Prepare to be confused. I certainly was.
So...they're a partnership (cough*vanity*cough) publisher with two imprints? Apparently not:Light Messages is a young publishing company, specializing in a broad range of works from emerging and experienced authors. We set ourselves apart in the publishing industry because we view authors as partners, not as a commodity.
When you publish through Light Messages or our new imprint, Torchflame Books, you and your work will receive the respect and prestige you deserve. You have something worthwhile to say, and we want to give voice to your ideas.
Traditional royalty-based publishing model...so the author doesn't pay anything and they were using the word partner in a warm, fuzzy, "we're a family" way. After all, they do encourage writers to "join the Light Messages family of authors". Rightio.Light Messages Publishing offers a traditional royalty-based publishing model for emerging and experienced authors.
Because this model requires more upfront cost and risk for the publisher, we are only able to take a select number of projects each year, and we welcome your manuscript submission.
Ah...so authors have to pay to be published by Torchflame. I get it.We realize that there are many more worthy books awaiting publication than we can sponsor, so we have also created the imprint, Torchflame Books, offering an innovative Partnership Publishing model. We invite you to investigate our Partnership model and decide which option is best for you.
Our editors are also happy to review your manuscript and refer you to the label that best fits your work.
Let's have a closer look at Light Messages. From the FAQ:
Yes, and the books that don't make the cut can be siphoned off to Torchflame.Q. Do you publish all books submitted to you?
A. Not every book is suitable for Light Messages but we are able to publish many books that have a smaller and more highly focused market segment because we keep our production costs to a minimum.
Good God.Q. How long does it take to publish a book?
A. If you provide a standard formatted manuscript and cover design it should take about a month.
Have I got this right - Light Messages itself is in fact a vanity/partnership publisher?Q. What does it cost?
A. Cost is less than you might think but it does depend on book size, number of pages, use of color, binding and so many factors that each book must be quoted separately. As a generic example, a typical 5-1/2"X8-1/2" book of 200 pages printed in black ink with a full-color paperback cover could retail for $15 to $20 with a production cost of about half that amount.
Oooh, I must be psychic! I knew they were going to say that! But just a minute - who are the 'editors' who sort out the Light Messages sheep from the Torchflame goats?Q. Do you edit manuscripts?
A. No, we do not, but depending on your subject we may be able to refer to you an independent editor.
.Q. Will you distribute and sell my book?
A. Yes. We charge an annual fee of $25 per title and share the royalties with you in a 50/50 partnership.
How much, exactly, will I have to pay?
$275? That's $275 more than I'd pay to be published, but of course it doesn't include the cost of that independent editor. And... 'global distribution'? Really?Title setup and registration: $250
Pre-flight formatting checkup: Included in setup fee
ISBN barcode: Included in setup fee
Global distribution: Included in setup fee
Author marketing guide: Included in setup fee
Web promotion: Included in setup fee
Annual distribution fee: $25 per title
Can I expect to see my book in bookstores?
In the Torchflame section we're told that:We offer several options for cover designs. You can choose from one of our professinally designed templates or you can elect to have a custom cover designed specifically for your book. Either way, your book will look stunning as it flys off the shelves!
What do they mean by 'all the major catalogs'? Aren't these catalogs produced by the publishers themselves?We list your book in all the major catalogs
We distribute your book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Light Messages, and 'brick and mortar' bookstores
Amazon and B&N are retailers, not distributors. And I see that LM/T books are available through bookstores, not in them. So much for 'flying off the shelves'.
I came across this outfit purely by chance whilst looking for evidence for agent Eunice Murray's sales to publishers. Last year author Dave Edlund mentioned on his blog that he was represented by her, and although her name no longer appears on the blog he has a forthcoming book with Light Messages.
I also realize that LM/T describes itself elsewhere on the site as "a full-service publisher", by which I think they mean "full-service printer", but many new writers will be so dazzled by the "traditional royalty-based publishing model/respect and prestige you deserve" stuff it won't occur to them that they could do the whole thing for themselves more cheaply with CreateSpace and probably sell as many (or more likely as few) books.
From an interview with Elizabeth Turnbull of Light Messages:
I really don't think that any commercial publisher will tell you that it's the authors who literally sell the books. That's what their marketing departments do.Light Messages began as a small family run publishing company primarily to produce Creole language materials in Haiti. After the success of those publications, the company branched out and created a partnership publishing model under the Torchflame label. As the Torchflame publishers grew, the company saw a need from emerging new authors and in 2011 began to expand the traditional publishing label Light Messages. The company is still mostly family run, but has been doubling in size each year...
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success?
Author involvement. I think most publishers will tell you that while we can publish and market the book, it's the authors who ultimately sell the books. There are authors who get behind the process 100% - these are the more successful authors. But there are others who think that because they have a publisher, they can sit back and wait for the royalties to come in.