1. Is the publisher selective in its choice of titles?
Traditional and quality publishers rarely ever publish more than
one hundred books a year. A publisher can rarely manage quality
services such as content editing, custom professional cover design,
book marketing, and book distribution support services for more than
this amount of titles a year.
If you read in a publisher’s press releases, Web site, or other
information that they have published thousands of books, then they are
not selective of what they publish and cannot support their authors
with quality services.
Publishers such as Author House, Publish America,
and iUniverse (these have only been existence a few years—since
print-on-demand availability) may give off the impression they are
selective, but their numbers prove otherwise.
Print-on-demand (POD) publishers such as these, who print
thousands of titles a year, skip this selective process and most
likely publish anything for which someone is willing to pay them,
either on the front end of the contract, or later on the back end with
fees, or with higher costs to order. They may advertise other elements
such as, ”We Pay You,” or ”Authors Keep All Book Rights,” to
They know that without professional-level publishing services, it
is highly unlikely that anyone would ever offer to buy such book
rights; since they do not have any standards for the books they
accept, they know that few would ever be considered for dramatic
rights or foreign rights sales. Printing mills like these do not have
book marketing departments to support authors’ promotional efforts,
and have business models that are pattered to profit whether any of
their titles succeed in the marketplace or not. In the ”We Pay
You” example, it is a token dollar—and the company makes money
from authors on the back end and cuts out all typical expenses in book
production on the front end, to make their business model profitable.
Newspaper, magazine, television, radio, and book reviewers—who
can ignite an explosion of interest and sales in a book—recognize
such publishers as mills and generally will not interview, review, or
publish articles about their titles. At American Book Publishing, we
review about the same number of submissions as these other publishers
do, but we accept the best ones at only fifty to eighty titles a year,
while these others publish our rejections.
2. Does the publisher assign an individual professional content
or developmental editor to you, as well as a separate copyeditor?
Even best-selling authors such as Stephen King acknowledge the
importance of working with a professional developmental or content
editor on their books, as well as a separate copyeditor. Many
self-publishers posing as traditional publishers, POD publishers, and
vanity and subsidy publishers now skip this critical step to save
expenses. Unfortunately, most of these publishers now merely use
a computer word processing spell-checker as a substitute.
Without the guidance of a professional content editor, authors
may miss opportunities to improve their manuscripts on a significant
level. For example, content editors make suggestions on and evaluate
areas such as character development, plot augmentation, and areas of
content that need further authentication, explanation, or expansion.
Professional editors read the manuscript repeatedly as changes occur
until they are completely satisfied with the final book content. Then
a professional copyeditor will read and correct it. Copyeditors
provide a third set of eyes to improve the manuscript and make
suggestions and corrections.
Editors and authors need to be in close communication over a
period of several months to accomplish this task. Editing quality
cannot be compromised; without it, your book does not have the
potential to become a successful, quality book. Besides increasing the
cost of publishing per book, it takes time to go through this
one-on-one process of professional editorial analysis, author
rewrites, and copyediting. If a prospective publisher is advertising
that their books are printed quickly (for example, in three to six
months), then you can be sure they are shortchanging their authors in
this process. Industry statistics indicate that traditional publishers
average eighteen months from submission to final product. American
Book Publishing has streamlined the process down to an average of nine
months, but it cannot be shortened significantly more and maintain
quality. Please read the comments of over a hundred of our authors
about the quality of our service and the relationship they enjoy with
their professional editors at
3. Does the publisher use a staff of professional graphic
designers who specialize in custom design specifically for various
genres to produce their covers?
Books are judged by their covers! When selecting a publisher, be
sure and take some time to analyze the covers of their book list. One
common trick today is for publishers with low standards for cover
design to use low-paid administrative staff and not hire professional
designers or artists. They merely have staff place various fonts on an
assortment of in-house stock images. Each cover made this way takes
only a few minutes to create. Such publishers rarely display their
covers in groups, where the covers would be easily comparable and
their look-alike appearance would be discovered.
Another trick is to show covers only as thumbnail-sized images so
that they cannot be seen well enough to distinguish what is on them or
whether or not they are high-quality! Be wary of any publisher
that will not show you at least the majority of their book covers in
one place and large enough to distinguish design elements and
differences among their covers. Be sure to note the design differences
that should exist between their various genres. Please take a few
minutes and compare their cover designs to those of American Book
4. Does your publisher have contracts directly with Ingram and
Baker & Taylor (but not through the POD printer Lightning Source)?
Lightning Source is a printer for POD publishing companies. Their
books are low-quality and produced on Xerox machines one at a time. If
the publisher is associated with that company to offer their books
through Ingram, then the publisher does not offer stores the option of
returning book stock. This is critical to getting the stores to stock
Many publishers today cannot or do not get contracts directly
with Ingram and Baker & Taylor, the world’s two largest book
distributors in the industry. These two companies provide the majority
of books to the bookstore chains, independent bookstores, and
libraries. Many publishers today do not do enough volume that Ingram
will approve a contract for them. Ingram has dropped thousands of
publishers in the last few years for this reason. American Book
Publishing has direct contracts with both and has never used Lightning
Source to produce a single book.
5. Does your publisher have a no-book-return policy?
Alternatively, do they charge their authors extra to allow book
returns? Stores generally will not be willing to stock your book if a
publisher has this policy. Returns are a huge expense for publishers
these days and many publishers have changed their return policy.
Bookstores are reluctant to stock books that they cannot return if
unsold. American Book Publishing does accept returns from stores
with no questions asked, and therefore they are willing to stock our
titles without this concern.
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