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This is why qualifiers such as "Some" or "I've seen a few people" or something like that are useful. I always make a marked, conscious effort to not over-generalize. I'm a natural exaggerator myself, so this is something I have to think about. Precisely because making the type of statement you made could be construed as offensive, and to be honest it's not accurate. If you admit yourself that you don't mean all or most or everyone, but you state it as such, then you're exaggerating to make a point, which in a lot of ways invalidates the point you're trying to make.
Anyway this is enough of a derail. I don't have a vested interest in this, either. I'm just an observer sharing my thoughts.
ALL bolding mine:
Do you two mean this sort of cheerleading/kid gloves handling?:
That's not even all of them.
FTR, I've heard from more than one Musa author in the last few weeks reporting concerns about production taking so long it doesn't allow the author adequate time to promote, or production problems, lack of cover(s), things like that, which unfortunately imply a publisher who has bitten off more than it can chew.
I think we're all hopeful for Musa because members we know and care about are involved with them. But that doesn't mean we all think they're a great idea, and many of us have gone on record as saying we don't.
As a writer you can understand how I would naturally assume people would understand the statement "The willingness of eager aspiring authors..." should not reasonably be interpreted to mean "The willingness of every single eager aspiring author everywhere in the world meaning all authors 100% of them everywhere everyone who is an author." But thank you for the handy tips on how better to express myself in the way you would express yourself if you were me and expressing yourself.
Any time a publisher posts in their thread to honestly clarify and explain and answer questions, it generates goodwill (and even some excitement in the case of a promising publisher like Musa). I think that's why the tone in this thread is more positive than some.
I can't remember when Musa opened (October?) and I'm not at home so I can't check my contract to see how often they send out royalty statements/payments, but when should we start hearing about sales from their first authors? I'm interested to see how Musa's sales stack up against other similar-sized publishers, if anyone is willing to share.
I just have one novella with them that was published last month. My experience has been positive in many ways but not so positive in others. Musa seems to be trying to foster a community among their writers, with an active private yahoo group (so active I had to shut off the freaking alert emails) and apparently some sort of online seminar to help authors improve their writing. I haven't looked closely at that so I don't know what it's all about. I've got some reservations about them working to build a community of writers instead of, say, putting that same effort into promotion and marketing. But maybe they've put one of their interns in charge of the touchy-feely stuff for authors.
ETA: In one of those weird coincidences, I just got an email from Paypal saying that I just got a first royalty payment from Musa. It's not a full payment--just from a few vendors, not Amazon or anything. It's in the low, um, ones.
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Yes, but there's a difference between speculating on the basis of evidence provided and your own experience and speculating purely on the basis of a set of assumptions not born out by the evidence to support your argument.LillyPu:
Aren't most of the publishers in these background checks up for 'speculative' opinions based on the vast experience of those speculating?
I don't think there have been kid gloves here. In any event, Stacia, has already pointed out where other frequent posters on this Forum have raised concerns/potential issues with Musa - all of whom, I'd add, have done so in exactly the same tone and with the same level of practicality as they bring to other publishers.LillyPu:
Why the kid gloves for Musa?
FWIW I wouldn't submit to Musa until it's been going for 2 years and I can get figures on average sales and the types of royalties that authors can expect to receive. That's exactly what I'd say of any other start-up (and indeed do say so - frequently).
What I would add though is the fact that the people behind Musa are used to these boards means that they've been able to engage with criticism/questions in an upfront and honest way instead of doing the whole meanie head flounce dance.
Thanks, Stacia Kane, I'm well aware of those comments by those whose opinions I've come to take seriously. I won't be reciprocating with quotes I found to be in the 'a bit eager to look the other way' category.
I suppose the tone is what's different here, as someone pointed out upthread. I understand it's due to relationships having formed, etc., and that's all good. But this particular thread is different, there really is no denying it. Different from most others I've read through when a publisher becomes overextended. Gentler, kinder. Like I said, perfectly understandable due to friendships, and the levelheadedness of Musa's responses to questions. I also hope everyone involved succeeds.
For what it's worth, you often have a person or two (or sometimes more) coming in even when red flags are being raised saying "You're all wrong. They're awesome and great!" There is actually an agency thread that I can think of where people routinely submit and get excited about requests in spite of the fact that the agency has been known to have some pretty serious conflicts of interest, lack of sales history, and has shown some highly questionable judgment.
