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Thread: Windy City Publishers

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Debeucci's Avatar
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    Windy City Publishers

    Has anyone had any experience with them? www.windycitypublishers.com.

    They're a hybrid publishing house that is suppose to help you through the self publishing path. For an up front fee, they copyedit, print, market, build your website...etc...the whole kit and kaboodle. The have a few books on amazon but information is sparse. They've only been open for a few years though, so who knows?

  2. #2
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Windy City Press:
    Our average fees range from $7,500 - $10,000 and include up to 15 different members, including editors, designers, webmasters, marketing strategists, and distributors. The time frame for taking a typical project from manuscript to book is around 10 months.
    Pay to play publisher and those fees are eye watering.

    Have you ever seen a book from Windy City in a book shop or heard of any of the titles? If the answer to either of those questions is no, then look elsewhere.

    Yog's Law - money flows to the author.

    MM

  3. #3
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Went through the site and have set out a flog below:

    Windy City Website:
    In the midst of an evolving industry, Windy City Publishers (WCP) has created a publishing model that rises above chance and uncertainty, and offers authors the opportunity to be successfully published and marketed.
    Hyperbole. There's no such thing as a business model that "rises above chance and uncertainty" because there's no such thing as a sure thing. I'd also be interested in knowing how they define "successfully published and marketed" because to my way of thinking, those things aren't separate.

    Windy City Website:


    We believe our Comprehensive Publishing System is your best chance for publishing success. The benefits to WCP authors include:
    1. Multi-phase editing
    2. Cutting-edge cover design and interior layout
    3. Book Marketing Essentials – a professionally developed, customized marketing plan
    4. Website creation
    5. Personalized coaching to maximize social media
    6. Dedicated book team assigned to your project
    7. Distribution through main industry channels
    No idea what (1) means, but all commercial publishers edit and hire professional editors to work with editors to produce a produce they can sell. Ditto (2). Ditto (7).


    (3), (4), (5) and (6) suggest to me that the author will end up heavily involved in doing the marketing for the book. It shouldn't just be the author doing that - I'd want to know what the "dedicated book team" is doing on the author's behalf.

    Windy City:
    Unlike a traditional publisher, with Windy City you own 100% of the rights to your material.
    Firstly, if this is referring to copyright, then you always keep your copyright with a commercial publisher.

    Secondly, whichever publisher you sign with, you are always giving up publishing rights.

    Either way, this statement is inaccurate and suggests that the company doesn't know what it's talking about.

    Windy City:
    And though we are author-funded, we do not share in any profit until you have made back your original investment.
    If Windy City is author funded then Windy City has already made its money up front and can afford for the author to take the risk on never selling enough books to make back the "investment".

    Windy City Website:
    In addition, our profit sharing model is the opposite of a traditional publisher’s where they take up to 95%.
    Traditional Profit Splits:
    Author 5-10%
    Publisher 90-95% WCP Profit Splits:
    Author 80%
    WCP 20%
    Bear in mind that a commercial publishing model is also opposite to Windy City's in that a commercial publisher pays the author up front for the book by way of an advance. The publisher takes all the risk of the book not selling enough copies to make back that investment. Here the author is taking all the risk of not selling enough copies. Having the potential to make 80% royalties on copies sold isn't very enticing if you have to (a) pay anything up to $10,000 to get that book made and then (b) sell thousands of copies before you start making money on it.

    When you bear in mind that many self-published/vanity published authors never sell more than 100 copies, you get an idea of why this "profit sharing model" is pretty much worthless.

    Windy City Website:
    Because Windy City is literally your partner in this venture, we have a vested interest in making sure your book is as successful as possible.
    Really? Because the way I see it, Windy City is paid up front for its services so I don't see where its risk is (and it's the risk that gives it a "vested interest" in making the book a success).

    Windy City Website:
    Each manuscript goes through a highly selective process prior to acceptance and is screened for content, marketability, and author compatibility with the Windy City team and philosophy. Our average fees range from $7,500 - $10,000 and include up to 15 different members, including editors, designers, webmasters, marketing strategists, and distributors.
    The problem is that there's always going to be a perception that the "content, marketability and author compatability" will be affected by the ability of the author to pay $7,500 to $10,000. (And I have never heard of a commercial publisher needing to assess "author compatability" as a condition to publication).

    Windy City Website:
    WCP’s Business Philosophy

    We believe in an honest day’s work, a respectful working environment, consideration for our planet and the life that inhabits it, and a belief that our family and friends form the foundation for our lives. Notwithstanding the seriousness in which we take our business, we have decreed that unless we enjoy whom we work with and the atmosphere in which we work, we won’t do it.
    That's all lovely. How does it tie in with selling books?

    Windy City Website:


    1) Multi-Phase Editing
    • One marketing edit to determine the overall viability of your book in the marketplace
    • One substantive edit to shape organizational structure, logic, design, consistency of narrative voice, timeline structure, character development, and more
    • One copy edit for punctuation and grammar, sentence structure, and ongoing substantive development
    • One proofread edit to provide the final check for inconsistencies of your text and layout before your book goes to market
    Is that it? Most people I know who've been commercially published get more than that - they work very closely with their editors, doing numerous turn arounds of their manuscript before it's deemed ready for publication.


    Windy City Website:

    3) Customized Book Cover Design Your book consists of a front cover, spine, and back cover. Each element is professionally designed, and WCP’s experienced copywriters write all the copy.
    Check out Windy City's own book store: http://www.windycitypublishers.com/store.html

    Of those 3 covers, does anyone else think they look like clip art and/or stock photographs?

