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Thread: [Publisher] Big Bend Productions / Marfa House

  1. #26
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    After reading so many negative comments about Big Bend Productions and Marfa House I decided to do my own research. What I discovered is that the company is owned by a teacher who works with children that have special needs. The proceeds go towards helping the children. For you to be bashing such a company tells a lot about the kind of person you are. Why should anyone believe anything you say?

  2. #27
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Marketeer, we're not 'bashing', we're discussing the rather obvious flaws in a business. It doesn't matter who started the business or why, just how professionally they conduct themselves.

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  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    After reading so many negative comments about Big Bend Productions and Marfa House I decided to do my own research. What I discovered is that the company is owned by a teacher who works with children that have special needs. The proceeds go towards helping the children. For you to be bashing such a company tells a lot about the kind of person you are. Why should anyone believe anything you say?
    To be honest, why should I believe anything you say? You claim you've done research, but you haven't addressed any of the issues that people brought up about the publisher--the poorly edited website, the unreasonable non-compete clause, the freelancers who aren't being paid, and so on. For all I know, you're the owner and you're attempting to do damage control.

  4. #29
    figuring it all out Zaffiro's Avatar
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    I'm confused. Could you explain how the owner's work with children with special needs makes a difference to the quality of the publishing house? Because that's what this thread is about.

  5. #30
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    After reading so many negative comments about Big Bend Productions and Marfa House I decided to do my own research. What I discovered is that the company is owned by a teacher who works with children that have special needs. The proceeds go towards helping the children. For you to be bashing such a company tells a lot about the kind of person you are. Why should anyone believe anything you say?
    That's all well and good but many businesses (and that's what we're looking at: a business) begin with great intentions but fail after a short time. The person who runs this company obviously has no experience running a publisher and if they don't, they really shouldn't be in the first place. As mentioned on other threads, it's not an entry-level job; it takes years of specialized experience to run a publishing company and while the owner may have experience running other businesses (not sure), that doesn't necessarily translate well if they don't have unique skills.

    And an effective publisher certainly does not offer the many of the marketing services shown on their site as "prizes" for levels of sales; many of them should be available to an author once a contract has been signed (some smaller e-pubs do offer hard copy after X number of sales, but that's spelled out in the contracts, usually after a higher number of e-book sales that prove to the publisher can afford the risk and cost involved). And if an author desperately wants a t-shirt to wear to conventions or around town to advertise their book, there are definitely easier, better options out there for them to get one sooner than having to wait until they've sold X number of books. Yeah, they'll have to fork over $25 or $30 to get one but a free t-shirt should really be a "prize" option offered by a radio station or something shot from a cannon at tomorrow night's baseball game during Fan Appreciation Night. (And book trailers are their own separate controversy, another rant for another day.)

    Call me a cynical bastard if you want; this probably isn't the time for me to be composing an answer to this particular thread, anyway (tl;dr: bad mood, feeling emotionally and physically cruddy, bad weekend, in general) but I also feel like holding up the owner's credentials as a person who works with special needs children and the proceeds of this venture going to helping them is a shitty thing to do. It's a guilt card I honestly do not respond to well (former Catholic, so don't talk to me about guilt). You're expecting us to back down and apologize because of this person's background? Sorry. Ain't gonna work, in my case. If you wanted us to rethink our responses, there's an easy way of doing it: show us the experience this person has running a publisher. Any experience. Have they worked as an editor (copy? line? acquisition?) for a reputable publisher for an extended period of time and can it be verified? Or how about explaining how they're going to handle the issue of people going unpaid for their time and work? I'm sure that would ease the minds of a few who've responded to this thread already.

    Whatever the case may be, we've also done the research and this company does not look to be one I'd trust with my manuscript. I haven't been involved in the publishing business for very long, compared to others who've responded, but I've learned enough to know what I'd be getting myself into if I'd signed a contract with them. And I'd rather not deal with the outcome.

  6. #31
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'll jump back in and add to Ben's comment.

    I'd expect MORE from a business supposedly founded to help special-needs children. I expect the business/charity/foundation to run a clean, professional honest shop, following the general best-practices standards of its particular industry.

    Because if they can't manage that...I have to look at their feel-good mission statement and/or charity front and assume 'Well-meaning incompetence' at best.

