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Thread: Rhemalda Publishing

  1. #1
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Rhemalda Publishing

    Does anyone have any experience dealing with them? They were mentioned on another thread and all I can find is this
    www.Rhemalda.com which doesn't give much info.
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    I have no experience of them, but their website throws up a couple of red flags. The opening sentence on the "About" page ("Rhemalda Publishing is a traditional publisher who opened their doors to authors in January 2010") is not only horribly ungrammatical but also includes the dread phrase "traditional publisher" — often associated with businesses attempting to copy PublishAmerica's business model.

    Under "Manuscript Submissions", they ask authors to submit "promotional ideas" along with their manuscripts, which also suggests that this may not be a publisher that actively markets its books.

    However, as you rightly say, the website does not really give much away, despite quite a bit of content, so I'm unable to comment further.

  3. #3
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    shaldna:
    Does anyone have any experience dealing with them?
    No experience but there are numerous red flags for cluelessness on their website.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Rhemalda Publishing is currently accepting manuscripts for everything except childrens books.
    With new publishers, it's better to see a specialism in a particular genre (e.g. romance or fantasy) rather than a "we accept anything" policy. That's because it's easier to focus on making marketing and distribution contacts in one genre and thereby target expenditure than use a sweep approach.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    One page author biography, including writing history and professional background, promotional ideas and advantageous author contacts (if any).
    It's not unusual for publishers to discuss marketing and contacts after a book has been accepted for publication, but given that Rhemalda is asking for this up front, it suggests that the author is going to be doing a lot of the leg work, which will sap their time and (most likely) their money.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Manuscript excerpt (15 to 20 percent of the manuscript) in electronic format. If you have associated artwork that is not in electronic format that you want to accompany your submission please contact Rhemalda Publishing Artwork
    It's not usual for a publisher to accept the author's own artwork - they should have their own artists who they'd want to work with instead. An exception is where a publisher handles children's picture books and the book is by an author illustrator but that can't be applied here given that they're not accepting children's books.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    If the author has previously been published by another firm, please specify why a change is being sought.
    I don't see why they would possibly need to know that information unless an author is seeking to republish a book where first publishing rights have been exhausted.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    All submissions will be reviewed and responded to as soon as possible (usually one month).
    That's a fast turnaround.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Upon receipt, the manuscript will be reviewed, and if acceptance is recommended, the author(s) will be asked to sign a contract with Rhemalda Publishing (usually one month).
    I don't see why they need to stipulate a time limit on signing a contract and for me, it suggests that there might be little room to negotiate.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Materials related to the requested submission, such as favorable newspaper clippings, endorsements by qualified professionals in the field the author is writing about, or other amended data may be sent and added to the material already on file. Use careful judgment in selecting these items and be certain that they enhance the material and its chances of being accepted.
    I don't see why they need that information at all - Rhemalda should have professional staff capable of seeing a book's potential or not. Unless this is only in relation to non-fiction proposals for the purposes of establishing platform, I don't see the point and it seems to me to a distraction from the publisher's point of view - a manuscript stands on its own regardless of whether there are puff pieces in the newspapers.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Project submission materials, both accepted and declined, will be retained for a period of six months, unless specifically requested by the author to delete at an earlier date.
    Don't understand this - Rhemalda's time periods indicate that an author who goes through their process should be offered a contract or declined within 3 months and on rejection I would expect them to destroy the material or dispose of it as a matter of course. Why hang on to something that you don't intend to publish?

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    The publisher and editor(s) are professionals who will decide on the quality and potential of a proposal. Comments and/or reviews from qualified professionals or publications, as stated earlier, can be desirable in many cases. Likewise for rejection letters from other publishing companies that acknowledge a project`s potential value and which base their rejections on other factors unrelated to quality of author workmanship.
    No professional editor would want to know why another editor rejected a book. What matters is their opinion and whether they think their company can sell it.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Under the revisions contained in the 1978 Copyright Law, a work is automatically copyrighted at the time of creation. If we agree to accept the work for publication, we will apply for the copyright in the author`s name on publication.
    I assume they mean that they will apply to register the copyright in accordance with US procedure.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Publicity for your new book to readers is one of the most important things you can do. Not only is it important but it is difficult because there is only a very small window of opportunity to do it right. If not done right a publicity campaign is salvageable, but it may take years. Your publicity should begin at least 3 months before your publication date. Determine your audience and the message you want to send them about your book.
    This suggests that they're not going to do any of that for you - which a commercial publisher should be doing because it's in their interests as much as the author's.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    1. Develop a contact list of media professionals and influential people in your market. This does not just mean send your book to Oprah. Begin with local contacts and gradually expand to regional, state, and then national if applicable. Be sure to include smaller niche markets that will have a greater interest in your specific type of book.
    2. Write a top-notch press release in the proper and acceptable way for the media. Make sure it is proofread by at least three people. Do not rely on spell check. If your press release isn’t perfect and in the correct format, the media will discount it as amateurish. Make appointments, offer to send galleys, and be prepared to answer questions.
    3. Develop your “elevator speech”. This is a 60-second synopsis of you and your book that should become second nature to you. Use it whenever a marketing opportunity presents itself.
    4. Arrange book signings.
    This is what they Rhemalda should be doing (or at least providing assistance with).

