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Thread: Tropes Publishing House

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Tropes Publishing House

    A friend of mine recently signed with this publishing house. I'd never heard of them, so I went investigating. Apparently, they're brand new, and red flags are popping up everywhere. They initially came to her, asking to use her work in their first anthology, and the work they wanted was fan fiction. These characters are not in the public domain, and I don't see how using the story could possibly fall under Fair Use when it's being commercialized. They're doing this with other authors as well. I haven't seen the contract they offered my friend yet, but I don't have high expectations. They don't provide the names of their staff on their website, so I have no idea who these people are or if they're experienced or trustworthy. Does anyone know anything about this publishing house? Or would be willing to look into them?

  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    http://www.tropespublishinghouse.com/

    Generic website but nothing obviously crazy at a quick glance.
    Emily Veinglory

  3. #3
    Now with more stubble VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    Reading between the lines somewhat, because the website is very sparse on info, I think this is a fan-fic publisher, with all the issues that brings up. And they're trying to reinvent the wheel with an interesting but kind of gimmicky way of classifying stories according to TV Tropes style designations. I love TV Tropes, but the way they've structured it in their first anthology is more weird than effective, IMO.

    Their submission calls on social media refer to "submit or recommend" a story and the submission form pushes for an active web link for the story, suggesting they're not taking first rights. Or that they don't understand rights. Or that they're publishing fan-fic.

    The publisher has virtually no online presence.

    I think it's always good to assume the best, but I'd wait and see at the very least.

  4. #4
    Thick Skin Pre-Installed Zombie Fraggle's Avatar
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    A whole glossary of terminology tags largely attributable to fan-fiction are used here: http://www.tropespublishinghouse.com/wingfic/

    Wing!fic (the whole ! between words thing is a fan-fiction construct, as in Evil!Sam and Bottom!Dean), slash (M/M), AU (alternate universe, which doesn't exist for original fiction), Gen (general fiction, meaning not smutty), one-shot (a story, usually short, with no planned sequel), hurt/comfort, fluff (a sugary-sweet story, even if porny), A/B/O (Alpha/beta/omega dynamics).

    So, yeah. I won't be shocked if the sound I'm hearing is serial numbers being filed off.

    ETA1: A quick WHOIS search shows the website was registered on March 15, 2016, using a Canadian privacy proxy.

    ETA2: Yup, fan-fiction. I hesitate to link to the person's Tumblr, but one of the stories in the aforementioned Wing!fic anthology is indeed a scrubbed version of a fan-fiction posted on AO3 (ArchiveOfOurOwn.org) featuring Marvel characters Clint "Hawkeye" Barton and Phil Coulson.
    Last edited by Zombie Fraggle; 08-02-2016 at 06:38 AM.

  5. #5
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Sigh. This is stupid. And I'm an advocate for most fanfiction, but not when it's used this way.

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  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I read the site carefully and I see nothing to suggest it is a fanfic publisher. Tropes are used to discuss existing works, but there is nothing wrong with using them to theme anthologies of original fiction. (I use tropes even in my academic science writing to explain the way people explain real world behavior and its association with moral character.) And that looks to be what they are doing. I think its a viable gimmick that could make anthologies more saleable to a Millennial market.

    That said, the website is so opaque I am not even sure what tropes they are currently seeking stories for.
    Emily Veinglory

  7. #7
    Now with more stubble VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    What got me wondering about fan-fic wasn't the inclusion of tropes alone, it was the request to submit stories with an active, easily discoverable web link.

    From the submissions page:

    Link to Story *
    The story should be uploaded online and easily accessible.
    Even that's not 100% a problem, though I think it raises some questions. It's that, combined with the tropes, combined with the info the OP provided and that Zombie dug up, I start to wonder.

    I've got no problem with tropes. I've lost whole days on TV Tropes and I've also used them in both analysis and arguments about much more than fan-fic. I'm also a millennial and the approach does nothing for me, but these things are subjective.

    At any rate, it's a very, very new publisher so it's probably a good idea to wait and see how these first few issues go.

