I've checked the index but couldn't find a listing for this company, so figured I'd start a new Thread.
The website for the company is here:
The company's been soliciting the directors of Creative Writing MA courses in the UK (including the course I'm studying) for entrants to its Hookline Novel Competition (link for which is here: http://www.booklinethinker.com/hookline.html). The competition is only open to students or graduates of such courses and if you check out the shortlist for the 2008 award on the above page, you can see that students from some good courses made the cut.
I know a couple of people from my course who are thinking about entering and although I have no reason at all to believe that this is any kind of scam or there's anything sinister going on, there are a couple of things about it that make me concerned and I was interested in knowing what other people thought.
From what I can see on the website (which they are upfront about) Bookline is foremost a non-fiction publisher. My understanding is that the non-fiction markets and fiction markets are not the same and my concern is whether the company is equipped to get the winning book out into the market and promote it properly. I see that they do promotions at the London Book Fair and they have a blog (http://www.booklinethinker.com/hookline.html) that sets out the work they're doing, but it is still a nagging concern.
There's no mention on the website of whether books will be available for purchase in stores. The purchasing options for the non-fiction books on the site are either through Amazon or from the publisher directly and the proposed publishing contract only obliges Bookline to make books "
visible to consumers on retail websites", suggesting that they have no in-store distribution. I worry that this would reduce the number of potential sales that could be made to the public, and those sales figures will be important for writers seeking to sustain their career.
I have some major concerns about the proposed publishing contract that Bookline has put up for entrants to read before hand (http://www.booklinethinker.com/files...e-contract.pdf). Some of the terms appear to be more suited to a non-fiction book than to a fiction one but the big concern for me is that Bookline are not paying an advance for the winning book and although they are offering royalties at 10% of the RRP, if the distribution isn't in place in stores, then those royalties won't amount to much for the author. In fact, given that the contract states that the book will only be made available in POD format, I'd question whether an author would receive royalties in three figures.
In addition, the contract appears to grab almost all of the rights that the author has. In addition to taking UK publication rights (including in e-book and audio book format, even though the company does not appear from its website to be publishing in either one and they're taking translation and tv/radio rights), they're also taking US rights. The US rights clause only obliges them to "make every effort" to arrange US publication on an advance and royalty basis (in which event they'll take 20% of that money if they've used an agent and 15% if they haven't), but failing that they can go ahead with publication anyway with the author stuck with their 10% royalty arrangement. This seems to be to be excessive.
Like I said, I don't think that this is a scam, but it does strike me as not being a great move for MA students in the UK and I'm worried that some might, in their desperation to get a publishing deal, enter this without thinking of the potential long-term consequences.