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Marketing focuses on immediate sales, primarily targeted towards bookstores, libraries and immediate customer sales.
    Publicity on the other hand is directed at earning unbiased media coverage to let the public know your book and know and recognize your face as the author. Knowing the difference and executing both carefully can put you and your book on the path to success.
    No hint here as to what Rhemalda does here.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Another good idea is to have another twenty books in the trunk of your car in case your book is so popular that you sell out. You never want to run out of books because you will lose book sales. If the store runs out you will need to sign your books over to them on consignment. The store should know how to do this. (Note – The books put on consignment they should pay you the retail price less 40% for each book.)
    So basically, they want you to buy copies of your book on the off chance that you might be able to sell it.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    Rhemalda Publishing is a traditional publisher who opened their doors to authors in January 2010.
    I'd want to see whether they're still in business in January 2012 before signing with them and even then, I'd be looking for details on author experiences.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    We believe that books need to be read and that it should be an enjoyable process to get the books into the readers hands.
    Oy vay.

    For the 4 books currently listed on their website, the covers are unenticing and they seem to me to be pretty expensive.

    Rhemalda Publishing Website:
    UK Distribution: Adlibris, Amazon.co.uk, Bertrams, Blackwell, Book Depository, Coutts, Gardners, Mallory International, Paperback Shop, Eden Interactive Ltd., Aphrohead and I.B.S. – STL UK
    Suggests they're taking worldwide rights, but these companies won't make sure your books are in stores.

    MM

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    As usual, MM points out all the good stuff. What gets my attention is how their site focuses on what the author should be doing, and nothing about what the publisher should be doing.

    Who distributes their books? How do they get books into the stores? That's key information. Will the author be left left swimming upstream promoting their hearts out only to discover that they're doing little more than selling out of the trunks of their car?

    Given that they accept a ton of genres, I'm of a mind that these guys don't know a lot about the industry, and how hard it is to sell to the stores. The advice used to be, give it a year. After all the stuff I've been seeing lately (stuff not publicized), I suggest waiting two years. That's when most publishers run out of their seed money.

  5. #5
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Founder is Rhett Hoffmeister.

    Here's the other thread discussing them: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186385
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  6. #6
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    It's interesting that Rhemalda is paying advances, although I'd like to know what kind of ballpark those figures are and what rights the author is signing over in return (my guess - purely on the basis of what's on the site - is that they're taking electronic rights and print rights on a worldwide basis).

    What does concern me though is the fact that the founder and president, Rhett Hoffmeister, has no previous experience at all in running or working for a commercial publisher.

    My opinion on this is that while they are well-intentioned, there's still a degree of cluelessness, which would make me avoid for 2 years while I see how they get on.

    MM

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    Eeeeek! His background:
    Independant Agent at United First Financial
    Project coordinator at Panush Construction and Remodeling
    Clerk Treasurer at City of Soap Lake
    Not only is "independent" spelled wrong, but how does his background relate to the bone crunching job of selling books? I hope that he has a mentor who is teaching him the ropes. Otherwise this is a huge risk for any author.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    No experience but there are numerous red flags for cluelessness on their website.



    With new publishers, it's better to see a specialism in a particular genre (e.g. romance or fantasy) rather than a "we accept anything" policy. That's because it's easier to focus on making marketing and distribution contacts in one genre and thereby target expenditure than use a sweep approach.
    I agree


    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    It's not unusual for publishers to discuss marketing and contacts after a book has been accepted for publication, but given that Rhemalda is asking for this up front, it suggests that the author is going to be doing a lot of the leg work, which will sap their time and (most likely) their money.
    I've seen this asked by a number of publishers. I think, it shows that the author is going to be expected to do some marketing. Maybe they're wanting proactive authors and are ensuring that they're not wasting time reading mss. by authors who are not keen to do any promotional work.


