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Thread: Reck House Press

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Reck House Press

    I submitted to a small publisher, and they asked for a full.

    I am not naming the publisher yet because I don't think it would be appropriate to publicly discuss the terms of an offer from a named publisher. This publisher has not been discussed in this forum.

    I've had a very good exchange with the editor during which at her request I made ms changes that I believe improved the project substantially. Her participation in this effort indicates a strong interest in the work. She has definitely read both versions of the manuscript (about 90,000 words).

    Also, given that she would not make an offer until she had seen a revised ms, I sense a serious attempt at publishing works of quality. Definitely not one of the PA-like firms that would publish anything.

    FTR, the work is a spy novel set in the 1950s and 60s, and this is the only interest that I received in the work from the 30 or thereabouts queries I sent out.





    She sent me the contract. I have the following concerns:
    1. Ten year term of contract.
    2. No advance.
    3. Low royalties with a graduated scale depending on number of copies sold. The range is from 4% to 10% of RRP for print edition and 5% to 11% for ebooks. (Needs sales of 20,000 to reach the highest percent. These are royalties for copies sold by the publisher directly to consumers. Copies sold through other distribution channels have lower royalites.)
    4. Low discount (7% of RRP) for author copies. (Goes up as copies purchased increases.)
    5. Publisher holds copyright.
    When I compare these terms to those in the contract that Musa Publisher (also a small publisher) offers, I am inclined to think that these terms (those of the unnamed publisher) are not author-friendly.

    (http://penumbra.musapublishing.com/i...nagent8-15.pdf)

    But I have no experience with publishing fiction and have been out of publishing altogether for a number of years.

    So, I toss it out for comment. Advice is appreciated.
    Last edited by Al Stevens; 10-03-2011 at 03:17 AM. Reason: to disambiguate

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Stevens View Post
    She sent me the contract. I have the following concerns:
    1. Ten year term of contract.
    Too long. Better would be three to five, with the option to renew.
    No advance.
    That's pretty common with small presses, unfortunately.
    Low royalties with a graduated scale depending on number of copies sold. The range is from 4% to 10% of RRP for print edition and 5% to 11% for ebooks. (Needs sales of 20,000 to reach the highest percent. These are royalties for copies sold by the publisher directly to consumers. Copies sold through other distribution channels have lower royalites.)
    These percentages are unacceptable, especially for ebooks. Especially if they're paid on net, rather than list price. And for distributor sales, the royalties are even lower? Outrageous.
    Low discount (7% of RRP) for author copies. (Goes up as copies purchased increases.)
    Seriously? Even PublishAmerica gives 30%. Having a reasonable author discount (at least 40%, IMO) is especially important with smaller presses, where you may need to handsell your own book.
    Publisher holds copyright.
    Dealbreaker. Unless you're doing work for hire, being required to surrender copyright is unacceptable.

    This sounds like an atrocious contract, and I'm betting that these bad clauses aren't the only ones. I'm really curious to know who the publisher is, and to see the contract--would you get in touch with me at beware [at] sfwa.org? All information shared with Writer Beware is held in confidence.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Up all night to get Loki Jersey Chick's Avatar
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    I don't consider myself an expert on contracts, but I wouldn't touch this one with a ten foot pole.
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  4. #4
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'd agree with Victoria, after reading the comparisons. You're being taken for a ride. Do not sign this contract.

  5. #5
    It reeks. You can self-publish an ebook to Amazon (Kindle) or Barnes/Noble (Nook) for free...and get 70% of the sale price.....

    I would walk away.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    Run, run, run!

  7. #7
    Banned
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    I agree with Vic...a dealbreaker.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    These percentages are unacceptable, especially for ebooks. Especially if they're paid on net, rather than list price.
    Based on RRP (recommended retail price or cover price).

    I'm sending you an email.

    Thanks.

  9. #9
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    If it's a publisher you'd like to publish with, you could make a counter offer -- strike out the offending clauses (esp the publisher-holds-copyright one), change the term and royalty rates etc, and see if they're willing to negotiate.

  10. #10
    In particular, the publisher holding the copyright should always be a deal breaker unless you're writing in someone else's universe (Stars Wars novels and such).

    The fact of the publisher owning the copyright deprives you of almost all your rights as an author and cuts you off from almost every form of recourse you could take.

    Even if you end up needing to take other horrible terms of the deal, that one fact of taking the copyright is simply going too far.

  11. #11
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Ditto the others. Frankly, I'd be seriously reconsidering publishing with these people even if they agreed to negotiate; those terms are so outrageous it makes me think they have zero respect for authors and/or understanding of the industry and how it's supposed to work.
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  12. #12
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    It sounds, frankly, that they don't know much about the publishing industry.

    You can do better. A *lot* better.

  13. #13
    the world is at my command jennontheisland's Avatar
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    My reply to them would be "LOL. No."
    You are more than welcome to take anything I say personally, whether it was intended that way or not.

    Eat This.

