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ReneeScatts
04-25-2013, 06:41 AM
Hi, I'm Renee. I'm a writer and recently I started my own publishing company. I have a mission to change the face of the publishing industry. :D

I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone and learn some new stuff (and hopefully share something helpful)!

regdog
04-25-2013, 03:00 PM
I'm going to copy this for Bewares and Backgrounds as I'm sure members will have questions about you and your company.

eternalised
04-25-2013, 03:12 PM
Hey, Renee. Nice to meet you.

Can you tell us about your company, Lionsong Publishing? I noticed you have a page called 'Agents and Assistants' (http://lionsong-publishing.com/agents/). Can you explain what they are and what they do? From what I gather, they're a hybrid mix of editors, publicists and mentors? Can you elaborate on that?

Also, it's a publishing house yet you have agents. Who specialize in certain genre. That's strange - normally agents and publishing house aren't under the same roof.

Here are my other questions:
1) What experience do your agents have? Do they have experience as publicists? Experience as editors?
2) What experience do you have as a publisher? Being a writer is great but there's a huge difference between being a writer and publisher.
3) Do you have distribution for your titles? Can you get them into print stores?
4) Do you have a cover artist or designer? I see no mention of it anywhere on the website.

Katrina S. Forest
04-25-2013, 05:49 PM
EDIT: As per OP's request in this post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8141486&postcount=29), quotes from Lionsong Publishing's website have been removed and replaced with a direct link.


Hi, I'm Renee. I'm a writer and recently I started my own publishing company. I have a mission to change the face of the publishing industry. :D

I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone and learn some new stuff (and hopefully share something helpful)!

I love the enthusiasm, but many, many publishers have joined this board claiming the exact same thing. Many of them have stopped existing within a couple years, taking their authors' book with them.

Your About page (http://lionsong-publishing.com/about/) is largely aimed at authors. But what about readers? That's the authors' ultimate goal, isn't it? If you want to help get writers feedback, why not start a website to connect authors with beta-readers and/or mentors? Or if you have the industry knowledge and want to help authors through the publishing process, why not produce a step-by-step guide to self-publishing? Then the author could keep 100% of the profits instead of splitting them 50/50.

Also, from your mission statement, I must ask, what is it that you believe literary agents do? Because one of an agent's main jobs is to protect their clients from lousy contracts. If an agent is employed by the publishing company, that's a major conflict of interest.

Honestly, this feels like an attempt to remove any frustration from the process of creating a publishable novel. That does authors no favors and certainly does nothing for readers.

Marian Perera
04-25-2013, 06:50 PM
At Lionsong Publishing, we believe that the road to becoming a published author should be exciting and fun, and free from stress.

That's nice, but it's like a college saying, "We believe that the road to getting a diploma should be free from stress." How do you plan to remove any and all stress from the processes of revising, submitting, editing, etc. while still putting out a quality product?

PVish
04-25-2013, 07:46 PM
This info from the About LSP (http://lionsong-publishing.com/about/) page does not speak well of LSP's editing skills:
There are many publishing companies out there today, however most of them focus on quantity over quality. They believe that if they publish 100′s of books a year, one of them is bound to make them some money.

Comma splice corrected: There are many publishing companies out there today; however, most of them focus on quantity over quality.

Incorrect use of numerals corrected: They believe that if they publish hundreds of books a year, one of them is bound to make them some money.

I won't go into how the above sentence needs to be rewritten for clarity, etc. But—if you're a publishing company—you should edit your web pages.

AlterEgox5
04-25-2013, 10:32 PM
I'm confused as to why there are agents employed at the company at all. If your goal is to publish authors and remove outside agents from the equation, then you're just a publisher, right? You're simply acquiring books and then publishing - what is the point of having your own agents? Or rather, after reading the description of what they do, why call them agents at all? An agent's main job from the get go is to find a publishing house for an author. If anything, I think a different title needs to be applied to them, because right now calling them agents is just confusing.

Professional editing services aside, I'm also curious as to why one would choose LSP over simply heading off to one of the many epublishing platforms that offer more in royalties as well as places like CreateSpace for POD opportunities. And what about cover designs? Are those services included because so far I see no mention of them...

aliceshortcake
04-25-2013, 10:39 PM
Lionsong on mainstream publishers:


They do very little to help their authors succeed and sell books. They expect the author to do all the work.

Renee, there are many published authors here who can tell you that this simply isn't true.


All of our books are published using print-on-demand printing. Not only does this cut costs, but it helps the environment by cutting down on waste and helps to prevent the unnecessary use of our natural resources. This initially raises the cost of the individual books that we sell, but we have a plan to reduce our production costs...Our goal is to become a self-sustaining publishing house with offices all over the world. There will be no middle man between us and the consumers (or book stores/libraries). We will have our own printers, which will cut down on the printing costs exponentially, especially since we will only be printing what we need at any given time.
http://lionsong-publishing.com/about/

You also say that "our goal is to turn every novel we publish into a best seller" and "we work with our authors to turn their good stories into spectacular best selling novels". But a genuinely bestselling print-on-demand book is a contradiction in terms, which makes me wonder where the money to fund Lionsong's expansion is going to come from.


Our Agents work very closely with our authors. They take our authors step by step through the entire publishing process. They are editors, marketing consultants and mentors. Our Assistants are Agents in training and work very closely with you and the Agent to publish your novel.
http://lionsong-publishing.com/agents/

I'm sorry, but this sounds like a case of "jack of all trades, master of none". Editors, agents and marketing consultants aren't interchangeable, and none of them are entry level jobs (I also wonder why you're using the term "agent" in such an odd way). I'm sure you have good intentions, but so did many inexperienced publishers who went under within a couple of years and took their authors' intellectual property with them.

kaitie
04-26-2013, 12:53 AM
Are they only working for an Australian market? Also, is it true Australia doesn't do copyright?

I also don't understand the setup for the "agents and assistants." Agents work to sell books to publishing companies and negotiate contracts, etc. I don't see how it could possibly work for a real agent to work for the publishing company. They'd basically just be sending their authors to that company, right? In which case, that'd be closer to acquisitions editor, right? Or it would be a pretty serious conflict of interest.

Also, none of the three people listed are artists, editors, formatters, etc. There is no mention of what any of them are actually doing at the company. How is Renee the agent and publisher? What on earth do the assistants do? What experience do any of them have because it looks an awful lot like the answer is none. One of them has some editing experience, but I don't know the quality of the presses other than one was coop. The other doesn't give any information about itself online that I could see, so it's hard to know.

Yeah. The more I read about them, the less interested I would be. One person is supposed to be an agent, an editor, marketer, and so on. The fact that each person (of whom two of them, including the head of the whole thing, have no experience) is expected to do all of those things just seems like a good way to get unprofessional service. It just sounds to me like an inexperienced publisher who doesn't understand the way publishing actually works.

aliceshortcake
04-26-2013, 01:39 AM
I'd also be put off by this:


Does the author have to pay for publishing?

No, we never ask the author for any money. The only thing we will recommend for our authors is that they take a percentage of their royalties and use it towards promoting their work or their websites and/or blogs. In the future, when we have our own printers, we may offer (at a low cost) things like posters, book marks and business cards that authors can purchase to help promote their work. We wonít be looking for a profit with these promotional materials, though. We will simply be looking to recover the cost of materials, printing and shipping.

So Lionsong authors will be "recommended" to put part of their royalties towards promoting their books. Given that few people other than the authors' families and friends are likely to buy overpriced PoD books this could easily wipe out any profit earned from sales; to all intents and purposes these authors will have paid to be published. Posters, bookmarks and business cards are also of dubious value to authors with no name recognition whose books won't be available in bookstores. What will Lionsong's marketing consultants be doing to put their books before the reading public?

Marian Perera
04-26-2013, 01:40 AM
How is Renee the agent and publisher? What on earth do the assistants do? What experience do any of them have because it looks an awful lot like the answer is none.

I checked Amazon to see if Renee had anything published, but there's nothing under her name. Makes a difference from those outfits which are clearly fronts to publish the owner's work, but at the same time, this press is long on enthusiasm and short on experience.

aliceshortcake
04-26-2013, 01:57 AM
I wouldn't be too sure about Lionsong not being a self-publishing front. From a January 2013 entry on Renee's blog:


Iím still working on Shadow Stalker once in a while, but Iím still determined to finish the entire series before publishing it. In the meantime Iím actually working on something quite different for me. Itís something Iíve always wanted to write, but never had the guts to do it. Iím working on my first erotic novel with a BDSM flair. Itís a story that was inspired by a good friend of mine. In three days of writing I managed to write over 20,000 words too, which is a bit shocking. I have decided to make it the first novel I publish, so Iím putting all of my focus into it at the moment (and I promise itís not going to be a repeat of Fifty Shades of Grey).
http://reneescattergood.wordpress.com/category/publishing/

FOTSGreg
04-26-2013, 03:32 AM
Is LionSong aware of the cost for a POD printer? While costs have come down considerably, I'm sure, it might not be enough to be cost-effective for a small start-up of almost any type to afford.

In addition, traditional offset printing is not all that expensive when compared with the cost of POD on a "per book" basis. Indeed, traditional offset printing might have an advantage over POD.
How does LionSong plan to accumulate the funds to enable it to obtain a POD printer?

kaitie
04-26-2013, 06:46 AM
I checked Amazon to see if Renee had anything published, but there's nothing under her name. Makes a difference from those outfits which are clearly fronts to publish the owner's work, but at the same time, this press is long on enthusiasm and short on experience.

I think her blog made it clear that she has planned to self-publish. Actually, set up to publish her own work was exactly what it sounded like.

aliceshortcake
04-27-2013, 01:43 PM
It doesn't look like Renee will be making a return visit...

Thedrellum
04-27-2013, 08:29 PM
I'm pretty sure she didn't know that this thread had been started. She is still posting around AW and mentioned that she just got the subscription feature worked out.

Anyway, I let her know that this thread about her publishing venture is live and gave her a link if she wants to come over and see (and answer questions, of course).

Marian Perera
04-27-2013, 08:31 PM
I'm pretty sure she didn't know that this thread had been started.

She started this thread. ETA : Oops, no, it was copied off of her newbie post, although there's a message in the newbie thread about the copy being made to this forum.

ReneeScatts
04-27-2013, 08:32 PM
I'm sure regdog was well intentioned when he set up this thread and I really don't mind answering people's questions, but I feel as though it has turned into a thread bent on bashing my company rather than any real attempt at trying to learn more about it. I really don't believe that anything I say will be well received, so I'm leery about answering questions here.

I didn't come to this community to "advertise" my publishing company. I came here to connect with other writers. I only mentioned the company as a way of telling people where my focus is at the moment (aside from writing). Starting my own publishing company is something I've wanted to do for years, but I was afraid it was too big for me. It was a friend of mine, who works in the industry, who talked me into finally doing it. It's something I'm very excited about and something I'm proud of. It was a big step for me.

Yes, originally I was planning to self-publish. It was something I wanted to do at the time. Sure, my publishing company will probably publish my novels, but I will be going through the same process of submission everyone else does. Another of my agents will read my manuscript and decide if it is publishable material. If it's not, then it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm not giving myself or any of my agents special consideration where our own work is concerned.

Even when I was planning to self-publish, I wasn't doing it on a whim. I know several people who are traditionally published authors, and a few editors (one of them works for me and yes, she has experience) who have made themselves available to me in order to determine whether or not my work was worth publishing. I'm not one of those people who use self-publishing as a way to avoid the struggles of perfecting my art and hardships of finding an agent or publisher who will give me a chance. I had other reasons for wanting to self-publish (and some of those reasons are also why I wanted to start my own publishing company).

No, my publishing company doesn't work like others. There is a reason for that. Perhaps if some of you actually take the time to get to know me instead of making accusations and trying to run me into the ground, you might get to learn those reasons. As I said, I didn't come here to advertise my company, and now I'm sorry I even mentioned it. If anyone is truly serious about learning more about the company and my goals, feel free to contact me on the site. In fact, a good portion of the questions brought up here are answered on the site, if you take the time to actually read it. In fact, I have even set up a FAQ page with a contact form in case people had questions that were not answered on the site.

To the person who tried to get my attention by putting a comment on my blog that read "Renee, you recently posted on the AbsoluteWrite forum. Perhaps you'd like to return and answer some of the questions it raised?" First of all, I don't appreciate being contacted that way. The comments section of my blog is meant for people who have something to say about the content on my blog. It's not meant for passing along messages. There is a private messaging system in this community. That would have been the more appropriate way to contact me to let me know about this thread. Also, I feel the need to correct you on the fact that I did not post this thread, and I didn't know it was here, nor did I have any idea what your comment was in reference to, until I logged in today.

I was not ignoring this thread nor the questions, as it seems to have been assumed. I'm a busy person. I don't spend all day hanging out in forums. I write. I run my business. I homeschool my daughter. I take care of my home. If it takes a day or two to reply to people's comments on a forum, it's because I was busy doing other things that are higher on my priority list.

The bottom line is, I found most of the comments in this thread very offensive. It very nearly made me want to walk away from this community. I certainly don't want to recommend it to any of my authors if this is how they will be treated. Next time you read a thread like this, instead of assuming the worst and trying to drag someone down. Just ask simple questions and offer advice that you think will help the person. Isn't that what a community like this is supposed to be about? Don't just assume someone is doing the wrong thing just because they're not doing it your way!

Marian Perera
04-27-2013, 08:42 PM
Next time you read a thread like this, instead of assuming the worst and trying to drag someone down. Just ask simple questions There are several questions asked in this thread, including but not limited to:

What experience do your agents have?

What is it you think literary agents do?

Are you only focusing on an Australian market?

What about your cover design?

Are these questions not simple enough? You could have answered one or two of them rather than writing several paragraphs which, essentially, say nothing other than that you feel you've been unfairly dissed.


Another of my agents will read my manuscript and decide if it is publishable material.

Though as of now, you're the only agent (http://lionsong-publishing.com/agents/) in your company...


Don't just assume someone is doing the wrong thing just because they're not doing it your way! No, we assume someone is doing the wrong thing when they do exactly what several dozen failed presses before them have done.

ReneeScatts
04-27-2013, 09:15 PM
I don't mind people asking questions, but people were not just asking questions and I have every reason to believe (because of the tone of people's comments) that anything I say in response to those questions here will be twisted. It's obvious that people have already formed an opinion of my publishing company, and nothing I say will change that opinion. So I will be answering these questions on my website. I will be adding some of them to the FAQ page, and I will also be editing some of the other pages to make things more clear.

