NB. This post was written for the Toronto Public Library. Read the full post here.
For many writers, going out on submission for the first time brings about mixed emotions. What if everybody rejects your manuscript? Or what if you're given conflicting feedback? Or what if you're that rare person who has plenty of offers and you don't know which one to take?
Unfortunately, the excitement of an offer from an editor or agent can sometimes overshadow niggling doubts we have about contract terms and other important aspects of the publishing process. But publishing, like many other industries, has its dark corners and there are definitely things you should watch out for.
Reading Fees, Editing Fees and Other Charges
If you're looking to traditionally publish your manuscript, it's important to understand how everyone gets paid. On average, agents will take 15% of your earnings. Royalty rates and advances vary, but often this information can be found on the submission portion of the publisher's website.
The percentage taken by the agent and publishing house covers the reading, submission process, all stages of editing, production, marketing (although it's expected authors will do marketing activities as well), and distribution of your book. If an agent or publisher asks you for money up-front to cover the cost of any of these activities, as well as wanting to take a percentage of each book sold, be wary. Agents and publishers should make their money from the sale of your book, not from charging the author. The only time a writer should pay a fee up-front for someone to read or work on their manuscript is if they're hiring a freelance professional.