It's pretty normal, and so a couple of people who might be exceedingly positive are being counterbalanced by people who are cautious (not necessarily exceedingly). I actually think this thread is a good example of the lighter tone that comes from having an actual discussion rather than a flounce party with free-flowing sarcasm. Though, I have to admit, I kind of miss the popcorn...
Kaitie - I am now going to be paranoid about the agency in question.
But yes, I think Musa's ability to handle criticism and concerns here with grace and integrity have more to do with the tone of the thread than some kind of AW nepotism, and some of the comments here to the contrary seem... remarkably snide.
Just my two cents.
I have contracts for two short stories. I like the contracts. They are well written, were vetted (so I was told) by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, and follow the basic SFWA model of a contract-which includes reversion rights if anything should happen to Musa and a guarantee that anyone who buys Musa & Musa properties will have to, at minimum, keep the same contract I have with them or rights revert back to me. It is one of the more comprehensive contracts I've seen in a long time and makes me willing to take a risk and see what Musa can do for me.
That being said, my first story isn't scheduled to be out until June, so I haven't even seen cover art or edits or anything. On the other hand, I am learning a LOT about promotion and the publishing industry first hand that I haven't yet learned from any other small press I've been with. Celina and her staff have reinforced a lot of things that I learned at Viable Paradise (go to that workshop if you haven't yet. Tis good!) and taught me a few new things I didn't know yet.
Have you ever heard the term "opportunity cost?" That's what I'm seeing here. Maybe I won't make a lot of money, but I see emails going out from accounting every month saying "royalty statements just got posted" and other things like that. I see Dom (marketing directory) pointing authors to blogs and interviews and Goodreads and Maniac Readers every other day. I see the staff giving authors advice on how to ignore bad reviews and how to conduct themselves online & in public. I like how this publisher treats its authors, as assets and people.
Now, I've only had one close call with a bad publishing experience and I fortunately didn't sign that contract. So I can't compare this to the horror stories so many people talk about. I can only say, yes, this is a risk. But Musa is willing to take on a few stories I never thought I'd sell and to reprint my older stories (doing all the cover art and formatting so I can concentrate on other writing chores). I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket, I'm getting published by other people too, but it can't hurt for me to try a couple of stories in Musa's hands and see what happens. Right?
If you're interested in seeing the contract, here's the link. Celina believes in transparency. She wants to be held accountable for the things her house is doing, good or bad, and so far I haven't seen a whole lot of bad.
My recommendation is, if you want to try Musa, go for it. But don't throw all your stories at one publisher. Make sure you always have something cooking and manuscripts going out to multiple markets. That way, if something collapses under you, it doesn't take everything you've written along with it.
Urania Publication Coordinator, Musa Publishing
Graduate: Viable Paradise XIII (KALE!!!)
Member: HWA, IAMTW, SFWA (Writing Organizations)
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I've been following this thread with some interest. I'm new here, so a little background: I've optioned a couple of screenplays (none produced), wrote and self-published a how-to book (a printed book) that I was able to live off of until I signed with Focal Press (one of the world's largest tech book publishers). Now I just make a crappy royalty. Which brings me here: I'm finishing up the edits on my first novel, and now what? Self-publish or go with an ebook publisher?
My problem with ebooks that are self-published is that so many are simply bad. Many more need an editor or at a minimum, proofreader. So I personally have stopped buying self-published novels. Which means I lean toward a proper publisher for my own work (if one will have me, that is). Is this a view that is widely held? Given the amount of LOVE/HATE to musa in this forum, not one has said "Self-publish!" Or said, "Here's a better publisher than Musa." Why?
1. With that in mind, I'd like to know the percentage of books MUSA rejects?
With my How-to book, I never had a problem getting reviews. In fact, I never even submitted, but had national magazines ask to review it. I'm certain this is not the case with a novel! And I'm doubly sure most reviewers don't even bother opening a self-published novel, though I'm often wrong. So...
2. Can Musa get their books to reviewers? With the amount they are publishing each month, this seems difficult to me. Musa, on its own, could bury any reviewer on any given day.
3. How does Musa decide on the cover price? What does the average book sell for?
4. mscelina, in one post, says "what we do for our 20%." As I read the contract, I'm a bit confused on this one. If the author gets 50% of sales and Musa 50% of sales from the 70% that Amazon pays, for example, isn't that 35%? As I read the contract, it isn't 50% of the cover price (which would put Musa's cut at 20% as mscelina said). Only on Musa's site does the author royalty rise to a true 50% of the cover price, but that's still 50% going to Musa. I don't have a problem with Musa's royalty system. After being with a big traditional publisher, that seems fair, but I don't get her 20% comment. Can anyone enlighten me? No matter how I do Musa's math, I can't find where they take this little.
