Authors: Biting the Hand that Feeds You

I’m new to being a published author. My first published work has been available through an independent publisher for less than year.  I’m really not qualified to give advice to budding authors but I’m going to anyway.

Anyone who wants to get paid for publishing what they write will learn this very quickly anyway, but for those would be authors that haven’t published anything yet let this serve as a warning. Are you ready? Being an author is a business. That’s right; if you’re being paid for a product that you’ve produced, you’re engaging in business. If you find a publisher you will have to sign a contract and abide by its terms. You’ll have to work with an editor paid for and assigned by your publisher. And, if your signed with an independent publisher, you’ll have to do the lion’s share of promotion for your book yourself.  You’ll have to keep records of your royalty payments for tax purposes. All of that will have to be done while researching and writing your next book because one published work does not make a literary career. Writing is and art. Being an author is a business.

As I’ve prowled through the multitude of internet sites catering to independent authors something surprised me. There were authors that were publically trashing their own publishers; almost literally biting the hand that fed them. Being an author is a business and that makes the author a small business owner because he owns his own brand (his name as related to his published works). His publisher is a partner in that business. This means a certain amount of decorum and professionalism is required. So, for anyone who is even newer to being a published author that I am; I say this: be professional. If you have an issue with your publisher work it privately; not on message boards or on twitter. Trashing one publisher online will not endear you to other publishers. They are professionals and they expect to work with people who act in a dignified, professional manner.

You, the published author, may not actually be an author as your sole profession, but your relationship with your publisher has to be conducted as one professional working with another. When a publisher takes on an author, they are investing time and money in that author; even if you publisher doesn’t pay advances. Editors don’t generally work for free, and neither do cover artists or proofreaders; your publisher pays them, or at least has people who volunteer to invest their time, effort and skill to make your work ready to publish. Public rants about how badly your publisher has treated you are no way to repay that investment. And, make no mistake, other potential publishers are seeing those eloquently vitriolic posts too. Is it reasonable to think that they’ll want to publish you if the know you might turn on them should they displease you? Be careful what you say and how you say it. An independent author is indeed a small business owner. That means reputation is everything. Think about your reputation before you attack your business partner.