    At worst, I'll be thinking 'Affinity fraud'.

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  7. #32
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    I'll jump back in and add to Ben's comment.

    I'd expect MORE from a business supposedly founded to help special-needs children. I expect the business/charity/foundation to run a clean, professional honest shop, following the general best-practices standards of its particular industry.

    Because if they can't manage that...I have to look at their feel-good mission statement and/or charity front and assume 'Well-meaning incompetence' at best.

    At worst, I'll be thinking 'Affinity fraud'.
    Yeah, if this place actually is registered under a charity (which I don't know one way or another for certain), we're talking a whole new branch of tax and business laws.

  8. #33
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    I'm still trying to figure out what the pic of the woman in sunglasses on the Marfa House webpage has to do with anything.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    I'm still trying to figure out what the pic of the woman in sunglasses on the Marfa House webpage has to do with anything.
    Been the burning question in my mind the past week or two.

    Marketeer, I'd like to understand how you know where the proceeds are going. Because as I recall from reading the owner's bio, while it does mention she works with children, it doesn't explicitly mention special needs and it makes no mention of the publishing house being a charitable endeavour.

    Also, perhaps you could explain, based on your research, why the house is taking rights and 40% royalties from books written by kids in K-12? And offering "publishing" for writers as young as six?

    If the house is involved in transmedia, could you explain why I haven't heard of them at the transmedia conferences I've been to or why I don't see them discussing the rapidly-evolving techniques and thinking in the field, including an opinion on the debate around whether the field should even be called transmedia anymore?

  10. #35
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    I'm still trying to figure out what the pic of the woman in sunglasses on the Marfa House webpage has to do with anything.
    Is she at Big Bend?


  11. #36
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    I'm guessing it's a stock photo.
    I still poop rainbows.

    I won't steal any of your ideas. I have enough of my own I'm not using.


  12. #37

  13. #38
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    It is a transmedia company which means they can just about do it all.
    What past experience do the people in this company have in the media? Anything on YouTube you would like us to check out? Post links.

    It is industry standards for a publishing house to have right of first refusal.
    True, but only when the author has previously published with a house, and the writers with any contract experience strike that clause from their contract or modify it to "a work similar to the previous work." In those cases if you sell the house a mystery, they want to see another mystery, not a cookbook. But to lock a writer in so they may only ever sub to a single house forever is NOT industry standard, it is a red flag that the house has no idea how publishing works.

    They screen every book before deciding on publishing it.
    Well, duh. It's good they know to do that at least.

    The owner is actually a teacher with a masters who specializes in working with children who have special needs. I found it disturbing to see a company who works with children who have special needs being bashed by you. This says a lot about the kind of person you are. I suggest you do some honest research before posting misinformation.
    None of which has anything to do with how to run a publishing house unless that house specializes in books only about special needs children.

    You are not dealing with a single person on this board, but with several thousand people volunteering their time and expertise to help out other writers. Many of the people here are long time professionals in publishing and know how a viable legitimate publishing house works.

    You have been asked questions by some of them, but no answers are given, only the same posts pasted in, repeating yourself. This ain't our first rodeo with sock puppets. I suggest, if you want to make a better impression about this business, that you drop the pretense, address the queries in a professional manner, and perhaps even take some advice when it comes to your writer-unfriendly contracts. That exclusivity clause is a deal breaker. Removing that clause will improve things a bit, but the sock puppet paste ins are just going to hurt you.

    No one cares who the people in charge do outside of publishing. They DO care if the staff has ANY kind of publishing and editing experience.

    Opening a publishing house is rather like opening a restaurant. It is a REALLY good idea to have people in the kitchen who know how to cook.
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 05-01-2017 at 11:10 PM.

  14. #39
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Dammit, I've just accidentally deleted my last post.

    Let's try again.

    Marketeer, you wouldn't happen to be Allison Espinosa, would you? The Allison Espinosa who's the Registered Agent on file for BBP?

    https://www.bizapedia.com/tx/big-ben...tions-llc.html

    From the BBP website:

    Big Bend Productions has teamed up with the educational company, Academic Warriors, to bring forth the educational program, Comanche Moon.


