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Thread: Starry Night Publishing

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin GhostReader's Avatar
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    Starry Night Publishing

    Has anyone heard (good or bad) about Starry Night Publishers?

  2. #2
    Barricade AW Moderator regdog's Avatar
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  3. #3
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Adding link: http://www.starrynightpublishing.com/index.html

    From their FAQ page, it's clear the founder is an author who got tired of rejection letters and tried one or more vanity presses, then got tired of that and formed his own company. As usual.

    Q: Do I get a free copy of my book?

    A: Yes. One. Then you may purchase unlimited books for half of the cover price.
    Just like PublishAmerica.

    Q: Why do you charge to publish books, when we have always been told that legitimate publishers never charge fees?

    A: Another good question. First of all, the publishing market has changed with the advent of new technologies, such as eReaders and the Internet. What was once considered vanity publishing, is now called Self-Publishing, or Independent Publishing.
    Inaccurate. There's a difference between doing it yourself and paying someone else to do it.

    The big book companies take up to two years to make your work available. We can do it in two days. The big book companies only publish six new titles per year. We have put out 250 books in six months. That is because we are small and efficient.
    Six new titles a year? Yeah, right. Harlequin only publishes six books a year, does it?

    As for Tor or Avon not pumping books out in two days - well, one reason is because they have a little something called content editing, which Starry Night doesn't provide. The major companies also tend to have better cover art.

    There's plenty of nonsense on the FAQ page:

    The editor does not actually edit the work. The do not look for typos, as it is not their job
    Tell my editor that. She spots 'em every time.

    Most copy-editors suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
    ... Moving on.

    An editor can charge $300 per page, which for an 800 page novel would add up to $240,000. Yes, nearly a quarter of a million dollars! Of course, that is for an experienced copy-editor (wait, first you said "editor" --Marian), and most novels are not 800 pages. Still, for a 200 page book, at the rate of $80 per page, you are still looking at $16,000. That might not seem like a deal, but it really is.
    Scare tactics meant to make Starry Night's minimum charge ($399) seem small in comparison.

    Q: Why should I choose to publish with you?

    A: With Starry Night Publishing, you control the publication date. With the big publishers, it can take up to three years to make it into print, if at all.
    This is absolute garbage. Where do all the books in stores come from, if the "big publishers" can hardly be bothered to put anything into print?

    A surprising number of books from Starry Night seem to have been authored by people with the last name Hartmetz.

    And when I put his name into Amazon, I got results like The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling and his co-author, Richard Hartmetz. Not to mention Ulysses, by James Joyce and Richard Hartmetz; The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle and Richard Hartmetz and so on. These all have the same cover design, with a different picture photoshopped into each one.

    I'd avoid this press like the plague.
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 11-21-2014 at 10:23 PM.
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  4. #4
    Keeper of the pace. popgun62's Avatar
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    Warning, Will Robinson, warning!
    Author of high-octane sci-fi, fantasy and horror!

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  5. #5
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Link: http://www.starrynightpublishing.com/

    Do you have a wonderful book you have wanted to publish for many years or an incredible story to tell the world but you're not a celebrity author and don't know how? Do you need worldwide distribution to reach a wider audience? We can help!
    Yes, because only celebrity authors can get published.

    If you publish your book with us, we act as your own personal literary agent, book editor, publisher, distributor, and book store.
    You know what they say about Jack of all trades...and being on Amazon is not "distribution". All the Starry Night books I looked at had poor rankings and were published through CreateSpace, so it's unlikely that SN can do anything for writers they couldn't do for themselves. Most of their covers are hideous.

    We publish nearly 300 books per year, one of them could be yours!
    How much attention can SN possibly give to each book?

    Let us take the hassle out of getting published! And eliminate the fear of
    rejection!
    Yes, eliminate the fear of being rejected because your book isn't ready for publication or simply not good enough to be published. The ideal path if you want to be a "published author" rather than a writer.

    Join the millions of independent authors who are making money now!
    A very small number of independent authors are making money; the vast majority of them find it virtually impossible to sell books to people they don't know personally.

