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Thread: James A. Rock & Co. Publishers / Sense of Wonder Press

  1. #1
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    James A. Rock & Co. Publishers / Sense of Wonder Press

    If found Rock Publishing through Writer's Market. Here's the website: http://www.rockpublishing.com/. They look like a real (if small) publisher. (Forrest Ackerman, gosh!)

    Well, I sent in my manuscript and after a lengthy delay, I got a message on my answering machine to call him back! With trembling hands (this might be IT!), I called him.

    He apologized for the delay, but explained he has been developing a new business model. He assured me he was a traditional publisher with ties to many (unspecified) distributors. But he just didn't have the money to publish all of the wonderful manuscripts he's been getting, so he's decided to ask the authors to chip in and help.

    Best of all, he liked my novel so much, he decided to give me the super-duper deluxe package for the base-package price! We talked for a while. My end of it consisted of agreeable noises (um-hm, yep, really?). I agreed to think about his offer, and I'd let him know.

    In truth, I was thinking I wasn't interested. I may be green, but I'm not THAT green. (I'm more olive-drab than kelly.) The thing is, I'm not looking to make a million dollars on my first book. I'm hoping my first book will help sell my second book. (And so forth, ad infinitum it is to be hoped.) If it becomes popular knowledge that Rock is a subsidy press, that won't happen.

    Oh well. Who's next on my list?
    --Roger J. Carlson

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
    If it becomes popular knowledge that Rock is a subsidy press, that won't happen.
    It won't happen even if no one ever finds out. If the guy doesn't have enough money to publish books, what are the odds he'll have enough money to market and distribute them? Not to mention, once he's made a profit off of you, what's his incentive?

    Vanity publishing (there really is no such thing as subsidy publishing; publishers that present themselves as parter or joint or co or subsidy are nearly always vanities using a euphemism) is a bad idea not just because of the stigma that attaches to vanity publishing, but because vanity publishers don't do what real publishers do in terms of getting books into the marketplace.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Player of the Letters Alphabeter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
    The thing is, I'm not looking to make a million dollars on my first book. I'm hoping my first book will help sell my second book. (And so forth, ad infinitum it is to be hoped.)
    Very smart thinking. Sometimes it works in reverse. The later books help sell the earlier books. But you have to keep writing!

    Oh well. Who's next on my list?
    Have you tried P&E? They have a great list.
    Joy

    Writing is a lot like sex.
    At first you do it because you like it.
    Then you find yourself doing it for a few close friends and people you like.
    But if you're any good at all...you end up doing it for money.


  4. #4
    explorer
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    Sense of Wonder Press

    I would be interested in any information on the Sense of Wonder Press imprint of James A. Rock Publishing.

  5. #5
    serendipetey
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    Between (J) A Rock and a hard place

    Are there any new experiences with James A. Rock Publishing (AKA, American Publishing Services (APUBS), and Free Marketing, Inc.)?

  6. #6
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    I got a call from James Rock's daughter a few months ago. They were looking through their old files, saw my submission, and wondered if I was still interested.

    Here's a question for you: what kind of publisher goes through year-old submissions to find manuscripts to publish? You guessed it, vanity press. Real publishers don't need to drum up business.

    Rock may call it "co-publishing" or "subsidy publishing", but like Victoria says above, it's just a euphemism for vanity publishing. If they can't afford to publish the book without subsidy, how are they going to promote it? That's right, they won't. You will. All by yourself.

    I would (and did) pass on them -- again.
    Last edited by Roger J Carlson; 09-01-2006 at 11:40 PM.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  7. #7
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Have you personally ever read any book published by J. A. Rock? Has anyone you know ever read one? Have you ever seen one of their books on the shelf in a bookstore?

    No?

    Start at the top and work down.

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson View Post
    If found Rock Publishing through Writer's Market. Here's the website: http://www.rockpublishing.com/. They look like a real (if small) publisher. (Forrest Ackerman, gosh!)

    Well, I sent in my manuscript and after a lengthy delay, I got a message on my answering machine to call him back! With trembling hands (this might be IT!), I called him.

