My name is Joe Konrath, and I write fiction.
I've sold over a million books by self-publishing.
You probably were searching for "how to self-publish" or something similar and my blog came up.
This post for all newbie writers considering self-publishing. While it would be extremely helpful to you to take a week and read my entire blog to get a full understanding of how the publishing industry works, here's the most important thing you need to know:
DON'T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.
Now you can certainly pay people to help you publish. Freelancers such as editors, cover artists, book formatters, proofreaders, and so on.
But when you hire a freelancer to assist you, you keep your rights.
That's very important.
When you write something, you own the copyright. That's automatic, even if you don't register with the copyright office.
Copyright means exactly that; you have the right to copy it, to distribute it, to give it away, to sell it. You own those rights.
But if you pay someone to publish you, you GIVE THEM YOUR RIGHTS.
NEVER GIVE ANYONE YOUR RIGHTS.
There are many publishers, called vanity presses, that exist to prey on writers who don't know any better. These presses are sometimes part of big, recognizable publishers, and it's easy to be tricked into thinking that if you pay hundreds, or thousands, of dollars, you'll be published by a major press.
The truth is, major presses PAY THE AUTHOR, not the other way around.
I have sold books to major publishers, and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then I had to hire lawyers to get those books back so I could self-publish them. Because I make 10x as much money self-publishing as I did by selling my rights to publishers.
If you are looking to get a publisher, do your research.
Check out David Gaughran, Writer Beware, and Preditors & Editors. They have a lot of information about publishers you should avoid.
Learn all you can about vanity presses. Don't get suckered in.
Ask questions. Seek answers. And DON'T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.
Now some Q&A.
Q: I saw an ad for a publisher. Are they legit?
A: Real publishers NEVER advertise. Anywhere. Ever. Not in magazines, or on Facebook, or in Google Ads. NEVER. If they advertise, avoid them.
Q: I saw a publisher at a writing conference and they have publishing packages that they sell.
A: Run away from them. Quickly.
Q: But they told me that self-publishing is hard and they'll do all the work.
A: And they will also KEEP YOUR RIGHTS. You can hire people to help you. Don't pay a publisher. Don't give your rights away.
Q: I have questions about a publisher.
A: Check out the three websites I listed above and search for that publisher.
Q: But if I pay this publisher, they promise to get me reviews and get my book into Ingram and...
A: DON'T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.
Q: Why not? What's the big deal?
A: First, they'll take your money. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Then they'll keep your rights, so if your book does become successful, they control it, probably forever.
I know a lot of rich self-pubbed authors. Not one of them paid to be published.
Q: But self-publishing seems so hard. There's so much to learn. I'd rather pay someone and be done with it.
A: Would you also say, "Investing seems so hard. There's so much to learn. I'd rather pay someone and be done with it."?
This is your money, your hard work, and probably also your dream and your passion. You owe it to yourself to do some work and learn the industry functions.
Q: I got this brochure in the mail...
A: Real publishers don't have brochures. They don't mail out anything to authors.
Q: I got this email...
A: Real publishers don't email authors.
Q: But they sent me a contract...
A: If you still aren't convinced that the contract is bad, have a lawyer look at it. One I highly recommend is David Vandagriff. If you're willing to pay money to a publisher, you should also be willing to have an attorney who knows publishing take a look at your contract. It will be the best money you ever spent, I promise.
Q: I'm confused. I have more questions.
A: Head on over to KBoards and introduce yourself. There are writers there who will help you.
Q: Why do you care?
A: You've probably heard that this is the best time in history to be a writer. That is correct. For the first time ever, it is possible to reach readers without having to go through gatekeepers such as agents and publishers.
But there is NEVER an easy path to success. If something sounds to good to be true, it is.
I began this blog in 2005 for newbie authors. It explains all about how publishing works. It's a public service I provide. If you're serious about publishing, take a few days and read through all of my entries. You'll get the equivalent of a Master's Degree in traditional publishing and self-publishing.
There have always been vanity presses, and unscrupulous predators who prey on eager, naive writers who have big dreams but no experience.
These companies will continue to exist only if writers remain uniformed about them.
Get informed. You owe it to yourself, your dreams, and your eventual writing career.
DON'T PAY ANYONE TO PUBLISH YOU.