Writers Beware: 8 Publisher Red Flags

Writers Beware: 8 Publisher Red Flags

Red Flags for Authors Looking for a Publisher

In the wild world of book publishing, new authors can easily become overwhelmed. The process of finding the right publisher is not one to rush, and it’s crucial to approach this decision with caution. While there are numerous reputable publishers in the literary landscape, there are also some looking to take advantage of authors. Read on for a list of red flags to watch out for during your publisher search.

1. Lack of Transparency

A transparent publishing process is vital for any author-publisher relationship. If a potential publisher is evasive or unwilling to provide clear details about their publishing process, royalties, marketing plans, or contract terms, it’s time to be skeptical. A legitimate publisher should be open and honest about all aspects of the publishing journey. Contracts should be clear, not leave you with more questions than answers. Authors should know exactly what they’re getting, not be surprised with hidden costs.

2. Poor Reputation

Researching a publisher’s reputation is essential. Look for reviews, testimonials, and author experiences online. Pay attention to negative reviews, complaints, or stories of authors who have had a bad experience with the publisher. A pattern of dissatisfied authors is a significant red flag. Check out the website Writer Beware, which compiles information about scams and questionable or downright unacceptable practices in the publishing industry, including agents and publishers to stay away from.

3. Unrealistic Promises

Be cautious of publishers who make unrealistic promises, such as guaranteeing bestseller status or huge financial success. While publishers should be enthusiastic about your work, overly ambitious claims may indicate dishonesty or an attempt to lure you into a contract. Publishers should never guarantee book sales or promise that you’ll land on coveted lists. If a publisher convinces you that your book is destined to win a Pulitzer, you should probably run.

4. Lack of Professionalism

Professionalism is such a broad term, but it covers many important areas in the publisher search. You want to choose a publisher whose forward-facing appearance makes you proud, not skeptical. Look for things like a well-designed website (no typos!) and quality cover designs. The age-old phrase, “You get what you pay for,” should come to mind. Likewise, any communication you have with the publisher should be timely and professional. Don’t hear back for ages? Red flag.

5. No Author Input

Publishers have the final say when it comes to creative choices in the book production process, but that doesn’t mean that authors shouldn’t have some input. At the end of the day, authors should be happy with their book packaging, so it’s important to feel that your voice is heard. Publishing can be collaborative, and control doesn’t have to be one-sided. Ask your potential publisher how much author input they take into consideration when titling and designing their books.

6. Inadequate Editing and Proofreading

Editing is a crucial part of the publishing process. If a publisher is willing to accept your manuscript without thorough editing or proofreading, it’s a clear red flag. A publisher should have a dedicated editorial team to ensure the quality of your work. Check to determine whether editing is part of your publishing agreement—you shouldn’t have to pay extra for editing services.

7. Limited Distribution and Marketing

A good publisher should have a solid plan for distribution and marketing of your book. If the publisher is vague about their marketing strategy, has limited distribution channels, or expects you to handle most of the marketing yourself, it’s a warning sign. Ensure your publisher is committed to promoting your work and reaching a wide audience. But beware of false promises, such as being told your book will receive special treatment over others.

8. Little Track Record

All publishers have to start somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you want to be their guinea pig. Small or brand new publishers may not have the experience or connections you want for your book. Consider choosing a publisher that has a proven track record and testimonials from previous clients, from whom you can gather valuable information to make your decision. After all, you don’t want to waste time or money on something that may fall through.


Choosing the right publisher is a critical step in your journey as an author. While the publishing world offers many opportunities, it’s essential to be vigilant and recognize the red flags that may indicate a questionable publisher. By staying informed and conducting due diligence, you can protect your work, reputation, and investment in your writing. Always seek professional advice and consult with fellow authors to make an informed decision when selecting a publisher. Remember that a reputable publisher will support your writing aspirations and help you achieve your goals in the literary world.

Transforming Your Book into a Script: A Step-by-Step Guide

Transforming Your Book into a Script: A Step-by-Step Guide

Converting Your Book Into a Script

Adapting a book into a script can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor for writers and storytellers. The process requires careful planning, creative adaptation, and an understanding of the differences between these two storytelling formats. Let’s explore the essential steps to prepare your book for the big (or small) screen.


Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with Screenwriting Format

Before you begin the adaptation process, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the format of a screenplay. Screenplays have specific rules and conventions that differ significantly from book writing—remember, a book may be 80K+ words, but movies rarely exceed two hours in length. Screenwriting software such as Final Draft or Celtx can help you adhere to these standards.

Step 2: Identify the Key Themes and Characters

Begin by identifying your book’s central themes, characters, and plot points. These elements form the foundation of your screenplay and should be preserved as much as possible during the adaptation process. Consider what makes your story unique and captivating, and ensure those elements are retained in the script. You may be unable to carry over every detail, but you don’t want to lose the most important things.

Step 3: Create a High-Level Outline

Next, create a high-level outline of your screenplay. This outline should map out the major story beats, including the inciting incident, plot twists, character arcs, and the resolution. While a book allows for more extensive exposition and internal monologue, a screenplay must be concise and visually engaging. Focus on the visual and dramatic elements that translate well to the screen. Tip: Read a book that has been adapted, then watch the film and note the differences.

Step 4: Break the Story into Acts

Divide your screenplay into three acts, following the traditional structure commonly used in screenwriting. Act One sets up the story, introduces the characters, and presents the central conflict. Act Two develops the conflict, introduces obstacles, and escalates tension. Act Three resolves the conflict and provides closure to the story. By organizing your script into acts, you create a clear and compelling narrative structure. Now is not the time to be a pantser!

Step 5: Character Development and Dialogue

In the transition from book to script, character development, and dialogue are critical components. Since screenplays rely heavily on visual storytelling, you’ll need to convey a character’s personality, motivations, and growth through actions, expressions, and dialogue. While you may lose some of the depth found in a novel, focus on capturing the essence of each character and their relationships in a visual way.

Step 6: Trim and Condense

Books often contain subplots, internal thoughts, and extensive descriptions unsuitable for a screenplay. During the adaptation process, be prepared to trim and condense the narrative. Yes, this is the time to “kill your darlings.” Focus on the central plot and the most critical character arcs, eliminating any extra elements that don’t drive the story forward or translate well to the visual medium.

Step 7: Visual Storytelling

One of the key differences between books and screenplays is the emphasis on visual storytelling. Readers create their own images in their minds, but when you’re watching a screen, it’s right there in front of you and, therefore, must be strong. In your script, use vivid descriptions to create compelling visuals for the audience. Show, don’t tell, whenever possible. Prioritize scenes and moments that can be captured effectively on camera.

Step 8: Adapt the Narrative Style

Books often allow for extensive introspection and exploration of characters’ thoughts and feelings. You’ll need to adapt to a more external narrative style in a script—we can’t hear what characters are thinking on screen. Rather than delving deep into characters’ inner thoughts, convey emotions and motivations through actions, expressions, and dialogue—things viewers can see.

Step 9: Seek Feedback and Collaboration

Once you’ve completed your first draft (yay!), it’s time to seek feedback. Getting fresh eyes from industry professionals and writer communities is a great way to examine your work objectively. Constructive feedback can help you refine your adaptation and identify areas needing improvement—just remember, feedback can be tough to swallow. Still, it’s a critical step in any writing project.

Step 10: Revise and Refine

Post-feedback, don’t be afraid to make changes, refine dialogue, and polish your screenplay until it’s in its best possible shape. Keep in mind that adaptation is an art, and finding the right balance between staying true to the source material and making necessary changes for the screen is essential. No book and film is ever 100% identical, and that’s to be expected.

Step 11: Pitch Your Script

Once you’re satisfied with your screenplay, you can pitch it to agents, producers, or studios. Prepare a compelling pitch package that includes a logline, synopsis, and any relevant information about your background and the marketability of your project. Networking and attending industry events can also be valuable for making connections and opening doors. Most importantly, be confident in your work and never give up!

