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Thread: Five Star Publishing / Five Star Mysteries

  1. #1
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Five Star Publishing / Five Star Mysteries

    I learned this morning that a member of my former critique group has a book coming out from Five Star Mysteries. After going through five pages of Google results, I haven't found a website for them. They have no listing in the 2005 edition of Writer's Market.

    The author's greatest talent was persistence, both in writing copiously and in making the same sorts of errors over and over despite increasingly blunt critique from many. I am absolutely flabberghasted that this writer actually sold this book, which I critiqued a few chapters at a time.

    While it's possible the rewrite addressed every serious issue and fatal flaw, the author's insistence that character development didn't matter and that the protagonist didn't need to think of or mention any past, family, friends, or having a home, seems likely to me to suggest that Five Star Mysteries might be a POD press, or that its standards are not as high as those of better-known publishers.

    Does anyone here know anything about Five Star Mysteries? (Or am I just the epitome of sour grapes?)

    Maryn, slogging into the difficult middle section of her WIP

  2. #2
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Question It's a mystery

    I found this, associated with a mystery mag. Is this the one? http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/gormania2.html
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 02-14-2005 at 12:37 AM. Reason: Forgot the bleeping link
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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Five Star

    Five Star publishes books (mostly hardcover) for library market. Their books usually aren't found in bookstores, but many libraries nationwide carry them. From what I hear, their advance is somewhat small ($1,000) and most authors don't seem to make much royalty beyond that.

    Note: I got my numbers from this site. These figures are for Five Star romance. Figures may be different for mysteries.

    They are small but legit. (But I'm no expert. This is just what I learned from hanging around in various writers groups/forums.)

    Crunchy

  4. #4
    And now, back to Plodding! Duncan J Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn
    I learned this morning that a member of my former critique group has a book coming out from Five Star Mysteries. After going through five pages of Google results, I haven't found a website for them. They have no listing in the 2005 edition of Writer's Market.
    Try putting Five Star Mysteries in quotes into Google. You'll end up with better results (like the first hit on the first page) http://www.galegroup.com/fivestar/index.htm

    Try as I might, I couldn't find a Submissions Guideline anywhere.
    R/
    Hamster #164

  5. #5
    Banned bikrpreacher's Avatar
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    advances

    I have to say though that a $1,000 advance is much higher than a PA dollar...

  6. #6
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Thank you

    Thanks for the tip, Duncan. Actually, I did have it in quotes but the first result didn't look all that promising (without opening it, that is)--shows what I know, huh?

    Cao, I don't think Mystery Scene magazine is affiliated with Five Star Mysteries, at least not the Thomson-Gale publisher by that name. Thomson is huge (I should know, "Mr. Maryn" works for a Thomson corporation!) and would definitely have its logo on there, and a more professional contact email than somebody's AOL address.

    Crunchy Frog, $1000 is a decent, perhaps even a generous, advance for a writer of my acquaintance's skills. IMO this author was clearly among the most driven and the least talented of the critique group. And now, add living proof that wanting it bad enough can get results. (I'm trying hard to be inspired rather than WTF.)

    So the author I know made what appears to be a real sale. I can only assume that some massive rethinking and rewriting took place. (Boy, would I love to have a job that let me write and rewrite novels 'on the clock'!) I'm pleased to see this person's work has improved so much.

    I'm still a little confused, though--why would libraries want to own books that the public isn't buying in bookstores? I would think that sales figures would determine, in part anyway, what books the library decides it wants to own.

    We got an acquisitions librarian who might enlighten me? Thanks.

    Maryn
    Last edited by Maryn; 02-14-2005 at 01:34 AM. Reason: Reply to all instead of one

  7. #7
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Maryn, there's also a Five Star Publications that's a vanity press: http://www.fivestarpublications.com/ It wouldn't be this, would it?

    As others have said, the Five Star owned by Gale has a sizeable publication program targeted at libraries (there are a number of publishers like this). Five Star books are packaged, so there are some nonstandard aspects to the contract (for instance, the advance is actually $2,000, but the packager keeps half; it also takes a chunk of royalties), but the books have good distribution and get reviewed in trade publications.

    I'm a mystery buff, so I've taken a number of Five Star books out of the library over the years, some pretty good, some fairly marginal. I don't want to say the bar is lower, but there does seem to be a tendency toward the formulaic. On the other hand, I just blurbed a very good fantasy from a newer writer put out by Five Star's fantasy program, which I think might have had a hard time getting picked up by one of the large imprints, because it's a "quiet" book without a lot of romance or slammin' battle sequences or gimmicky settings. So perhaps Five Star also gives exposure to books that are out of the genre mainstream, which is a good thing.