    He apologized for the delay, but explained he has been developing a new business model. He assured me he was a traditional publisher with ties to many (unspecified) distributors. But he just didn't have the money to publish all of the wonderful manuscripts he's been getting, so he's decided to ask the authors to chip in and help.

    Best of all, he liked my novel so much, he decided to give me the super-duper deluxe package for the base-package price! We talked for a while. My end of it consisted of agreeable noises (um-hm, yep, really?). I agreed to think about his offer, and I'd let him know.

    In truth, I was thinking I wasn't interested. I may be green, but I'm not THAT green. (I'm more olive-drab than kelly.) The thing is, I'm not looking to make a million dollars on my first book. I'm hoping my first book will help sell my second book. (And so forth, ad infinitum it is to be hoped.) If it becomes popular knowledge that Rock is a subsidy press, that won't happen.

    Oh well. Who's next on my list?


    That is too funny. That is almost the exact same conversation I had with him and his daughter about a year ago. I was very excited they called, but when I talked to them they said that they share the cost of publishing the book because of so many good books out there. They were also very pleasant on the phone to talk to.

    I told them to send me their package and they included one of their published books. The book was so horrible my wife and I started to laugh at how bad it actually was...I know that is wrong of me, but someone should tell them how bad it was so they could fix it and re-publish it, so all of their work wasn't wasted. Worse of all it was book one of a series. The book's cover and feel wasn't professional and I had a difficult time connecting with the story or characters. I did give it a few chances.

    If you don't want to pay an up front cost, I would avoid this one and seek out a traditional publishing company. I'd rather spend the money on marketing the book. In the long run both you and the publisher would be better off. I did finally find a publisher, so don't give up!
    Last edited by Vomarian; 06-17-2007 at 10:10 PM.

  9. #9
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vomarian View Post
    That is too funny. That is almost the exact same conversation I had with him and his daughter about a year ago. I was very excited they called, but when I talked to them they said that they share the cost of publishing the book because of so many good books out there.
    I'm also fairly certain that an honest accounting would reveal their "share" is zero.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    James A. Rock Publishing Facts

    I checked for appropriateness of this reply with MacAllister Stone before posting.

    Dear Thread:

    A few facts about James A. Rock & Co., Publishers that might inform this discussion.

    1. We have been publishing over thirty-four years, since 1973. We have been publishing books since 1977 as a small independent press.

    2. The first book we published was a limited edition collection of works by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Rex Stout entitled Corsage: A Bouquet of Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe, 1977, edited by Michael Bourne. It is now going on the rare book market for $1000.00 and up (hardback) $300.00 and up (paperback). Check it out by searching the title "Corsage" and author "Rex Stout" at www.bookfinder.com.

    3. We are the publisher of the Rex Stout: A Majesty's Life by Professor John McAleer,winner of the Mystery Writers of America 1979 "Edgar" Award best non-fiction book (2001) (orig edition, 1978, Little, Brown).

    4 Ray Bradbury, 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner, recommends two of our titles, including: Anarquia: An Alternate History of the Spanish Civil War by Brad Linaweaver and J. Kent Hastings, with dust jacket/cover art by 11 time Hugo Award Winning artist Kelly Freas (Trade Paper, Trade Hard back, and Limited leather edition signed by the authors and by Hugo winning artist, the late Kelly Freas) (2004). "Anarquia is wild and wonderful." --Ray Bradbury.

    5. In January 2007 we published Mystery Writing In A Nutshell by Edgar Award winning author John McAleer and his son Andrew McAleer, with a foreword by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Edward D. Hoch. Interviews with: Robert B. Parker, Margaret McLean, William B. Tapply, and the late Rex Stout. "Like Father, like Son, is in this case a very good thing Mystery Writing In A Nutshell combines the best of both McAleers and is first rate." --Robert B. Parker, NYT best selling author of the Spenser novels.

