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Old 11-25-2008, 07:24 PM   #101
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I maybe wrong in saying, I sort of see the advance as a kind of deposit, on the main work, the publisher may never get that advance back. I wouldnt trust anyone with my work that doesnt offer a advance no matter how small that is.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:35 PM   #102
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I'm starting to wonder whether I trust myself
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:39 PM   #103
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I'm starting to wonder whether I trust myself
What do you men at the end of it you need to understand that its a dog eat dog world, and I almost got scammed
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:40 PM   #104
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Thanks once again for your words, all.
I really don't want to spend the rest of my life on this thread, so I'll back out now, assuming that virtually every question has been asked, and answered as well as I can.

We will take advice & rework our flawed business model, and hopefully return as wiser people. Best of luck to you all with your writing.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:41 PM   #105
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One thing I'd like to address now though: I've read so often recently that even major publishers rarely offer advances anymore, and then only because a book is viewed as a guaranteed 'hit' (if it's written by a celebrity or by the likes of Stephen King, for example); most of the time nowadays, publishers prefer to offer a percentage of sales - am I mistaken in this, though?
All publishers pay a percentage of sales--a.k.a. a royalty. An advance is an advance on royalties--a good-faith payment by the publisher in advance of sales (often, though by no means always, the advance is based on the amount of royalties the publisher estimates the book will earn in the first year after release). An advance expresses the publisher's commitment to marketing the book, and to taking the financial risks necessary to do that.

Advances must be "earned out"--i.e, fully recouped by royalties generated from sales--before the author receives any additional royalty payments. Since an advance is a bit of a gamble by the publisher, often they never do earn out. But the advance is the author's to keep, no matter what. Contrary to popular writers' mythology, advances do not have to be returned to the publisher.

Advances are NOT becoming less common. All large houses pay advances--to all their authors, not just the established or celebrity ones. The larger independents pay advances too, and many of the smaller ones as well (albeit in smaller amounts). No matter what you may have heard, paying an advance is a basic part of the commercial publishing model, and that's no less true today than it was 50 years ago. It's only when you get into the very small press, micropress, and epublishing world that advances become uncommon.

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Old 11-25-2008, 07:43 PM   #106
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I almost got scammed
Ouch! So did I Rostaria, and so did Steve - by the same company who now incidently have vanished from the internet after not paying their bills.

I hear you, that's all I'm saying.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:46 PM   #107
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It's only when you get into the very small press, micropress, and epublishing world that advances become uncommon
I guess that's where we're coming from Victoria.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:14 PM   #108
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Here's the thing, Steve and Guy:

You've been mixing up a lot of stuff in your statements. Saying things like "Even major publishers no longer give advances to new writers" is a) palpably untrue, and b) rhetoric that's circulated by vanity publishers for the benefit of vanity publishers.

If what you mean is "We want to be a micropress, and our understanding is that micropresses generally don't give advances," then you'll make a more professional impression by saying that. The defensive "BLAH BLAH RANDOM HOUSE" stuff makes you come off as either duplicitous or clueless.

Having read your good responses, I don't think you guys are duplicitous. And I wouldn't call you "clueless" but I do think you're lacking some really important information right now.

There is nothing at all wrong in setting up a micropress that functions as a kind of self-publishing co-operative, where authors hand-sell their work and the micropress's cut of the proceeds goes to fund the operating expenses (editing, set-up, cover design, printing, etc.) There are other folks out there doing just that. It's a worthy enterprise.

But you want to approach it in a way that protects you guys and your authors from legal and financial challenges down the road. You've gotten a lot of good advice in this thread, and it sounds like you're planning to act on it. And you've done one important thing right so far--made your authors happy. If you can add the element of informed oversight and planning for the future to that, you'll be right.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:20 PM   #109
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There is nothing at all wrong in setting up a micropress that functions as a kind of self-publishing co-operative, where authors hand-sell their work and the micropress's cut of the proceeds goes to fund the operating expenses (editing, set-up, cover design, printing, etc.) There are other folks out there doing just that. It's a worthy enterprise.
Thank you. I think that nails it. That's exactly how we should be approaching this....

runs away excitedly to tell Steve.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:38 PM   #110
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Thank you for that excellent post, ICE. The following isn't specifically aimed at you, of course.

