For authors who prefer the traditional (or hybrid) route, finding the right publisher is a pressing issue. Numerous ezines and small press projects crop up every year. These offer a welcome alternative to the hard-to-crack pro markets, but quality can be a major issue even if the guidelines look acceptable.
The first thing a writer should do is peruse the publication’s website. If little care is put into the page’s design and/or it’s riddled with typos and poor grammar, it’s unlikely those running it are going to put any more effort into one of their books. It’s also a smart move to cross-reference the name(s) of the editor with those on past releases. If the editor is using the press to put out his or her own work, there’s a very real risk of it being a self-publishing project run amok.
Should the site pass muster, the next thing to do is to run a quick background check on the editor and publication. Writers love to talk shop, and a simple Google search can turn up bad word of mouth regarding errant payments to authors or poor behavior. There are a few individuals who manage to bilk unknowing writers despite having entire websites dedicated to their shenanigans. Just imagine how much grief a little research could have saved.
An Amazon search for past releases can also yield useful information. The ratings/reviews offer a good idea as to the standards held by the entity in question, as well as insights regarding how much effort is put into marketing the books. Check the dates. Have numerous books been released on top of each other? Are their sales rankings awful? If so, it’s likely they were spat out with very little thought put into actually selling them.
Every one of these factors should be taken into account when choosing a publisher. While no amount of research provides a guarantee of safety against a shyster, it’ll definitely make avoiding them far easier.