Guest Feature~Publishing Horror Story By Michelle Stimpson

Publishing Horror Story

Well, by this point, I’ve been published by 2 mainstream publishers, 3 smaller publishers, and I’ve also self-published. I’ve sold books with and without an agent, and I’ve published short stories for myself and others (

For the most part, I have had good experiences with publishers. One can imagine, however, that there have been a few hiccups along the way. My worst publishing experience came when a company held onto my book for 3 years while they went through a bankruptcy. Because my contract was so imprecise, I could do nothing to get my book out of their hands. That’s the horrible part.

But what I’d like to focus on is how to avoid a publishing horror story.

First let me say that I’m not an attorney, so I cannot give you legal advice. But as an author whose book is still tied up with a publisher who wasn’t able to put any money behind promoting that book and (to this day) won’t return the rights until the last 600 books sitting in their warehouse sell, I’ve learned a few things to look out for in contracts.

No Linking Royalties

In a multi-book contract, make sure the royalties will be paid separately. Reason being: If you have three books and the third one doesn’t do so well, you don’t want the publisher to subtract from your royalties on the first two, which have earned over and above their advance. Everyone (including you) is taking a risk with every single book, so let each book’s royalties stand alone.

  1. Reversion of Rights Policy

Make sure that there is a very specific way to know when you can get your copyright back. In a bad contract, the publisher will give the rights back whenever they’re no longer making a profit. A profit might be one book sold in a year’s time…who knows? Basically, they’ll give the rights back whenever they get good and ready. In the past, publishers might have been compelled to return rights once they ran out of books. But now, with e-books, they have no physical inventory to store, thus there’s nothing to lose by keeping the rights forever. If one e-book sells, they make a little. If nothing sells, they haven’t lost anything. You, however, might want to take that book, make some changes, re-release it as an e-book, give it a new cover and some new life, re-sell the mass market right to another publisher..the options are endless. But you can’t exercise any of those if you don’t have the rights.

In a decent contract, you can request the rights after two or three consecutive royalty statements falling below a certain amount of money. Whatever you negotiate, don’t leave your rights out of your reach forever.

  1. Movie rights

Keep them for yourself if at all possible. If it’s in the contract, just cross it out and write your initials. Talk about or negotiate it later–only if the publisher questions it.

  1. Specify genre and word length for First Right of Refusal

In just about every contract, the publisher will include a clause that says you have to show them your next book first so they can decide if they want to publish it. They have a certain amount of time (weeks or a few months) to let you know if they wish to publish it. This makes good sense for everyone, especially if you’d like to do a series.

You want to make sure, however, that you’re very specific about the genre represented in this clause. If you’re publishing a full-length Christian fiction novel with this company, you may not want to publish a memoir with this same publisher. If you have to submit it to them first, you may waste a few months in your submission process. Also, if you want to write a novella in this same genre and self-publish it as an e-book or submit it to another publisher, you want to be free and clear to do this. The way to protect yourself is to make sure this clause doesn’t say you have to submit your next “book” to the publisher. “Book” is too generic. This clause should be genre and word-count specific, i.e. “full-length (85,000+ word) African American Christian Novel.”

You can also specify which type of work you want your agent to represent, if you wish to limit your agent’s involvement.

  1. Exclusivity

If you would like to write for more than one publishing house, you need to make sure you secure the right to do so in your contract. Once secured, work with both publishers to make sure that your release dates don’t compete.

Well, that’s all that comes to mind now. If you have anything else to add, feel free to leave your contribution in the comments.

Be blessed!


The Gloved One & His Search For Rest~ Five Years On

michael_jackson_014It was 5.15pm in the evening. After an hour and a half drive back home, all I wanted to do was quickly finish my evening chores, put my infant daughter to sleep and get a little me time. What a day it had been. Farrah Fawcett the cutest Charlie’s Angel ever, had lost her fight with her cancer. I felt bad for the love of her life, Ryan O Neal. I was eager to watch E! knowing there would be  all night coverage of her know stuff I had missed since I was working.

I entered the house with the diaper bag on one shoulder and my infant daughter in my arm. I bent down to pick up the remote, not wanting to miss an ounce of Farrah’s coverage. When what I saw caused me to go still. My heartbeat was rapid as I stood with my mouth ajar. I was in shock. The baby nearly slipped from my hand as I scrabbled to put her in the playpen. This can’t be? How? When? Then I was not a “Facebokian’ and neither did I care for Twitter or any of those things that sucked the life out of you. After I heard Farrah’s news that was it for me. I was totally in the dark all day. I flipped through every available channel holding my breath that CNN got it wrong. “THE KING OF POP MICHAEL JACKSON DEAD” What??? How??? When??? Where???

I slipped down in front of the television and watched the news coverage in utter devastation. I like most of the world had grown up on MJ music, his life, his essence. He was the greatest singer and performer of all time in my book. I loved when I saw him happy, hurt when I saw him sad. I was and still am the ultimate fan. Pop music has never been the same for me. He made an indelible impact on the world. The one talent he got from God, he used it well. In fact very well.

As I remember him five years later, I’m still so sad he is gone,but what I will never forget is that he died in a desperate need for sleep and rest from his worries. But he sought it the wrong way. My pastor is teaching us on REST this year. And I have come to realize that true rest can only be attained through GRACE & FAITH. Then again, he probably was at the end of his purpose and it was time to go. His untimely death is still shocking to me. But in his death, I remember to strive everyday to make an impact (big or small it’s mine). Bearing in mind that we are not promised tomorrow, so forgive those who offend you, love those who love( and even those who don’t), don’t waste time on things or people that don’t matter and live everyday with passion and purpose.

May his soul continue to rest in peace.

Do you remember where you were when you heard MJ died. What did you learn from his life or death?

Blessings Unoma

Author Spotlight~ Altars Of The Heart By April L. Minger


Paperback: 104 pages

Publisher: Warrior For Christ Publishing (May 27, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0990339505

ISBN-13: 978-0990339502

Book Title: Altars of the Heart

Genre: Christian Non-Fiction        

About The Author










April Minger was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio. After graduating from high school, April joined the United States Air Force. April works in the Insurance and Health Care fields, and also has a Master’s degree in Business, graduating with honors, and is a member of the Alpha Beta Kappa Chapter of The National Honor Society. She currently resides in Fort Drum, New York, where her husband serves on active duty as a member of the United States Army. April and her husband of eighteen years have two children.

About The Book










Do events from your past continue to play over and over in your mind? Do you feel like your relationship with God is not where it should be? Are you looking for a deeper worship experience?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I have some good news for you. The answer may seem far away, but it’s actually much closer than you think.

Altars of the Heart will take you on a journey to rediscover who you are and give you authentic tools to help you connect back to walking hand-in-hand with God through deeper worship.

The knowledge and insight that you will gain from reading this book will take you to a life of newfound liberation from insecurities, fear, doubt, shame, and un-forgiveness.

You will be encouraged to do an internal “heart” examination, to re-evaluate how you interact with others, make choices and worship the Lord.

The Word of God specifically states in the book of Hosea 4:6, that my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. I issue a challenge to you to open this book, and allow your life to experience freedom from bondage and finally discover your path to deeper worship.

Open this book, and let’s have a heart to heart conversation!

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