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Thread: Down & Out Books

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW akaria's Avatar
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    Down & Out Books

    The local news interviewed an author who wrote a crime novel featuring the neighborhood where he grew up. This is his publisher. </insert Law & Order sound> http://downandoutbooks.com/

    There's no submission info. No owner, editor, marketing info. No royalty or distribution info. While not offensive, the covers look like the artist only owns two fonts. Maybe they are a private group of authors who formed a company to publish their own work. It'd be nice if they said that on the About Us page.
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  2. #2
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Good reviews, though. The covers I'm looking at look really nice (in the book section), and the blurbs sound interesting and enticing. They've got Michael Connelly commenting on one of their books, which is also pretty impressive, IMO.

    Not knowing more about the company is a little worrisome, but I'm liking what I'm seeing on the book front.


  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW
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    This publisher caught my attention, too. The dearth of information on their site is somewhat disconcerting for authors. I emailed the editor, Eric, and requested submission info... If I get a response, I'll advise.

  4. #4
    Disapproving plot bun disapproves. FluffBunny's Avatar
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    They registered the company name twice--once as Down & Out Books I and as Down & Out Books II. Both names currently active; I'm not sure why. Eric and Christine Campbell seem to be the people behind it and the company is based out of Lutz, FL.

    According to CorporationWiki, you can add a second Eric Campbell to the group. The company (as D&OB I) was registered in 2009.

    As everyone else has pointed out, the website is a desert of information. No clue about what skills anyone with the company is bringing to publishing.

    ETA: Also according to CorporationWiki, the Campbell's are also involved in TCF Real Estate and TCF Business Services. Is D&O a part-time gig for them, or are they no longer involved in the other two companies?
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  5. #5
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    As somebody who has worked with Mr. Campbell and publishes books in the same arena as Down & Out Books, allow me to jump in with a few comments:

    (1) Royalty info and marketing info is not typically something found on a publisher's website. The D&OB website is geared towards readers. It's typically a red flag when a website is geared towards authors. The company isn't selling its abilities to authors, it's selling the books it has published to readers.

    (2) The majority of the authors published by D&OB are previously published, in some cases with divisions of Big Six (Five) publishing companies. Some of the books being put out by D&OB are ebook versions of print books not previously available electronically. Some of them are new books, including the book Gravesend, being discussed in the first post of this thread. The author of Gravesend, J.L. Abramo won the St. Martin's/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel of 2000 for his novel Catching Water in a Net (now available from D&OB as an ebook.)

    (3) The authors Mr. Campbell has published have come to him, mostly through referral. He isn't actively looking for new authors (hence the lack of submission info). The authors D&OB publish have already established track records and fan bases.

    (4) As far as his experience. He was a part-owner of Tyrus Books for three years, and was very actively involved in the day to day operations of the company. When Tyrus was sold to F+W Media in 2011, Mr. Campbell dedicated his publishing efforts to D&OB. D&OB is not Mr. Campbell's primary job, but one to which he is definitely committed. Of this, I have zero doubts.

  6. #6
    Cat hair collector PVish's Avatar
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    From the "About" page of their website (bolding mine):
    We are lover’s of quality, well-written stories of crime. We look for and publish great writers…some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. These are folks you should be reading. We aim to release 2-5 titles per month starting with back catalogs and leading to new, unpublished titles.
    This doesn't bode well for editorial skills.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PVish View Post
    From the "About" page of their website (bolding mine):

    This doesn't bode well for editorial skills.
    No, but the reviews of the books, from actual trade publications, should.

  8. #8
    Disapproving plot bun disapproves. FluffBunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Round Two View Post
    No, but the reviews of the books, from actual trade publications, should.
    I believe PVish, who will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, I hope, meant that pumping out 2-5 titles a month as a small publisher usually means that the quality of editing goes down as the number of titles goes up.

    If they're publishing primarily reprints of books that have already had the advantage of full-fledged publishing and editing, it may not be a problem. If they're publishing brand-new works, there may be a noticeable lack of quality in editing since good editing takes time.

    Regarding your first post, what people were looking for were submission guidelines, not a complete copy of the contract, although an idea of royalty rates and whether or not advances might be forthcoming is always welcome. More along the lines of:

    "We're currently accepting submissions of noir/true crime/non-cozy mysteries/whatever.

    Please submit your query along with the first five pages of your manuscript/first chapter/first five chapters/whatever.

    Submissions are email only. Please place your query in the body of the email and attach your pages/chapters as an .rtf file. Please put "blah blah blah" in the subject line of your query. Any submission not adhering to our preferences will be deleted unread."

