Thursday, February 26, 2015

Authors: don't congratulate yourself when your book is accepted by a pay-to-publish company

The news story shown above tells us that author Larry C. York "was offered a publishing contract with Tate publishing."

That fact may have impressed Larry's family and friends, and the newspaper reporter, but it's not really a notable achievement.

Getting a contract from Tate did not require Larry's impressing a literary agent and then the agent's impressing the publisher who paid Larry a magnificent "advance."

Getting a contract from Tate (like other pay-to-publish companies) requires that the author has three things:
  1. Blood pressure above zero
  2. A credit card with sufficient funds available
  3. A manuscript that is not considered to be obscene or libelous
Tate is prudish. It says it "does not accept sexually explicit material. Therefore, you may be asked to remove sexually explicit material or language." Because Tate portrays itself as a Christian company, it might not publish a book of instructions for devil worship. Or, maybe it would.

Literary merit is not a major consideration because companies like Tate make most of their money by selling services and trinkets to naive authors -- not by selling books to readers. If Tate turns down even a horrible book rejected by other publishers, it loses income.

Tate says, "We do not take on every project that is submitted" but it warmly welcomes rejects. I could not find Tate's publishing prices on its website because it masquerades as a "mainline publishing organization."

It tells prospective customers: "Have you searched out and submitted your manuscript to dozens of publishing companies only to be turned away, time and time again? If you've answered yes . . ., Tate Publishing could be your answer."

It can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to get a contract from Tate, and the web is filled with complaints about the company.

Its books have very high prices that make them uncompetitive (e.g., $35.99 for a 234-page paperback that costs a few bucks to print, and many ebooks are ridiculously priced at $15.99).

Stay far away.

There's nothing inherently wrong with using a pay-to-publish company, but:

  • Be very careful
  • Don't sprain your wrist patting yourself on the back when you receive the contract.

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