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Old 02-14-2012, 10:52 PM   #626
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard White View Post
My only comment is: It's really bad form to set up strawmen just so you can knock them down.

Unless you know how (or if) the editors are getting paid - or any staffers, for that matter - any speculation on that matter is just that -

Speculation.

Priceless, I'm really surprised you'd resort to strawmen to make your arguments.
I've been reading through many of the threads in 'backgrounds' to educate myself. I'm new to AW, but I have to admit I find this statement odd. Speculation? Aren't most of the publishers in these background checks up for 'speculative' opinions based on the vast experience of those speculating? Why the kid gloves for Musa? A red flag is a red flag. I don't get it. Would only a new person recognize this 'rallying around'? I understand it, but is it genuine to the service AW provides for all of us? Sorry, I don't mean to get in the middle of anything... But as an 'outsider' I'm seeing something that's off.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:51 PM   #627
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Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
I have seen posts in this thread that struck me exactly as I characterized them. I do not mean every Musa author.
I think as a writer you can understand how what reads as a blanket statement can be offensive to those you aren't talking about. Maybe your actual intended thought was "Some people are like this but not everyone so those who it doesn't apply to should just ignore what I'm saying," but when the statement itself is very general or exaggerated to more people for effect, it's difficult to tell if that was your intended meaning or not.

This is why qualifiers such as "Some" or "I've seen a few people" or something like that are useful. I always make a marked, conscious effort to not over-generalize. I'm a natural exaggerator myself, so this is something I have to think about. Precisely because making the type of statement you made could be construed as offensive, and to be honest it's not accurate. If you admit yourself that you don't mean all or most or everyone, but you state it as such, then you're exaggerating to make a point, which in a lot of ways invalidates the point you're trying to make.

Anyway this is enough of a derail. I don't have a vested interest in this, either. I'm just an observer sharing my thoughts.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:59 PM   #628
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ALL bolding mine:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarieSalvros View Post
I'm not triing to be negative. I hope musa turns out to be really good. It just seemed like there was alot of cheerleading in here becasue the owner is a longstanding member of this board and I didn't think the cheering was related to anything other than, "this is a friend of mine."

good luck to all the authors I hope you come back in a year and tell us about your experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LillyPu View Post
Why the kid gloves for Musa? A red flag is a red flag. I don't get it. Would only a new person recognize this 'rallying around'? I understand it, but is it genuine to the service AW provides for all of us? Sorry, I don't mean to get in the middle of anything... But as an 'outsider' I'm seeing something that's off.

Do you two mean this sort of cheerleading/kid gloves handling?:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
I'll admit to being concerned by the speed with which Musa has developed. Because as we all know, good intentions are not a strong enough foundation upon which to build a good new publisher.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post

This one point is enough to make me hesitate to recommend Musa to anyone, I'm afraid. As I hope you'll realise, this isn't personal: but we don't know how well you're going to do just yet, nor do we know how well you're going to react to any problems you might encounter (and you're bound to encounter a few).

(and speaking of cover design: I find the titles on many of your covers impossible to read, even when they're not at thumbnail size--you might want to take a look).

Putting how you treat your authors so high on your list of priorities is not good from a business point of view. Yes, it's nice of you: but authors don't fund your business, readers do. It's readers you should be focusing on. I've seen so many publishers fail because they placed more emphasis on looking after their authors than on attracting readers. Please don't fall into the same trap.



And here I get really, really worried. Bravado is all very well, but it doesn't pay the rent.

If "no other publisher in the world believes [Musa] can work" then you're pretty much bound to fail. Most publishers I know are astute business people. If this wasn't just a throwaway comment you should have thought about more carefully, and is really how you're operating, then I have to advise everyone who has submitted to you to withdraw their submissions immediately; and if it was a throwaway comment you're now regretting, it doesn't speak well about your professionalism.



I hope you've made this clear to the authors you've signed up. It's not a good base for you to be operating from; and if it really is where you're at, then in your position I'd start reverting rights to all the authors I'd signed. Sorry, Celina, but if you're so certain that the odds are against you but you just don't care then you should not be contracting writers to publish with you unless you're absolutely clear about this with them before they sign. And even then I'd question whether it's reasonable for you to do so: we both know how desperate writers can be when there's the chance of publication before them.

FOUR HUNDRED?


I'm sorry, I'm gobsmacked. Unless you have a ridiculously long publishing schedule and/or almost as many editors working for you as you have books signed up, you're in trouble. Sorry: sorry. You know I consider you both a friend and jolly good sort but I don't see how you can cope with that many books when you're so new, and so small. And if you're not small, and have all sorts of staff engaged to cope with this huge schedule, then that implies a whole new raft of other problems because I don't see how a publisher which is as new as Musa can succeed if it's expanded as quickly as it seems Musa has. Cashflow scuppers publishers which expand too quickly, every time.

How many editors do you have working for you? How quickly do you intend to get these 400 books edited, designed, marketed and published? How much attention do your writers and their books get prior to publication? I've seen you talk about editing with great passion: you must be intending to edit your books properly and market them effectively; but if you have 400 books signed up already I simply don't see how you can do this.



