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Thread: Helm Publishing

  1. #1
    1walkingadverb
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    Can someone tell me about Barclay Books or Helm Publishing?

    I'd like to hear from anyone who has comments or experiences, good or not so good, about these small independent publishers. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    absit invidia
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    barclay books

    My only experience with Barclay Books was as a reader, and I will never buy another book from them again. The editing was abysmal and the book was absolutely full of errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    Which is too bad, because the story itself was almost okay.

  3. #3
    vstrauss
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    Re: Can someone tell me about Barclay Books or Helm Publishi

    About a year ago, Writer Beware got a report that Helm Publishing asks for a $500 "marketing" fee. This is the only report I've gotten of this, and I haven't heard anything similar since.

    Helm also offers writers the chance to buy a manuscript critique service when they submit. Successful publishers don't offer paying services to authors. The variable book prices (ranging up to $22.95 for a paperback) suggest POD to me, and the lack of industry reviews make me wonder about this publisher's ability to market and distribute.

    Barclay has been around for several years and has put out quite a number of books. I've actually seen reviews of some of its books in genre magazines. But I'd have the same concerns about marketing and distribution as with Helm.

    - Victoria

  4. #4
    blackelve13
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    Re: Can someone tell me about Barclay Books or Helm Publishi

    Barclay is excellent. I have reviewed quite a few books for them and have found some excellent writers through them. Also the editor is an excellent person and would love to work with them one on one in the future if I could.

    Danielle

  5. #5
    The force is strong in this one. williemeikle's Avatar
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    Barclay Books

    Quote Originally Posted by 1walkingadverb
    I'd like to hear from anyone who has comments or experiences, good or not so good, about these small independent publishers. Thanks in advance.
    I had my first novel published with Barclay Books in 2001.
    While the book itself looks fine, the publisher has done no publicity for it, or any of the books they publish. The author is expected to do it all.

    Plus, their contract is not standard in that they ask for a cut of your film rights to the work, and also options on your next project.

    Also, they've recently released a bunch of writers from their contracts, and they haven't published a new book for an awfully long time. I'd be surprised if there's any more books to come from them.

    Becki McNeel, the publisher, is generally far too busy getting on with her life to run a publishing business.

    Willie
    http://www.willie.meikle.btinternet.co.uk

  6. #6
    Apex Predator Jaws's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    I think this thread demonstrates a real problem in the publishing industry.

    There are at least three entities that could be referred to as "Barclay Books"… and two of them are related. I suggest that anyone who needs questions about specific publishers list not just the name, but the city in which that publisher is.

    As another example, there are two Sterling Houses. One, in New York, is an arm of B&N, and is a commercial publisher (if a rather difficult one to deal with). The other, in Pittsburgh… is not a commercial publisher, but an outright vanity press that has common ownership with a literary agency. I've had a couple of hysterical authors of the former misunderstand that criticisms of the latter might apply to them!

    Returning to Barclay, one of the three is an outright vanity press. The second one is affiliated with the first (but is not the same company for legal purposes), and offers no-advance royalty-paying contracts (without actually paying the royalties, in my experience). The third company hasn't been heard from in a couple of years now, but was a small specialty press that may or may not be in business today.
    CEP
    blawg: Scrivener's Error (includes links to main site)
    Any legal comments in this message are general commentary only, and not legal advice
    for your specific situation. You should not rely on such comments or any other published
    comments, by me or anyone else as anything other than general guidance.
    Unfortunately, no scam agents, vanity publishers, or other similar carrion-eaters were bent,
    folded, spindled, or mutilated in creating this post (not for want of motivation).
    Of course it's "fine print" it's small and red.

  7. #7
    1walkingadverb
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    Whoa

    Thanks to everyone. You've been most helpful and illuminating. I'll proceed with caution.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW
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    Some Small Publishers

    The following are, ASFAIK, legitimate and upstanding small presses that publish fantasy. I don't believe any have been mentioned here, and P&E does not mention most of them. Has anyone had any experiences with them? I'm considering submitting to them.

