Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I have always been blessed by the encouraging words I hear from writers about how helpful the market guide has been in their writing career. I thank God daily that He has given me a ministry that helps so many others fulfill the ministry He has given them. However, as I'm sure most of you know, there is always bound to be some criticism that works its way in along with the praise.

Last week I friend forwarded me a scathing post about the guide he had read on a writer's bulletin board somewhere on the net. I don't know where or who wrote it. I certainly hope they were ethical enough to sign it. I don't react to criticism any better than the next person, but as I thought about what the woman said, I realized her words carried an important message--and I hope she has figured that out by now. I won't repeat her post here, but will share the lessons I hope she will come to understand.

The basis of the complaint was that she had submitted to a publisher listed in the market guide that turned out to be a scam. (Of course I didn't realize that when I added them at the last minute last year--and had already dropped them from the 2009 edition.) As a result she says she lost thousands of dollars in her dealings with them. She was blaming me for not checking out this publisher more closely--and, of course, she was right. She went on to tell the readers that the market guide could not be trusted, that people shouldn't buy it, and if they used it they would have to check out every book publisher themselves before submitting to them.

How right she was about checking out the publishers. I do my best to list only reputable publishers, but with 1,200 listings in the guide it's not always possible to do an indepth search on each one. But the bottom line is that a writer always needs to check out a book publisher thoroughly before they sign a contract--and especially before they pay anyone to print their book.Picking a publisher is no different than choosing someone to put a new roof on your house or remoddel your kitchen--you always do a background check first. I hope you wouldn't just pick a company at random from the Yellow Pages. The writer was faulting me for not doing her homework before she sent this company the thousands of dollars. I couldn't be more sorry for her loss, but I suspect it was obvious to those who read her post that she failed to do what she should have done as well.

I suggest a writer start by checking with the Better Business Bureau in the city where the publisher is located, and then with the Predators & Editors site on the Internet (http://anotherealm.com/prededitors). However, you need to realize that P & E is not always that correct in their assesments. They tend to designate any subsidy publisher as "Not recommended" because they charge a fee. Of course I list those publishers in the subsidy section of the guide, or indicate in their listing if there are any fees involved. I was also a little shocked to see that they listed Zondervan--the most successful Christian publisher (50 books on the best-seller list in the last year)--as being "Not Recommended." However, I appreciate their attempt to be helpful to writers. So anyway that's my lesson for today. Unfortunately, even publishers who claim to be Christian cannot always be trusted.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Excellent post, Sally. Thanks.

I'd add on assumption, the same is true for agents.


Pam Halter said...

I agree with Rebecca. Always check out agents before you sign.

Thanks for words of wisdom, Sally. We all need to do our homework. It's our manuscript, so we must take responsibility.

Although it's sad when a company says they're "Christian" and they end up ripping you off.