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Thread: [Publisher] Rowanvale Books

  1. #1
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    [Publisher] Rowanvale Books

    I have this company on Twitter, and every once in a while they reach out to authors on there. They contacted me a few weeks ago and I sent them an email regarding query. I was met with an automated response saying that the person in charge was out, and that they would return on the 8th of March. A few days ago, I got a reply from one of the other employees saying I needed to also fill out a Proposal Form and attach a sample. I filled out the Proposal Form and said that I would attach the sample when the person arrived.

    At 2 am I received a reply thanking me for my hasty response. Now I'm kind of worried. After a quick Google skim, I can't find anyone else complaining that it's a scam - but I figured I'd come here and see if anyone else can shed some light on this.

    EDIT: I just found that the company claims to be based in the UK, so the time difference might not be as much of a red flag as I originally thought.

  2. #2
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Ye gods, there are more red flags here than a Soviet-era May Day parade. Rowanvale is based in Wales and aided by the Welsh Books Council. The site is aimed at writers, not readers, and there's a good reason for this:

    Pay after publication

    Don't charge full upfront payment unlike other self-publishers

    Pay for publication and production with 12 small monthly installments

    Pay for publication via 65-70% royalties
    http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/
    It's a straight-up vanity press, but - unusually - not a POD.

    ROWANVALE BOOKS IS A UK BASED BOOK PUBLISHING COMPANY WITH SELF- PUBLISHING SERVICES STRIVING TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY TO HELP FIRST TIME AND UNKNOWN AUTHORS PUBLISH THEIR BOOKS.
    Some interesting info about royalties:

    We consider it highly unfair that the majority of publishers, including both mainstream and self-publishing companies, give the author as little as 10% of the royalties from the sale of each book (industry standard). This is why we give our authors 65-70% of the royalties for both hard copy and e-book sales.
    Of course, you have to sell books to make any royalties at all. 65% of nothing is nothing. Rowanvale conveniently overlooks the fact that that trade publishers take a hefty cut of the profits because they take all the financial risk - they're not subsidized by the author.

    They also confuse marketing and promotion:

    Social media is an increasingly prominent part of mass marketing...
    The 'Meet the Team' section is instructive, although probably not in the way it was intended:

    Cat [MacLachlan] (whose background lies in Business Psychology and Marketing) oversees the production of the books and is readily available to liaise with new authors and to guide them through the publishing process. Cat was inspired to take action having seen the problems that her father faced when trying to publish as a first-time, unknown author (including no response and numerous rejections from publishing firms and agents), as well as hearing the negative feedback he gave the current leading provider of self- publishing services for charging extortionate prices and receiving very low royalties.

    Cat consequently teamed up with Sarah Scotcher, and the pair started Rowanvale Books in order to try and assist first-time and unknown authors in a very tough industry by providing support and services. Cat wanted to offer authors the chance to make a profit on their book with high royalties, whilst retaining the author’s creativity and giving them complete control.

    Sarah [Scotcher]shares Cat's concerns in the direction the publishing industry has taken. She feels that literature is an important part of both society and culture and believes that, to ensure a flow of high quality and varied literature, authors simply must have a fairer deal to see their work published. She believes that the personal nature of writing is something to be valued rather than quashed, since it is what makes literature such a strong part of culture. Degree qualified in English Literature and History, Sarah heads up the editorial department and liaises thoroughly with authors regarding the proofreading and editing of their text.

    Sarah provides every author that submits a manuscript with extensive constructive advice, regardless of whether the submission is successful for publication at that point or not. She helps with the writing and development of the text by advising authors on aspects such as audience, genre, and style in order to help make every book reach its full potential.
    So...no previous experience in publishing, then. And it can't be repeated too often that first-time authors are accepted by large publishers and reputable small publishers EVERY DAY...because they've written a publishable and saleable book. As for

    ...authors simply must have a fairer deal to see their work published. She believes that the personal nature of writing is something to be valued rather than quashed
    ...the brutal truth is that many, if not most, people who think they can write to a publishable standard are sadly mistaken. The reason why the the average self/vanity pubbed book is instantly recognisable as such is that there's no quality control to weed out inept writers. I see entitlement rearing its ugly head here.

    The FAQ section contains some blatant misinformation:

    Traditional publishing houses reject 98% of all unsolicited manuscripts. This is because the publishing houses cannot guarantee to make money on these texts.
    No, it's because the vast majority of unsolicited manuscripts are unpublishable crap.

    In order to be accepted, the author must be represented by an agent, which can be a very difficult, time-consuming and expensive method.
    Not every publisher requires would-be authors to have an agent. And is Rowanvale implying that agents are paid upfront?

    When a manuscript is accepted by a traditional publisher, the content is often changed dramatically, and the finished product can become unrecognisable as the author’s work.
    Utter rubbish.

    The process is very lengthy and the author is rarely updated and the process takes well over a year before the book is available for purchase.
    'The author is rarely updated'? Really? And the reason the process takes a long time is that it involves stuff like proper editing, cover design and marketing strategies. These things take...well, a long time.

    The company prides itself on its proof reading and editing:

    Many of our competitors do not offer this service at all, which we feel shows a lack of respect to the author. This is because it is an unfortunate fact that many retailers can easily spot (and reject) a self-published book a mile off, purely because of the quality of editing...

    This is the reason why Rowanvale Books fully proofread and edit your work, liaising with you throughout, and you will be able to review the changes at each stage. We will help you bring your manuscript up to industry standard, offering advice and guidance on style, voice and design throughout. However, we believe the author should always retain creative control and will not edit your text to the point that it is unrecognisable, nor will we implement major changes without discussing them with you first.
    It's "let's make the most of Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature!" time again. I chose a Rowanvale book at random and this is what I found:

    Mike never believed that his brother had killed the woman, but once he had been gone long enough to be assumed presumably dead, Mike had returned to the last place he saw Evan, though not for any vein attempt at finding him.

