After 15 years of publishing an ezine for writers, and publishing more than 6,000 print and electronic books for authors, I’d like to say I’ve pretty much seen it all but, unfortunately, I know I haven’t. Occasionally, authors and writers make mistakes, BIG mistakes, that can result in getting blacklisted by a publication or book publisher, meaning that firm will not work with that individual on anything at all in the future, no matter what.
Here are some things you should be careful about when doing business with others:
DON’T GET UGLY WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO HELP YOU
A couple of weeks ago, a writer sent a query that was laden with errors, missing punctuation, and text abbreviations (“u” instead of you), etc. I kindly referred her to THIS ARTICLE. Included in that is advice about avoiding “cell phone abbreviations” and “missing punctuation” as well as advice to “study the market.” This writer clearly didn’t read the article because her response to my email was, “What do you publish?” I referred her to the article again, pointing out her additional error.
She was furious, and told me to stop contacting her. Of course, we weren’t going to hire her to write for us but I wanted to help her land future jobs. She refused to learn, which is sad.
Another writer sent me a simple question about the industry. I gave her an honest answer. She didn’t like it (even though the answer was gentle and true) and she shot the messenger, sending an angry email back to me full of exclamation points. Why even ask the question if you can’t handle the answer?
DON’T SEND A THREATENING EMAIL…TO THE WRONG COMPANY
An individual sent a scathing email to me, saying he was going to report me to his local media. I was flummoxed because I’d never heard of the guy. We’d never hired him to write for WritersWeekly, we’d never sold him anything, and we didn’t publish his books. Turns out he thought he was sending his email to Lulu (one of our competitors). Yes, he was another unhappy Lulu author. He apologized for sending his email to the wrong place.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT A CONTRACT YOU SIGNED A DECADE AGO
Another individual sent an email threatening legal action, accusing us of copyright infringement. I recognized his name. We’d published his book more than a decade ago, at his request. I sent him a copy of his contract, which he completed. He never responded.
RESEARCH AN ISSUE THOROUGHLY BEFORE SENDING FALSE ACCUSATIONS
This is an oldie but a goodie. An author who we published long ago thought the Amazon ranking number was actually the number of copies of a book that had sold. The number for her book was in the millions (it was a brand new book, and hadn’t sold any copies yet). She and her husband both launched a ridiculous email and phone message tirade, threatening to sue, ruin our reputations, etc. Despite our explanations that Amazon’s ranking means that many millions of books have sold more copies than hers, she refused to admit she was wrong. She kept up with the threats. Of course, we had no choice but to terminate her contract and then, of course, none of her books could be purchased by anyone.
DON’T TRY TO FORCE SOMEONE TO BREAK THE LAW
One author was furious after we refused to allow her to use trademarked and copyrighted items in her book, which would have put us at legal risk, too. To this day, nobody has published her book. Interesting enough, her own comments online about the situation were blatant admissions of violating federal copyright law so it wouldn’t be a surprise if nobody wants to work with her in the future.
DON’T BEG FOR DONATIONS
We have specific charities to which we donate. One author in particular said she would only publish with us if we agreed to give a specific amount of money to her charity. We don’t do business that way. Her demand felt like some weird type of blackmail so we declined to work with her on that or any future books.
DON’T ACCUSE A PUBLISHER OF BEING RACIST/SEXIST/HOMOPHOBIC JUST BECAUSE YOUR MANUSCRIPT IS REJECTED
While we’ve published numerous articles and books by authors of many different races, religions, etc. over the years, we have been accused of being anti-black, anti-white, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, and more. Authors who can’t recognize a rejection for what is really is (i.e. your article/book needs work!) should never assume the worst in the publisher, and should never, EVER send accusations of discrimination unless they have proof. One author even accused me of being a man-hater after I terminated his contract due to verbal (email actually) abuse by him. He clearly didn’t like the fact (and actually seemed surprised) that a woman wouldn’t let him treat her that way.
DON’T BLAME A PUBLISHER WHEN YOU RECEIVE SPAM…FROM A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COMPANY
One author received a scam spam email from what appeared to be Fedex. It was a common spam that almost everybody was receiving at that time, including us. The author actually accused me of selling his email address to Fedex! He was extremely rude. If he’d researched the spam email using Google, he’d have seen a warning on the Fedex website (https://www.fedex.com/us/update2.html) about the ongoing scam.
DON’T BLAME A PUBLISHER AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN FOR YOUR OWN COMPUTER’S ERROR
That same author was getting a warning each time he tried to download his files, but he could open our email attachments just fine. There was no problem with the files at all. It was a download error on his own system. I explained the situation to him yet, the very next time I sent him files, he sent the exact same accusation again, and was very nasty about it. I explained the problem to him yet again and he then AGAIN accused me a third time, almost as if he’d forgotten about our prior conversations. He was, quite frankly, a jerk. After that and the false Fedex spam accusation, I told him to have his future books published elsewhere. No amount of money is worth being repeatedly abused by the same person.
DON’T FALSELY ACCUSE AN EDITOR OR PUBLISHER OF ANYTHING AT ALL WITHOUT FIRST RESEARCHING THE ISSUE, AND OBTAINING PROOF. IF YOU DON’T HAVE PROOF, DON’T MAKE A FOOL OUT OF YOURSELF WITH A FALSE ACCUSATION.
Remember how your mother used to tell you not to accuse someone without proof? If your lunch money goes missing, don’t accuse someone because your accusation may be (and likely is) wrong. If you have a suspicion about something, the worst thing you can do is to fire off a false accusation before researching it, or even asking questions about it.
Before making yourself look like a heel, or a jerk, you should research any situation thoroughly. Sending false accusations, or reacting in an immature fashion to a rejection, can lead to being blacklisted by publications and publishers. Many editors and publishers absolutely keep a blacklist and, with these types of unreasonable individuals doing business on the Internet, who can blame them?
If you do screw up, do the right thing. APOLOGIZE. A sincere, heartfelt apology can go a long way toward restoring your reputation with an editor or publisher.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE