This is an exciting time to be in digital publishing. With the changes going on in traditional publishing, like Dorchester dropping their mass marketing for digital, the digital side of the publishing industry is only going to continue to grow. Though this is great for those of us already familiar with this side of publishing, for those new to e-publishing, this can be problematic. New e-pubs seem to be popping up all over the place and unfortunately, not all of them are going to have your best interests in mind. So how do you avoid the pitfalls of the unscrupulous e-press?
1. RESEARCH! I can't stress this enough. Do a Google search. Read everything you can find on the publisher, especially blogs and forums. If an author has had a bad experience with a publisher, chances are he or she has mentioned it somewhere. The e-pub community really is smaller than you would think and this kind of stuff does not stay quiet for long.
2. Contact some of their authors. While an author might not be willing to discuss any problems they might be having with the world, most will not hesitate privately. And if they are happy, they will definitely be sure to let you know.
3. Now keep in mind, even if after all your research, you find nothing but glowing praises about a publisher, it still might not be the right place for you. Make sure you read a good sampling of what they publish. Some genres sell better at one pub than they do at another. Look at their newest releases and you should be able to quickly determine if your ms will fit. But make sure you actually read some of what they are selling. Not all e-presses are the same when it comes to editing, cover art, and content. Now imagine your name on one of their covers. If you don't get a sudden case of the heaves, add them to your list of possible pubs.
4. I cannot stress this enough. If the pub is new, please proceed with extreme caution. Personally, I would hold off all together. Too many have folded and while a year under a pub's belt isn't proof of success, the last thing you want is a pub folding, taking your ms with them. While the contract might say you retain your rights in the case of a pub folding, 9 times out of 10 your ms will get piled in with the companies other assets in bankruptcy proceedings.
After all your research, you will have a small list of pubs you are interested in but please keep in mind, just because a e-pub as been around years does not exclude them from questionable practices. I can think of three that I would run far away from, so like I said, RESEARCH. Please. The information is out there and as long as you don't jump into this business feet first, you should do fine.
Check back next Thursday, as I'll be discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly; the dreaded contract.