Can You Play Bad Publisher Bingo? by Mary Calesto


Use Your Muse by Mary Calesto

Please welcome Mary Calesto to Writer’s Fun Zone today. Mary explains and shows us how to avoid bad publisher bingo. Enjoy!


Inevitably if a bunch of authors gets together the conversation turns to publisher troubles. Especially these days with the rise in self-publishing, the pros and cons of having a publisher are discussed out in the open. While Bad Publisher Bingo makes an interesting drinking game—though I’d suggest not using anything too strong—it doesn’t have to be a lived experience. Doing your homework before submitting to a publisher can help you avoid Bad Publisher Bingo all together.

However, Bad Publisher Bingo has an upside too. By knowing where the trouble spots are, you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for when you research a publisher. (Need a bingo card? You can get a free one here: Obviously, looking at the card, if you can make a “bingo”, then you know that the publisher isn’t a good fit for you. But other versions of the game, like “blackout” and “four corners” are equally troublesome.

What kind of research can an author do to avoid Bad Publisher Bingo?

First, a targeted web search will help. Searching for the publisher’s name in quotes to capture the exact string of words plus the word problems or issues will find any pages which mention the publisher by name and if there are any trouble spots. More points (and credence) goes to major industry magazines and blogs.

Next checking the usual places for news, such as Absolute Write, Preditors and Editors, or HiPiers (Piers Anthony’s site). Generally the inquiring author will find more information than just in the web search, though if the issues are large enough there will be plenty of corroborating evidence.

Next, don’t be afraid to ask authors you know who are working with a publisher in which you’re interested. It’s best if you can find someone to make the introduction or know this person previously, but a professionally worded email wouldn’t go amiss. Some authors won’t say. Others will be very guarded in the information they share. However, some will be candid.

By this time you should have an idea if your bingo card is about to be filled or if you’ll end up with good news (and a bad game of bingo). Taking the research deeper may reveal things, but this initial sweep should weed out any of the obvious bad choices. Remember, only you can decide if the issues you’ve uncovered are going to be show stoppers for your submission. That being said, there are too many good publishers out there to waste your time with one where you might get burned.

Playing Bad Publisher Bingo doesn’t have to be a given when it comes to working with publishers.

And while you may want to be a part of the conversation (usually in the bar) at conventions when the discussions start to happen, in this case it’s always better to have an empty bingo card than a full one.



mary_headshot_pinnaclepark_fall2013Mary Calesto’s publishing career spans over 10 years and 3 pen names. Currently, she uses her publishing experience to coach authors as The Muse

Join her in March forProsperity Practices For Writers, a 6-week class.

More information can be found at her website:


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