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Thread: Embrace Books / Salt Publishing

  1. #1
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Embrace Books / Salt Publishing

    Does anyone have any info on the new UK e-press Embrace Books? What I've got so far:
    * Their website
    * They're an offshoot of Salt Publishing (which looks like a respectable literary/poetry small press)
    * Salt has recently been experiencing financial woes and looks to be hoping than an e-press can rescue them
    * The acquiring editor is Jane Holland, poet/novelist who doesn't appear to have any editing experience
    * Jane Holland has been sort-of soliciting F/SF subs for Embrace on another forum; Embrace has a F/SF imprint though they're largely going to be a romance e-press
    They've got a blog and the press is expected to launch in January 2012

    I can't see too many red flags, but.....what do y'all think?

  2. #2
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post

    I can't see too many red flags, but.....what do y'all think?

    You're being facetious, right?
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  3. #3
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Well -- the owners have industry experience, and the editor seems to be fairly well known (as a writer) and appears to have some credentials. That's more than you can say for 99% of the start-up e-presses.

    How many red flags is too many, I guess the real question is.

  4. #4
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    In this case, the fact that it's an offshoot of a company with serious financial problems is the main point of concern. They've set up this imprint to try and save their main business and are open about having problems in keeping that main business going. That main business itself seems dependent on grants from the Arts Council, which has just been told that it's having its own funding slashed as a result of this week's Government spending review.

    While I hope that Salt can rally around, that really doesn't look good and there's a risk to authors in submitting manuscripts to a company that then can't publish them because it's gone into liquidation (in which situation, your manuscript would sit with the liquidator unless/until they decide to return it to you).

    MM

  5. #5
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Yes, Salt has a reputation for publishing wonderful books (it only publishes short fiction and poetry, I think) and its publications win prizes. I've bought a number of its books, and have found every single one impressive.

    A couple of my friends have published with Salt, and have found it to be a good experience: but neither have published books elsewhere, so have little to compare it to. They have had to do all promotion themselves, and their books have had little-to-no bookshop presence; but they've each got a good internet profile in their own genres, and so have done reasonably well for sales for such a small press.

    However, Salt has come perilously close to financial ruin on more than one occasion, and in the summer announced that it was a week away from liquidation (I think an article about this appeared on the Bookseller blog but can't find it now). A week or two later it set up Embrace Books, opened an office in Scotland, and announced that it was massively expanding its publishing output.

    I've heard that one of their writers claims to have not received any royalties from Salt despite her book selling in good numbers.

    I have dealt with the people behind Salt on a few occasions and each time they've gone out of their way to be helpful and kind to me. I sincerely hope they do well. But bearing in mind Salt's ongoing financial struggles I am VERY concerned by their plans for expansion, including their new imprint Embrace.

  6. #6
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Thanks, all! I agree -- they've got the chops behind them, but if they don't have the financial backing it may be better to wait a while and see if they can get it off the ground.

    It is heartening though to see another press actively soliciting lesbian fiction :-)

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    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    And, moving from printed literary fiction to romance/genre ebooks is quite a leap; they're two completely different markets, and what works in one isn't necessarily going to work in another, and the way one runs isn't necessarily going to be the way the other one does.

    An editor who has zero editing experience isn't a good sign either.

    I certainly hope for the best, but yeah...the standard caution applies and then some.
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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello all.

    I'm Jane Holland and I'm the Executive Editor at Embrace.

    Stacia, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned here that we have had dealings on another forum, also discussing this issue.

    I do have editorial experience. I've been editing two years at Salt Publishing, and have been a magazine editor, on and off, since 1995. For instance, up until I became involved with the launch of Embrace, I was editor-in-chief of Horizon Review, a respected online arts journal that has published a series of major names in its first four issues. It's true that my editing experience has been literary, rather than popular fiction, but I'm not sure how that would disadvantage me. I come from a family of writers, and my father was chief sub-editor on The Times for many years.