    Something akin to that, anyway. People can't submit if they don't know how or if the publisher is even open to submissions. I would think a small publisher and her/his staff would have better things to do than to answer innumerable inquiries that could be taken care of with the addition of a submissions section to the website.
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    Behind the door of a small house.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FluffBunny View Post
    I believe PVish, who will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, I hope, meant that pumping out 2-5 titles a month as a small publisher usually means that the quality of editing goes down as the number of titles goes up.

    If they're publishing primarily reprints of books that have already had the advantage of full-fledged publishing and editing, it may not be a problem. If they're publishing brand-new works, there may be a noticeable lack of quality in editing since good editing takes time.
    I understood what was meant.

    Much of what they are publishing has already been published. And the new books are edited by freelance editors. I don't think a typo on a three or four sentence "about us" page can be extrapolated to make larger assessments of the editorial efforts of the books.

    Regarding your first post, what people were looking for were submission guidelines, not a complete copy of the contract, although an idea of royalty rates and whether or not advances might be forthcoming is always welcome. More along the lines of:

    "We're currently accepting submissions of noir/true crime/non-cozy mysteries/whatever.

    Please submit your query along with the first five pages of your manuscript/first chapter/first five chapters/whatever.

    Submissions are email only. Please place your query in the body of the email and attach your pages/chapters as an .rtf file. Please put "blah blah blah" in the subject line of your query. Any submission not adhering to our preferences will be deleted unread."

    Something akin to that, anyway. People can't submit if they don't know how or if the publisher is even open to submissions. I would think a small publisher and her/his staff would have better things to do than to answer innumerable inquiries that could be taken care of with the addition of a submissions section to the website.
    I'm familiar with the concept of submission guidelines and what people expect in them. But as I mentioned before, D&OB is not looking for submissions. The site is geared wholly towards readers. Publishers who don't plan on taking unsolicited queries don't owe the larger writer community an explanation for why they aren't looking for submissions or even acknowledging the issue in the slightest. A lack of submission guidelines should not raise an eyebrow in this specific instance or likely in any instance.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Wisteria Vine's Avatar
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    Round Two, you seem a little defensive about this company. Do you have any relationship with this organization?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wisteria Vine View Post
    Round Two, you seem a little defensive about this company. Do you have any relationship with this organization?
    From an earlier post - "As somebody who has worked with Mr. Campbell and publishes books in the same arena as Down & Out Books, allow me to jump in with a few comments:"

  12. #12
    figuring it all out craziichas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FluffBunny View Post

    Regarding your first post, what people were looking for were submission guidelines, not a complete copy of the contract, although an idea of royalty rates and whether or not advances might be forthcoming is always welcome. More along the lines of:

    "We're currently accepting submissions of noir/true crime/non-cozy mysteries/whatever.
    That is what people were looking for but Round Two did state that there wasn't any listed because they weren't open to submissions. So actually the question about submission guidelines was answered already.

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    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craziichas View Post
    That is what people were looking for but Round Two did state that there wasn't any listed because they weren't open to submissions. So actually the question about submission guidelines was answered already.
    Except for the 'not accepting submissions at this time' part.

    People won't look for guidelines (normally) if it's stated specifically that they aren't accepting submissions.

    From their About page:

    We look for and publish great writers
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
    Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
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    figuring it all out craziichas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    Except for the 'not accepting submissions at this time' part.

    People won't look for guidelines (normally) if it's stated specifically that they aren't accepting submissions.
    That's a good point I was referring to the thread itself having the question answered but that certainly would make more sense if something on the site itself conveyed the no submissions at this time status of the company

  15. #15
    Disapproving plot bun disapproves. FluffBunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craziichas View Post
    That is what people were looking for but Round Two did state that there wasn't any listed because they weren't open to submissions. So actually the question about submission guidelines was answered already.
    Actually what my comment about submissions was in response to was this:

    Royalty info and marketing info is not typically something found on a publisher's website. The D&OB website is geared towards readers. It's typically a red flag when a website is geared towards authors. The company isn't selling its abilities to authors, it's selling the books it has published to readers.
    My apologies for having missed Round Two's statement that they are currently publishing only reprints and authors referred to them. While I'd certainly agree that a website geared toward authors would be a red flag, simply having a submissions page lurking in the background isn't.

    When their "About" page states that they "look for and publish great new writers..." and "...leading to new, unpublished titles", it sounds like they are looking for new authors. It also sounds a bit like Dutton's relaunch of Guilt Edged Mysteries, except that in addition to reprints, Dutton has open submissions for short stories and novellas. If they don't want to state up-front that they're a "closed" press (not open to outside submissions) and they don't mind dealing with emails asking about submission, who am I to kick?
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  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW
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    My inquiry to the editor, Eric, earned a brief response in just under four hours. He advises that as a small publishing company they tend to publish what they like to read and enjoy. They already have projects scheduled through early next year. There was little in the way of further details.

