I love this topic. Why? Because there are things writing newbs should know and things fans have no idea about, behind the scenes. I put forth that every industry possesses its own quality of dirty little secrets.
Here's what I know about writing:
1. The big dogs always win. If they are ripping you off and you go legal on them, they still win. Why? Because if they choose not to pay up, you have to take them to court to order them to pay up. If they still don't pay up, you have to go back to court to order them to pay up again. Meantime, you drop $5000 for filing with the court each time.
2. The business is incestuous part one. Did you hate a publisher or an editor? Did you tell them to go directly to hell without passing "go"? Guess what? You're gonna be working with them again. Many editors work for multiple houses. You may not know it until your work is submitted and you get assigned. Fortunately for me, I've loved my editors. They rock.
3. The business is incestuous part deux. Did you snark all over another author? Guess what? She might be your new editor. No, seriously. I know several authors who also edit under different names. Most I had no idea about until I met them in person as an editor, but saw them on a panel as an author later.
4. Read your contracts. It is not uncommon for a house to change their boiler plate contract. Usually, they tell you changes are coming. Not always. I recently signed a contract with a publisher who pretended not to have received it three months later as it was going to publication. I had the proof of receipt and forwarded it. The publisher asked me to sign again for the record. Turns out, they'd changed the term of agreement from two years to four and were tricking me into accepting it. I didn't, in case you were wondering. They backed down and accepted the original term.
5. The internet, is teh triksey. Whatever is posted, never goes away. It gets picked up and blown way out of proportion, or just brought into the light, and the entire world will know your business.
6. Quarterly payments are paid whenever the hell a publisher feels like it. Usually they go by a schedule, but often they change the rules, or forget to send correct payment. Keep a record of what is owed because it's your money. Control it.
7. Monthly payments are paid whenever the hell a publisher feels like it. See above.
8. Expect that the precious work you've labored hours, days, weeks, months, over, will show up on a pirating site before the sun even comes up on the day of release. You are being robbed and expected to suck it up. Don't. Fight for you rights and income.
9. Divas always get theirs in the end. Did I mention this business was incestuous? Yeah, I was serious. If you fuck over a publishing house, the entire back office knows it... and they talk to each other. They also have the memory of elephants and you won't be able to snow them when you submit to another house where they also work.
9.b. On that topic, watch your alcohol intake and your looseness of mouth quotient at conferences. Telling people that a publisher/author/editor got drunk. Saying they got drunk and said/promised/proposed marriage or something will get you black-balled. In some cases, black-balled by a publisher you aren't even working with because they heard about your behavior and won't allow it in their house. Mind your p's and q's. Be professional.
10. Editors, Publishers, Agents... they often have their own closed loops. If they like you, the industry knows it. If you're a rude, self-important asshole, they know that too.
You can approach the above one of two ways. Either pull up your big girl panties, take a deep breath, and march on. Or, pull down those big girl panties (because you were the diva and are now paying the price), grab your ass cheeks, bend over and wear a smile as you take your due.
However it happens, it happens. And if someone is giving you shit you don't deserve, remember the wheel keeps spinning. It won't be long before everyone realizes that someone can't be trusted and you were probably misrepresented.