Authors are control freaks. We have to be. It has taken us many years to get a publishing contract, even more years not only to write our books but also to hone them to near perfection. Many authors have developed a thick outer skin when it comes to releasing control of any part of our book’s publication process. We justify our actions, our words, by saying that only we are capable of ensuring our book is perfect. We speak to those in charge of the publication process with our publisher in ways we would never think to do with others. Despite the advice of those with far more experience in book publication, we listen to the advice of unheard of bloggers, who have decided they know everything about the publication process, or discussion groups where authors proclaim they know it all and no publisher does.
That these people have no real experience on what it takes to publish a book, other than having one or two published themselves, makes no difference in their advice giving. They are willing to sound like experts, tell you that you have the right to demand your cover art be done by an artist who will draw the images exactly as you want them. They’ll tell you that you can demand that the back cover of your book can have your bio and excerpts from reviews on it, in addition to the book’s blurb. They’ll even go so far as to tell you that your publisher must hire a content editor, in addition to the line editor, plot editor, and/or series editor your book needs in order to ensure it is perfect. Let’s not forget a proofreader who only looks at books in your genre. And then this publisher needs to have a marketing team dedicated to promoting your book, since you’ll be far too busy writing your next great novel to be bothered.
This is the research you’ve done and you’re determined to ensure your publisher follows every single thing you want. You demand, often times coming off as whiny or ill-informed, that you get what you want.
In the end, what to you usually get?
The smart author will realize very quickly that the demands they’re making are only going to alienate them with their publisher. They will quickly become acquainted with what their publisher does for them and accept that as the norm. (It is the norm, believe me.)
The not so smart author will continue making demands, claiming they were tricked into signing a contract that doesn’t provide what they want. Their demands might reach a boiling point, where the publisher and staff offer them a return of their rights. In other words, you will be agreeing to take back your book and find another publisher (good luck there) or self publishing.
What have you lost by alienating a publisher?
It all depends on the publisher. Some will ask in their rights release that you say nothing derogatory about them, and they will give you the same courtesy. Others won’t waste time letting the publishing world know that you are a nightmare work with, and to avoid you at all costs.
As authors, we like to think that we’re in a special field. We don’t play by the rules. We do. There are hard and fast rules to publishing, just as there are hard and fast rules to every job. Those who succeed learn to abide by those rules. Those who have to work harder to achieve their dreams, without the comfort of a publishing house behind them, still believe the rules don’t apply to them.