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  1. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    pros and cons of new publishers?

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Mckk, Jan 30, 2019.

    Just wondering, when it comes to choosing a publisher (rather than an agent), what are some things to consider? What questions to ask? Esp if the publisher is brand new and may not have any books out yet, or only a handful?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Yikes. Brand new? No books yet?

    I guess I'd ask what they can offer me that I can't do on my own via self-publishing?

    What experience the people involved have? Where funding is coming from?

    How the contract will protect authors if the publisher goes under?
     
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  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    New publishers can be a concern. They have no track record. BayView's questions above are a good place to start.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the one I'm looking at seems to be run by two traditionally published writers, and a third who doesn't seem to be a writer at all. No editing that I can see. There're 3 books scheduled to come out by them later this year, but 2 of them are by the two writers who run the house. The way the website is written and presented looks very professional, however, and there're no fees attached, so it's a legit house - just brand baby new...
     
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    If they don't even offer editing, they're going to be taking a chunk of your royalties AND the publication rights to your work for, what, the $100 it costs for a cover?

    I think self-publishing would be better - at least then you get 70% of sales and don't sign away any rights!
     
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  7. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @BayView is spot on. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. If they have approached you, thank them very much for their interest, and move on. If they haven't, don't you go near them.

    The biggest thing a publisher has to offer a writer is marketing, their ability to push the book to get far more sales than you can. A three-person house with no reputation can't do that any better than you can.

    Wish them good luck on their adventure, everyone has to start somewhere, but don't volunteer to be their first guinea pig/sacrificial lamb.
     
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  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    What makes you think it's a legitimate publisher?
     
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  9. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    @BayView - sorry, I meant that the staff on board don't appear to have any editing experience. One of them is termed an "editor-in-chief" so I imagine they will be the ones doing the editing.

    @Tenderiser - I guess the fact that they don't ask for any fees means they're not a vanity press, so I just went from that to thinking "they're legit" but perhaps there are other factors I'm not thinking of?

    @Lew - it's a pitch war on Twitter and they seemed to have liked mine. It's basically no news yet because all that means is they want a query.
     
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  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    My standards for a publisher are a lot higher than "They aren't a vanity press!"

    Did you read the thread I linked? How did the publisher do on each of the points?
     
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  11. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I did, but there's not much to look at. They have no digital footprint whatsoever and their "quirky" name means I get random stuff. I don't even get their own website unless I add "publishing" at the end of my search. There are no submission guidelines, simply a contact form to fill in. There are no fees and no services. Their website is pretty and doesn't seem to be geared towards readers or writers - it's not immediately clear what they do unless you really read the text carefully. Truth is, it's written like it's run by a bunch of... writers. They enjoyed writing the website, which is why it's so bloody long-winded while saying very little at all. (don't get me wrong, the writing itself reads fine) Their homepage is ill-designed - I'm guessing they made it themselves, despite the professional look.

    None of this looks good, huh...
     
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  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Yep. I looked up who it was, and these people won't sell your book.
     
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ha, you went on my Twitter to see? Yeah, they won't? :superthink:I don't want to believe you, of course, but you're probably right. Should I bother submitting a query then and then quizzing them on my concerns, or just write them off?

    I'll be happy to follow you on Twitter if you're on there :)
     
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  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    You already follow me. I recognised you and followed you back. :D

    Don't query a publisher unless you'd accept a contract from them - otherwise it just wastes everybody's time. If you'd sign a contract with these guys... well, being badly published is worse than being unpublished. In both cases your book isn't selling, but at least with the latter you still have the rights and can sell them later.
     
  15. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I do!? Must have followed you through Laurin perhaps.
     
  16. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    That's your red flag, right there. I may not know a lot about publishing but I do know marketing and PR, and if they can't even figure out the SEO to get the first search result for their own website, they'll hurt you more than help you. RUN.

    A publisher's biggest job is to market you. They're failing at marketing themselves.

    Hell, I could make a pretty website and blast it on Twitter. Template, plug in the names and logo. Boom.

    Pretty means nothing.

    ETA #2: Also, is "Editor-in-Chief" even a proper title in book publishing? Seriously asking, because I've never seen that title used outside of a magazine/newspaper.

    Or were they being cute? You don't want cute. They're failing at the basics.

    (edited because the dyslexic transposed a word)
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    This is exactly what a lot of people do, and call themselves publishers. They're generally either people who have had success running retail-based businesses and think publishing is the same (it isn't) or authors who can't get published by reputable houses so start their own.

    It's the same story, every single time.
     
  18. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    "Agents" "Managers" "Labels" "Publicists".That's why I recognized it as bogus. ETA: It's done in the entertainment industry all the time.
     
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  19. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    If I can offer an analogy and a warning, @Mckk...

    True story: I dated a musician who, before we went out, was signed to an "indie label" that seemed shiny bright and new. They were musician-centric and to him and his band seemed like a good fit. When I met him, he was out on tour. The "label" managed to have enough money just to get the first single out and put the band on the road.

    The band, and all their equipment ended up stranded far away from home when the label ran out of money.

    The tour bus company and driver and hotels weren't being paid.