    6. As far as production and editorial quality goes, which has been questioned in this thread, we invite any member or visitor to Absolute Write to choose any of the 70+ titles on our web site at www.RockPublishing.com, call us at 800-411-2230 and order the book of their choice at 50% off the web site price, with free shipping in the U.S. Any purchaser who does not find the editorial, design and production quality of our books to be superb and to their liking may call the 800-number again and we will refund the purchase price and provide return shipping costs. We stand behind our authors and our books. This offer is good on all of our titles including limited hand-bound signed editions, leather books, Trade Hardbacks, and Trade paperbacks.

    7. Since 1977 we have entered into specific co-operative and academic grant related relationships with a minority of our 70 or so authors. Grants are usually with academic and non-profit organizations, the first being with the Indiana University Foundation in 1978 and the latest being with Howard University in 2006. You can find a growing history of our publishing company at http://www.RockPublishing.com/WhoWeAre.htm

    Some of our other fine titles include: Seven Golden Ages of Music by Dr. Alan Frank, former Chairman of the Music Department of SUNY at Plattsburg (2007); Martianthology compiled by Forrest J Ackerman ("The old stories, like the ones in Martianthology are still alive --Ray Bradbury")(2005); Essays: A View from the Corner by Lew-Ellyn Huges (Winner Best Columnist 2006--Maine Press Association)(2006); The South Asian Healthy Heart Diet by Dr. Lalita Kaul, PhD, RD, LDN, Professor of Nutrition and National Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (2006). and Ackermanthology: 65 Science Fiction Short Stories, Foreword by John Landis.(2003)

    If you have any questions about us feel free to email or call us at any time.

    Best,

    Jim Rock
    James A. Rock & Co., Publishers
    http://www.RockPublishing.com
    jrock@rockpublishing.com
    800-411-2230

  11. #11
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Have you discontinued your "co-publishing" model then? I don't see a word about it above. If not, how many of the above were co-published?
    --Roger J. Carlson

  12. #12
    I sent a submission in to Rock Publishing about 2-3 years ago and was contacted by them early this year. I went along with the conversation to get the details out of curiosity. They were asking $1250 to 'subsidy publish' the book and the author gets an extra rebate on the first 150 books sold to pay for the expense after which they drop to a relatively normal royalty rate. (I thought it was interesting that the author doesn't really get anything out of risking their money.)

    It doesn't appear that they have any real store presence.

  13. #13
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havlen View Post
    They were asking $1250 to 'subsidy publish' the book and the author gets an extra rebate on the first 150 books sold to pay for the expense after which they drop to a relatively normal royalty rate.
    The author gets an extra "royalty" on the first 150 books to recoup the subsidy? Interesting.

    As is the "Kirkus Review" for Mystery Writing In A Nutshell being Kirkus Discoveries.
    ICAO
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Most everyone seems to have backed out due to the fee involved. I would like to hear from someone who paid the fee to find out whether the outcome was good or bad.
    Last edited by Snoonie; 08-03-2007 at 08:21 AM.

  15. #15
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    "Good" or "bad" depends on your goals.

    If your goal is to sell books to people you've never met and who you aren't looking in the eye at the moment money changes hands ... well, don't look to vanity publishing.

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    If I sold my book to a legitmate publisher wouldn't I be selling my book "to people I've never met and whom I'm not looking in the eye at the moment money changes hands?" Your comment puzzles me. Could you please be more explicit?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Snoonie View Post
    If I sold my book to a legitmate publisher wouldn't I be selling my book "to people I've never met and whom I'm not looking in the eye at the moment money changes hands?" Your comment puzzles me. Could you please be more explicit?
    You don't normally 'sell' a book to a publisher. You grant them publication rights and they give you royalties. At that point, it is up to people buying your book for you to make those royalties.

    The point James is making is that you won't sell very many yourself, personally, by going to book signings and such. And a chunk of what you do sell that way will be eaten up by expenses.

    Compare this to a publisher that gets your books into stores for you and works up a marketing campaign for you and you'll find they will sell a lot more books. Which means more $$$ for you.

    Last, in this instance you certainly aren't selling your book to this publisher. They are selling you their services. And they are pricey. You could do the same with Lulu for much less.

  18. #18
    As an example, I took two of their spring titles and ran them through Ingrams (their distributor). One had sold 12 copies, the other 38 copies. This is over the last three months (since their release). I'm sure they've probably sold some from their website too (no matter how poorly designed it is), but don't expect those numbers to fly through the roof.

