If you’re an insane writer-type like me, then you tend to do your homework about publishers before you sign on the dotted line. A few tips:
1) Make sure it’s a house that publishes your genre. Go check out the website and look through the book catalog to make sure it’s a match. Not sure what houses might be a match? If you write romances, find out where your fave authors are published. If you write lesfic, e.g., what houses publish the authors you’re reading?
2) Check with other authors. They can’t always reveal the inner workings of the publisher they’re signed with, but they can probably give you some basic info and basic impressions without opening a giant can of worms. Of course, if an author is super happy, he or she is going to tell you that. If he or she is not, he or she might politely decline to talk about it.
3) Trusty Google! Type in the publisher’s name with “complaints” and see what comes up.
4) check sites like Predators and Editors to see if the publisher you’re interested in is recommended or not. And here you go, some handy linkies to watchdog sites!
Predators and Editors
Writer Beware (affiliated with Science Fiction Writers of America)
And here’re some good tips for self-publishing authors.
Point being, the writing stuff is fun. The business end — maybe not so much, but it’s super important so you’ve got to do it.
Happy writing and happy publishing!