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Thread: Lethe Press

  1. #1
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Lethe Press

    I searched for this and nothing came back. Does anyone publish with them? Am I understanding that their authors are required to hire their own editors or pay an editor through Lethe? This does not sound right.

    Thanks.


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  2. #2
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Is this the company you're talking about?

    http://www.lethepressbooks.com/main.htm

    I can't find a submissions page or anything suggesting that you have to pay for an editor. Have you been asked to do so? If so then I'm a bit surprised as I always thought Lethe had a good reputation.

    MM

  3. #3
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    http://www.lethepressbooks.com/

    Try it without the main.htm. It then has a side menu and you can click on submission guidelines. See About Manuscript Preparation.

    And no, I was considering submitting to them.


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  4. #4
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Yup, definitely in the guidelines.

    All authors must secure the services of a copy editor before turning in final manuscripts for publication. Otherwise, such manuscripts will be deemed unacceptable. If an author does not know a skilled copy editor, Lethe Press can offer recommendations. The Author is responsible for paying the copy editors fees. If the Author cannot pay this at the time of submission, the fees will be deducted from his/her forthcoming royalties.
    That does look bad. I can understand specifying a well edited and proof manuscript as a small outfit (though really, it ought to go without saying) but that's a little too specific for my comfort. Do you have to prove you had a copyeditor, or do they assume based on your submission?

    (also, I'd forgotten how annoying frames sites could be. Nineties flashback! :P )

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  5. #5
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Well, um, that's still not what it says. It says "The Author is responsible for paying the copy editors fees". Which sounds distinctly like a publisher crossing into vanity territory. If that isn't what he is doing, IMHO, that wording needs to be changed.
    Emily Veinglory

  6. #6
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    They have great covers and the books I've read from Lethe have been excellent. However, as eqb said, communication is sadly lacking.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Mr. Berman was kind enough to make an offer on my novel manuscript in December and there was no talk of hiring a copyeditor or requiring me to have one, nor was anything like that in the contract I signed.

    Lethe Press does seem to have distribution - or at least distributors, as far as I can tell. I doubt they have a strong presence in Barnes and Noble, but their books are certainly carried in libraries (perhaps that's not a good indicator of distribution success?) and I know their books are listed by Baker and Taylor. This may not be exactly the same as "having distribution," though, in terms of what they actually get stocked.

    Communication up to this point has been fairly fast. It was about 6 weeks between my initial query, a request for the first 3 chapters, a request for the whole MS, and the offer. So far I'd rate my experience to be very good.

  8. #8
    Oh, the humanity. Giant Baby's Avatar
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    Damn, eqb. I'm sorry to hear. That's just sad.

    Quote Originally Posted by eqb View Post
    ... I'll ask Steve, who is the publisher and a friend of mine, what exactly he means by that...
    (Bolding mine) And that's even sadder. Wow.
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  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    A Satisfied Author

    Just to chime in, I am a Lethe author and my experience has been good.

    No, the press does not do copyediting. You have to provide a squeaky-clean manuscript. But guess what: if you can't spell and don't know grammar then you shouldn't be writing books in the first place.

    Steve does have someone in-house who can do design, also he uses some freelancers for design and cover art. The books uniformly have a great look.

    This is independent press publishing, people. So no, you don't get a lot of services. But Steve has been very responsive when I've needed to contact him, and he's always been prompt about reviewing manuscripts that I have submitted. So I would recommend Lethe to others.

  10. #10
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Um, if I knew a press was good to some authors but not to others, I would not recommend them. (But then, what would I know, I am an unworthy writer who requires editorial input.)

    That does at least clear up that you do in fact have to pay for your own editing if you need any editing.
    Last edited by veinglory; 02-09-2011 at 08:32 AM.
    Emily Veinglory

  11. #11
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynewrite View Post
    But guess what: if you can't spell and don't know grammar then you shouldn't be writing books in the first place.
    I'm glad you've had a good experience, but I can't let this pass. Someone has to look over the MS after the author, because the author tends to overlook their own errors, simply because they are so familiar with what they intended to write.

    Even people with outstanding grammar and spelling skills make typos, or leave in extraneous words when they move sentences around. Very few people type with no errors whatsoever. When I used to edit business correspondence, after two or three careful edits my final check (especially on things I had written myself) would be to read the whole thing backward, word by word. And I'd often find something--a typo I overlooked, a double "the" at the end and beginning of adjacent lines. I don't know anyone who can read a whole novel backwards to do this, so copy-editors are invaluable, even for the best spellers and most viciously correct grammarians.

