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Thread: River's Bend Press

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    River's Bend Press

    Has anyone used this company www.riversbendpress.com ?

    A member of another writer's group I belonged to, sent them a query letter regarding a book about the Holocaust. It was returned, not with comments, but with "LOL" written across the top.

    She's not even Jewish and she's offended. The author wrote and demanded an apology but got no response.

    The company is supposed to be located in Stillwater, MN, and the domain is registered to a William Schmaltz, giving that address, but the fax number and his actual address are in Wisconsin.

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    We look at each submission in its entirety and correspond in-depth with potential authors to create a collaborative relationship,from beginning to end. We believe this model of publishing ensures that high quality work will get published and distributed to a discerning market.
    I'll grant that the bold part (my emphasis) could be an unfortunate choice of words. OTOH, it could be cagey. Given that none of their books are available through Ingram, and they don't appear to have any distribution, my guess is that they are a vanity or POD company.

  3. #3
    Still the wrong side of Saskatoon Saskatoonistan's Avatar
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    I'd go so far as to say there is some white supremacist crap they're publishing (highly illegal in Canada) but perhaps not so much in the US. Why would your friend submit - there's some stuff on that site that looks pretty "hate-literature-ish"

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  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    This is not someone I know well, just a member of an author's group. I didn't look into the content of the website, but I did see their guidelines.

    I think perhaps she might have queried them because they have handled history based works. But I agree, it is likely a POD company, and one that for some reason doesn't like people to know that the owner actually lives in another state entirely.

  5. #5
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Okay, they're totally unprofessional, they're a subsidy POD house, AND they publish (and, it appears, subscribe to) white supremacist nonsense?

    I think we know all we need to know right there. It's a shame that they picked such a legit-sounding name for their shenanigans.

  6. #6
    I post in the nude. ShebaJones's Avatar
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    I've looked at their site, and I can see why she subbed to them, given that they have published some history, historical memoirs and novels revolving around certain times.

    The page looks kind of unprofessional (don't get me started on "LOL"), and I didn't see what kind of publishing they offered.

    Keeping in mind that I'm in a small town and have probably learned to ignore everything but the most outright racism, where's the white supremacy? I mean, I looked through their catalog, but I didn't see anything that even looked like the usual crowd of ANs.

  7. #7
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShebaJones View Post
    Keeping in mind that I'm in a small town and have probably learned to ignore everything but the most outright racism, where's the white supremacy? I mean, I looked through their catalog, but I didn't see anything that even looked like the usual crowd of ANs.
    The "forthcoming title" about the woman whose childhood was just fine under Nazism but then became horrible when the Third Reich collapsed and the Russians took over struck me as a pro-Nazi apologetic. Or maybe the blurb was just horribly badly written? I mean, I can imagine that Russian occupation was probably just as bad, and perhaps even worse in some instances, compared to Nazi occupation. But the tone of that blurb--and the swastikas on the cover--send an odd message.

    If they're not publishing white supremacist literature, they should probably do a better job of editing their webpage to avoid giving others that impression. (And, of course, if they are publishing white supremacist literature, it's their legal right in the United States.)
    Last edited by IceCreamEmpress; 08-21-2008 at 07:08 AM.

  8. #8
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    The "forthcoming title" about the woman whose childhood was just fine under Nazism but then became horrible when the Third Reich collapsed and the Russians took over struck me as a pro-Nazi apologetic. Or maybe the blurb was just horribly badly written? I mean, I can imagine that Russian occupation was probably just as bad, and perhaps even worse in some instances, compared to Nazi occupation. But the tone of that blurb--and the swastikas on the cover--send an odd message.

    If they're not publishing white supremacist literature, they should probably do a better job of editing their webpage to avoid giving others that impression. (And, of course, if they are publishing white supremacist literature, it's their legal right in the United States.)
    The synopsis of the book about the Korean man forced to fight in the Japanese army sounds a bit iffy, as well.

