If Your “Publisher” Wants Money, They Are A Printer, Not A Publisher
See also Rules One, Two, and Three as they are closely related to this Rule.
This Rule summarizes the previous three rather nicely.
Honestly, this is just common sense, and needs very little in the way of expansion. On the other hand, that has never stopped me from expansion anyway.
Look closely at your publisher. Do they want money to edit your story? Do they want you to pay for or provide cover art? Do they want to charge you a fee to read your story? Does your publisher charge you to have your story listed for sale in their catalog?
In other words, are you, as the writer, going to have to pay the publisher any money at all? What about paying for things that are a part of the publisher’s costs of doing business?
If so, you are not dealing with a publisher…you are dealing with a printer.
If you are dealing with a printer, that’s just fine as long as your goal is to be a printed writer. But let me give you a little tip here…save some money and go down to The UPS Store or maybe the FedEx/Kinko’s and just have them print your story. They can do a nice book-like layout and even put a cover on it (if you provide the art) and make you as many copies as you like.
Yes, it really is just that simple.
Here are seven things that are common to real publishers:
1 – They do not charge for editing.
2 – They do not charge for cover art.
3 – They do not charge to read your story.
4 – They do not charge to have your story in their catalog.
5 – They pay royalties.
6 – They pay an advance.
7 – After you are established—and if you’re any good at all—they will contact you (or your agent) asking for new stories. (In practice, this one may take a while to happen…you need to get established and that will take a variable amount of time.)
Again, if the operation you are dealing with doesn’t do all of these things, you are—at best—dealing with a printer.
At worst, you’re being conned.