    Windy City Website:
    4) Website Creation
    You receive a customized website that includes up to 5 pages to help promote you and your book. One of these pages is a Media Kit that will include your press release and other essential publicity materials
    You can create a website yourself for free without your publisher doing it for you. In addition, I'd want to know whether any conditions apply to the website and how much control the author has over it. The last thing you need is to find that the publisher can shut it down once your contract is over.

    Windy City Website:

    5) Marketing and Publicity – Book Marketing Essentials™ Windy City Publishers creates a roadmap for each author that will enable you to easily implement your marketing plan. We develop the plan for you to execute.


    Our three part, trademarked marketing system provides the following professionally developed services:
    • Part One – How to Market Fiction/Nonfiction Books
    • Part Two – Customized Marketing Strategy for each author
    • Part Three – Timelines and Templates to ease promotional activities
    Note that there are no details at all of what this comprises. To be honest, authors shouldn't need to be told how to do the marketing - that should be done by the publisher with the author feeding in as needed.


    Windy City Website:



    6)Promotional Materials WCP designs and produces the following materials that will be used to help market your book:
    • Business Card
    • Sell Sheets
    • 3’x2’ Display of your Front Cover
    • 8.5" X 11" Promotional Poster for Book Events
    With the exception of business cards (which an author can print themselves very cheaply and which, while useful for networking, never really seem useful for selling books) these materials will all be provided for free by commercial publishers.


    Windy City Website:


    7) Publishing – WCP adheres to traditional standards regarding set-up and necessary distribution elements including:
    1. ISBN
    2. EAN bar code
    3. Copyright
    4. Library of Congress registration
    5. R.R. Bowker’s ‘Books in Print’
    These are all no brainer things that a publisher "invested in making your book successful" should be doing anyway and not as some kind of service.

    Windy City Website:


    8) Distribution Networks
    1. Ingram
    2. Baker and Taylor
    3. Amazon.com
    4. Barnes&Noble.com
    So basically, books will be available to order from stores, but won't be available in stores. That's an important distinction and one authors need to be aware of because it will make it a lot harder to sell the volume of books required to make back that "initial investment".


    Windy City Website:
    Windy City Publishers has set itself apart from other publishers by providing Book Marketing Essentials™ to its authors. Book Marketing Essentials™ (or BME) is unique to Windy City and was developed by a professional marketer with 25 years of experience.
    All commercial publishers promote and market their book so there's nothing distinctive here.

    Windy City Website:
    BME not only educates each author on the general marketing information specific to the book industry, but it also includes a customized marketing plan that takes advantage of each author�s specific marketing strengths, professional networks, and personal connections.
    So basically, the author is going to be doing most of the marketing? I ask because there is absolutely nothing on the website indicating what Windy City will do on an author's behalf to get the word out there.

    BME Part 1: How to Market Fiction/Nonfiction Books
    These 75+ page reference books, written by Windy City Publishers, provide an overview of the process that goes into marketing a book. Specific to publishing a fiction or nonfiction book – depending on your needs – these reference guides describe marketing concepts that may be unfamiliar to you, but are critical in developing and promoting your book. After reading this book, you will understand that the success of your book is directly correlated with strategic decisions made early in the planning process.
    A 75 page reference book? Seriously? Instead of spending time doing that, Windy City should have been developing its own marketing strategy for its authors.

    Windy City Website:
    BME Part 2: Customized Strategic Marketing Plan
    Windy City’s marketing professionals will develop a personalized marketing roadmap for your book. Your input is critical to this process. With your feedback, we will develop a plan that incorporates your goals, your book’s positioning, and key communication messages (including copy for your cover, website, and promotional materials), and we will recommend specific promotional tactics, including social media strategies. In addition, we provide a press release and other key media elements needed for your press kit. This personalized roadmap will guide you on how to successfully market your book
    From the sounds of it, Windy City isn't doing an awful lot - just telling the author what they should be doing. It's likely that the author will find those efforts unlikely to pay off given that books won't be in stores.

    Windy City Website:
    BME Part 3: Templates and Timelines
    Our standardized templates and timelines provide a marketing guidance system for what needs to be done when specific opportunities present themselves after you have completed the publishing process. Included are personalized forms, letters, and checklists tailored to your project to make things as easy as possible. We also identify a list of awards based on your genre for you to submit your book to help with your future marketing efforts.
    Template letters and checklists? Wow. There's nothing like the personal touch ...

    Also, it's amusing that the author even has to submit their own book for potential awards. Most commercial publishers do that themselves because they recognise the potential for increased sales.

    Windy City Website:
    There are thousands of agents, and getting one to call you back is like winning the lottery.
    I do wonder if Lise Marinelli (President and founder of Windy City) followed submission guidelines or just expected agents to call her out of the blue.

    Windy City Website:
    Even if you do get an agent, getting a publisher is even more difficult.
    It's easier to get a publisher if you have a good agent (although as with anything, there is no guarantee). Having an agent most definitely does not make it difficult to get a publisher unless you have a bad agent.

    Windy City Website:
    Less than 2% of books written are published traditionally, so even if you have written The Great American Novel, the odds are not in your favor.
    That's because less than 2% of books are commercially publishable.

    For the other 98% though, there's always self/vanity publishing as with Windy City.

    Windy City Website:
    I wasn’t even an English or journalism major – I was an accountant and a stay-at-home mom.
    So Lise Marinelli (President and founder of Windy City) has no previous experience in publishing and this is basically her self-publishing venture (I say that because I note that hers is one of the books published by the company).

