As much as I’d like to paint a rosy picture of author publishers relationships, the truth is that sometimes the relationship is rocky, sometimes it can become toxic, and sometimes it works well. At Immanion Press, we do our best to work with our authors, especially because we are authors ourselves, but occasionally the relationship hasn’t worked out. What I share below are some tips that can be useful in navigating the relationship between author and publisher. These tips can help both parties work through a conflict, however it’s also important to recognize that some conflicts can’t be worked through no matter what is done on the part of either party.
1. Know your contract. Both the publisher and author should know the contract. When the author first gets a contract, and you aren’t sure what some of the wording means, you can ask the publisher, but I also recommend checking with an intellectual properties lawyer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get clarification. Don’t sign a contract until you are satisfied. On the publisher end, it pays to be transparent about royalties both for print and e-books and its important to explain what the publisher is responsible for, and what they will do to help the author. At the same time, the author also needs to understand that just writing the book isn’t enough.
2. Get clear on marketing expectations. Your contract typically covers royalties, rights, distribution etc. What it usually doesn’t touch on is the marketing. Both publishers and authors need to be clear on what marketing will be done and who is responsible for the marketing. Some publishers will have publicists who help the author with the marketing, while some publishers, like Immanion Press doesn’t have that. In our case, we’ve chosen to focus on training our authors on how to market their books (This is a relatively recent addition to our services). Authors do need to understand that lot of the marketing needs to be done by them. Marketing involves promoting the book, but also developing relationships with your community. Marketing can be other things as well.
3. Miscommunication can happen, but don’t leap to assumptions. In any relationship mis-communication can arise, but when it does, its important to take the time to discover both sides of the conversation. Both publisher and author are capable of leaping to assumptions. When that occurs it can create a lot of bad feelings. The best thing to do is state each side’s position and then see what can be done to address the concerns of both sides. Ideally you’ll work the situation out, but to do that it is important to own your responsibility.
4. Be Transparent and Open with everything you do. It’s important that each side is transparent with the other. This means you answer questions, share what’s happening on each end and work together to make sure the book is successful. If and when conflict comes up, be transparent about what’s going and do your best not to take it personally. Remember all of you are trying to make the books successful.
5. Know when to cut your losses. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the relationship won’t work. If you are unhappy with your publisher, you can always leave and find another one or self-publish your work. And on the publishing end, if the book isn’t selling, the publisher can let the author go. The relationship you have, on either end, must be beneficial for both parties. If it isn’t, it is okay to acknowledge that and move on.
Conflicts happen in any relationship. These tips can help you work issues out with your publisher or author. What’s important is that both sides are clear about why they are in the relationship with each other and use that to determine what they will do if and when conflicts come up.