Trust the process, not the publisher

Yeah, my eyes are about to permanently cross, but I have to spend some more time in front of the computer because I keep seeing people express the opinion that if one of the Amazon publishing imprints wants to sign you, well--whoo-hoo! You're in Fat City! Just sign right on--you'd be CRAZY not to!!!

Think back to two years ago, and people would have been responding that way to an offer by a big publisher or an agency. Think of what a mistake that would have been.

I say this as someone who has been screwed over by some of the finest names in the industry: Do not assume that a place with a good reputation and a fancy name is going to serve you well. They may. They may not. You don't know.

You have to develop a process you can trust to help you make a good decision, and then you trust that process. Do not trust names. Trust processes.

This is part of thinking like a businessperson. If I am thinking about investing money into a company, I need to know whether this company makes money or not. How do I know? I look at their books. How do I know their books are any good? Well, there are standard bookkeeping processes, and I would look for evidence that those processes have been followed.

If those processes have not been followed, I cannot trust the books. It doesn't matter if, on a personal level, I think the people who run that company are very honest. They can be perfectly honest and still have been making horrible mistakes!

People are fallible--they get sick, they get distracted, they discover cocaine. You can't depend on someone being a rock forever, because people are not made of stone. People also move on: Right now, the person in charge of Amazon's publishing contracts may be Bob Cratchit--kind, generous, honest, always looking out for the other guy. But Tiny Tim got sick, so Bob has to take some time off. Now Ebenezer Scrooge is in charge. Uh-oh!

You also have to be realistic about who you are. If Joe Konrath gets a great contract with an Amazon imprint, that's terrific--for him. It also has absolutely no bearing on whether or not the contract you get offered will be any good. Remember, Joe Konrath makes $100,000 a month these days, so he's getting treated very well--even a small percentage of his income is some serious coin.

Instead of assuming that Amazon or whoever is going to take care of you, you need to get some processes into place that will make sure they do. I would argue that you probably should have a qualified lawyer go over any contract. You also probably should take some time to figure out what you want from your career and how you think a publisher could help you achieve that. Try at least to form an opinion of what a good contract for you would look like. Decide now what you're not willing to give up to anyone, for any amount of money.

I find it almost frightening how quickly some people have moved from assuming that Big Daddy Traditional Publishing will take care of them to assuming that Big Daddy Amazon will take care of them. It reminds me of how some people skip from relationship to relationship to relationship without ever creating a better quality of relationship. Those people always assume that this time it's going to be different, but it never is, because they're always doing the same damned thing.