Sadly, it seems that whenever I've offered an opinion like 'From what I've read, even major publishers rarely pay advances - but am I mistaken? Can I get some guidance?', some people seem to interpret that as 'We're mean and corrupt, so we won't pay advances'. And even though I was only offering received wisdom, made it clear I was doing so, and asking people if what I'd read was wrong, apparently this means that I'm effectively saying 'This is a neat way for me to get out of paying advances, so to hell with truth...'

I have nothing to do with finances. I'm only answering all these questions out of respect for more experienced writers & because I care about SP's reputation.
A little objectivity would be nice.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:52 PM   #111
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*sigh*

Steve,

Everyone in this thread is trying to help you. It's unworthy of you--and somewhat unprofessional--to keep up with this poor pitiful me routine. The response you've received from the extremely well-informed posters on this board has been extremely objective. Anyone starting up a new business has to do a great deal of research on that industry to make certain that all of their ducks are in a row. You gentlemen are doing that; everyone here is grateful and pleased that you are.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:54 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveS View Post
Sadly, it seems that whenever I've offered an opinion like 'From what I've read, even major publishers rarely pay advances - but am I mistaken? Can I get some guidance?', some people seem to interpret that as 'We're mean and corrupt, so we won't pay advances'. And even though I was only offering received wisdom
I'm sorry, but what is the "received wisdom" you were offering? Surely not the erroneous claim that "even major publishers rarely pay advances".

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A little objectivity would be nice.
A little less cluelessness followed by protestations when called on that cluelessness would be nice too.
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:04 PM   #113
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Hi mscelina

Whether I'm right or wrong (and it seems that the majority think I'm wrong), I genuinely do feel that this whole affair was badly handled at the very start. But that's just my opinion, and it's true to say that I am in a minority of one. In fact, far more clever and experienced people than me have since written that I'm mistaken, so that's fair enough. It really isn't a 'routine' though; I feel that people suspect that I'm dishonest, and that isn't the case, despite our much-criticised business model (which was partially based on a now-defunct small publishing company - we should have known better).
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:38 PM   #114
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We recognize that half the battle is knowing what questions to ask. It's unfortunate you made this venture public without performing due diligence, but we've provided you not only with the questions, but where to look for the answers. Now it's up to you.

Best of luck. We look forward to hearing of your success.
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:41 PM   #115
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Best of luck. We look forward to hearing of your success.
Thank you very much, very kind of you.
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:02 PM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveS View Post
Sadly, it seems that whenever I've offered an opinion like 'From what I've read, even major publishers rarely pay advances - but am I mistaken? Can I get some guidance?', some people seem to interpret that as 'We're mean and corrupt, so we won't pay advances'. And even though I was only offering received wisdom...
That's because the only people who purposefully perpetuate that misinformation are shady vanity publishers. Or people who got that misinformation from shady vanity publishers and don't have enough accurate information to know the difference.

I think this is a big part of why some people might react to you as if you were a shady vanity publisher--your writing indicates clearly that you are an intelligent person, and they assume on the basis of that that you are being disingenous rather than ill-informed.
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:47 PM   #117
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You know, Steve and Guy, when your publishing house becomes a success we shall all feel that we've had some small part to play.

Wishing you the best of luck and looking forward to reading that Salvatore Publishing is an honoured and trustworthy place to submit.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:28 PM   #118
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Well. I’ve read through this all and am pleased that it’s not degenerated into a fist-fight: well done, Steve and Guy, for mostly maintaining your dignity under fire. And thank you for providing me with enough material to keep my blog going for another couple of weeks!