Good intentions and a big dose of the warm fuzzies are not enough to guarantee success.


Based on the single post from mscelina which I'm responding to here, I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time. I strongly advise anyone who is considering sending their work in to wait at least a year, to give Musa time to prove that it can sell books in good quantities.

I give my sincere apologies to all involved, and hope that I'm wrong to be so worried and so cautious. Only time will tell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post

I really worry when publishers talk like this because there isn't a model that hasn't been tried (and many failed), so what makes this such a landmark statement?

I can't tell you how much this alarms me. How on earth can you edit, market, and promote that many authors in that short of a time span? I know you'd never become an author mill, but I'm sorry...this frankly scares the tar out of me.

I know you're honest and have your heart in the right place, but I think you've taken a huge bite without assurances that you can pull it off. Is this fair to your authors? When you said upstream somewhere that you were taking things slowly and were being careful with your money, I thought it meant you were signing a manageable number of authors in order to properly promote your authors. It seems you're spreading yourself awfully thin with four hundred authors. My head is still spinning.

I have to agree with Jane here and recommend that authors give Musa a couple years to solidify their reputation and create a firmer foundation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post

At this point I recommend that writers do not submit to Musa. If writers are already signed up to publishing with Musa then that's an entirely different case: there might not be provision in the contracts which have been signed to allow them to withdraw from their contracts without incurring financial or other penalties.
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Originally Posted by escritora View Post
Four hundred is a lot of books for a small house in such a small window of time.

It's a valid concern I'm sure Celina understands.
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Originally Posted by Giant Baby View Post
... concerns have been raised (some by Ms. Celina herself), which warrant caution. The same caution that's recommended throughout the BR&BC, and we'd be hypocritical not to recommend it here, simply because we know the publisher.

For what it's worth, I've had several of these concerns for quite a long time, but as others seemed okay with how things were proceeding, I didn't trust my vastly limited understanding of the industry enough to raise my hand and say "hey, that's a LOT of new books being picked up."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
Right, you're fine with that risk. But Priceless and Old Hack--among others (including myself) never recommend that authors take risks on publishers. That's why OH said she cannot recommend Musa. Because you yourself acknowledge it's a risk.


This is an example of the logical fallacy known as "appeal to inappropriate authority." There are only a few Musa authors here; none to my knowledge have had their books released yet or have completed the editing process--they're in the "Honeymoon period." The likelihood of Honeymooning authors wanting to cancel is slim. Furthermore (again, to my knowledge) none of those signed authors are experts on publishing or even have extensive experience in it, so their opinions, while important, are not necessarily indicative of the odds of success for this publisher or of the odds of success for each author at this publisher, nor are they proof of quality.

Not that I'm comparing Musa in any way to Publishamerica, but an awful lot of their Honeymooners are awfully happy, too.

Personally, I'd love to see Musa succeed and am hoping they do, and think the odds for them are better than many startups. But they *are* a start-up, and Celina acknowledges the risk in that herself (which she would, being a smart, fair-minded, and knowledgeable individual). So I wouldn't necessarily recommend them either; you might be happy with only a handful of sales (I'm not saying that's all you'll get, I'm just using your words), but that's definitely not the case for most of us, and I'm just not comfortable recommending a publisher with no track record of sales.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Swords View Post
... imagine what the reaction would be if a new publisher no one had ever heard of started a thread here and said, "The odds are against us and no other publisher believes our business can work".

People would be wondering (rightly so) if those other publishers had a good reason for their consensus of opinion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
Musa was so deemed because no one was asking the tough questions. It wasn't until we got to asking those questions today that some radars were pinged.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post


I didn't see Celina discussing cashflow anywhere but I'd be very concerned about that too. There's so much more to do in publishing than edit a book and get it out there: the time it's going to take to get each book (or short, or whatever) out there and to ensure it gets enough attention is huge.

Yes, it's nice, but it's not an indication that the publisher will succeed.

This is pretty standard advice and in my view, it's good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by priceless1 View Post
Since you only addressed my post long enough to thank me for my input, I have to repeat a major concern with this huge number of releases. From a publishing standpoint, it doesn't matter if a percentage of those books are reissues, or that they're not all novels - ALL of your books (ideally) need to be marketed and promoted, so how can you possibly do that for roughly 33-ish new releases per month? That's a huge undertaking, and you've not mentioned how you make that happen.
We're in the dark because you have yet to say how you make this happen. So yes, this is a horrific number of scheduled releases for latter 2011 and 2012. And since we don't have any answers as to why you would bite off such a huge task, it's logical for us to suggest authors give Musa some time to prove that you can give all your books the kind of marketing and promotion needed in order to sell books.

I'm sorry, but this still sticks to the bottom of my shoe because you haven't made it clear as to what differentiates your company from any other publisher who had the nerve to say something like this.

I would love nothing more than to see you guys succeed, but I'm not seeing anything in your posts that makes me snap my fingers and say, "Ohhh, yeah, that makes total sense."

I am a publisher, and I do have hands-on experience with selling books for a living, and none of this makes sense to me. And the fact that you've pointedly avoided a fellow publisher's concerns gives me pause about your ability to engage in this discussion.


