Navigating Ebook Publishers: Part Two

Recently, the publisher I work for, Entranced Publishing, shut down. You can read the entire strange account of what happened on Writer Beware’s blog. I will summarize here: Entranced had a promising start with a mission statement to put out quality YA and Romance books. The staff was experienced, and we took our time launching and editing books. Unfortunately, through a series of mishaps, the press slowly went downhill.

As you can read in the post, many of these things can be attributed to our Executive Editor, the woman in charge of everything. She was the one who had access to financial accounts and vendors who gave her sales reports. Staff and authors were paid once, last summer, and haven’t been paid since.

My point in making this point is not to slander Ashley. I’m not interested in that. She knows what she did, and now dozens of other people do, too.

I posted a blog post called Navigating Ebook Publishers nearly two years ago, giving tips to authors on how to examine ebook publishers. And yet, I ended up working for one that would prove to be a short-lived juncture that left authors with orphaned books and staff with nothing to show for their hard work. What did I miss? What did the authors miss? Were there glaring signs that we were blind to? Were the authors just desperate for their work to be published?

No. Entranced was very promising when we first started out. We had a strong contract. We had a good staff that was organized well. But the person in charge failed everyone else who put their trust in her. She started strong, but after too many mistakes, she wasn’t interested in mending them and doing things right, or in stepping down and finding someone to actually take over. She persisted for months after it was clear things weren’t working, then she placed responsibility on “Bob” and shut the press down.

While I stand by my previous post, I’d also like to offer authors these extra tips:

Look for transparency.

It may seem rude or nosy, but you’re trusting these people with your hard work. Ask exactly who will be involved with the financial statements. See how many people will be in charge of the publisher’s account. Tell them you want to know what kind of accountability will be in place. Ask how often you’ll get statements. Some people aren’t going to feel comfortable asking this, but you can point to this exact situation and use it for your reasoning.

Wait.

If it’s a new press, you can always let things sit for a year. If there are problems, they’ll be exposed in time. They may be smoothed out or they may kill the publisher, as ours did. There is nothing wrong with not taking the risk on a new publisher.

Sometimes, you can do all the right things, and you still end up in a situation like this. Entranced authors weren’t desperate, and neither was the staff. Things like this happen.

I know we’re all ready to move on to bigger and better things. Hopefully our experiences can help other authors (and editors and cover artists and other staff members) avoid publishers who seem promising but are led by people who can’t follow through on those promises.

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