    For the benefit of anyone who might assume that Academic Warriors is an independent company, the Registered Agent on file is Espinosa Espinosa - who shares an address (well, a PO Box) with Allison Espinosa:

    https://www.bizapedia.com/tx/academic-warriors-llc.html

    Also, owner Allison Esposito and prolific Marfa/BBP author Allison Bruning are one and the same person:

    https://thevanhornadvocate.com/2016/...ng-the-gifted/

    Marfa author Chasity Tarentino is also VP at Big Bend Productions:

    https://www.facebook.com/search/top/...no&init=public

    The good news:

    We do not accept partial manuscripts nor do we review first drafts to determine if the story idea is well enough for publication.
    https://www.bigbendpro.com/submissions

    It's nice to know that they're not taking advantage of story ideas that aren't in the best of health, but all the Marfa/BBP books I looked suffered from sub-par editing.

  15. #40
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchybelle4u2 View Post
    Have NEVER confirmed whether or not my contract has been terminated but since they're in major breach of it in so many ways, meh.
    INAL, but for your own sake, don't assume this. Send them a registered letter requesting clarification of / termination of the contract.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    It is industry standards to have right of first refusal. This means an author that is with the publisher must go to them first and then they can go to another publisher if the first publisher does not want to publish their book.
    If this is the sort of research you've done, then you need to learn more about the industry before "researching" any further. You only have a partial understanding of how things work.

    Yes, first refusal means that a publisher gets to see your next novel, but they only get to see it exclusively for about a month, at which point they can either pass or make an offer.

    If they make an offer, you do not have to take that offer. If you don't want to place your book with them, you can refuse their offer and go elsewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    I did my own honest research
    Using honest as a modifier isn't usually a good sign. It's often a subconscious indication that you don't think your words are sufficient to stand on their own.

    and discovered that the owner is actually a teacher.
    So not a publisher with publishing experience, then?

    She started Big Bend Productions in order to help people.
    Publishers open and operate to publish books and then get those books to the readers most likely to buy them.

    I found Marfa House to be a great company and their staff to be professional.
    Are you a writer? An editor? In which capacity have you worked with the company to know this?

    No one's being mean to you asking these questions. The sort of experience you have will inform others seeking the same information. A writer's experience with a house will be vastly different from an editor's or an intern's. Knowing how you've interacted with the company will help someone else understand where you're coming from and if they've got a reasonable expectation of similar experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    I'm still trying to figure out what the pic of the woman in sunglasses on the Marfa House webpage has to do with anything.
    Maybe she's shielding herself from the Marfa Lights.
    Last edited by Cyia; 05-01-2017 at 09:53 PM.

  16. #41
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    I thought Allison Bruning's name rang a bell:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...ngs-Publishing

  17. #42
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    Did a bit of research on the owner of the company and she's been involved with other publishing houses before - none of which are around now, of course. (Check out Mountain Springs House and at least 2 more.)
    Above was posted earlier on in this thread but it didn't ring any bells with me till I read about "Mountain Springs Publishing" via your latest post, linking to an older /13? interview with MSP, Alice.

    https://thefaceofbusiness.wordpress....springs-house/

    Indeed, the saddest part of that "interview" is the comments section where, even up to this year, a writer in Africa is still wondering what has happened to his two books that are with the long gone MSP. Awful!

  18. #43
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    BBP/Marfa is yet another example of someone who fell foul of a vanity publisher and thought they could do better - without having any experience of commercial publishing.

    From a 2012 interview:

    It has been a rough journey for me. When I started the publication process I didn't understand the three different types of publishing companies; subsidy, POD, and traditional houses. I didn't know that authors should never pay to publish their works. The publishing houses are supposed to pay you an advance. Calico first ended up in a subsidy house that promised to teach me the ins and outs of the trade. I ended up losing over $3,000 with my novel never seeing publication. A year and a half later I changed houses to Tate Publishing, but then a well seasoned author taught me the ins and outs of the publication world. I soon learned that I had traded one subsidy house for another. I lost $80 with Tate. Finally I found traditional small publishing house, Page Turners Publishing House, that took my book and ran with it. After three and a half years Calico was finally released on August 11, 2011.
    https://riteshkala.wordpress.com/201...hor-of-calico/
    I'm guessing that the first "subsidy house" was our old friend Author House.