Marian Perera
04-27-2013, 09:26 PM
I don't mind people asking questions, but people were not just asking questions

Of course they're not. People evaluate what a press offers (or doesn't offer) and give their informed opinions, especially when these people have had the experience of seeing dozens of similar presses fail. This forum is meant for such discussions. There is no rule saying that people can only ask questions.


and I have every reason to believe (because of the tone of people's comments) that anything I say in response to those questions here will be twisted.

People are skeptical because, as I said, they've see a lot of publishers come and go, and many times those publishers have taken writers' dreams and manuscripts down with them.

So without even answering a question, you decide in advance that anything you say will be twisted? Well, at least that gives anyone considering your company an idea of how you handle and react to criticism. How professional (or unprofessional) you are, in other words.


It's obvious that people have already formed an opinion of my publishing company, and nothing I say will change that opinion.

That's an assumption, not a fact. Previously you were telling us not to assume the worst, weren't you?


So I will be answering these questions on my website. I will be adding some of them to the FAQ page, and I will also be editing some of the other pages to make things more clear.

Good. I look forward to reading that on your website and commenting on that here.

cryaegm
04-27-2013, 10:27 PM
Renee, I do hope you will come back to answer questions we have here. You're weren't attacked. And even though you didn't make this thread or advertise it here, another writer might come across your publishing website and have questions. They may bring it here for more information and to find out more about your company. It's called research. Unless you're not planning to publish other books but your own?

kaitie
04-27-2013, 11:13 PM
For what it's worth, I did read the website. What I saw concerned me greatly, and I wouldn't recommend the publisher. We always tell people to wait two years and see, but there are elements of the set-up that seem misinformed about what terms mean (for instance, the use of "agent"). There are also issues such as stating every book will be a bestseller when distribution isn't apparently, and POD is generally reserved for low-selling print copies as offset print runs are less expensive.

I don't think your words will be twisted, but keep in mind the terms you are using have very specific meanings. If you use the term "agent," an agent is a person who works no behalf of the author to sell the book to a publisher and get the author the best deal possible, negotiate the contract for said author, and then works as a go-between for any issues that arise. We aren't twisting your words to say that an agent doesn't do the things suggested on your site. If you are changing the meaning of a term, then it's going to create confusion and it's going to cause people to say "that's not what that means." Does that make sense?

No one is here to drag you into the mud or bring you down. We're here to make sure authors don't end up in situations they might regret. As an author, you should be able to appreciate that.

There are reasons experience is required. It's not must a matter of understanding the business side, but it's also the fact that publishing positions are professional positions. A person can't walk into Random House and say, "Btw, I'm an editor now so hire me," without some sort of training or experience because that person will lack the skills required to do the job at a professional level. This holds true for other jobs as well. Cover design, marketing, formatting, typesetting, and so on. Just as a writer often requires a lot of practice and learning to write at a professional level, these areas require practice and learning to do at a professional level as well.

Keep in mind that you're competing with the big companies (and the very good small ones). If your product isn't every bit as great as theirs, why would people buy yours instead? Do the people you're hiring have that level of professionalism? Do you see why we're concerned when you use standard terms in an unusual way, because it implies that you don't have that level of professionalism?

What about capital? Running a publishing company is a very expensive and not very profitable venture. It requires a lot of money up front to cover costs.

I'm not trying to be miss meanie mean pants here, though I'm sure that's how this comes across. I sympathize, and I understand that you're trying to do a good thing. You're ambitious, and that's fine. But I'm not sure if you've seen people lose their books when publishers go under before.

I've been here for long enough to see dozens of threads that are started by ambitious people trying to do a good thing. I don't think you're a bad person. I think that your business model is questionable, and the danger with that is that authors often lose rights or have a hard time regaining rights to books that they spent a lot of time and effort on. Even if those rights are returned, authors are then very limited in what they can do with them because most publishers want a fresh, new book, not a reprint, especially if sales weren't spectacular in the first place. Those books are essentially lost.

That's why threads like this exist. As others have said before, publishing isn't an entry level position. Just as with writing you have to know the rules before you can break them, you have to truly understand the industry and how it functions before you can change it.

FOTSGreg
04-27-2013, 11:17 PM
Renee, if you're going to be in publishing you'd better grow a much thicker skin than you've shown yourself to have here.

Asking a new publisher questions is SOP here. Asking them to face HARD facts is SOP here. Holding their illusions up to the light of reality is SOP here.

There are professionally-published and self-published writers, editors, agents, and people who have worked at all levels of professional publishing here. They can, and will, hold your feet to the fire.

Publishing isn't an dream or an illusion, it's a business - a cold, hard, cut-throat, money-driven business that will steamroll anyone not prepared for it.

By your comments, you are not prepared. Sorry if that's offensive, but that's the way I see it from your comments and reactions.

See, you have to be prepared to answer questions from people who are serious about their craft and this business. And the people who comment on this forum almost always are - deadly so.

You haven't answered the most basic questions put to you, but I'll ask you one or two more. The first, and most important to your writers, is,

Will you be offering royalties and, if so, at what rate?

and second,

What is your business model for success (ie, do you even have the most basic business plan)?

I figure you probably won't, or can't, answer these questions either. Answering on your website isn't good enough around here. We're professionals here (or try to be, most of the time) and you need to be professional enough as well and answer the questions asked of you, in what I saw to be a polite and professional manner, in the same fashion.

Katrina S. Forest
04-27-2013, 11:27 PM
Yes, originally I was planning to self-publish. It was something I wanted to do at the time. Sure, my publishing company will probably publish my novels, but I will be going through the same process of submission everyone else does. Another of my agents will read my manuscript and decide if it is publishable material. If it's not, then it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm not giving myself or any of my agents special consideration where our own work is concerned.

Even when I was planning to self-publish, I wasn't doing it on a whim. I know several people who are traditionally published authors, and a few editors (one of them works for me and yes, she has experience) who have made themselves available to me in order to determine whether or not my work was worth publishing.

Unless you have a blind submissions process (which your website does not seem to indicate), your agent or assistant agent is going to be biased in your favor because they know you. I'm not saying they'll be dishonest, but they will view your writing in a more positive light than that of a stranger.

I have nothing against self-publishing. But when you self-publish, you risk only your own novel. When you start a publishing company, you risk the work of other people.


To the person who tried to get my attention by putting a comment on my blog that read "Renee, you recently posted on the AbsoluteWrite forum. Perhaps you'd like to return and answer some of the questions it raised?" First of all, I don't appreciate being contacted that way. The comments section of my blog is meant for people who have something to say about the content on my blog. It's not meant for passing along messages. There is a private messaging system in this community. That would have been the more appropriate way to contact me to let me know about this thread. Also, I feel the need to correct you on the fact that I did not post this thread, and I didn't know it was here, nor did I have any idea what your comment was in reference to, until I logged in today.

If the person who left that message genuinely thought you had left this community (wrong as that might have been), then sending a PM would be pointless unless you had set up to receive an e-mail when you got PMs. I would assume that person contacted you using the method he/she thought you were most likely to see in order to give you a chance to address the questions in this thread.


The bottom line is, I found most of the comments in this thread very offensive. It very nearly made me want to walk away from this community. I certainly don't want to recommend it to any of my authors if this is how they will be treated.

If my comment was offensive to you, I genuinely ask you, how should I have phrased it differently? I have legitimate concerns that authors will not benefit from submitting to your company, based on what I see on your website so far. I am also concerned that you are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration.

When someone starts a thread on AW announcing they have a publishing company and encouraging novel-length submissions, that company generally gets discussed here in the Background Check section. I understand your frustration at not realizing this. But now that you know, please understand that these types of threads are designed to answer the question for authors: is this a worthwhile company to submit to or not?


Next time you read a thread like this, instead of assuming the worst and trying to drag someone down. Just ask simple questions and offer advice that you think will help the person. Isn't that what a community like this is supposed to be about? Don't just assume someone is doing the wrong thing just because they're not doing it your way!

Sometimes the best advice is, "This is a bad idea. Don't do it."

We won't encourage someone to publish other people's work if it looks like the company has little chance of sustaining itself.


Will you be offering royalties and, if so, at what rate?

The website states 50% royalties, though I am unsure if that is net or not.

FOTSGreg
04-27-2013, 11:47 PM
Katrina, thanks. If the publisher in question cannot be bothered to answer the most basic of questions here, I'm afraid I can't be bothered reading their website. I'm actually too busy writing and publishing my own stuff.

Sorry if that offends Renee.

Marian Perera
04-27-2013, 11:57 PM
I checked Lionsong Publishing's page on Facebook, and on January 8, a writer commented that she would be in touch "once I've got a little extra money". Lionsong replied that she wouldn't be charged for publication, which was fine, but there was a follow-up comment from someone who now works for the press:


See, start-up publishers CAN do it right. So glad you're bringing a little good back to the publishing world.

To me, that implies Lionsong Publishing is doing something unusual by not charging writers, which shows serious inexperience. Either that, or it's an attempt to create an "us good, publishing world bad" scenario, which would be worse.

triceretops
04-28-2013, 01:04 AM
Renee, welcome and please understand this. Every publisher or agent that has appeared in BRBC has had their feet held to the fire in one form or another for any number of issues or reasons. I mean, simply, inquires and questions about their operation. I can assure you that it is not a personal vendetta to crucify the start-ups or new agents. The information contained herein is a valid source to inform, enlighten and even to protect writers from publishers who might not be a good fit for them. We assume all hearts are in the right place and we understand the motives for trying to create a publishing house that looks out for writers and appeases readers with attractive, entertaining books.

You would not believe the professional company you keep here. We have agents and big-time NYC editors who all contribute to this thread. They are an invaluable resource for any publisher because their advice is so valuable and pertinent to the subject matter. Many, many publishers have listened to the discussions here and amended their contracts, not out of pressure or influence, but from learning and applying sound and reformed business tactics to their operation. It's a win-win situation for publishers who care to learn and advance.

We've been doing this for years and know which target questions to ask. They appear blunt or stark, but believe me we have to get to the point quickly, if possible.

The damage to writers and their careers is devastating if they do not carefully pick their publishing houses. I've suffered such a catastrophe and lost two books. I have a third book going down the pipe as I type this. I did not listen. I did little research or neglected to follow sound advice when it was offered. This board serves to prove that no one is the exception to any rule--writers or publishers.

Renee, you're a book lover and start-up publisher. We need people like you. We're not interested in telling you what you're not or what you lack as much as how you can achieve it and make your profile shine. And it all begins with some basics. Reread this thread and see if you can identify some of the basics that concerns writers.

tri--and welcome to AW!

ReneeScatts
04-28-2013, 02:36 AM
I understand that some of you are trying to protect writers, but several of you are taking it too far. This has nothing to do with me not having a thick skin. It has to do with the fact that you are taking companies and individuals and putting them on trial here with the attitude that they are guilty until proven innocent. I'm sorry, but I don't care how long your community has been here. You have not earned enough credibility with me to make me feel I have to justify myself to you.

As I said, I am happy to answer people's questions. It's why I have the FAQ page and contact form. It's why I have the Facebook page and the blog. I encourage people to ask questions. Does it matter whether or not those questions are answered here?

This isn't about answering questions, though. It's about proving my worthiness to you, so you can then tell people whether or not it's okay to trust me. From my point of view, you have proclaimed yourselves the authority on who can and can't be trusted in the publishing industry. You may be disturbed by how I am doing things within my company because it's not familiar to you, but the god complex that seems to have developed here has me concerned.

I'm sorry, but like I said. I don't know you. I have no reason to trust you or your intentions here. From my perspective, you have made yourselves an authority on this subject and are expecting that writers should trust your word based on your self-proclaimed authority. If they want to believe what you write here as gospel, then that is their choice. I would encourage them to do their own research and make their own choices rather than taking the word of a group of people who have declared themselves an authority on anything (I don't trust gurus).

The truth is, it's obvious some people here have been hurt by publishing companies that have gone under, or whose intentions were not honorable. This tells me that their opinion is biased, and they are going to shoot down anything new. Every new venture comes with risk. The author we signed is well aware of that, and has chosen to put her faith in us despite the fact that we are new. We all know this could fail, but we also know it can succeed. I do not ask anyone to place faith in me blindly. I do not hide the fact that we are just getting started.

Tell me something, though. If every writer waited two years for a new publishing company to be “established” how would it get established with nothing to publish? Does that mean a writer should just blindly trust a new publisher (or any publisher or agent for that matter)? No! It means they should ask questions and do research, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether it is a risk they would like to take. You are taking that decision from people with what you have set up here. Maybe instead of putting companies and individuals on trial here, you should instead teach writers the right questions to ask when approaching a publishing company or agent. Teach them how they can do the research for themselves so they can make their own decisions and yes, their own mistakes (since making mistakes is how we learn).

How fair is it to wrongly label a publishing company or literary agent as untrustworthy, based on your methods of evaluation here, and take away a potential opportunity that a writer could have had? If a company or individual is known in the industry to be untrustworthy because of bad experiences several people have had with them, then by all means make people aware of it. I don't believe your methods of evaluation here are professional nor ethical.

I would like to ask that Queen of Swords (and anyone else who has done or is considering doing it) stop taking quotes from my website, blog and Facebook pages to post here (especially when they are quoting others without their permission), using them out of context to further her agenda. The last quote she used about some start up publishers being able to do it right was only part of a conversation that had to do with the fact that the other party has been running into many publishing companies that charge the authors to publish with them. She was wondering if I was doing the same thing, and when I made it clear I wasn't, she made that comment. So the quote was taken out of context for the purpose of discrediting me, and I don't appreciate it. This is exactly what I'm referring to about being “attacked”. There are those here who are going to try and twist everything I say to try and make me look bad simply because I'm an unknown factor.

This is not how you go about gathering information about a company for the purpose of being sure whether or not they are legit. The “professional” way is to approach the person in private to ask questions, and not to lay them over the coals publicly and put them on the spot. I don't see where this has ever been done to other companies in a legitimate fashion. Even writers who review companies and products for blogs don't publicly question the company or its products and then write about them. They do the research and ask the questions in private, and then they publish their findings.

Do you want to know how this situation could have been handled more professionally?

“Renee, it's great you have started your own publishing company, but there have been others who have done so in the past, and it has caused problems for many writers. I have some concerns I'd like to address and questions I'd like to ask. I may even have some advice that can help you. Would you mind if I contacted you privately so we could discuss this?”

That would not have offended me, and I would have been happy to listen to you and answer all your questions here if it was done in a more professional manner. However, I won't be bullied into complying with your demands out of fear of having my company's name tarnished. I will fight to prove my company's worth, if that's what it takes, but I won't do it according to your rules.

kaitie
04-28-2013, 02:58 AM
Sigh. There is no agenda against you. I know it probably feels that way to you, but honestly, there isn't. You should stick around here and read the other threads and you'll see that everyone gets the same questions.

