It Doesn’t Hurt—Much

You’re looking over your book. There’s a minor error in the middle, a missing comma or period, a word that shouldn’t be there. No wonder your sales are awful. People see this and think you’re a moron. So, you open an email and zip off a scathing commentary to your editor in chief, demanding that they immediately pull you book from all sales venues and FIX this problem. NOW. And if they don’t comply with your demand, you will stop promoting your book until they do what you want.

Your statement arrives and the royalties are nowhere close to what you expect. Your book is doing amazingly well—Look at the rankings on Amazon. You’re in the 50,000 range, or even better. What’s going on? Why, that publisher must be lying about what you should be getting. Time to get on Twitter, Facebook, or any one of the thousands discussion boards populating the internet, so you can vent about what a lousy publisher you have.

Whoa there, pardner. Hold on just a minute. Take a breath and step back before your fingers go to work. There is another solution.

First, demanding emails to an editor in chief already struggling with juggling sometimes hundreds of authors will only be put off until they can compose a polite, reasonable response. Most times, you will be told they won’t pull your book from all sales venues nor will they fix errors until the next edition comes out, if one comes out. Keep up with the demands, stop promoting, and you’ll probably find yourself shut out of a new contract, or even released from your current contract to swim through the waters of self-publishing without the comfort of someone else to deal with cover artists, editors, and proofreaders.

Next, ranting about not getting the royalties you think you should be on discussion boards will not solve the problem. In fact, resorting to that will probably end your relationship with your publisher very fast. No publisher wants to find themselves the center of a “my publisher is cheating me” discussion. That’s when the trolls emerge from their caves and start throwing their clubs around, bringing up every single thing nasty ever rumored about this publisher. And if your rant on those boards turns out to be a misunderstanding of the difference between net and gross sales, you will definitely feel very bad later, but it will be too late to stop the flaming.

So, it will hurt if you let loose on social media about something that’s easily solvable, if you let go of the temper and hang onto reason. Not only will your publisher back away from you, so will just about every other publisher who perchance views this, and they will if you submit to them. Most responsible publishers these days check for your internet activity, and those little flame wars always seem to top the list.