Musa accepts a lot of different genres, and I can't help but wonder how they do editorial, marketing, and promotional justice to them all.

Based on what little Celina has said regarding this issue, I don't see how Musa can put a promotional dent in that many genres.

We're nervous because we don't see how Musa can accomplish all it's claiming.

In short, no one is attacking. We simply need more information so authors can make informed decisions as to whether Musa can enhance their literary career.
Quote:
Originally Posted by happywritermom View Post

I still have not seen the questions Priceless raised about marketing and promotion answered yet though.

I'm not sure how Musa can promise large promotional efforts to each author. This is the one area wherein Musa faces the same obstacles as the big six. Promotion and marketing is the same game whether the titles are e-books or traditional books.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
Hello, Dominique. Thanks for explaining that for us: but it looks to me like all you're doing is sending out review copies and teaching your authors how to network online. Which is good and all, but it's only a small part of the marketing and promotions that in my experience is required to effectively sell books in decent quantity.

what innovative steps are you taking to help your authors promote their books? Blogs, websites, social networking: it's all been done, and while it will generate some sales it's not new and fresh. Are you contacting other appropriate online organisations (for example, off the top of my head, and with very little thought behind it: reenactment societies for the historical fiction that you're selling) or is all that up to your authors?

And what are you doing, if anything, to make your books more visible in online bookshops and reader-related sites like Goodreads and Library Thing?
Quote:
Originally Posted by IceCreamEmpress View Post
None of the examples you give are "outside the box" at all. Every Big Six publisher, for instance, does this stuff as a matter of course (and has done for the last 20 years). It is excellent that you are working these angles, but so is everyone else.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
That's an absolute landmine.

Reviewing books in the genre you write, giving opinions on what are basically your contemporaries and competition is either going to come across as shameless flatter and self-promotion through the same (if the reviews are good), or sour grapes and bridge burning (if the reviews are bad).
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
I'm still worried that Musa is taking on a huge workload that may exceed the ability of a startup. Ambition is good, but so is caution.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post

I've been hearing suggestions that there are a few issues with the publication of some of Musa's books: tight schedules getting tighter, things not being ready in time, that sort of thing.

I know how any sort of delay in editing and production can throw a whole promotional plan out of whack, so I'm concerned. And this ties in with your worries about the number of books that Musa has signed: with so very many books to push through the system I wouldn't be at all surprised if something gives, somewhere; I just hope that they have the skills and the staff to pull things together again when that happens.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennontheisland View Post
The majority of the positions are listed as "Internships." Considering the publishing industry's reputed fondness for unpaid internships, I'm guessing these are volunteer positions?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captcha View Post
I'm curious about cashflow, myself.

54 employees, assuming they aren't all unpaid interns, is a huge amount of overhead. I haven't heard any sales numbers, but realistically, even if the company's at Samhain/EC levels, which I have no reason to believe they are, there's just not THAT much income coming in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
Yeah, I am trying to do the math on 54 employees for a new ebook startup, and unless someone is funding this from their lottery winnings, it doesn't add up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post


My concerns are that your schedules aren't working well, not that you've pulled books. And if your schedules aren't working then books aren't going to be ready for release, and all the promotional efforts that you and your writers put in are going to be wasted.

I'm sorry to drop this on you when you're not at your best, but I know you'll understand that this isn't a personal thing. And to get personal for a while, I hope your surgery goes really well, and that you're back to full health very soon. Good luck.
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Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
I don't think anyone questions their honesty and intentions. Unfortunately, the landscape is littered with businesses run on good intentions. It may give you a warm fuzzy to know that the people you are submitting your story to really care, but I'd feel warmer fuzzies being confident my book will be in print and on shelves.

The willingness of eager aspiring authors to throw their lot in with anyone who might print their book is why there are so many publishing companies and so few good ones. Here in this thread you have industry veterans who like all the people involved in Musa and yet are saying "Warning! Warning! Big red flags!" And yet the response is, "Well, I don't care, they just seem like nice folks and I really, really, really, really, really want someone to publish my book!" Sigh.


That's not even all of them.



FTR, I've heard from more than one Musa author in the last few weeks reporting concerns about production taking so long it doesn't allow the author adequate time to promote, or production problems, lack of cover(s), things like that, which unfortunately imply a publisher who has bitten off more than it can chew.

I think we're all hopeful for Musa because members we know and care about are involved with them. But that doesn't mean we all think they're a great idea, and many of us have gone on record as saying we don't.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:27 AM   #629
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Originally Posted by kaitie View Post
I think as a writer you can understand how what reads as a blanket statement can be offensive to those you aren't talking about. Maybe your actual intended thought was "Some people are like this but not everyone so those who it doesn't apply to should just ignore what I'm saying," but when the statement itself is very general or exaggerated to more people for effect, it's difficult to tell if that was your intended meaning or not.

This is why qualifiers such as "Some" or "I've seen a few people" or something like that are useful. I always make a marked, conscious effort to not over-generalize. I'm a natural exaggerator myself, so this is something I have to think about. Precisely because making the type of statement you made could be construed as offensive, and to be honest it's not accurate. If you admit yourself that you don't mean all or most or everyone, but you state it as such, then you're exaggerating to make a point, which in a lot of ways invalidates the point you're trying to make.