The thing is, we didn't just randomly decide you were guilty until proven innocent. We looked at your website and saw several red flags and important things were missing. We brought those red flags to the attention of other writers. We found the evidence on the website that this was probably not a venture run by experienced professionals in the field and responded as such.

If we were wrong in any of this, the easiest thing to do would be to answer the questions. Sadly, it comes across that the reason you won't answer the questions is because you know we won't be satisfied. And to be honest, we won't if the answers are "I'm just an unpublished writer who decided to open a publishing company."

The professional thing to do would be to recognize that our questions are no different than getting a rejection from a publisher--they aren't personal. These are public because these boards aren't for publishers, they're for writers. When you have a company that is open to submissions from the public, you have opened yourself to conversation, and unfortunately you can't control that conversation because you dislike what it says. This conversation exists to let writers know whether or not this publisher would be a good choice to submit to.

You aren't being bullied, and the sad part is the thing you could do that would give the best impression of you is to answer questions politely. Maybe you should take some time to read the other threads on this board and see how it works. As I said, I think if you put on your writer hat, you'll see the reasons we do this.

If you don't choose to participate in the conversation, that's fine, but you can't control it, either. And for what it's worth, I have yet to see any quotes taken out of context. At the very least, this is how the website comes across. If it's coming across in a way you didn't intend, it should be taken into consideration.

Wisteria Vine
04-28-2013, 03:06 AM
You have not earned enough credibility with me to make me feel I have to justify myself to you.

Then you know nothing about this site or its members. You're not the first publisher to come here and announce that they're going to change the world of publishing - HOW you plan to do that should be able to withstand questioning, without the hurt feelings you seem to have.




As I said, I am happy to answer people's questions. It's why I have the FAQ page and contact form. It's why I have the Facebook page and the blog. I encourage people to ask questions. Does it matter whether or not those questions are answered here?

Yes. It does. Any publisher who comes into a community to announce his/her business should be willing to return to that community to answer questions. Unless you were spamming for business (and I'm not accusing you of that), you should be willing to return to answer the questions generated by YOUR post. [/QUOTE]


but the god complex that seems to have developed here has me concerned.

Now who's being insulting?


I'm sorry, but like I said. I don't know you. I have no reason to trust you or your intentions here.

Likewise. But you're not submitting your novel to us for publication. You're not risking your publishing rights.


I would encourage them to do their own research and make their own choices rather than taking the word of a group of people who have declared themselves an authority on anything (I don't trust gurus).

Part of that research is COMING HERE to read the Bewares, Recommendations & Background thread. Why should they trust your brand new website, created by someone with limited publishing experience? Your firm should be able to withstand a critical eye. It's not personal, no matter how much you want it to be. As others have said, publishing is a business.


The truth is, it's obvious some people here have been hurt by publishing companies that have gone under, or whose intentions were not honorable. This tells me that their opinion is biased, and they are going to shoot down anything new.

Yes, people here have been harmed by fly-by-night organizations or new publishers who claim they're going to "change the face of publishing!" Yeah, that's great. But HOW do you plan on moving my books? And what happens when/if you go under? Hearing others' cautionary tales is helpful. That's why this thread is called "Bewares, Recommendations, Background Checks." I want to know what experience others have had with a firm.


Every new venture comes with risk. The author we signed is well aware of that, and has chosen to put her faith in us despite the fact that we are new. We all know this could fail, but we also know it can succeed. I do not ask anyone to place faith in me blindly. I do not hide the fact that we are just getting started.

Again, the risk should be YOURS. Not the author's. The author should know as much as they can before they submit to any publisher.


It means they should ask questions and do research, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether it is a risk they would like to take. You are taking that decision from people with what you have set up here.

This is absolute rubbish. No one is telling anyone not to go to your firm. They are asking questions which you are reluctant to answer. If they choose to risk their work with you, they will do it whether or not anyone here suggests otherwise. If you're confident in your model, then be confident in your model. You shouldn't feel threatened at all by the questions being posed.


Maybe instead of putting companies and individuals on trial here, you should instead teach writers the right questions to ask when approaching a publishing company or agent. Teach them how they can do the research for themselves so they can make their own decisions and yes, their own mistakes (since making mistakes is how we learn).

The questions they SHOULD ask are the questions you are BEING asked...which you are ignoring.


How fair is it to wrongly label a publishing company or literary agent as untrustworthy, based on your methods of evaluation here, and take away a potential opportunity that a writer could have had? If a company or individual is known in the industry to be untrustworthy because of bad experiences several people have had with them, then by all means make people aware of it. I don't believe your methods of evaluation here are professional nor ethical.

No one is wrongly labeling anyone here - well, maybe you are, by calling the members 'gurus' and telling us we have a 'god complex.' Sounds like a bunch of labels to me. And there is nothing unprofessional about any of these questions; the only lack of professionalism seems to be coming from you. Again, you need to grow a thicker skin if you plan to be in publishing for any length of time.


I would like to ask that Queen of Swords (and anyone else who has done or is considering doing it) stop taking quotes from my website, blog and Facebook pages to post here (especially when they are quoting others without their permission), using them out of context to further her agenda.

There is no agenda. If your FB page is public because you're a business, then there's nothing wrong with sharing that information in a community that explores that business.


This is exactly what I'm referring to about being ďattackedĒ. There are those here who are going to try and twist everything I say to try and make me look bad simply because I'm an unknown factor.

No one in this community is making you look bad. YOU'RE making yourself look bad by acting so defensively.


This is not how you go about gathering information about a company for the purpose of being sure whether or not they are legit. The ďprofessionalĒ way is to approach the person in private to ask questions,

I'm not sure why you are so keen on having everything done so privately. If one person comes here and shares their experiences, then it saves having to send multiple single emails about questions that you should have no problem answering in public.




Do you want to know how this situation could have been handled more professionally?

Really? No. Really?

Or you could simply have said, "Thanks for your questions! I know we're an unknown entity, so let me explain how we do things...and I'm happy to answer any of your questions."

THAT would have been handling the situation professionally.



That would not have offended me, and I would have been happy to listen to you and answer all your questions here if it was done in a more professional manner. However, I won't be bullied into complying with your demands out of fear of having my company's name tarnished. I will fight to prove my company's worth, if that's what it takes, but I won't do it according to your rules.

Again, if you're in business, it's not about hurt feelings. It's about acting professionally and answering any reasonable question that comes your way. No one is bullying you. Stop taking it personally - others have handled threads like these with a lot more answers and a lot more grace.

AW is extremely welcoming to all new writers and publishers. We all want new places to publish and share our works.

But we're not going into it blindly. We ask tough questions because we need to.

If you can't - or won't - answer those questions, then I'm afraid that speaks volumes about your organization.

Judging by your responses to this thread, I'd have to take a pass on your company, but I do wish you well.

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 03:29 AM
You know, Renee, for someone who doesn't have time to answer questions here, you've got plenty of time to write these long screeds.


This has nothing to do with me not having a thick skin. It has to do with the fact that you are taking companies and individuals and putting them on trial here with the attitude that they are guilty until proven innocent.

We don't start with the assumption that every publisher will be good for a writer's career.

Especially when it's clear, from that publisher's website and from that publisher's attitude, that they have no experience, no qualified staff and no ability to accept critical feedback.


I'm sorry, but I don't care how long your community has been here. You have not earned enough credibility with me to make me feel I have to justify myself to you.Likewise, your press has earned no credibility with us.


I'm sorry, but like I said. I don't know you. I have no reason to trust you or your intentions here. From my perspective, you have made yourselves an authority on this subject and are expecting that writers should trust your word based on your self-proclaimed authority.That is nonsense.

No one here posts "this press is not recommended, because we say so".

We post, "This press is not recommended, because of the following reasons". We don't expect writers to blindly trust us, either - we encourage them to do the research.

And I'm curious - on what basis do you expect writers should trust you when you ask for manuscripts?


The truth is, it's obvious some people here have been hurt by publishing companies that have gone under, or whose intentions were not honorable. This tells me that their opinion is biased, and they are going to shoot down anything new.I've never been hurt by a publishing company that has gone under. Does that therefore convince you that my opinion is unbiased?

As for shooting down anything new, that is also nonsense. People here are fine with new agents and new publishers, as long as it's clear those agents and publishers either have experience (e.g. having worked for an established agent/publisher) or have a solid, workable business plan.

As opposed to having good intentions, a thin skin and not much else.


Every new venture comes with risk. Different amounts of risk, though.

Would you agree with the saying, "All surgery is risky, therefore you should allow a first-year medical student to operate on you"? If you don't agree, why should we be told that every new venture comes with risk, and therefore we shouldn't critically evaluate an inexperienced startup press?


Tell me something, though. If every writer waited two years for a new publishing company to be “established” how would it get established with nothing to publish? The time to get experience and credibility is before you open your doors, not after you've started asking writers for submissions.

Here's a hypothetical example to show you what I mean. If, tomorrow, Teresa Nielsen Hayden opened a new publishing company, I'd be the first to submit a manuscript. Even though that company is new. Why? Because Teresa Nielsen Hayden is an editor with decades of experience in the industry. She's not a writer who woke up one morning and thought, "You know, it would be really cool to be a publisher!"

Since you have no such experience to show, we caution writers to wait and see if your company pans out. Go here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792) to see how many presses and agents are no longer in business.


You are taking that decision from people with what you have set up here. Wait, I have to get this straight.

Are you saying that we are taking away people's free will to choose a publisher by our commenting on your press?

Does it work the other way around, too? When I was skimming your Facebook page full of uncritical praise and compliments, did that take away my ability to make an informed decision?


Maybe instead of putting companies and individuals on trial here, you should instead teach writers the right questions to ask when approaching a publishing company or agent. That tells me you haven't looked around this site (despite your insistence that writers do research).


Teach them how they can do the research for themselves so they can make their own decisions and yes, their own mistakes (since making mistakes is how we learn).Making mistakes is fine. What we don't encourage here is amateur publishers making those mistakes off the backs of writers - in other words, using those writers' manuscripts as guinea pigs while the publishers get the experience they lack.


How fair is it to wrongly label a publishing company or literary agent as untrustworthy, based on your methods of evaluation here, and take away a potential opportunity that a writer could have had? What makes you so sure such labels are wrong?

As I said, check out the number of presses which have gone out of business. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it may be some exotic species of guinea fowl. Or it may be a duck.


If a company or individual is known in the industry to be untrustworthy because of bad experiences several people have had with them, then by all means make people aware of it. You don't have to wait for people to have bad experiences.

Or to put it another way: if fifty people fall off the top of Mount Everest and die, I don't need to wait for someone to fall off the top of Mount K2 and die to conclude that yes, falling off the top of a very tall mountain is lethal. Even if that mountain is a different one.

Likewise, if we have seen fifty presses fail because they were started by writers who have no experience and who get hostile when questioned, we don't need to wait for other writers to report bad dealings with the fifty-first.

Also, no one is saying your company is untrustworthy, though I don't see much transparency either at this point. A lot of posters have said you have good intentions, and I still think you do, but that's nowhere near enough. A publisher can be very bad for writers without being an outright scam.


I don't believe your methods of evaluation here are professional nor ethical.I don't think you have enough experience of publishing to correctly judge whether something is professional or ethical.


I would like to ask that Queen of Swords (and anyone else who has done or is considering doing it) stop taking quotes from my website, blog and Facebook pages to post here (especially when they are quoting others without their permission), using them out of context to further her agenda. It's a public page. If you don't want someone to quote what is posted on a public page, make that page private.


The last quote she used about some start up publishers being able to do it right was only part of a conversation that had to do with the fact that the other party has been running into many publishing companies that charge the authors to publish with them. So basically, this author's only experience so far has been with vanity presses that charge upfront fees, not with actual publishers.


She was wondering if I was doing the same thing, and when I made it clear I wasn't, she made that comment. So the quote was taken out of context for the purpose of discrediting me, and I don't appreciate it. You're doing a good enough job of discrediting yourself and your press. No help needed there.

And my purpose in quoting that part of the conversation was to show that someone who is now an employee of your company seems to consider you are "bringing a little good back to the publishing world" by not charging an upfront fee.

That is something taken for granted when writers are dealing with actual, reputable publishers. Why not simply tell the writer so - tell her that no reputable publisher charges a fee? Why instead imply that you are doing something different, something which makes you stand out from the "publishing world"?


This is exactly what I'm referring to about being “attacked”. Accurately quoting something from your public Facebook page and commenting on it makes you feel "attacked"?

I really hope none of your books get negative reviews.


The “professional” way is to approach the person in private to ask questionsSo now I'm curious. Do you think there is ever a time when questions can be asked in public, or should writers always email publishers privately?

And if that is the only way writers should get information, how do they know that the publishers are telling them the truth? I mean, if I privately email PublishAmerica (one of the worst vanity presses out there), I'm sure they will respond by saying they are America's number one publisher. They already do, actually, on their web site. What should I do then, if it's "unprofessional", according to you, to ask questions in public on forums?

Anyway, publications like Consumer Reports must be very unprofessional because they make people's opinions and evaluations public, rather than encouraging people to privately contact manufacturers if they have questions. Oh well, you live and learn.


and not to lay them over the coals publicly and put them on the spot. I don't see where this has ever been done to other companies in a legitimate fashion. Even writers who review companies and products for blogs don't publicly question the company or its products and then write about them. They do the research and ask the questions in private, and then they publish their findings.This, more than anything else, tells me that either you're not experienced in the industry or you're flailing around in an attempt to defend your press.

Writers don't publicly question the company or its products? Oh my. Have you ever seen a book review blog like Dear Author?


Do you want to know how this situation could have been handled more professionally? Oh no, I already know.

You could have answered the questions in a straightforward manner instead of writing these long spiels. I still wouldn't have been impressed by your lack of experience, but at least you wouldn't have come across as so defensive.


“Renee, it's great you have started your own publishing company, but there have been others who have done so in the past, and it has caused problems for many writers. I have some concerns I'd like to address and questions I'd like to ask. I may even have some advice that can help you. Would you mind if I contacted you privately so we could discuss this?”So you would have preferred to get dozens of private emails, and you would have preferred to reply to each one individually? I thought you didn't have much spare time.


I will fight to prove my company's worth, if that's what it takes, but I won't do it according to your rules.The only way you should do it is by making a success of whatever manuscript an author has submitted to you in his or her own inexperience and hope.

Come back and let us know if that happens.

Katrina S. Forest
04-28-2013, 04:41 AM
Do you want to know how this situation could have been handled more professionally?

