I’m frequently asked about "XYZ Publisher", and whether they’re any good. Usually, I’ve never heard of them. Here are a few pointers to help you separate the wheat (good!) from the chaff (bad!).
- They mention no staff names on website, e.g. publishers, editors, etc. So you have no idea of the track record of the people concerned, or whether they’ve even worked at another publisher before.
- The books they’ve “published” are totally unknown to you.
- They solicit money from authors. However they put it – and some can sound very persuasive – this is a big “no no”.
- What can they actually do for you? EG will they promote the book – if so, how? Do they have a sales force? Can they get copies into the main retail chains? If digital, do they have an imprint that your book will nicely fit into? Do they have a strong marketing department that has achieved verifiable sales success with other comparable titles?
- Are they just trying to massage your ego, i.e. make you feel you're “got a publisher”, when in reality you’re just paying them for some ego-stroking.
- Case histories. I’ve seen some vanity publishers boasting about their other authors (none of whom I’ve ever heard of). Get in touch with one or two of them and ask them about their experience and their expectation. To me, many of their stories seem hopelessly naive, i.e. they would have been better off just paying Amazon to produce a few print-on-demand copies for their friends and family. That’s not what I understand by publishing.