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Thread: Storm Moon Press

  1. #1
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Storm Moon Press

    From what I can find:

    Storm Moon Press is brand new and is putting together its first titles for 2010 release. Website here: http://stormmoonpress.com

    Its owner/editor, S. L. Armstrong, has self published a few gay-male-erotica stories, and has been pretty vocal about the evils, real and imaginary, associated with commercial publishing such as agents/editors controlling what gets published ("tons of good books languish in slush piles and rejection bins because they arenít part of the current hot trend"), authors making little money on their works ("the publisher, on the other hand, is netting 10-15 times as much as the author"), and the snobbery inherent in the industry ("the sense of elitism that the publishers manage to foster").

    So she has started up Storm Moon Press to publish not only her own works but also those of outside authors, (which, um, makes SMP a commercial publisher, right?). They're open to erotic romance submissions featuring gay, lesbian, menage, and poly in all genres. Authors will receive 25% on net for print and 40% on net for e-book, which is pretty much in line with most small presses (AFAIK). They'll release titles in both electronic and print form, using the POD model (LSI) for the latter.

    So far, it looks to me like most start up micro presses -- a self publisher expanding a bit within his/her niche genre, using POD, paying standard royalty rates, becoming the editor as well as the publisher, etc. Except for this bit:

    Accepted submissions will be offered a $1,000 advance against royalties. 25% of the advance will be paid upon signing of the contract, 50% given upon publication, and the remaining 25% will be given upon the author earning out the initial 75% of their advance.
    And here's where I wave my hand and say "Veinglory? Is this for real?"

    How likely is it that a new startup micropress selling gay erotic romance is going to sell enough copies to net the author $1000 per title?

  2. #2
    Back in the black, & staying there! Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Their website goes on to say,

    We offer a $1,000 advance, though it is not paid in one lump sum. 25% is issued upon signing of the contract, 50% is issued upon publication, and the remaining 25% is issued once the initial 75% of the advance has earned out through sales.

    Why did we choose to do this? Because we aren't able to devote a significant marketing budget to every book we publish. It is up to the author to truly sell their book to their audience, and if they choose not to do that, we do not feel obligated to put forth further investment into that work. If the author can show their commitment to marketing by earning out our initial investment in them, then we have no problem offering that further advance compensation. Yes, we believe the works we acquire will sell, but we are also a small press with limited funds, and this is how we have chosen to initially handle our advance offers.
    Still, isn't that $750 per author, more or less up front?


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  3. #3
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    It is, Queen. Which is a fair amount of money to fork out per title when the likely income from those titles is, well, not a heck of a lot.

    I'm not sure what they mean by "net" -- is it "money received from bookseller" or is it "cover price minus bookseller's discount minus printing costs minus shipping costs". I'm also not sure why, if they're not putting any money into the book, they're entitled to 75% of the profits, especially since the owner is so adamant that the author rather than the evil greedy publisher ought to get the majority of the profits.

  4. #4
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Taking royalties on net is a really bad idea. Essentially it means the amount it sold for minus all expenses. It's one of those little tricks publishers use to pay unsuspecting authors less. So the amount you get would be probably significantly less than 25% of the cover price. As I understand it, anyway.


  5. #5
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Given the stated small budget I would worry that this press has unrealistic sales expectations. Most start-ups would not be easily able to pay $1000 per title in royalties within two years. In fact many respectable established epublishers would have trouble doing that. I wish them luck but it doesn't look like a recipe for a stable epress to me.
    Emily Veinglory

  6. #6
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    That stood out to me as well, but mostly because it says on the site that authors would be responsible for all marketing. Isn't it right that if there is no marketing done then books don't typically sell as well? Does it have their distribution in there anywhere? I didn't see it.


  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Update to this Thread

    Storm Moon Press has now changed the way we pay out royalties. We have also updated our advance offers. Our distribution list is now included in our FAQs page.

    Since these topics were of interest in this post, I figured I would post up here that changes have been made in an effort to better the press. Please visit our official website to stay abreast of the updates and news.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to send us an e-mail, and we'll happily answer!

    http://www.stormmoonpress.com/

    ~K. Piet
    On behalf of Storm Moon Press

  8. #8
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Hi, K Piet, and welcome to AW! Many thanks for stopping to let us know about the change to your terms, which is v. encouraging.

    There remain a few points of concern though on your website, which I hope you will be willing to address:

    Storm Moon Press Website:
    Royalties on print books will be 25% of cover price on direct sales through Storm Moon Press' e-store, and 25% of cover price minus distribution costs for sales through third party vendors like Amazon.com, paid quarterly.

