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Thread: Hilliard & Harris / Fenton Press

  1. #1
    agikiss
    Guest

    Hilliard & Harris / Fenton Press

    Hilliard and Harris Publishers are interested in my novel. They look good as far as I can tell, but wanted to see if anyone has any experience to share... thanks.

  2. #2
    barrett78217
    Guest

    Hilliard and Harris

    There is only one issue I have and that is H&H's reverse accounting contract Stephanie Reilly insist they use. A reverse accounting contract is one where they can offer you 20% of net- as H&H does- and end up paying you next to nothing. This contract is alos known as the 'Hollywood' contract- many years ago.

    When I asked Stephanie Reilly about what commissions she takes off the top- before my 20%- she claimed it would be for things like sales in the field 'if they had to do that.'

    When I asked if she took out for commissions for her art (she does almost all of their cover art), she said she didn't disclose that information. After asking about the commissions for light editing, sale transaction costs and other very pointed questions on deductions she takes out before my 20%, she became irritated and hung up.

    I didn't sign the contract... Still looking for an agent or publisher though.

  3. #3
    Greenwolf103
    Guest

    Re: Hilliard and Harris

    Whoa! I'd definitely stay away from this one!

  4. #4
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Hilliard and Harris

    "Net" is whatever they want it to be. Standard publishing practice is to pay royalties on gross (cover price).

    Don't sign contracts for royalties on net.

  5. #5
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: anyone know Hilliard and Harris?

    I've seen the H&H contract, and it's nonstandard in other ways as well. The book covers aren't professional-looking. I'm also very dubious about the publisher's ability to distribute its books.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    HapiSofi
    Guest

    Re: Hilliard and Harris

    Don't sign it. That's a bad contract. Standard royalties are paid on gross, not net. Authors take enough of the risk as it is.

  7. #7
    mysteryquiller
    Guest

    Hilliard and Harris

    I've read The Phoenix by S Alden Reilly (aka Stephanie Reilly- owner of H&H) after I submitted my manuscript. First, the lady can't write. Second, she sent a rad bogus contract. A law student friend looked at it and said it was a quick sand contract. She can do whatever she wants and if you try to sue her, it has to be in Maryland and it has a loophole allow for you to pay her court costs up front. After she pays all her expenses- including her commissions for art, editing, selling, breathing and etc then you split it 80/20. Guess who gets 20? The contract would allow her to jet off to Las Vegas and she'll deduct it as promotional. Oh, and get this, she doesn't promote but she can deduct for it.

  8. #8
    agikiss
    Guest

    Hilliard and Harris

    Thanks to everyone for your helpful input!

  9. #9
    wordsmith68
    Guest

    Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    I received a contract today from Hilliard & Harris Publishers! They seem very professional. I spoke to Ms. Reilly and she said that a 20 percent royalty is five-percent above normal but they really like my mystery novel 'Silent Parrot.'

  10. #10
    Tish Davidson
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    This is their web site
    www.hilliardandharris.com/

    They seem to have been in business only since 2000, but they list their authors, titles, and distributors. I picked a title at random and checked for it on Amazon. It had a rank of something like 780,000 but it looked legit, and it appeared that the author had published other books (non-fiction on the same topic as his mystery) with other publishers.

  11. #11
    wordsmith68
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    Cool! Thanks!

  12. #12
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    But are those books in the stores?

  13. #13
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    I've seen several Hilliard & Harris contracts, and they're author-unfriendly in a number of ways, including the Grant of Rights, which is much too sweeping and endures for much too long (10 years), and the royalty clause, which allows the publisher to deduct a menu of costs from the book's income, including printing, shipping, sales transaction fees, bookseller discounts, insurance, and the costs of promoting and marketing the book. It would be easily possible to manipulate things so that the author never received any income at all. There's also a very restrictive Option/Noncompetition clause.

    - Victoria

  14. #14
    mysteryquiller
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    Oops! Interesting title but I hope you haven't signed the contract!

    I received a contract for my mystery novel, 'The Beech Memorandum,' stating much what Ms. Strauss mentioned. I took it to an attorney. Not a good situation...

    She said it was a reverse accounting contract. She had seen these in Los Angeles years before.