  9. #9
    Never say "I can't." C A Winters's Avatar
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    The opinions on this thread alone raises red flags and I haven't even visited the sight. Based on what I've read here--the unprofessional response of "LOL" is enough for me. Why risk it?
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  10. #10
    I post in the nude. ShebaJones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    The "forthcoming title" about the woman whose childhood was just fine under Nazism but then became horrible when the Third Reich collapsed and the Russians took over struck me as a pro-Nazi apologetic. Or maybe the blurb was just horribly badly written? I mean, I can imagine that Russian occupation was probably just as bad, and perhaps even worse in some instances, compared to Nazi occupation. But the tone of that blurb--and the swastikas on the cover--send an odd message.

    If they're not publishing white supremacist literature, they should probably do a better job of editing their webpage to avoid giving others that impression. (And, of course, if they are publishing white supremacist literature, it's their legal right in the United States.)
    True enough, ICE, and I did wonder about that one. After I pondered it, I shrugged it off as more of "We were used to the Nazis, but this new management sucks." I didn't even think about the cover. I doubt I'd want to read it just to see if the author clears anything up.

    Thanks for the reply. I was starting to wonder if I'd been brainwashed by the subtle flavors of racism we have around here (my town, not AW).
    Last edited by ShebaJones; 08-21-2008 at 11:28 PM. Reason: Had to clear that up.

  11. #11
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    She looked at her receipt for the registered letter she sent and it was signed by William Schmaltz, so it looks like he *is* the company and he's also the jerk that wrote LOL on the letter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carraig View Post
    She looked at her receipt for the registered letter she sent and it was signed by William Schmaltz, so it looks like he *is* the company and he's also the jerk that wrote LOL on the letter.
    If the guy is a racist pig, then the LOL comment isn't such a stretch. He's actually saying, "You MUST be joking. Never in a million years would I touch this." Such insult is beneath the publishing world.

  13. #13
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    I'm not surprised at the comment. I've noticed that many of the amateur publisher/printer types think they are doing writers a favor by providing a publishing service.

    They're all pretty much the same and I call them HSP's (Hollywood Set Publishers). From the front (their homepage) they look like every other publisher. But when you take a wee peek behind the facade, you discover there's nothing there. No experience, no distribution, no marketing, and no capital.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

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  14. #14
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I've gotten two documented reports of fee-charging by River's Bend. One of the reports cited a cost of $2,000-3,500 for publication, the other a cost of around $2,000 for illustrations.

    - Victoria

  15. #15
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    Get the facts before you judge a small press

    The so-called "book about holocaust" was from a female who thought her manuscript about the untold suffering of THE PETS of holocaust victims was rejected. It deserved a LOL comment. Anyone who is stupid enough to compare the suffering of pets with that of humans, has a few screws loose. Its also insulting to every Jew. We'll likely send her letter to Foxman at the ADL is she continues this smear campaign.

    Also, RBP's distributor is Baker & Taylor. Most writers don't know this, but Ingram has special rules that prohibit small presses from using their service unless they've published a certain amount of books--like 15 or 20. Our catalog doesn't qualify for that yet.

    Our most recent title, a memoir by a German-national, is a story about the Russian invasion of her village. If one were to read it, (rather than judge a book by the cover) you'd find that her family was very anti-Nazi.

    The Korean memoir is very similar. A young man is forced into the Japanese Army. He did not want to go.

    RBP is not a vanity press. It pays royalties to every writer, there are no upfront fees.

    Authors-- please note. There is no need to take out your vitriol against publishers on a public forum. Its just a waste of time. Time that could be better spent practicing your craft. The publishing business is difficult enough, just the way it is. If you get rejected by a publisher, move on to the next house. If your story can't find a home, write a different story. It's really that simple. If you love your story enough to put your own money at risk, then self-publish it. There's no shame in getting published,
    even if you have to spend your own money. Why let someone else determine your fate as a writer?