    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    It's not usual for a publisher to accept the author's own artwork - they should have their own artists who they'd want to work with instead. An exception is where a publisher handles children's picture books and the book is by an author illustrator but that can't be applied here given that they're not accepting children's books.
    The importance of cover art should not be understated. with the exception of the Erebus book, the covers from this pub are lacking - imo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post

    That's a fast turnaround.
    Depends on what they mean. Do they mean we'll offer you a contract within a month? if so that is fast. But do they mean since 99% of slush is crap you'll likely get an quick rejection? that makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    I don't see why they need to stipulate a time limit on signing a contract and for me, it suggests that there might be little room to negotiate.
    Every contract I've been offered has come with a time limit. from one to three months.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post

    Don't understand this - Rhemalda's time periods indicate that an author who goes through their process should be offered a contract or declined within 3 months and on rejection I would expect them to destroy the material or dispose of it as a matter of course. Why hang on to something that you don't intend to publish?
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    This suggests that they're not going to do any of that for you - which a commercial publisher should be doing because it's in their interests as much as the author's.
    agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    So basically, they want you to buy copies of your book on the off chance that you might be able to sell it.
    I don't like this part either. Especially since, having experience with bookstores, asking to put books on shelves on consignment will 99% of the time garner a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
    I'd want to see whether they're still in business in January 2012 before signing with them and even then, I'd be looking for details on author experiences.
    I've been trying to make a real effort to look for the positive in new pubs. But this one is making it hard to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Falk View Post
    I have no experience of them, but their website throws up a couple of red flags. The opening sentence on the "About" page ("Rhemalda Publishing is a traditional publisher who opened their doors to authors in January 2010") is not only horribly ungrammatical but also includes the dread phrase "traditional publisher" — often associated with businesses attempting to copy PublishAmerica's business model.
    .
    I disagree re: the use of "Traditional." Regardless of where the usage was started, it's an accurate description of the way books have been published and the new models entering the market. That said, that they used "Traditional" and yet do not appear to utilize off-set printing (assumed b/c of their prices) and do not appear to get their books on shelves (both of which would be the "traditional" way in which books are published and sold), I'd say the comment is deceptive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    Eeeeek! His background:

    Not only is "independent" spelled wrong, but how does his background relate to the bone crunching job of selling books? I hope that he has a mentor who is teaching him the ropes. Otherwise this is a huge risk for any author.
    Agreed. I don't necessarily think that someone has to have "publishing" experience to succeed. But they have to have business experience, and, ideally, some experience that plays into the publishing industry --- eg, marketing, owner of major book chain, experience with sales of similar products . . . if they have none of those things, then the sales they have of the titles they already have on the market better be amazing. And they should make those sales known.

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    Mmm...as a former neophyte who got very very lucky, I'm not sure I agree with you, Sydewinder. The publishing industry is different from all other kinds of business ventures and unless you have the 4-1-1 on how books are sold, recognizing a potentially marketable book, and standing out from the sea of other publishers, it's like swimming with a VW bug chained to your ankle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    I disagree re: the use of "Traditional." Regardless of where the usage was started, it's an accurate description of the way books have been published and the new models entering the market. That said, that they used "Traditional" and yet do not appear to utilize off-set printing (assumed b/c of their prices) and do not appear to get their books on shelves (both of which would be the "traditional" way in which books are published and sold), I'd say the comment is deceptive.
    You do realize that self-publishing is more "traditional" than commercial publishing, right? "Traditional publishing" is the pre-commercial systems of self-publishing and/or sponsorship by private benefactors, the state, or the church. (Yes, it's highly ironic that a vanity press put the term into circulation.) Also, new production methods have no bearing on business models; they merely make some models (e.g., self-publishing) easier.

    IOW, no matter how you cut it, "traditional" does not mean commercial, and just because folks who should know better use "traditional" does not make it so.
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  13. #13
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Sydewinder:
    I've seen this asked by a number of publishers. I think, it shows that the author is going to be expected to do some marketing. Maybe they're wanting proactive authors and are ensuring that they're not wasting time reading mss. by authors who are not keen to do any promotional work.
    I agree with this up to a point. The reality is that authors nowadays should be looking to do some kind of marketing activity for their book and I could see the logic in any publisher wanting to have that discussion before contract signature. However, if a publisher has been given a book that's blown them away and which they think they can do well by their own efforts alone, then that should be enough to get them to the point of considering making an offer, i.e. I'd want to see a publisher having the confidence in its own abilities to market and promote rather than just relying on the author.