As a writer you can understand how I would naturally assume people would understand the statement "The willingness of eager aspiring authors..." should not reasonably be interpreted to mean "The willingness of every single eager aspiring author everywhere in the world meaning all authors 100% of them everywhere everyone who is an author." But thank you for the handy tips on how better to express myself in the way you would express yourself if you were me and expressing yourself.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:36 AM   #630
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Kaitie, Amadan, perhaps the two of you could take the "as a writer" side discussion to PM?
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:01 PM   #631
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Any time a publisher posts in their thread to honestly clarify and explain and answer questions, it generates goodwill (and even some excitement in the case of a promising publisher like Musa). I think that's why the tone in this thread is more positive than some.

I can't remember when Musa opened (October?) and I'm not at home so I can't check my contract to see how often they send out royalty statements/payments, but when should we start hearing about sales from their first authors? I'm interested to see how Musa's sales stack up against other similar-sized publishers, if anyone is willing to share.

I just have one novella with them that was published last month. My experience has been positive in many ways but not so positive in others. Musa seems to be trying to foster a community among their writers, with an active private yahoo group (so active I had to shut off the freaking alert emails) and apparently some sort of online seminar to help authors improve their writing. I haven't looked closely at that so I don't know what it's all about. I've got some reservations about them working to build a community of writers instead of, say, putting that same effort into promotion and marketing. But maybe they've put one of their interns in charge of the touchy-feely stuff for authors.

ETA: In one of those weird coincidences, I just got an email from Paypal saying that I just got a first royalty payment from Musa. It's not a full payment--just from a few vendors, not Amazon or anything. It's in the low, um, ones.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:23 PM   #632
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Quote:
LillyPu:
Aren't most of the publishers in these background checks up for 'speculative' opinions based on the vast experience of those speculating?
Yes, but there's a difference between speculating on the basis of evidence provided and your own experience and speculating purely on the basis of a set of assumptions not born out by the evidence to support your argument.

Quote:
LillyPu:
Why the kid gloves for Musa?
I don't think there have been kid gloves here. In any event, Stacia, has already pointed out where other frequent posters on this Forum have raised concerns/potential issues with Musa - all of whom, I'd add, have done so in exactly the same tone and with the same level of practicality as they bring to other publishers.

FWIW I wouldn't submit to Musa until it's been going for 2 years and I can get figures on average sales and the types of royalties that authors can expect to receive. That's exactly what I'd say of any other start-up (and indeed do say so - frequently).

What I would add though is the fact that the people behind Musa are used to these boards means that they've been able to engage with criticism/questions in an upfront and honest way instead of doing the whole meanie head flounce dance.

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Old 02-15-2012, 07:36 PM   #633
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Any time a publisher posts in their thread to honestly clarify and explain and answer questions, it generates goodwill (and even some excitement in the case of a promising publisher like Musa). I think that's why the tone in this thread is more positive than some.
Very different from when a publisher comes in all-guns-blazing, talking about how we're a bunch of jealous amateur losers with too much time on our hands who were probably rejected by them anyway and how dare we ask where and when they'd ever worked in publishing before and how dare we hope that they fail, so there.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:52 PM   #634
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Thanks, Stacia Kane, I'm well aware of those comments by those whose opinions I've come to take seriously. I won't be reciprocating with quotes I found to be in the 'a bit eager to look the other way' category.

I suppose the tone is what's different here, as someone pointed out upthread. I understand it's due to relationships having formed, etc., and that's all good. But this particular thread is different, there really is no denying it. Different from most others I've read through when a publisher becomes overextended. Gentler, kinder. Like I said, perfectly understandable due to friendships, and the levelheadedness of Musa's responses to questions. I also hope everyone involved succeeds.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:03 PM   #635
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For what it's worth, you often have a person or two (or sometimes more) coming in even when red flags are being raised saying "You're all wrong. They're awesome and great!" There is actually an agency thread that I can think of where people routinely submit and get excited about requests in spite of the fact that the agency has been known to have some pretty serious conflicts of interest, lack of sales history, and has shown some highly questionable judgment.

It's pretty normal, and so a couple of people who might be exceedingly positive are being counterbalanced by people who are cautious (not necessarily exceedingly). I actually think this thread is a good example of the lighter tone that comes from having an actual discussion rather than a flounce party with free-flowing sarcasm. Though, I have to admit, I kind of miss the popcorn...
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:30 PM   #636
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Kaitie - I am now going to be paranoid about the agency in question.

But yes, I think Musa's ability to handle criticism and concerns here with grace and integrity have more to do with the tone of the thread than some kind of AW nepotism, and some of the comments here to the contrary seem... remarkably snide.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:46 PM   #637
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Just my two cents.