    I believe they accept unagented submissions.

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    Just the Basic Facts Uncarved's Avatar
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    Five Star Mysteries

    Five Star Mysteries is eager to see pitches on series that have been dropped by their publishers. I'd appreciate a brief description of the series, who published it, how many books it ran. Email me at ejgorman99@aol.com.

    Same for new novels. Send me 100-word pitches and we'll go from there. The parameters are medium boiled (no unnecessary sex or violence) to cozy. We also buy thrillers from time to time.
    from the left side of here:
    http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/gormania2.html



    struck me odd about the 100 word pitch. What can you learn with that few words???

    tina

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Maryn

    I know how you feel, Maryn. I had someone like that in my critique group too. I thought she was by far the worst writer in our group. Her writing was so bad that I couldn't help laughing (good thing it was an on-line crit group ) and it wasn't even a comedy. But she sold that very book to one of the better-known e-book publishers. It really made me doubt my ability to judge literature, and consequently, my ability to write.

    But, oh well. Even big NY publishers sometimes make mistakes. (Or maybe your friend "sold" it to the other "Five Star" Victoria was talking about )

    Keep writing! If they can get published, so can we!

    Crunchy

  10. #10
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Sour Grapes? Nah...

    I confess that I told "Mr. Maryn" I felt some resentment over my former colleague's sale, and he asked that cut-to-the-chase question: Do I have a better book out there right now, seeking a publisher?

    My negative answer says it all.

    OK, that's it. Less time online, goofing around, more time writing. I'm better, I really am! (Oh yeah? Go prove it.)

    Maryn, apparently splitting into two personalities (man, I hope one of them can write!)

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW keltora's Avatar
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    Five Star and Libraries

    Libraries actually like Five Star Press, but this comes largely because it is associated with a larger company that libraries have been using for years. They have a good growing catalog, the product is well put together (no POD here), and their presentation is always very professional. They're not the only publisher out there at markets exclusively to libraries, but they are part of one of the largest. They ship most of the books under Thorndyke's imprint, which is a division of Gale.

    Of course, Gale and Thorndyke have a long history of being respectable. Most of our reference sources are produced by Gale, and Thorndyke historically had been a long time publisher of large print editions before it moved into regular publishing.

    Five Star's editor John Helfers, works with Tekno Books, which is Marty Greenberg's (sp?) packager. From talking to other writers, I understand that he is a nice person to work with.

    Admittedly, Five Star hardcovers are a little pricey compared to market standard, but they give libraries a good discount, will readily replace damaged or poorly put together books and are always willing to bend over backwards. They also pick up older editions of books for publication. They have a mystery line, a SF line, a western line a romance line, and a general fiction line.

    I do know of at least one author whose first fantasy novel has come out through them and he is quite happy, and I will admit that I have submitted a novel to them. But before I did, I talked to a lot of the pros I knew who had published with them and only found one complaint from an author who says their book never earned out.

    There is the fact that they take half the advance, but they pay the larger chunk of the royalties to the author (about 80%) and they -do- get books sent to major review sources. You will often see their books reviewed in Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal and Booklist and Kirkus. Nor do they purchase all right. Just HC and sometimes trade rights. The author is free to sell other rights elsewhere, so long as they give 20% back to the packager.

    Laura J. Underwood (A Little Bit of Travis Tea--My ATLANTA NIGHTS can poke out your EYE OF ARGON any day!)

    DRAGON'S TONGUE forthcoming from Meisha Merlin in the Summer of 2006. Available now for preview at http://www.embiid.net

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW keltora's Avatar
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    Five Star Guidelines

    They were posted over on Ralan.com under Publishers.

    Laura J. Underwood (A Little Bit of Travis Tea--My ATLANTA NIGHTS can poke out your EYE OF ARGON any day!)

    DRAGON'S TONGUE forthcoming from Meisha Merlin in Summer 2006. Preview the novel at http://www.ebmiid.net

  13. #13
    Player of the Letters Alphabeter's Avatar
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    So they're the ones who publish all those books that require 15 feet of bookstore shelf space everyday and whose authors get that $1000 advance.

    By gum, Curlem (or was it Larry) wasn't just quoting those resonating releases of Moeranda's!

    Andrea

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW keltora's Avatar
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    LOL!