ďRenee, it's great you have started your own publishing company, but there have been others who have done so in the past, and it has caused problems for many writers. I have some concerns I'd like to address and questions I'd like to ask. I may even have some advice that can help you. Would you mind if I contacted you privately so we could discuss this?Ē

While not verbatim, that is pretty close to how I phrased things:


I love the enthusiasm, but many, many publishers have joined this board claiming the exact same thing. Many of them have stopped existing within a couple years, taking their authors' book with them.

The only difference was that I followed up with the questions I wanted to ask publicly. Which might show new authors browsing this thread what kinds of questions they should be asking -- something you indicate would be a good thing for me to do.


I would like to ask that Queen of Swords (and anyone else who has done or is considering doing it) stop taking quotes from my website, blog and Facebook pages to post here (especially when they are quoting others without their permission), using them out of context to further her agenda.

I do not see how I was taking your mission statement out of context, but I have removed the quote from my post nonetheless. There is a link for people to see what I was referring to quite easily.

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 04:57 AM
From Lionsong's website (http://lionsong-publishing.com/):


When I didnít answer their questions as soon as they wanted them, the negative comments and ďtroll-likeĒ bashing started.

Most of what Renee has there is the same as the defenses and claims she makes here: we're not willing to listen to anyone, we didn't bother to learn about her press before we started "bashing", she's always happy to answer questions, etc.

G. Applejack
04-28-2013, 05:01 AM
I don't want to make this a total pile-on, but I read somewhere on this site that "Publisher is not an entry-level position" and it still rings true.

Renee, I have no doubt of your best intentions but (correct me if I'm wrong!) it doesn't look like you've been published yourself. How do you plan to make other best sellers if you've never tested your own theories? If you've never even had your name in print?

I was just about to add more, but as I clicked through your company I noticed the post you just made about AW accusing the people here of troll-like bashing. Renee, my best advice to you is to step away from the computer for the night. You're too close to see it but this is heading toward a melt-down.

This is not how a professional reacts to adversity (real or perceived). If you have faith in your company, don't torpedo it before it has a chance to get off the ground.

Wisteria Vine
04-28-2013, 05:27 AM
From Lionsong's website (http://lionsong-publishing.com/):



Most of what Renee has there is the same as the defenses and claims she makes here: we're not willing to listen to anyone, we didn't bother to learn about her press before we started "bashing", she's always happy to answer questions, etc.


Wow. This really doesn't make her company look good.

James D. Macdonald
04-28-2013, 06:31 AM
Hi, Renee --

Let me recommend a couple of threads here:

First,

Why Publishers Fail (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241409)

I'm not saying that your press will fail. But I am saying that it might be educational for you to see why other presses have failed.

Next,

INDEX TO AGENTS, PUBLISHERS, AND OTHERS (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792)


Check it out; there are hundreds of threads.

See all those links in gray? Those are publishers that have gone out of business. You might want to read a dozen or so of those threads. See what the publishers had in common. See if you can derive some information from the threads they left behind. (It won't do anyone any good to email the publishers themselves or call them on the phone to ask privately what went wrong: Their email addresses bounce and their phones have been disconnected.)_

circlexranch
04-28-2013, 06:35 AM
And now, AW are the "trolls." Well, if you are going to be aggressive, it might as well be passive. What's next? Jelus toady-bugs?

http://lionsong-publishing.com/2013/04/28/its-new-its-scary-it-must-be-bad/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 07:16 AM
Itís New, Itís Scary, It Must Be Bad No one here is scared of your press, Renee.

I don't suppose you noticed the hundreds of threads in this forum, discussing hundreds of publishers and agents? Do you think we're all scared of them, too, or is your press the only terrifying one?

I once saw a thread on another board where a writer said she was starting her own press. The response was all uncritical praise, topped with the fist-pumping "Yeah! Stick it to the man!" And I wondered exactly how one more inexperienced startup would "stick it to" Random House or Hachette.

Implying that one's amateur startup press frightens people is another version of the belief that such presses leave the entire industry quaking.

BenPanced
04-28-2013, 07:29 AM
I doubt she'll see this...

Renee, if you feel you are being attacked, report the posts in question. There is a little red triangle with a black exclamation point in your profile info. Click on that and a mod will review the post to take appropriate action.

aliceshortcake
04-28-2013, 01:29 PM
All that drama and not a single response to any of the questions she was asked. I don't suppose there's any point in asking how Renee expected Lionsong's PoD books to become "spectacular" bestsellers...thereby making the company enough money to buy a machine to print more PoD books. It sounds like a sort of literary perpetual motion machine.

I hope Renee takes the time to look at those greyed-out links to defunct publishers, the vast majority of whom started out with the best of intentions and ended in tears.

As for Renee's objections to having her website quoted...fer pete's sake, did she expect nothing but rah-rah, stick-it-to-the-Big-Five cheerleading? If you put your name and that of your company before the public you should be prepared for tough questions. What should have been an opportunity for Renee to answer the perfectly valid points raised in this thread has degenerated into another High Hill Press rantfest.

As for her suggestion that questions should be asked privately...Renee, think about this. How could authors research potential publishers if the information they needed wasn't available online or in print?

Figgy
04-28-2013, 03:34 PM
Hi guys.

Long time lurker, occasional poster, sporadically obsessive IRCer.

I'm going to step in here and try and diffuse some of the tension.

As a long time lurker, I have seen these threads many a time, and I understand what it is like when a company has some areas of uncertainty, especially when they are encroaching on our turf.

I am involved in the company in question.

I work as assistant manager at a bookstore; have a diploma in Professional Book Editing, Proofreading and Publishing, and have been working as a freelance editor for the past couple of years.

I am the person who commented, as Queen of Swords mentioned, that " See, start-up publishers CAN do it right. So glad you're bringing a little good back to the publishing world."

The reason for my comment was not that the publishing world was bad, but rather because I had just spent weeks battling with "Wool Press Publishing", a company run by a couple of guys who don't have even a semi-decent grasp of English (often ended sentences in ",,," among many, many other things), and seemed to be targeting teens.
These guys, it seemed, were taking money to publish books, and ALSO taking a cut of the royalties, while not being able to offer any kind of industry experience. When Lionsong popped up on my radar, I rushed in to find out as much as I could about them, and liked what I saw, so I agreed to come on board.

Renee's experience is more on the marketing side of things, mine on the editing.

I'm going to end this post here and start a new one for answering questions, just so it doesn't get any closer to tl;dr territory.

And please excuse typos and such tonight; I have had a long day at work, on not much sleep, but I really do think I need to respond now to try and diffuse this situation as much as possible.

eqb
04-28-2013, 03:47 PM
I'm going to step in here and try and diffuse some of the tension.

There's no tension, actually. But I do appreciate your stepping in and offering to answer questions. Just to repeat the ones already asked by other posters:

Your "agents" appear to be a mix of editors, publicists and mentors. Can you elaborate on that?

Do your agents have experience as publicists? As content editors?

What experience do any of you have as a publisher?

Do you have distribution for your titles? Can you get them into print stores?

Do you have a cover artist or designer?

Do you pay royalties on cover price or net? If on net, what is your definition of net?

Figgy
04-28-2013, 04:05 PM
Can you explain what they are and what they do? From what I gather, they're a hybrid mix of editors, publicists and mentors? Can you elaborate on that?

Also, it's a publishing house yet you have agents. Who specialize in certain genre. That's strange - normally agents and publishing house aren't under the same roof.

They are a bit of a hybrid mix, and I agree that "Agent" is probably a bit of a confusing title, but it seemed the best option on start up. They are not "Agents" in the usual publishing sense of the word, but rather see a work through, from beginning to end. The person who reads the submissions and decides if the house takes a particular work on is the same person who edits/organises the editing, covers, proofreading, etc.




Here are my other questions:
1) What experience do your agents have? Do they have experience as publicists? Experience as editors?
2) What experience do you have as a publisher? Being a writer is great but there's a huge difference between being a writer and publisher.
3) Do you have distribution for your titles? Can you get them into print stores?
4) Do you have a cover artist or designer? I see no mention of it anywhere on the website.

1) Some agents will have more experience on the publicity side, others on the editing/industry side. At the moment, given that there are only three of us, we are all giving a little of our skill to the team, and getting a little back of a different skill set. The reason for the "Agents" and "Assistants" situation is to provide on the job training to new people that come on board. An agent trains the two assistants under them, and eventually the Assistants will progress onto becoming Agents, when they have a more well rounded understanding of the industry and the process.

2) For my part, I have been a writer for a very long time, as long as I can remember, and for the past couple of years I have been working as a freelance editor/publishing aid. I have been through the process with self publishers, and done some work for a couple of small presses.

3) I am an assistant manager at a bookstore, and am currently in the process of working out distribution. There is only so much distribution we can work out when our first title is not available yet.

4) We don't have one set cover designer, but we do have a couple waiting in the wings. These are either people who would like to come on board in a contracted role, or designers who work on a cover by cover basis, with greater expense on our part at the start.



Many of them have stopped existing within a couple years, taking their authors' book with them.

IF Lionsong fell, the author would retain all rights to their work. It is clearly outlined in the contract that the term is for three years, but that a number of circumstances (also outlined in the contract) would result in the author having full printing rights of their work.



Your About page is largely aimed at authors. But what about readers? That's the authors' ultimate goal, isn't it? If you want to help get writers feedback, why not start a website to connect authors with beta-readers and/or mentors? Or if you have the industry knowledge and want to help authors through the publishing process, why not produce a step-by-step guide to self-publishing? Then the author could keep 100% of the profits instead of splitting them 50/50.

That is a good point, we should have some information for the readers on our about page, we will look at getting something together.

There are forums in progress, and talk of that being open to the general public, not just the authors, in the future. In this instance, a writer certainly could go about obtaining feedback and betas. At the moment, though, it does have links back to places that also might be of use, including AW.

I have worked as a freelance editor and publishing aid, and a lot of those authors would still like to be "chosen".
I, for one, don't read a lot of self published novels, because SO MANY people out there do not bother to edit. SO MANY people out there are polluting the waters, and it makes it harder for those who work at their craft to be found.
We're trying to do that filtering job that the readers are after, while offering the rejected authors something to work towards. A lot of them don't or won't listen, we get that, but you can't blame a book fanatic for trying.


Also, from your mission statement, I must ask, what is it that you believe literary agents do? Because one of an agent's main jobs is to protect their clients from lousy contracts. If an agent is employed by the publishing company, that's a major conflict of interest.

Honestly, this feels like an attempt to remove any frustration from the process of creating a publishable novel. That does authors no favors and certainly does nothing for readers.

There is a lot of confusion over this ambiguous title, which means so much already in the publishing industry. The agent in this instance is actually an editor, publicist, and many other things rolled into one.

The goal of the company is not to ERASE all stress from the process, but minimise it where we can. In some cases this might be as simple as the agents striving to give more comprehensive feedback to authors, so that they might avoid making the same mistakes with future submissions. I realise this makes the slush process a lot more time consuming for us, but it gives the author something to work on improving, rather than just an ambiguous "not for us".

Figgy
04-28-2013, 04:21 PM
I'm sorry, but this sounds like a case of "jack of all trades, master of none". Editors, agents and marketing consultants aren't interchangeable, and none of them are entry level jobs (I also wonder why you're using the term "agent" in such an odd way). I'm sure you have good intentions, but so did many inexperienced publishers who went under within a couple of years and took their authors' intellectual property with them.

I know that can sound a bit confusing, but the situation is more that each of us has come to the table with a fair bit of experience and/or qualifications in one area, and we are sharing our knowledge and experience with the others. We do not retain any rights to the author's work after the contract period or in the instance of our company failing.


Are they only working for an Australian market? Also, is it true Australia doesn't do copyright?

Australia does automatic copyright, as do MANY countries, though some countries also have the option to pay for a piece of paper to that effect. If you read the information pages on these sites, you will find that even they admit that a copyright is an automatic thing.


In which case, that'd be closer to acquisitions editor, right? Or it would be a pretty serious conflict of interest.

Closer to an acquisitions editor than the traditional agent, yes, but that term isn't quite right for the role either.


Also, none of the three people listed are artists, editors, formatters, etc. There is no mention of what any of them are actually doing at the company. How is Renee the agent and publisher? What on earth do the assistants do? What experience do any of them have because it looks an awful lot like the answer is none. One of them has some editing experience, but I don't know the quality of the presses other than one was coop. The other doesn't give any information about itself online that I could see, so it's hard to know.

:hi: Diploma in editing, here, and a couple of years experience in the industy, with MANY years reading about and investigating the industry before that.

Yes, Evolved is a co-op, my work for them was actually done via an author directly. Clan Destine is an Aussie small press and, while not hugely prolific, have made a good name for themselves in the Australian industry. http://www.clandestinepress.com.au/ourbooks

eqb
04-28-2013, 04:28 PM
Agent" is probably a bit of a confusing title, but it seemed the best option on start up. They are not "Agents" in the usual publishing sense of the word, but rather see a work through, from beginning to end. The person who reads the submissions and decides if the house takes a particular work on is the same person who edits/organises the editing, covers, proofreading, etc.

The term "agent" has a specific meaning in publishing. What you describe sounds like what my editor at Tor does for me--she edits, she works with the art director and marketing, she oversees the copyedit process, and in general acts as point of contact for me and my literary agent.


There is only so much distribution we can work out when our first title is not available yet.

Not true. The time to work out distribution is before you launch.

But to make sure we're talking about the same thing--how do you define distribution?

IF Lionsong fell, the author would retain all rights to their work.

That depends on the bankruptcy laws in Australia. In some countries, the contacts are considered part of the company's assets, so no matter what the contract itself says, the law overrides that.

And to repeat my question from before:

How does Lionsong define "net" for their royalties?

Figgy
04-28-2013, 04:28 PM
Do you pay royalties on cover price or net? If on net, what is your definition of net?

Before I tell myself that it's after my bed time, and ground myself for the next three weeks...

The 50% to the authors is off the net price, and the net is the profit made on the book, after production and shipping costs.

eqb
04-28-2013, 04:34 PM
The 50% to the authors is off the net price, and the net is the profit made on the book, after production and shipping costs.

After production and shipping costs? Do you define that amount more clearly in the contract?

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 04:41 PM
I am the person who commented, as Queen of Swords mentioned, that "See, start-up publishers CAN do it right. So glad you're bringing a little good back to the publishing world."

The reason for my comment was not that the publishing world was bad I hope you can see how one might draw that inference from your comment. Unless the publishing world is lacking in good (i.e. bad), why specifically state that Lionsong Publishing is bringing a little good back to it?

