Approved Publishers Guidelines

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved Publishers

Publishers interested in being on MWA’s Approved List must fill out the affidavit and submit a sample contract. If all of the following are met, contact the national office to begin the vetting process (the affidavit will be supplied if these requirements are met). The publisher must also meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Within the last two years, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $1,000 to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies of books.
  2. Within the last two years, the publisher must have published at least two works of fiction or non-fiction, or short story anthologies, in which crime is the central element. These works must represent at least two authors.
  1. Works of fiction or nonfiction must be widely available in brick-and-mortar stores (not “special order” titles), through standard wholesaling/distribution channels or, in the case of print-on-demand titles and ebooks, available directly through major internet retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, etc. and not solely through the publisher’s website. (For e-books, publishers must also meet the separate criteria regarding that format)
  1. The publisher must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first book by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company. (Exception: a new imprint by an established, approved publisher.)
  1. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors self-publishing services, literary representation, paid editorial services, or paid promotional services. If the publisher is affiliated with an entity that provides self-publishing, for-pay editorial services, or for-pay promotional services, the entities must be wholly separate and isolated from the publishing entity. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publishing entity must not refer authors to any of the for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to manuscripts submitted that were edited, published, or promoted by the for-pay entity. To avoid misleading authors, mentions and/or advertisements for the for-pay entities shall not be included with information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising by the publisher’s for-pay editorial, self-publishing or promotional services, whether affiliated with the publisher or not, must include a disclaimer that it is advertising and that use of those services offered by an affiliate of the publisher will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted for publication.
  1. The publisher must publish at least five authors per year, other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.
  1. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager.
  1. The publisher works with agents or other authors’ representatives.
  1. The publisher pays for editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, and all other aspects of publication. They do not require authors to pay for any of the above.
  1. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment of royalties to authors. Major state or private universities are automatically approved; minor or relatively unknown schools must be reviewed.
  1. Publishers selling primarily to the library & university market rather than to retailers must meet ALL of the rules above with the following exceptions/additions: a. During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $1,000, in advances and/or royalties, to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies of books. b. Works of fiction or nonfiction may be distributed primarily to libraries and universities. However, the books must be readily available for purchase by the public through internet retailers (not just your own website) or by special order from bookstores. A copy of your library/university sales catalog must be included with your submission.
  2. The following is a sample contract that reflects MWA’s views and standards. While there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to publishing companies, and therefore contracts, this may serve as a resource for what a good author/publisher relationship can look like in legal terms.  In addition, here are some general “must haves” and “must not haves” in a standard publishing contract.

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved Periodical/Webzine Publishers

Periodical and webzine publishers interested in being on MWA’s Approved Periodicals List must fill out the affidavit and submit a sample contract. If all of the following are met, contact the national office to begin the vetting process (the affidavit will be supplied if these requirements are met). The publisher must also meet all of the following criteria (the terms “publication” and “magazine” refer to print as well as eformats, “Publishing” refers to print, web, and other eformats):

1. During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $25 per story to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.

a. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies or any other considerations.

b. Payment must be actual—not, for example, a donation of your writing deemed worth a given amount.

c. Payment must have been made and not merely promised.

d. A contract alone is not payment. Proof of payment may be requested by the committee.

2. The magazine/webzine must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first magazine/webzine story by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company.

3. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors self-publishing services, literary representation, paid editorial services, or paid promotional services. If the publisher is affiliated with an entity that provides self-publishing, for-pay editorial services, or for-pay promotional services, the entities must be wholly separate and isolated from the publishing entity. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publishing entity must not refer authors to any of the for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to manuscripts submitted that were edited, published, or promoted by the for-pay entity. To avoid misleading authors, mentions and/or advertisements for the for-pay entities shall not be included with information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising on the publisher’s website for any for-pay editorial. self-publishing or promotional services, whether affiliated with the publisher or not, must be include a disclaimer that it is advertising and that use of those services offered by an affiliate of the publisher will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted for publication.”

4. The publisher must publish at least five authors per year, other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.

5. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager. Among (but not all of) the situations defined as “self-published or cooperatively published” are:

a. Those works for which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher, website owner or book packager;

b. Magazines/webzines published by a privately-held publisher or in collaboration with a book packager wherein the author has a familial relationship with the publisher, editor, or any managerial employee, officer, director or owner of the publisher or book packager;

c. Those works published by companies, websites or imprints that do not publish other authors;

d. Those works published by a publisher or website or in collaboration with a book packager in which the author has a direct or indirect financial interest;

e. Those works published in an anthology or magazine in which the author is also an editor, except an anthology or magazine for which the author is a guest editor;

f. Those works published in an anthology or magazine wherein the author has a familial relationship with the editor or publisher

6. The publisher pays for editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, web design, graphics, and all other aspects of publication in print or on the web. They do not require authors to pay for any of the above.

7. An issue, in print or on the web, must be available for a minimum of thirty days to be considered published.

8. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment of acceptance fees to authors.

Requirements for e-Book Publishers

Publishers interested in being on MWA’s Approved E-Book Publishers List must fill out the affidavit and submit a sample contract. If all of the following criteria are met, contact the national office to begin the vetting process (the affidavit will be supplied if these requirements are met). The publisher must also meet all of the following criteria (the term “book” refers to all e-formats, “Publishing” refers to print, web, and other e-formats):
1. During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $500 in advances and/or royalties to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.

a) The publisher must have paid a minimum royalty of least 25% of net revenue to authors.
b) The royalties must have been paid at least quarterly, with a detailed statement, breaking out books sold through affiliate sites, through the publisher’s own site, as well as print books if applicable.
c) Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies or any other considerations.
d) Payment must be actual – not, for example, a donation of writing deemed worth a given amount.
e) Payment must have been made and not merely promised.
f) A contract alone is not payment. Proof of payment may be requested by the committee.

2. The publisher must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first e-book by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company.

3. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors self-publishing services, literary representation, paid editorial services, or paid promotional services. If the publisher is affiliated with an entity that provides self-publishing, for-pay editorial services, or for-pay promotional services, the entities must be wholly separate and isolated from the publishing entity. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publishing entity must not refer authors to any of the for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to manuscripts submitted that were edited, published, or promoted by the for-pay entity. To avoid misleading authors, mentions and/or advertisements for the for-pay entities shall not be included with information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising on the publisher’s website for any for-pay editorial, self-publishing or promotional services, whether affiliated with the publisher or not, must include a disclaimer that it is advertising and that use of those services offered by an affiliate of the publisher will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted for publication.

4. The publisher must publish at least five authors per year, other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.

5. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager. Among (but not all of) the situations defined as “self-published or cooperatively published” are:

a. Those works for which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher, website owner or book packager;

b. e-books published by a privately-held publisher or in collaboration with a book packager wherein the author has a familial relationship with the publisher, editor, or any managerial employee, officer, director or owner of the publisher or book packager;

c. Those works published by companies, websites or imprints that do not publish other authors;

d. Those works published by a publisher or website or in collaboration with a book packager in which the author has a direct or indirect financial interest;

e. Those works published in an anthology in which the author is also an editor, except an anthology for which the author is a guest editor;

f. Those works published in an anthology or magazine wherein the author has a familial relationship with the editor or publisher

6. The publisher pays for editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, web design, graphics, and all other aspects of publication. They do not require authors to pay for any of the above.

7. Books must be available through major online retailers, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore, and not just through the publisher’s website.

8. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment of acceptance fees to authors.