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Thread: Monolith Books

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Monolith Books

    Hey everyone, my name's Wassim (that's Weh-seem), and I'm a writer from Illinois. I like to write short stories, but every now and then I'll write a poem or two.

    I just started my own publishing house, Monolith Books, and I'm very excited to get it going. We're digital only, and we specialize in short story collections, poetry collections and novellas. You can find the submission guidelines on our website, Monolith Books.

    I'll be posting my own stuff every here and there, but mainly I'll be browsing other people's works and looking for submissions. Very excited to be joining the site.

  2. #2
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cath View Post
    Hi, Wassim, and welcome to AW.

    You mentioned your new publishing house in your intro. It would be great if you could share some more details on your background and what the publishing house hopes to achieve.
    Hey Cath

    A little background about me: I'm a 24-year-old from Illinois. I received my B.A. in Journalism in 2011 and spent a year abroad teaching English as a foreign language. I'm starting graduate school in the fall, pursing an M.A in English (probably with a focus on young adult literature). I've written for my college newspaper and I've interned for the local NPR and PBS affiliates. I've published two of my own short story collections, the most recent of which came out in April of this year

    As for the publishing house, we're hoping to provide quality independent literature for readers everywhere. We are looking to publish short story collections, poetry collections and novellas. Our philosophy is that, in such a busy world, many people don't have the time to sit down and read a long book anymore. We believe that short stories and the like provide a quicker but just as fulfilling literary experience. If you're riding the subway to work, sitting in a doctor's office, etc, you can pull out your phone or tablet and read a story or two

    Hope that answers your questions!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Hey Cath

    A little background about me: I'm a 24-year-old from Illinois. I received my B.A. in Journalism in 2011 and spent a year abroad teaching English as a foreign language. I'm starting graduate school in the fall, pursing an M.A in English (probably with a focus on young adult literature). I've written for my college newspaper and I've interned for the local NPR and PBS affiliates. I've published two of my own short story collections, the most recent of which came out in April of this year

    As for the publishing house, we're hoping to provide quality independent literature for readers everywhere. We are looking to publish short story collections, poetry collections and novellas. Our philosophy is that, in such a busy world, many people don't have the time to sit down and read a long book anymore. We believe that short stories and the like provide a quicker but just as fulfilling literary experience. If you're riding the subway to work, sitting in a doctor's office, etc, you can pull out your phone or tablet and read a story or two

    Hope that answers your questions!
    Have you examined what other markets have already done to address the issue of people being on the go?

    For example, audiobooks are huge now and have an edge on e-books for commuters because you can listen to them even when you're driving. (For me, I can't read an e-book even when someone else is driving, because of the motion sickness.) I even know of one fiction podcast that is specifically designed to be about the length of an average commute, with two flash fiction stories that you can listen to along with a main one if your drive is a bit longer.

    As for people not having large chunks of time to sit down and read, I'm not sure the assumption that "short equals better" for these people is solid. When I start a new story, I'm disoriented. I don't know who this character is, where they are, or why they're doing what they're doing. It takes me a bit to get grounded in the world, and I go through that process every time a new story begins.

    But if I open a book that I'm halfway through, I know everything that's going on. I can jump right in. So as someone who only gets small bits of time here and there to read, a full novel is actually easier for me than a short story collection.

    Maybe I'm the oddball, and maybe you've got a whole ton of market research done already that says just that. But it's not as if short story collections are hard to come by. They're quite accessible, yet novels are still the bestsellers. If you haven't already, I think you owe it to your company and your writers to research why this is and how your company will/can do things differently than the publishers who are already trying to sell short fiction to an on-the-go audience.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Hey Cath

    A little background about me: I'm a 24-year-old from Illinois. I received my B.A. in Journalism in 2011 and spent a year abroad teaching English as a foreign language. I'm starting graduate school in the fall, pursing an M.A in English (probably with a focus on young adult literature). I've written for my college newspaper and I've interned for the local NPR and PBS affiliates. I've published two of my own short story collections, the most recent of which came out in April of this year

    As for the publishing house, we're hoping to provide quality independent literature for readers everywhere. We are looking to publish short story collections, poetry collections and novellas. Our philosophy is that, in such a busy world, many people don't have the time to sit down and read a long book anymore. We believe that short stories and the like provide a quicker but just as fulfilling literary experience. If you're riding the subway to work, sitting in a doctor's office, etc, you can pull out your phone or tablet and read a story or two

    Hope that answers your questions!
    I don't get that at all, but whatever.