    Laura J. Underwood (A Little Bit of Travis Tea--My ATLANTA NIGHTS can poke out your EYE OF ARGON any day!)

    DRAGON'S TONGUE forthcoming from Meisha Merlin Summer 2006. Preview the novel at http://www.embiid.net

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW rejectME's Avatar
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    Talking What happens...

    If this publisher puts out a novel to libraries and the book becomes popular? Does that mean that it will only be availible at teh local library? Would 5 star have the parent company publish it? I assume they wouldn't want to limit theit sales if there was a demand...

    Jerry

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Re: What happens...

    Their books are sold at online booksellers, and I would assume you can special order them from regular bookstores too. So their books aren't strictly for libraries.

    CRUNCHY

  17. #17
    James999
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    www.cypresshouse.com, www.fivestarpublications.com, www.thefloatinggallery.com, www.v

    Hello everyone,

    Does anybody have any experience with any of these self-publishing companies? I'm trying to avoid the POD route, but I find these services to be quite expensive.

    Thanks,

    James

    Here are the companies I am enquiring about:

    www.cypresshouse.com, www.fivestarpublications.com, www.thefloatinggallery.com, www.vbipublishing.com

  18. #18
    Nefarious Ghost Fan AnneMarble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James999
    Hello everyone,

    Does anybody have any experience with any of these self-publishing companies? I'm trying to avoid the POD route, but I find these services to be quite expensive.
    If they charge a lot of money, I'm already suspicious. If you have something you believe in, even if it's not something a bigger publisher might be interested, have you considered a small press?

    BTW one thing I find odd about Five Star Publications is that there is a small publisher called Five Star Publishing. While they are not recognized by RWA (Romance Writers of America), their titles are available in bookstores, and they have published books by previously published authors, such as Laura Leone and Barbara Metzger. But I've never seen anything by Five Star Publications. I wonder if Five Star Publications picked a similar name by accident or if they hoped people would get confused.

    I wasn't all that impressed by the Five Star Publications page, however, as they don't have that many titles, even though they talk about how long they have been around, etc.
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  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Trapped in amber's Avatar
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    Can I ask what type of work you want to get published? Some things are suitable for self-publishing, while others aren't.
    Please feel free to correct my spelling, punctuation and grammar if the urge takes you. I'm trying to improve.

  20. #20
    James999
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    Actually, I've written a non-fiction work dealing with societal outlooks.

    I remember seeing Linda Radke's reason for naming her publishing company Five Star Publications somewhere on her site, and it had something to do with her family.

    These websites look ok, but I would just hate to invest that kind of money in a project only to have to go through some of the the things that POD authors have to go through in chasing up their publishers for their royalties and quarterly statements. Everytime I started to lean towards a particular POD company, I would read about somebody's nightmare experience with that outfit. Finally, I have pretty much come to the conlcusion that POD publishing is not for me anyway, which brings me to the search for a reliable, affordable self publishing company.

    Best,

    James

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW Trapped in amber's Avatar
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    There is another board here on self-publishing, POD companies and ebooks, that might also have useful information for you:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=47
    Please feel free to correct my spelling, punctuation and grammar if the urge takes you. I'm trying to improve.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW Trapped in amber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James999
    Finally, I have pretty much come to the conlcusion that POD publishing is not for me anyway, which brings me to the search for a reliable, affordable self publishing company.
    It sounds like you need a printer, rather than a vanity press/self-publishing company. If you truly self-publish, you get to keep all the profit you make on your books.
    Please feel free to correct my spelling, punctuation and grammar if the urge takes you. I'm trying to improve.

  23. #23
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by James999
    but I would just hate to invest that kind of money in a project only to have to go through some of the the things that POD authors have to go through in chasing up their publishers for their royalties and quarterly statements.
    Have you looked into lulu.com or cafepress.com? I think you can find out more about them in the forum Trapped in Amber suggested.

  24. #24
    James999
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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Actually, I think these companies allow you to keep any money that comes in from the books. They are more like guides to help you along the self publishing process. This is an excellent way to go, especially when self publishing for the first time. However, their fees are a bit hefty, and I just wanted to know if anyone had heard anything negative about any of them before proceeding any further.

    Thanks,

    James

  25. #25
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by James999
    Actually, I think these companies allow you to keep any money that comes in from the books.
    Which companies do you mean? The ones you were asking about originally? If so, you really should look into lulu and cafepress, which will do the same thing without those fees.

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