  16. #16
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Your explanation seems reasonable, but if you are seeing vitriol rather than red flags about your choice of cover and website design, that is telling. Yes, we should be so very, very ashamed... of having a discussion.

    The reasons to judge books by their cover and blurb is that the readers do. That and it is hardly wise to give money to something to see whether you object to it. That is why a great many top small presses post excerpts.
    Emily Veinglory

  17. #17
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Welcome to AW.

    Quote Originally Posted by wschmaltz View Post
    The so-called "book about holocaust" was from a female who thought her manuscript about the untold suffering of THE PETS of holocaust victims was rejected. It deserved a LOL comment. Anyone who is stupid enough to compare the suffering of pets with that of humans, has a few screws loose. Its also insulting to every Jew. We'll likely send her letter to Foxman at the ADL is she continues this smear campaign.
    First, I recommend you drop the name calling if you wish to gain any form of respect here in AW.

    Second, nothing deserves a LOL comment. It clearly demonstrates your professionalism or lack thereof. A simple form rejection or no response would have been more appropriate.

    Also, RBP's distributor is Baker & Taylor.
    No, they are your wholesaler.

    RBP is not a vanity press. It pays royalties to every writer, there are no upfront fees.
    This is good news. However, Victoria Strauss has indicated she has documented information to the contrary and would not publicly state this unless she did have this information.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschmaltz View Post
    The so-called "book about holocaust" was from a female who thought her manuscript about the untold suffering of THE PETS of holocaust victims was rejected. It deserved a LOL comment.
    No, it didn't. Sadly, you never learned the first thing about wielding the red pen with a kind and deft hand. A simple rejection letter would suffice, and if you were any kind of professional, that is exactly what you would have done. Now you'll be branded as the editor who ridicules authors. Not an effective way to enhance your reputation. I have no idea as to the nature of the book you so rudely rejected, but I do remember a fabulous movie called The Zookeeper, which detailed the suffering of the animals during a communist war-torn country. In short, you may not feel a work is right for your company, but who are you to decide the overall worthiness of someone's work? Did God appoint you Supreme Editor while I was sleeping?
    Also, RBP's distributor is Baker & Taylor.
    B&T are warehouse distributors, and you know it. They simply send out books to fulfill orders that come in from bookstores, libraries, and other warehouse distributors. They don't have sales teams going out and pitching your catalog, ensuring you have shelf space. So, I stand by my previous statement; you don't have distribution.
    Most writers don't know this, but Ingram has special rules that prohibit small presses from using their service unless they've published a certain amount of books--like 15 or 20. Our catalog doesn't qualify for that yet.
    It depends. When we first opened our doors and met with Ingram at BEA in Chicago we had all of two physical books to our name. However we showed him our catalog that had a lineup of seven more titles. They realized we were going places and opened an account with us right there at BEA.
    Authors-- please note. There is no need to take out your vitriol against publishers on a public forum. Its just a waste of time. Time that could be better spent practicing your craft. The publishing business is difficult enough, just the way it is.
    Read the heading - Bewares and Background Check. You're patronizing hard working writers who put everyone under a microscope. And why not? With the myriad of less than capable publishers popping up on every corner like Starbucks, scrutiny is their only weapon. If this is all truly beneath you then why reply at all on this forum.
    If you get rejected by a publisher, move on to the next house.
    That's not what you did, though. You went the extra mile to squish the author like a bug. Shame on you.

  19. #19
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschmaltz View Post
    The so-called "book about holocaust" was from a female who thought her manuscript about the untold suffering of THE PETS of holocaust victims was rejected. It deserved a LOL comment.
    A female human is called a "woman", and the proper response to a submission that you feel is not worthy of publication is "Thank you for submitting to River's Bend Press. However, your manuscript is not a good match for our list."

    That's two free pieces of professional advice that others pay me well for.

