Publishing is a business. That’s hard to remember sometimes, especially when the writing side of it is often fraught with emotion. Compound that with the fact that women, those most engaged in the writing of romance novels, are raised to believe we need people to like us and that making others happy should come first, and the business side of things can become less about what the head thinks and more about what the heart feels.

Frankly, that’s a recipe for disaster. There are plenty of unscrupulous folks out there who would be happy to take advantage of anyone they can. There are also those in the business who make all their decisions emotionally. Neither one is good and both should be avoided.¬†And then there are those who are just delusional. Trust me, they exist. People who want to publish your book for the low, low price of several thousand dollars. Services that offer a certain number of reviews for a “reasonable” price. (Not only is buying reviews something that should never be done, it’s against the TOS policy of most retailers.) Cover artists who don’t deliver. Authors who attack reviewers. Authors who lie about other authors for whatever reason. Ad providers that flake. Editors that disappear. Etc, etc, etc. The longer you’re in this business, the more you find out.

But how is an author to know who to trust and who to avoid?

Do your homework.

What does that mean? It means building a network of writer friends you trust and listening to them. It means joining a community of like-minded people and expanding your knowledge base. It means reaching out to others you may not know and asking their opinion (don’t be afraid to do this – most authors I know are happy to share their experiences good or bad to help another author. Just respect their time.) It means Googling. (Basic, right? But so many people forget this step.) It means finding out what a service providers reputation is. And most of all, it means learning to read between the lines. No answer is sometimes a very important answer.

I’ve been very blessed with my interactions. I’ve never had a truly awful experience with anyone to date. Sure, there are definitely some I avoid. I mean, why put yourself in a bad situation, right? And being part Sicilian means I don’t suffer fools lightly, so it’s rare that I give second chances, but I have to do what works for me. And my books (and my business) come first. Protect yourself. Protect your career. Don’t let the fear of upsetting someone shut your mouth. Ask. Then listen.

Now go forth and write. ;0)

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