    Starry Night's CEO is Richard S Hartmetz, who appears to have started the company to publish his own books and those of other family members.

    ETA: Bugger! Late to the party again!
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 11-21-2014 at 11:16 PM.

  6. #6
    Independent fluffy puppy. Osulagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marian Perera View Post
    I'd avoid this press like the plague.
    Agreed. It's just absolutely terrible. Their "book store" is a Amazon portal to their Amazon book store--meaning they can sell anything. This cracks me up: Their visit counter is inflated past 33 million (you can set the starting count to anything you wish); so good chance they actually have like 100 views and counting from people visiting through AW. They're a Vanity press no matter what they'd like to mislead other people on with lies, scare tactics, and just about every logical fallacy available to market themselves. Their site looks like someone threw it together during their lunch break or a five-year old did it. And I don't even want to start on "their" books.

  7. #7
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    An amusing blog post in which Richard S Hartmetz disses his vanity publishing competitors:

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/sho..._Hartmetz/blog

  8. #8
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    In addition to horrible covers, the Starry Night website is horrendous. The copyright date on the bottom is 2012, but it looks like it was designed in the late 90s.

    I'm a snob both when it comes to cover design and on-line presentation, especially when most of your sales (if you're not placing books in stores) are likely to come from the internet and, therefore, your website.

    ETA: Osulagh beat me to it.

    Also, the classics Marian pointed out earlier list Hartmetz as the editor, implying that he's added something to these reprinting rather than just, say, reprinting them (for example, an in-depth introductory essay, essential footnotes, etc). I...doubt that.
    Last edited by Thedrellum; 11-22-2014 at 12:03 AM.

  9. #9
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thedrellum View Post
    Also, the classics Marian pointed out earlier list Hartmetz as the editor, implying that he's added something to these reprinting rather than just, say, reprinting them (for example, an in-depth introductory essay, essential footnotes, etc). I...doubt that.
    Oh, I dunno...

    He spent many years as a teacher in the Rochester City School District, East Irondequoit, St. Margaret Mary School and the School of the Holy Childhood where he was known as “Mr. H.” He is now the CEO of Starry Night Publishing.com.
    https://www.goodreads.com/author/sho...ard_S_Hartmetz

  10. #10
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    I admit that I might be wrong, but I don't really want to buy a copy to check. Although that makes me wonder when he started reprinting the books--maybe he was using them in his classes?

    My supposition was based on everything else in the thread, assuming that reprinting classics is an easy way to make money in publishing since you don't have to pay for the rights.

    Okay, no, I just looked inside several of the books. Though he has a preface for the Poe volume, it's generic and uninformative. For The Jungle Book and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all he does is reproduce the text. I would say that this is laziness of the first order, except that he has 270 listings under his name in Amazon, so he's clearly spent a decent amount of time churning these titles out.

  11. #11
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I can't name them, but I know of two other vanity publishers who reprint out-of-copyright books to pad their catalog and add legitimacy.

    This M/M space opera
    Blog: Blue Night
    Art and jewelry online at Etsy.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin GhostReader's Avatar
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    Wow! Thanks everyone. Even my untrained eye saw some red flags but I just didn't see any bad reviews of them. I thought maybe the owner was just a little eccentric. I actually ordered a book to look at the quality of the printing (arriving Monday) by an author who published several books with them. Who knows, that author could be a pen name of the CEO.

  13. #13
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostReader View Post
    Wow! Thanks everyone. Even my untrained eye saw some red flags but I just didn't see any bad reviews of them.
    I think the reason why so many of these outfits have no bad reviews is that they fly under the radar. Their books don't sell, nobody ever hears about the authors, and dissatisfied customers are more likely to feel embarrassed for having taken them seriously than angry enough to make a fuss. No doubt they have some satisfied customers, but they're likely to be the sort of people who don't know how real publishing works.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I think before bashing a business, perhaps you should have interacted with them. I have used Starry Night Publishing and had an amazing experience. Mr. Hartmetz is a rare CEO, as he takes the time to personally communicate with you and make certain your experience is an enjoyable one.

