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Thread: Blank Slate Press / Amphorae Publishing Group

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
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    Blank Slate Press / Amphorae Publishing Group

    Blank Slate Press. Anyone know anything about them? Here is their site --->>> http://blankslatepress.com/

    I am going through lists of publishers and checking up on all of them here and there does not seem to be a thread about them on this site yet. Really hoping someone has some experience with them!

  2. #2
    Seen 'em come, seen 'em go Gravity's Avatar
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    Nice-looking website and good covers. I wish the synopsis slideshow ran a bit slower; I can't read them that quickly.
    Cameron Bane

    PITFALL, WildBlue Press

    www.cameronbanebooks.com



  3. #3
    figuring it all out
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    Thanks

  4. #4
    Preparing for winter VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    Some bizarre questions in their submissions form about social media promotion and author activity, which is worrying but then they don't hide from being a micropress and I gather that kind of involvement is more common with these. Their guidelines are very specific about having to use Microsoft Word Styles (may that feature burn in technoHell) instead of standard MS format, which while not a red flag in and of itself would be very, very annoying if one happened to use a Mac and didn't have $120 sitting around for the exorbitant price Microsoft asks for an overburdened, overdesigned mess of a word processor. (Guess my real feelings about Word, why don't you?)

    More of a concern is that their bios don't list any substantial publishing experience. They are apparently a part of Walrus Publishing but I'll leave that to others to evaluate as I don't really know enough to critique that. Still, degrees in environmental science and art are not going to help much with the business of publishing. Their EiC lists some awards though they seem to be design related rather than publishing related, but again I'm not super-industry-savvy so I may just not recognize them. (To be fair, they do list some of their books as having been shortlisted for some awards I have heard of, although again I'm not experienced enough to speak to reputation stuff.)

    The Suspense Author, have you tried querying agents and some of the larger, more established small presses? Always aim high--give your story the best shot that you can; it deserves that and you never know who's going to fall in love with it. BSP can make it seem easier by accepting unagented submissions but if you're going to go with a micropress it needs to be an informed decision that's best for you and the book. Micropresses can be good, but don't pass up a better deal via an agent just because it's harder.

  5. #5
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    It's now Amphorae Publishing. They have a full ms of mine. I checked a lot of their books and they are in several libraries, which is a good sign. They offer a small advance too. Amphorae also uses Netgalley to promote their books which helps with reviews and library placement. Not sure if all of the imprints are on Netgalley though.

    They recently closed the doors to unsolicited material, as of this month and are only taking agent submissions.

  6. #6
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    More specifically:
    In 2015, we officially joined with Walrus Publishing and our subsidiary imprint, Treehouse Publishing Group, to form Amphorae Publishing Group.
    Parent URL: http://www.amphoraepublishing.com/
    ICAO
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  7. #7
    Nextep
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    I wanted to share my recent experience with Amphorae.

    I found them to be decent enough people, if a bit limited in resources, capacity, initiative and imagination. The Makansis (family of 3) seem to run Bank Slate Press--which is the portal through which I entered. Their background is creative writing and book design. Donna Essner, acquisitions editor and business manager, is who I ended up dealing with after Kristina Makansi's initial, enthusiastic response to my literary novel about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

    After some months of consideration, Ms. Essner (who apparently is also a sometime author/English professor) sent me a contract for consideration. It struck my unschooled eye as far too Publisher-friendly so I sent it to the Authors Guild for review. The Guild attorney provided a thorough assessment, identified numerous red flags (regarding, among other things, a far too-extensive waiver of rights, ill-conceived calculation of royalties, ceding of editorial control/final authority on creative product, vague promotional commitments, a restrictive non-compete clause for associated works [this manuscript, TSUNAMI, is part of a trilogy], stingy provisions on complimentary/author copies associated with book promotion, and more). Following his suggested re-wording, I revised the contract and sent it back to Ms. Essner for her consideration. To my mind this was consistent with her earlier explanation that the contract was subject to negotiation.

    After a long month of silence, Ms. Essner replied that Amphorae had "decided to pass on negotiating our contract with you." She suggested that the changes were far too extensive and implied that the attorney I had consulted may not have been familiar with publishing. She concluded--for no good reason other than to justify the unilateral withdrawal of their publication offer--"if you would like to know more about publishing contracts, KIRSCH'S HANDBOOK OF PUBLISHING LAW is a good resource not only for us, but for authors as well. Kirsch is well versed in publishing law/contracts and our contracts are mirrored after his suggestions."

    Ms. Essner's tone (polite, but patronizing) prompted me to respond--at least to inform her that the attorney in question worked at the Authors Guild. She promptly responded--now a bit defensive--that "we have had other authors--both agented and unagented use the Author's Guild attorneys to review contracts. We do work with authors/agents to adapt the contract, but we'd never had so many objections/requests for changes to the contract. Unfortunately, we simply don't have the time and/or manpower to address requests for such drastic changes."

    The back and forth incidentals aside, her response strikes me as a fair summation of where Amphorae currently is. They are relatively new and small, trying to make their way. Their business model is predicated, it seems, on striking deals that cede little, if anything, to their creative partners. While not precisely author-hostile, contracts will not provide authors with much other than a publication credit. For a nascent business, a rational approach, perhaps; but authors beware: they don't have the intellectual or human resources to commit to working with authors or smoothing out wrinkles. Surely other, better established houses, would conduct the cost-benefit calculus differently--where the work is valued enough that it would justify spending a few extra days going back and forth on contract language. As for me, I would hope for a publisher that values the work enough to stick with and fight for it, rather than throwing up their hands and jettisoning it at the first sign of some "tough negotiation" (and honestly . . . really? Asking for them to condition payment of advance installments upon signing, delivery and acceptance only, not publication, or trying to place some restrictions on the publisher’s right to withhold royalties as a reserve against returns, or ensuring that they don't have exclusive rights of TV or cinematic adaptation, animation or other screen technologies, etc). At this stage of their development, Amphorae seems governed by a "path of least resistance" cost-benefit calculus which inures only to their benefit.

    Author beware, then. My experience suggests that Amphorae's current business model pits the interests of author and publisher against one other, with little mutual ground for shared success. Based on my disappointing experience, it seems that there is not much middle ground at this point in time.
    Last edited by t_sensei; 06-28-2016 at 12:46 AM.

  8. #8
    Versatiliosity Dessie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undercover View Post
    It's now Amphorae Publishing. They have a full ms of mine. I checked a lot of their books and they are in several libraries, which is a good sign. They offer a small advance too. Amphorae also uses Netgalley to promote their books which helps with reviews and library placement. Not sure if all of the imprints are on Netgalley though.

    They recently closed the doors to unsolicited material, as of this month and are only taking agent submissions.
    Apparently, they have reconsidered that and now take unagented submissions four months of the year: January, April, July and October. Agented submissions are accepted year-round. At least, that's what's on the website today.

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