That comment also implies, to me, that Lionsong's practice of not charging authors is something out of the ordinary.
but rather because I had just spent weeks battling with "Wool Press Publishing", a company run by a couple of guys who don't have even a semi-decent grasp of English (often ended sentences in ",,," among many, many other things), and seemed to be targeting teens.
These guys, it seemed, were taking money to publish books, and ALSO taking a cut of the royalties, while not being able to offer any kind of industry experience. In other words, and as I said before, they were a vanity press - hardly part of the actual publishing industry. I'm sure Lionsong is doing something different from a vanity press that charges upfront, but this has nothing to do with the reputable "publishing world". If a press claims to be a commercial publisher, rather than a vanity press, it should be compared to other commercial publishers, not to a vanity press. And if its practice of not charging writers up front is standard among commercial publishers, this should be made clear to writers who might be confused or misled about paying fees. That's all part of learning about the industry.


And please excuse typos and such tonight; I have had a long day at work, on not much sleep, but I really do think I need to respond now to try and diffuse this situation as much as possible. That's fine, but please don't feel under pressure to respond right away, if you need to go through the thread or consult with anyone else. If Renee's original response had been, "There are a lot of questions here. I'm going to take a couple of days to think about them and then provide the best response possible", we would have been cool with that.

Figgy
04-28-2013, 04:41 PM
The term "agent" has a specific meaning in publishing. What you describe sounds like what my editor at Tor does for me--she edits, she works with the art director and marketing, she oversees the copyedit process, and in general acts as point of contact for me and my literary agent.


I think the big issue with the title is that, as a freelance editor, I get a lot of clients who come seeking a structural edit, but then just assume that I am responsible for formatting, cover, purchasing of ISBN, and so on. The title was, I believe, originally intended to stop this issue, but has ended up creating further issues.



Not true. The time to work out distribution is before you launch.

But to make sure we're talking about the same thing--how do you define distribution?

I get that the time to handle it is before we launch the book, but discussing it while the book is still in the editing stages, and there is so much left to do on it, would be silly. We don't even know the exact printing costs for that book until we have finished the editing process, or at least NEARED the end. When we have made a few more steps in the process, and are CLOSER to printing, we will be able to work out more concrete information.

When I say distribution, I mean companies like United Book Distributors, Alliance Distribution Services, Five Mile Press, Scholastic, Random House, Harper Collins, etc. I mean the companies that enable people, like me, who work in bookstores, to jump on their computer and order a copy for a customer, or a copy for the store.



That depends on the bankruptcy laws in Australia. In some countries, the contacts are considered part of the company's assets, so no matter what the contract itself says, the law overrides that.

The reason we're running the company as is (with "Agents" and "Assistants" only being paid on a royalty basis too, for now), is to minimise the chance of bankruptcy. At least until we have a bit of turn over, we are minimising outlay as much as possible, so that we don't end up borrowing against the business.


And to repeat my question from before:

How does Lionsong define "net" for their royalties?

Covered in the previous comment. :)

aliceshortcake
04-28-2013, 04:50 PM
Figgy, thanks for giving us the calm, professional response the founder of Lionsong failed to provide.


IF Lionsong fell, the author would retain all rights to their work. It is clearly outlined in the contract that the term is for three years, but that a number of circumstances (also outlined in the contract) would result in the author having full printing rights of their work.

Yes, but you can't give back first publication rights. These have gone forever.


There is a lot of confusion over this ambiguous title, which means so much already in the publishing industry. The agent in this instance is actually an editor, publicist, and many other things rolled into one.

I wouldn't say "agent" is an ambiguous title. It's simply being used in an ambiguous way on the Lionsong website.


The goal of the company is not to ERASE all stress from the process, but minimise it where we can. In some cases this might be as simple as the agents striving to give more comprehensive feedback to authors, so that they might avoid making the same mistakes with future submissions. I realise this makes the slush process a lot more time consuming for us, but it gives the author something to work on improving, rather than just an ambiguous "not for us".

You may be minimizing stress for the writer but surely you'll be heaping it on yourselves by giving "comprehensive feedback" to rejected authors. Don't you think the reason why publishers don't do this is because it isn't their job, particularly when the worst offenders - and I suspect you'll be inundated with awful, unpublishable stuff of the type clogging up the Amazon listings - don't want to learn? There seems to be something a bit perverse about a publisher actively taking steps to ensure that their slush-sorting duties become "a lot more time consuming".

Also, what does Lionsong classify as a "spectacular" bestseller and how does the company plan to make ALL its authors bestsellers? If you mean a book in the upper reaches of the New York Times/Sunday Times bestseller list you aren't going to achieve this with a PoD book, however good it might be.

Figgy
04-28-2013, 04:55 PM
After production and shipping costs? Do you define that amount more clearly in the contract?

Hard to define the exact amount, as it depends on the size of each individual book, but I do believe it states something about the cost not being more than a certain percentage of the cover cost. Am comfy on the couch, and the contract is on my desktop.


I hope you can see how one might draw that inference from your comment. Unless the publishing world is lacking in good (i.e. bad), why specifically state that Lionsong Publishing is bringing a little good back to it?

That comment also implies, to me, that Lionsong's practice of not charging authors is something out of the ordinary. In other words, and as I said before, they were a vanity press - hardly part of the actual publishing industry. I'm sure Lionsong is doing something different from a vanity press that charges upfront, but this has nothing to do with the reputable "publishing world". If a press claims to be a commercial publisher, rather than a vanity press, it should be compared to other commercial publishers, not to a vanity press. And if its practice of not charging writers up front is standard among commercial publishers, this should be made clear to writers who might be confused or misled about paying fees. That's all part of learning about the industry.

I understand that the comments could be misunderstood. My facebook friends, who had watched the public battle with Wool Press (masquerading as a traditional publisher), had seen me state many times that the money goes TO the author. I have always felt this way, and I didn't mean to imply that Lionsong was doing something new and different by not charging. It was more like a release of frustration, and a final boot to Wool Press.



That's fine, but please don't feel under pressure to respond right away, if you need to go through the thread or consult with anyone else. If Renee's original response had been, "There are a lot of questions here. I'm going to take a couple of days to think about them and then provide the best response possible", we would have been cool with that.

Yeah, I know. As I said, I have been a long time lurker/reader, occasional poster (as is evidenced by the 2007 join date, and my... now 18 posts), so I know how things go in these boards, and I know the worst response is to lock up and refuse to answer. It doesn't look good, it looks like we have something to hide, and it's not a good reason, but Renee isn't familiar with the ways of the board.

And, I'll admit, it does set your heart racing when you log on to see all these comments and questions aimed at the company you work for, seemingly moving further and further towards the negative. If you don't know how this place works, it's easy to choose the wrong response.

ETA - Aha, 19!

eqb
04-28-2013, 04:59 PM
The title was, I believe, originally intended to stop this issue, but has ended up creating further issues.

Not uncommon when you try to redefine an industry standard term.


I get that the time to handle it is before we launch the book...

I meant, before you launch your company. You need to line up a distributor that will handle all your books, not on a case-by-case basis. That's how you ensure getting your books onto the shelves of bookstores, and available for pre-order from online vendors.


The reason we're running the company as is (with "Agents" and "Assistants" only being paid on a royalty basis too, for now), is to minimise the chance of bankruptcy.

That's admirable, but it doesn't negate what I said about authors losing their books, in that worst case, no matter what your contract says.

eqb
04-28-2013, 05:04 PM
Oh, and a couple other questions, for when you have the chance:

Will your books be returnable?

What kind of discounts are you offering vendors?

Figgy
04-28-2013, 05:11 PM
Figgy, thanks for giving us the calm, professional response the founder of Lionsong failed to provide.

Yes, but you can't give back first publication rights. These have gone forever.

I know, and that is a shame, but we are hoping that it doesn't end up coming to that.

The thing I really like about the Lionsong "Agent" model, is that an editor/agent/publisher, who is passionate about the story is going to work their backside off to make it succeed. That AND the fact that we are paid in royalties, so it is in our own best interests to do right by the author.

I have signed my first author, and cannot WAIT to hold the final copy in my hands. I think it's a great story, masterfully told, but I guess the proof is in the forthcoming pudding.


I wouldn't say "agent" is an ambiguous title. It's simply being used in an ambiguous way on the Lionsong website.

I'll have a chat with Renee, see if we can't figure a better title out. Any suggestions?



You may be minimizing stress for the writer but surely you'll be heaping it on yourselves by giving "comprehensive feedback" to rejected authors. Don't you think the reason why publishers don't do this is because it isn't their job, particularly when the worst offenders - and I suspect you'll be inundated with awful, unpublishable stuff of the type clogging up the Amazon listings - don't want to learn? There seems to be something a bit perverse about a publisher actively taking steps to ensure that their slush-sorting duties become "a lot more time consuming".

Yeah, it is rather time consuming, but a lot less time consuming than editing the novel, so for me it's a step down in the stress levels. I don't know... As we go on, we might need to re-assess this, but it'd be nice to keep it going if we can.


Also, what does Lionsong classify as a "spectacular" bestseller and how does the company plan to make ALL its authors bestsellers? If you mean a book in the upper reaches of the New York Times/Sunday Times bestseller list you aren't going to achieve this with a PoD book, however good it might be.

Obviously not every book is going to BE a best seller, but we can always try our darnedest. I'll check with Renee what she meant by this and get back to you. I have my own ideas, of course, but she wrote the about, and she's the one with marketing qualifications. I'd rather give you a proper answer than my opinion, or a tired guess.

Figgy
04-28-2013, 05:21 PM
Oh, you guys.

I'm gonna be able to change my avatar before I know it! *gush*

Only took the better part of six years.


Oh, and a couple other questions, for when you have the chance:

Will your books be returnable?

What kind of discounts are you offering vendors?

To the best of my knowledge, they will be returnable, yes.

We haven't decided on which printer we will be using yet; once we know the specifics, we will... know the specifics. I don't believe we will be able to do 50% like the big guys, but it's not finalised yet.

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 05:23 PM
I understand that the comments could be misunderstood. My facebook friends, who had watched the public battle with Wool Press (masquerading as a traditional publisher), had seen me state many times that the money goes TO the author. I have always felt this way, and I didn't mean to imply that Lionsong was doing something new and different by not charging.

That's good to hear.

I was concerned that the author to whom you replied might believe that the practice of not charging fees was something specific to Lionsong, rather than standard practice in the industry. And since there's some disparagement of the publishing industry in Lionsong's website and in what Renee has posted here, it's good to know that you aren't contributing to that.

Incidentally, I just checked Lionsong's website again, and Renee has updated her post with a collection of anti-AW links and the comment that:


There are also many people who have complained about the same thing I have mentioned. Being attacked without provocation on their message boards. The mods there apparently have issues with indie publishers and have a tendency to bad mouth all of them publicly.

Trying to throw mud on anyone who criticizes you is not an effective way of doing damage control.

Figgy
04-28-2013, 05:32 PM
Trying to throw mud on anyone who criticizes you is not an effective way of doing damage control.

Argh. Ok, looking into THIS now, instead of going to bed.

*sigh*

aliceshortcake
04-28-2013, 05:43 PM
I think it's a bit late for damage control. Figgy, thanks once again for your polite and helpful responses, but Renee seems determined to sink her own ship.

Figgy
04-28-2013, 05:45 PM
I've gotta go to bed, guys. Will be back after work tomorrow, or sometime in the next three days.

G. Applejack
04-28-2013, 05:53 PM
I think it's a bit late for damage control. Figgy, thanks once again for your polite and helpful responses, but Renee seems determined to sink her own ship.

Seconding.

Your replies have helped clarified quite a few points I was worried about. However, your business partner seems to be handling the stress of answering questions...badly. If this is an indicator for the future, you're in for some interesting times. Best of luck to you, Figgy.

eqb
04-28-2013, 06:10 PM
Figgy, thank you for answering my questions. Just so I'm clear on what authors can expect for royalties...

Let's say the cover price for a 500-page trade paperback book is around $20. After a 40% discount, Lionsong receives $12 from the vendor. Lionsong then deducts production and shipping costs. That might come to around $10, leaving $2 profit. The author then receives $1 in royalties/book, or around 5% of cover price.

For an e-book, the cover price would be less, say around $8. For e-books published on Amazon, Lionsong would receive 70% or $5.60. Since there are production costs associated with any book, no matter what the format, let's deduct another $2, leaving $3.60. Author receives 50% of that, which is $1.80, or around 22% of the cover price.

Is that correct? Or have I misunderstood?

Barbara R.
04-28-2013, 06:37 PM
All that drama and not a single response to any of the questions she was asked.

Exactly! Bad show. This aspiring publisher should realize that this thread will appear in Google searches. Not doing herself any favors here.

Wisteria Vine
04-28-2013, 06:55 PM
I think it's a bit late for damage control. Figgy, thanks once again for your polite and helpful responses, but Renee seems determined to sink her own ship.


Yeah. This. So much this.

ResearchGuy
04-28-2013, 07:35 PM
Hi, I'm Renee. I'm a writer and recently I started my own publishing company. I have a mission to change the face of the publishing industry. :D

I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone and learn some new stuff (and hopefully share something helpful)!
I'm sure you mean well. But reading your website suggests that you have no idea of what you don't know. It is a long learning curve ahead, starting this last couple of days with a very hard climb.

Allow me to suggest that you start off the radar, so to speak, NOT soliciting submissions from the public at large, but working with one or two already-known-to-you authors/books. And allow me to recommend paying royalties as percentage of list price only, not a hard to calculate/bookkeeping nightmare percentage of net. And use industry terms in their generally understood ways. BTW, you will save a lot of grief if your rejections state only, "Thanks, but your manuscript does not meet our current needs," or words to that effect.

My views, FWIW.

--Ken

James D. Macdonald
04-28-2013, 07:45 PM
I'll have a chat with Renee, see if we can't figure a better title out. Any suggestions?


I think the word that y'all are groping for is "advocate."

Oh, and could you mention to Renee that while she was linking to a collection of failures, flamers, and flakes she forgot to link to Stop The Goodreads Bullies and The Write Agenda? She should get on that.

Terie
04-28-2013, 08:11 PM
Renee's experience is more on the marketing side of things....

Figgy, you've been great, and it's really unfortunate that Renee didn't just leave it to you to respond in this thread.

That said....Renee's experience is in marketing? And this is how she represents her company? It makes me question whether she has any expertise (as opposed to experience) in marketing, and this is an important issue when it comes to the long-term viability of a company.

If she responds this poorly to fairly mild questioning of her business model, how will she respond to negative reviews of actual product? After all, even the top bestselling books get negative reviews.

kaitie
04-28-2013, 08:19 PM
Figgy, thank you SO much for a calm response!