    I don't mean to imply one should pay for their own copy editor; I believe the publisher has an interest in doing it, since various technical aspects of the process (typesetting, formatting, conversion to e-pub) can introduce errors that also require copy-editing to correct.


    ETA: One does the backwards proofreading to keep the sentences from making sense. This takes away the tendency to predict the next word/phrase and therefore read what one expects to see, rather than what is actually written.
    Last edited by DreamWeaver; 02-09-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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  12. #12
    permaflounced
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    But guess what: if you can't spell and don't know grammar then you shouldn't be writing books in the first place.

    Hi, I've lurked on here for well over four years. I've never posted. This comment, I have to contest.I have two old friends who were, at various times, readers and editors at a fairly big publisher. Two of their biggest-selling authors couldn't spell to save their lives. This was in the days before spell check. One of those authors couldn't tell a participle from a predicate, to quote an old musical. There are people who are good storytellers who couldn't pass a high school English exam.One of their worst writers was an English professor. She still couldn't form a narrative to save her life.

  13. #13
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynewrite View Post
    But guess what: if you can't spell and don't know grammar then you shouldn't be writing books in the first place. [snip]

    This is independent press publishing, people. So no, you don't get a lot of services.
    Okay a couple of things here that I have to address which I've snipped out of the rest of the post.

    Not every grammar wiz is a good author, just as every author probaby isn't a grammar wiz. One has nothing to do with the other. [But there have been others here who've pointed that out already.]

    On the 'independent press' point, I have to say I seriously disagree with this too. I know a lot of small publishers who put a great deal of time and effort into every book they publish. This includes editing, copy editing, proof reading and cover art. The size of a publisher doesn't determine the 'services' they offer their authors, their dedication to producing a good product does.
    Last edited by michael_b; 02-09-2011 at 03:22 PM. Reason: I found a typo.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by eqb View Post
    On Friday, my agent received an email from the publisher saying that Lethe intended to declare my book out of print by the end of the week. My agent and I were both a bit boggled, so we decided to take the weekend to figure out a response. After all, there was no clause in the contract that allowed Lethe to do that, so we figured we had at least one business day to respond.
    Publishers take books to OP if they've had a X number of quarters with no appreciable sales - the length of time varies. Stipulations for taking a book to OP should be in the contract, but even if they aren't, the publisher has the right to remove it from its lineup since they bought those rights. However, they usually cite a reason. To simply alert you with no reason is odd - especially if he' a friend. This should mean that your rights will revert as well.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynewrite View Post
    This is independent press publishing, people. So no, you don't get a lot of services.
    I think it's vital to clarify what you mean by "independent press publishing." Time was, independent publishing meant a publisher who wasn't a conglomerate. That meant they adhered to the same business practices as the conglomerates - full editing, distribution, marketing, print runs, etc. In the effort to "mainstream-ize" POD and vanity publishing, they have adopted this "indie press" moniker for themselves, thus creating a lot of confusion among new writers.

    The business practices that are related in this thread are not the usual model for small press mainstream publishing, so your insistence that this is "independent press publishing" is wrong. If you mean "this is POD publishing," or "this is vanity publishing," then I would agree with you.

    This business is confusing enough to new writers, so it's everyone's responsibility to always be clear.

  16. #16
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    Well, technically, the publisher does have the right to OP a title, whether it's in the contract or not. Your agent should have stipulated that language be inserted into the contract regarding OP titles so there is no room for ambiguity. That's a standard thing.

    But, as I mentioned before, taking a book to OP is usually for a valid reason, so your case is very puzzling, especially since you and your editor had discussed the tenuousness of story collections. Seems that it was awfully abrupt. Very odd, indeed, and I'm sorry for your plight. Good luck to you with your future works.
    Last edited by priceless1; 02-09-2011 at 09:17 PM. Reason: needed more coffee

  17. #17
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    Did Lethe contract the work with this designer? If so, be careful because the publisher could own those rights, and you'd have to get their permission.

  18. #18
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eqb View Post
    Thanks, priceless.

    Luckily the artist has made the cover art available to me for no cost, and I have good reviews and good author blurbs, so creating a self-published version won't be too difficult. Also, I have six other books under contract with Tor and Viking, so that helps balance things out.
    Please let me know when you get this out - I'd love to grab a copy!


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    Good on ya. Best of luck with your future. While it sucks to be burned, it's worse to keep repeating the same mistake with other lousy publishers. You won't do this, so you'll be ok. Go forth and be brilliant!