    Helm
    Pyr
    Ravenhawk
    Rising Tide
    Runestone Hill
    Trivium

  9. #9
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vomaxx
    The following are, ASFAIK, legitimate and upstanding small presses that publish fantasy. I don't believe any have been mentioned here, and P&E does not mention most of them. Has anyone had any experiences with them? I'm considering submitting to them.

    Helm
    Pyr
    Ravenhawk
    Rising Tide
    Runestone Hill
    Trivium
    A friend of mine has a good working relationship with Dragon Moon Press. http://www.dragonmoonpress.com is their web site. Don't know if they're in P&E or not, but the authors I have met who've been published through them seem pretty pleased with the relationship.

    Just another thing to consider.

  10. #10
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Always start hign and work down.

  11. #11
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vomaxx
    Helm
    Pyr
    Ravenhawk
    Rising Tide
    Runestone Hill
    Trivium
    The only one of these I'd be confident had any ability to get books reviewed and into stores is Pyr, which is an imprint of Prometheus Books, a sizeable independent. The rest look to me like hobbyist publishers--well intentioned, enthusiastic, but with very limited capacity for marketing and distribution.

    I've been told (though I have no documentation) that Helm asks the author to pay some sort of promotional fee.

    - Victoria

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by BookCoverDesigner
    I looked at some of them...a few seem good, a few are obviously amateur opertions. The thing with Sci Fi is that like romance, it is one of the few genres were the book cover is very important. They're collectible. I have an article abou that on my blog at www.thoughtblog.net. Some of the companies have employed wonderful illustrators, which is pretty much the only good way to create a Sci Fi cover. Many use the Poser program, and while a few artists have mastered it, most haven't and the images look like computerized images (which might suit the book). Also, many of the images made with 3D software look super, super great online, but do not translate well to print, so you really need someone who understands colour and printing and presses. Nothing beats a good painting, though. Don't hand your baby over to just anyone...

    Cathi

    You're right about most people not being able to use Poser properly, but don't sell digital art per se short. I'm a digital artist myself, and I can tell you that whatever the tools, it still takes an artist to create art. The problem seems to be that few artists are willing to master the technical end of digital art, and few techies have any artistic talent.

    My own work (no, I don't do book covers, except as examples for students) uses a combination of Poser, Maya, Photoshop, ZBrush and occasionally DAZStudio. All of these packages are constantly improving, but it's still necessary to learn how to use them effectively, which most don't do.

    The main reason most digital art is bad is that there are so far very few good digital artists. That's changing, albeit slowly.

  13. #13
    13th Triskaidekaphobe Richard's Avatar
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    The main reason most digital art is bad on small-print books is that too many authors/editors/bad illustrators sit down with a copy of Bryce and Poser, think "Wow, I'm like a real 3D artist!", knock something out in about an evening using some meshes from 3D Cafe or where and hit the Render button. It might look cool to them, but either looks boring and cheap to people who don't know the ins and outs of it, or like an evening's work from someone with a copy of Bryce and Poser to everyone with even a vague interest in digital art.

    (See also: near offensively bad typography. Times New Roman is a pretty bland font on its own, but an accessory to war crimes when turned neon pink and splattered over a stock model shot)
    Last edited by Richard; 04-01-2005 at 06:32 PM.

  14. #14
    Apex Predator Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkady
    The main reason most digital art is bad is that there are so far very few good digital artists. That's changing, albeit slowly.
    One of the other problems is that digital-art programs do nothing to teach the artist about the realities of the printing process and commercial display. It can look great on a monitor or one-step digital printer to put a delicate fuschia next to a large patch of indigo with no apparent border between them, just a shocking boundary; it ain't gonna happen with liquid ink on paper in multipass commercial presses (or, for that matter, lithography that's affordable for cover work). Then, too, how many digital artists ever put their work on paper of comparable reflectivity to the finished project and check it under the fluorescent lights one can expect to find in a bookstore?

