Submitting Smart: Do Your Homework Before You Open Your Wallet!

By Lindsay Bandy

The other day I picked up my local paper to find a headline that grabbed my attention: Teen Becomes Published Author. I was amazed by any teen determined and bright enough to complete a novel that sounds pretty interesting and, you know…published.
I read through her description of the submission and publication process and realized that there was something a little nontraditional going on here. The author explained that she submitted the first three chapters and was immediately offered a contract, then given a year to finish the book. Of course, I was intrigued and embarked on a Google journey to understand the fine distinctions between vanity and subsidy publishing.
As I read multiple reviews and recommendations, I was reminded that there are a lot of people out there who can help make our dreams as authors and illustrators come true (traditionally and otherwise), and a lot of people ready and willing to take advantage of us, too. As proof, I am now inundated with ads shouting WE WILL PUBLISH YOUR BOOK* every time I get on the internet. (Who is out there keeping tabs on my search terms, anyway, reminding me that I browsed shoes at This creeps me out a little.)
Well, the moral of the story is, whenever you submit to a publisher, agent, or contest, be sure to do your homework—especially if they ask you to open your wallet. Here are a few tips for researching who’s legitimate vs. who’s out to scam you:
·         Double-check facts whenever possible and compare reviews. Consult the SCBWI Book. Google the name of the contest, publisher, or agent + reviews, and see what comes up.
·         Visit Preditors and Editors: This SCBWI- endorsed site offers information and warnings concerning publishers, agents, contests, and more.
·         Look for reviews on sites such as or The Better Business Bureau They offer consumer ratings, reviews and complaints.
·         Be sure that any contest that charges an entry fee is reputable. If no one has heard of it, it won’t make a dent in your credentials, so you’re probably better off sitting it out.  Preditors and Editors reminds us that “It really doesn’t make sense to enter a contest that charges a fee if there isn’t any prize worth significantly more than the entry fee.”
·         Know the difference between types of publishers, especially when it comes to if/how they’ll promote your work and ownership/rights. Know what you’re getting yourself into, whether you’re going the traditional route or going a little maverick.  More coming on this topic soon, so stay tuned!
If you have any jewels of wisdom or sites that have been useful to you in addition to the ones listed above, please share! 


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4 Responses to Submitting Smart: Do Your Homework Before You Open Your Wallet!

  1. I do hope that teen hasn’t fallen foul of one of those “WE WILL PUBLISH YOUR BOOK” yellers, though I fear she probably has…a contract based on 3 chapters does sound suspiciously non-legit.

  2. I know! I realized she went through a subsidy publisher, which means you both invest some money in the project. However, the reviews were terrible, claiming that they promise all sorts of marketing that they never follow through on, and that most of their books only sell a total of five copies! They were also accused of selling books without an author’s permission. It seems that there are some fairly legit subsidy publishers, run by larger traditional houses that then sometimes offer traditional contracts to top sellers, but the fact remains that marketing is pretty much up to you. So much to learn!

  3. valrfederoff says:

    Great points. It is that there are so many predators out there that discourages me. At least now I have places to check.

  4. Yes, it can be overwhelming! Glad to help.

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