The Publishing Journey: My Experience

Karen Lange

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About seven years ago I was offered a book contract from a small publisher. I wrote three how- to books for homeschool parents. It was an exciting time! You might think that the author’s life is glamorous, but alas, it is not. It’s full of hard work. But it’s an interesting journey, with many hills and valleys, and I count it as a great experience. I learned so much - about what to and what not to do.

About three years into the adventure, I made the hard decision to leave this publisher. I was one among many others who chose to end their relationship with this company. Long story. But unfortunately, the company was not treating the authors as well as they should have.

Looking back, I’m glad I took the leap to sign on as an author with this company. Although it didn’t end as well as I’d have liked, seeing the process from signing the contract to publication and promotion offered great lessons.

Reflecting on the experience, these three benefits and tips stand out:

New Friends

I had the privilege of meeting talented writers and creatives from around the globe. I interacted with many, interviewing them on my blog, and guest posting on their blogs too. These wonderful individuals are kind and smart, and a great testimony to the wonderful writing community. Best perk of all, we're still friends.

The Importance of a Good Contract

While I thought the contract I had was good, it did have items that I'd be more mindful of next time. It is crucial to be informed and ask questions. Don’t even hesitate, for the contract is meant to protect both parties. So, make sure it works for you. If there’s another publishing contract in my future, it'll be worth the investment to have my lawyer's input before signing on the dotted line.

Better Social Media Skills

While there’s always something to learn in the social media arena, I gained insight and helpful tips through the necessary book promotion activities. From advertising methods and time savers to scheduling social media posts and beyond, I garnered skills that have been a huge asset to my freelance writing career. They equipped me for future pursuits, and for that I am grateful.

In the big picture, my publishing adventure was but a blip on the radar. I'm grateful for what I've gained and learned. As I look ahead, both self-publishing and seeking a traditional publishing house are possibilities. That said, I have a few suggestions for anyone looking to self-publish or who may be seeking a book publisher. These tips can also apply to freelancers who write for websites, magazines, and other publications. They also may be of value to other creatives, such as web or graphic designers, virtual assistants, consultants, or any type of gig or freelance workers.

Heed All the Details, Legal and Otherwise

Make sure you’re clear on all the details. All. Of. Them. Review guidelines and other paperwork thoroughly. Consult colleagues and friends in your industry for advice and tips. Hire a lawyer familiar with publishing or any other applicable industry to review the contract and other paperwork. When in doubt, ask - the publisher and staff, the lawyer, etc. There are no stupid questions here. Not a single one. Better to be thorough now than to regret it later.

Do Your Homework

Talk to authors who’ve been published (past and present) through the company. Ask about their experience with royalties, payment terms, promotional requirements, response time and ease of communication with staff, etc.

For other industries, follow the same protocol. Always research the company, check with the local Chamber of Commerce. Consult reputable industry and social media platforms for comments or information that might assist your research.

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Research What This Company is Doing or Selling

If they publish books, read others published by the company. Is it quality material? What do the covers and formatting look like - are they polished and professional? For other industries, consider their products. Are they well done, nicely made, polished, and professional?

What types of reviews are consumers leaving for this company? If generally positive, this is a good indication that you might want to proceed. Bottom line, ask yourself, would you be proud to be associated with this firm? If yes, proceed with care and your wits about you. If no, skip it and move on. And remember, if the deal they’re offering you seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Double Check Their Reputation

From the Better Business Bureau to industry reports, magazines, and websites, research the company's history, status, and integrity. Do an online search for not only the company, but its owners and key staff members. Check for any complaints or lawsuits against them. If you dig far enough, you will find good, helpful info. Heed any red flags. Consider your findings, pros and cons, and weigh your options carefully before you commit.

While these tips aren't a guarantee for success, they can help prevent a difficult situation later. It’s worth the time and effort now, trust me! These experiences have great benefits and can reap wonderful results for you and others. But before embarking on a new adventure, make sure you cover all the angles. You’ll be glad you did.

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As a freelance writer, my mission is to write clear, interesting content that's engaging and informative. From home improvement and interior design to family and parenting topics, I offer tips, tricks, and info to help navigate this amazing journey called life. A grateful wife, mom, and grandma, I'm a big fan of dark chocolate, ice hockey, reading, and spending time with family. Connect with me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-lange-86148917/

Shelbyville, KY
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