Honestly, no offense meant here, but considering you seem to be the only person with any experience, why are you not the one training the others?


I think the big issue with the title is that, as a freelance editor, I get a lot of clients who come seeking a structural edit, but then just assume that I am responsible for formatting, cover, purchasing of ISBN, and so on. The title was, I believe, originally intended to stop this issue, but has ended up creating further issues.

Just a quick question about this. Who does do the formatting, cover, editing, and so on? Does the company pay freelancers, or is there someone on the staff who permanently does it?

I also think the scenario you're describing is one of people being confused about what industry terms mean already. Someone sees "editor" and assumes that person does everything. I haven't seen much of that myself, but I don't do the work you do, either.

I think that rather than try to change your terminology to avoid the people who are ignorant of industry terms making false assumptions, it's best to use the terms normally and just explain to the people that this isn't what an editor does.

Changing the terms doesn't prevent false assumptions, and it will only confuse people more.

I'm also not certain if you are describing a scenario in which your "agents" are actually doing the marketing, editing, and so on, or if they're the person who is helping to coordinate all those things between the people who do them and the writer. Does that make sense?



I get that the time to handle it is before we launch the book, but discussing it while the book is still in the editing stages, and there is so much left to do on it, would be silly. We don't even know the exact printing costs for that book until we have finished the editing process, or at least NEARED the end. When we have made a few more steps in the process, and are CLOSER to printing, we will be able to work out more concrete information.

The reason writers are wary of this is because it's very easy to calculate costs to the point that authors end up with nothing. It also makes it impossible to know how much the royalties will be until after the book comes out, which makes it hard to make an informed decision. After all, 50% on net might end up being 8% of cover, and maybe someone else is offering 10% of cover. The latter might be a better choice, but there is no way of understanding how much the net is going to be, which makes it hard to go in with eyes open.

Also, when the calculations are in the contract, it helps the writers because the publisher can't just decide to change the calculation. I'm not saying you would do that, but a contract has to pretty much spell out everything because that's the only recourse an author has. If it isn't spelled out, there's nothing to stop the publisher from deciding six months down the line that net will now be calculated in this different way that might be detrimental to the author.


The reason we're running the company as is (with "Agents" and "Assistants" only being paid on a royalty basis too, for now), is to minimise the chance of bankruptcy. At least until we have a bit of turn over, we are minimising outlay as much as possible, so that we don't end up borrowing against the business.

Do editors and artists and so on also get paid in royalties? The biggest problem here is that books may not sell many copies. What happens if you've spent dozens of hours of work on a book that then sells for $4, and you only sell 100 copies in six months? That's $400 total for the book. If you're paid 10%, or even 30%, that's SO little money compared to what you would have been paid up front. Think of how much that ends up being per hour.

I worry when I see this sort of set up because it can easily mean that the people involved aren't being paid a fair amount for their work. It's hard to sell books, especially with all the competition, and especially digitally. I think we've seen more and more in the digital world that books either sell well or they don't. It seems that there is less in between. In order to sell, you have to get on the Amazon lists, and a lot of books can't do that with the new algorithms. There are so many books being released every day increase the competition.

What sort of marketing and promotion do you have in place? How do you handle review copies? What about print? It's been mentioned that the books will be expected to be best sellers in print, but are they going to be available on the shelves in bookstores?

And thanks again so much for coming to answer questions. Your tone is much appreciated.

aliceshortcake
04-28-2013, 10:55 PM
BTW, you will save a lot of grief if your rejections state only, "Thanks, but your manuscript does not meet our current needs," or words to that effect.

Absolutely. I don't understand why Figgy described the 'not for us' response as 'ambiguous' - it seems crystal clear to me. Why should writers expect an in-depth critique of their work from a publisher whose job is to serve readers?

Also, thanks to Uncle Jim for pointing out that Renee had neglected to link to The Write Agenda. I was so disappointed to discover that it was missing from her little list!

Marian Perera
04-28-2013, 11:38 PM
Absolutely. I don't understand why Figgy described the 'not for us' response as 'ambiguous' - it seems crystal clear to me.

I don't want to speak for Figgy, but I can see one way such a response might be interpreted as ambiguous. "Not for us" could mean "Not for us as-is, needs editing and it's about ten thousand words too long". Or it could mean "will never be for us, no matter what you do".

But I agree that making the rejection conditional or opening up a dialogue isn't the most productive use of an editor's time and effort. Especially if Figgy and the rest of the staff is being paid with royalties - that means if she critiques work that isn't being offered a contract, she's doing it on her own unpaid time.

All the more reason not to have an open call for submissions, if form letters can't be used.


Why should writers expect an in-depth critique of their work from a publisher whose job is to serve readers?

Perhaps Lionsong isn't a publisher meant to serve readers. From the Facebook page:


Lionsong Publishing was started by author Renee Scattergood, in order to provide a publishing service that caters to the needs of other authors... we strive to provide a publishing service that focuses on the needs of the author.

FOTSGreg
04-29-2013, 12:07 AM
Frankly, I think Figgy did a much better, and more rational, job of answering some of our questions. Let me emphasize the word "some".

I do believe that even Figgy, as rational as he/she was, rather clumsily dodged some of the harder questions put to LionSong.

In particular, my question about how they planned to fund a POD printer, how "net royalties" was computed, and what they planned for the distribution channels.

All-in-all, Figgy did a helluva' lot better job of representing LionSong than the company's founder did, but questions remain unanswered.

eqb
04-29-2013, 12:45 AM
In particular, my question about how they planned to fund a POD printer, how "net royalties" was computed, and what they planned for the distribution channels.

Figgy is definitely a "she," going by the Lionsong About us page. And she did give a straight answer about how they compute net royalties.

However, like you, I am troubled by the lack of planning for real distribution, and the business with funding a POD printer.

FOTSGreg
04-29-2013, 02:10 AM
Yeah, um, I apologize, eqb, I see your comments, and you've done your research, but please don't answer for the publisher.

It makes you look like an apologist for them.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to cause offense with that, but publishers need to answer the questions put to them themselves. We don't need to answer the questions we put to them. Either they can do it, or they can't.

They answer the question(s) either way.

Again, I don't mean to be offensive in any way here.

Figgy
04-29-2013, 03:55 AM
FOTSGreg - relaaaaax.

Figgy is a she.
Figgy has a day job, and her last post (which she made at about 1am, before going to bed with the intent to get up at 6am) stated that she would be back tomorrow after work.
Figgy lives in Australia, and as such, it is 9:22am. She will be back online once she gets home, but did pop on quickly this morning to read as much as possible, to avoid having to play catch up in... nine or so hours, when she gets home.

Figgy is going to stop talking in the third person now.

Figgy
04-29-2013, 04:09 AM
FOTSGreg, I was trying to answer each unique question in the thread as thoroughly as possible. That takes TIME.

I have started answering the questions that should have been answered in the first place. Please don't try and make it sound like I am not doing so.

eqb
04-29-2013, 04:29 AM
Yeah, um, I apologize, eqb, I see your comments, and you've done your research, but please don't answer for the publisher.

It makes you look like an apologist for them.

Oh really? Just because I pointed out what the publisher themselves already answered? In this same thread?

Read the comments before you attack others.

James D. Macdonald
04-29-2013, 04:57 AM
Calmly, everyone.

AlterEgox5
04-29-2013, 04:59 AM
Okay guys, I think we need to ease up on the stick a little (as my dad used to say). Greg, here was Figgy's response to the question about net royalties:

Before I tell myself that it's after my bed time, and ground myself for the next three weeks...

The 50% to the authors is off the net price, and the net is the profit made on the book, after production and shipping costs.

Then when eqb questioned further with: After production and shipping costs? Do you define that amount more clearly in the contract?

We got:


Hard to define the exact amount, as it depends on the size of each individual book, but I do believe it states something about the cost not being more than a certain percentage of the cover cost. Am comfy on the couch, and the contract is on my desktop.

And greg did say he didn't mean to be offensive. So why doesn't everyone get some ice cream and then come back later, eh?

eqb
04-29-2013, 05:10 AM
And greg did say he didn't mean to be offensive. So why doesn't everyone get some ice cream and then come back later, eh?

Please don't be patronizing. Greg insulted me, and his "I don't mean to be offensive" is pretty much a marker of "I'm going to be offensive right now."

That said, I've notified the mods about the comment. They can take whatever action they like. Now, let's get back to the real subject, which is Lionsong.

Samsonet
04-29-2013, 05:34 AM
Hm. I looked at the website; what I don't get is what kind of books they want, specifically? Sci if, YA, romance...?

eqb
04-29-2013, 05:44 AM
They seem to want pretty much any kind of fiction, which is not encouraging, given that they have only one editor and two assistants.

James D. Macdonald
04-29-2013, 06:00 AM
It is our goal to make the experience less daunting and more personal by eliminating the need for an outside agent and providing our own agents, who also act as an editor and marketing consultant, limiting the number of authors each of our agents work with each year, and walking each author through the process step by step.http://lionsong-publishing.com/about/

They're very clearly confusing agents, as everyone else in publishing understands the term, and "agents"; people who somehow work for this publisher.

"...eliminating the need for an outside agent and providing our own agents...."

I really doubt that these folks know what an agent is, or does.

As to what they publish and what kinds of books they're looking for:

Christian Fiction
Dystopians
Erotic Fiction
Fantasy
Horror
Mystery
Romance
Science Fiction
Steampunk
Thrillers
YA
and all other genres

Lengths 5K-150K
No Childrenís Stories, Comics, or Graphic Novels. No novelized non-fiction.

kaitie
04-29-2013, 06:00 AM
Hm. I looked at the website; what I don't get is what kind of books they want, specifically? Sci if, YA, romance...?

It looked like each of the three was specializing in something specific? If you look at the agents and assistants page, it goes into exactly what each one is looking for.

HapiSofi
04-29-2013, 09:40 AM
Figgy, I don't want to be unkind about this, but you guys don't know enough to be launching this enterprise.


I work as assistant manager at a bookstore; have a diploma in Professional Book Editing, Proofreading and Publishing, and have been working as a freelance editor for the past couple of years.
I think you may be in error about some of that. Can you give us the name of the institution that awarded you your diploma?

Note: I am not saying you're lying. For all I know, you have an actual physical diploma right there on the wall. The problem is, I don't know of any reputable or semi-reputable institutions that award degrees in proofreading. Furthermore, this is the first time I've heard of a diploma in Professional Book Editing, and I have real trouble believing in it. Editing is editing. If no one offers a matriculating program in Amateur Book Editing, there shouldn't be a degree in Professional Book Editing, either.

As for Publishing -- yeah, people get degrees in that. There's been a real proliferation of college-level programs in publishing -- IMO, not because they're needed, but because they're lucrative and easily administered. Unemployed magazine and newspaper veterans are thick on the ground. Majoring in publishing sounds attractive to prospective students. The classes require no special equipment. And best of all, students have no way to judge the value of the instruction.

Is it clear that I blame the programs, not the students?

Until we hear from you, I can only guess where your diploma came from. I can think of two possibilities.

My first guess would be Chapterhouse (http://www.chapterhousepublishing.co.uk/index.shtml), because your degrees sound so much like the kind they give out. By way of comparison, here are some Chapterhouse alums listing their qualifications on an online site (http://www.yatedo.com/s/schoolname%3A(Chapterhouse)):

Diploma degree in Proofreading and Copy-editing
Correspondence Course degree in Proofreading & Editorial Skills
equiv. Post-grad diploma degree in Proofreading; Forensic Transcription
Graduated in Proofreading and Editorial Skills Correspondence Course
Graduated in Proofreading and Copy Editing
They sound very similar.

Stuff to know about Chapterhouse: It was founded by people who didn't come out of editorial or production, so teaching proofreading is actually their strong suit -- relatively speaking. Most publishers and editorial associations won't accept Chapterhouse editorial or proofreading credentials. Real freelancers slam them. The following is from Anthony Saunders, in the Authonomy forums' Chapterhouse thread (http://authonomy.com/forums/threads/48664/chapterhouse-and-the-like-/?pagenumber=2):


Yes, I've heard of them. I have seen their course work and the standard of their marking.

DO NOT TOUCH WITH A BARGEPOLE.

I'm a freelance copy-editor and proofreader with 20 years experience. If you want to learn the skills, get hold of Judith Butcher's Cambridge Handbook of Copy-editing. That is the standard work. Or look up the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders online and look at what they have to offer. Or ask me or Cheri.

Next post from Saunders:


[N]o publisher recognises Chapterhouse 'qualifications'. The only recognised qualifications in the UK are from the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders. But you don't need qualifications to do the job. Often, publishers ask you take a test to find out if you are up to the job.

The whole idea of a degree in proofreading is weird. I'm not sure whether any of the professional freelance proofreaders and/or copyeditors who hang out on AW have third-party qualifications. What the real industry asks is that we demonstrate that we can do the work. We did. We do.

Moving on. The second possibility I can imagine is that your degree came from an as-yet-unidentified institution in Georgia. Why there? Because a phenomenally high percentage of the web-present entities that believe in the existence of proofreading degrees are located in Georgia. It's not a general belief in the rest of the English-speaking world.

=====

I wish I weren't seeing you undervalue the body of experience you have that anyone in the industry would recognize as valid: you're the assistant manager of a bookstore. Why are you following Renee Scatts' lead in everything having to do with areas like marketing and distribution? You're bound to know more about it than she does.


I am the person who commented, as Queen of Swords mentioned, that " See, start-up publishers CAN do it right. So glad you're bringing a little good back to the publishing world."

No kidding, you're bringing a little good back to the publishing world? [Colorful NYC idiom deleted here.] I've been working hard for decades to bring good to publishing, and sometimes I've succeeded. The same is true of the friends and colleagues I work with. We're all doing our damnedest to make good things happen. Our successes are dearly bought, and our defeats are often fought to the last trench.

(*sigh*)

If I'd led off by sneering that you're probably just another malcontent whose book got rejected, and then I'd come back later and explained that I didn't really mean it that way, your feelings would still be hurt. I get that you'd been dealing with some frustrating and ignorant bad guys, but you have to learn to let that wash through you. There are enough arguments in the world. Leave us not provoke unnecessary ones.

HapiSofi
04-29-2013, 09:49 AM
http://lionsong-publishing.com/about/



It is our goal to make the experience less daunting and more personal by eliminating the need for an outside agent and providing our own agents, who also act as an editor and marketing consultant, limiting the number of authors each of our agents work with each year, and walking each author through the process step by step.