    Royalties on e-books will be 40% of cover price on direct sales through Storm Moon Press' e-store, and 40% of cover price minus distribution costs for sales through third party vendors, paid quarterly.
    You're still paying royalties on net for print and electronic copies sold through third parties, when your distribution costs should be covered by your cover price. In practice, it's going to be very difficult for an author to tell what your distribution costs are going to be, making it difficult to ascertain potential royalty income. Given that you are retaining control over the cover price, it shouldn't be difficult to factor any distribution costs within the same.

    Storm Moon Press Website:
    We ask for first English language publication rights in both electronic and print.
    Are you taking US rights or worldwide rights?

    Storm Moon Press Website:
    We seek exclusive electronic rights for two (2) years and print rights for three (3) years for novels
    I'd be worried that these time frames are insufficient to enable a writer to build up a readership for their work.

    Storm Moon Press Website:
    we do not accept returns of either print material or e-books.
    E-books being non-returnable I can understand, but not making printed material returnable will seriously impede any chance you have of negotiating an instore placement for your books in the future (assuming this is something you are contemplating in the long term, as I note you are open about your books being available to order at stores rather than being placed in them).

    MM

  9. #9
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    You're still paying royalties on net for print and electronic copies sold through third parties, when your distribution costs should be covered by your cover price.
    In my opinion this objection does not really apply to small press ebooks. It is fairly standard to either take a lower royalty, or a royalty after vendor fees are deducted, when speaking of third party sales of ebooks and not a problem so long as the terms are clear like this. Small press ebooks pay a rather high royalty (30-50% not the large presses 8-10%) and don't leave the same room to accommodate 50% vendor market-up. Also a short term of contract is only a problem is the contract is not easily renewable by digital contract. IMHO these terms are quite standard when comparing oranges to oranges.
    Last edited by veinglory; 01-28-2010 at 09:26 PM.
    Emily Veinglory

  10. #10
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    veinglory:
    It is fairly standard to either take a lower royalty, or a royalty after vendor fees are deducted, when speaking of third party sales of ebooks and not a problem so long as the terms are clear like this.
    Interesting (in a genuine "learn something new every day" way and not a sarky way).

    So in that situation, how do you determine what those distribution costs are? Is it accounted for in the royalty statement or is there a definition? My concern would be the potential for abuse assuming a publisher was so inclined (which I'm not suggesting is the case here).

    MM

  11. #11
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    The contract should be very clear that only the direct markup is deducted. The royalties statement is then often broken down and specifies direct and third party sales by vendor. Most of us know what Fictionwise, Amazon etc charge so it is fairly easy to check that the amounts are in line with that. Blanket net is a bane of epublishing, but deduction of vendor mark-up only is okay with me in most cases.

    Interestingly Ellora's Cave took the tack of just doubling the price via vendors. Amazon seems to just double the price (and I thought their terms of use required publishers not to undercut?), AllRomanceEbooks is eating most of the difference.
    Emily Veinglory

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Lightbulb

    My most sincere apologies for the insane tardiness of this reply! I assure you it was not a conscious avoidance of the topics and concerns addressed by you both (Momento Mori & Veinglory).

    On the comments of royalty structure, we stick by our current structure, which Momento Mori quoted in his comment and can be found on the Storm Moon Press Website under the Submissions tab.

    The first English language publication rights for which we ask are the worldwide rights, not just US rights.

    We focus primarily on online promotion and feel that our no-return policy for print and e-books protects both us as the publisher and the interests of our contracted authors.

    All terms and conditions of the contract, including financial details, are thoroughly discussed and negotiated with our authors before anyone puts ink to paper. We are not at liberty to discuss such matters outside of an author-publisher relationship. If you are interested in submitting to us, but have specific questions before doing so, email us privately and we will do our best to answer. Otherwise, our contracts and terms are just as confidential as they would be to any other publisher.

    Again, if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to send us an e-mail, and we'll happily answer!

    ~K. Piet
    On behalf of Storm Moon Press

  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Update from Storm Moon Press

    Hello, everyone!

    I just thought I would post up here again to let everyone know that Storm Moon Press is now just about two and a half years old, so we're more established now. Our submission guidelines are all up on our website. Our website has been newly redesigned and relaunched as well, so we've streamlined our look and made it easy for readers and authors to search through our inventory by length or by category (i.e. gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*).

    We have worked with over two dozen authors so far, and we still have several open line calls as well as anthologies that we would love to put out. All those guidelines and such can be found on our website, so if anyone has any questions, they can look there. If they still have questions, please feel free to contact us at editor AT stormmoonpress DOT com. We're always happy to clarify if there's any confusion!