What follows is my summary of all the points that have been raised, but perhaps missed in the crossfire. Some of these questions have been partially addressed, some have been glossed over as the conversation moved on: I thought it might be useful to summarise them all in one place. So forgive me for the following marathon post, which I’ll split into two. The quotes all belong to Steve or Guy, by the way.

Quote:
…[we] were led to believe that 50% gross profit for an author was actually very generous
The problem with a percentage of profits is that it’s possible to manipulate figures to show no profit at all—so the author gets nothing. A percentage of cover price is far more desirable for a writer (in my experience, anything from 8% to 15% is normal, depending on book type and genre).

Quote:
an author who publishes with SP retains the rights to their work - we don't own it, they do.
Copyright and rights are two separate things. All writers own the copyright to their work as soon as they’ve written it. They can then license various rights to that work to their publishers. Now, you might be happy to release all rights on request: but if you’ve already published the work, you’ve already used up the first rights to that work, which can’t be returned. And it’s those first rights that publishers want to license, so by publishing with you, most writers will lose any chance of a more mainstream, commercial publication of that work.

Quote:
Both Guy & I have had to sign release forms in the recent past, when we've submitted to publishers...
Release forms aren’t usual in book publishing, although they are sometimes requested in scriptwriting. However, according to an Emmy-winning friend of mine, they’re not usual there either and he’s never signed one. I’d be interested to know which publishers those were, because it doesn’t sound good to me.

Quote:
That was always our aim: to beat an easier path for people who want to be published..without having to wait months n' months only to receive (perhaps) a bland, anonymous rejection slip...
There are good reasons for the waiting, and for the anonymous rejection slip: slush piles are horrible, and ever-growing, and editors and agents are notoriously overstretched, so it takes time to work through them; it takes even more time for everyone in a publishing house to read work that is going to be taken up; and personalised rejections take even more time—and are often argued about, which is why few editors are prepared to take the trouble to write them any more. I speak from personal experience—I was stalked by a writer I wrote a personal rejection to, and it wasn’t good.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:29 PM   #119
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And the second half: is anyone still with me? Thank you!

Quote:
We're going to be hiring professional proof-readers and editors in 2009.
But if you’re already requesting submissions, you need editors now.

Quote:
We already have staff with business (sales) experience.
Are they experienced in book selling? And does this mean that you have a sales and distribution system in place that will get the books into bookshops? Because if not, they’re not particularly significant at the moment.

Quote:
We want to get new writers published and distributed as widely as possible
And for that you need a sales and distribution service in place—which means you need to hire a national sales team, and find a wholesaler or distributor which is willing to take you on.

Quote:
although we do have a contract written out it still needs to be sanctioned by our sponsor.
You might like to approach the Society of Authors to help you with your contract. I think that they do that sometimes.

Quote:
my next-door neighbour runs a printing company - guess where we're going to get our offset-printing deal from should we need a couple of thousand books? In the meantime, we are right to stick with print on demand to keep costs down.
Perhaps you should visit Behler Publications’ blog and find out what their editorial director thinks of publishers which rely on POD, and the reasons for her opinion.

Quote:
We can only do so much but we will be asking our authors to give their wholehearted efforts if they want to go beyond being 'just another POD book'.… I think the phrase is 'shoe leather.'
The thing is, most writers want to be writers, not salespeople. And most books which are promoted this way sell very few copies. It’s not a good choice for a writer who wants to write books rather than sell books, or a writer who wants to be widely read.

Quote:
Please don't be under the illusion that we are offering something that compares to a standard main street publisher. We cannot do that for several reasons (apart from the obvious).... I would not be talking to you right now, and I would undoubtedly toss your ms in the bin (all due respect) without a second thought… I would only want you if you were a money making machine.
If you don’t recognise that your business has to earn money right from the start, you’re doomed to fail. Publishing is an expensive business when it’s done right: have a look at Snowbooks’ various blog posts about finance, returns, and costs. They had over 100,000 in finance when they set up, and they’ve had to finance returns of over 45,000 without letting it affect their business. Could you afford that?