    In this case, everything that Rhemalda's put up on its blog re marketing and promotion suggests that they're leaving it to the authors and doing v. little itself.

    Sydewinder:
    Depends on what they mean. Do they mean we'll offer you a contract within a month? if so that is fast. But do they mean since 99% of slush is crap you'll likely get an quick rejection? that makes sense.
    I agree - it's usually possible to spot a crap book on page 1 and reject accordingly.

    I think there are different views here on AW re turn around times. The reason why I tend to be ... sniffy about them is because in reality any publisher (even a new one) will quickly find itself inundated with slush, which it then has to wade through. When I see a new publisher giving a turn around time that is as tight as a month, then it raises questions in my mind as to whether they're aware of how much slush they're going to have to process.

    In the case of an outfit like PA it's not an issue because there's a quota system and once you hit it, you reject everything else. But if you're running a legitimate operation (i.e. actually reading what's coming in and trying to make a judgment call) then you're going to find it difficult to meet those self-imposed timescales after a while.

    Sydewinder:
    Every contract I've been offered has come with a time limit. from one to three months.
    Noted. This might just be my lawyer thang kicking in, but I tend to be very suss about imposed negotiation periods because there are always things that are going to have to be discussed and in practice they can end up being used as a stick to beat a desperate author.

    MM

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    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    Mmm...as a former neophyte who got very very lucky, I'm not sure I agree with you, Sydewinder. The publishing industry is different from all other kinds of business ventures and unless you have the 4-1-1 on how books are sold, recognizing a potentially marketable book, and standing out from the sea of other publishers, it's like swimming with a VW bug chained to your ankle.
    I'd be interested in hearing what you think someone would learn from working at a publishing house, that would put them in a better position than someone who hasn't. Editorial experience is the only thing I can think of, but an experienced business person would know that they need to hire professionals to make their enterprise a success.

    I have limited experience working in the publishing industry--I was a first reader and fetcher of coffee--but the one thing I took notice of was that, for the publisher I worked for, the marketing department got the bulk of the budget, and they also got veto rights when deciding what book to add to the list. 9 times out of 10, if they didn't think they could market a book that an editor loved, it was scrapped. As such, imo, if someone is going to consider a new publisher, I would give bonus marks to ones that are started by people with former marketing experience.

    Since marketing is both the greatest expense and greatest hurdle to selling books, those that don't need to go out of pocket to hire people with experience would have the best chance at having success without strapping their wallets.

    More than anything else, though, I care about sales and seeing a clear direction for how a publisher intends to make a name for themselves. If they only have a few titles, those titles better be selling thousands of copies or forget it. If their covers suck, forget it. Covers sell books, and publishers that prefer to use stock images are not worth the time (but that plays into marketing).

    a couple years ago, I would have said the only way to see any significant sales would be to get your book on the shelves of book-stores. Now, I think significant sales are possible without bookstores. Of course, the bulk of book buying still happens in stores, so publishers with both online and in-store distribution should remain top choice for most authors. But new pubs can be a good place to start as long as authors choose wisely. If a publisher won't tell you sales figures, I say you should walk away. If the sales figures they share are not in the thousands, walk away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    Editorial experience is the only thing I can think of, but an experienced business person would know that they need to hire professionals to make their enterprise a success.
    Editorial is a huge part of the business, and it's important to know what professionals you're hiring. Case in point, a number of years ago I met a man with a lot of money who decided to open up a publishing company because his wife loved to write. To say that he had more money than brains wouldn't be an understatement. Since he knew nothing about the industry, he wasn't in a position to determine whether the people he hired were quality or not. They chose a lot of really bad books and wasted a ton of money. It was ok, since he had it to burn, but I just ached at how stupidly he worked. He stumbled around for a while, I gave him some advice, and slowly, he began to solidify the company. But at that, they still are a very small beacon in that particular genre.

    This is not your normal case because most neophyte startups don't have that kind of money.

    the one thing I took notice of was that, for the publisher I worked for, the marketing department got the bulk of the budget, and they also got veto rights when deciding what book to add to the list.
    You're comparing apples and oranges. Startup publishing companies are weency. In fact, most small indie presses don't have a separate marketing department, so all the knowledge of a marketing department - or lack thereof - falls on the publisher's shoulders. If they know nothing about the industry, they have an uphill climb.