    They had to leave the equipment somewhere instead of bringing it home right away because they couldn't afford the freight and could barely scrape together plane tickets.

    To add insult to injury, their masters (recordings) and music publishing were legally tied to the indie label via that contract. To this day, I don't think the guy I dated has any of those songs back. I know for sure he never got the masters.

    This is the kind of scenario you'd be walking into, and your book would be tied to these people. RUN.
     
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  20. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    That's SO similar to the start-up 'publisher' story.

    An author gets a contract offer, often after many rejections. They're ecstatic. The publisher is super enthusiastic. They go through the editing process (which is usually the blind leading the blind), get a cover.

    The book comes out. The author tweets, Facebooks, blogs, tells everybody they know. Maybe pays to print bookmarks or other 'swag' (that word makes me want to vomit but that's by-the-by) to hand to everybody they meet.

    The first royalty statement arrives. The book has sold 15 copies.

    The devastated author asks the publisher what's wrong. You need to promote more! says the publisher. The author redoubles her efforts.

    The next royalty statement arrives. Three more copies.

    The author contacts the publisher again. Why don't you do some book signings or giveaways? We'll give you a 50% discount on any books you buy!

    The author buys 50 copies and tries direct selling.

    All the publisher's authors are now doing this, because it's the only way they can sell any books. The publisher is making its money from the authors, not from readers, so it starts to accept more and more manuscripts and push out as many as they can. 50 orders on 100 books means the publisher can stay afloat.

    Whaddaya know? You're with a vanity press. It doesn't charge you any fees upfront and it's all optional, but the only way to sell your books is to buy from from the publisher itself. The publisher probably didn't intend this to happen - they, too, discovered the hard way that they can't make enough money from readers. But selling to their authors is the only way they can keep going, until they finally call it a day. After having taken first rights for several hundred books from devastated first-time authors.

    It's always the same story.

    The only ones who escape the mould are the publishers started by industry professionals with a hell of a lot of capital and who understand distribution.
     
  21. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    Yep. Almost identical to the music industry, with one exception: The band has to pay back the advance from the failed CD. Sometimes they have to "pay to play" (buy their own concert tickets to sell), too.

    I have seen this scenario so many times in music. And it takes years to get the music back. And if another company buys the scraps remaining after the company files bankruptcy, sometimes they never get it back at all. It's just gone.

    Listen to @Tenderiser and the others on this, guys. You do not want this to happen to your book.

    Came back to add: We haven't even discussed the fact that when it all goes horribly wrong, the cost of an experienced attorney to help you get out of it is usually too high to bear. Legal fights such as these are very expensive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  22. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Shenanigator - it's all right, you guys have helpfully dashed my hopes on this publisher by this point (it's helpful and I'm glad, but still, disappointed...) I'm so sorry to hear about your ex! Music sounds even riskier than books, to be honest.

    Well, the light at the end of the tunnel is, an agent just liked my pitch, which means request to query. Fuck me I have to polish those first 50 pages!!!! Yes I've been through them before, it's been edited, but still. I've been having a minor freak out all morning, swinging between freaking and telling myself, "No one gets this lucky. You know you're gonna get a form rejection. Don't get too excited."

    And I need to google up this agent but she seems to be with an agency that's been around since 1991 and she also exists on manuscript wish list where you can read about agent profiles. Fingers crossed...

    Ok minor freak out...
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  23. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Mckk,
    Follow the success or failure of this publisher for 18 months or two years. Watch releases, see if their authors sell. Maybe pick up an ebook on discount from them. Check out the formatting and editing. Watch for their promotional efforts. Get on the mailing list of one of their 'star' authors, and see how things go for him or her.

    If they're around, and doing well, contact them about the manuscript they were interested in (assuming it hasn't already found representation or a home).

    Some decent small to mid-sized presses are under pressure. Cohesion Press, for example, nearly folded recently, and reverted to just publishing its anthology line. Fortunately, authors got the rights reverted back to them. A publisher that folds completely? That can turn into a rights return nightmare. What I am getting at is that publishing is a very difficult business to succeed at, and a start up, like most businesses, has a high chance of failure. It's often said, going with a bad publisher can harm an author's writing career more than not getting published.

    Honestly, I would have more confidence in publishing house established by two successful self-published authors, and a person of unknown qualifications, than two traditionally published authors and a person of unknown qualifications. The former trio is more likely to have the skills to find cover artists, editors (and work with them), layout/formatting, and have direct marketing experience.

    I say 'more likely' because there are some really sharp traditionally published authors out there, with skills and real business sense. And there are plenty of self-published authors that do solid with their own work, but don't have what it takes to successfully work with other authors and run a publishing company.
     
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  24. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    She's a very good agent, though more in children's books than adult. I would definitely query. :)

    (Tell me if you want me to stop stalking your Twitter...)
     
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  25. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    :supergrin:it's all right. I just wish I knew your handle so I can stalk you back. (ETA: wait, I think I found you!)

    @TWErvin2 - wow thanks for the solid advice. I'll definitely do some digging. How would you find out the sales figure of a certain book though? I don't suppose these things are public - or is there a website...?
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019

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