    ~K. Piet

    Marketing Director - Storm Moon Press

  14. #14
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    Thank you for letting everyone here know, K.P.
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  15. #15
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Just dropped by their website. They've got some great looking covers.
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  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    You're very welcome, Fallen! If anyone has any questions, we're always happy to answer them. ^_^

    @Michael_b: Thank you so much! We really love working with our cover artists. Nathie has done the majority of our covers so far, but we're also working with a few other digital painting artists as well as a photo-manipulation cover artist for our newer titles. We really love the cover art aspect of the publishing process, so we take it very seriously and hope that our authors feel involved in the process of creating art to suit each of their releases through us.

    Thanks for the comments!
    ~K. Piet

  17. #17
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    I published a story in an anthology with Storm Moon recently, and there's a bit in the contract I signed that I wish I'd asked questions about before signing. (I was flush in the "oh my gosh I'm going to be published!" phase, as you do, and didn't want to rock the boat by "being difficult" about terms.) The thing that has me fretting is this bit:
    All rights to the original Work as submitted will revert to the Author without prejudice upon expiration of this contract. Should the Author wish to acquire rights to the final edited version, he or she agrees to compensate the assigned editor in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100). In consideration of this payment, the editor agrees to release any and all further claim to compensation for the finished Work.
    In my specific case I don't expect it to matter; even if I did re-release this story after the rights revert, I think I would do so after my own rewrites rather than using the final anthology version. But that contract provision seems like something other authors might want to know about ahead of time, and it isn't mentioned in the public-facing stuff on their website about contract terms.

  18. #18
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Most publishers are silent on the matter leaving the wise author to assume they should not use the publishers edits upon reversion any more than they would use their cover art. Others give their blessing to take the edits and use them after the contract ends. Having a standard fee for the use of edits is unusual, in my experience, but I am not sure if I see it as terribly problematic.
    Emily Veinglory

  19. #19
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Thanks for flagging that, Laylah. Because, yes, many authors (including myself) would not sign a contract unless that was struck out.

    IMO, it's a bullshit clause. The author owns the copyright to the work, whether edited or not. The publisher cannot claim to own any rights to any version unless the author signs over copyright. When the contract expires, all versions of it belong to the author.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    The publisher cannot claim to own any rights to any version unless the author signs over copyright. When the contract expires, all versions of it belong to the author.
    That's extremely reassuring to hear! One of my co-contributors has been worrying a lot about whether she would need to prove any future publication of the story didn't include the SMP edits (you can tell we're all new at this, can't you?), so I will point her toward this discussion.

  21. #21
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    I reckon the publisher would have a very hard time proving ownership in court, unless the publisher/editor have themselves substantially rewritten the work. In my experience, the editors suggest changes (ranging from 'get rid of this whole chapter, it's boring as hell' to 'cat is spelt with a c, not a k, you illiterate moron') but in the end it's up to the author to make the revisions or accept the spelling changes.

    If suggestions = ownership, I'd own half the queries in Share Your Work

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello again, Laylah!

    Firstly, we want to be very open here in saying that while not every aspect of our contracts is spelled out explicitly on the website, what is stated explicitly is that all terms of the contracts that we offer are negotiable. This contract term is certainly included!

    We have negotiated this term of the contract in several ways in the past, should authors voice their objections or uncertainty. We are always open to explaining why the terms are in place. Since this has come up a couple times, we will definitely be revisiting our contracts and rewording them so they will hopefully be clearer for authors who prospectively publish with us in the future.

    The way we define 'final edited work' in this clause of the contract is not your submitted Word document with all of your and the editor's track changes accepted. That is still most certainly the manuscript, and that is your work. It has always been your work. On that point, we agree with 'Unimportant' above. For us, the 'final edited work' refers to the typeset and formatted files that we then distribute for sale. Those files include the production we have gone through with the cover art, typesetting, and formatting. Since we are paying to produce the final files (the actual PDF, LIT, ePub, and Mobi files in addition to the versions that then get sent to the printers for your print books), we own the rights to those master files. Ownership of the master files doesn't negate that the intellectual property and the copyright of the writing itself belongs to you as the author.

    We understand this can be a little confusing to those who are new to publishing. The best way I can think to illustrate this in another profession is to compare it to the music industry. Bear with me here. I hope this helps you understand what we're talking about.