    These are the types of sales you can do in person. It would be difficult to make up the $1k+ fee that way.

  19. #19
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoonie View Post
    Your comment puzzles me. Could you please be more explicit?
    You want explicit?

    Okay, here goes:

    Don't go with any vanity press.

    This is a vanity press. It's a bad idea to "publish" your book with them. A very bad idea.

  20. #20
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Requiescat In Pace Popeyesays's Avatar
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    I would point out to Mr. Rock that the value of a "rare" book has absolutely nothing to do with reimbursement to the author for the book.

    Rare book sales are on USED books. Neither the publisher, nor the author gets a dime for it.

    Rare books are valuable because they are "RARE". That means there never were many books sold in the first place, which speaks badly for distribution for books published by Rock.

    Regards.
    Scott
    [B]Okay, damnit, I blog [URL]http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/[/URL][/B]
    [B]Sword of the Dajjal[/B] e-book, [SIZE=2]Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 [URL]http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages/sf_07/sword_dajjal.html[/URL][/SIZE]
    Out in print early 2008 from Blu Phi'er[URL="http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook47261.htm?cached"][/URL]
    [B]Jars of Doom[/B] out mid 2008 from Blu Phi'er
    [URL]http://www.bluphier.com/[/URL]

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    My thanks to Havlen and Mr. Macdonald. You've helped me to make my decision to decline the offer by J.A. Rock.

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I've just published a novel with James Rock Press...my second book not my first. I found them to be very professional and very much concerned about quality. I also found them delightful people to work with. It's true that things went a little more slowly than I had been told to expect, and it's true that a small publisher--any small publisher--won't have the wherewithal to market a book the way big publishers do. But it'd be silly to expect them to. I've been relatively happy with my sales so far, and I can say that honestly having just received my first royalty check.

    As for subsidy publishing or co-publishing, such arrangements are common in academic publishing or small press publishing (especially poetry or specialized fiction). James Rock isn't alone in making such offers, as my friends who are veterans of writjng programs will attest. When I was first considering their offer to publish my book, I contacted several of their current authors. One had a subsidy arrangement and two did not. All three authors gave them a thumbs up recommendation, which was one of the reasons I decided to go with them.

  23. #23
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    "Common" doesn't necessarily mean "good". Yes, people pay to publish textbooks, poetry, local history, etc. Some people self-publish, some people subsidy-publish or vanity-publish; I think true self-publication is often the better approach, but I'm sure there are people for whom vanity or subsidy publishing is a better match.

    If it's a model that works for you, great. The thing is to be clear about what expectations and outcomes are possible. If you're paying to publish your book, you should be able to insist on a high-quality product no matter what. Vanity or subsidy publishers who offer distribution as part of their services to their paying clients should provide detailed distribution and marketing plans and reports.

  24. #24
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehuffste View Post
    I've just published a novel with James Rock Press...my second book not my first. I found them to be very professional and very much concerned about quality. I also found them delightful people to work with. It's true that things went a little more slowly than I had been told to expect, and it's true that a small publisher--any small publisher--won't have the wherewithal to market a book the way big publishers do. But it'd be silly to expect them to. I've been relatively happy with my sales so far, and I can say that honestly having just received my first royalty check.
    As long as you're happy with the fact that Mr. Rock will make money long before you do (and in fact will make money even if you never do), then that's great. Let us know when your royalty payments exceed your investment. I'd be interested to know.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  25. #25
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehuffste View Post
    As for subsidy publishing or co-publishing, such arrangements are common in academic publishing or small press publishing (especially poetry or specialized fiction).
    I wouldn't say that pay-to-publish is common in academic publishing--although certainly it does exist, as a sort of last-ditch option for academic books that can't find other homes. However, while publishing with an academic vanity press may avert the "perish" part of "publish or perish," it carries little prestige, for the same reason that any kind of vanity publishing carries little prestige. If you're applying for tenure, a string of vanity published books is not what you want to have on your resume.

    - Victoria

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