Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What makes a publisher legit?

Not too long ago, I noticed a comment from someone that just didn’t seem correct. This person was saying that if a publisher was not listed in Writer’s Market, then they are not a legitimate publisher. They are just someone using online technology. To me, this did not seem to be an altogether accurate way to decide if a publishing company is legitimate or not.

In the past, when I was working so hard to get my first book published, I talked with A LOT of editors and publishers at publishing companies. Some of them were not listed in Writer’s Market, and when I asked why, some responses were that the folks working on the book rejected their application or just failed to include them for some reason or another.

At the same time, getting listed in Writer’s Market does not guarantee an author that he or she has found a reputable, legitimate publisher. The very first publisher I had a book published with (Northwest Publishing, Inc.) turned out to be a scammer. And guess where I found them? Writer’s Market!

Still, I was curious about this comment. It just didn’t seem accurate to me. So I emailed Angela Hoy at WritersWeekly (and Booklocker) about this to get her comment. This is what she had to say:

“Getting listed in Writer's Market is voluntary and some publishers choose not to complete their form because they don't want to keep adding to their slush pile (and/or because they only work with high-profile literary agents and they don't want to receive submissions directly from authors). Some publishers are simply too busy to complete the Writer’s Market questionnaire and others may not accept submissions at all, instead choosing to target potential authors directly for specialized titles.

There are also numerous smaller trade publishers that Writer’s Market may not know about, or that they may not have email info for. Just because a publisher is small, or is in a highly specialized niche, or simply chooses not to be listed does not mean they're not a ‘real’ publisher.

She is absolutely incorrect in her assumption.”

That makes sense. Thank you, Angela, for your feedback on my question.

Bottom line: Don’t use a book such as Writer’s Market to judge whether a publishing company is legit or not. Remember, Writer's Market is a listing of book publishers; it should never act as a guide on what publishers are legit or not. There are other factors to look for to tell if a publisher is legit, such as what their contract looks like, what their other authors are saying about them, if there are reports or warnings about them online and if their books are available in stores.

If you want to read some good pointers on how to tell if a publisher is legit, go to these sites:

Legit publishers for new authors

Finding Legitimate Publishers

Sussing Out Legitimate Publishers

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