    Salt has had financial problems. They are not, however, reliant on any grants and are a commercially functioning publisher who are expanding into other markets in order to keep afloat.

    Their main problem has been the low sales in general of literary fiction and poetry, which has been their focus for the past decade. Anyone who has had dealings with poetry will agree that publishing poetry has never been a get-rich-quick scheme. Now that Embrace is in the mix, which is a DIGITAL-FIRST (so any issues with 'bookshop distribution' mentioned above will not come into play) commercial and popular fiction publisher, they hope to stabilise the business.

    We have some multi-published romance authors on board already, including Maggi Andersen (Australia) and BL Bonita (Canada), and are looking to launch in January 2011. I can't address royalty payment issues, as I am not aware of any currently. There was one case where an author disputed her royalties, but as far as I'm aware, that was resolved several years ago.

    Basically, you either submit and take your chances, or you don't. Life is a gamble.
    Last edited by Jane_H; 09-30-2011 at 03:16 PM. Reason: correction

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    By the way, for those interested, there is a clause in the Embrace contract that ensures all rights fully revert if the book is not published within the agreed time frame for any reason, including company liquidation. We are a British company and therefore not subject to any US laws which disallow this.

    All our royalty terms and rights (3 years) agreements are on our Submissions page at Embrace Books.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    By the way, for those interested, there is a clause in the Embrace contract that ensures all rights fully revert if the book is not published within the agreed time frame for any reason, including company liquidation. We are a British company and therefore not subject to any US laws which disallow this.
    No, but you are subject to British Law. Can you point to the exact piece of law that allows you to do this. The rights are an asset, in liquidation they would be sold by the liquidator or official receiver and profit would be shared amongst all creditors.


  11. #11
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Jane_H:
    there is a clause in the Embrace contract that ensures all rights fully revert if the book is not published within the agreed time frame for any reason, including company liquidation. We are a British company and therefore not subject to any US laws which disallow this.
    Except that as para points out, under English law an administrator/liquidator is not obliged to comply with that contractual requirement and can instead choose to keep those contracts in place and dispose of them as assets of the company.

    Jane_H:
    Salt has had financial problems. They are not, however, reliant on any grants and are a commercially functioning publisher who are expanding into other markets in order to keep afloat.
    The Bookseller article dated 13th July 2010 reported that Salt had a week's cash left "despite its grant from Arts Council England". If that Arts Council grant is withdrawn or not renewed, can Salt Publishing continue trading?

    MM

  12. #12
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    I can't address royalty payment issues, as I am not aware of any currently. There was one case where an author disputed her royalties, but as far as I'm aware, that was resolved several years ago.
    Hi, Jane. I'm Jane too: we met very briefly at the dinner at the RNA summer conference but I think we only chatted, we weren't properly introduced, so you're not likely to have remembered me.

    I am aware of a writer who has not received any royalties from Salt for over two years now, despite notifying the publisher that they are due. The writer knows that sales have been made, and money is due, but has not been paid anything. There is no dispute about the money: it just hasn't been paid. I don't think royalty statements have been sent either, but I'm not 100% sure of this, so please forgive me if I'm wrong on this point.

    I have been told of other writers who are owed money by Salt but I've not been able to verify them, so won't outline them here.

    However, other writers have told me that they have been paid: sometimes according to schedule, sometimes later than expected.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    By the way, for those interested, there is a clause in the Embrace contract that ensures all rights fully revert if the book is not published within the agreed time frame for any reason, including company liquidation. We are a British company and therefore not subject to any US laws which disallow this.
    Disposing of assets prior to liquidation can be considered to be asset-stripping, which I'm pretty sure is against the law (am I right, MM?). Although lots of publishers include such reversion clauses in their contracts, they're not always enforceable because as others have already pointed out, it's possible for Administrators to claw back such rights if they feel they're important assets for the company in liquidation. It has been done in the past, and so such a clause is not much of a safeguard for the writers concerned.

