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Publisher Questions

Dear Published Authors,
     What can you tell me about your publisher?  I don't have a manuscript quite ready yet, but I am starting to research publishers.  At this point, I haven't decided between self-publishing and traditional publishing so I am wide open to any words of wisdom you may have to offer.
     Also, what questions should I ask of a publisher?  I would hate to agree to a publishing contract only to find out that I agreed to something that I wish I hadn't.  I am a person who likes to know what I am getting into and to be prepared.  Below are some questions I have been asking.  What else do I need to know?

1. What do I need to submit?  Manuscript (in what format), synopsis, monies, bio, etc.

2. Is the acceptance of my manuscript guaranteed (such as in some self-publishing pay money and they print whatever you like) or is it dependent on their review (traditional publishers and some hybrid publishers use this route)?

3. Are there restrictions on the length of the book?  (For example, it must be at least 48 pages to be printed in paperback and at least 108 pages to be considered for hardcover).  (Or, for example, no one wants the next unabridged Count of Monte Cristo).
4. Who owns my manuscript? Do I maintain ownership or do I sign it over to the publisher?
5. Would this be a non-exclusive contract (in other words, do they have restrictions on my ability to submit my story elsewhere)?
6. Are there time limits on the publisher's services? Will my book ever go out of print?
7. In addition to the initial fee (if there is one), are there times during this submitting/editing/publishing/marketing process when the author is expected to provide funds?
8. Does the publisher provide the editors and cover design artists?
9. Does the publisher print both hardcover and paperbacks?  How do they decide whether to do one or the other or both?  (Perhaps by how much money you pay?  Or by the length of the book?)
10. Do the publisher obtain or help me get the ISBN assignment, Library of Congress Control Number, and U.S. Copyright Registration for my book?
11. Does the publisher only print black and white books, or would they also print color books? Do they ever print books with interior pictures?  What are the requirements for those?
12. How does the publisher print the books? Is it done on-demand or are large orders printed at a time?
13. Do they offer marketing/networking and help me attain endorsements and reviews?  If so, what does that look like and what role do I play in that?  (I'd hate to sign a contract with them and then find out  unexpectedly that I am required to tour the country for a booksigning during my busiest months here at home).
14. In what markets will my book be carried?  Is there a time limit on how long a book would be carried by them?
15. Is it likely that my book would be carried in a physical store?  (Or is it only offered online?)
16. If I wished to purchase some of my books for my family or if I wished to carry my books to an event to sell them, how would I obtain copies? Is there a reduced cost for the author to buy books? Is there a specific quantity that must be purchased at a time?


  1. These are all excellent, well-thought-out questions, and it's a good thing you are asking them now rather than later. Because it is such a long list, and because many of these questions are pertinent to other people, I think I will do a blog post on The Penslayer answering what I can. Hopefully that will be helpful!

  2. That would be awesome! Thank you!

    1. Hello! I just wanted to drop the link off here for my post in answer to your traditional publishing questions. If anyone else would like to peruse the post, perhaps it will help them also!

    2. Fellow aspiring writers, check out Jenny's answers to my publisher questions, based on her own experience with traditional publishers. Click on her link in her comment (see above). :)


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