book. 

What is your marketing plan? 

When you publish your book traditionally through a publisher, part of the deal is that they will do a good chunk of the marketing. Before you finalize your deal, be sure that you are aware of how much marketing they are promising, and that you are comfortable with it. In addition, knowing their marketing plan will help you ensure they stick to it after the deal goes through. 

How much say do I get in the cover? 

It is usually up to the publisher to make final decisions about how the cover of the book looks. Some publishers will give more power to the author, while others take full control. If you want to let them take control, that’s fine. But if you want a say in how the final product looks, you better make sure to negotiate that up front. 

When will the book be released? 

There are some key times of the year when books are released: With autumn leaves come new reads, then again just after New Years – especially if the book focuses on health and lifestyle. The last big release is just in time for summer, when publishers will release books that pair well with a poolside or warm sandy beaches. Find out when they’re planning to release your book, and consider if that timing makes sense to you. 

What is the pay and how will it be distributed? 

You will likely be entitled to an advance amount, and then you will subsequently receive royalties. Royalties should be about 10 per cent on the cover price of each book – not on the profits. This is an important distinction, as royalties based on profits are essentially non-existent. Be sure you understand fully how much money you are entitled to and how payments will be made. 

Final word

You may have been searching for a publishing deal for a long time. As an author, you have likely experienced a lot of rejection, and long hours trying to get your work noticed. However, don’t accept the deal just because it’s the first one that comes your way. Accept it because it is the right move for your work.

Looking for more on publishing?

Check out the Publishing section in our Writing Library for more Publishing Q&A.

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