    Which is why it's important for writers to know that if the publisher they sign to subsequently goes under, those writers could end up losing their work regardless of whether or not their contracts contain reversion clauses. Which would make me VERY wary of signing to a publisher which was known to have ongoing financial problems.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    All our royalty terms and rights (3 years) agreements are on our Submissions page at Embrace Books.
    Hi Jane H, and welcome! Thanks for being willing to talk to us about Embrace.

    I checked out the submissions page as you suggested, but all I could find was this:
    All titles will be sold digitally. Selected titles will also be presented in a print edition. 40% royalties are offered on home downloads, 35% on other sites, 7.5% on print. Rights are for 3 years’ duration. Payments quarterly.
    This didn't tell me what rights Embrace is buying -- digital only? Digital and trade paperback? Digital and all print? Digital with print contracted separately? UK only? UK and North America? Worldwide? English language only? Translation rights? Options on future works in the series? Serial rights?

    Is the royalty on cover price or on net? Is the 7.5% print royalty for TP, MMP, HB, or all three?

    Are shorter works (6 - 25K words) also going to be sold in print?

    Will you be doing all the editing (acquiring, substantive, and copyediting) for all 6 imprints?

    Thanks again!

  14. #14
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    Hello all.

    I'm Jane Holland and I'm the Executive Editor at Embrace.

    Stacia, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned here that we have had dealings on another forum, also discussing this issue.
    Have we? I assume it was on Romance Divas, because that's the only other writing forum to which I belong, but I honestly didn't recognize the name of the publisher or anything else. Your name rang a bell, but to be honest, lots of names do. Between this forum and Divas and Facebook and Twitter and io9 and blogs and all the other places I wander online, it's not always easy for me to recall why a name rings this or that bell, and frankly I have a crap memory (especially when on deadline as I am now ).

    I'm genuinely sorry about that, but it wasn't deliberate; I didn't mention it because I don't recall it. Had I remembered I certainly would have gone back to look at that thread before posting, and I do apologize if I somehow hurt your feelings or upset you by not remembering. That wasn't my intention at all.



    I do have editorial experience. I've been editing two years at Salt Publishing, and have been a magazine editor, on and off, since 1995. For instance, up until I became involved with the launch of Embrace, I was editor-in-chief of Horizon Review, a respected online arts journal that has published a series of major names in its first four issues. It's true that my editing experience has been literary, rather than popular fiction, but I'm not sure how that would disadvantage me. I come from a family of writers, and my father was chief sub-editor on The Times for many years.

    Thanks for letting us know! That's great to hear (and again, if you told me that before I don't remember, so sorry about that). I was only going by the Embrace site, which doesn't name any of the principals, and the interview which mentioned editing for one online literary magazine (Horizon Review, which you mentioned above). I had vague memories of having heard of the magazine but don't really know anything about it; online magazines tend to be rather small, and Googling "Horizon Magazine," brought up a page full of links which had nothing to do with your Horizon, which led me to think it was very small indeed.

    (I've just checked Divas in another window, though, and can't see our specific discussion on this, do you remember where it was?)

    If none of that cuts any ice, I can only wish you well elsewhere.
    No, it absolutely does. I just wish the information had been more readily available. I don't mean that in a rude way, just that it's always nice when a publisher lists the full experience etc. of its employees, especially those in high positions.



    Salt has had financial problems. They are not, however, reliant on any grants and are a commercially functioning publisher who are expanding into other markets in order to keep afloat.

    Their main problem has been the low sales in general of literary fiction and poetry, which has been their focus for the past decade. Anyone who has had dealings with poetry will agree that publishing poetry has never been a get-rich-quick scheme. Now that Embrace is in the mix, which is a DIGITAL-FIRST (so any issues with 'bookshop distribution' mentioned above will not come into play) commercial and popular fiction publisher, they hope to stabilise the business.

