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Old 11-26-2008, 10:11 AM   #126
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I think perhaps I haven't explained myself clearly during the past few days, so hopefully I can do that now & draw a line under this affair while Guy & I rethink virtually everything, due to the excellent guidance we've received from you all. So here goes:
--------------------------------------------

Recently, I took on the job of posting on a few writer's forums about Salvatore's forthcoming launch, the release of our website & the all-important Christmas book which has been produced to aid children's charities. This kind of free, minor publicity is the lifeblood of a small operation such as ours, and I imagined that we'd achieve some sales of A Writer's Christmas because of it, which pleased me because it's for such a good cause. So, when SP started to receive criticism here, I felt it was my duty to respond as best I could. Unfortunately, this was perhaps not the best idea, and here is why:

I am more or less an honorary partner in Salvatore Publishing. Guy persuaded me to take this position because: a) He's always admired my writing (Gawd help him, lol), b) He trusts me, and c) Because we were both enthused with the notion of creating an approachable, informal small publisher with whom writers would find it pleasurable to work; at the very least, we thought, we could help them and ourselves come to the attention of agents and/or bigger publishers.

I wrote the word 'unfortunately' above because, even though I've attempted to answer all questions posed at AW, I'm actually the wrong person to be doing this, as I lack even the business knowledge which my partner has; but Guy works all day, whereas I do not, so at this early stage of SP's existence, he isn't always on-hand 24/7. Nevertheless, despite my lack of qualification, I felt I had to defend my company and indirectly, my friend, because believe it not, our intentions were (and still are, of course) the best - we are not dishonest people & this perhaps explains why this thread has so vexed me personally, to the extent that I've been glued to this thread for nearly three days & am now writing this at six am. Dishonest people would not have bothered to fret over the criticism we've received - we'd have simply ignored the thread, changed our name(s) and looked elsewhere for 'suckers'; the notorious companies in the industry do this all the time, so I've read here. We've tried to handle the (deserved and undeserved) criticism with all the dignity and self-depreciation we could, even when some have been condescending (thankfully, the vast majority of you have been anything but, and we appreciate this).

Guy finances SP entirely on his own. I try to help in the best way I can, which includes posting 'adverts' for SP's books on boards such as AW, AuthorsDen and MWC. But this effort of mine is as nothing compared to the responsibilities Guy has, and I'm forever aware of this sobering fact. To give some clarification of our ill-gotten gains during our very brief time as a publisher, our first anthology made, I believe, the massive profit of...eight pounds, which was 'reinvested' in the company; our current book will benefit the charities mentioned in a previous post.

So, we're hardly 'raking it in', and all the while, Guy has the unhappy responsibility of purchasing ISBN numbers etc etc. Incidentally, over thirty authors have freely contributed short fiction to our two anthologies, and have been happy to do so because they were always aware why we didn't offer payment - they knew that we produced these books to find out the quality of printing available from certain companies (Lulu amongst them); because they were, on the whole, unpublished authors who longed to see their work in print; and because they wanted to help us make a start, as they believed & trusted in us. To sum up, there has been no deception at all, and if this is so hard to believe, I will gladly provide contact addresses so that the opinions of our authors (all of whom are listed on our website) can be gauged.

Being newcomers, we took the majority of our (admittedly flawed) business plan from a now-defunct small publisher named Skeleton Tree Press, to which we'd both submitted work in the recent past. STP's owner was always friendly & helpful to us, and gradually we both felt that perhaps we could run a similar business specifically aimed at people like us - new writers who needed a break of some kind. Perhaps Salvatore would fail, perhaps it would eventually become a proper business...we didn't know which, but we wanted to do something...

But as we've all seen, we simply don't know enough basic information about the publishing business. Your constructive criticism in this thread has not only been helpful, but sobering, and we will act on it; this includes such controversial matters as payment for short stories, advances etc. But please bear in mind that these things in particular will be addressed in a manner which suits us financially, as an admittedly small-time publisher. I say this because, as I stated, Guy finances SP - he works as a commercial manager, while I am on sick leave after the passing of my father, and so I don't have the money to contribute to the running of SP, sadly. The reason why I've questioned your comments about advances & other payments is not because SP is looking to scam authors at all - it's simply because we've been misinformed; because we adopted an unsuitable business model (because we didn't know any better); and because I'm always aware that I'm unable to help Guy financially. Now we do know better, and will adapt, because we have to if we're going to honour our original raison d'Ítre.

I hope this typically long-winded (but necessary) post explains things a little better. Certainly, we've been found to be amateurish - we've fully admitted this - and we hope to improve dramatically in this respect. But the last thing we are is dishonest. Our hearts are in the right place, and while that may mean nothing to those who value the utmost professionalism (in which case, Salvatore may never be the best option for you, sadly - it's likely that we'll never possess the resources & expertise of a major publisher), it does mean, however, that some writers may eventually benefit from our fundamental trait.