I have contracts for two short stories. I like the contracts. They are well written, were vetted (so I was told) by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, and follow the basic SFWA model of a contract-which includes reversion rights if anything should happen to Musa and a guarantee that anyone who buys Musa & Musa properties will have to, at minimum, keep the same contract I have with them or rights revert back to me. It is one of the more comprehensive contracts I've seen in a long time and makes me willing to take a risk and see what Musa can do for me.

That being said, my first story isn't scheduled to be out until June, so I haven't even seen cover art or edits or anything. On the other hand, I am learning a LOT about promotion and the publishing industry first hand that I haven't yet learned from any other small press I've been with. Celina and her staff have reinforced a lot of things that I learned at Viable Paradise (go to that workshop if you haven't yet. Tis good!) and taught me a few new things I didn't know yet.

Have you ever heard the term "opportunity cost?" That's what I'm seeing here. Maybe I won't make a lot of money, but I see emails going out from accounting every month saying "royalty statements just got posted" and other things like that. I see Dom (marketing directory) pointing authors to blogs and interviews and Goodreads and Maniac Readers every other day. I see the staff giving authors advice on how to ignore bad reviews and how to conduct themselves online & in public. I like how this publisher treats its authors, as assets and people.

Now, I've only had one close call with a bad publishing experience and I fortunately didn't sign that contract. So I can't compare this to the horror stories so many people talk about. I can only say, yes, this is a risk. But Musa is willing to take on a few stories I never thought I'd sell and to reprint my older stories (doing all the cover art and formatting so I can concentrate on other writing chores). I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket, I'm getting published by other people too, but it can't hurt for me to try a couple of stories in Musa's hands and see what happens. Right?

If you're interested in seeing the contract, here's the link. Celina believes in transparency. She wants to be held accountable for the things her house is doing, good or bad, and so far I haven't seen a whole lot of bad.

My recommendation is, if you want to try Musa, go for it. But don't throw all your stories at one publisher. Make sure you always have something cooking and manuscripts going out to multiple markets. That way, if something collapses under you, it doesn't take everything you've written along with it.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:07 AM   #638
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Questions for and about MUSA

I've been following this thread with some interest. I'm new here, so a little background: I've optioned a couple of screenplays (none produced), wrote and self-published a how-to book (a printed book) that I was able to live off of until I signed with Focal Press (one of the world's largest tech book publishers). Now I just make a crappy royalty. Which brings me here: I'm finishing up the edits on my first novel, and now what? Self-publish or go with an ebook publisher?

My problem with ebooks that are self-published is that so many are simply bad. Many more need an editor or at a minimum, proofreader. So I personally have stopped buying self-published novels. Which means I lean toward a proper publisher for my own work (if one will have me, that is). Is this a view that is widely held? Given the amount of LOVE/HATE to musa in this forum, not one has said "Self-publish!" Or said, "Here's a better publisher than Musa." Why?

1. With that in mind, I'd like to know the percentage of books MUSA rejects?

With my How-to book, I never had a problem getting reviews. In fact, I never even submitted, but had national magazines ask to review it. I'm certain this is not the case with a novel! And I'm doubly sure most reviewers don't even bother opening a self-published novel, though I'm often wrong. So...

2. Can Musa get their books to reviewers? With the amount they are publishing each month, this seems difficult to me. Musa, on its own, could bury any reviewer on any given day.

3. How does Musa decide on the cover price? What does the average book sell for?

4. mscelina, in one post, says "what we do for our 20%." As I read the contract, I'm a bit confused on this one. If the author gets 50% of sales and Musa 50% of sales from the 70% that Amazon pays, for example, isn't that 35%? As I read the contract, it isn't 50% of the cover price (which would put Musa's cut at 20% as mscelina said). Only on Musa's site does the author royalty rise to a true 50% of the cover price, but that's still 50% going to Musa. I don't have a problem with Musa's royalty system. After being with a big traditional publisher, that seems fair, but I don't get her 20% comment. Can anyone enlighten me? No matter how I do Musa's math, I can't find where they take this little.

5. I know Musa is new, but what is their best seller? How many units in total do they move a month?

6. The Musa contract doesn't mention ancillary rights. Does the author retain 100%? I assume so.

7. If a title sells enough units to justify a print run, does Musa have a distributor? Not a wholesaler. A distributor with a sales force.

8. Does the author have final say on anything? Focal took my great cover that sold thousands of copies, and did a cheap copy of it. Don't ask me why. They also changed the interior to save 20 pages on their print run. It had a negative outcome as far as I'm concerned. Does the Author have a right to say "No" to cover/interior design at Musa? Do you work with authors in that way?

Having self-published a print book, I'd rather not do it again. Yes, I made it a success. But self-publishing is a business, and all that running a business entails. I'd much rather let Musa or other publisher do that if the royalty percentage made it worth it. Musa seems to get that, whether their cut is 20% or 35%, but in the end, can they give an author a fair shot in the marketplace? I have no idea. Celina?
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:54 AM   #639
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Celina's out due to surgery, but maybe one of the other Musa pros can answer?

