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Thread: [Publisher] Buzz Books USA / Athena Institute, LLC

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    [Publisher] Buzz Books USA / Athena Institute, LLC

    I just saw the reference to this publisher in the Network Sharing Leads thread. I don't see a thread for it, so ........

    http://buzzbooksusa.com

    Thoughts? Experiences?

  2. #2
    Always curious. juniper's Avatar
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    I heard something about them the other day, but don't remember what. It was a squee kind of post, not here.

    Their "books" tab shows 7 books released, but 5 of them are by one author and the other 2 are anthologies of shorts. The author bio for the 5 says this:

    "Malena Lott is the author of several novels including Fixer Upper and Dating da Vinci, and the ebook novella, Life’s a Beach. The married Oklahoman mama-of-three is a brand strategist and founder of Buzz Books and the group blog BookEndBabes.com."

    So, hmm.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    Hey y'all. Since someone wrote to ask me about them after seeing this, I thought I should share my experience with Buzz Books.

    I met the Buzz editor last Spring at the Oklahoma Writers Conference. She is also the editor for a regional magazine. I had investigated Buzz as a YA/women's fiction publisher and was actually pitching a magazine article that she wasn't interested in. Then the editor explained that they were getting ready to announce a new suspense imprint (Swarm)--she would love to see my mystery.

    At that time, I had a contract in my purse from another small publisher. The contract was evaluated at that con and turned out to be a good one ... but I had reservations since they were in a different country altogether. What would happen if something went wrong? Needless to say, after perusing the Buzz contract offer and their website, plus talking with a friend who had published a short story with them, I decided to go with Buzz. The biggest factors in that decision were their publicist, their whole mindset, and their proximity to me.

    Through edits and creating promos and such, I have been able to communicate well with them. They have been extremely flexible about some things, less so on others. In every case I have been treated not just fairly, but quite well. My book will be out next month in paperback and e-book formats like I wanted. I was given input into the title and cover, though the final decision was theirs. They did respect my ideas, however, and I ended up in both cases very happy with the results.

    I am pleased with my contract and the way they have handled most everything--including when we had a disagreement about a single edit. Not bad for an 86,000-word story. I have never been asked to pay a cent on anything.

    Their social readers' club. Wings, was recently the focus of a cover story in ION Oklahoma magazine. Through their publicist, plus my own work that she has guided, I have arranged several book events and upcoming interviews/possible reviews from relevant book reviewers. (The book takes place in a major city so my goal is a review from their prime newspaper, with the fourth largest subscription count in the US. That's NOT an easy task.)

    Yes, they are small and just getting started, I took a risk in signing with them and knew it, but they have several other full-length books in the making right now. Yes, when they started, the publisher, Malena Lott first put her own books in the catalog. She had already been published by two large houses and had an established following. Like any small business, they built on what they had. And yes, she continues to write and continues to represent a secure income stream for Buzz Books.

    In their case, the short story compilations have been popular. Their latest single short by TMI Mom, Heather Davis, has gained national attention and sold very well. My crime novel and G Michael Burns' biography, Early One Morning, will be their first full-length books published by authors other than Malena.

    I am grateful, however, that she has chosen to invest in me and in other unknown authors. I suggest going back to their website to see how much they have grown just since June. These folks are serious.

    Regards,

    Lucie

    Discover my words at Reverse Perspective

  4. #4
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your experience with us Lucie. If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a few more questions. Do they pay advances? Do they have a wide distribution?

    What is the marketing like?
    My blog Lists of YA (and Adult) Publishers that pay advances and are accepting unagented submissions

    Twitter

    My YA novel, FIX ME is coming from Flux Books November 2017

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    (Sorry just saw this.) I signed with Buzz last June and have now been through the whole process with them. Overall, I'm quite satisfied. I have had to pull back because of my brain tumor. (I am now in a lull because of my brain surgery and ongoing vertigo.) So I'm writing this from the viewpoint of having stepped away from all this, but will be back to writing soon I hope.

    The key to this publisher is the marketing. The founder, Malena, is a brand expert. That is her other career, so she thinks of everything in terms of creating "my brand." Priceless. They have a publicist on-staff who creates ongoing events and buzz. She also created the initial press releases for my book, sent out the review copies, and arranged my first interviews and personal appearances. More importantly, she and Malena both invest time and energy in empowering me to do what I need to do.

    As with any publisher, half of the marketing is truly up to me--and that's part of my contract. If I didn't meet certain minimums on both social media and personal apoearances, my royalty percentage would drop. I was a little nervous about that at first, but they empowered me. My book appearances and events around the first book culminated in radio appearances in London and Houston, my being the opening presenter for the Houston Indie Book Fest (attended by thousands),and getting an article about my Houston signing in the Houston Press. I arranged Houston myself, but with knowledge from Buzz. Another Buzz author is a presenter at Bouchercon this week. And "TMI Mom," a Buzz author, has done multiple TV shows including Dr. Oz. Each of us does most of our own booking, but the Buzz Books engine gets us started.

    - Like most tiny indies, Buzz does not offer advances. They do give a very generous royalty percentage as long as you meet deadlines and very light stipulations for social media and apoearances. Yes, they follow through with statements and checks.

    - The editing process to me seemed quite fair, but keep in mind that my book had already been through 13 beta readers and SYW before Buzz ever saw it. We did two passes with mostly line-edits and just a couple of structural things that I'm grateful the editor caught. Then a third, very light oass for flow and catching little things. In the entire process of 86,000 words, the editor and I had only one real disagreement. I know another author who sent them essentially a second draft. Hers went through dozens of edits. She was unhappy with the process, but she had also never been critiqued. I think in hindsight she would do much better. SYW is a brillliant training for any editing.

    - My book was released last November in trade paperback, kindle and nook. I've sold digitally in six countries. The paperbacks are POD. Mine are on the shelf mainly at indie shops and Hastings in Oklahoma and (limited) Houston-area. Print is not what this publisher emphasizes. The main payback on the print has been my ability to do book signings which sell a lot.

    - Some of their anthologies and shorts are only in Kindle. I know they are looking at other formats to replace nook, but don't know the decision. Audio books are in the pipe now.

    - My rockin' cover and final title were both chosen by them. I did get input into the process and am very pleased.

    - Another stipulation of the contract was to create a short story to be used to promote the book. They created a video promo and since have started doing book trailers.

    Mostly, Buzz has not deserted me as you might think would happen to a writer who cannot write, instead they still include me in their promos and have required nothing of me since my tumor. I have done only very few self-picked events. Malena in particular has been quite encouraging as my brain has gone through ups and downs.

    Highly recommended,

    Lucie
    PS: To get more info on my overall results, click my about page on my website below in my signature. For some key events, you could click here:
    https://www.facebook.com/LucieSmoker...ef=hl&key=past
    Last edited by wonderactivist; 09-24-2013 at 11:45 PM.

    Discover my words at Reverse Perspective

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW wonderactivist's Avatar
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    Buzz Books has been inactive for a year now so it's a relief that they are reverting my rights and I'll regain control of my books on good terms. I can't say enough about the support they gave Distortion and Retribution while they were active and how respectably they are wrapping this up.

    They will publish only the owner's books for now but might come back later.
    So as of now, Distortion and Retribution will be out of print until I decide what to do with them. My next book is now with betas so I likely will look for a new, larger publisher.

    Buzz Books and Distortion truly changed my writing life and I only wish everyone could have such a positive first publishing experience.

    Discover my words at Reverse Perspective

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