Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Several articles appeared last week about well-known traditional publisher, Simon & Schuster, starting a self-publishing division. Called Archway Publishing, it’s actually run by Author Solutions, a vanity press in business for some time. As Victoria Strauss reports in WRITER BEWARE, despite the S&S name, it’s the same old game, milking the author. With prices starting at $2000 and “services” that can add up to as much as $25,000, Archway promises to do what Amazon can do almost for free.

S&S is only the most recent of big New York publishers starting a new line to capitalize on the Indie publishing revolution going on. Instead of opening their doors to all authors--not just those with agents--and offering advances and decent royalty rates for e-books, they start a company with a different name. This is apparently a ploy to fool newbie writers that, although they won’t be paid the same as titles self-published with Amazon, they have the prestige of a big name to make it seem legitimate.

I sincerely hope this won’t lure the unwary into wasting time and effort, only to end up with a contract that will hurt them in the long run. Because authors who have seen these contracts are warning writers not to fall for the scam.

Okay, I get it. Not every writer has the time, energy or desire to self-publish, but he/she needn’t feel that it’s an either-or world. There are plenty of small publishers--many having been in business more than a decade--who can do a fine job of producing your book, and won’t require the equivalent of giving up your first-born son to do it.

On my desk right now are two contracts, from two different publishers regarding two different books. True, they pay no advance, but the royalty rates are excellent, they offer a time-limited contract (for a few years, not the life of your copyright) and have none of the deal-breaker clauses authors and bloggers like Kristine Kathryn Rusch warn about.

The second contract had a Non-Compete clause, the first time I’ve ever seen one, although, of course I knew about them. I suggested a change to the wording in that paragraph to make it fair to both of us, but the publisher simply removed the entire clause. Any contract is negotiable. Ask for what you want. It really works.

Writer Beware
Kristine Kathryn Rusch


  1. Although I've indie-pubbed my previous work, I've signed up for ITW in New York next July in hopes of landing an agent. After reading the current news, I'm thinking of taking my WIP and crawling under the bed.

    1. Meb:
      Don't be discouraged. Small publishers have editors who will help, but do go to their website, find out how long they've been in business and even ask for a sample contract. You can also e-mail a couple of their authrs and ask if they enjoyed working with that publisher. Thanks for commenting and good luck.

  2. I agree, Phyllis. Unfortuantely, they're trying to make money. And authors will latch onto the idea the book is done through a Big 6 publisher, but in reality it isn't the same as a publisher selected and supported book in print. Honestly, if one more non-writer person asks me why I don't self-publish, I might scream! I'm tired of answering "Because, my dog can self-publish a book. It doesn't speak to quality." Good post! Sharon

    1. Sharon:
      I started writing before there was Amazon, and managed to get a few books published - not by the Big 6 but Kensington and Avalon - and now am self-publishing my backlist. I agree there's a lot of self-published junk out there, but small publishers have editors who are pretty good. They don't take your money and they want your book to have quality as much as you do. Readers don't care who published a book they like. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I couldn't agree more. When I self published my first novel, I set up my own company, WEB Press. Bought my own books through a printer (no need to do this step since you can order any number of copies at a decent price from Createspace) and did the rest including making my own covers. I used Createspace and Amazon. Having complete artistic control only cost me time. I did have to order a copy of my own book from Createspace (at a discount). Now I think you can approve the "proof" without buying a copy, although I wouldn't recommend it. Ebook only is free.

    If you want to spend money on something worthwhile, hire a renoun editor to work over your manuscript. Maybe ($2000 to $3000). I'm thinking about Consulting Editors Alliance based in NYC each member has at least 15 years NY publishing experience. They not only line edit, they comment on concepts and act just like a publisher's editor would if they had your ms.


    1. Bob:
      As I said above, small publishers have editors too, and, since they don't charge the author a penny and hope to make money for themselves, are just as interested in producing a good book as you are. I'd go that route before paying $3000 to an editor. But then I have a background in editing and was a proofreader for a major magazine. Thanks for sharing and good luck.

  4. I've been self published since Feb. of this year. I have two books out and am able to support myself with them.I know I am very lucky to do so. I write Romantic Thrillers. I belong to an Indie group where many of the top sellers have turned down NY and believe me, NY has contacted them, not the other way around. They make far more money with Indie publishing, and some have even hit the NY Times and USA Bestsellers lists. I haven't paid more than $1500.00 to get either book up. There is a lot of competition out there now for editors, formatters, proofreaders and cover design artists that you no longer have to pay through the nose to get a professional product. I like being able to see my sales daily and be paid monthly. You do not get that through even a small publisher. I also do my own advertising, so I know what works and what doesn't. For me anyway. I've had many friends publish with small presses, but their books don't sell. There is no one behind them to push them along. I'm 100% behind self publishing.

    1. Morgan:
      You are indeed fortunate. My experience self-publishing has not been that good. But then i don't write romantic thrillers, which is a hot genre. What promotion do you do? Honestly, I think you must be a fantastic writer, so congratulations, and thanks for the comment.


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