    If you're a musician and you go into a production studio, you make what's called a 'master tape'. All the copies that are distributed are made from that master tape, and the production studio will keep that master tape. When artists decide to go indie (which, in this case is much like finishing out the contract with the publishing company and then self-publishing), they have to go to their original studio and purchase back their master tapes, which they can then sell out to another label or then have to pay to produce themselves. In the music industry, the big labels very rarely actually part with those master tapes. They make it difficult to purchase them back so you can do your own thing.

    Here with publishing, Storm Moon Press is all for making it reasonable for you to buy those finished files so it will be easier for you to self-publish the work at the end of your contract if you wish. At the same time, you will then be making money off of the work we put into those files (cover art, typesetting, and formatting), and you didn't have to put out the extra financial commitment to redo the work we already did as the publishing company. In exchange for that, we feel it's reasonable to ask for a predetermined buy-out for the master files to cover the production costs that you will then not have to pay to someone else if you self-publish the work in the future.

    The purpose of the clause in the contract is truly protection for the author, since it's pre-negotiated. You don't want to go to a publisher when you rights are about to revert, and ask after getting the finished files only to be price-gauged. At that point, a publisher could look down their nose and say, "You want it, then you'll have to pay us double what we might normally offer!" That isn't how we operate, and that isn't how we want any press to treat their authors. We set the buy-out cost based on the length of the work and, therefore, on the costs of producing those master files. Cover art might be more expensive, and the typesetting and formatting takes longer for the longer books. Taking all that into account, we set the price so you have it in writing upon signing the contract with us. It's there for complete transparency's sake.

    In the end, we apologize if there was any confusion, and we encourage authors, both prospective and current, to bring up any of their uncertainties with us via e-mail at editor@stormmoonpress.com.

    We hope this has helped clear up the term in our contract! We're always here to serve our authors!

    ~K. Piet

    Marketing Director
    Storm Moon Press, LLC
    http://www.stormmoonpress.com/

  23. #23
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    So would those files include the cover art?
    Emily Veinglory

  24. #24
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    KP,

    Thank you for explaining! I'm glad you're looking into revising the language. Since the term "final edited work" isn't defined in the contract, and the term itself refers to editing rather than typesetting and format conversion, it isn't terribly clear for authors what you intend (nor, I think, would it be clear to a hypothetical court—bear with me here, legal publishing is my day job, so I see a lot of the fussy minutiae of defining terms and closing loopholes). For everyone's protection, not just the author's, it's probably a good move to define terms on which payment hinges.

    It's true that I probably should have queried in advance; I did say that in my first post. To be honest, though, I wasn't sure if it would result in a change in contract terms—I had already queried SL Armstrong about the vagueness of the payment terms in the contract (which stated only the generic range of possible payment for anthology pieces, as she says is standard for SMP's contracts), and while she quoted me a smaller range of numbers, she didn't offer to amend the contract to reflect this. So I came to the conclusion that the contract was pretty much offered as-is, and I signed.

    Again, I should have been more aggressive about this! It's been a learning experience, the whole process of working with the anthology. Thank you for that opportunity.

  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    @Veinglory - In Laylah's contract in particular, no cover art is being transferred (since the cover art for the anthology as a whole is shared over several stories by various authors), so that is not included in the clause, but authors who receive single title releases with distinctive cover art are given the opportunity to buy their cover at a reduced rate. That fee differs per cover due to different covers costing different amounts for us. With short stories that are part of our anthologies, they get single releases a year after the anthology's publication. The master files for her story would be those files for the single publication, not including cover art.

    For longer works that we publish, especially those in which the cover art is more expensive, we give the option within the contract for the author to buy the master files (without the cover art) or to simply buy the rights to the cover art itself without taking the master files. This allows for the author to walk away with either, neither, or both at the time the rights revert at the end of the contract term. In those contracts, the two are listed separately. Two different fees for two different products they would be buying from the press, as it were. If they want both with the cover art integrated into the files, we arrange for that. If they want just one, but not the other, that option is there for them, which is perfect for those who want to rework the piece or recover it themselves later on.

    ---

    @Laylah - We will most certainly look into revising the language for clarification. We're always open to contract negotiation as well, so we certainly don't want authors to feel intimidated into silence.

    These are all parts of the contract that are very open to change and negotiation. Some have negotiated to forgo the fees in exchange for extending the length of the contract, which is then written into the contract for them. Others have expressed interest in acquiring the cover art alone. Some have had the clause completely stricken. Ultimately, we want the author to be happy with the terms of the contract, so there is definitely space for negotiation with Storm Moon Press.

    Thank you for your comments!

    ~K. Piet

    Marketing Director
    Storm Moon Press, LLC

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