I've asked you to accept that our mistakes are the result of genuine naivety, and not deceit; at the very least, we intend to prove that to be true. I think it's clear by now, considering how able many writers are at exposing both scams and scammers, that Guy & I have no dubious connections or intentions (hell, I've never even sold anything on Ebay, let alone been a master conman, lol) - we genuinely are newcomers to the tough world of publishing. But we will learn in time, and will use that knowledge to become worthy publishers for those authors who need both a helping hand and a passionate ally.

Thanks for reading,

Steve

Last edited by StevenJ; 11-26-2008 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:52 PM   #127
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Because we were both enthused with the notion of creating an approachable, informal small publisher with whom writers would find it pleasurable to work; at the very least, we thought, we could help them and ourselves come to the attention of agents and/or bigger publishers.
Probably the only way a book printed by a POD publisher or a micropress would come to an agent's or larger publisher's attention is if it sells a large number of copies in the first few months. Otherwise, they aren't going to want it once SP uses up the rights of first publication.

And if a writer takes them a new book, mentioning a startup micropress in the query letter is unlikely to get the writer any further.

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Nevertheless, despite my lack of qualification, I felt I had to defend my company and indirectly, my friend,
Steve, don't you think that a better use of your time - and a more productive step towards becoming a real publisher - would be to read up intensively about the publishing industry rather than continuing to try to assure everyone here of how great your intentions are?

For instance, I have no idea why you keep reiterating that you're not dishonest, when no one on this thread has called your press a scam and people have, in fact, said the same thing - that you're inexperienced rather than out to cheat authors.

At this point, your going on and on about how you're inexperienced but good-hearted means nothing, to me. It's just a milder form of the previous complaining about how SP was treated. Don't talk, do. Research, read what professionals in the industry have to say, raise funds for advances, stop sending releases to authors, get copyeditors, etc. That will get you somewhere quicker than defending yourself here.

As you said, draw a line under this affair, take a break from defending SP and do your homework. And I wish you the best in making your publisher a good choice for authors.
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:52 PM   #128
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As a final note of advice to you, Steve and Guy, I would strongly recommend going to see a solicitor before you progress any further with your venture and work out an appropriate corporate structure. The reason I say this is because I've seen Steve refer to himself as a partner at the same time as I've seen references to a company. A partnership and a company are not the same thing and the risks associated with each of those structures are quite different.

A solicitor will be able to advise you more closely on this, but speaking as a lawyer myself (without offering legal advice), if you're serious about offering publishing services, I would urge you to make sure you have properly incorporated a company first and then vest the legal rights, finance and obligations in that company.

I say this because if you're funding this on a personal basis or you're assuming any obligations on a personal basis, then there is a risk that in the event everything goes wrong (and I hope it doesn't but it's something you need to consider), you will each be personally liable. If you have a properly set up company, it's only the company that goes under and your personal assets will remain untouched. If you find a legal firm with experience in publishing contracts, you should also be able to get some standard form publishing contracts prepared for you, which you'll be able to offer to prospective authors.

Best of luck to you both.

MM
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:26 PM   #129
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Why this is the right thing to do....

So I’ve had time to reflect over the last 24 hours and for the first time during this venture, I have asked myself the question: ‘am I doing the right thing?’

Our website seems to be sending out the wrong message. As a prospective publisher I don’t have answers to crucial questions at my fingertips, and I’m in danger of destroying other people’s confidence in me before I even start.

What am I doing? What the hell am I thinking?

But then I thought of all the people who have come to me and asked for help, and I can say with all confidence that I am doing the right thing (the wrong way maybe) but the right thing nevertheless. I hope the following explanation helps you to understand the type of people I want to help, and why.

First, let me tell you briefly ‘who I am.’ Like many unsigned writers I have a day job. I am fortunate that I hold a senior management roll in a large organization that deals with a number of high profile clients in London (no I’m not a banker). In addition, I believe I am a ‘competent’ writer. What do I mean by that? I mean that I have received training (I attended the London School of Journalism) and it’s in my blood – my father is a writer. In addition I have received one-to-one coaching from published authors as well as qualified editors. This year, I self-published my first novel. Why I chose to self-publish is a story in itself, but suffice to say that I developed a mistrust of the publishing industry after I was ‘scammed’ myself. So I decided to become master of my destiny. Whether my work sells or not is another matter, but at least it’s not in the hands of some greasy rogue.