    Windy City Website:
    I wanted a real publisher. I wanted a team of professionals/experts who would take the time to talk with me and handle my manuscript as if it was theirs. I wanted a professional product, one that I could be proud of, and one that my publisher would stand behind.
    This scenario didn’t exist. There was the group in Texas that would do something similar to what I wanted, but it would cost me forty thousand dollars. We don’t have that kind of cash – sure we could take a second mortgage out, and in my overwhelming desire to get my story out, I was willing to do that. But, my husband, and the voice of reason at that point, pointed out that going deeply into debt would not be a good plan for us.
    I've never heard of a self-publishing/vanity publisher charging $40k for their services (although I wouldn't put it past some). I note that Lise doesn't give their name - that always helps to establish credibility.

    At the same time, I'm amused that an accountant has to be told by her husband that it's stupid to pay $40k to publish a book. But not as amused as I am that she's assessed $7,500 to $10,000 as being a far more reasonable amount to pay. I'm sure that we all have that kind of cash floating around to spend on a vanity project.

    Windy City Website:
    Next, we started recruiting employees from all over the U.S. to help WCP realize our vision of giving unknown authors their best chance for success.
    If you check out the bio information on the employees:

    http://www.windycitypublishers.com/contact.html

    It's interesting how few of them have worked for commercial publishers (although some seem to have considerable experience in their respective fields).

    Windy City Website:
    Kristyn helped me understand that my book was my brand. Oprah’s couch, as well as precious shelf space at Barnes & Noble, is by invitation only and those invites are driven by book sales. Book sales happen when readers know about your book and when they can easily find it. There’s a method to the madness, and I learned very quickly that my book was a product and it had to be treated as one. I needed a marketing plan, distribution channels, ISBNs, barcodes, and a host of other things, critical for a successful "product."
    Shelf space in Barnes and Noble is not an invitation only affair. If you're able to meet their commercial terms on price and returnability you can have a spot. This statement suggests that the company's not able to do that and isn't actually that interested in getting books into stores, which is unfortunately a critical factor in achieving sales.

    Windy City Website:
    MAG MILE BOOKS publishes nonfiction in the following genres:
    • Biography
    • Memoirs
    • Health
    • Mind and Body
    • Hobbies
    • Poetry
    • History
    • Social Sciences
    The fact that the company publishes poetry is an automatic red flag. There is no market in poetry and I would suggest that it's highly unlikely any poet will sell enough copies of their work to make back their investment.

    Windy City Website:
    Pre-Publishing is designed to help writers organize their thoughts and notes into book format. Many authors have the ideas, the talent, and the material, but need some assistance in outlining, story arching, and laying it out. For authors who intend to publish with Windy City, we offer this service at a low hourly rate.
    An author can do this for free without having to pay someone who themselves failed to get commercially published to do it for them (and on an hourly rate no less).

    Windy City Website:
    Post-Publishing is set up to assist authors who have been published either by traditional means or by themselves through a self-publisher. WCP will focus primarily on the marketing and distribution aspects, but the book will still go through our editing and publishing process. WCP is aware of the resources already spent and has set our prices accordingly.
    If you've been commercially published, why would you want to pay Windy City to do what, speaking personally, seems to be marketing of minimal value? Your publisher will already be doing most of it for you anyway.

    If you've been self-published, again - why pay for Windy City to do marketing that seems to be of minimal value?

    Windy City Website:
    Windy City will provide each author with a customized quote that takes into consideration the extent of services needed.
    I couldn't find any list of rates on the site. That's not a good sign. Given that many of the "services" being provided should be standard, there should be a means up front for authors to work out how much they're likely to have to pay.

    Windy City Website:
    There are so many publishing options for writers — self-publishing, vanity presses, virtual publishing, print-on-demand. How do I know what’s right for me?
    There’s only one way to find out — good old-fashioned homework. It’s a whole new ball game in the publishing world and you have many options to choose from, but no one can make that decision except for you. Ask advice from other authors in some of the writers forums, and do some comparison shopping. Make sure to read the fine print so you are comparing apples to apples. Remember the adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    Good advice.

    Windy City Website:
    Windy City is a hybrid publisher. What does that mean?

    WCP has championed the concept of hybrid publishing. We believe it offers writers the best aspects of both traditional and self-publishing. There are definitely advantages in both areas, but there are major drawbacks, as well. WCP has taken the sophistication of a traditional house and the simplicity of a self-publisher and tweaked it to encompass all the elements needed for success. It’s the new direction of publishing.
    I've been on these boards since 2006 and have heard of "hybrid publishing" before this company was founded in 2009 - so it's difficult to see what they mean by "championing".

    Broadly, it's a pay to play operation. That means you're paying to be published (regardless of what they tell you about the manuscript's quality) and that makes you little better than vanity published.

    Work out how much you're paying as against the number of books you'll have to sell before you start to see a return.

    Windy City Website:
    I don’t want to spend any of my own money getting published. Can’t I just get an agent and go from there?

    That is definitely an option. Our experience is that it’s just not the best option. Getting an agent and then getting published is somewhat akin to winning the lottery. Also, you will not own your own material. Once you turn over your manuscript, it is out of your hands. Having said this, if you can’t afford to go another direction, then this may be your best bet. It’s not impossible.
    Again with the lottery analogy. It's not a lottery.

    Saying that you won't own your material is an outright lie. You retain ownership of your copyright, you're paid up front and if you sell enough copies you make royalties.

    Compare that with spending up to $10k up front with no guarantee of ever selling enough copies to make a return.

    Windy City Website:
    Why do I have to market my book and work with a publicist? Can’t I just sell my book on Amazon?

    You can. But publicity, especially on-line and social media, is an essential component of the marketing mix in today’s business world. That is why WCP has such an extensive program in these areas. We have created a formula that not only uses traditional marketing tools but also takes advantage of all the FREE ways you can publicize your book — just by using your computer. It’s important to note that this is not an easy or quick task — it will take time, especially your time. We can give you the tools and show you how to use them, but we can’t do it for you.
    Yes, but what does Windy City do for you? It seems that you pay the money and then have to do most of the selling yourself. It's not that they can't do it for you, it's more that it seems as though they won't do it for you.

