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Thread: Tuscany Press

  1. #1
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    Tuscany Press

    I've got a series with Catholic protags and I found this press when I was searching for Catholic publishers.

    The link is here. https://tuscanypress.submittable.com/submit

    It looks to me like they charge a ten dollar reading fee, although I assume that's to pay prizes, since they're also doing a contest. Still, I generally avoid places that charge a reading fee, no matter what the religious affiliation.

    Are there any concerns that anyone knows about in relation to this press?

    I read some of the other entries' excerpts, and they didn't knock my socks off. They've got some first chapters posted from prior winners that seem to be reasonably well-written.

    On the other hand, submitting to a publisher no one has heard of might not be the most brilliant professional move. They're not listed on preditors and editors.

    Thanks for any input.

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  2. #2
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    The publisher seems to be your average micropress with limited presence. The prizes are good for a press that size, but what are the contract terms? Are you obligated to accept the contract, or are they open to negotiation? Can you take the prize money and refuse publication? What kind of editing do they provide? What kind of sales do you expect from them?

    Those are questions I would ask them before submitting.

    Oh, and one question for you: is your novel Catholic fiction, or simply fiction with Catholic protagonists?

  3. #3
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Adding link to home page: http://tuscanypress.com/
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  4. #4
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    Red Flag #1: They seem to want to "teach" their authors how to write, with a 10 book long reading list (that you have to purchase). Publishers are not in the business of teaching people how to write. They harp on this constantly.

    Red Flag #2: Reading fees in the guise of a contest. If they were doing a contest as well as a slush pile this would be fine. On top of that, they are also asking for donations to fund the contest. And they state that the reading fee is "to make writers pause before sending in their manuscript." It would sure as heck make me pause. Forever.

    Red Flag #3: Typos and grammar errors throughout the site.

    Red Flag #4: Names of contest judges not released.

    Red Flag #5: They also offer paid editorial services. Any bets those who don't win a prize will get a politely-worded referral to said services? They charge more for a "manuscript assessment" (paid beta read) than most editors I know charge for a substantive edit. Their substantive edit prices are about three times the industry standard...

    Red Flag #6: Proudly declaring they have Ingram distribution. (As we all should know this is not actual distribution).

    Red Flag #7: Nothing about their contract, rights they claim, etc.

    Touch and "ten foot pole" come to mind.
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  5. #5
    Back in the black, & staying there! Marian Perera's Avatar
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    This quote from their site summed it up for me:

    Our goal is to publish novels that both captures the imagination and is infused with the presence of God and faith
    But what really gives me pause is this:

    Before a contract is signed, potential authors will be required to read and know the following works:
    Followed by a list of ten books. This is a bit too didactic for me.

    The publisher will discuss each of these works with the potential author.
    IMO, it's unusual for a reputable publisher to either have this much time to discuss how-to books with each author, or to feel that an author needs such an in-depth discussion of "the concepts and techniques in each of these works".

    We insist writers understand how we analyze and develop a novel. We want everyone to be on the same page to create a great novel. The editorial process will be smoother and the writer will know the craft of great writing and storytelling.
    Um. So prior to this discussion, the writer was unaware of how to write a good story? To me, this means either the manuscript was sub-par or the writer accidentally created a great story without the required understanding of the craft, in which case Tuscany Press might as well assume that the writer will likewise accidentally produce great revisions/edits without any understanding of the process.

    The editor and publisher will propose a development plan to the author...The development plan will become a part of the publishing contract and signed by the publisher and author.
    This just seems weird. If this was a fantasy or romance publisher, I wouldn't submit anything to them.
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 02-10-2015 at 11:06 PM.


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  6. #6
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    Thanks, ninjafingers.

    The only flag I caught was that they didn't name their judges. Idk Ingram distribution, but I'll file that away. (Thanks.)

    And eqb, my protags are Catholic, but my intent was to make it mostly about the story. Their faith influences them, profoundly at times, but I really wanted to avoid an allegorical vibe. Non-Catholic writer betas tell me the religion feels like another character detail, which is what I was aiming for. It also retells Hansel and Gretel, set in the Depression in southern California.

