Now before I go into detail about the topic of this blog, I must first provide a disclaimer: I am not an attorney. The purpose of this blog to provide an opinion on a publishing practice that has publicly and privately destroyed some of the careers of promising authors. The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to conduct extensive research on a prospective publisher and contracts before signing over your rights. The purpose of this blog is to also, if nothing else encourage you to seek legal counsel when approached with a publishing deal.
Let's begin, shall we?
In 2016, I was approached by a young woman (via Facebook) whom I sparingly mingled with. She was upbeat, friendly, warm and she supported me with so much enthusiasm that I chose to welcome her as a friend with open arms. At the time, I think I had maybe six books under my belt and she confessed to me that she was a lover of the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres (which I write) despite her writing under the cover of urban/street fiction. She advertised that she was an editor and being that I was tired of editing my books myself, I paid her for her services. During the interim of her handing me the completed work, she offered me the opportunity to sign with her publishing company. At the time, I had already held a basic understanding of publishing from the perspective of a traditional publisher, so I was a bit leery of her. However, I actually liked her as a person. At the time, I had next to no/few friends, felt very isolated with no real support system for me and my books and me and her simply clicked as friends, I went against my intuition and agreed.
Her contract was simple enough and held an exit clause that I agreed with and the chance to renew on a book by book basis rather than me agreeing to give her five to twenty books before I am actually released from the contract. Within two months of me signing, she had recruited five other authors and for the first time in my life I felt like I had a real support system, a team. We were going to take over the publishing industry with our books, become rich and famous and all of us would forever be business business partners and friends.
Well, that didn't happen. It was through her that I learned that Facebook supported dozens of authors/publishers that really turned out to be the equivalent of a large scale (and small scale) Ponzi scheme. Most of these "book cliques" are found in the urban/street fiction genre wherein you have the author/publisher (So and So (fill in the blank) Presents tends to be the common company name) who has several authors under his/her belt that spam Facebook all day long with book links. Feuds amongst authors from differing publishing companies were a thing to the point where it felt like were back in the days of Death Row Records versus Bad Boys (my age is REALLY telling here lol). All in all, just a hot mess and a poor reflection of what was supposed to be a publishing community.
As far as my experience with this young woman, we ended up parting ways - not exactly amicably, but nonetheless I was free. Like most of the "Facebook Publishers" she held no real knowledge of the actual role of a publisher yet expected 50% of my scarce royalties. No advertisement was paid for. We were all just spamming my book links in every available Facebook reading/book promo group. There was promise of a paperback version of the book but no actual paperback. Editing was nonexistent. And in less than a year her publishing company fell apart and she went on to sign on under another "Facebook" publisher.
I say all of this to simply encourage you to BEWARE the "Facebook" publisher. This is an absolute warning and a declaration of war against any and every "publisher" only available on social media. These are "hustlers", people who figure out clever ways to beat Amazon's firewalls and cheat the system out of royalties. Outside of Amazon, they lack understanding and even purpose as it relates to the subject of publishing. These are people who couldn't tell you what is considered copyright infringement if you asked. These are people who do not even bother to go through the necessary means of registering your work through the Copyright Office. Your books will not appear in book stores and will only be available in e-book format. Your books will only be available on Amazon KDP and there is no consideration of worldwide exposure. There will be no business plan or strategy to sale your work other than encouraging you to just "build your platform". You will more than likely sign either a 40/60 contract or a 50/50 contract and in some cases, outside of deducting their percentage from your royalties, they will also take deduct monies to pay for your editing and book cover costs when those are things that a publisher will automatically pay for when you sign. It will become a competition amongst the "publishers" for who has the most authors signed. Your wants and needs as an author will ultimately go ignored and you will be expected to ride along with their false pretenses for the sake of social media. And should you decide that you no longer want to write for this particular publisher, understand that if you signed a contract where you are obligated to provide twelve books prior to your release OR that the contract automatically renews after so many books, you may be in for a fight.
This blog will be a multipart series and I do hope that as an aspiring author, you find this helpful. Please do your research before signing and understand that in traditional publishing, you cannot just send your manuscript directly to the publisher. You will have to have signed with a literary agent to get through those doors. Most if not all of these "Facebook" publishers sign any and everyone regardless of writing skill and you as an author, will be nothing more than a quick buck in a broke man's (or woman's) game.
Until next time...