    They make the experience as easy as possible; no hoops to jump through at all. Send them a Word Doc and they turn it into a book for you. It is not traditional publishing, nor is it pay for publishing either. They act as a middle-man, doing the technical parts that some people get stuck on. One of their authors is 98 years old, and certainly wasn't going to format it himself.

    They have also done freebies, such as the 7 year old who wrote a book about his brother with Autism. They also don't take any additional money, beyond the initial setup fee. All the royalties are yours. And why shouldn't they charge a small fee for doing all the work involved in creating paperbacks and multiple eBooks?

    Marian took a few sentences off their website, out of context, and used them to make the company look bad. This, from an author who only has three eBooks published through Amazon Digital. So that makes her an expert?

    As for the covers looking "hideous," the site talks about certain authors insisting on specific covers, despite advice to go in another direction. They go out of their way to get the book looking the way you want it.

    Also, Mr. Hartmetz taught Computer Science for many years and the website was designed by four of his sixth grade students. These were students that placed first in the world in an international website design contest, sponsored by Oracle.

    The DVDs and Classic Books were published, in order to add to his retirement income, as he charges so little to do the work (a fraction of most other companies).

    As for the books selling, more than a half-dozen have climbed to the top of Amazon's best-seller list. More than half the authors have made their publishing fees back. Of course not all have, as many factors go into a book's marketability.

    And Mr. Hartmetz has written 33 books. Why shouldn't he utilize his own company to publish them? Would you expect him to use iUniverse?

    It sounds to me like this page is occupied by frustrated elitists, who need to know what they are talking about, before bashing something they haven't even tried. Give them a shot, then you will have the right to comment.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW
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    So the website looks unprofessional because it was designed by a bunch of twelve year old kids? I guess it's not awful for twelve year olds. It is truly dreadful for anything representing a commercial company. Just that will put people off. Since you have such a close relationship with him, perhaps you should let him know.
    Last edited by skylark; 01-12-2015 at 03:10 AM.

  16. #16
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    I'm just going to address this bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by astedmann View Post
    Marian took a few sentences off their website, out of context, and used them to make the company look bad. This, from an author who only has three eBooks published through Amazon Digital. So that makes her an expert?
    There's a rule here -- respect your fellow writer (RYFW).

    Btw, Marian's books are published by Samhain, I believe. It's the name next to 'publisher' on the Amazon links.


    Oh, I'll address this bit too.

    Quote Originally Posted by astedmann View Post
    It sounds to me like this page is occupied by frustrated elitists, who need to know what they are talking about, before bashing something they haven't even tried. Give them a shot, then you will have the right to comment.
    So we have to fork out a load of dosh before we can comment on something?


  17. #17
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    astedmann, please be advised that when a publisher requires an author to send the publisher money, we deem it a vanity publisher... period.

    Please be further advised that we have a rule in this forum - respect your fellow writer. Your thinly veiled snark at Marian was inappropriate.

    If you elect to stay, please maintain proper decorum. Thank you...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by astedmann View Post
    I think before bashing a business, perhaps you should have interacted with them. I have used Starry Night Publishing and had an amazing experience. Mr. Hartmetz is a rare CEO, as he takes the time to personally communicate with you and make certain your experience is an enjoyable one.
    What was your amazing experience? Huge volume of book sales? Critical acclaim from prominent media outlets?

    How many CEOs have you interacted with to make your claim that he is "rare?" The guy is running a small company with modest goals, it's not like you're talking about the head of a Fortune 500 company with multiple layers of employees coming down from the Executive Office. In fact, how many employees does Starry Night have? If not Mr. Harmetz talking to people, who would?

    They make the experience as easy as possible; no hoops to jump through at all. Send them a Word Doc and they turn it into a book for you. It is not traditional publishing, nor is it pay for publishing either.
    Starry Night clearly has PAID services offered on their website. That means the author is PAYING to see their work in print. Not sure how you can make claims to the contrary.