    I agree that having a marketing background helps because you need those tools to pitch your book to genre buyers. I'll never forget Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks telling me how she got started. Her background was with advertising, so she pushed her own book until people sat up and took notice. Dominique is not your typical story.

    Since marketing is both the greatest expense and greatest hurdle to selling books, those that don't need to go out of pocket to hire people with experience would have the best chance at having success without strapping their wallets.
    Most neophyte startups don't have a marketing background. And even if they did, it doesn't mean they are in a position to recognize a marketable book from a tosser. That takes inside knowledge and experience. Marketing is only a piece of the publishing pie. Small indies need to have a solid business plan, a specific genre focus, strong editorial experience, marketing ability, good distribution, and lots of money.

    a couple years ago, I would have said the only way to see any significant sales would be to get your book on the shelves of book-stores. Now, I think significant sales are possible without bookstores.
    The best sales come from physical books. Every time a TV or radio producer calls us about interviewing one of our authors, they want a book.

    Not long ago, the producer from one of the major morning shows called and wanted a book. The interview was the next day. Yikes! methinks. I offered to send them a pdf. Nope, they wanted a book. Luckily, one of our publicists lives in NY and hand-delivered the book to the studio, and the interview went off without a hitch. If I only had e-books, chances are the interview would have never happened in the first place.

    Now, because the physical book has sold like hotcakes, the e-book is doing very well, but it's nowhere near the sales of the physical book. Most people want to hold the product in their hands, not on a Kindle.

    When you add a debut author into the mix (such as with the author I describe above), marketing an e-book through traditional means (which reaches the largest audiences), such as TV, radio, magazines, and newspaper interviews, are pretty much closed. You're left with the internet, which is a huge, deep ocean of white noise where lots of drek e-books compete against truly great ones. It's much harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's nearly impossible for a debut author, who has no readership, to make like cream and rise to the top.

    That's why I take my hat off to Samhain. They're incredibly smart because they got in at the ground level of e-books. They specialize in a specific genre, and they are the Great Yoda of e-books. But they are only one of hundreds of e-pubs that have sprung from the moss. Those others are lost amongst the crush of other e-books.

    If a publisher won't tell you sales figures, I say you should walk away. If the sales figures they share are not in the thousands, walk away.
    Why? Many of my colleagues don't share sales figures with prospective authors. Rather than making sales numbers your litumus for walking away, it might be a better idea to consider whether that publisher has the ability and editorial muscle to produce and distribute your book to the stores. For example, we have agents who place some of their authors with us because they know we'll knock out a very good book and get it on the shelves. We don't always sell in the tens of thousands, but we have a few that have. Does that mean that an author should walk away? I suppose it depends on one's intent for their book. However, keep in mind that not every book is going to sell in the tens of thousands, and that's why successful indie presses exist.

    The best way to determine whether a publisher is appropriate for you is to be well versed in the industry so you can analyze whether you have a blockbuster or something quite lovely that sits on a lower rung of the list. Oh, and get a great agent.
    Last edited by priceless1; 08-13-2010 at 07:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    Editorial is a huge part of the business, and it's important to know what professionals you're hiring. Case in point, a number of years ago I met a man with a lot of money who decided to open up a publishing company because his wife loved to write. To say that he had more money than brains wouldn't be an understatement. Since he knew nothing about the industry, he wasn't in a position to determine whether the people he hired were quality or not. They chose a lot of really bad books and wasted a ton of money. It was ok, since he had it to burn, but I just ached at how stupidly he worked. He stumbled around for a while, I gave him some advice, and slowly, he began to solidify the company. But at that, they still are a very small beacon in that particular genre.
    With very little effort you can find freelance editors who have edited for the big guys and who list the books they've edited on their resume. I think finding professional editors is not a problem. . . affording them? that's another question.

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    You're comparing apples and oranges. Startup publishing companies are weency. In fact, most small indie presses don't have a separate marketing department, so all the knowledge of a marketing department - or lack thereof - falls on the publisher's shoulders. If they know nothing about the industry, they have an uphill climb.
    I agree. But I have friends who work in marketing/advertising, and actually worked on a few projects for Blumbsbury on a couple Harry Potter projects. The same friends also handled contracts for a host of other non-literary projects. My point is, that advertising has such a major role in sales that if a author is going to take a chance with a start-up publisher, their best bet is one with a marketing/advertising background or something else that they can clearly identify as a strength.

