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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Warning: They're Out There
My experience dealing with an Independent Publisher
by Susan Younan Attiyah

I loved the idea of having a small publisher for my children's picture book, but when I read the words "Independent Publisher," I thought, "that's even better." Working with an independent publisher has many benefits.

One possible benefit--having your book produced quicker than at a larger publishing house. Also, imagine how nice it would be to get that one-on-one attention from the editor and publisher. That, in itself, would be a gift. Keep in mind, not all publishing companies work the same, large or small.

I did what any first-time author would do; I sent them a query letter and my manuscript. Then, I got a phone call from the publisher saying they loved the book and wanted to discuss it. My kids thought Mommy went a little crazy after she hung up the phone.

What else was I going to do? It was like music to my ears. I instantly began dancing in circles around my house. I was completely giddy. Seriously now, just how many of us first-time authors have dreamed of getting THE PHONE CALL? I have dreamed about it night after night and when I got it, all I wanted to know is, "where do I sign?" I was not going to postpone this meeting for anything.

We met at a restaurant not far from home. I should have been more cautious when she was 20 minutes late. Not good, but like people say, publishers are very busy people. The meeting began smoothly; I got the opportunity to speak about my ideas of the book immediately. When I was told about the royalty being 20%, I was in heaven. As we continued talking about developing the book, I began to realize how much more I knew about publishing children's books than she did.

Once she said she would print the book as is, as flattering as it may be, it worried me. We all know publishers like to include an idea here or an idea there in the story. But the publisher should ALWAYS know a little more than you about publishing. This publisher later mentioned this book will be an expensive project and she may need help paying the cost for the book. "Would you mind helping me a little?" she asks.

During our meeting, I think about it a little. What's the big deal? I ask myself. A little help won't hurt me. And yet I couldn't help but think about the consequences. It sounded a little fishy to me. When you talk about your first published book, you shouldn't have to immediately think, what if I had to take this lady to court? What if this ruins my name and I will never make book #2? What if...what if...what if..." Too many negative possibilities.

To make a long story short, I was paying 90% of the cost of the book and she was still getting  a much higher royalty percent than me. That's when I ran!

The point to the story is, sure it's nice to get "the call" after waiting and wanting for so long, but don't sell yourself short. Dealing with an Independent Publisher is nice, but we need to make sure of certain things before signing on the dotted line with any type of publisher. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Have a list of what you would like to know when you meet or speak with them for the first time. Some of the questions you may want to ask are:

  • Can you handle the production of a colored picture book?

  • What else have you published?

  • How do you market your books?

Our writing is very personal and important to us; we can't just give it away to companies who plan to take advantage of us. We need to believe in ourselves and know we will find a home for our books. I am looking forward to dancing around my house giddy one more time.

Susan is happy to announce she did dance around the house again. Two weeks later, she signed a contract with a different publisher, and I'll Never Find Anything in Here! was born. Her book is now an award winning book. For more information on Susan Younan Attiyah, or her award winning book, I'll Never Find Anything in Here! published by Neighborhood Press, feel free to visit http://www.susanattiyah.homestead.com









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