    Jane, I'm sure you can appreciate our concern about this, though? No one here put Embrace down or said they were a bad place or anything, just that authors should use caution with *any* new publisher. Salt isn't new, but the e-imprint is, and switching to epub to make money doesn't always work--look at Dorchester (actually, I can't remember a time when it has worked).

    You have good, long-term experience with an online magazine, which bodes well, but it's still a publisher in financial trouble, and that's still something writers have to weigh carefully when deciding whether or not to submit.


    We have some multi-published romance authors on board already, including Maggi Andersen (Australia) and BL Bonita (Canada), and are looking to launch in January 2011.
    And again, that bodes well. Starting with authors who already have an audience is a great thing.



    Basically, you either submit and take your chances, or you don't. Life is a gamble.

    Very true, but you can make sure you're betting better odds by being careful where you submit.

    I really do hope you haven't felt as though anyone was attacking you or Embrace. That isn't the case at all. My first post to Unimportant was based solely on the information posted there; I hadn't had time to check the website, and just wanted to clarify.

    Certainly the two objections I raised, about epublishing being different and no editing experience, seem not to be the case here, which is great. I can't say I'm not still concerned about the company's finances. Romance epublishing is such a glutted market now, it's difficult for a new house to really make an impression.

    The fact that you're UK-based is a plus, since there aren't as many over there (I can only think of one, and while I haven't seen numbers they seem to be doing okay). But it's still a difficult market to make an impression in. In the epublishing world, you're brand-new, you know?

    I'd love to see Embrace succeed. I certainly have a better feeling about it than many new epublishers, starting with no money and no experience, by people who seemingly don't understand the basic rules of grammar (we saw one of those here just the other day). I'm just rather cautious by nature when it comes to publishing.
    Last edited by Stacia Kane; 01-22-2012 at 11:32 PM. Reason: on request
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  15. #15
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Old Hack:
    Disposing of assets prior to liquidation can be considered to be asset-stripping, which I'm pretty sure is against the law (am I right, MM?).
    I don't know if it's asset stripping as I'm not an insolvency practitioner, but I believe that a liquidator/administrator can seek to set aside transactions in the 2 years preceding insolvency if those transactions undervalued the assets concerned. The idea is to prevent the owners of a company from divesting the company of assets that they know could be of benefit to creditors in the event of an insolvency.

    It is a complicated area of law though and I think that the more important point is that if you're looking at an insolvency clause in a contract, in reality you're only going to be able to seek to rely on it if you know that the company is insolvent and you only know that a company is insolvent if it's either notified you that it's gone into liquidation or if you're seeking to bring a claim for its insolvency. In either event, the liquidator steps in, which means that the company can't honour the clause and good luck getting the liquidator to do so.

    To come back to one point made in Jane's post, a company that's setting up new businesses/going into new markets to stay afloat is, IMO, in serious trouble. If those new titles don't do what they're supposed to do, it's difficult to see how the underlying business can continue trading.

    MM

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Many thanks for all the interest. There are rather too many questions here to answer all at once, not least because some are beyond my remit to answer. For instance, I am hardly able to discuss the case of an unnamed person whom a third party here claims wasn't paid, though I would like to point out that posting unspecified and unsubstantiated rumours like this on a public forum is hardly helpful for an independent press run by hard-working individuals, the majority of whose authors appear perfectly happy with the way their books have been handled over the past TEN years.

    I am not the sole editor, I'm the executive editor, but I do have a role in passing mss before they are accepted by our other editors. We are not a rights-grab company. We are not currently interested in subsidiary rights such as film or television, for instance. Our contract is fair and simply worded, but as with most publishers, it is a confidential document; anyone who is offered a contract is perfectly at liberty to turn it down or ask for changes. The rights mentioned on the Embrace website are precisely the same rights publicised on other digital publishers' websites, where they are mentioned at all. We have not left out any information that is normally given to the general public. The rest is for contracted authors and their agents.