    I looked at your website and it seems to be 2/3 editing services. What're your qualifications and background for that?

  5. #5
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    I looked at your website and it seems to be 2/3 editing services. What're your qualifications and background for that?
    I think Monolith will need the editing services to subsidize the publication of short stories and poetry. Short stories, even those by established authors, don't sell in large quantities; the market for poetry is tiny.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceshortcake View Post
    I think Monolith will need the editing services to subsidize the publication of short stories and poetry. Short stories, even those by established authors, don't sell in large quantities; the market for poetry is tiny.
    Bingo. It's extra income

    And cornflake, I'm surprised you quoted my post and then asked me what my qualifications were when they're right there in front of you

  7. #7
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Bingo. It's extra income

    And cornflake, I'm surprised you quoted my post and then asked me what my qualifications were when they're right there in front of you
    No they're not. Degrees in journalism and English, teaching ESL, writing, self-publishing, and interning for NPR and PBS =/= the proper editing experience needed to provide that service to others for money, necessarily.

    Cornflake asked what your editing qualifications were.
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  8. #8
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Monolith, your enthusiasm is commendable, but you haven't presented any qualifications for being a publisher, only qualifications for being a journalist.

    Let me refer you to this post about Why Publishers Fail.

    Let me also refer you to the index of this sub-forum. See all those grey links? Those are publishers who brought to the table pretty much exactly what you're bringing....and failed.

    So what do you have going for you that differentiates you from all those failed publishers?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by justbishop View Post
    No they're not. Degrees in journalism and English, teaching ESL, writing, self-publishing, and interning for NPR and PBS =/= the proper editing experience needed to provide that service to others for money, necessarily.

    Cornflake asked what your editing qualifications were.
    Yes they are. Lmao. Working for a newspaper, for a news radio station, knowing AP Style/Chicago Style of writing, teaching the mechanics of English to students learning it as a third language, these all add up to someone with a strong knowledge of English and how it works. I also used to edit a lot of my peers' academic papers during my undergraduate days and never received any complaints

    Additionally I've got experience with Adobe InDesign and Scribus

    Some stuff will be learned on the job, but I, as well as the folks working with me, have the foundations set

  10. #10
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Yes they are. Lmao. Working for a newspaper, for a news radio station, knowing AP Style/Chicago Style of writing, teaching the mechanics of English to students learning it as a third language, these all add up to someone with a strong knowledge of English and how it works. I also used to edit a lot of my peers' academic papers during my undergraduate days and never received any complaints

    Additionally I've got experience with Adobe InDesign and Scribus

    Some stuff will be learned on the job, but I, as well as the folks working with me, have the foundations set
    Oh, okay. Eek. I sure wouldn't want to trust my own work to a house where the person in charge is learning anything as they go :/

    And the things you lmao'd are all well and good, but I think most would like to know that the person running a house they are submitting their fiction and poetry to has some actual experience editing and publishing fiction and poetry by other people (preferably professional experience, working--not interning--for a reputable publisher before striking out on their own with a project as large as a publishing house).
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Wisteria Vine's Avatar
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    No, they're not.

    Someone with experience in publishing and editing for a publishing house would know this.

    It's like saying because I know anatomy, I know how to perform brain surgery.

    Stick around, read some of the other threads about publishers who had a dream but no experience and see if you learn something valuable.

  12. #12
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    As someone who spent four years herself teaching abroad, I can guarantee that it doesn't automatically mean you have the skills required to edit. I've even seen plenty of college-level teachers (I work in colleges, and have tutored for numerous teachers) who aren't good editors. I used to actually tutor with someone who had been teaching for years, and I'd just cringe at the advice I'd hear her offer sometimes.

    Good editing requires a very specific skill set. It also depends on what sort of editing you're doing.

    Also, are you aware that the reason short story collections and poetry aren't usually picked up by mainstream publishers is because they're not particularly profitable? Part of me is all for having a market for a hard to sell work like that, but the fact is, there just isn't a huge audience for most collections of that sort. If you're building your company around this, it sounds as if you're setting yourself up with several very serious hurtles.

    Finally, what experience do you have dealing with the business end of publishing? Where did you learn about contract law? What do you know about distribution? Marketing? Who is handling the cover art? How are you, as a 24-year-old student, able to pay for editing, marketing, cover art, and so on?

