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Thread: [Publisher] Engage Books

  1. #1
    Saving the Day from itself Single Entendre's Avatar
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    [Publisher] Engage Books

    Just learned that a publishing house in Vancouver is ready for submissions of science fiction novels. According to their site they are a Print On Demand House.

    My question is this: how will they compete with publishing houses who are pushing out reams of tree-d copies of books to bookstores?

    Do Booksellers order from catalogs, receive the books and then order more if they like them?

    Can a P.O.D. House compete with other publishers? Should I take it seriously?

    Here's the link:

    http://www.engagethebook.com/submissions

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Hmmm, my thoughts would be to approach this publisher in a very cautious way. Over the past eighteen months in researching this area, I have seen a number of publishers like this 'pop' up, and ultimately turn out not to be what they initially appeared to be.

    Firstly, I know no publisher, even most of the smallest reputable publishers, who use Print-On-Demand as a key selling point on their websites. In fact, the largest commercial publishers are very circumspect and cagey about admitting that any of their catalogue is printed via digital POD methods. In short, they understand the immediate connatation with Vanity/Subsidy publishers.

    This is why I suggest caution about submitting to the publishers. They say on their site that they have only been active since May 2008; they have just four titles, some which I suspect are 'classics'. In other words, they are outside of copyright laws, and are available for any publisher to issue an edition of the original author's work.

    I have to say this is the first time I've see the 'green card' being played with a POD publisher! They don't give any detail on distribution, ie ability to get any future published books into mainstream 'brick and mortar' stores.

    Another point of uneasiness, going by the previous poster, is their williness to accept short fiction work, again, this doesn't ring easy with me.

    My advise, FWIW, enquire politely, garner as much info from them regarding, potention 'cost & outlay' to submitting authors, their distribution outlet, who they are, ie, names of editors, directors etc, are the current four titles they list available in your local, largest bookstore, google their current authors, and then, if you are still happy with them.....

    wait another six months and see how they develope and prosper as a publisher.

  3. #3
    Resident Curmudgeon Requiescat In Pace ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Let me second Mick's excellent advice.

    Meanwhile, there is a ton of discussion on other threads about POD and its pros and cons. Might be worth some browsing.

    Do not pay to be published in any event, not POD or any other way. If you are going to front the costs, do your homework (and a lot of it is required) and become a self-publisher. (But don't rush into that, either.)

    FWIW, you might find my piece on The Pursuit of Publishing worth a look. Free, no gimmicks, well received by readers so far.

    --Ken
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    [/FONT][URL="http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Street-Colorful-Origins-Sparks/dp/1937123073/"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I]There's No Lake on Lake Street![/I] by James D. Umbach[/FONT][/URL]
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Let me underline what Ken has said, so that no one is under any illusion. While I run and blog about Self-publishing and POD subsidy publishing, my first line of advise will always be the same to any one seeking a publisher.

    Have you submitted to traditional publishers?
    If you have, and got feed-back, have you taken their advise?
    How long have you been submitting to traditional publishers?
    How much have you studied editing methods of your work?
    Why do you think you have not been published?
    Do you write for yourself or others?

    Do you want to consider an alternative method of publishing?
    Do you have something unique to say or sell?
    Have you experience in selling or speaking publically?
    Can you market something in a very defined market?
    Have you wonderful enthusiasm and energy?
    Can you take no for an answer?
    Are you philosophical and humble?

    Well... then, just maybe, you should consider Self-Publishing or taking on the perilous task of finding a reputable POD publisher!
    Last edited by MickRooney; 08-30-2008 at 05:15 AM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
    Saving the Day from itself Single Entendre's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! Great advice.

    My first thought was that the "greening" of publishing was a good conservational choice. Makes sense. And, wow, they start off with the classics---I was impressed. But then, I never thought that classic books could be PODded by anyone!?

    I wasn't considering any publishers, only that I got alerted to this "new publisher" ---and they sounded legit, and I figured this may be the way publishing was going. Boy, I'm glad my friend Shweta alerted me to your POD discussion.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    fantasy dweller
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    SE, I'm sitting here dying to write more but anything further would be anecdotal. That said, if you have the time and inclination you may want to see if there is a connection with ETB and the now defunct Crew Publishing of the BC Vancouver area.
    As I got it, Crew went belly up, was sold and the parts broken up. The very expensive hardware went to a new start up POD outfit in the city of Vancouver and the catalogue went to another entity. This doesn't necessarily mean bad things about ETB but Crew was in business for about two years--give or take.