5. I know Musa is new, but what is their best seller? How many units in total do they move a month?
6. The Musa contract doesn't mention ancillary rights. Does the author retain 100%? I assume so.
7. If a title sells enough units to justify a print run, does Musa have a distributor? Not a wholesaler. A distributor with a sales force.
8. Does the author have final say on anything? Focal took my great cover that sold thousands of copies, and did a cheap copy of it. Don't ask me why. They also changed the interior to save 20 pages on their print run. It had a negative outcome as far as I'm concerned. Does the Author have a right to say "No" to cover/interior design at Musa? Do you work with authors in that way?
Having self-published a print book, I'd rather not do it again. Yes, I made it a success. But self-publishing is a business, and all that running a business entails. I'd much rather let Musa or other publisher do that if the royalty percentage made it worth it. Musa seems to get that, whether their cut is 20% or 35%, but in the end, can they give an author a fair shot in the marketplace? I have no idea. Celina?
Celina's out due to surgery, but maybe one of the other Musa pros can answer?
Musa looks interesting on a lot of levels. Still, I'm worried about some quality control issues in cover art and editing. I want to see if those were one-time flukes in what I saw/read, or a recurrent pattern. The sheer number of books scheduled is a bit mind-blowing - if they're able to stick to that schedule, it will be a major stress-test of the company.
There are many better publishers than Musa. Representatives of Musa can tell you that, themselves. Whatever the beefs in this thread, they've been honest and forthcoming. Concerns are real and valid. Responses have been reasonable and rationed.
I, myself, would not submit to them at this stage and would caution other writers against doing so until the kinks have been worked out. I look forward to discovering that my concerns have been unfounded, but at this point, they remain.
Moral of the story: Soy yogurt is evil and don't cross picketlines. -Twizzle
You know, I have always liked Celina. I too am a longstanding member of AW. I'm also not afraid to speak my mind. Having said that, I submitted my manuscript to Musa. I was and am confident that it was a wise choice. I recently finished two rounds of editing with Celina herself. I've had a lot of experience with being edited and I can honestly say none have been as amazing. I felt like I've learned so much. I am confident that Celina made my manuscript BETTER. Not only that, she explained everything. I felt like I've had a workshop! I learned a lot with this editing process. I'm thrilled with the experience. I will share the rest of my experiences as they happen. I'm sure I will be happy. I have an edited manuscript I'm thrilled with and a cover I'm extremely pleased with. If my experiences to date were unsettling at all, I would say as much here...without bias.
I am very satisfied with my Musa experience thus far!
The main index of forums on this site is here: Forum Index
Some of what you're asking here is to Musa specifically, but a lot of it sounds like you want to discuss the basic pros and cons of other publishing methods. You'll find a lot of information in the other sub-forums (this one being to discuss specific publishers, agents, etc... not the generalities of publishing). It's worth taking the time to look around.
ebooks are a new world for me. I'm just asking questions to get a feel for it. I didn't mean to offend anyone.
I feel honored.
However, I'm drugged out of my mind right now so let me try to help you out here before my mother-in-law/guardian-supposed-to-keep-me-from-working comes in here and catches the laptop open.
We are currently accepting about 5 percent of manuscripts submitted to us at Musa. The ratio at Penumbra is, obviously, quite a bit lower. At the eMag, we're accepting 5-8 stories/poems out of over 500 submitted per issue.1. With that in mind, I'd like to know the percentage of books MUSA rejects?
Yes. We send our books out to over 100 review sites (quite a few genre specific) including Publishers Weekly, RT, Coffee Time, Night Owl et cetera et cetera et cetera, and are now preparing our literary and speculative fiction lines to move to ARCs. According to the schedule I've set up for my staff, I expect Musa to go completely to ARCs by the end of June.2. Can Musa get their books to reviewers? With the amount they are publishing each month, this seems difficult to me. Musa, on its own, could bury any reviewer on any given day.