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    I agree that having a marketing background helps because you need those tools to pitch your book to genre buyers. I'll never forget Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks telling me how she got started. Her background was with advertising, so she pushed her own book until people sat up and took notice. Dominique is not your typical story.
    Great example. I'd add Snowbooks to mega success stories, too. Again, you're right that it's not typical, but those with a keen eye would identify strengths and, if willing to take a risk, negate the chance of failure considerably.


    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    Most neophyte startups don't have a marketing background. And even if they did, it doesn't mean they are in a position to recognize a marketable book from a tosser. That takes inside knowledge and experience. Marketing is only a piece of the publishing pie. Small indies need to have a solid business plan, a specific genre focus, strong editorial experience, marketing ability, good distribution, and lots of money.
    Bolding mine. Yep, I agree with you. But I think nowadays the distribution can be through online outlets and a publisher can build on their capital, offsetting the need to come into the industry with millions.

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    The best sales come from physical books. Every time a TV or radio producer calls us about interviewing one of our authors, they want a book.
    Agreed. No question publishers with physical book store presence trump those that don't. Any online sales a small pub can do, a big pub can, and no doubt will, do as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post

    Now, because the physical book has sold like hotcakes, the e-book is doing very well, but it's nowhere near the sales of the physical book. Most people want to hold the product in their hands, not on a Kindle.
    Agreed. I fall into that category.

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    When you add a debut author into the mix (such as with the author I describe above), marketing an e-book through traditional means (which reaches the largest audiences), such as TV, radio, magazines, and newspaper interviews, are pretty much closed. You're left with the internet, which is a huge, deep ocean of white noise where lots of drek e-books compete against truly great ones. It's much harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's nearly impossible for a debut author, who has no readership, to make like cream and rise to the top.
    Here's where our opinions contrast a bit. I think to those savvy in internet marketing, the internet offers the potential to hit the largest market. Also, previously, the only way I learned about a debut author was if I stumbled upon their titles on a shelf next to Twilight (still a great way to get noticed). But now I hear about books from my own network of people (goodreads/facebook/myspace).

    Also, just the other day I added a book to my Amazon order (to get free shipping) and decided which title to add based, first, off the "other people who bought X book also bought" list, second, the cover and third, the "look inside feature." Normally I'm critical of the publishers too, but this time I didn't look until I bought the book and then I realized that it was by "Crimson Oak Publishing" a tiny author-started pub that I would have never looked at in the past.

    My point is that new books are getting the benefit of being next to the big sellers on the virtual-shelf by virtue of the Amazon "people also bought" list (same feature is on most other online points of sale). Is it a huge benifit? yes. Does it threaten the big guys? Nope. All it does is increase potential sales for new publishers and provide those serious about making a name for themselves the chance to allocate more money where it's needed.


    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    Why? Many of my colleagues don't share sales figures with prospective authors. Rather than making sales numbers your litumus for walking away, it might be a better idea to consider whether that publisher has the ability and editorial muscle to produce and distribute your book to the stores. For example, we have agents who place some of their authors with us because they know we'll knock out a very good book and get it on the shelves. We don't always sell in the tens of thousands, but we have a few that have. Does that mean that an author should walk away? I suppose it depends on one's intent for their book. However, keep in mind that not every book is going to sell in the tens of thousands, and that's why successful indie presses exist.
    No, not every book will sell. But if you're a small press, and you make an offer to a new author, you should be prepared to say, our top seller has sold over 50K copies (or whatever it is). That shows the potential. If your top seller has sold 1000 copies, you're not worth anyone's time. You haven't demonstrated that you have the ability to sell books yet. I'm reminded of Lobster Press (canadian), I don't know about all of their sales, but on their catalogue they indicated some of the sales of their top sellers to entice buyers. A method that worked, imo, since their books are in all the Chapters/indigo bookstores I've been in and their sales have been +50K units for some of their titles.

    Also, keeping it secret seems a bit petty to me. I can always check Bookscan if I want (if I had a subscription, and if the publisher sells their books in stores.) Why keep it a secret? I see no benefit to not telling an author what kind of sales you generate. Except, of course, to hide failure. Sales are the defining point of success, not distribution (Though, traditionally the two went hand and hand). If a distributed pub sells a few hundred units of each of their titles, and a internet based POD pub sells thousands of units of each of their titles (yep, such pubs exist), which one is the better option?

    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    The best way to determine whether a publisher is appropriate for you is to be well versed in the industry so you can analyze whether you have a blockbuster or something quite lovely that sits on a lower rung of the list. Oh, and get a great agent.
    True. I want an agent, too. It's what I'm holding out for. They have more experience than I to determine where my book would fit best and have the best chance of success. Plus, it's in their best interest to make that happen since their income is tied to mine.