    One of the things that struck me was, where's the contract? What are you agreeing to? What are they agreeing to?

    It smacks of the old play on the desperate author syndrome.

    Go to the biggies, like Book Surge, iUniverse (now owned by Author House) or Author House and you can read the contracts online; Lulu and Lightning Source, same thing. Being a start up company is no excuse for not giving prospective clients a full disclosure of accountability.

    BTW I'm a POD published author. My reasons are my own. Am I living off my royalties? No, but then I don't have to. Am I read in my genre? Yes, and that makes me very happy. I don't measure success by numbers of copies sold but by the public and private reviews I've gathered of the years.

  7. #7
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    Engage Books

    Looks new. http://www.engagethebook.com/
    They posted on another SF/F writers forum soliciting submissions
    Their website reveals very little about them other than they are using Print On Demand technology
    Anyone heard anything about them?

  8. #8
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    The standard suggestion is to wait a year and see if they're still around.

    I think it would be a good idea to ask for a sample contract and ask questions about distribution. Will they get your books into bookstores? What royalty do they offer? If it's on the net, how do they calculate net?

    Not saying they're good or bad, but they're new, which means you should subject them to extra scrutiny.

  9. #9
    fantasy dweller
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    They were discussed in the POD forum. See my post #6. I believe I have some knowledge of where they came from.
    C

  10. #10
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Adding link to POD thread.
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 01-17-2010 at 04:52 AM. Reason: threads merged, link moot
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

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  11. #11
    I have sent them a query regarding distribution, royalties, etc. If I learn anything, I'll post it in this thread.

  12. #12
    Hey guys,

    As promised, here is some further info. He seems pretty nice in the e-mail he sent me.


    Here are some answers to your questions:
    1) We are distributed by Ingram (largest world wide distributor) and our books are distributed to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    2) Freelance editors are chosen depending on type of book and style of the author. Our book covers are done by professional artists.

    3) Royalties depend the author, but we do pay a competitive percentage. The length of the contract will depend on various factors, but we will revert owenership if the book is out of print, and the author requests it.

  13. #13
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Since this is a question about a specific publisher, I've moved it from the POD forum (which is mostly devoted to self-publishing) to Bewares & Background Check.

    - Victoria

  14. #14
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    And I've merged threads.

    Imprints: BC Classic, AD Classic & SF Classic.

    Here are some answers to your questions:
    1) We are distributed by Ingram (largest world wide distributor) and our books are distributed to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    2) Freelance editors are chosen depending on type of book and style of the author. Our book covers are done by professional artists.

    3) Royalties depend the author, but we do pay a competitive percentage. The length of the contract will depend on various factors, but we will revert owenership if the book is out of print, and the author requests it.
    1) Ingram is a wholesaler, not a distributor. Regardless, there is no distribution with POD, only order fulfillment.

    2) You'll get what they pay for. What capital do they have?

    3) Evasiveness aside, the whole point of POD is to keep a book "in print" in perpetuity, so the question becomes: will rights revert upon author request alone?
    ICAO
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    Hi Guys,

    Just curious if anyone has had any more experience with these folks? They speak about their distribution on their website but I can't read between the lines to know if I'm seeing just standard POD stuff, or if they actually get their books into Bricks-and-Mortar Book stores.

    http://www.engagethebook.com

    Thanks

  16. #16
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    I see no change. I.e., they have no distribution beyond making books "available" to retailers via Ingram.
    ICAO
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    Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. -- Henry Steele Commager
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  17. #17
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    Thanks CaoPaux.

    Just so I understand, and forgive me if this is totally a newbie question, if I understand things correctly: There are POD publishers that are legit and POD publishers that are really nothing more than (or a short jump up from) Vanity publishers. The former are identified by the fact that they have a presence in Bricks-and-Mortar Book stores, while the latter are only available for order online. So this publisher is really just a Vanity Publisher? Do I have that right? I find the POD as a business model and POD as a production method a bit confusing.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Sydewinder; 07-19-2009 at 10:30 PM. Reason: sp

  18. #18
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    BTW - if I'm wrong about this stuff, I do apologise. I'm not trying to bad-mouth this publisher if they are legit. It’s just that when I read the threads about POD and Vanity publishing it seems the people here hold them in equal regard. People against Vanity publishing are against POD publishing (it seems). Or they indicate that the books produced/written are at a significantly lower quality (both in terms of presentation and writing skill.)