    My impression is that they are very selective and do rely upon referrals moreso than unsolicited submissions. I sense that he is in the publishing game because he likes it - not because he has to do it. I. for one, am not put off by this in the least. I think this publisher may merit further consideration

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    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironmikezero View Post
    My impression is that they are very selective and do rely upon referrals moreso than unsolicited submissions. I sense that he is in the publishing game because he likes it - not because he has to do it. I. for one, am not put off by this in the least. I think this publisher may merit further consideration
    You mean to buy their books? Because meriting consideration for someone submitting directly is apparently off the table.

    And does this mean they take queries from agents?
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
    Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
    1) Write like your face is on fire.


  18. #18
    Just the facts, please
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    Even the Big Whatever Number They're At Now publishers have FAQ or other pages on their websites saying "We don't accept queries" or similar language. So that's helpful at any level or type of publisher. Seems it'd be in the publisher's interest to make it clear, as well, so they're not bombarded with submissions.

  19. #19
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    Sounds like they do it as a hobby. Fairy nuff.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW akaria's Avatar
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    I think from what's been shared here my first assessment was correct. It's a private group of authors doing their own thing. It's like a bunch of people who get together and play covers of Aerosmith in the garage. The main thing is they don't appear to be exploiting writers which is what we're always on the lookout for around these parts.
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  21. #21
    Behind the door of a small house.
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    Quote Originally Posted by akaria View Post
    I think from what's been shared here my first assessment was correct. It's a private group of authors doing their own thing. It's like a bunch of people who get together and play covers of Aerosmith in the garage. The main thing is they don't appear to be exploiting writers which is what we're always on the lookout for around these parts.
    I don't think that's actually an accurate assessment. I'm pretty sure ownership of the company is limited to Mr. Campbell. It is not a group of authors "doing their own thing." It's a group of authors, as selected by Mr. Campbell, who have produced books for the publishing line--not any different from other publishing companies.

  22. #22
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    You mean to buy their books? Because meriting consideration for someone submitting directly is apparently off the table.

    And does this mean they take queries from agents?

    I intended meriting consideration to be relative to the individual, whether buying their books or submitting (should the opportunity arise). Please forgive me, if you found that unclear.

    As for taking queries from agents, the editor did not specifically so indicate (but I would be quite surprised if he did not).

    The point I was trying to make is that I think they're a small, very selective house with reasonably high standards in a somewhat narrow niche.

    What the hell - I'd like to believe that such an altruistic endeavor can successfully establish itself without compromising its standards. Besides, I have penchant for rooting for the underdog.

  23. #23
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Well, I suppose my question, really, is why is their listing here?

    They're not a house that authors can query directly. They're not agents that can be approached by anyone. It's a selective process, and unclear as to how that selective process works. Sure, it's their house, they can play by whatever rules they want.

    It's just that it's unclear to the outsider looking in. Their process is unclear and if it takes coming into the comments to clear that up misinformation, and not putting something on their website that makes it clear...and that by being clear is 'we don't take unsolicited submissions'?

    Well, okay then! Still not sure why we'd have a conversation about them if it's pretty 'clear' the singular owner will publish what he wants to publish and then isn't making whatever that process is known to anyone looking in...I'm just not sure why they don't just say that on their website.
    Last edited by bearilou; 07-08-2013 at 01:04 AM. Reason: to make my confusion less confusing
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
    Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
    1) Write like your face is on fire.


  24. #24
    Behind the door of a small house.
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    Seems to me this thread has answered questions and offered clarification. There are other publishers with threads here who are also closed to submissions and/or only accept agented queries. As far I know, this forum isn't exclusively about how to submit to specific publishers/agents, but a place to discuss what is known/not known about those publishers/agents.

    I've suggested to Mr. Campbell that he add a line on his "about" page to indicate that D&OB are closed to submissions.

    It's also worth noting that some of the earlier comments, either intentionally or unintentionally could, depending on the reading, have suggested that the company was less than on the level or doing something wrong. I think stating, unequivocally, that such isn't the case is an important part of this forum.

  25. #25
    Just the facts, please
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    It's also worth noting that some of the earlier comments, either intentionally or unintentionally could, depending on the reading, have suggested that the company was less than on the level or doing something wrong.
    The early posts raised questions about an unknown publisher that doesn't share a lot of information about itself, and tried to fill in the gaps. That's sort of the purpose of this particular forum. I didn't read any of those posts as suggesting that anyone wasn't on the level or was doing anything wrong.

    The mention of a Michael Connelly blurb got me reading this thread. D&O's own website, with its lack of information, and the awful description of "Beat L.A." was enough to turn me off. Public presentation does count.

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