    However, I will add that we are digital-first, and will only take titles to a print edition if sales merit it or there is another good reason to do so. I would refer those concerned about legal reversion of rights to take this matter up with the directors, who are readily contactable via the Salt website, but since the same rules will apply to Embrace that apply to all British companies, it is entirely up to the individual writer to decide whether or not they are interested in submitting under standard contractual terms.

    I do understand, Stacia, that people may be worried about submitting and losing their mss. Which is why I am only interested in working with writers who believe in Embrace and are willing to take a chance on us as a fledgling company - many thanks indeed to those authors, some of whom are well-established, who have already done so. Fiction editing in a small-medium sized independent press can be difficult and challenging, and is often not the best-paid job in the world, despite the work involving extremely long hours. But it has its rewards, such as working with writers and bringing on manuscripts, and is best suited to people with a real love and enthusiasm for literature.

    By extension, we want to work with writers who understand both our strengths and our limitations, and are happy to be associated with us. Those who have read this thread, and done their research, and still have real fears that their mss may never be seen again once it enters the Embrace inbox, should not submit to us. It really is as simple as that.
    Last edited by Jane_H; 10-24-2010 at 03:02 PM.

  17. #17
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    I would like to point out that posting unspecified and unsubstantiated rumours like this on a public forum is hardly helpful for an independent press
    This forum is not here to be helpful to publishers or agents or publicists or any of the other businesses discussed here; this forum is here to be helpful to writers.

    Perhaps you are not aware of Old Hack's immensely helpful and widely respected blogs (linked in Old Hack's signature); OH is not a malicious rumor-monger, but someone who is well-known as an unofficial ombudsman and resource for writers. Of course, it is possible that the person who shared their story with OH was not accurate in their representations of their royalty situation vis-a-vis your press, but OH has a lot of credibility here on Absolute Write and elsewhere in the writers' community, so your impatience with OH's comment seems to me to be misplaced.


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    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Jane_H:
    For instance, I am hardly able to discuss the case of an unnamed person whom a third party here claims wasn't paid, though I would like to point out that posting unspecified and unsubstantiated rumours like this on a public forum is hardly helpful for an independent press run by hard-working individuals, the majority of whose authors appear perfectly happy with the way their books have been handled over the past TEN years.
    I understand if you're not able to discuss individual cases of people published with Salt who have not been paid royalties owed - perhaps Old Hack can contact you separately with a view to sorting it out.

    I also don't doubt that many of your authors are happy with their terms and conditions - as has been said repeatedly here, Salt does have a good reputation in the market for the quality of its fiction. No one is questioning that.

    The issue is its financial state and the fact that it is opening a new line to support a business that has been on the brink of insolvency.

    Jane_H:
    I will add that we are digital-first, and will only take titles to a print edition if sales merit it or there is another good reason to do so.
    That's good to know.

    Personally, I'd say that anyone thinking of going with Embrace Books would be well served to remove any rights that Embrace may want to take print rights because in the event that Embrace does go under, you have not exhausted your first print publishing rights.

    Jane_H:
    Which is why I am only interested in working with writers who believe in Embrace and are willing to take a chance on us as a fledgling company - many thanks indeed to those authors, some of whom are well-established, who have already done so.
    I think that's a fair point.

    At the end of the day, it is up to the individual writer whether they want to take the risk. All we're doing on this forum is point out potential risks and pitfalls.

    MM

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    All the above granted, and thanks for your understanding, but it's surely easy to see that I find it frustrating to be told 'X' had problems with our parent company, but no way of knowing what that was about, and having it just hanging out there, as a black mark against us, with no recourse to the facts.

    I do appreciate the point of this section, and as a writer myself have used it gratefully on occasion. It's a very useful resource.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Yes, Salt has a reputation for publishing wonderful books (it only publishes short fiction and poetry, I think) and its publications win prizes. I've bought a number of its books, and have found every single one impressive.

