One of grandest scams on Web, which goes largely unnoticed, is for a web-based bookseller or publisher to require some rights to your work in exchange for service to be provided. Many demand electronic rights, for example.
Don't do it!
Never, ever release any of your rights. Here's why.
The Writer's Goal
Winning writing game means becoming an established author, one who sells a new book every year or two. One who earns enough to live comfortably from his or her writing alone.
The first step toward achieving this goal is to be published by a major house in real world. That is, offline. Most will not even consider your book if you've muddied water by releasing or selling any rights to it.
Sure, there are exceptions. Some have self-published, then later made a deal with a major house. And stories make grand reading. But there are not a lot of them.
The Better Plan
If you are serious about writing, grab a copy of "Writer's Market," then read and follow rules. While many publishers buy an occasional manuscript directly from an author, your best bet is to find an agent and leave manner of presentation to publishers in capable hands. (An agent is worth his or her weight in gold in helping you decipher a contract!)
It will probably take some time to find an agent. Begin another tale while doing so. And once you find one, while waiting further and hoping for great news, continue writing. If agent you found can't make it happen, look for another. But keep writing.
Again, there are success stories of those who bypassed agents and went directly to a publisher. But unless you're one heck of a salesperson and really in tune with what each publisher is looking for, leave it all to an agent, and do what you do best. Namely, write.
How Rights Released Can Bite
Bingo. You've made a sale. A good house, too. You and your agent are jumping with joy. Hey, you're on your way!
But wait one. A few years back, electronic rights were negotiable, and often retained by author. So you released these rights, or part of them, to gain some exposure on Web. But now your publisher-to-be wants them. What for?
Books by major authors are selling in electronic formats. The entire publishing industry is closely tuned in to this rapidly changing part of book arena.
Okay, back to what your publisher-to-be wants. Will they go through legal hassles and pay costs to recover those rights you handed out? Or will they just grab another title from in-stack? If you were in their position, what would you do?