    They also don't take any additional money, beyond the initial setup fee. All the royalties are yours. And why shouldn't they charge a small fee for doing all the work involved in creating paperbacks and multiple eBooks?
    Because that's not what a publisher does. That's what Kinkos does. That's what Office Depot does. I understand why those people charge money, but if they called themselves a "publisher" I'd call them out on it.


    As for the books selling, more than a half-dozen have climbed to the top of Amazon's best-seller list. More than half the authors have made their publishing fees back. Of course not all have, as many factors go into a book's marketability.
    Which list and which titles? If this is a super fragmented sub-category list, it's pretty well established that it is (a) not a difficult task, and (b) not noteworthy.

    It sounds to me like this page is occupied by frustrated elitists, who need to know what they are talking about, before bashing something they haven't even tried. Give them a shot, then you will have the right to comment.
    Why give them a shot? Sell us on what we can hope to gain (in tangible results) by handing over a Word document to Starry Night.

  19. #19
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astedmann View Post
    Marian took a few sentences off their website, out of context, and used them to make the company look bad. This, from an author who only has three eBooks published through Amazon Digital.
    If you want to help Starry Night, maybe you could suggest sentences that don't make them look quite so bad.

    And my three novels were released by Samhain Publishing, meaning they are (or will be, depending on release dates) available as both e-books and trade paperbacks. I have two more being released this year from Samhain and another from Loose Id, but hey, who's counting?

    As for the covers looking "hideous," the site talks about certain authors insisting on specific covers, despite advice to go in another direction. They go out of their way to get the book looking the way you want it.
    A reputable trade publisher would not allow authors to insist on such covers.

    But the reason Starry Night allows this is because they're a vanity press. No going out of their way necessary. They get their money from the authors, not from the reading public, therefore it's in Starry Night's best interest to satisfy the authors rather than the reading public.

    It sounds to me like this page is occupied by frustrated elitists, who need to know what they are talking about, before bashing something they haven't even tried. Give them a shot, then you will have the right to comment.
    You don't need to have taken crystal meth to warn people against it.

    ETA : Found a book called My Dog Fluffy, released by CreateSpace, by Andrew Stedmann (author) and Richard S. Hartmetz (editor).
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 01-12-2015 at 05:00 AM.
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  20. #20
    Independent fluffy puppy. Osulagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astedmann View Post
    It sounds to me like this page is occupied by frustrated elitists, who need to know what they are talking about, before bashing something they haven't even tried.
    This all sounds to me like a publisher/developer/owner lashing back at people for bad press through pseudonyms allowed on the internet.

    That is one of the worse decisions a business owner can ever make. That in of itself should show what this business is capable of.
    Last edited by Osulagh; 01-12-2015 at 05:15 AM.

  21. #21
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    I was thinking about this some more, and why it bothers me so much - the website comments in particular - and I decided it's this.

    I'm a computer professional. And what we have here is someone claiming that another computer professional thinks that "decent project by a child" is professional standard.

    I might buy that if we'd been told that the man in question was a biology teacher, or a PE teacher, but a computing teacher? Either he's lying or he's incompetent. There is no way that anyone should be teaching computing when they think that website is suitable for use by a company. It's not just a question of taste, it's basic low level mistakes like the aspect ratio in the pictures being wrong. Great for twelve year olds, maybe. It would get extremely low marks for sixteen year olds. If you suggested it was a finished product in a professional context, you'd be laughed at because people would genuinely think you were joking.

    So what we have is a company run by someone who claims to be a computing expert but who thinks that work in the computing field by a bright twelve year old is professional quality as-is.

    What sort of standard is anyone going to think his editing, or layout, or cover design is? I'm going for "about the level of a bright twelve year old, uncorrected". And that's not a level of work I'm prepared to pay for - or even to use for my writing unpaid. So no, I won't be trying it.