Musa looks interesting on a lot of levels. Still, I'm worried about some quality control issues in cover art and editing. I want to see if those were one-time flukes in what I saw/read, or a recurrent pattern. The sheer number of books scheduled is a bit mind-blowing - if they're able to stick to that schedule, it will be a major stress-test of the company.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:57 AM   #640
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Originally Posted by Danslak View Post
...Given the amount of LOVE/HATE to musa in this forum, not one has said "Self-publish!" Or said, "Here's a better publisher than Musa." Why?
Why, in your mind, should this conversation dovetail into self-publishing? There are many threads on this site about self-publishing, but they don't usually start in non-self-pub publishers' threads.

There are many better publishers than Musa. Representatives of Musa can tell you that, themselves. Whatever the beefs in this thread, they've been honest and forthcoming. Concerns are real and valid. Responses have been reasonable and rationed.

I, myself, would not submit to them at this stage and would caution other writers against doing so until the kinks have been worked out. I look forward to discovering that my concerns have been unfounded, but at this point, they remain.

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Originally Posted by Danslak View Post
Having self-published a print book, I'd rather not do it again. Yes, I made it a success. But self-publishing is a business, and all that running a business entails. I'd much rather let Musa or other publisher do that if the royalty percentage made it worth it. Musa seems to get that, whether their cut is 20% or 35%, but in the end, can they give an author a fair shot in the marketplace? I have no idea. Celina?
Celina is off-line at present. Your focus on "Musa or other publisher" is confusing. How did you latch on to this publisher? There are many others to consider. Have you considered looking for an agent, or submitting to a house that takes unagented subs? Have you set your sites toward any of the more established epubs?
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:14 AM   #641
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You know, I have always liked Celina. I too am a longstanding member of AW. I'm also not afraid to speak my mind. Having said that, I submitted my manuscript to Musa. I was and am confident that it was a wise choice. I recently finished two rounds of editing with Celina herself. I've had a lot of experience with being edited and I can honestly say none have been as amazing. I felt like I've learned so much. I am confident that Celina made my manuscript BETTER. Not only that, she explained everything. I felt like I've had a workshop! I learned a lot with this editing process. I'm thrilled with the experience. I will share the rest of my experiences as they happen. I'm sure I will be happy. I have an edited manuscript I'm thrilled with and a cover I'm extremely pleased with. If my experiences to date were unsettling at all, I would say as much here...without bias.

I am very satisfied with my Musa experience thus far!
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:57 AM   #642
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Given the amount of LOVE/HATE to musa in this forum, not one has said "Self-publish!" Or said, "Here's a better publisher than Musa." Why?
Because it's the wrong sub-forum for that.

The main index of forums on this site is here: Forum Index

Some of what you're asking here is to Musa specifically, but a lot of it sounds like you want to discuss the basic pros and cons of other publishing methods. You'll find a lot of information in the other sub-forums (this one being to discuss specific publishers, agents, etc... not the generalities of publishing). It's worth taking the time to look around.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:03 AM   #643
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Why, in your mind, should this conversation dovetail into self-publishing?
Wasn't so concerned with dovetailing. I was more curious as to why those in this thread were excited about Musa rather than self-publishing. As I said, I'm new here, but found it odd that no post mentioned that alternative to a new company.

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Originally Posted by Giant Baby View Post
There are many better publishers than Musa. Representatives of Musa can tell you that, themselves. Whatever the beefs in this thread, they've been honest and forthcoming. Concerns are real and valid. Responses have been reasonable and rationed.
My apologies if I gave that impression. It wasn't my intent. I do think the concerns are valid, hence my questions. And possibly my definition of "better" is different than yours.

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Celina is off-line at present. Your focus on "Musa or other publisher" is confusing. How did you latch on to this publisher?
Well, as you mention, this is a "Musa" thread. I would ask the same questions of any publisher. Being new, Musa is forthcoming with answers. Established publishers, not so much. My current publisher is one of the largest on the planet. They pretend to listen, then do what they want. Musa seems to actually listen. I'm friends with authors who've had multiple novels published through Random House and Simon and Schuster. In the mid 90s, they were very much into working with the author. Not so much today. I'd rather go with a publisher that I can work with. Having gone down this road already, I think, rightly or wrongly, I know my audience. I know what they expect. I know what covers work, and what interior design works. In my real life, I save movies for a living. Every movie I salvaged got a distribution deal. No small feat. 98% of movies made, don't. I feel that Hollywood and publishing aren't so different, in the end.

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There are many others to consider. Have you considered looking for an agent, or submitting to a house that takes unagented subs? Have you set your sites toward any of the more established epubs?
Just dipping my toe in at this point. Of course looking at others. No, not submitting to an agent. I admit, I don't know much about the publishing world outside of my limited experience and stories from friends who are neck deep. But in the film world, an agent that accepts unsolicited screenplays isn't much of an agent. Granted, they do the best they can, but in the end, need to pay the rent. That can cause all sorts of problems, and won't get you the best deal, I'm afraid. The slush pile is a hard row to hoe. Possibly your experience is different, and would love to hear about it.

ebooks are a new world for me. I'm just asking questions to get a feel for it. I didn't mean to offend anyone.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:06 AM   #644
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Quote:
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You know, I have always liked Celina. I too am a longstanding member of AW. I'm also not afraid to speak my mind... If my experiences to date were unsettling at all, I would say as much here...without bias.