    Yet others say that “traditional publishers” use POD as a printing method. So to me it seems to indicate that POD are used to produce smaller print runs. Print runs that still go to stores but just on a smaller level. Therefore it seems that the only real difference between POD, Vanity and Traditional publishing is the presence in book stores.

    Sorry if I seem off topic here. I am curious about this publisher. I read the interview on their website, and to the untrained eye (mine) they seem legit. They don’t force their authors to pay, and they seem discriminating about the mss. they accept.
    Last edited by Sydewinder; 07-19-2009 at 10:57 PM. Reason: sp

  19. #19
    aka Sadistic Mistress Mi-chan M.R.J. Le Blanc's Avatar
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    POD technology is basically digital printing. It has its use for things like ARCs and small print runs where it is more cost effective than offset printing. The POD business model is seldom (if ever) successful in the way most authors would determine successful. Poor advances (if any), poor royalties, a very small number of copies sold and usually the author ends up paying for something. The POD business model is not competitive with commercial publishing because it's simply not on the same level. The only ones who ever benefit from that business model are the ones running it. If all you want is a copy of your book in your hands, and perhaps some to give to family and friends a company like Lulu is the better option - if nothing else they don't pretend to be anything more than a printer. There really are no such thing as legit POD publishers, so far as I know. Just because they're more open about the fact that they rely heavily on POD doesn't make them 'legit' or comparable with commercial publishers. If POD books are in bookstores, nine times out of ten it's because the author got them there not the publisher.
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    I see---sort of. I guess I just don’t understand how a POD publisher makes money if they don’t sell books and don’t charge authors for publishing. It seems like a loose-loose scenario. I assumed that Vanity publishers made money off the authors and b/c many POD publishers don’t charge for publication they must need (and therefore try) to sell the books they produce.
    Last edited by Sydewinder; 07-19-2009 at 11:08 PM.

  21. #21
    aka Sadistic Mistress Mi-chan M.R.J. Le Blanc's Avatar
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    POD publishers tend to have a lot of writers. Often they will 'offer' to let the authors buy their own books at a discount to resell. That is where the money gets made, because that's really the only way any author is going to sell their books. Plus, POD technology is very cheap, and they're only printing up as many as they need so there's very little overhead. Don't ever think a POD company has stock laying around, because they don't. I don't think they make a fortune, because many tend to go belly-up anyway - as a business model it's not very sustainable. And that becomes an even bigger problem, because not only are the first publishing rights gone for all those books (the most valuable rights a writer has), but often it's a mess to try and get the rights back when the company goes under. There's simply nothing of value with a POD company that makes them better than you self-publishing the story - you can list on Amazon yourself so long as you have an ISBN number. Bottom line, stick with publishers who have a proven track record. It's easy to say 'we have distribution', but the proof is whether you can actually find them in a bookstore.
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  22. #22
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    A snippet about the publisher's experience:

    As for myself, on the arts side I received my BA in English and History, and on the business side I did my graduate studies in the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University. This along with my experience in production, marketing, design and editorial gave me drive to jumpstart Engage Books.

    This was just one of the reasons I decided to go with Alexis of Engage. (I'll list several). He gave it some thought and gained some knowledge into the industry before he created his venture. In other words, he wasn't just another frustrated writer looking to publish his own tome, like half of the PODs I see out there. In fact, I don't think he writes his own books. Did he have hands-on experience with a large commercial publisher. No, I don't think so. I think he did the next best thing, though--the publishing program. That's a green flag for me

    He gave me a very long, detailed structural edit before we even talked about a contract. It was DETAILED--he knew the story--he knew characters, motivation, conflict, arcs, and overall plot. He even asked me to PG-13 the manuscript in certain spots because he wanted it to appeal to a younger crowd as well. Hell, my agent didn't even do this.