They're very clearly confusing agents, as everyone else in publishing understands the term, and "agents"; people who somehow work for this publisher.

"...eliminating the need for an outside agent and providing our own agents...."

I really doubt that these folks know what an agent is, or does.
If they think it's possible for the author's agent to be an in-house employee of the publisher, they don't have a clue about what an agent is or does.

That's a basic piece of publishing information. If they don't know it, there'll be cubic yards of other info they're lacking. They shouldn't be starting a new publishing firm, much less such an exotically conceived one.

Old Hack
04-29-2013, 10:58 AM
The 50% to the authors is off the net price, and the net is the profit made on the book, after production and shipping costs.

If the word "profit" features in your contract at this point, without a clear definition of how you interpret that word, you're not being fair to your authors.


The thing I really like about the Lionsong "Agent" model, is that an editor/agent/publisher, who is passionate about the story is going to work their backside off to make it succeed. That AND the fact that we are paid in royalties, so it is in our own best interests to do right by the author. [...] I'll have a chat with Renee, see if we can't figure a better title out. Any suggestions?

I'd have thought "editor" was an appropriate term. What you've described comes pretty close to my experience of working as an editor for however long it was.


To the best of my knowledge, they will be returnable, yes.

If you're using a POD model you're unlikely to get books returned in a saleable condition: they're just not of good enough quality to do well in shops; but if you don't accept returns you're not going to find a distributor to take you on. Please work this into your budgets.


We haven't decided on which printer we will be using yet; once we know the specifics, we will... know the specifics. I don't believe we will be able to do 50% like the big guys, but it's not finalised yet.

If you don't offer 50% discount you'll probably not find a distributor to take you on: most distributors expect a minimum of 50%, often 55% to 60%, if they're to work with publishers. They have to offer discounts of 45% and up to the bookshops they sell to, and can't make any profit for themselves if you don't give them an even higher discount.


If they think it's possible for the author's agent to be an in-house employee of the publisher, they don't have a clue about what an agent is or does.

That's a basic piece of publishing information. If they don't know it, there'll be cubic yards of other info they're lacking. They shouldn't be starting a new publishing firm, much less such an exotically conceived one.

With all due respect to the people behind this publisher, I agree.

The people representing Lionsong have made many comments which indicate a worrying lack of knowledge of publishing. So many, in fact, that I didn't feel able to respond to every one. I've picked out a few and responded to them above, to show the sorts of things I've seen, but I haven't made anything like a thorough response.

I am impressed by Figgy's attempts to answer our questions, and thank her for them: but if she really wants to help writers, and publish good books, I strongly recommend that she first steps back from this publisher and learns a little more about how the business works.

I hope that I'm wrong and that all goes well. I wish Lionsong great success, and the writers they publish even greater success; but I wouldn't submit to them.

aliceshortcake
04-29-2013, 01:37 PM
Renee has wanted a career in publishing for years, but she felt that mainstream publishing was not working for the modern day author. Therefore, she has spent the last several years learning all she could about publishing, editing and marketing, so that she could offer authors what they need in a publishing company in order to find real success within their writing careers.
http://lionsong-publishing.com/agents/

I think it's all too obvious from this thread that Renee still has a lot to learn about publishing before Lionsong begins to accept submissions.

Figgy
04-29-2013, 02:25 PM
Ok, so I am home from work, and able to respond a little better.

HapiSofi - My diploma is from Australian College QED. Yes, they are a correspondence school, but they are also an accredited school. Just because I communicated with them via email does not make their accreditation any less viable. Correspondence was required, as my day job makes it hard to fit uni classes in.
I know of one editor in particular who has done this course and is a long time employee of Harper Voyager, and many others besides. That wasn't the only course studied by that editor, but he likes to keep on top of the industry, and on top of his courses. The course is now called something different, but the basic requirements for completion are the same.
I have been working within the industry for five years now, and reading up on it and investigating it for nine years before that. I am not a newb to the industry, I researched my course before taking it on.

eqb - All research thus far suggests that the production cost will be much less than $10, but yes, those are the basic fomulae used to get the end result, as per the company set up.

Old Hack - Yes, editor is often used for this, but Renee wanted a word that encompassed more of the process. We see the issue with this word now. I am not sure if Renee will be changing it or not.


If there are any urgent questions, please do post, I am sure I will get back to them at some point... Or PM me if you really wish.

For now, I have to decide what I am going to do, moving forward, and whether I keep trying to stick up for this company all on my own, and look into all the distribution options all on my own, when this was not my company to begin with.

I need to go kill some zombies for a while and clear my head.

If I am not back to answer your questions as soon as you might like, PLEASE DON'T ASSUME I AM AVOIDING THEM. I have real life things going on that need my attention, too, and as I said, space is needed to think. I have had people tell me I should quit, people tell me I should stick with it, and not enough sleep in my possession to try and see what I think.

I... Just need to go clear my head and focus on the urgent problems, like unpacking and cleaning my house in time for rental inspection, and catching up on my sleep.

eqb
04-29-2013, 03:37 PM
If they think it's possible for the author's agent to be an in-house employee of the publisher, they don't have a clue about what an agent is or does.

They even go so far as to say:


...we do not take manuscripts from literary agents at all, as we have our own agents in house.

So do they think agents take care of editing and marketing? Or do they think editors negotiate better terms for their clients and generally act as a buffer between the author and the publisher?

Barbara R.
04-29-2013, 03:50 PM
I think the word that y'all are groping for is "advocate."

Oh, and could you mention to Renee that while she was linking to a collection of failures, flamers, and flakes she forgot to link to Stop The Goodreads Bullies and The Write Agenda? She should get on that.

I hadn't heard of those sites before. Spend some minutes reading stuff on "Stop the Goodreads Bullies" site about AW. Never knew you guys were so evil! You and Mac seem to be favorite targets. Ah well. If you go through life never making an enemy, you probably haven't done much.

eqb
04-29-2013, 03:50 PM
eqb - All research thus far suggests that the production cost will be much less than $10, but yes, those are the basic fomulae used to get the end result, as per the company set up.

Well, production costs depend on a number of factors, from the printing method itself (POD or offset) to the print run, dimensions of the book, the paper, the binding, and the number of pages. I assumed POD, 500 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 size, perfect binding, and a slightly better paper weight.

Marian Perera
04-29-2013, 04:55 PM
For now, I have to decide what I am going to do, moving forward, and whether I keep trying to stick up for this company all on my own

Try to think of it as evaluating the company to see if it will do right by its authors. Which should, IMO, be an ongoing process no matter what the publisher.

And I wouldn't have worried if Lionsong's website stated authors should expect modest sales, but when the company's founder says she wants to make every book a bestseller... well, authors who sign contracts may actually take her at her word and may want their book to be a bestseller.


, and look into all the distribution options all on my own, when this was not my company to begin with.

I know you don't have much time, but you might want to look into the threads here discussing Capri Publishing and Aspen Mountain. I thought those were good examples of what can happen when the founder of a company becomes either overwhelmed with real-life matters or becomes unwilling to work with her staff or her authors. In both cases, the press went under.

I'm not saying that this is what's happening with Lionsong Publishing, but if the one person steering the ship is not experienced in how to navigate the shoals, that's not a sign that gives us hope for the future.

Figgy
04-29-2013, 05:10 PM
I know you don't have much time, but you might want to look into the threads here discussing Capri Publishing and Aspen Mountain. I thought those were good examples of what can happen when the founder of a company becomes either overwhelmed with real-life matters or becomes unwilling to work with her staff or her authors. In both cases, the press went under.

I'm not saying that this is what's happening with Lionsong Publishing, but if the one person steering the ship is not experienced in how to navigate the shoals, that's not a sign that gives us hope for the future.

Thanks, Queen of Swords, will do.

veinglory
04-29-2013, 06:49 PM
I rode the Aspen Mountain Press roller coaster. There were good times, there was bad times, and then there was very bad times....

FOTSGreg
04-30-2013, 03:20 AM
I sincerely and humbly apologize for any offense I may have caused to anyone involved in this discussion. It was not intended to be in any way, shape, or form.

I'm out of this as I have nothing more of value to add.

Sorry.

HapiSofi
04-30-2013, 05:45 AM
Figgy: What you're saying is that someone you know who took this course also got a job with Harper Voyager. That doesn't really cover the objections.

It's clear you're working hard on this. Trouble is, you think Renee's ideas are workable, which is just tragic.

She hasn't done the work and studying and hard thinking you believe she has. You can find plenty of predictions for how her models are going to play out. Almost every detail of them has been field-tested, in some cases many times over. If you're interested, the information's out there.

I'll limit myself to a prediction of a different sort: when all this is over, you and Renee will not be on speaking terms.

aliceshortcake
04-30-2013, 12:43 PM
Figgy, other than misusing the term 'agent' Renee is doing nothing new. The greyed-out names on that list of publishers are full of amateur startups who:

wanted to change the way publishing works (usually because they didn't actually know how it works)

wanted to serve writers instead of readers

had unrealistic expectations of making PoD books into bestsellers

reacted hysterically to mild criticism

None of these companies were outright scams, they were simply run by people who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Just because - thanks to the internet and cheap self-publishing options - anyone nowadays can play the Author/Publisher/Editor Role-Playing Game doesn't mean that they should do so.

Figgy
04-30-2013, 04:01 PM
HapiSofi - No, I am saying someone who ALREADY worked in that role, for many years, decided to go and do the course that I did, in order to keep up to date with the always changing world of editing qualifications.

aliceshortcake - I get that, I do. The reason I joined up in the first place was that the terms, as laid out at the start, sounded really good. I knew of several other well experienced authors who wanted to jump on board when they heard the terms, too.

kaitie
04-30-2013, 04:54 PM
Something I'm not clear on--is the focus ebooks or print? I know print is offered, but is it a supplement? Is there a certain number of ebooks that have to be reached to do print? If so, what's the threshold?

Figgy
04-30-2013, 06:57 PM
I believe that Renee is now looking at changing the structure of the business to be a more POD based one... I don't know, we will have to stay tuned and see what happens.

As far as I know, the intention is to have ebooks and POD books out a the same time, but, being POD, it doesn't matter if no one buys them... Or something... And she doesn't believe that people buy paper books as much any more.

Yeah, I work in a bookstore.

priceless1
05-01-2013, 12:11 AM
I believe that Renee is now looking at changing the structure of the business to be a more POD based one...
It sounds as though Renee is sorta making this up as she goes along, rather than understanding how the industry works and developing a solid business plan that encompasses quality editing and production and wide distribution.

One of the things that concerns me is that quality editors aren't usually willing to wait to be paid for their services. A publisher can wait 4-6 months for money to start coming in, and I think that's an awfully long time for staff to wait to be paid, hoping all the while the books they edited actually sell. And what if the books don't sell? That means the editor never gets paid, even though they did their job. Despite what you've said about this pay-via-sales practice being an incentive to the editor, it's actually the exact opposite, since the editor has no control over sales. That's the sales department's job.

Given that there is no distribution set in place, or any apparent marketing and promotion, then I don't understand how sales will be generated. Maybe I'm missing something, but this doesn't seem to be a good recipe for keeping an editorial staff.

LeslieB
05-01-2013, 12:13 AM
Figgy, I really respect the work you are obviously putting into this venture, but you have hitched your wagon to the wrong horse. If I were hunting for a small press right now, Renee's reaction earlier in the thread would have blown any interest I had in Lionsong.

I have never been able to figure out why start-up publishers think that hyper-defensiveness and hostility is good for their business. Imagine for a moment you went into a new restaurant and had a question about a menu item, and the owner/chef came storming out to yell at you. How dare you question their cooking, who do you think you are, are you a restaurant owner to judge them, why are you trying to wreck their business, and so on and so forth. And, after all that, not actually answering your question. Would anyone consider that a professional (or sane) way to run a business? So why do some new publishers think it will work for them?

HapiSofi
05-01-2013, 01:16 AM
One of the things that concerns me is that quality editors aren't usually willing to wait to be paid for their services.
Industry freelancers usually can't afford to wait that long. Making them wait months to get paid is oppressive treatment. It's also a lousy way to get and keep the good ones. Ideally, what you want is to have a check and a new assignment waiting for them when they bring in the finished work. Modern accounting practices preclude that, but fast payment still matters a lot.


A publisher can wait 4-6 months for money to start coming in, and I think that's an awfully long time for staff to wait to be paid, hoping all the while the books they edited actually sell. And what if the books don't sell? That means the editor never gets paid, even though they did their job.

In fact, what it means is that the books editors do the most work on are also the ones they're least likely to get paid for.


Despite what you've said about this pay-via-sales practice being an incentive to the editor, it's actually the exact opposite, since the editor has no control over sales. That's the sales department's job.

The incentive it gives editors, at least the ones who want to eat and pay the rent, is to only take on books that are a sure bet.

How is this giving more writers a chance?


Given that there is no distribution set in place, or any apparent marketing and promotion, then I don't understand how sales will be generated. Maybe I'm missing something, but this doesn't seem to be a good recipe for keeping an editorial staff.
It isn't a recipe for anything but temporary self-aggrandizement at the expense of the authors and staff.

If your actual ambition is to successfully publish good books, use a different model.

James D. Macdonald
05-01-2013, 01:24 AM
POD went directly from being the Wave of the Future to being the Wave of the Past without ever becoming the Wave of the Right Now.

JulieB
05-01-2013, 01:53 AM
As a freelancer I can attest to what Priceless1 and HapSofi said. And this isn't a new thing. I can point out incidents going back 30 years or more. It used to be that the promise was payment once the money started rolling in. Now it's payment via royalties. Same thing, really. Either the money never rolls in or when it does, there are expenses to be met before the freelancers see anything.

I've seen it happen time and time again, and the people involved had good intentions. But good intentions don't pay the bills.

aliceshortcake
05-01-2013, 01:56 AM
I'd never even heard of PoD until about five years ago, when I walked into a bookshop and asked if they could order a fairly obscure Oxford University Press title. The assistant explained that copies were printed to order and I'd have to wait at least two weeks for it to be delivered. How anyone could believe that a PoD popular fiction title could become a bestseller is a mystery to me.

As I believe Uncle Jim has pointed out more than once on the PA threads, even if by some fluke a PoD publisher DID release a novel that generated enough interest to make it a bestseller of J K Rowling/Stephen King dimensions, all the digital printing machines in the world couldn't produce enough copies to keep up with the demand.

Medievalist
05-01-2013, 04:44 AM
POD books aren't going to be purchased by many libraries; they'll be purchased by even fewer if you don't have ISBNs in a block associated with the publisher, and LOC CIP data.

Even then, POD books don't meet archval/library standards in terms of shelfware and durability.