    ...wondering through the rest of the house...

    ...a sudden chill, like a windless breeze...

    Where it not for Mike's marriage...

    "What do you think?" She asked as Mike approached her.
    All this (and more!) in nine paragraphs. The back cover blurb will also make your brain hurt. Another Rowanvale book uses the words 'from the eyes of a child' instead of 'through the eyes of a child' on the back cover.

    Of Rowanvale's eight currently available books only three can be sampled on Amazon or anywhere else, and one of them is so toe-curlingly awful the preview should be enough to discourage anyone from buying it. None of them are in any sense 'up to industry standard'.

    Rowanvale is "the future of publishing"? I really, really hope not.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 03-06-2013 at 09:26 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

  3. #3
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    You know, I'm really getting tired of all the "We're here to help those poor first-time authors" hoopla. I get that most of these are started by first-time authors who couldn't get published and think it's because the industry is full of meanies who won't even look twice at their book, but still. In the end it's a load of crap, especially when it comes from a pay-to-play outfit like this one.

    If they really wanted to help first-time authors, they'd put out accurate information and direct them to writing resources to improve their craft.


  4. #4
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    I e-mailed the Welsh Books Council as I was curious to know what sort of 'aid' they provided. It isn't financial as self-publishing/vanity presses aren't eligible for grants. A WBC spokeswoman explained:

    The company does have a contract, however, with the Welsh Books Council's Distribution Centre for distribution services. The Distribution Centre is self supporting and receives no subsidy from public funds.
    Back to Rowanvale's website:

    As a Welsh publisher, we are supported by the Welsh Books’ Council. Our books are sold on their website, gwales.com, and by their dedicated sales team who travel the country promoting books from Welsh authors and/or published in Wales.
    I find it very odd that the WBC doesn't give self-publishing/vanity presses grants but is prepared to distribute the books they produce. For all we know the five Rowanvale books for which they don't provide sample pages could be excellent, but the three for which we have evidence are poor examples of Welsh writing and publishing.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 03-06-2013 at 10:28 PM.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by aliceshortcake View Post
    I e-mailed the Welsh Books Council as I was curious to know what sort of 'aid' they provided. It isn't financial as self-publishing/vanity presses aren't eligible for grants. A WBC spokeswoman explained:



    Back to Rowanvale's website:



    I find it very odd that the WBC doesn't give self-publishing/vanity presses grants but is prepared to distribute the books they produce. For all we know the five Rowanvale books for which they don't provide sample pages could be excellent, but the three for which we have evidence are poor examples of Welsh writing and publishing.
    I am vaguely familiar with the WBC. I don't think Gwales.com vet what they have on there. From WBC's FAQ:

    11. I'm contemplating self-publishing my own book. Can the Welsh Books Council help me to sell it through the book trade in Wales?

    If you are Welsh or based in Wales, or if your book is of Welsh interest, we can consider handling your book through our Distribution Centre. Please contact our Sales and Marketing Department, ideally at least three months before publication, with as much bibliographical information as possible, including the ISBN and a JPEG of the cover. They normally require a 55% discount and the right to return unsold copies.

    12. What if I can't afford the discount or if the Distribution Centre decide not to stock my book?

    Our Information Services Department can still offer your book a free listing on our www.gwales.com website, and will add contact details of your choosing to the description. Any orders would then come to you
    Also pertinent:

    17. I am an author. How can the Welsh Books Council market my book?

    If your book is stocked at the WBC Distribution Centre your publisher will need to discuss with the WBC Sales and Marketing Department if any of our generic marketing campaigns are relevant for your book . The Council's Sales Team will carry a sample of the book and encourage booksellers with accounts at the DC to order copies. It is the publisher's responsibility, however, to market and promote your title through the media, distribute review copies and undertake any advertising and to produce any promotional material.

    18. I am a self-published author. Is the above true for me?

    As the publisher of the book, the above is relevant to you if the WBC Distribution Centre stock your title.

    The WBC exists to promote Welsh literature and Welsh publishing. All of it.

    I think Rowanvale must be made of of English people who live in Wales.



    If I were considering this company, I'd want to know if/how they sell books outside Wales - it's a small country. If they aren't publishing Welsh books, I wonder how much use gwales.com is to them. I doubt the reps are going to push things like "A Practical Guide to Business English" - they are there to promote Welsh writing, to fill the Welsh language/Welsh interest section of the shop.
    Last edited by Theo81; 03-07-2013 at 12:47 AM. Reason: Something to add

  6. #6
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    The Council's Sales Team will carry a sample of the book and encourage booksellers with accounts at the DC to order copies.
    Were I a buyer for a bookshop, I'm afraid one look at a sample of any of the three books I mentioned would result in a polite refusal.
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

  7. #7
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    Well, that clears that up pretty well. Thank you very much for your help!

  8. #8
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Only one of Rowanvale's eight currently available books is mentioned on the GWales website. And as Theo81 pointed out, forthcoming titles such as A Practical Guide to Business English - not to mention They Came Three Thousand Miles and Died, about the American War of Independence - are hardly of Welsh interest!
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

  9. #9
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    The WBC have asked Rowanvale to remove the words 'supported by' from their website because it sounds as if the company is receiving financial support from them. The website now reads:

    As a Welsh publisher, are books are distributed by the Welsh Books’ Council.
    http://www.rowanvalebooks.com/marketdist.html
    That sentence speaks volumes about Rowanvale's proofreading and copy-editing...
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

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