    I spoke to Ms. Reilly too. At first she's sugar and spice until you ask the difficult questions.

    Then she hung up on me. Oh, well.

    And your twenty percent? She said the same to me. It's five percent above what others pay.

    But she failed to mention it's for NET!!!!

  15. #15
    barrett78217
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    Yes, I have!

    There is only one issue I have and that is H&H's reverse accounting contract Stephanie Reilly insist they use. A reverse accounting contract is one where they can offer you 20% of net- as H&H does- and end up paying you next to nothing. This contract is also known as the 'Hollywood' contract- many, many years ago.

    When I asked Stephanie Reilly about what commissions she takes off the top- before my 20%- she claimed it would be for things like sales in the field 'if they had to do that.'

    When I asked if she took out for commissions for her art (she does almost all of their cover art), she said she didn't disclose that information. After asking about the commissions for light editing, sale transaction costs and other very pointed questions on deductions she takes out before my 20%, she became really irritated and hung up.

    I didn't sign the contract... Reality check though- I'm still looking for an agent or publisher.

    I read one of her books too- The Phoenix. It's no small wonder she had to publish herself. It breaks all the established rules of writing. No slam, just straight talk.

  16. #16
    wordsmith68
    Guest

    Hilliard & Harris-update

    Since my first silly exuberant post, I've emailed ten Hilliard & Harris authors. Four have replied.

    One said have an attorney review it and advise you; another only wrote, "Good luck!"; still another said, "unless you have a lot of money for marketing, dont." The last one was very bitter.

    Six have not replied.

    Ms. Strauss, my contract is for 20% of net. :head

  17. #17
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Hilliard & Harris-update

    >>my contract is for 20% of net<<

    That seems to be standard for this company.

    It's much better to have royalties paid on cover or retail price than on the publisher's net, since many retailers buy at substantial discounts. But even plain net is better than net reduced by other costs, as in H&H's contract. As someone else pointed out, this sort of "reverse accounting" allows the publisher to count its own expenses against your income, and can be manipulated to get your royalties down to almost nothing. I'm not saying this is what H&H does. However, with a contract like this you'd have absolutely no guarantee of what your royalty income might be.

    If you do decide to have an attorney review the contract, make sure s/he is an intellectual property attorney who has experience with publishing contracts. Otherwise, you may not get useful advice. Publishing contracts are very specialized documents, and your average general practice lawyer might not know what should be/shouldn't be in one.

    - Victoria

  18. #18
    scornedscribner
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    ITS ABOUT TIME! A few H&H authors were wondering when the word would get out. I've given up writing because of H&H and so has a number of other H&H authors.

    Be warned, H&H owns everything you write for ten years. The lady above has it right; the non-competition clause is a killer. Stephanie Reilly will tell you how the contract was just written by her attorney to protect her company. She'll offer to make changes but she won't. She make excuses for everything you counter. One of her conversation tactics is to run over what you say, and seize control of the discussion. She must have been president of the debate club. I think she was in real estate because she could sell a spring igloo to an eskimo.

    Then, after your book is published and you've signed locally at every bookstore possible, H&H quits talking to you. We (former H&H authors) believe that Stephanie uses her authors to talk to bookstores and gets the books into the stores. However, you won't see a penny. You will receive this complicated spreadsheet, via email, that explains why you have no money coming to you.

    If they accidently answer the phone and you ask a question, Stephanie has practiced every answer. If your voice tenses up just a degree, Stephanie will say she is not talking to you until you get control of yourself and hangs up. You will not hear from again. Threatening lawsuits are another H&H favorite tactic.

    Now ask yourself why do they have two PO Boxes?

    On the other hand, Stephanie has her favorite authors. I won't name names but she'll brag to you about them and if you want references, these are the ones she'll happily give contact information. These live close to her. She keeps the other authors many states away.

    After I submitted my second book to H&H and wanted to make changes to the contract, Stephanie pointd out that all subsequent contracts are to remain the same as dictated in the original contract, meaning you are screwed again.

    I would describe H&H as a vanity press that has no fees. They collect them later in full.

  19. #19
    Sher2
    Guest

    Re: Has anyone heard of Hilliard & Harris Publishers?