  8. #8
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I did notice that and think it was weird. Why would they want stories that are already published online?
    Emily Veinglory

  9. #9
    Thick Skin Pre-Installed Zombie Fraggle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    Oh yeah, I did notice that and think it was weird. Why would they want stories that are already published online?
    Because those stories and writers may already have a following/fan-base. Sounds kinda familiar.

    All other things aside, I won't do business with any publishing company that 1) doesn't present the legal names of its principals in plain view on their website, along with their credentials for being a publisher/editor/marketing guru, and 2) that registers their website anonymously via a proxy.

  10. #10
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombie Fraggle View Post
    All other things aside, I won't do business with any publishing company that 1) doesn't present the legal names of its principals in plain view on their website, along with their credentials for being a publisher/editor/marketing guru, and 2) that registers their website anonymously via a proxy.
    I would be far more concerned about lack names/credentials than a proxy registration. Public registration is little better than putting your name out and saying "spam me! Call me! Send me fake invoices to get me to change my registration to your scammy company!" A large company can have people on staff to deal with that sort of stuff. (I know because I held that position once.) I'm a one-person operation and get enough robocalls as it is.

    There are many red flags, but that is not necessarily one by itself.

  11. #11
    Thick Skin Pre-Installed Zombie Fraggle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieB View Post
    I would be far more concerned about lack names/credentials than a proxy registration. Public registration is little better than putting your name out and saying "spam me! Call me! Send me fake invoices to get me to change my registration to your scammy company!" A large company can have people on staff to deal with that sort of stuff. (I know because I held that position once.) I'm a one-person operation and get enough robocalls as it is.

    There are many red flags, but that is not necessarily one by itself.
    I wrote: 1) doesn't present the legal names of its principals in plain view on their website, along with their credentials for being a publisher/editor/marketing guru, and 2) that registers their website anonymously via a proxy.

    Note the conjunction. I would expect to find the legal name of the principle in at least one of those two places.

    Further minimal research finds LLC incorporation filed for this publisher in the U.S. state of Mississippi on the same date (15 March, 2016) as the website creation.
    Last edited by Zombie Fraggle; 08-04-2016 at 12:36 AM.

  12. #12
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombie Fraggle View Post
    I wrote: 1) doesn't present the legal names of its principals in plain view on their website, along with their credentials for being a publisher/editor/marketing guru, and 2) that registers their website anonymously via a proxy.

    Note the conjunction. I would expect to find the legal name of the principle in at least one of those two places.

    Further minimal research finds LLC incorporation filed for this publisher in the U.S. state of Mississippi on the same date (15 March, 2016) as the website creation.
    I would want to know who was behind the publisher too but in this case, I don't think it's significant. They're publishing fan-fic. They either aren't aware of the huge issues that raises with regard to rights, or they don't care; and in either case, I wouldn't want to be involved with a publisher which didn't seem to respect intellectual property laws.

  13. #13
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    They don't actually say, anywhere that I can see, that they're publishing fanfic. Scrubbed or filed fanfic, which is by that process no longer fanfic, has been published by Big 5, including work previously posted online. 50 Shades being an obvious example.
    Last edited by veinglory; 08-04-2016 at 08:16 PM.

  14. #14
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I'm not convinced that changing details of a piece changes it enough so much that it stops being fanfic, although I'll be happy to listen to arguments in favour of this (although perhaps not in this thread, as I don't want to drag it off-topic). And yes, re Random House and Fifty Shades. They did. I still don't like it.

  15. #15
    New kid...seven years ago! DancingMaenid's Avatar
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    Well, if a piece is sufficiently altered to a point where any inspiration is pretty loose, it doesn't really matter how people feel about it. People are loosely inspired all the time. I'm not very impressed if a publisher explicitly solicits fiction that started as fanfic, though.

    It's also possible that they're looking for original fiction written by people in fandom communities. A lot of people with strong ties to fandom also publish their original fiction on their fanfic blogs or on ArchiveOfOurOwn.
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  16. #16
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I wasn't speaking as to whether it was a good idea or ethical, but it is not, in itself, proof of incompetence.