    ETA:

    I feel like I'm hijacking this thread. This particular publisher (and those considering them) might appreciate it if a mod cut out the last few posts and moved them to a more appropriate location.
    Last edited by Sydewinder; 08-13-2010 at 11:15 PM.

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    Backing up and turning a bit off topic:

    There's a widely held Ivy League Business School Credo that says, "managing is a portable skill set, and a person who can manage one business successfully, can manage any business successfully". If one pays attention to practical outcomes, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that this credo is a load of high-priced bull. Just check out the Borders story, especially after the Grocery King managed to eviscerate the business. It's not all the economy; part of it is giving the reins to someone who doesn't even understand such basic concepts as how the returns system works (guess he thought unsold books went bad like old cabbage).

    Any industry has specific characteristics which should be learned *before* launching a venture, not on-the-job. In some industries, failing to do this will be a slight handicap that can be overcome with hard work and good tap dancing; in others it will be almost invariably fatal. Publishing is closer to the crash-and-burn end of the spectrum, based on the percentage of new publishers who do just that.

    Of course, it's not just publishing. Family-run restaurants are up on that end of the scale, too. A dream + lack of experience + undercapitalization = high possibility of implosion.

    If "high possibility of implosion" that means my eggs are a bit runny, and when I go back next week for breakfast the restaurant is boarded up, I'm sad but it's not much of a personal impact. If it means I have my book with an outfit that goes bankrupt and my rights are tied up for years as the whole mess wades through receivership...that hurts. If it means the publisher simply can't deliver sales and I get no royalties...that hurts. If it means the publisher morphs into a subsidy-model vanity press in order to keep its head above water...that hurts. It greatly decreases my potential sales by association (if they publish vanity books, the assumption is all the books they publish are vanity books).

    Summary: General business experience does not take the place of specific business experience. I don't care what Harvard says.

    OK, I'm done now.
    Last edited by DreamWeaver; 08-13-2010 at 10:07 PM.
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    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    ... I would give bonus marks to ones that are started by people with former marketing experience.
    I'd amend that to former book marketing experience.

    Books don't sell the way soap, sneakers, or shoe polish sell. No one is going to pick up a mystery instead of the romance they came for because the mystery costs fifty cents less.

    In addition to being items of commerce, books are also individual works of art. More than one would-be publisher has foundered on that rock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    I'd amend that to former book marketing experience.

    Books don't sell the way soap, sneakers, or shoe polish sell. No one is going to pick up a mystery instead of the romance they came for because the mystery costs fifty cents less.

    In addition to being items of commerce, books are also individual works of art. More than one would-be publisher has foundered on that rock.
    I'd be interested in how you see selling books as different than other products. Not that I think you're wrong, just that I'm not convinced. The key components to selling a product are 1. packaging 2. consumer awareness and 3. access (not necessarily in that order). Of course, like all products, if something doesn't work, or develops a reputation for not working, sales will drop sharply. So producing a good product that impresses is important.

    Also, could you explain what you mean by, it is a failure not to treat a book as a work of art? What do you mean that would-be publishers have foundered on that concept?
    Last edited by Sydewinder; 08-13-2010 at 11:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    I'd be interested in how you see selling books as different than other products. Not that I think you're wrong, just that I'm not convinced. The key components to selling a product are 1. packaging 2. consumer awareness and 3. access (not necessarily in that order). Of course, like all products, if something doesn't work, or develops a reputation for not working, sales will drop sharply. So producing a good product that impresses is important.

    Also, could you explain what you mean by, it is a failure not to treat a book as a work of art? What do you mean that would-be publishers have foundered on that concept?
    The distribution system is different. The purpose of advertising is different. The returns system is different. The way people choose books to read is different. Reviews are different.

    To say anyone with marketing experience in any industry is automatically able to sell books is akin to saying anyone who's managed a small business can direct a film, because it's just managing people. It's not. Publishing is a very specialized industry with its own rules and its own language. Publishers are not run like other businesses, and books are not sold like any other product.

    And as for internet marketing, there is so much of it nobody pays attention anymore, and readers have gotten wise to it anyway; they know how to identify a vanity-press book, they pay attention to the names of publishers and authors, they look at covers and quality, they insist on getting solid recommendations from people they know and being able to look inside before they purchase. The potential to reach millions of people may be there, sure, but how many people wander all over the internet on a regular basis? How many different websites do you visit every day, and how many of those are different from the ones you visited the day before? How many times have you learned of a website that's extremely popular and you'd never heard of it before that moment?