    Windy City Website:
    Do I have to pay Windy City royalties?

    Windy City does participate in a profit-sharing plan, but it is very different than what other publishers do. First, we want our authors to recoup any money they have invested before sharing, so until you break even, we don’t see a dime of your royalties. Second, the portion we take is very small — between eight and ten percent. So until you have hit the big time, you keep everything.
    Let's be clear about this.

    You pay them to publish your book.

    You then do most of the selling and marketing for your book until you make back that initial amount that you paid.

    They then take 8 - 10% of everything that you sell after you've sold enough to make back your initial money.

    Does that sound like a good deal to anyone?

    Windy City Website:
    What is and why do I have to donate?


    is our way of giving back to our global community. A portion of the proceeds we receive is given to non-profit organizations supporting green-friendly causes. With your permission, we make a donation in your name to these causes, but the option to not participate is up to you. By supporting , you are given the right to use the logo on your book cover. This is a great way to show your support in this endeavor, and becomes an excellent talking point when working your publicity platforms.
    If Windy City wants to give something back, let them do it out of their profits. I find it ridiculous that they promote this as an additional marketing tool.

    MM
    Last edited by Momento Mori; 03-02-2011 at 05:36 PM. Reason: Formatting went funky

  4. #4
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    New division, Second City Books: http://www.secondcitybooks.com/

    ...a specialty print-on-demand publishing division that offers authors a variety of a la carte publishing and marketing packages.
    ICAO
    ---------

    Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. -- Henry Steele Commager
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  5. #5
    President, Windy City Publishers
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    Hybrid and self-publishing options

    As a publisher, I continually speak with authors who are unfamiliar with the publishing landscape of today. With the explosion of social media marketing and the digital platform, the industry has changed dramatically where even standard protocol from a couple of years ago is dated. What traditional publishers used to do, royalties and advances they used to pay, and how they supported their authors is no longer as relevant in today’s dynamic industry. The “traditional” way of doing business has been forever changed and now publishing a book is an opportunity that most anyone can take advantage of.
    While authors do contribute financially to producing their books, this guarantees them a 100% chance of being published. And just because you don’t recognize their names, doesn’t mean they haven’t been financially successful. Many large publishing houses now own print-on-demand companies, and you can bet that if your book sales take off, they’ll find you. Don’t spend your life waiting for a call from an agent or traditional publisher that may never come - take charge of your future and get your book into the marketplace.
    Publishing with Windy City Publishers or Second City Books may not be for everyone, and I can certainly appreciate the difficulty in knowing who to trust, especially in an industry that may be new to you. My only advice is to not give up, no matter how difficult it may seem, and to open your mind to the new publishing opportunities available.
    Best of luck no matter your direction!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lise Marinelli View Post
    What traditional publishers used to do, royalties and advances they used to pay, and how they supported their authors is no longer as relevant in today’s dynamic industry.
    It's true that there are more publishing options open to writers, but I don't understand what you mean by your claim that commercial publishing is no longer relevant. Could you please give some specifics as to how you arrived at this opinion?
    While authors do contribute financially to producing their books, this guarantees them a 100% chance of being published.
    Other than feeding one's ego, how is this is a good thing? Don't you (as a publisher) feel there must be some sort of litmus for excellence other than the size of one's wallet?

    Many large publishing houses now own print-on-demand companies, and you can bet that if your book sales take off, they’ll find you.
    If they're already with a large publishing house, then wouldn't they see the sales and bring the author over to their commercial imprints?

    Don’t spend your life waiting for a call from an agent or traditional publisher that may never come - take charge of your future and get your book into the marketplace.
    I appreciate that you're trying to advocate the advantages of your services, but your fees are astounding for a vanity press. The thing I always worry about with vanity presses is that you get your money up front, so where is the impetus for quality production? Do you offer distribution, marketing, or promotion? Are your books regularly stocked in bookstores and libraries across the country?

    Could you please let us know about the advantages of authors paying a lot of money to you rather than going with Amazon CreateSpace? I love the fact that publishing is evolving because it means things that don't work are tossed aside for things that do. One thing I'd love to see is authors not emptying their wallets to pay for their published book, when they can do it for free.
    Last edited by priceless1; 02-21-2012 at 07:10 PM.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    Oh dear. That is an expensive process! First of all, listen to Momento Mori. He did all that wonderful research for you and knows his stuff.

    And this: "That is definitely an option. Our experience is that it’s just not the best option. Getting an agent and then getting published is somewhat akin to winning the lottery. Also, you will not own your own material. Once you turn over your manuscript, it is out of your hands. Having said this, if you can’t afford to go another direction, then this may be your best bet. It’s not imposssible."

    No, just no. None of this is true.

    And $15,000 for a vanity publisher is insanely high. Even if you do decide to go the self-publishing route, hiring independent contractors (an editor, a designer, an artist for your cover, even a marking pro) and then publishing it through a self-publishing company is not going to cost nearly this amount unless your manuscript is in really rough shape.

  8. #8
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Lise Marinelli:
    While authors do contribute financially to producing their books, this guarantees them a 100% chance of being published.
    How is this a selling point for your company? If I pay you the exorbitant amount of money that you're charging to publish my work then you should be publishing it. If you take my money, promise to publish my book and then fail to do so then it's fraud.

    There are plenty of other vanity outfits like yours offering the same services and vanity publishing has been an option for authors for hundreds of years. The fact that it's so readily available doesn't translate into it being a good option for authors.