Steve endured the same experience, and as two writers who respect each others work we decided we weren’t going to take any more of this crap and do something about it.
Yep, I know, hands up, we’re doing it all wrong. But let me finish, by telling you why this is still the right thing to do. The following is a true story:

I walk into our London office one morning armed with my laptop, diary, and a sneaky batch of The Horde (my novel) in my briefcase. I’m here to work, but I’m also here to sell my book. Mike from accounts wanders past and I treat him to a ‘good morning’ grin.
‘Do you read thrillers Mike?’
Mike looks puzzled. ‘Err yeah… why? Have you got something you recommend?’
‘Sure I do.’ I pull out a copy of The horde from my case and hand it to him.
He still looks puzzled and so I explain it’s my book.
‘Christ! You wrote a book?’
He stares at me in disbelief, his face lifts and I know all I’ve got to do is reel him in and bingo - I’ve got a sale. My sales pitch is in mid-flow when he stops me….
‘I’ve written a book too,’ he says.
At this point Mike is twitching like an excited child. The guy is in his mid-forties and has less hair than I do, but all of a sudden he loses thirty years as he explains what his book is all about. He talks so fast that I struggle to keep up, and then without warning he dashes off to his desk to retrieve his book. Now I’m looking around the office wondering if anyone else here is a closet writer.
‘Everyone knows about it,’ Mike says as he thrusts his manuscript into my hands. ‘It took me three years to complete.’
‘Three years!’
‘Yeah… what do you think?’
Mike’s manuscript turns out to be a children’s book. A book about a dragon called ‘Ernie.’ But it’s more than just a story. Every page of text is accompanied by a detailed drawing, all beautifully done. I’m not kidding, this guy’s work truly knocked me back. Along with the manuscript he also has a batch of letters written by a class of eight-year olds telling Mike how much they loved his story.
‘I sometimes help out at the local school,’ he explains. ‘I read the kids my stuff and they loved it.’
‘Have you tried getting it published?’ I ask him.
His shoulders slump and he stares at the floor. ‘I spent two years trying but no one wants it. I looked at self-publishing, but I don’t know who to trust, and so many of these companies want huge sums of money up front. I can’t afford it.’
I go on to tell Mike how he can get his book published at a relatively low cost, although the retail price might prove a little expensive. He seems unimpressed. He turns my book over in his hands and flips open the cover. ‘Can you do it for me?’ he asks.
I won’t bore you with entire conversation because this thread has gone on long enough. Let me say despite all my objections, Mike insisted he wanted me to get his book published. I told him about Salvatore, but that I didn’t have everything set up and I wasn’t sure that a children’s book was my area of expertise. And even if it was, I wasn’t sure I could distribute it widely enough to make it a success. Despite all my concerns, Mike still wanted me to help him.
This is not an isolated incident. I can honestly say that the criticisms leveled at Salvatore have actually helped me to come up with a far better idea of how I should be approaching this. I now have a clearer picture of how I can help people like Mike, and you have helped me do that.
I’ve said enough for now. I just want to say thanks for your guidance.

Oh yeah, and Mike did buy a copy of my book.

Last edited by guy cousins; 11-26-2008 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 11-26-2008, 05:01 PM   #130
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Let me say despite all my objections, Mike insisted he wanted me to get his book published. I told him about Salvatore, but that I didnít have everything set up and I wasnít sure that a childrenís book was my area of expertise. And even if it was, I wasnít sure I could distribute it widely enough to make it a success. Despite all my concerns, Mike still wanted me to help him.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with a micro-press run as a cooperative venture.

But you and your authors need to be clear that a sale to SP won't get the attention of agents or larger publishers, and that ultimately, their circle of readers will be limited to friends and family.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:58 PM   #131
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Guy and Steve, I think that as long as you are completely upfront about your business model (on your website), and completely clear about the differences between that business model and commercial publishing (in your own minds), you'll do fine and no one will have a problem with Salvatore Publishing.

It's when micropresses are confused about basic publishing terms and issues, or present themselves as giving new authors a chance to [pick one] build a platform,/come to the attention of agents/get a foot in the door, that people like us start to get skeptical.

Also, I think it's part of a micropress's job to make clear to aspiring authors (who are often not just un-knowledgeable about the realities of publishing, but blinded by hope and frustration) exactly how a micropress differs from a larger commercial publisher, and the challenges and limitations of choosing to publish in this way. Many writers simply don't understand that there's a difference, or think that they can make up the difference by working really hard post-publication. If a micropress is what they want, that's fine, but they need to know going in what the deal is.

Once again, no one has accused either of you of being shady or disreputable. To the contrary--we respect your willingness to listen and learn from the comments in this thread. So please, let's get past the dishonesty thing!