    To take readers of ebooks as an example, they tend to buy from the same epublishers they always buy from. I don't know why, but it's true. Readers--especially those in genres like romance, erotic romance, or fantasy--find an ebook publisher whose books they like. They buy from there. They continue to buy from there. If an author moves to a different publisher the reader very possibly won't follow them. People trust sites they know. They want the familiar (this is why advertising generally doesn't work for books; it's used to let readers know their favorite author has a new one coming out, not to convert new readers). They want something they can be fairly certain of enjoying. To give those readers what they want requires a lot of very specialized knowledge and skill that you cannot gain in any other industry. They don't try a new book the way they would grab a different floor wax on a whim from the grocery store shelf, at least not on a regular basis. There are thousands and thousands of books out there, all vying for readers' attention; what other industry has that much choice and competition (even though it's not actually competition)? In what other industry does only a small amount of product actually make it into retail outlets, or into certain ones? In what other industry does the product disappear from shelves after a few months when it doesn't sell (and I don't mean perishable foods)?


    Whether you want to believe that or not, it is the truth. I have experience in several types of business, including sales and management, in addition to publishing. So do most of the people here who are telling you it's different. We know it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    I'd be interested in how you see selling books as different than other products. Not that I think you're wrong, just that I'm not convinced.
    Here's one difference: If I buy paper towels and like them, I will keep buying those same paper towels. If I buy Agatha Christie's 'Death on the Nile' and like it, I will NOT continue to buy 'Death on the Nile' each time I finish it.

    I may buy other books by Agatha Christie, but that's not the same product. Book sales may lead to buying related products, but they rarely lead to buying the same product multiple times*. Same for any 'work of art'. It's generally only good for one sale to each customer.

    Imagine if every tire one bought for their car(s) had to have a completely different tread pattern, and how that would impact tire manufacturers. Imagine if every can of Heinz baked beans bought by the same consumer had to have a significantly different recipe.





    *As the exception that proves the rule, I will admit to buying eight or nine copies of Garth Stein's 'The Art of Racing in the Rain'. I loved it so much, I've been giving it as a birthday or Christmas present to members of my family and to friends.
    Last edited by DreamWeaver; 08-14-2010 at 04:32 AM. Reason: Just going on and on...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post
    Not that I think you're wrong, just that I'm not convinced.
    I don't blame you. I wouldn't be convinced either if an editor and some very well published authors took the time to explain how the industry works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
    I don't blame you. I wouldn't be convinced either if an editor and some very well published authors took the time to explain how the industry works.
    Wow, my snark detector just went off the charts.

    Look, with the influx of pod and e presses, a discussion on what makes one publishing house better than the next is both valid and necessary. We’ve identified examples of small presses that have achieved remarkable sales despite an absence of distribution in stores. As such, disregarding a pub based on a lack of in-store distribution seems unjustified. However, there does seem to be the common denominator of ‘marketing’ experience which seems to offer some pubs a leg-up (combined, of course, with editorial excellence, design, and good writing).

    Perhaps you don’t agree that authors should be privy to a publishers sales, I disagree. When you’re looking at a publisher that’s only a couple years old, by what gauge should you check their worth if not sales?

    The ability to sell books is the litmus test of success. You could make a pretty, well edited product, and even line up distribution, but if you only sell a handful of units, what’s the point? I can name several small presses that have distribution but which have sales that are dwarfed by several POD E-presses. We don’t write books because we want to spend 3-6 months creating something that earns us a couple hundred dollars, right?

    I asked McDonald, politely, to expand on his thoughts a bit. He made some comments that I was genuinely interested in and my asking for expansion should be read to mean that I value his opinion. I’m not putting my head in the sand here; I am trying to be informed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydewinder View Post

    I asked McDonald, politely, to expand on his thoughts a bit.
    I believe you mean Mr. Macdonald?


    And by the way, you're very welcome for my post that outlined some of the ways book marketing & selling in general is different from marketing/selling other products. I'm glad to see my efforts to answer the questions you asked of Jim (since I was here, and thought I could be helpful) acknowledged, and that it was worth my time and effort to write it. Apparently the information is only interesting or useful if it comes from Jim specifically, and my opinion is of no value to you while Jim's is, which is good to know.
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    Might I suggest that a general conversation about small publishers would be better held in a more general thread and not in one for a specific publisher? Maybe some of the recent posts here can be merged with the existing thread on 'Risks of using a new publisher' in 'Ask the Editor'?
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