    The fact that you are charging so much money means that authors have to sell many more copies of their book to break even than they would do if they used another self-publishing company like Lulu.

    Lise Marinelli:
    And just because you don’t recognize their names, doesn’t mean they haven’t been financially successful.
    Define "financially successful".

    How many of your authors make back what they pay you to publish their book and on average, how many copies of their book can an author expect to sell if they go with your company?

    Lise Marinelli:
    I can certainly appreciate the difficulty in knowing who to trust, especially in an industry that may be new to you.
    The publishing industry is not new to me, but thank you for your concern. Thankfully there are places like AW that can help people to understand how publishing should work.

    MM

  9. #9
    President, Windy City Publishers
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    Dear Authors and Writers,

    First of all, thanks for all your responses to my posting. Your questions are valid, timely and relevant and I am happy to address them.

    It is a confusing time in the industry and as an author (my second book is coming out next fall) and a publisher, I share many of the same concerns. The good news is that now anyone can publish. The bad news is you are now fighting for shelf space, especially digital space, so having a well-designed, edited book is critical to standing above the competition.

    (I would like to clarify an issue that seems to be of some confusion. Windy City Publishing is a hybrid publisher which means we split the cost of publishing with an author 50/50. Between websites, cover design, a social media platform, a strategic business and marketing plan, distribution costs, marketing materials and various misc. costs, we spend at least $15,000 in the production of a book. Each author has up to 15 different editors, designers, marketers and managers. We employee professionals from around the globe, many of which have been let go by the bigger publishing houses in the wake of the economy. The investment a traditional publisher makes is significantly higher than what we charge. Our authors own their files (yes, even the working files), have higher than average profit margins and don't start to profit share until they have made back their original investment. We use a web-based project management system so our clients are actively involved in every process, every step of the way. We also have a self-publishing option, Second City Books, that is more affordable and the invitation to publish is available to anyone.)

    I would agree that the cost for publishing is not cheap and if you are fortunate enough to get picked up by a traditional publisher and the arrangement works for you, then it would seem to make sense.

    Perhaps my wording was not as concise as I intended, but with regard to my comment about the relevance of traditional publishing, my point was that traditional publishing has changed enough (i.e. lower advances, more reluctance to work with first-time writers, little to no marketing support) that their presence is no longer a requirement for an author today.

    I would also agree that being published is more than feeding an ego. I would submit that most authors would like to see some element of commercial success, but if you aren't published you have no chance to do so. How much money you have or don't have has never been our gauge of whether or not we work with an author. We base our decision on the marketability of an author's content, their ability to execute a strategic business plan and the passion an author has for their work.

    You are correct that if a traditional publisher sees sales numbers from a self-published author, they could move them over into their traditional lines. They also monitor sales on Amazon and Book Scan from all publishers.

    We do not require the author's contribution to be paid in advance. We ask for a deposit and the remaining balance is due over the course of six months and authors can cancel at any time.

    Amazon is the number one bookseller in the world so having a digital presence is becoming more important as book stores, especially independent ones unfortunately, are becoming less so. Getting into a book store is usually driven by sales, even traditionally published authors have to have numbers to support in-store positioning.

    CreateSpace is an excellent way for authors to publish and I would recommend it to anyone who feels confident with the process and doesn't need any additional editing or design help. What we have found is that many first-time authors have little or no experience with some aspects of publishing and are happy to work with a publisher who will take care of the details and manage their process. Our philosophy is to build relationships not take the money and run. You are right - you can publish for free but some may not be savvy as others and need help.

    We work as a team, with our authors as well as our employees and I would be happy to offer anyone references. We love what we do - and hopefully can make a difference. The publishing industry is a tough one and we recognize that working with us is an investment that comes with risks. There are no guarantees, no matter who you publish with, but it has been our experience that the journey is an amazing one.

    Thanks again, folks, for your interest in what we do and how we do it. You have brought up many great questions and I would encourage anyone to email me personally (lise@windycitypublishers.com) for more information or if I have neglected to address anyone's concerns. We will also be at the AWP Bookfair in Chicago at the end of this month so stop by and say hello if you are attending. Best of luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lise Marinelli View Post

    traditional publishing has changed enough (i.e. lower advances, more reluctance to work with first-time writers, little to no marketing support) that their presence is no longer a requirement for an author today.
    Could you please provide facts that verify your claim that commercial presses are reluctant to work with debut authors, offer little to no marketing support? Can you please also provide back up to the claim that commercial presses are no longer a requirement? A requirement for what? Success? It's possible. But that success is a lot easier to attain with marketing, promotion, and distribution.
    Can you please provide us with your own success stories?

    In looking at your website (and you may want to update it because you have Coming Soon on titles that were published in 2011), I see that Lightning Source is listed as your publisher, so it doesn't appear that you take on distribution duties other than to the warehouse distributors and online databases.
    I would submit that most authors would like to see some element of commercial success, but if you aren't published you have no chance to do so. How much money you have or don't have has never been our gauge of whether or not we work with an author.
    But you're charging them, so if they don't have the money, they won't be publishing with you. What I'm trying to understand is if you don't have proper distribution, we know nothing of your editors, marketing teams, then how can you advocate that your services are an element for success?

    What kind of promotion and marketing do you do that costs you $15,000?

    What we have found is that many first-time authors have little or no experience with some aspects of publishing and are happy to work with a publisher who will take care of the details and manage their process.
    It would be helpful if you could list the specifics of what you do for these first-time authors that make you a logical choice. How do you market and promote your books? Who are these NY editors you've hired?

    In short, you're very good with platitudes and saying all the right buzz words that sound pretty and convincing, but you're very short on details...especially when your company lightens authors' checkbooks by a huge amount.

