“My publisher isn’t just a company, they’re family.”
<looking to the heavens> If only the Cosmic Muffin had seen fit to give me a buck for every time I hear that comment, I’d be bossing Him around. Here’s the truth: A family vibe shouldn’t be your litmus for signing with a publisher. It’s all about their ability to get your book into readers’ mittens.
Family is the place where you feel safe because you’re loved and supported. It’s that gushy “Hey, you can do anything” vibe that makes it easier to go out and do your best. No matter how rotten you may feel, your family is there to pick up the pieces and glue you back together. Huzzah families.
The problem with the Family Publisher feel is that they may be the very ones who make you fall into a million pieces, and then glue you back together with feel-good goo that has nothing to do with success. Vanity presses excel at this because it’s their only selling point. But it isn’t just vanity presses – the love-and-kisses bantha fodder knows no boundaries. It’s easy to fool a new writer with flattery, bells, and whistles because they don’t know enough about the industry to ask about distribution, editing, marketing, promotion.
And let me tell you, that family feeling disappears very quickly once the book is out and gathering dust in someone’s warehouse. Suddenly, that family is telling you it’s your fault for your book not selling, or offering a distribution package for $500. Feeling loved and supported now?
But that doesn’t mean authors shouldn’t listen to their gut. I’ve had any number of conversations with authors we were interested in signing. I tell them how much I love their work and why, and what kind of editing I think the work entails. I also back that up by telling them how we work. I don’t blow smoke up their Vickie Secrets and make promises and guarantees because, hey, it’s publishing, and there are no guarantees. I go into detail about our business because I want them to make their decision based on facts, not because I like their writing. Flattery blinds way too many writers.
Because of this, agents tell me the author said it “felt right” to sign with us. It means that we’re all on the same page in terms of editing, promotion, marketing, and distribution. It’s a feeling based on a solid foundation that we are the best choice for their book and that we can get the job done. It’s not about flattery, but business.
I can’t express the importance of chemistry. The publishing process is an airtight environment where editor and author are locked in a metaphorical vacuum to accomplish the editing phase of production. If you don’t like your editor, you’re going to question every single edit with a microscope. Trust is absolute. And it goes both ways.
The Family Feeling is based on a foundation of flattery, which is effective in sucking in the uninitiated. Feeling Right is about chemistry and knowing your publisher is the right choice because they have the experience and track record to get the job done…and you click with the editor. Everyone likes to be flattered, and you can have both if you sign with a publisher who can back up that flattery with a good reputation for success.