Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Importance of Research

Please note: If you have submitted your book to Publish America and are happy with it, please do not read the rest of this post. Either that or don't harsh my opinion.

So I log into my e-mail and about have a coronary. I have an e-mail from Publish America (as I am still under contract with them) and the subject line says: "Your book is going to Tom Hanks!"

Oh, please don't let this be true.

I open the e-mail and scan it quickly. The whole thing boiled down to this: Buy copies of your book to have on hand at a 55% discount and they will donate two books to Tom Hanks. One for himself and one for whatever producer-movie-person he so chooses.

Insert sigh of relief.

Now, I try very hard not to discuss Publish America. I tend to stray very far from the subject in any conversation. I have published a book with them, however I did so without doing my research. I am not thrilled with said book. Sometimes I am even ashamed of it. Why, you ask? Several reasons. First and foremost: I did not do my research. I merely stumbled upon them late one night while looking for a home for my book. They had submission guidelines and I followed them, expecting to hear from them several months down the road. Most likely a rejection. I heard back within a couple of months and they wanted my book. Back then, I think back at how elated I felt. I'm going to be a published author!

I still consider myself a published author and over time I have met dozens of people who went the route of PA and were successful. They had done their research where I had not. They knew what they were getting into. I had no clue. Through the whole process, I saw red flags, but ignored them only to have them shoved in my face after signing the contract. My book was poorly edited on my part. My proof copy came back to me with more mistakes than I originally had and after I signed off on the corrections, I got a copy of my book sans one chapter. A whole chapter ... gone.

At first, I was determined to make the best of it. Now, I feel like I sit in a dark corner, chewing my nails, rocking back and forth, biding my time, waiting for the contract to end. I have learned a very valuable lesson in all of this. Perhaps the hardest and most difficult lesson, but I have learned it and I will never forget it. So before you submit, make sure you do your research! 'Cause your book just might go to Tom Hanks. Maybe.

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