There’s a common saying in the conventional publishing world. Money flows to the writer. What does it mean?
It means that you should never have to pay money to anyone in the publishing chain – publishers, editors, literary agents, websites running websites or any facilitators who are suggesting that they’ll make the rocky road a little smoother for you.
Here’s how it works for each team.
Traditional publishers take on the financial risk of getting your book published. That is why they have to be selective and focus not only on the quality of writing, but also on the commercial aspects. As a writer, money will flow to you in the form of royalties. You will make money only if they do. Well, you might say advances are paid upfront. But that again is just an estimate of how well they think your book will do in the market.
If you are working with a traditional publisher, they will assign an editor for your book and absorb the cost. You will not be expected to pay the editor from your pocket. But to get to that stage, you will need to ensure that your writing has been pre-edited before you submit your manuscript to the publisher. You might hire an editor independently for her services and that would be your personal call. The publisher will not insist that you hire anyone.
There’s nothing that stops anyone from launching a literary agency, and many do. The good ones make money after they’ve sold your book. Not all of them are successful in doing so. And they might resort to getting their compensation from the author – under labels like reading fee, administrations charges and other creative categories.
Many websites organize contests where writers can submit short stories or articles and be considered for mouth-watering prizes. Some might ask you for an entry fee or a registration charge. Others would make the entry free. See what (real) folks who have interacted with the organizing team have to say about the authenticity of these contests.
Of course, all that is in the ideal world. Given the fierce competition, new writers are more than willing to pay money to smooth talkers who are good at selling dreams. If you think anything sounds to good to be true, ask yourself why others in your situation haven’t already grabbed the opportunity and bypassed the long wait.
Not all of the available options might be evil though. With the advent of alternative publishing options (like self-publishing), the rules of the game can change. So before you shell out cash, do carry out some research about how the model works, how credible are the guys who are helping you in the process and what their track record has been.