Back at GenCon, you might remember where I told some scammers to stay the hell away from my convention. Well, it’s been over two months, and their webpage still has the same old bull – pay up front for the privilege of them submitting some files for you. They’re called Orange Hat – I link to their “packages” page where you can see it’s a pay-to-play kind of deal. (You might be clued in by the fact that they only have one “featured” author, who is also the same person who provides blurbage for them.) They’re providing (at best) publishing services, but that’s a far cry from being a publisher. (Again, as Alliteration Ink I do both.) Some of this was covered again (and reiterated) in the From Writers to Writers page as well.
This comes up because I just ran across International Thriller Writers and their requirements to be a recognized publisher. They’ve got a nice set of criteria (downloadable as a DOC file – yeah, I know) from the above page. The questions there really get to the essence of what makes a publisher a publisher. The SFWA criteria isn’t bad, and it’s certainly impartial. But these questions really reflect more than just whether or not someone’s established and has a bunch of cash.
Self published writers are not automatically excluded from being a qualified publisher, but they bear a higher burden to demonstrate their status.
I think that’s cool. It gets to the idea that being a publisher is less about what you pay, and more about how you behave. It’s a good checklist for authors as well. Is the publisher (large or small) behaving in a way that they could answer these questions well?
It’s not about getting a perfect score – as ITW’s website says:
Again, no one factor is determinative, nor would the lack of one be fatal. Recognizing that good judgment and reasonableness should always govern, any and all determinations of whether a publisher is qualified will be made on a case-by-case basis.
That said, this may help illuminate whether or not your publisher is actually doing right by you … and your story.