I am very satisfied with my Musa experience thus far!
Thank you so much!
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:16 AM   #645
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Celina's out due to surgery, but maybe one of the other Musa pros can answer?
Yes, didn't mean to single her out. I have had back surgery myself. Not fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
Musa looks interesting on a lot of levels. Still, I'm worried about some quality control issues in cover art and editing. I want to see if those were one-time flukes in what I saw/read, or a recurrent pattern. The sheer number of books scheduled is a bit mind-blowing - if they're able to stick to that schedule, it will be a major stress-test of the company.
Agreed! Frankly, I'm not so concerned with cover art. I have access to amazing cover artists. And my sister is a professional editor that has been a big help. I'm more concerned with the sales side. But mind-blowing is correct! Thank you so much!
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:25 AM   #646
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
Some of what you're asking here is to Musa specifically, but a lot of it sounds like you want to discuss the basic pros and cons of other publishing methods. You'll find a lot of information in the other sub-forums (this one being to discuss specific publishers, agents, etc... not the generalities of publishing). It's worth taking the time to look around.
I've been skulking around for a month now. Love the forums and learned much. But I did have these questions for Musa specifically, since they seemed keen to actually answer questions on this forum. I've asked these questions, and many more, to other publishers with absolutely no response. Given the ease of self-publishing, I find that odd.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:03 AM   #647
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Originally Posted by Danslak View Post

*snipped for brevity*
Having self-published a print book, I'd rather not do it again. Yes, I made it a success. But self-publishing is a business, and all that running a business entails. I'd much rather let Musa or other publisher do that if the royalty percentage made it worth it. Musa seems to get that, whether their cut is 20% or 35%, but in the end, can they give an author a fair shot in the marketplace? I have no idea. Celina?
You've only made ONE post at AW and it's about Musa--and coupled with the expectation that I personally answer your questions despite the fact that I got home from the hospital yesterday..

I feel honored.

However, I'm drugged out of my mind right now so let me try to help you out here before my mother-in-law/guardian-supposed-to-keep-me-from-working comes in here and catches the laptop open.


Quote:
1. With that in mind, I'd like to know the percentage of books MUSA rejects?
We are currently accepting about 5 percent of manuscripts submitted to us at Musa. The ratio at Penumbra is, obviously, quite a bit lower. At the eMag, we're accepting 5-8 stories/poems out of over 500 submitted per issue.


Quote:
2. Can Musa get their books to reviewers? With the amount they are publishing each month, this seems difficult to me. Musa, on its own, could bury any reviewer on any given day.
Yes. We send our books out to over 100 review sites (quite a few genre specific) including Publishers Weekly, RT, Coffee Time, Night Owl et cetera et cetera et cetera, and are now preparing our literary and speculative fiction lines to move to ARCs. According to the schedule I've set up for my staff, I expect Musa to go completely to ARCs by the end of June.

Self-published books are notoriously difficult to get reviewed. On a side note, you want to make sure your tagline, blurb and excerpt are designed to attract interest in the story from both readers and reviewers. Musa had a huge head start with reviewers because we already had a good working relationship with them while at our previous publishing house. And we had multiple titles pick up 'best of' nominations at two houses: LR&M and TRS, and winners at both review sites too.

Quote:
3. How does Musa decide on the cover price? What does the average book sell for?
We sell our books based upon length, from 99 cents for a short story (under 15k) to 5.99 for 100k or above. Our books are spread fairly evenly throughout the spectrum of our price range.

Quote:
4. mscelina, in one post, says "what we do for our 20%." As I read the contract, I'm a bit confused on this one. If the author gets 50% of sales and Musa 50% of sales from the 70% that Amazon pays, for example, isn't that 35%? As I read the contract, it isn't 50% of the cover price (which would put Musa's cut at 20% as mscelina said). Only on Musa's site does the author royalty rise to a true 50% of the cover price, but that's still 50% going to Musa. I don't have a problem with Musa's royalty system. After being with a big traditional publisher, that seems fair, but I don't get her 20% comment. Can anyone enlighten me? No matter how I do Musa's math, I can't find where they take this little.
*sigh* When you self-publish at Amazon, the author receives 70% of the royalties if they're lucky and hit all the right buttons. Length, style, and whatever other arbitrary things Amazon decides when it determines the royalty rate a book sale will pay out at. Some books only get 35% royalties whether it's self-pubbed or e-pubbed. At Musa, authors get 50%. 70 minus 50 equals 20%. So for that 20%, the author gets a professionally done cover, interior book formatting, formatting and coding to create the ebooks, editing, line editing, proofing, promotions, marketing, distribution to reviewers et cetera et cetera et cetera--all the stuff a self-pubbed author has to either do himself or pay someone else to do.

Quote:
5. I know Musa is new, but what is their best seller? How many units in total do they move a month?
Well, that's hard to calculate, because we don't have all those numbers right at the end of the month from all the distributors we use, but I'll give it a whirl, using the fourth quarter sales numbers.