  14. #14
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    I have not yet published a novel, but instinctively I would run from a ten year contract and also the publisher getting copyright. However, I learned something new about percentages and author copies.
    Susan

    Please visit my website: http://www.susanlittlefield.blogspot.com/


  15. #15
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    A work that's publishable by one is publishable by many. You can do better.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the advice.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Your time period sounds interesting (not done much these days). You've only sent out 30 queries. Go back to finding an agent and you'll probably have some success. Though maybe your query needs work.

  18. #18
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Run, do not walk away. That deal stinks like week-old fish.

    Try shopping the new improved work to agents who sell spy fiction. Look up writers with similar books, see who reps for them. Write to the writers and ask if they can recommend an agent. Most are pretty cool about helping out neos.

    That's working toward getting professionally published, having your book IN stores through an advance paying publisher.

    Or -- and this is a 180 from what I'd have recommended this time last year -- check out Kindle, Smashwords and PubIt! For print books, Lulu or CreateSpace.

    Blame J.A. Konrath.

    I've books on all of those venues and they are selling. With 70% royalties on the ebooks I'm earning 2-3 bucks per copy sold.

    My print titles from my publishers who have books in the stores are only earning me .38 per copy. They are not selling nearly as well.

    Granted, I've an advantage since I sold professionally for 20 years prior to the ebook revolution and have an audience, so you won't get the same results.

    But it will be better than whatever you would get from that "publisher."

    Ten years?? They own the copyright? That's absolutely ridiculous, and it was brilliant that you came here and made that post.

    You may want to send the name by private message to Victoria Strauss. Writer Beware may have info on the company or need more info.

  19. #19
    Yeah, it's a bad contract.

    But the important part here is that it totally defeats the purpose of this forum not to name the publisher. The entire reason for this forum is to warn would-be authors from signing with publishers who offer bad contracts, can't actually sell books or are simply scams.

    By not naming the publisher, you are allowing other authors to possibly sign what is obviously a bad contract.

  20. #20
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Oh, lawd. I've seen some doozies in my time but this one takes the cake, frosting and candles. And I'll betcha there'll be no free author copies without having to fork over the mulah. I. Would. Not. Do. This.

    Tri

  21. #21
    Write faster! FASTER! G. Applejack's Avatar
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    Gosh, while I can understand your initial hesitation, I am really interested in seeing who this publisher is so I can STAY AWAY. At least it sounds like you've gotten some sound advice in this post. I hope you have more luck with the next publisher!

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    Or -- and this is a 180 from what I'd have recommended this time last year -- check out Kindle, Smashwords and PubIt! For print books, Lulu or CreateSpace.
    I have published niche books with Kindle and Createspace. I shopped this one around because I figured a publisher would do a better job with marketing than I can do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    Granted, I've an advantage since I sold professionally for 20 years prior to the ebook revolution and have an audience, so you won't get the same results.
    I did, too. But my fan base has forgotten me, probably. I retired young.

    Thanks for the good words.
    Last edited by Al Stevens; 10-03-2011 at 06:37 PM.

  23. #23
    Serve no master but your ambition Nonny's Avatar
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    That is a horrible contract. Self-publishing it would be better than signing that. Run away!

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herdon View Post
    Yeah, it's a bad contract.

    But the important part here is that it totally defeats the purpose of this forum not to name the publisher. The entire reason for this forum is to warn would-be authors from signing with publishers who offer bad contracts, can't actually sell books or are simply scams.
    In this case I didn't post to "out" the publisher. It was to learn whether those practices are now conventional and decide accordingly.

    The publisher is new and ingenuous. I will pass the comments in this thread on and see the reaction. Perhaps they will try to redeem themselves. If not, if they try to justify their position, I'll post the publisher's name. Thus the "maybe" in the subject line. I'm trying to be fair.

    It looks to me like the kind of contract they would send to aspiring writers who are longing to be published and who'll do backflips just to have a contract in hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by herdon View Post
    By not naming the publisher, you are allowing other authors to possibly sign what is obviously a bad contract.
    I would expect that other writers who have the good sense to read this forum and be thus warned would have the intelligence to see the similarities between what I posted and what they've been offered. I think that having read these comments the publisher might mend their ways. If not, I'll rat them out.

    The real bummer is the time I wasted waiting for a contract. One of their submission guidelines is that once they've asked for a full, they'd like it not to be a multiple submission. I naively went along with that. Not really a problem since I didn't have other interest shown in the project. But I stopped submitting when they asked for the full.

    This novel is time-sensitive from a marketing standpoint. It needs to ride the crest of interest that the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination will generate in about a year and a half. I may have run out of time given the typical two years that I'm told it takes to get published once you get representation. Self-publishing and promotion (ugh) might be my only recourse. At least I know how to do the publishing part.

    I'll report back when I have the publisher's reaction. I sure do hate to lose that editor, though.

    Thanks so much to everyone for commenting on this thread.
    Last edited by Al Stevens; 10-03-2011 at 07:14 PM.

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    You may want to send the name by private message to Victoria Strauss. Writer Beware may have info on the company or need more info.
    I did. She hadn't heard of the company. I'll send her the contract when I have time to scan it in. It's a 17-page behemoth.

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