Our October Unboxing Video Winner, Jo Shekeruk

Our October Unboxing Video Winner, Jo Shekeruk

Cover of Better Your Best by Jo Shekeruk

Congratulations to Jo Shekeruk for winning our October Unboxing Video Contest! Her book, Better Your Best: With recipes for success and inspiration from industry leaders in Detroit and across the country, will receive a complimentary book trailer. Check out the unboxing video HERE!

We love receiving our authors’ videos of them unboxing their books and promo items (thank you!). So, remember to capture the moment and send it to us when you receive your complimentary copies, bookmarks, posters, business cards, or invitation cards!

Then, email these short videos to your Publication Coordinator or socialmedia@pagepublishing.com. Please remember to include your name (or pen name) along with the title of your book in your video. Not only will these videos be shared on our Page Publishing social media pages, but authors will also be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a FREE video trailer for their book!

Limit one entry per month.

Drawings will occur monthly; 1 winner per month.

10 Tips and Techniques to Create Compelling Characters

10 Tips and Techniques to Create Compelling Characters

As an author, one of the most significant challenges and rewards is crafting characters that resonate deeply with readers. A compelling character can breathe life into your story, elicit powerful emotions, and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting your literary journey, mastering the art of character development is essential to creating a gripping and memorable narrative. In this article, we are going to explore some key tips and techniques to help you create characters that your readers will love.


1. Embrace Complexity

Great characters are multi-dimensional, just like real people. Avoid one-dimensional stereotypes or clichés. Instead, give your characters a mix of virtues, flaws, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Explore their backgrounds, motivations, and dreams to understand what makes them unique. Flawed characters often resonate more strongly with readers as they are relatable and demonstrate growth throughout the story.

2. Show, Don’t Tell

Instead of telling readers what your characters are like, show them through their actions, thoughts, and dialogue. Allow their personalities to shine through their decisions and interactions with other characters. Let readers uncover their traits and emotions naturally, creating a deeper connection between the audience and the characters.

3. Goals and Motivations

Compelling characters have clear and relatable goals that drive the plot forward. Understand what your characters want and why they want it. Their motivations should be rooted in their personalities and past experiences. Having well-defined goals and motivations will give your characters depth and purpose, making it easier for readers to invest in their journey.

4. Flaws and Growth

Nobody is perfect, and that stands true for characters. “Perfect” characters can be dull and uninteresting. Introduce flaws or weaknesses your characters must confront and overcome during the story. As they face challenges and grow, readers will become emotionally invested in their journey and celebrate their progress.

5. Inner Conflict

Internal struggles add depth to characters and make them more human. Explore their doubts, fears, and conflicting emotions as they grapple with their decisions. This inner conflict can create empathy and a stronger emotional bond between the reader and the character.

6. Relationships Matter

How characters relate to others in the story can reveal a lot about their personalities. Develop meaningful relationships between your characters – friendships, romances, rivalries, or family ties. These connections can serve as a driving force for character development and can be powerful tools to evoke emotion in your readers.

7. Dialogue with Purpose

Craft dialogue that is authentic and serves a purpose beyond mere conversation. Dialogue can reveal character traits, emotions, and conflicts. Avoid excessive exposition or long monologues that may feel unnatural. Instead, use dialogue to show the dynamics between characters and move the plot forward.

8. Engage the Senses

Bring your characters to life by engaging the reader’s senses. Describe how they look, sound, smell, and move. Sensory details can make characters more vivid and relatable, allowing readers to visualize and immerse themselves in the story.

9. Avoid Stereotypes

Challenge yourself to avoid falling into common stereotypes or token characters. Be mindful of diversity and representation in your cast of characters. Embrace inclusivity and create a world that reflects the rich tapestry of real-life experiences.

10. Test Your Characters

Put your characters in challenging situations to see how they react. This will help you understand them better and refine their traits and responses. Push them to their limits and watch them evolve, making the journey all the more rewarding for your readers.

Remember, crafting compelling characters takes time and effort, but the result is well worth it. When readers form a strong bond with your characters, they will eagerly follow them through their adventures, and your story will leave a lasting impact. So, invest in your characters, breathe life into them, and watch as they enchant and captivate your audience, making your writing truly unforgettable.