  17. #17
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DancingMaenid View Post
    Well, if a piece is sufficiently altered to a point where any inspiration is pretty loose, it doesn't really matter how people feel about it. People are loosely inspired all the time. I'm not very impressed if a publisher explicitly solicits fiction that started as fanfic, though.
    Agreed. It depends how closely it runs to the original, I guess.

    It's also possible that they're looking for original fiction written by people in fandom communities. A lot of people with strong ties to fandom also publish their original fiction on their fanfic blogs or on ArchiveOfOurOwn.
    There are some fabulous writers working in fan fiction. It can be a really good way to learn how to write strong fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    I wasn't speaking as to whether it was a good idea or ethical, but it is not, in itself, proof of incompetence.
    You're right, it isn't. But I still don't like it, and I wouldn't want to work with a publisher which thought this was a good idea.

  18. #18
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombie Fraggle View Post
    I wrote: 1) doesn't present the legal names of its principals in plain view on their website, along with their credentials for being a publisher/editor/marketing guru, and 2) that registers their website anonymously via a proxy.

    Note the conjunction. I would expect to find the legal name of the principle in at least one of those two places.
    Yeah, I did note the conjunction. I've seen non-private registrations that are less than clear, though. You can put anything in there, and as long as someone can get to the email, no one really cares.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin RoughDraftHero's Avatar
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    Yay, first post! I think...

    Anyway.

    I was just messaged by this publisher. Having experienced predators who go after those who publish online, they do and don't show some of the usual red flags.

    Pros: no hint that they would ask the author (me) to pay for editing or cover work; mentioned royalties (not the % tho); tone was professional and not like they were doing me a favor.

    Cons: I could tell (and this always happens) that they did not actually read the fic they were offering to publish in their anthology. There was a thinly-veiled bit about scrubbing any hints of fanfic from the story which was funny because that particular fic is original. So yeah, thought I would drop a line with a little more info.

  20. #20
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoughDraftHero View Post
    I was just messaged by this publisher. Having experienced predators who go after those who publish online, they do and don't show some of the usual red flags.

    Pros: no hint that they would ask the author (me) to pay for editing or cover work; mentioned royalties (not the % tho); tone was professional and not like they were doing me a favor.

    Cons: I could tell (and this always happens) that they did not actually read the fic they were offering to publish in their anthology. There was a thinly-veiled bit about scrubbing any hints of fanfic from the story which was funny because that particular fic is original. So yeah, thought I would drop a line with a little more info.
    Not being a predator is not the same thing as being a good idea. Royalty-only payments for anthologies often translate to never being paid, because the anthology doesn't sell enough copies. This is especially true from a tiny publisher with no history of selling their books.

    You'll notice anthologies aimed at professional writers tend to offer payment per word or a fixed amount, because it doesn't take writers long to realise that for-the-royalties might as well be for-the-love when it comes to short fiction. I do have a few places where I got an upfront payment and royalties. Getting both isn't a problem, as you never know. But I've yet to ever receive a royalty cheque, so if I didn't have that upfront payment, I'd have earnt nothing.
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  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin RoughDraftHero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    Not being a predator is not the same thing as being a good idea. Royalty-only payments for anthologies often translate to never being paid, because the anthology doesn't sell enough copies. This is especially true from a tiny publisher with no history of selling their books.

    You'll notice anthologies aimed at professional writers tend to offer payment per word or a fixed amount, because it doesn't take writers long to realise that for-the-royalties might as well be for-the-love when it comes to short fiction. I do have a few places where I got an upfront payment and royalties. Getting both isn't a problem, as you never know. But I've yet to ever receive a royalty cheque, so if I didn't have that upfront payment, I'd have earnt nothing.
    Yep, agreed on that point. In my opinion, this "publisher's" game plan is publishing scrubbed fanfic without editing or putting in any real work. It doesn't cost them anything to do so.

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