    I'll give astedmann the benefit of the doubt and assume that he isn't in fact Mr Hartmetz. astedmann, you're making a fool of yourself. You've been had by someone who is nowhere near as competent as he claims to be. He doesn't deserve the support you're giving him.
    Last edited by skylark; 01-12-2015 at 12:49 PM. Reason: astedmann isn't the OP

  22. #22
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    No...no...you're wrong. If it looks bad, it's because you've got an old browser.

    Q: Why do certain elements on your website appear in odd locations on the page?

    A: Well, to put it simply, it's not us, it's you, or more precisely, your web browser. Let me explain. This site uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript and is optimized for the most modern versions of browsers, especially Google Chrome, which is the best web browser there is, hint, hint... If you are using an older browser, or have a smaller screen, you will still be able to utilize the site, but things will appear different.


  23. #23
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    So any unprofessionalism on his behalf is in fact my fault?

    What other company does this remind me of?

    FWIW, I have neither an old browser nor a small screen. I just don't have the exact same browser and screen size that his kids used. That's an understandable level of coding from 12 year olds. It's a joke for the website of a company run by a computing teacher.

  24. #24
    Seen 'em come, seen 'em go Gravity's Avatar
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    Skylark, I think Helix was speaking to you tongue in cheek.
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  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    So, we should respect the other authors on this site, but you can malign the teaching abilities of Mr. Hartmetz? As it happens, I have never actually met the man, but I have read newspaper articles about him. He is the only person in the world that has won the Oracle's international ThinkQuest competition four times with four separate groups of elementary school students. He has been recognized twice by the Monroe County Legislature and the Congress of the United States. He has won the Catherine McAuley Humanitarian Award and been listed in the Who's Who of American Teachers. In comparison, I drive a bus for a living.

    He doesn't care about making huge sums of money, which is why they charge so much less than Author House, iUniverse, etc.

    And, if you want to compare Starry Night with Samhaim, we can go there as well. Starry Night distributes through Amazon Digital (KDP). Samhaim distributes through Amazon Digital (KDP).

    Starry Night allows authors to retain 100% of the rights, forever. Samhaim owns the rights for at least 7 years.

    Starry Night charges an upfront fee to cover the cost of the work, but they don't take any of the royalties. They are yours for life. Of course Amazon takes a small cut, as an incentive to carry the book, but that will happen in every case and you still end up with 70%. Samhaim only pays 30% on eBooks, and 8% (minus 3% for returns) on paperbacks. That means you are paying them from your profits, forever.

    Samhaim limits the number of illustrations in their books. Starry Night allows unlimited illustrations, or photos. Starry Night gets your book on the market in around three weeks. Samhaim can take four months just to respond to a query. Samhaim can take up to a year for the eBook and doesn't guarantee that it will ever become a print copy.

    You criticize Starry Night for doing 300 books per year, asking how much attention can they give each book, yet Samhaim claims they release 5-6 romance novels per week, along with 5 retro romance novels and 2 horror novels per month. That is 396 books per year. So, how much time can they give each book?

    Samhaim also has a reputation for being slow to deal with complaints and having many, when it comes to contract terms. Their sales are also know as being poor and declining. And they are also reprinting schlocky romance novels from the 70s.

    Starry Night might not have the prettiest website, but I respect a man who cares enough about his elementary school students to allow them to use what they learned in HTML to create his site. I respect a company who does the number of freebies they do, and who donates profits to an Autism Awareness charity. I respect a company that allows me to publish my work, my way, whether you think that is a good idea, or not.

    You suggest that I have been taken? I would only have been taken if I paid and didn't have a great experience. I received exactly what I paid for, a paperback and an eBook, in a timely fashion. It might not be a bestseller, but that was never my intent. How many bestsellers have you written?

    Again, Starry Night might not be your cup of tea, but for hundreds of other authors, it is like a family. If you have been fortunate enough to get traditionally published, then good for you. We aren't all that fortunate.

    I don't claim to have written a great literary masterpiece, but I received more than what I expected and didn't have to jump through any hoops to get to this point, nor spend a fortune. If the biggest complaint you have is the aspect ratio of a picture on the website, which has nothing to do with the quality of their work, then I really don't see an issue.

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