  11. #11
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Lise Marinelli:
    Your questions are valid, timely and relevant and I am happy to address them.
    If you're happy to address them then why haven't you done that? I asked a number of questions in my most recent post, none of which have had a response from you.

    Perhaps you missed them. To repeat:

    Define "financially successful".

    How many of your authors make back what they pay you to publish their book and on average, how many copies of their book can an author expect to sell if they go with your company?
    Lise Marinelli:
    as an author (my second book is coming out next fall)
    On a quick perusal of Amazon.com, it seems that your first book, FALLING FROM THE MOON, was published by Chi-Town Fiction, which is apparently an imprint of Windy City.

    If you self-published, are you able to share how many copies of the book that you sold? I ask because I note that it has a very low ranking on Amazon which suggests that you haven't sold any copies recently.

    While I am not knocking self-publishing in the slightest, how does this experience qualify you to publish other people's books and charge them a lot of money to do so?

    Do you have any experience in publishing beyond self-publishing?

    Lise Marinelli:
    The bad news is you are now fighting for shelf space, especially digital space, so having a well-designed, edited book is critical to standing above the competition.
    Actually having a well-designed and well edited book is useful but the real issue is discoverability - how do people know about your book to take a look inside?

    What does Windy City do to aid discoverability? Does it have a deal with bookstores to have books available in store (as opposed to making books available to order)? Does it have an internet strategy in place to help electronic book sales? Is it looking to target particular groups of readers or do you lack a specific strategy?

    At the moment even your own website isn't geared up to selling your author's books. The front page is purely aimed at selling your own services.

    As regards having a well designed book, looking at the titles on your website, some of them seem to use clip art. Is that correct?

    Lise Marinelli:
    I would like to clarify an issue that seems to be of some confusion. Windy City Publishing is a hybrid publisher which means we split the cost of publishing with an author 50/50.
    I don't think there's any confusion on our part. You're a pay to play. Pay to play equates to vanity. I say this because there's no evidence on your website that you're limiting your company to only publishing work in particular genres. You will pretty much take anything and everything so long as the cheque clears.

    Lise Marinelli:
    Between websites, cover design, a social media platform, a strategic business and marketing plan, distribution costs, marketing materials and various misc. costs, we spend at least $15,000 in the production of a book.
    To repeat Priceless, please provide concrete examples of the kind of expenses you're incurring that justifies $15,000.

    Lise Marinelli:
    Each author has up to 15 different editors, designers, marketers and managers.
    Okay. Who are these people? What is their publishing experience. What exactly do they do? Why can't you factor this into your general overhead and business costs with a view to making money back from selling books?

    Lise Marinelli:
    We employee professionals from around the globe, many of which have been let go by the bigger publishing houses in the wake of the economy.
    So you're using freelancers?

    Lise Marinelli:
    The investment a traditional publisher makes is significantly higher than what we charge.
    Yes, but that investment includes an advance that is paid to authors. You're not paying your authors anything - they're paying you. They then have to sell enough copies of their book to make back that charge and so far, I don't see anything on your website to suggest that your company is geared up to help them do so.

    Lise Marinelli:
    Our authors own their files (yes, even the working files), have higher than average profit margins and don't start to profit share until they have made back their original investment.
    Your authors may own their own files (which, frankly, should be a given anyway given the amount you're charging) but if they publish through you they are still losing first publishing rights.

    What do you mean by "higher than average profit margins"? I presume this refers to the 80/20 royalty split that I mentioned in a previous post.

    Is the royalty calculated on cover price or on net? If it's on net, how are you calculating net?

    Of the 14 books listed on your website, how many have made back the amount it cost to publish with you? What have the average sales figures been?

    Lise Marinelli:
    We use a web-based project management system so our clients are actively involved in every process, every step of the way.
    So what?

    Lise Marinelli:
    my point was that traditional publishing has changed enough (i.e. lower advances, more reluctance to work with first-time writers, little to no marketing support) that their presence is no longer a requirement for an author today.
    I really wish I had a quid for every vanity publisher who trots out the whole "traditional publishers don't want new authors" line. I'd definitely have enough for a Happy Meal by now.

    It's actually easier to be picked up as a new author than it is if you're a previously published author with low sales. Go to any publishing seminar being attended by people from the Big 6 and they will tell you that.

    Advances are lower in some cases (and typically for authors whose previous books haven't done well) but the point is still that the author is being paid for their work - something which is not the case with your company. Given the choice between someone paying me 7 grand to publish my book and paying you 7 grand to publish my book, I know which I prefer.

    In any event, a good agent will always be able to negotiate on the advance.

    I do agree with you that people don't need to be commercially published to get their book out on the market. There are a wide number of companies out there that let them do it for considerably less than what Windy City is charging. What I don't understand (and what you persistently fail to respond to) is what Windy City does that is so much better than simply going it alone with Lulu or CreateSpace.

    Lise Marinelli:
    I would submit that most authors would like to see some element of commercial success, but if you aren't published you have no chance to do so.
    Erm ... yeah. I think that's a given.

    The point though is that if you're publishing a book then you're usually doing so to make money. How can a person make money with Windy City if they're already paying you several thousand dollars up front?

    Lise Marinelli:
    How much money you have or don't have has never been our gauge of whether or not we work with an author.
    Cool. How many of the 14 books on display on your website didn't have to pay Windy City to publish?

    Lise Marinelli:
    We base our decision on the marketability of an author's content, their ability to execute a strategic business plan and the passion an author has for their work.
    Uh-huh. So they have to pay you up front (although that may or may not be important) and then basically sell it.

    Great for you. Not so great for the author.

    Lise Marinelli:
    We do not require the author's contribution to be paid in advance. We ask for a deposit and the remaining balance is due over the course of six months and authors can cancel at any time.
    But if they cancel, presumably they lose all the money they've already paid?