Quote:
I've read so often recently that even major publishers rarely offer advances anymore, and then only because a book is viewed as a guaranteed 'hit' (if it's written by a celebrity or by the likes of Stephen King, for example); most of the time nowadays, publishers prefer to offer a percentage of sales - am I mistaken in this, though?
You’ve been misinformed. Advances are standard for most reputable publishers. A friend of mine has a novel coming out from Myrmidon, a tiny UK press, and she’s been paid a reasonable advance; I’m writing a gift-book for a small publisher right now, and have been paid a good advance—over 1,000. No one recognises my name. And I’ve never even met Stephen King.

There. I think I’m done. I hope it was a help, to Steve, Guy, and anyone else who might read through this whole thread. If anyone has stuck with me through all of my comments, they deserve a drink. As do I: cheers.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:34 PM   #120
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PS: one thing I neglected to say was that do hope that Steve and Guy realise that all of this discussion is intended to help, rather than to harm; and that as a result, their business model improves. I wish them both the best of luck with their venture, and look forward to finding out what changes they've made as a result of the discussions here.
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Old 11-25-2008, 11:44 PM   #121
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I've read the entire thread and I just want to mention to Steve and Guy -- as has been mentioned over and over again -- that being on the Bewares and Background Checks thread is NOT being in jail, or being bad, or sent to the corner, or whatever else you two are telling yourselves it is.

If you want to browse, you'll see the names of some of the TOP agents and publishers listed here. No one from Donald Maass' office is coming onto their thread whining about being in this awful place. No one from Trident Media is, either. And so on. LEGITIMATE companies understand that there are going to be questions and that the answers to those questions will help show that they are indeed legitimate. It's the bad boys and girls who don't like scrutiny.

Since you both sound like you're on the good side, please stop whining (because, by now, that's what it reads like) about being on this thread, or in jail, or any of the other crybaby, poor poor pitiful me stuff you've been saying. This is where you belong. You called for submissions FAR too early and instead of having your post deleted, it was instead set up to send every interested party to this thread...where they can read all about your plans and make their own decisions based not on one post or a website, but on your communications back and forth. This was a favor, though you're apparently not yet clear on that fact.

More authors will see your thread here than they would in Paying Markets and because they'll have seen that you two do seem earnest and legitimate, versus scamming and sleazy, there is a better likelihood that you'd find interested parties as well.

Best of luck to you both in your endeavor, btw. And take a look at the other forums here -- you'll find a wealth of experience and knowledge that can only help you as you move your writing and your business forward.
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:54 AM   #122
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All disagreements aside, the fact remains that publishing companies started by would-be authors with no publishing experience don't work. It's like thinking a couple of house painters can start an art studio and effectively sell people's paintings.

My opinion is that a would-be author who has gone through every other choice including agents and legitimate publishers and feel they just must get their book published would be far better served just going to Lulu directly. At least in going that route they have full control over the book and could sign with another company in the future.

That's just my opinion of course.
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Old 11-26-2008, 04:09 AM   #123
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Wow, while i have just lost a few hours of my life to reading this thread in the end, all i can say is good luck to the two of you. Lots of good information provided, i am sure the two of you will learn from in, grow as professionals and apply it to your business.

Good luck with the business venture!
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My second poetry chapbook Prepare To Crash is now available from Big Table Publishing. Pick up a copy today !

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Old 11-26-2008, 07:56 AM   #124
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I wanted to thank both of them and wish them luck, too. We only want the best for small press -- to many of us, it is our lifeblood.

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Old 11-26-2008, 09:56 AM   #125
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Hope you get it together. If you do keep your artist, the covers were good, they deserve the best distribution.

Note in case you were confused upthread, warehouse and distributor are not the same even though some warehouse websites make it sound as though they are distributors. Don't be taken in, they mean it differently than you do.
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