    Without naming names, I've seen the results of this more than once from commercial publishers. One particularly cringeworthy example was a nighttime picture of a horseman for a fantasy book, with various shades of purple dominating. It's an interesting concept. Unfortunately, it wasn't checked under a fluorescent light, which has a tendency to compress the visual spectrum in the reds, muddying the purples; and the physical production process ended up throwing distracting color-mixture artifacts in. It's a horribly unattractive cover, although the digital original is at least "interesting."
    CEP
    blawg: Scrivener's Error (includes links to main site)
    Any legal comments in this message are general commentary only, and not legal advice
    for your specific situation. You should not rely on such comments or any other published
    comments, by me or anyone else as anything other than general guidance.
    Unfortunately, no scam agents, vanity publishers, or other similar carrion-eaters were bent,
    folded, spindled, or mutilated in creating this post (not for want of motivation).
    Of course it's "fine print" it's small and red.

  15. #15

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW
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    Thank you, Victoria, for your (as usual) prompt and helpful reply.

    --------------

    I think that this fascinating discussion of cover manufacturing might attract more attention in a thread of its own.

  17. #17
    I am a pretty pretty flower Galoot's Avatar
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    Dear lord. Why isn't that one buried in the galleries?
    Okay, I'll stop referencing you in my sig, reph. Happy now?

  18. #18

  19. #19

  20. #20
    nanconley
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    Helm Publishing

    Has anybody had any works published by Helm Publishing? I just received a contract asking for money. I know that's a red flag, but I was wondering if the fee was worth it. If you don't know about them, do you know where I can go to find out info about them?

  21. #21
    Your Cuddly Sociopathic AW Moderator Jaycinth's Avatar
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    Hello. I'm new here too. But the Sages who abound will all tell you: DON'T pay anyone to publish your work. There is a website: Preditors and Editors that gives the lowdown on these scams and tells you who is a scammer and who is for real. If you glom onto the 'Publish America' thread you'll find a link for it.

    I'd pay attention. The A.W. community has steered me away from some bad adventures with nefarious people.

    Luck and hugs!

  22. #22
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    Angry Helm Publishing

    I've had one experience with Helm Publ and it was not a happy one. They offered a critique of the first 50 pages of a novel for $50, complete with advice about improvements for salability. I sent the 50 pages which were returned to me within 2 weeks with no mark at all on half the pages and no suggestions for improvement I wrote complaining about what I considered a breech of promised service and received a really nasty letter in return. So that's my story, nanconley. The rest of the story I trust you'll hear from others.

  23. #23
    Gone
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    Quote Originally Posted by nanconley
    I just received a contract asking for money. I know that's a red flag, but I was wondering if the fee was worth it.
    Here's all you need to know about that company: They asked you for money.

    The first rule of publishing is Yog's Law*: Money flows toward the writer. Have it tattooed on your hands. Refer to it whenever considering any agent or publisher. It comes in handy.

    *Yog is our own Uncle Jim, aka James D. Macdonald.

  24. #24
    edorothyb
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    Angry Barclay books

    Hi, Everyone!

    Barclay Books is out of business. The publisher, Becki McNeel told all of her authors that the warehouse where she kept her inventory went up in flames and so did her books. Since she didn't have any insurance to cover the destruction, she closed her business. I guess that says it all.

  25. #25
    edorothyb
    Guest

    Thumbs down Helm Books

    Quote Originally Posted by vstrauss
    About a year ago, Writer Beware got a report that Helm Publishing asks for a $500 "marketing" fee. This is the only report I've gotten of this, and I haven't heard anything similar since.
    Recently, Helm's offered me a contract for my mystery novel and the first paragraph of the contract wanted a payment of $1500. It did say, however, that I could make the payments in two installments. Needless to say I didn't read any further and asked for my manuscript back.

    edorothyb

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