    In our line, he specializes is SF only. That's me all the way. No other genres--that's his love--it's my life. It was this particular book for Engage, which was the right fit for me. Green light for that.

    I had two previous contract offers for this book. I didn't like the conditions/clauses--they stunk. I gave him those examples and told him that I wouldn't stand for anything approaching these conditions. He wrote back saying he would beat thoses deals, and he guaranteed it in writing. I got a promise of high cover price roylaties--with no hidden deductions, a whopping amount of contributor copies, and several other vast improvements (this is pre-contract). The other publishers were not willing to budge one iota on anything. And man, would I love telling you who those crooks were!

    Alexis wears out his shoe leather dragging his books to every conference, convention, event, and writing group he can squeeze into his schedule. He's kind of like a young energizer bunny--everything that I'm not. So if he's bustin' keester marketing, that's a little load off my shoulders.

    My editor will be a SF author/editor that is competenlty familiar with the genre.

    I was not asked for a marketing plan or a friend's list. You would be surprised at how many times I have, and by whom in the past!

    Not an author mill. A few select titles to start. I abhor vanity/mills, and that's what I'm seeing out there after 240 publisher submissions in the past four years.

    E-book and print simultaneously. (this is becoming pretty much standard anyway).

    Now, I think, I'm not too sure about this, but I believe that his classic line came out first with the intention of garnering some kind of legit distribution. I know he's working on that. I believe if he succeeds that the author line might ride piggyback on it. I was never too sure of why he started reprinting classics in the first place. No doublt I'll find out. I do know that he wants his artist to do custom covers for everything--and he's not too shabby--another green flag.

    In conclusion, I can only say that every POD publisher out there is pretty damn limited in what they can offer. You can just about lump them all in a big pot--that big pot that says no advance, no distribution, no bookstore placement. It can only be said that you might find a better POD publisher for your work than some other fly-by-night. I'm not saying Engage is for everyone, but for my purposes, they smoked the competition. I realize they're new, but that means I'll be a lead-off title with a little extra push--that's the way I see it anyway. Hell, if it goes bust, I'll be right back her ranting up a storm. I promise.

    It can almost be said that POD publishing is a last stop before vanity/mill or self-publication. Dawg knows it's not the commericial gem that the larger houses represent. There are some winners out there that have gone on to reap high acclaim. Will Engage suffer the slings and arrows? I don't know. But I'm willing to cruise along for the ride. For this one.

    The important thing is to comparison-shop for something that fits your tastes, temperment and talent. Don't be afraid to TELL them want YOU want, and what your expectations are. This publisher listened to me, worked with me, and knew the difference between what was fair or unfair to an author in a contract.

    I'll pop in from time to time to relay the process. If something goes askew, I'll be the first to announce it here with as much honesty as I can.

    Thanks for listening.

    Tri

  23. #23
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidsyde View Post
    I see---sort of. I guess I just donít understand how a POD publisher makes money if they donít sell books and donít charge authors for publishing. It seems like a loose-loose scenario. I assumed that Vanity publishers made money off the authors and b/c many POD publishers donít charge for publication they must need (and therefore try) to sell the books they produce.
    A lot of POD publishers produce fiction for a niche audience -- say, gay SF or lesbian romance or African-American erotica. There's a market for that niche, but not a big enough market to make it worth Harlequin's or Tor's time. The writers and editors won't make much of a profit, but they do it more for the love than for the money. The author knows he'll only sell a thousand or two thousand copies; the publisher knows he'll only earn a thousand or so dollars on each title; the editor knows he'll only get a third of the money he'd earn editing for a large press. But they're writing and producing books for an audience like themselves, to fill the hole that the big presses leave gaping. They're supporting their own community. And those presses can do quite well if they've got professional people heading them up, since they're not trying to compete with Tor or Harlequin for the same reader-dollars. I'd say Lethe Press is a good example of a successful niche-market POD press.

  24. #24
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Thise answers read more like "non-answers" to me. They either don;t actually answer the question of a completely non-specific.
    Emily Veinglory

  25. #25
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    They either don;t actually answer the question of a completely non-specific.
    I'm sorry, this sentence doesn't make sense to me. Could you rephrase, please?
    ICAO
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    Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. -- Henry Steele Commager
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

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