    Our most recent title, a memoir by a German-national, is a story about the Russian invasion of her village. If one were to read it, (rather than judge a book by the cover) you'd find that her family was very anti-Nazi.
    Gee, it sounds like her publishers have done her a horrible disservice in both the design and the blurbing of the book, then. Nobody's going to buy a book that looks like one thing, and is described like one thing, in the hope of discovering that it's another.

    Thanks for posting here, Mr. Schmaltz! I think you've given people plenty of information on which to make an informed decision about whether your press is right for them.

  20. #20
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    Thanks for posting here, Mr. Schmaltz! I think you've given people plenty of information on which to make an informed decision about whether your press is right for them.
    oh, so true.

    I think we all pretty well know what River's Bend Press is about now.

    thanks for stopping by!


  21. #21
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschmaltz View Post
    RBP is not a vanity press. It pays royalties to every writer, there are no upfront fees.
    Mr. Schmaltz, most vanity presses these days pay royalties.

    If there are no upfront fees, I would appreciate it if you'd explain this statement by you in an email to an author in January of this year: "Most important, are you willing to pay for illustrations? There's no way that I can budget that much, my costs are too hard to recover on most books with no illustrations."

    And this one, dated May 2007: "A typical book that we publish runs from $2000 to $3500 depending on the size of the print run. If this interests you, and you feel that getting your book published is more important than saving money, we could get your book in print by this fall."

    Thanks so much.

    - Victoria

  22. #22
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    I realize this is a little late in the discussion, but the assumption that a book about the sufferings under the Russian invasion being inherently "white supremacist" is deeply saddening to me.

    Yes, the blurb should have been better worded. I agree about that. But it's frustratingly common to have to explain specifically that non-Jewish German does not equal Nazi. The Russian invasion of Germany was full of horror and cruelty. People who suffered that have a right to their stories.

    PS to ICE--I know that you yourself were not jumping to conclusions. I quoted your post because it was one that mentioned the book specifically.

    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    The "forthcoming title" about the woman whose childhood was just fine under Nazism but then became horrible when the Third Reich collapsed and the Russians took over struck me as a pro-Nazi apologetic. Or maybe the blurb was just horribly badly written? I mean, I can imagine that Russian occupation was probably just as bad, and perhaps even worse in some instances, compared to Nazi occupation. But the tone of that blurb--and the swastikas on the cover--send an odd message.

    If they're not publishing white supremacist literature, they should probably do a better job of editing their webpage to avoid giving others that impression. (And, of course, if they are publishing white supremacist literature, it's their legal right in the United States.)
    Last edited by Emily Winslow; 08-24-2008 at 01:57 AM.

    A memoir, from HarperCollins

    About my novels:
    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.
    -Washington Post

  23. #23
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emily Winslow View Post
    I realize this is a little late in the discussion, but the assumption that a book about the sufferings under the Russian invasion being inherently "white supremacist" is deeply saddening to me.
    I don't think anyone assumed that. I think that the cover design of the book and the wording of the blurb were what led folks to that conclusion. If that wasn't the author's intention, she was poorly served by the publisher.

    Putting two swastikas on the cover of a book about a German village suffering under the Russian invasion is a rather poor choice.

  24. #24
    Do Not Walk on the Grass Emily Winslow's Avatar
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    Indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    Putting two swastikas on the cover of a book about a German village suffering under the Russian invasion is a rather poor choice.

    A memoir, from HarperCollins

    About my novels:
    "[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn't a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.
    -Washington Post

  25. #25
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
    Putting two swastikas on the cover of a book about a German village suffering under the Russian invasion is a rather poor choice.
    I never read the blurb when I was looking at that book. Title of the book + face covered by swastika = story of a Jewish person fleeing Nazi Germany.

    That's what I would think if I saw it on a bookshelf or online. And that's what I assumed it was about when I saw it on this publisher's site.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

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