    Lise Marinelli:
    Amazon is the number one bookseller in the world so having a digital presence is becoming more important as book stores, especially independent ones unfortunately, are becoming less so.
    Really? I was at a conference last month where every publisher - Scholastic, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette to name but a few - said that independent stores were vitally important following the Borders collapse.

    People might buy on Amazon, but they're more likely to do so having seen the book in a local store. That's why so many commercial publishers try to establish links with local stores through author appearances etc.

    Lise Marinelli:
    Getting into a book store is usually driven by sales, even traditionally published authors have to have numbers to support in-store positioning.
    Getting a book into a store is usually governed by discount and returnability. If you don't have that, then no store is going to order them.

    Lise Marinelli:
    What we have found is that many first-time authors have little or no experience with some aspects of publishing and are happy to work with a publisher who will take care of the details and manage their process.
    If you're looking to help people who want someone like you to manage the process for them, then why are you looking for them to provide business plans?

    Lise Marinelli:
    Our philosophy is to build relationships not take the money and run.
    That's easy to say when you're already taking a deposit up front.

    Lise Marinelli:
    We work as a team, with our authors as well as our employees and I would be happy to offer anyone references.
    Sales figures are a lot more telling than references. Again, can you share average sales figures for your books?

    Lise Marinelli:
    We love what we do - and hopefully can make a difference.
    What do you do to make a difference when it comes to selling books?

    Lise Marinelli:
    The publishing industry is a tough one and we recognize that working with us is an investment that comes with risks.
    Yes. The biggest risk is that if you're already paid up front prior to release, there's no incentive on you to help sell it. Therefore there's little chance of the author making back the amount spent.

    Lise Marinelli:
    There are no guarantees, no matter who you publish with, but it has been our experience that the journey is an amazing one.
    Sales figures are always going to fluctuate but at least if you go with a commercial publisher, you are guaranteed to be paid your advance.

    Lise Marinelli:
    You have brought up many great questions and I would encourage anyone to email me personally (lise@windycitypublishers.com) for more information or if I have neglected to address anyone's concerns.
    I'm not going to email you. I've asked you a number of perfectly reasonable questions on this thread and you have deliberately - no 'ifs' or 'buts' - refused to answer them.

    If you're thinking about going with Windy City, take a note of the fact that Lise doesn't answer honest questions before you take out your credit card.

    MM

  12. #12
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    I'd like to know on what basis Lise is making these erroneous comments about how commercial publishing works. Lise, what is your experience with commercial publishing? How can you accurately compare the benefits of publishing with your vanity press as opposed to publishing with a house that pays YOU and gets your books on shelves?


    Also, as to digital sales being important...yes, they are, but the fact is (and there's plenty of actual evidence for this, not just anecdota or sales-speak) that ebooks are still only about 20% of total book sales. Most people buy books in stores, be they bookstores or big-box retailers. They do. Since you have no distribution to get your authors' books into those stores, you're cutting them off at the knees in terms of sales potential.
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  13. #13
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lise Marinelli View Post
    What traditional publishers used to do, royalties and advances they used to pay, and how they supported their authors is no longer as relevant in today’s dynamic industry.
    Used to? Last I checked most of them still do. Yes, there are some presses that don't pay advances, but they still pay royalities and don't expect their authors to contribute to publication costs.

    Those that do are vanity publishers, and experience has taught us that they don't produce quality books because their driving force is profit and they tend to accept everything that they are sent.

    The “traditional” way of doing business has been forever changed and now publishing a book is an opportunity that most anyone can take advantage of.


    And most can do it for free. the fees you stated on your website as scary high, especially as you don't seem to do anything for the author that they cannot do for themselves, for free.

    Vanity presses, such as yours, have struggled a lot in recent years because of the rise in availability of self publishing avenues. So, what is it about your press that sets it apart?

    While authors do contribute financially to producing their books, this guarantees them a 100% chance of being published.


    This isn't actually a good thing.


    And just because you don’t recognize their names, doesn’t mean they haven’t been financially successful. Many large publishing houses now own print-on-demand companies, and you can bet that if your book sales take off, they’ll find you.


    I think you are getting confused here. Most large publishing houses don't own jack shit when it comes to printing companies. The majority of them outsource their printing to specialist printers - gone are the days when a publisher printed in house. Yes, those printers, such as LS ALSO have POD facilities, but you'll find that POD is not financially viable for a publisher, large or small, and that the majority of publishers will pay for a print run, rather than POD.

    If your book sales take off then those large publishers probably won't care, because that book has already been in print, is still under contract with someone else, and unless the author consistantly produces work that sells to a high standard, and actually queries those publishers, then the publisher won't care.

    Trust me, very few publishers have time to go out and look for writers when they have thousands of writers coming to them each year.


    Publishing with Windy City Publishers or Second City Books may not be for everyone, and I can certainly appreciate the difficulty in knowing who to trust, especially in an industry that may be new to you.
    It's not new to me. Or, for that matter, most of the folks who have responded in this thread. However, I'd like to know what experience YOU have in the publishing industry that qualifies you to run a publishing house?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lise Marinelli View Post
    It is a confusing time in the industry and as an author (my second book is coming out next fall) and a publisher, I share many of the same concerns.
    Do you publish your own books? I ask because we see a lot of new publishers that are a front for a writers self publishing ventures.


    The good news is that now anyone can publish. The bad news is you are now fighting for shelf space, especially digital space, so having a well-designed, edited book is critical to standing above the competition.
    So the solution is to accept everything, take their money and further add to the burden on available shelf space.

