Pay to Publish?

If a publisher asks you for money, should you pay? This is one of the big questions for an aspiring author. Basically, publishing today is an industry under pressure. The margins are tiny and your book is likely to cost more to produce than it makes. Something like nine books out of ten sell less than a hundred copies. So unless you already have a national TV show, you’re a bad bet for any publisher.

When my first book was accepted by John Hunt, I was asked for a ‘contribution’ for copyediting and cover design. I’d already had my manuscript edited but it was only a few hundred pounds so I bit the bullet. My second book had production covered, but I did most of the marketing. By now I’ve got a track record and they trust me to produce the goods. My third book (in press) has what feels like a ‘proper’ contract. I won’t make money until it hits the bestseller lists, but that’s not the point of publishing

So what I’d say is, hold in there. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are: until your book has an audience, you’re a risk for any publisher. You need to understand this and work hard at building your public profile. Don’t pay large sums to get your book out. You can self-publish cheaply on Amazon or Lulu, and it’s considered quite respectable these days. But if a good publisher like mine asks for a small contribution, don’t balk: if they are prepared to take a gamble on you, it’s only fair that you should share the risk.



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