Self-published books are notoriously difficult to get reviewed. On a side note, you want to make sure your tagline, blurb and excerpt are designed to attract interest in the story from both readers and reviewers. Musa had a huge head start with reviewers because we already had a good working relationship with them while at our previous publishing house. And we had multiple titles pick up 'best of' nominations at two houses: LR&M and TRS, and winners at both review sites too.
We sell our books based upon length, from 99 cents for a short story (under 15k) to 5.99 for 100k or above. Our books are spread fairly evenly throughout the spectrum of our price range.3. How does Musa decide on the cover price? What does the average book sell for?
*sigh* When you self-publish at Amazon, the author receives 70% of the royalties if they're lucky and hit all the right buttons. Length, style, and whatever other arbitrary things Amazon decides when it determines the royalty rate a book sale will pay out at. Some books only get 35% royalties whether it's self-pubbed or e-pubbed. At Musa, authors get 50%. 70 minus 50 equals 20%. So for that 20%, the author gets a professionally done cover, interior book formatting, formatting and coding to create the ebooks, editing, line editing, proofing, promotions, marketing, distribution to reviewers et cetera et cetera et cetera--all the stuff a self-pubbed author has to either do himself or pay someone else to do.4. mscelina, in one post, says "what we do for our 20%." As I read the contract, I'm a bit confused on this one. If the author gets 50% of sales and Musa 50% of sales from the 70% that Amazon pays, for example, isn't that 35%? As I read the contract, it isn't 50% of the cover price (which would put Musa's cut at 20% as mscelina said). Only on Musa's site does the author royalty rise to a true 50% of the cover price, but that's still 50% going to Musa. I don't have a problem with Musa's royalty system. After being with a big traditional publisher, that seems fair, but I don't get her 20% comment. Can anyone enlighten me? No matter how I do Musa's math, I can't find where they take this little.
Well, that's hard to calculate, because we don't have all those numbers right at the end of the month from all the distributors we use, but I'll give it a whirl, using the fourth quarter sales numbers.5. I know Musa is new, but what is their best seller? How many units in total do they move a month?
Our top selling book was released on December 8. Through the end of the year, the title sold 223 copies at ARE, 122 at Amazon at 70% royalties, 78 at Bookstrand, 8 at Amazon 35%, 4 at Amazon UK, single digits at the other sites that have already reported their fourth quarter sales to us (the other Amazons, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, all the Apple stories, Rainbow and Smashwords), and 56 at the Musa home site.
(Those numbers are, by the way, available to that author on the Delphi database, which allows an author to access their sales figures as soon as we get them posted or as soon as a purchase is made on the site.)
These numbers will rise in the early part of 2012 as more people become aware of Musa and as this author gets closer to his next release. The best-selling book on the Musa website is an entirely different book by an entirely different author--a true historical fiction (non-romance) which has sold 63 copies to date.
The trend I've noticed at Musa over the last few weeks is that our sales percentages are continuing to rise. Our sales numbers at Amazon for the first six weeks of 2012 have increased in the double digits percentages for the last six weeks of 2011--superseding my stated sales goal by over 10%.
Musa asks for electronic rights and North American print rights. All other rights remain with the author.6. The Musa contract doesn't mention ancillary rights. Does the author retain 100%? I assume so.
Since at the moment we are only publishing electronically and have no immediate plans to move to print runs in the next few months, no we don't have a distributor. When we DO go on to print runs, however, we won't print withOUT a distributor.7. If a title sells enough units to justify a print run, does Musa have a distributor? Not a wholesaler. A distributor with a sales force.
Musa retains final approval of all cover art that goes out under our branding. We coordinate the author and the artist to create covers that both parties are happy with. So we work closely with the artist to develop the vision/aesthetic he wants for his book. However, at some point in the process someone has to have the last and final say. At Musa, and with most other publishing companies, that final say is delivered by the art director.8. Does the author have final say on anything? Focal took my great cover that sold thousands of copies, and did a cheap copy of it. Don't ask me why. They also changed the interior to save 20 pages on their print run. It had a negative outcome as far as I'm concerned. Does the Author have a right to say "No" to cover/interior design at Musa? Do you work with authors in that way?
as for this:
LMAO! You guys think Musa has gotten the kid glove treatment? Anyone will tell you that if you're talking trash about my family, cats, or friends, gloves won't be necessary. A person without fingers can wear mittens. But this?Quote:
Originally Posted by MarieSalvros
Originally Posted by LillyPuI'm not triing to be negative. I hope musa turns out to be really good. It just seemed like there was alot of cheerleading in here becasue the owner is a longstanding member of this board and I didn't think the cheering was related to anything other than, "this is a friend of mine."
good luck to all the authors I hope you come back in a year and tell us about your experience.