    (I would like to clarify an issue that seems to be of some confusion. Windy City Publishing is a hybrid publisher which means we split the cost of publishing with an author 50/50. Between websites, cover design, a social media platform, a strategic business and marketing plan, distribution costs, marketing materials and various misc. costs, we spend at least $15,000 in the production of a book.
    That's a lot of money though. And I'd like to know what distribution you have in place - if I was one of your writers would I be able to find my book in bookstores? In short, what exactly is my money buying me?


    Each author has up to 15 different editors, designers, marketers and managers. We employee professionals from around the globe, many of which have been let go by the bigger publishing houses in the wake of the economy.
    15 people working on one book? What does a writer need a manager for?

    Who are these editors and who have they worked with before?

    Your 'about' page is very bare and gives no information about the company or the senior staff, and so anyone considering you cannot judge whether you have the expertise or not.

    Our authors own their files (yes, even the working files), have higher than average profit margins and don't start to profit share until they have made back their original investment.
    What are your 'profit margins' - I assume you mean royalites, in which case what is th percentage and do they, given the initial outlay by the author, start to kick in immediately?

    Also, you mention 'profit share' - does this mean that the author will earn less percentage wise after they have made their money back?

    How is the breakdown of the profit allocation calculated - by that I mean, who gets paid first - the author or the publisher. Does the author have to wait until the publisher has made all their money back?

    We use a web-based project management system so our clients are actively involved in every process, every step of the way. We also have a self-publishing option, Second City Books, that is more affordable and the invitation to publish is available to anyone.)
    Except it's just more of the same really. It's an, expensive, self publishing option of an, expensive, vanity option. Again, what sets you apart.

    I would agree that the cost for publishing is not cheap and if you are fortunate enough to get picked up by a traditional publisher and the arrangement works for you, then it would seem to make sense.
    It's very expensive, considering that you can set your book up with createspace for nothing, or if you want to register as a company you can set it up with LS for a couple of hundred bucks.

    Perhaps my wording was not as concise as I intended, but with regard to my comment about the relevance of traditional publishing, my point was that traditional publishing has changed enough (i.e. lower advances, more reluctance to work with first-time writers, little to no marketing support) that their presence is no longer a requirement for an author today.
    I've not come across a publisher who is reluctant to work with a debut. Quite the opposite infact as most of the publishers I have come across are constantly, actively, seeking new talent.

    I would also agree that being published is more than feeding an ego. I would submit that most authors would like to see some element of commercial success, but if you aren't published you have no chance to do so.
    Except that very very very few self published writers achieve any type of commerical success. Vanity published writers either.


    You are correct that if a traditional publisher sees sales numbers from a self-published author, they could move them over into their traditional lines. They also monitor sales on Amazon and Book Scan from all publishers.
    What?

    That's not quite how it works in the real world. Publishers, as stated before, have enough on their plates dealing with the bestselling authors they already have without scanning for potential self published authors.

    The number of self published authors who have done well enough in self publishing to attract the attention of a commerical publisher is small.

    It's also not as simple as moving an author over into the publishers traditional lines, mainly because most publishers don't have a SP arm.

    We do not require the author's contribution to be paid in advance. We ask for a deposit and the remaining balance is due over the course of six months and authors can cancel at any time.
    If they cancel do they get their money back?

    If they are unhappy with the quality of your work then do they get their money back?

    Amazon is the number one bookseller in the world so having a digital presence is becoming more important as book stores, especially independent ones unfortunately, are becoming less so.
    Amazon also automatically lists all books that are assigned an ISBN.


    Getting into a book store is usually driven by sales, even traditionally published authors have to have numbers to support in-store positioning.
    Not at all.

    Getting your books into a bookstore is where a publisher needs a team of good sales reps with specialist experience and a good catalogue of books for the year. The bookstore will order books based on the info your rep provides, and will usually only order a small number of any given book - even big sellers.

    In store placement is determined by a number of factors - including, but not limited to - agreements between the publisher and the bookchain, special promotions for local authors or events, the newest books from a mega bestselling author, various genre promotions etc.

    CreateSpace is an excellent way for authors to publish and I would recommend it to anyone who feels confident with the process and doesn't need any additional editing or design help.
    Createspace will actually provide you with, what I'm told is quite a good editing and design service, for $300.


    What we have found is that many first-time authors have little or no experience with some aspects of publishing and are happy to work with a publisher who will take care of the details and manage their process. Our philosophy is to build relationships not take the money and run. You are right - you can publish for free but some may not be savvy as others and need help.
    So, as I asked before, what are you going to do that's different? How are you going to get their books into stores?

    The publishing industry is a tough one and we recognize that working with us is an investment that comes with risks. There are no guarantees, no matter who you publish with, but it has been our experience that the journey is an amazing one.
    Given that most self published published books sell less than 200 copies (I would assume that vanity published authors sell around the same amount) and that POD books rarely sell less than 2000 copies, and given that the costs associated with POD are higher and small presses are usually crippled by returns policies and discounts, I'm a little worried about how much an author stands to loose working with you.

    For instance, if I, as an author, pay you $7500 to publish my book, 300 pages, cover price $10, paperback, and I get 15% royalty on that, then I will need to sell 5000 copies of my book just to break even.

    That's a lot of books. And you can see how I would have concerns over how much an author stands to lose by signing with you.
    Last edited by shaldna; 02-21-2012 at 07:35 PM. Reason: thanks Stacia :)
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  14. #14
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Tate Publishing is a vanity press that has been around for years and charges $4,000 to produce books for a customer.

    You're charging substantially more than Tate. What do you do more than or better than Tate to justify charging even more?
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  15. #15
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Has dropped Second City as a separate entity, and restructured into offering "package" and a la carte services through Windy City.
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 12-27-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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