    I have a difficult time imagining that a master's student (been there, done that) has the kind of capital necessary to run a publishing company.

    How are you handling the potential conflict of interest that comes from offering editing services for a fee? It should be clearly stated that no one who uses your editing service will be able to publish with your company. It might be there, but I didn't see it.

    Honestly, there are a lot of elements to your site that mark you as an amateur (for instance, asking for manuscripts in page number instead of word count), and some of the responses here are less than professional. You're in a room full of professionals here, and writers who are seriously looking to make a career of this. Attitude and professionalism matter.


  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Kateness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    ...I, as well as the folks working with me, have the foundations set
    So, these folks working with you, what sort of editing/publishing experience do they have?

    One thing I don't see on your website is any info about who's working at Monolith (if it's there and I missed it, sorry)

  14. #14
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Yes they are. Lmao.
    This doesn't sound like the response of someone who's going to learn very much "on the job" or elsewhere. If you already think you know everything, why learn? :S
    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    ...these all add up to someone with a strong knowledge of English and how it works.
    No one questioned your knowledge of English and how it works. They asked about your qualifications as a professional editor. A strong understanding of English is certainly one requirement. Are you claiming it's the only requirement?
    "A story told, that can't be real / yet somehow must reflect the truth we feel..." -- Black Sabbath / Ronnie James Dio

  15. #15
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Just want to add that I'm not posting just to tear the OP down. I actually have a novella that I'd LOVE to find a home for (as you can see by my signature), and I'm more than willing to take a chance on a new publisher...provided I'm confident in their skills and fiscal viability. Monolith has not shown me anything impressive on either front yet :/
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  16. #16
    No, you're the grease monkey. Fruitbat's Avatar
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    My feeling is there is a place for newcomers like Monolith, who are honest and upfront about their qualifications and experience.

    Many writers, especially those with hard to sell types of manuscripts like short story collections and novellas, will not catch the interest of the larger small publishers, let alone agents. If they could, I assume they would. They would probably love the chance to be in the game, newcomer working with newcomer, rather than have their manuscript sit in a drawer. It is not for everyone, but definitely for someone.

    As for the editing service, that is not learned from any school of editing, culminating in a certificate. It is picked up here and there, and I don't find the OP unqualified. From that starting point, if I was paying for the services of any editor, I would want to have them do a few pages for a few bucks first.

    Best wishes with your endeavor, Monolith.
    Last edited by Fruitbat; 07-08-2013 at 02:57 AM.
    Story Prompts That Work: 52 Detailed, Tested Story Starters for Short Stories and Flash Fiction (for Adults and Teens)
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  17. #17
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitbat View Post
    As for the editing service, that is not learned from any school of editing, culminating in a certificate. It is picked up here and there,.
    Which is precisely why no one asked about an "editing degree" / "editing certificate", they asked about editing experience. I think the thing that concerns me most is whether someone knows what they don't know -- which is why the "lmao" is the part that stood out to me the most.

    As with LastBishop, I've got no problem with a new publisher, and I hope that Monolith turns out to be a great one. I mean that. But it's still important to ask what the publisher knows, what they are learning, and whether they seem to understand how the publishing industry works from the inside.
    "A story told, that can't be real / yet somehow must reflect the truth we feel..." -- Black Sabbath / Ronnie James Dio

  18. #18
    Proud Literary Sadist justbishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitbat View Post
    Many writers, especially those with hard to sell types of manuscripts like short story collections and novellas, will not catch the interest of the larger small publishers, let alone agents. If they could, I assume they would. They would probably love the chance to be in the game, newcomer working with newcomer, rather than have their manuscript sit in a drawer. It is not for everyone, but definitely for someone.
    Yes, but what can someone with no connections in fiction or poerty publishing industry do for me that I can't do myself via self-publishing? I have friends with similar qualifications to the OP that I could ask to look over my novella, but I don't consider that to be on par with a proper editing from a publisher.

    And there's more to publishing than just the ability to provide a good edit. As kaitie mentioned a few posts ago (and I'm hoping the OP will come back and answer for us):

    Finally, what experience do you have dealing with the business end of publishing? Where did you learn about contract law? What do you know about distribution? Marketing? Who is handling the cover art? How are you, as a 24-year-old student, able to pay for editing, marketing, cover art, and so on?
    Last edited by justbishop; 07-08-2013 at 04:54 AM.
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  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Bingo. It's extra income

    And cornflake, I'm surprised you quoted my post and then asked me what my qualifications were when they're right there in front of you
    Well, I didn't see any qualifications in that post, or on the website, so apparently 'none,' is the answer.