Bookstores won't buy them if you don't accept returns.

Moreover, POD is expensive. Even if you hire a skilled typesetter, you're going to be hard pressed to get the cost to produce for materials/printing (not counting paying the typesetter, etc.) under $10.00. Typically the cover price of a POD normal-length novel is $20.00 or more. You've got to set the price high enough to cover cover art, and typesetting, even if you're paying editors via a subsidy/royalty.

POD re-prints of out of print books, scholarly books, books by an established author can do fairly well; POD books that are genre fiction, by new authors, well, it's an up hill battle to even sell 100 copies direct to customer via online ordering.

AlterEgox5
05-01-2013, 08:34 AM
Another thing to consider - that there are those random POD books that have somehow gained enough power to actually become bestsellers, and then what? A bigger publishing house with wider distribution, more marketing power, and so forth isn't afraid to contact the writer and offer them a bigger slice of the pie. Depending upon what's offered in Lionsong's contract, unless the author were super loyal, why would they pass up an offer like that?

kaitie
05-01-2013, 05:07 PM
I think part of the reason for that is because of the logistical difficulties of printing massive numbers of POD books, too, though.

Have there ever been POD presses that switched to offset at a certain sales level?

ResearchGuy
05-01-2013, 05:19 PM
I think part of the reason for that is because of the logistical difficulties of printing massive numbers of POD books, too, though.

Have there ever been POD presses that switched to offset at a certain sales level?

Dunno. But, Lightning Source, and even Lulu, will do offset runs for quantity. Lulu used to start at 1,000 copies for offset -- got bids for best pricing. POD is not an inflexible option.

--Ken

priceless1
05-01-2013, 06:22 PM
Have there ever been POD presses that switched to offset at a certain sales level?
Everyone uses digital printing at some point. For example, we use it for our ARCs and backlist titles because it makes financial sense for smaller print runs.

The disconnect with Lionsong is that they lack money to afford any print run because they can't afford to shoulder the risk of those books not selling. They lack distribution, so they don't have store placement. I haven't seen anything that speaks to their marketing and promotion, and given their small operating budget and lack of experience, this is a bit of a question mark. The most logical thing for them to do is focus on e-books, with the POD option for readers who prefer physical books.

But before that, Lionsong has to learn more about the business, formulate a solid business plan, and hire experienced editors and designers, which will be difficult because those folks aren't willing to gamble with their paychecks.

JulieB
05-01-2013, 11:34 PM
But before that, Lionsong has to learn more about the business, formulate a solid business plan, and hire experienced editors and designers, which will be difficult because those folks aren't willing to gamble with their paychecks.

^^^^^
This.

Barbara R.
05-02-2013, 05:07 PM
POD went directly from being the Wave of the Future to being the Wave of the Past without ever becoming the Wave of the Right Now.

LOL! That's true, actually. Maybe because they were overtaken by ebooks, which are much cheaper and provide instant gratification.

triceretops
05-04-2013, 01:01 AM
LOL! That's true, actually. Maybe because they were overtaken by ebooks, which are much cheaper and provide instant gratification.

Yeah, that and the fact that POD was misused to the point of actually starting up publishing houses from the get, instead of planning for and implementing solid distribution.

tlblack
05-05-2013, 07:56 PM
FWIW, (and this is my opinion), serious writers looking for publication where their books will be in main stream book stores, libraries, as well as other types of stores, will see PoD and keep looking. E-books are doing well, but even with those there has to be some marketing so that people know the book is available. If you'll be transferring e-books to print on demand, I would hope that you've thought out the whole process enough to realize that PoD books aren't that cheap, and none of them, (so far), are available in bookstores because most aren't vetted for errors as they should be, aren't returnable and aren't discounted enough for the store to make money. Even if they were error free and written well, it will be difficult to get those books into stores. Again, my personal opinion, but I think vanity presses pretty much ruined the use of print on demand for anything other than short prints where the writer was only printing out personal copies, or enough copies for a small group of people. Some small independent bookstores might take in a few copies, as I know someone who managed that, but his profits were half what he spent in production costs. He, too, was planning to open his own publishing company using PoD technology, and was testing the waters with his own books to see exactly what was needed to get a publishing company up and running. He quickly changed his mind once he saw that he was going in the hole.
As a writer with my own PoD nightmare story, I'd run fast once I saw print on demand, no matter what publisher.

triceretops
05-06-2013, 07:08 PM
FWIW, (and this is my opinion), serious writers looking for publication where their books will be in main stream book stores, libraries, as well as other types of stores, will see PoD and keep looking. E-books are doing well, but even with those there has to be some marketing so that people know the book is available. If you'll be transferring e-books to print on demand, I would hope that you've thought out the whole process enough to realize that PoD books aren't that cheap, and none of them, (so far), are available in bookstores because most aren't vetted for errors as they should be, aren't returnable and aren't discounted enough for the store to make money. Even if they were error free and written well, it will be difficult to get those books into stores. Again, my personal opinion, but I think vanity presses pretty much ruined the use of print on demand for anything other than short prints where the writer was only printing out personal copies, or enough copies for a small group of people. Some small independent bookstores might take in a few copies, as I know someone who managed that, but his profits were half what he spent in production costs. He, too, was planning to open his own publishing company using PoD technology, and was testing the waters with his own books to see exactly what was needed to get a publishing company up and running. He quickly changed his mind once he saw that he was going in the hole.
As a writer with my own PoD nightmare story, I'd run fast once I saw print on demand, no matter what publisher.

Pretty much dead on the mark here. It took me years to (try and) find exceptions in POD publishers, coming to the realization that there really were none, no matter what they stated or how they phrased it. The rare exceptions I've seen came from publishers who managed to sell contracts to a half dozen or so stores from the major chain (one), and others who actively sold foreign and audio rights, pumping up the sales. But these were very aggressive small press houses. It also helps if your publisher is handsome, charming, young, has a publishing degree, interned with several houses before ever launching, then sold dozens of $30 hardbacks of my debut out of gate to all of the graduates in his program (another little unexpected quirk). All kinds of things can happen, but...

...the old standard still applies...75 to 150 trade paperback average sales unless the writer has really gone out there and worn out shoe leather and become the primary sales force. Which should not be.

tri

veinglory
05-06-2013, 07:11 PM
If you want to see a a publisher who uses POD and gets distribution into stores, try Samhain.

HapiSofi
05-07-2013, 08:08 PM
...even if by some fluke a PoD publisher DID release a novel that generated enough interest to make it a bestseller of J K Rowling/Stephen King dimensions, all the digital printing machines in the world couldn't produce enough copies to keep up with the demand.
Been preaching this one for years. POD print-and-bind operations just aren't designed to produce books at the speed and in the quantities that are required when demand heats up.

(Magnitude: when a really hot book is also a long book, the publisher, printer, and distributors have to make arrangements in advance to accommodate the sheer volume of paper that's about to go through the system. Quantities are figured in pallets, not cartons.)

They also don't have sales and distribution systems in place that can handle that kind of volume. Many of them don't take returns, or take them in a low-volume trickle. This kills bookstore participation at exactly the point when a book that's starting to get traction desperately needs it.

As Medievalist has pointed out, POD lacks a cluster of characteristics that enable library sales, so that's closed off too.

You know what's the great enabler of POD and self-publishing schemes? Lack of sales figures. Boosters spout all kinds of nonsense about royalty percentages, but leave out the part about their higher royalties being paid on far fewer total sales.

Filigree
05-07-2013, 09:46 PM
When I was researching a PoD publisher last year, I found that most of their books had sold in double-digit copies, some of that during two years.
The Ingram info hinted at 'print run' inventories of less than 100, but I think that was more a measure of how many copies the publisher was allowed to have printed by Lightning Source. I'm going on record here as saying I don't know how LS sets up its arrangements with specific publishers.

In general, from what I've been able to guess in the market, PoD by its very nature indicates a book that the publisher doesn't think will sell in the many thousands of copies.

veinglory
05-07-2013, 11:45 PM
I have given the name of one press that bucks that trend. There is a difference between what a technology can do, and how most presses use it. Most ebooks also only sell in double digits, but it is not a limitation innate to the technology.

Filigree
05-08-2013, 01:53 AM
I'll grant you that. The difference is in marketing: Samhain has a huge presence, is well-known, and markets extensively. The publisher I researched basically appears to cut its PoD subsidy clients loose with a FAQ sheet and some self-marketing instructions.

priceless1
05-08-2013, 05:18 PM
In general, from what I've been able to guess in the market, PoD by its very nature indicates a book that the publisher doesn't think will sell in the many thousands of copies.
This is also an indication that the publisher lacks sufficient operating funds to invest in proper distribution, which requires print runs in the thousands (that they must pay for whether the books sell or not), and solid promo and marketing. Without those in place, publishers have little choice but to use digital demand printing in order to offset their risk.

In Samhain's case, doesn't it makes sense for them to use digital because they are primarily an e-book publisher?

James D. Macdonald
05-08-2013, 05:29 PM
Another press that uses digital printing is Wildside. But they don't follow the POD business model (no book is printed before a customer orders it). They use digital as short-run printing. I think you'll find that Samhain, too, uses digital as short run rather than POD.

POD is inconsistent with bookstore stocking. Digital printing ... pretty much everyone uses it, either for ARCs or for deep backlist titles if nothing else.

HapiSofi
05-08-2013, 06:01 PM
I have given the name of one press that bucks that trend. There is a difference between what a technology can do, and how most presses use it. Most ebooks also only sell in double digits, but it is not a limitation innate to the technology.
Double-digit total sales are not an innate limitation, but low-triple-digit sales quite arguably are. And if sales are any higher than that, the book should be offset.

veinglory
05-08-2013, 06:29 PM
In Samhain's case, doesn't it makes sense for them to use digital because they are primarily an e-book publisher?

I am speaking of their paperback distribution and sales. Which, for popular titles, certainly run in the thousands, sometimes more than that.

Ergo I can only conclude such results are possible with PoD.

veinglory
05-08-2013, 06:31 PM
Double-digit total sales are not an innate limitation, but low-triple-digit sales quite arguably are. And if sales are any higher than that, the book should be offset.

And yet PoD books do sell in the thousands pretty routinely from some publishers. As is Barnes and Noble on-the-shelf stocking etc. It happens pretty routinely for some romance presses and romance genre books shelves are normally made large enough to accommodate these types of books. I see PoD from 5-6 romance presses in most bookstores that I go into.

I am not saying it is common; I am saying it is clearly possible.

James D. Macdonald
05-08-2013, 07:55 PM
POD (a business model) != digital printing (a technology).

HapiSofi
05-10-2013, 02:09 AM
I am speaking of their paperback distribution and sales. Which, for popular titles, certainly run in the thousands, sometimes more than that.

Ergo I can only conclude such results are possible with PoD.

Veinglory, I'm not saying it can't happen; but if a publisher is podding a title that sells in the thousands, their head of production ... er ... has some explaining to do.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2013, 02:14 AM
Veinglory, I'm not saying it can't happen; but if a publisher is podding a title that sells in the thousands, their head of production ... er ... has some explaining to do.
It is not either/or. One can have books printed to order AND a short or long run printed, too. LS and even Lulu print or broker larger orders by offset.

--Ken

HapiSofi
05-10-2013, 02:18 AM
It is not either/or. One can have books printed to order AND a short or long run printed, too. LS and even Lulu print or broker larger orders by offset.

If the book is being offset, I don't see where we're disagreeing.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2013, 06:00 AM
If the book is being offset, I don't see where we're disagreeing.
I don't know about any particular book. I was only referring to the ability to have a book as print-on-demand AND to buy a print run of any size. Not sure there is any disagreement there.

--Ken

James D. Macdonald
05-10-2013, 06:14 AM
This is getting rather far afield from Lionsong.

ResearchGuy
05-10-2013, 07:52 AM
This is getting rather far afield from Lionsong.
True. The potential connection is that, IMHO, Lionsong is probably a work in progress. And it might well find ways of finessing methods or building on where the business started. Hopefully the business does well by authors in the process, and develops a sustainable model.

[Edited to add: I was bending over backwards to be kind to those folks. Plainly, though, the needed progress, assuming they are willing to pursue it, could take several years and should be developed on the basis of the proprietor or proprietors' own books or their own editions of public domain works. That way no one else gets hurt. But if they have already signed someone, first thing is to fix what's wrong with the model (pretty much everything, frankly), or promptly set those folks free to pursue other opportunities.]

--Ken

HapiSofi
05-10-2013, 04:33 PM
I'd apply the standard advice: don't send your finished work to a publisher that's a work in progress. They can recover from their early errors a lot more easily than your book can recover from being poorly published.

James D. Macdonald
05-14-2013, 01:18 AM
People who want to understand this thread better might want to read the Iconic Publishing thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=232072). (It's short; two pages.)

Marian Perera
05-15-2013, 06:29 PM
Lionsong's founder's last post to the site was on April 29, and since then it doesn't seem to have been updated until the news from today:


Iím sorry to say that due to computer problems and other difficulties, we will not be accepting any new submissions. We hope to be up and running again soon!

BenPanced
05-15-2013, 10:17 PM
Let's hope so. Computer problems on that level are never good news.

James D. Macdonald
05-15-2013, 10:26 PM
One word of advice for her: Backups.


100% daily offsite backups.

ResearchGuy
05-16-2013, 01:24 AM
One word of advice for her: Backups.


100% daily offsite backups.
Sounds like a convenient excuse to hide until they address the issues raised here. Sure. 'Computer problems.'

--Ken

aliceshortcake
05-16-2013, 09:12 PM
My thoughts exactly!

triceretops
05-16-2013, 09:19 PM
thinking the same thing....

Figgy
06-12-2013, 05:16 AM
This may well be the case, guys.

I have been unable to get in contact with the owner to discuss things properly with her. Could be computer issues, but if she's hiding from you, she's also hiding from me.

Marian Perera
06-12-2013, 06:27 AM
Well, it's been almost a month since technical difficulties have prevented Lionsong from revolutionizing the publishing industry. Nor were there any updates to the website. This one seems to have gone belly-up.

G. Applejack
06-12-2013, 07:00 AM
This may well be the case, guys.

I have been unable to get in contact with the owner to discuss things properly with her. Could be computer issues, but if she's hiding from you, she's also hiding from me.

Damn, that's a shame for you Figgy. I'm sure you know, but that's no way to run a business. My best advice for you is to count this as a loss and move on with your career.

aliceshortcake
06-12-2013, 01:32 PM
Figgy, I don't think there was any way this enterprise could have ended well. At least you (and any potential authors) were spared the all-too-familiar implosion in which first publishing rights were lost and royalties left unpaid.