    If they accidently answer the phone and you ask a question, Stephanie has practiced every answer. If your voice tenses up just a degree, Stephanie will say she is not talking to you until you get control of yourself and hangs up. You will not hear from again. Threatening lawsuits are another H&H favorite tactic.

    Good God, this reminds me of another woman some of us know and don't exactly love. It's got to be her evil twin or alter ego. LOL. Or maybe they simply studied at the same university, U-TAKEM.

  20. #20
    HeartWriter
    Guest

    The straight in H&H

    Itís always good idea to check with authors, though I've never done it myself. Here's my personal opinion on Hilliard & Harris.

    Positives:

    -- Generally good production quality, but you have to scour for errors in the galleys and then make sure they get corrected.
    -- If you are a mystery writer, they are strongest in this area and seem more eager to push their mystery authors. Mine is not a mystery.
    -- Some marketing support, but not nearly enough to make a difference. You have to tell them about your leads and send them specific names and addresses.

    Negatives:
    -- Poor distribution at every level, since they are essentially a print-on-demand publisher which I didn't find out until after the book was published.
    -- Most bookstores would rather not bother ordering your book and will not stock it unless you have some kind of personal relationship with them.
    -- You'll have to sell the book yourself, with your own marketing campaign (direct mail, public appearances, etc.) and at your own expense. But this is common among all publishers until you've made it big.
    -- Big red flag: I've learned that no royalties are paid to authors until the company has recouped its costs. In effect, this results in back-door subsidy publishing. I didn't find this out until after the book was published. If I had known this, I could have considered that in my decision making process. You can't see this coming in the contract, but they can say it was there in the word "net." It's just that "net" seems to mean one thing to most commercial publishers and something different to this publisher. Furthermore, while there must be some H&H authors who have received a royalty check, the authors I have spoken to have never received any royalties.

    Should you go with them if they make you an offer?
    Sure, but not if you can get a better deal. If you do go with this publisher, let it be for the love for your book and the desire to get it published by a "professional" house, not because you need to make money.

    Would I publish with them again?
    I might if it were the only way to get my book out there. Sounds pretty dumb, doesn't it? My problem now is that my work-in-progress is a sequel to the book the company published. H&H has a very strict non-competition clause in effect for ten years for each time you renew the contract. All future contracts will remain the same as the origninal. This is stated in your first contract.

  21. #21
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Personal experience

    You'll have to sell the book yourself, with your own marketing campaign (direct mail, public appearances, etc.) and at your own expense. But this is common among all publishers until you've made it big.

    This is one of the most damaging pieces of folklore out there. Publishers routinely market all of their books. They're in business to make money, and the only way they make it is by selling books to the general public. Any company that failed to sell its product in an effective way, be it a can of soup or a mass-market paperback, would go out of business.

    The fact that most of the marketing for books takes place outside of the public view feeds this idea, but it isn't accurate. See other discussions elsewhere on why signings, book launches, and print ads are a waste of money for the new author.

  22. #22
    vrauls
    Guest

    Re: Personal experience

    Here's an example with a nonfiction book -- mine. My editor at Kensington told me bluntly that anything I could do to help market my book would be great, because my marketing budget was small. But that didn't keep her from sending off review copies, featuring me -- and rather prominently -- in their catalog, including me in their contract with their national distributor (duh), and getting my book in brick & mortar stores (where I have seen them lurking around town).

    Kensington, by the way, is a large traditional publisher with a good reputation.

    So even if you're a first time author (like me), even if your book is extremely niche nonfiction with a tiny expected sell-through (me again), and even if your editor leaves the house (also me!) -- your publisher should still market your book. They have to because that's the only way they make money on all the work they've already done (my advance, editing, proofing, cover design, and printing costs).

    Venecia Rauls

  23. #23
    mysteryquiller
    Guest

    for heartwriter

    what is your 'novel' and how bad can it be that you had to surrender to hilliard & harris?

  24. #24
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: for heartwriter

    Not commenting about H&H specifically, but a lower-tier publisher will print a good book as fast as they'll print a bad one.

  25. #25
    absolutewrite
    Guest

    Re: for heartwriter

    Hey Venecia,

    :welc

    Thank you for posting that. Tell us about your book!

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