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Lethe Press

    My experience with Lethe Press has been entirely positive. Their imprint, Bear Bones Books, reprinted my essay collection Edge in 2008 and published my second essay collection, Binding the God, in December 2010. Steve Berman, publisher of Lethe Press, and Ron Suresha, the Bear Bones Books editor, have been ideal to work with. Suresha did indeed edit Binding the God, giving me many very helpful suggestions that improved the MS, and both Berman and Suresha invited my feedback regarding the cover art. This latter was a real luxury, since I've worked with some presses who cared very little what I wanted for the cover. Lethe Press has also distributed the books well and gotten them reviewed in multiple places. I've also received royalty checks regularly. In my opinion, Lethe Press is a true friend to many, many LGBT writers. Honestly, I don't know what the queer literary world would do without Lethe.

  21. #21
    Teh doommobile, drivin' rite by you mscelina's Avatar
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    It's good to know that your experiences with Lethe Press have been positive, and a real shame that experience is apparently not the same across the board. I'd also like to point out that I work for a small independent publisher, and we edit every manuscript that comes through. We are contractually obligated to do so, and never have asked any author to provide their own copy editor at their own cost. So this practice on the part of this publisher, who is arguably larger than the one I work for, strikes me not only as odd but teetering on the edge of vanity publishing. I've written for a number of independent presses, and not a single one has EVER has such a thing in place. Never.
    Last edited by mscelina; 02-10-2011 at 01:04 AM.

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Same Here

    Quote Originally Posted by waynewrite View Post

    Just to chime in, I am a Lethe author and my experience has been good.
    No, the press does not do copyediting. You have to provide a squeaky-clean manuscript. But guess what: if you can't spell and don't know grammar then you shouldn't be writing books in the first place.

    Steve does have someone in-house who can do design, also he uses some freelancers for design and cover art. The books uniformly have a great look.

    This is independent press publishing, people. So no, you don't get a lot of services. But Steve has been very responsive when I've needed to contact him, and he's always been prompt about reviewing manuscripts that I have submitted. So I would recommend Lethe to others.
    I'm a Lethe author, my working relationship with Steve Berman has been fine, he works fast and turns well-written, well-edited manuscriopts around fast. He consults on cover art and presentation. Right now I am working with the designer by email. Conversely - this didn't happen to me, yet - if a manuscript isn't right he sends it home for repairs.

    Contrast this with my previous experience with Alyson, which held my last novel, typeset and ready for the printer, for more than a year and then imploded.

    This is small press, people. If you want to make a lot of money you'd better start submitting to Random House. Barnes & Noble? At least one location carries my latest novel here and will carry the next. They also provided copies for the Atlanta Press Club Holiday Party book sale.

    Contract issues? Anyone who has published a book is eligible to join The Authors Guild. They can help authors in such matters. They also offer website services that are well worth the membership fee.

  23. #23
    I thought I should log-on and set a few misunderstandings straight.

    First off, Lethe does not force any author to pay a copy editor. We encourage authors to do the utmost possible to turn in a clean manuscript. Too often authors submit manuscripts that are full of typos, spelling errors and problems with the formatting.

    Beth herself stated that we do not charge for copyediting.

    On one occasion, when an author sent us a manuscript that was interesting but weak, we suggested she turn to a book doctor for assistance.

    As for Beth's collection, she conveniently forgot to mention that what drove me to drop her book from the list was a very insulting and demeaning public post about Lethe she made in her livejournal account. Though she deleted it, it was clear that she was unhappy with the relationship as well as so difficult to work with it was clear that, no matter how much we tried to deal with minor mishaps, she would never be satisfied.

    I told her agent that her book would be dropped by the end of the week. Not by the end of the weekend. Her bewilderment does not make any sense--if either her or her agent had expressed any interest in discussing the matter, they never sent any email of the kind. They ignored my statement and so the book was put OP.

    Lethe has dealt with many, many authors. Our books have been nominated for awards (and won some!) and have been favorably reviewed by industry magazines. Yes, on occasion, there have been mishaps, but we are a small press of part-timers.

  24. #24
    Shakespearean Fool DreamWeaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacmac4000 View Post
    This is small press, people. If you want to make a lot of money you'd better start submitting to Random House.
    Quoted for truth. It's always best to start submitting at the top, if your goal is to make money from your writing.
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  25. #25
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacmac4000 View Post
    Contract issues? Anyone who has published a book with an established American publisher that pays a significant advance is eligible to join The Authors Guild.
    Fixed that for ya

    So, authors with Lethe wouldn't qualify. (eqb is a different case, as she has books with Viking and Tor, and those would qualify her for AG membership.)

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