Professionalism: Dealing With Christian Book Publishers by Penelope J. Stokes, Ph.D.

You’re doing your best. You work hard, meet your deadlines, and have a relatively successful track record in sales. You avoid being a petulant, whiny author who thinks she should be carried around on a satin cushion. You don’t make a pest of yourself. You try to keep your expectations low. But sometimes you wonder: “What, exactly, does an author have a right to expect from a publisher?”

A good publisher knows that authors do have reasonable requests, and most houses will make every effort to conduct their business in a way that will make authors want to continue publishing with them. Occasionally you may discover (the hard way) that your publisher simply will not give you straight answers, pay royalties on time or fulfill promises—in such a case, you may need to cut your losses and look elsewhere. In general, however, most publishers concur that authors have certain needs and rights that must be considered.

Reasonable Deadlines

Writers work in different ways and at different rates. Some authors can produce ten or twenty pages a day, while others consider themselves fortunate to finish a book in eighteen months. The temptation for an up-and-coming writer, or a writer who is greatly in demand, is to agree to an unworkable deadline for the sake of getting a contract signed. Your reputation will be in jeopardy, however, if you consistently miss or extend your deadlines, so it is to your advantage to be honest about how quickly you can produce a finished manuscript. Most publishers will allow you sufficient time because they want a quality book, but if they press you to work at a pace that frustrates you, you will need to hold the line and set a deadline that is workable for your own writing style and speed.

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