I have a manuscript ready to go for a book on Information Management and I'm about to start approaching publishers. As I do, what should I be looking for in a publishing deal? What should I be looking out for?
What kind of book are you writing? Is it a paperback or an e-book? The two are very different today. I have less experience with paperbacks though the journalists I work with tell me they are a very long process and much more difficult to find publishers for. It's about a year for the whole process and what you should look for is a publisher who is:
For e-books, things can be simpler. You can self-publish if you don't find a publisher. This is a choice many authors take in the Kindle, iBooks, Google Play stores. In this case, the barriers for entry are much lower. The main things you need to worry about are:
I've heard from newspapers printing e-books that it is very possible to self-publish so you don't have to pay a company to do this for you if you need to cut costs.
Frankly, if this is your first book, and you are not already famous, I would not be too picky. Take any deal that does not include selling your daughter into slavery.
Getting your first book published by a major publisher is very, very difficult. You don't want to reject a decent deal in hopes of finding something better, because the odds are, you won't find something better.
Once you've had one book published, THEN you are in a position to negotiate.
It's like getting your first job. You don't go to the fast food place demanding a corner office, chauffeured limo, and 12 weeks vacation. You accept minimum wage and a paper hat. Once you've been working a few years and have some experience, then you are in a position to make demands.