    They aren't really comps, but remember Little Women or Little House on the Prairie? It was that sort of feel.

    I was just exploring other publishing options, having gotten a bunch of rejections from my agent querying. Christian publishers don't count Catholics, and want stories that are more obvious about religious content. So I thought I'd look at Catholic publishers, but they mostly seem to sell stories about saints and similar. Straightforward devotional stuff.

    Currently, it seems like it's neither fish nor foul to me. I'm calling it historical fantasy, which seems the best genre for the thing, but I'm not feeling super hopeful about publication, even though betas tell me it's a good story.

    ETA: Thank you, too, Marian (again). I caught that they wanted you to read those ten books, but I missed the bit where you're supposed to have to have a discussion on them. That seems improbable to me as well. I can understand them recommending books because they'd like a better slush pile, but not requiring them. The other thing that gave me pause is that I didn't see them asking for a query or synopsis, which seem standard for slush sorting.
    Last edited by CathleenT; 02-10-2015 at 11:48 PM.

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  7. #7
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Yeah, Charismatic Christian publishing mixes with Catholic themes worse than oil does with water - at least with the latter, you can find an emulsifier. Think bigger than religious presses. It sounds like your mms would be a better fit for literary mainstream, or magical realism, or maybe a science-fiction & fantasy Big Five imprint. Talk with your agent, and see if those might be more lucrative options.

    Hansel & Gretel in the 1930's? I'd pitch that as 'Carnivale' meets Steinbeck. See if there are any Dieselpunk overtones, too, as that is an underdeveloped market. Good luck! Sounds fascinating.

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  8. #8
    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    You might look at Astraea. A Catholic author and good friend recently sold a reissue to them. They seem, to me who is neither Catholic nor into the CBA market at this time, Catholic-fic-friendly.
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  9. #9
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    Talk with your agent, and see if those might be more lucrative options.
    Ha! I wish.

    No diesel punk, and the book is already long (129k after seven writer betas), so I don't want to add anything in. It has a strong child abuse survivor theme. One non-writer beta described it as To Kill a Mockingjay meets Little House on the Prairie.

    I love the story, but I don't know if it's commercially viable. I want to finish editing the series (I wrote three books), for the lessons learned if nothing else, and then write something that edits down to 80k and doesn't use the words priest or rosary.

    If someone doesn't mind fielding this question, will most/many agents look at your previous work if they're interested in another book an author is querying?

    Or if that's inappropriate for this thread, never mind. I suppose we've established that Tuscany Press is unwise, which was the point.

    ETA: Thanks for the tip, Deb.
    Last edited by CathleenT; 02-11-2015 at 03:12 AM.

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  10. #10
    Back in the black, & staying there! Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CathleenT View Post
    To Kill a Mockingjay
    Ooh, I want to read that. Let me guess, the name "Jean Louise Finch" is picked out of the reaping ball, so Jem shouts, "I volunteer!"


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  11. #11
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    (with a smile, of course)

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  12. #12
    Stumbling towards competency stevesouth's Avatar
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    I entered the 2015 Tuscany Press writing contest for the YA novel category. I was a bit put off by the entry fee at first too, and by them selling editing services. However, after doing some research into writing contest fees, for those that do charge fees, $10 is on the low side--some contests I found charge up to $50 (Gival Press Novel Award). Tuscany certainly doesn't seem like a contest that's fishing for gullible people to sell "publishing packages" to like the Westbow Press "New Look" contest--within 24 hours of putting in my entry for the New Look contest, I was getting phone calls from Westbow trying to sell me Publish America-like publishing packages. When I submitted to Tuscany, I got an acknowledgment email from them, and about a month later saw an excerpt from my submission on their blog. Other than that, I haven't heard from them at all yet (the submission period closes at the end of June). From their website and blog, it doesn't look like they sell publishing packages or any kind of POD or self-publishing services at all, except for editing services.