    The skills necessary to be a professional editor - of multiple types and platforms, according to the website - are not things you "pick up here and there," no. I would not hire an unqualified, uneducated, wholly inexperienced editor and I'd advise anyone else against doing so.

  20. #20
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    Yeah, I'm at 220 pages and about 67,000 words on a novel and that seems a bit high for a novella. (200 pages, I mean).

    tri

  21. #21
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    Little confused as to why you posted this here and then in the nonpaying markets thread.

    Does that mean you don't pay for novellas and short story collections?
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  22. #22
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kweei View Post
    Little confused as to why you posted this here and then in the nonpaying markets thread.

    Does that mean you don't pay for novellas and short story collections?
    I think this was copied into BR&BC by the mods, hence the thread duplication.

    It couldn't be put into paying markets, as that room requires clear payment information.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Monolith View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by justbishop View Post
    No they're not. Degrees in journalism and English, teaching ESL, writing, self-publishing, and interning for NPR and PBS =/= the proper editing experience needed to provide that service to others for money, necessarily.

    Cornflake asked what your editing qualifications were.
    Yes they are. Lmao.
    That's a supremely unprofessional response.

    Working for a newspaper, for a news radio station, knowing AP Style/Chicago Style of writing, teaching the mechanics of English to students learning it as a third language, these all add up to someone with a strong knowledge of English and how it works. I also used to edit a lot of my peers' academic papers during my undergraduate days and never received any complaints
    Thse things don't prepare you adequately for editing fiction and it's clear from this post that they haven't taught you how to punctuate appropriately either.

    There's far more to good editing than adherence to a specific style, understanding the mechanics of a language, and being able to polish academic papers. Your offering these things as suitable qualifications actually shows that you're probably not qualified to edit--and you're definitely not qualified to charge money for your editing skills.

    Additionally I've got experience with Adobe InDesign and Scribus
    Great! I've got experience with Spider Solitaire and Mah Jong. They have just as much impact on one's editing skills as Adobe InDesign and Scribus.

    Some stuff will be learned on the job, but I, as well as the folks working with me, have the foundations set
    If I were paying someone to edit my books I wouldn't be at all happy to learn that they were planning to learn "some stuff" "on the job": I don't want my work being used as anyone's learning experience, thank you very much. I want talented, competent professional editors, not learn-as-we-go newcomers. The least you could do is make it clear on your website that you are new to this.

    And no, you don't have the foundations set. If you can't remember to use full stops in your own writing, you are very unlikely to spot anyone else's misuse of a semicolon.

  23. #23
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    FYI, Fruitbat, there are a lot of respected publishers who deal with novellas, short story collections, and poetry manuscripts. They are often (but not always) associated with universities (FC2, for example). And there's really no money in either -- if your poetry is published by Penguin, it still doesn't mean you can live off of the sales.

    I guess what I mean is that -- as with the general advice AW gives for novels -- if you are trying to get your poetry and short fiction published, you might as well start at the top rather than with an unproven newcomer.

  24. #24
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thedrellum View Post
    If you are trying to get your poetry and short fiction published, you might as well start at the top rather than with an unproven newcomer.
    This needs to be engraved on plaques and distributed universally.

    I would also suggest that you start by subbing individual poems to lit mags—even those that are run by university students, and which don't pay.

    Be careful about rights; allow limited one time rights.

    But you'll have much better success with a collection if you have at least a few poems published in reputable print journals/anthologies.

    Notice the word reputable. Look at your local libraries (college/uni and public) and local bookstores/news agents. Look at what they buy/keep/sell/have in their collections.

    Read poetry published in lit journals. Look at who they publish (including in the past).

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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    The least you could do is make it clear on your website that you are new to this.
    The OP's latest blog post heavily implies it, but unfortunately, there's no link from Monolith to that post:

    ...what if I started my own publishing house? At first it started as a joke between a friend and I, but after giving it more thought I decided hell, why not? It’d be an interesting and rewarding endeavor and it’d help me learn more about writing, editing and publishing. And I figured, since I haven’t had much luck in finding a job, I might as well make my own.
    "An honest answer is like a warm hug." - Proverbs 24:26 (The Message)

    My short story collection, "The Poisoned City", is now available!

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