    A couple of my friends have published with Salt, and have found it to be a good experience: but neither have published books elsewhere, so have little to compare it to. They have had to do all promotion themselves, and their books have had little-to-no bookshop presence;
    I spotted Wena Poon's novel Alex y Robert in Waterstone's recently (Bluewater in Kent). I know a couple of writers published by Salt and they've always seemed very happy about it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    All the above granted, and thanks for your understanding, but it's surely easy to see that I find it frustrating to be told 'X' had problems with our parent company, but no way of knowing what that was about, and having it just hanging out there, as a black mark against us, with no recourse to the facts.
    Of course, and I have every confidence that Old Hack will be delighted to discuss this with you further so that the matter can be cleared up one way or the other.


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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    It would also presumably be possible to say that all authors royalties are paid and current, should you be able to confirm that.
    Emily Veinglory

  23. #23
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I would discuss the writer I know hasn't been paid with you, Jane, but I was told about the problem in confidence and so really can't. However, I shall suggest that the writer concerned contacts Salt again and lets me know what happens; and I'll report back here what the result is of that discussion.

    I know a good few writers who are very happy with Salt: I count Vanessa Gebbie and Tania Hershman as good and trusted friends, and I know they're both thrilled with their experiences with the company.

    I have bought a good number of Salt's books: when the first "Just One Book" campaign was launched I bought a boxful of books; when the second one started, I bought more. And in between, I've bought several more. Every single one is a gem. I sincerely hope that Salt succeeds.

    But I am concerned by the reports I've heard of non-payment; and I'm concerned by the inconsistencies I've seen in how Salt works. One week Salt announced in the Bookseller that it was within a week of financial ruin; then almost in its next breath it announced a grand expansion. This seems like a very precarious way to run a business to me. I hope that it works; and I hope Salt succeeds. But I am very concerned that it won't, and I hope you'll forgive me for voicing those concerns.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I would discuss the writer I know hasn't been paid with you, Jane, but I was told about the problem in confidence and so really can't. However, I shall suggest that the writer concerned contacts Salt again and lets me know what happens; and I'll report back here what the result is of that discussion.
    Sounds like a good plan, and maybe Jane can share (via PM, perhaps) some different/better contact information for you to pass along to the writer who has shared concerns with you?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane_H View Post
    I do understand, Stacia, that people may be worried about submitting and losing their mss. Which is why I am only interested in working with writers who believe in Embrace and are willing to take a chance on us as a fledgling company - many thanks indeed to those authors, some of whom are well-established, who have already done so.
    Here's the deal, and the way it actually works. You take a chance on us - NOT the other way round!! Rant over!!

    Hi Jane, hope all is well,

    First off, I've been following this thread for a little while, mainly because I've a great deal of respect for Salt Publishing and the manner in which they represent the ideals of independent publishing. It's hard out there at the moment, really hard for a small independent publisher dedicated to connecting with poets and writers at a community level and building nationally on that. I think your company is an inspiration as to how that should be done, certainly in the UK market.

    I think your 'one book campaign' was also tremendous and helped you generate sales of books you might well not have had, and I think the UK publishing media were sympathetic to that and recognized it, both locally and nationally.

    Here's my concern. We listened to Salt tell us during the summer how they were existing 'week to week' (The Bookseller UK), and yet, we have had the emergence of Embrace, and I'll add, to my own surprise, just last week, Salt Ireland??

    I'm not the only one scratching their head this side of the water, believe me, there are a lot more other people in the publishing business. Perhaps you, or someone else from Salt would like to explain, yes, Chris Agee, maybe???

    Look, the bottom line is, we have looked at Dorchester dance a merry electronic dance westside (USA) and it doesn't cut it either. Your're either on the rope, and we'll help you and support you as best we can, because we are a community of writers, or you just tell us where you are.
    Last edited by MickRooney; 11-01-2010 at 06:52 AM.

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