    All I could find out about Page Turners Publishing Company (not House) is that it was incorporated on 4th April 2011 (only a week before the release of Calico!) and dissolved on 8th August 2014: https://www.indiana-register.com/779...ng-company-llc
    This "traditional small publishing house" was owned by Toney Dunaway, who as L.A. Tripp wrote all the Page Turners books I could find on Amazon.

    Indiegogo evidently couldn't save Mountain Springs House:

    We are asking for help to expand our services into graphic novels and to expand our marketing services so our authors can reach an even greater market with their books. We currently offer our books through the ACX system and pay our narrators only through a royalty split. We would like to be able to hire narrators up front and keep all of the royalties.
    We are currently in the planning and research mode of our expansion into graphic novels and would like to pay our illustrators up front for their services before we launch our graphic novels.
    Our office is in need of a printer. We would like to use our funds to acquire this.
    Our staff depends on royalties. We would like to offer our staff funds up front for their work.
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/m...prings-house#/
    The campaign ended on 16th May 2014, having raised a grand total of....$0.


    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 07-05-2017 at 01:04 PM. Reason: Wrong name

  19. #44
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    The Blue Line, short story published in Oakwood 2017
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  20. #45
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Dude. Don't bogart the 'corn.
    I still poop rainbows.

    I won't steal any of your ideas. I have enough of my own I'm not using.


  21. #46
    Born at sea Clairels's Avatar
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    I've been late to the kitchen too many times. This time it's all MIIIINE.

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  22. #47
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    The standard of editing in Marfa/Big Bend books varies wildly. The worst example is a short story by Big Bend's VP, only seven brief paragraphs of which can be read via Look Inside:

    She applied a little bit more of the red mascara she was wearing. "There perfect." She said, re-examining herself in the mirror.
    She just needed a little human snack here and there, speaking of a snack.

    "Harold!" she hollered as she went and sat on the red leather couch. Her black leather pants stretching tightly as she crossed one stiletto-clad foot across the other.

    "Yes, ma'am?" He said hurriedly.

    https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Fame-C...d+fame+chasity
    The other 16 pages may well be error-free but I'm not paying even $1.96 to find out. The author thanks her editor Melissa, who must be the Melissa Meeks who'll be giving writers "grammar and editing tips" on yet another venture, Mountain Trail Writers:

    http://blog.mountaintrailwriters.com/

    I had to laugh at this (which made me look rather like the singing seal whose photograph can be purchased from Castolon Studios):

    Marfa House will gladly help you trandform your ebook or print book into an audiobook.

    $200 per hour. Don't worry about figuring out how many hours it will take to produce your book. We'll do that for you.
    https://www.bigbendpro.com/audio-books
    If I were shelling out $200 per hour to transform - or trandform - a full-length novel into an audiobook (Bruning's Bailey's Revenge has a running time of 11 hours and 21 minutes) I most definitely WOULD worry about how many hours it would take!

    And those "author swag" pages...please tell me that no-one is daft enough to buy serving trays ($40), desk organizers ($32), hooded sweatshirts ($55) or the previously-mentioned leggings ($65). My favourite item has to be...footed pajamas ($65).

    FOOTED PAJAMAS. In pink or white, with the title of your book emblazoned on them. Guaranteed to impress everyone you sleep with and any neighbours with a good view of your washing line.
    Last edited by aliceshortcake; 05-04-2017 at 12:06 AM.

  23. #48
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    It is my understanding that everyone has gotten paid. Since it is a traditional publishing house they take all the risk and the independent contractors mostly get paid from the royalties that come from book sales. What seems to happen is that some people want to be paid right away and not wait even though the company is taking all the risk.

  24. #49
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    It is my understanding that everyone has gotten paid. Since it is a traditional publishing house they take all the risk and the independent contractors mostly get paid from the royalties that come from book sales. What seems to happen is that some people want to be paid right away and not wait even though the company is taking all the risk.
    What? The company takes all the risk by not paying anyone for their time and skill? How...how does that work?


  25. #50
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marketeer View Post
    It is my understanding that everyone has gotten paid. Since it is a traditional publishing house they take all the risk and the independent contractors mostly get paid from the royalties that come from book sales. What seems to happen is that some people want to be paid right away and not wait even though the company is taking all the risk.
    You seem to be very much "in the know" about the inner workings of this publisher. If you're somehow connected to it, why not be upfront about your connection, rather than skulking in anonymity?
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