    Since I entered the contest in January, I've been following Tuscany's blog and their release of their latest book. It looks like they've really been working hard on promoting it. I also saw that with only six books published, two of their novels have won IPPY awards. I follow the winner of their 2014 YA prize on facebook, and he mentioned this year that edits are going well on his book, and he's happy with the direction that the book is going in editing.

    So, for what my opinion is worth, it seems like they are a legitimate small publisher and that the contest is legit as well. I'll post an update after the contest is over (after which I'm sure my book will not have made the cut) and advise if they contacted me trying to sell editing services or anything like that.

  13. #13
    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    Steven, you did well to stay far from Westbow. Westbow, which once was a stand-alone, royalty paying, well-respected Christian publisher, is now owned by Thomas Nelson as their "milk-the-author" arm. Otherwise known as pay-to-play or vanity publishing. Westbow's services are now run by Author Solutions, which is the very best reason in the world to run far and fast (see AW thread on them elsewhere). IMO, Nelson is just using the Westbow name as a deodorant.
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  14. #14
    Stumbling towards competency stevesouth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb Kinnard View Post
    Steven, you did well to stay far from Westbow. Westbow, which once was a stand-alone, royalty paying, well-respected Christian publisher, is now owned by Thomas Nelson as their "milk-the-author" arm. Otherwise known as pay-to-play or vanity publishing. Westbow's services are now run by Author Solutions, which is the very best reason in the world to run far and fast (see AW thread on them elsewhere). IMO, Nelson is just using the Westbow name as a deodorant.
    Deb, I agree--although their deodorant isn't very effective up close! That phone call reeked of author exploitation and telemarketing. My book actually made it to the "top ten" finalists stage of the contest with them, and I was worried about actually winning it, as I'd learned more about Westbow after entering, and no longer wanted anything to do with them. I was worried that they'd be hounding me to buy even more than one of the prize packages. Thankfully, my always-trusty lack of talent saved the day, and my book didn't advance any further than the finalist stage ;-).

  15. #15
    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    Don't sell yourself short. The Lord sometimes allows us to fall into a pocket of grace. Sounds like that's what went down in your case.
    WIP: "Seasons of Hope," 1356, Cornwall

    Three-part time travel romance. Part One, SEASONS IN THE MIST now available, Desert Breeze
    Part Two, SEASONS OF RECKONING, releasing in April, Desert Breeze

    An inspiration... ...I have a serious case of Grobanosis

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  17. #17
    Stumbling towards competency stevesouth's Avatar
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    UPDATE--my submission made it to the final round of 5 novels (in the YA category). After I made the top 5, the owner of Tuscany Press emailed me, asking me to call him and speak with him. It was a good conversation, we mostly talked about the reading list of books that they have on how to be a better writer, and how that is kind of a "mini MFA" for them that they want writers to read, so that they understand Tuscany Press' editing process if they were to win or be signed.

    He never mentioned their paid editing services and never said anything that felt like he was selling something. He did mention that dragons and knights (which my book has) had been done extensively in the genre, so I was kind of getting a feeling from that remark that perhaps that might not bode well for my book's chances.

    Unfortunately, I was notified by e-mail this week that I did not win. The publisher gave some feedback (which was the first time that I ever got feedback from an agent or publisher). At no time did they try to hawk their editorial service, and the issue that they said was the main problem with my book, that "the other manuscript had more originality" (maybe mine made it to the top two?) isn't one that seems to lend itself readily to an editorial service fixing.

    While I was certainly disappointed to not have won, I think that the experience overall was very positive with Tuscany Press. They never mentioned their editorial service or referred me to it at all, by email or in the phone conversation I had with the owner. I never felt like I was being sold to. I certainly felt like they were a reputable publisher (rejecting my work is one of the hallmarks of a reputable agent/publisher, lol--my book has been thrown out of all of the finest literary offices in NY!). A previous post mentioned that they don't identify the judges on the prize committee--my understanding is that the editors and owner are the judges, and they are listed on the Tuscany Press website http://tuscanypress.com/about.php.

    I'd submit again to them in the future, although I think their perception of the "unoriginality" of my book will keep me from submitting this particular book to them again.

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