Why the kid gloves for Musa? A red flag is a red flag. I don't get it. Would only a new person recognize this 'rallying around'? I understand it, but is it genuine to the service AW provides for all of us? Sorry, I don't mean to get in the middle of anything... But as an 'outsider' I'm seeing something that's off.
This is BUSINESS. Perhaps you're misconstruing the obvious respect that I have for some of the denizens of AW for some kind of pay off. Maybe you think that because Old Hack or Stacia or Uncle Jim are questioning my publishing house that I'm going to get insulted and raise hell. Maybe even you DO think that "I recommend that you not publish with Musa at this time" is some kind of preferential treatment or something. That's fine by me. But don't try to make it look like Musa is getting a free pass here. We aren't. Hell, I don't WANT one. And, quite frankly, I don't NEED one.
We started Musa the DAY we ditched AMP because of business practices we were uncomfortable with. We had business model and plan sketched out for implementation at that previous house, and just put the plan into action (with some modifications) at Musa. We bought the line I'd personally conceived, developed and built from the publisher to anchor our early catalog, and opened to submissions. Some writers were invited to submit to us; most were just general submissions after Musa was announced at Duotrope and Ralans and other submissions information sites. The staff that I'd vetted, tested, and brought on to the former publisher happily came to Musa as the horrors of the financial situation that house was in became general knowledge.
We started out big for a few reasons--we had the staff to do it, we wanted the company to generate a lot of notice, and we wanted a strong foundation of sales to build from. Our first three releases were written by well-known trade published authors: popular romance writer Cindi Myers with a new book to add to her incredible backlist of stories I'd edited for her at Aurora, popular sci fi/romance author Gini Koch and her rabid fan base, and USA Today bestselling author Sharon De Vita, who returned to publishing after a five year hiatus with a completely different type of book--one her old publishers had no interest in. We also launched our e-magazine on the same day, and reissued the Aurora Regency line we'd bought. So we started with over FORTY titles--more than 10% of that four hundred everyone is so worried about.
We didn't just wake up one day and pull Musa out of our asses. We started Musa with a business plan, with concrete and reasonable goals, with a substantial start-up financial war chest, with the best contract I could provide that would keep us solvent, and with writers and staff that were willing to trust us to implement their vision. We literally stepped from one house to another without missing a step--and because our business plan had been developed to SOLVE the problems of a struggling publisher, we were able to go full steam ahead almost immediately.
That includes the editing process (minimum of two full content edits, a historical edit/fact checking, line edits, proofreading and galleys), where in the beginning I had to train my editors off some bad "other house" techniques as well as editing myself. That includes the interior book designer, who is flat out one of the best in digital publishing. That includes the IT staff, who've developed a database for every aspect of a publication schedule as well as a royalties calculation system which permits our authors to know where they sold every book on each pay period. That includes our art department, who not only create book covers, but all the websites and blogs, all the promotional art, all the artists' promotional art PLUS the magazine. That includes our marketing/promotions department who are currently putting together multiple genre-specific marketing campaigns for Musa AND Penumbra--with print ads upcoming in major periodicals or on big sites, radio interviews, and organized social media and networking. That includes our interns, who give us a few hours a week in exchange for hands on training, professional credits in art, editing, or the e-magazine, our Master Class program (open to authors and staff too) where twice a month we have industry professionals do workshops on various aspects of publishing including the Writer Beware 'How Not To Get Published' presentation and upcoming workshops in March--one with an agent, the other with a bestselling author on character development.
So you see--THAT'S why I don't need any kid gloves and why these folks aren't giving me any. I'll let Musa stand on its own merits, and it doesn't affect my respect for my friends in B&BC in the slightest. I'll answer any questions that are legitimate and not obvious attempts to start pissing matches, and I'll do so while being as professional and courteous as they are.
But, since this answer was an epic and my incision is really screaming at me to lie down--not to mention the MIL shaking her finger at me from the door for sneaking my laptop open when I'm supposed to NOT sit up for a few weeks, the other questions will have to wait until I can go back through the thread for a little ways. I'll try to get to more of these tomorrow.
Last edited by mscelina; 02-19-2012 at 08:13 AM.
You are supposed to be in bed, woman! Put down the tablet and rest.