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Old 11-28-2008, 03:08 AM   #132
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After reading the whole thread (yup, all six pages!) I just want to say that I too hope you guys work out the kinks and create something great. As a newbie to AW, my first though seeing publishers/agents/etc in this section of the forum has never given me the first reaction of 'uh-oh, they're all spammers' or any negative reaction. What I saw were people discussing certain publishers and agents. To make sure they were making the right choices. And when someone from said publisher or agent comes out and clears the matters I can respect that. Reading through this thread I saw a case of 'good intention, bad delivery' and I'm glad you guys took away some positive stuff from it all. Looking forward to hearing about you guys getting established.
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Old 11-28-2008, 12:05 PM   #133
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Of all the things that have been said in this thread, the one thing that Guy & Steve must do is take the advice of Memento Mori & speak with an attorney. It will save endless hours of frustration, heartache & possibly avoid financial disaster.

It won't be free, but in the long run it will be priceless.
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Old 11-28-2008, 01:12 PM   #134
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Hi everyone,
I'm still checking this thread for further nuggets of advice. We have now posted a message on our website saying that we hope to be open to submissions during the Summer of 2009. That gives us the best part of a year to iron out all these issues and ensure we launch with a well thought out strategy.
We will continue with our community writing projects which cater for people who know us (friends basically), but we won't approach the general public until our business case is sound.

Thanks once again.

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Old 11-28-2008, 02:33 PM   #135
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I wish you all the luck with your enterprise.Do come back once in a while to let us know how things are going.
We are also here if once in a while you need to let off steam.Some of the other threads here are good for that

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Old 11-28-2008, 04:13 PM   #136
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Hi Petec,
Strangely, I didn't even know about this website until this week, and I'm glad I joined. There's a lot of people here, who are a lot closer to the industry than I am, and they have proved to be a great resource to tap into.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:27 PM   #137
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Bump!

I've just read through all six pages of this this thread, and I wonder...

It's now well into 2009. Several posts said that changes were going to be made to Salvatore Publishing early in 2009. Have they happened? What's the latest?

I appreciate the honesty and candidness that Steve and Guy displayed, and I'm sincerely interested in knowing where SP has gone in the last six months.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:14 PM   #138
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Hi Don,
We have made progress but haven't made a big deal of it as yet. Still early stages in the process (and still lots of mistakes to be made I guess). You can view the new website on www.salvatorepublishing.com. Please feel free to browse but I recommend that writers do not approach us just yet because this business is still 'work in progress'.

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Old 05-07-2009, 09:25 AM   #139
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I have just read through all six pages of this thread, wow, an amazing feat. As a writer with three projects almost to the submission phase, I am sorry, but I would be very hesitant to submit based on your site alone.

Now I may be completely wrong here, but if your business is still a "work in progress" wouldn't it be best to not have a site functional yet? I see you are not accepting submissions for novels, which is good, but I still feel the site comes off as "Hey, we love books so we decided to be publishers!"

Not the best vibe...sorry not trying to be harsh just honest.
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:14 PM   #140
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Hi Jason,
Actually, your impression isn't far from the truth. We do love books and we love writing, hence we decided to take it a step further. We basically evolved from two online writing communities - My Writer's Circle, and Short Story Library. We acknowledged the demands from new writers on these sites to provide a platform for their short stories. This has escalated and we are now publishing work from more experienced members. Indeed, one of our authors has sixty non-fiction books to his name. At the moment we publish work by writers we know. So by 'work in progress' I mean we are not ready to take submissions from writers like yourself. I doubt we could satisfy your ambitions at this stage of our development because we have no track record and we operate on a tight budget. It would be wrong for me to try and sell Salvatore to you, but I saw Don's remarks and thought it polite to respond. Indeed, many of the changes we made are a direct result of the comments we received on this thread. We will continue to build albeit quietly and steadily until we have something to shout about.

Guy

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Old 05-07-2009, 11:08 PM   #141
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Enthusiasm is never a bad thing, but when publishing is concerned, it's best to air on the side of caution. The fact that you and your coworkers are able to see the truth within the statements made here on B&BC actually speaks volumes to me. Seeing a publication taken from enthusiastic newbies to thoughtful businessmen/women all because of AW is a good thing. Knowing that you are getting sound advice from the very people you aspire to be like tells something about the steps your establishment is willing to make to be successful and the ability you have to listen when something can be recognized as "smart". All in all, I'd say you've made the right decision to hold off on taking new projects right now. Building your business credentials is especially important here, as we writers do tend to look at things like sales when scoping out a publisher. I'm not a published author, I'm not an editor or literary agent. But because of this place, I think I may be published eventually. I feel I made an informed decision to take my writing from "good" to "stellar" (Okay, I haven't reached "stellar yet, but I can feel it.... my sap is rising, I tell you) before I go on to try and publish again. I still sub short work out, but my longer novels and novellas are going into the OR because that is where they need to be. I came to this conclusion after I started posting on AW. It's nice to see that while some new publisher type people may get put in the interrogation room, they're just as willing to learn as the rest of us. I've seen a couple of them that thought the AW people were out to get them, but for the most part, you've been open to discussions. So, that's a mark up for Salvatore. Good luck.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:20 AM   #142
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