Are there any specific signs (singular or groups of) that I should pay attention to when it comes to publishers?
I have read about publishing houses that charge their authors quite large amounts of money, while not providing much in the way of return for the money.
Are there any other signs I should be aware of?
On evaluating a good publisher:
- Your publisher shouldn't charge you anything, period.
- Your publisher should explain exactly what your contract terms are, then give them to you in writing for your lawyer / best friend / psychic / mom / whomever-you-like to review before you sign.
- Your publisher should have a verifiable list of successful titles with a similar market to yours. (This isn't to say that new publishers are bad, but they are outside my risk tolerance unless there was an introduction by someone I trust).
- Your publisher should be able to lay out for you exactly what they will be doing to earn their keep, and it should be included in the contract just as your obligations are.
- Your publisher should respond courteously to questions about the process, especially since you've told them you are new at this. If they are defensive or give you the brush-off, they are hiding something.
- Your publisher should be offering a deal that both of you feel is fair.
Extras that make for an amazing publisher:
- Experience in digital publishing, examples of great ebook production.
- Willingness to consider releasing work under a Creative Commons license, either at publication time or a set number of years afterward.
- Shares my aversion to DRM, and will sell DRM-free ebooks from day-1 as well as pressure DRM-addicted outlets to let my titles be sold DRM-free if at all possible.
- Gives me a single, easy-to-reach point person regarding my project.