Our top selling book was released on December 8. Through the end of the year, the title sold 223 copies at ARE, 122 at Amazon at 70% royalties, 78 at Bookstrand, 8 at Amazon 35%, 4 at Amazon UK, single digits at the other sites that have already reported their fourth quarter sales to us (the other Amazons, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, all the Apple stories, Rainbow and Smashwords), and 56 at the Musa home site.

(Those numbers are, by the way, available to that author on the Delphi database, which allows an author to access their sales figures as soon as we get them posted or as soon as a purchase is made on the site.)

These numbers will rise in the early part of 2012 as more people become aware of Musa and as this author gets closer to his next release. The best-selling book on the Musa website is an entirely different book by an entirely different author--a true historical fiction (non-romance) which has sold 63 copies to date.

The trend I've noticed at Musa over the last few weeks is that our sales percentages are continuing to rise. Our sales numbers at Amazon for the first six weeks of 2012 have increased in the double digits percentages for the last six weeks of 2011--superseding my stated sales goal by over 10%.

Quote:
6. The Musa contract doesn't mention ancillary rights. Does the author retain 100%? I assume so.
Musa asks for electronic rights and North American print rights. All other rights remain with the author.

Quote:
7. If a title sells enough units to justify a print run, does Musa have a distributor? Not a wholesaler. A distributor with a sales force.
Since at the moment we are only publishing electronically and have no immediate plans to move to print runs in the next few months, no we don't have a distributor. When we DO go on to print runs, however, we won't print withOUT a distributor.

Quote:
8. Does the author have final say on anything? Focal took my great cover that sold thousands of copies, and did a cheap copy of it. Don't ask me why. They also changed the interior to save 20 pages on their print run. It had a negative outcome as far as I'm concerned. Does the Author have a right to say "No" to cover/interior design at Musa? Do you work with authors in that way?
Musa retains final approval of all cover art that goes out under our branding. We coordinate the author and the artist to create covers that both parties are happy with. So we work closely with the artist to develop the vision/aesthetic he wants for his book. However, at some point in the process someone has to have the last and final say. At Musa, and with most other publishing companies, that final say is delivered by the art director.

as for this:

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarieSalvros
Quote:
I'm not triing to be negative. I hope musa turns out to be really good. It just seemed like there was alot of cheerleading in here becasue the owner is a longstanding member of this board and I didn't think the cheering was related to anything other than, "this is a friend of mine."

good luck to all the authors I hope you come back in a year and tell us about your experience.
Originally Posted by LillyPu
Quote:
Why the kid gloves for Musa? A red flag is a red flag. I don't get it. Would only a new person recognize this 'rallying around'? I understand it, but is it genuine to the service AW provides for all of us? Sorry, I don't mean to get in the middle of anything... But as an 'outsider' I'm seeing something that's off.
LMAO! You guys think Musa has gotten the kid glove treatment? Anyone will tell you that if you're talking trash about my family, cats, or friends, gloves won't be necessary. A person without fingers can wear mittens. But this?

This is BUSINESS. Perhaps you're misconstruing the obvious respect that I have for some of the denizens of AW for some kind of pay off. Maybe you think that because Old Hack or Stacia or Uncle Jim are questioning my publishing house that I'm going to get insulted and raise hell. Maybe even you DO think that "I recommend that you not publish with Musa at this time" is some kind of preferential treatment or something. That's fine by me. But don't try to make it look like Musa is getting a free pass here. We aren't. Hell, I don't WANT one. And, quite frankly, I don't NEED one.

We started Musa the DAY we ditched AMP because of business practices we were uncomfortable with. We had business model and plan sketched out for implementation at that previous house, and just put the plan into action (with some modifications) at Musa. We bought the line I'd personally conceived, developed and built from the publisher to anchor our early catalog, and opened to submissions. Some writers were invited to submit to us; most were just general submissions after Musa was announced at Duotrope and Ralans and other submissions information sites. The staff that I'd vetted, tested, and brought on to the former publisher happily came to Musa as the horrors of the financial situation that house was in became general knowledge.

We started out big for a few reasons--we had the staff to do it, we wanted the company to generate a lot of notice, and we wanted a strong foundation of sales to build from. Our first three releases were written by well-known trade published authors: popular romance writer Cindi Myers with a new book to add to her incredible backlist of stories I'd edited for her at Aurora, popular sci fi/romance author Gini Koch and her rabid fan base, and USA Today bestselling author Sharon De Vita, who returned to publishing after a five year hiatus with a completely different type of book--one her old publishers had no interest in. We also launched our e-magazine on the same day, and reissued the Aurora Regency line we'd bought. So we started with over FORTY titles--more than 10% of that four hundred everyone is so worried about.

We didn't just wake up one day and pull Musa out of our asses. We started Musa with a business plan, with concrete and reasonable goals, with a substantial start-up financial war chest, with the best contract I could provide that would keep us solvent, and with writers and staff that were willing to trust us to implement their vision. We literally stepped from one house to another without missing a step--and because our business plan had been developed to SOLVE the problems of a struggling publisher, we were able to go full steam ahead almost immediately.

That includes the editing process (minimum of two full content edits, a historical edit/fact checking, line edits, proofreading and galleys), where in the beginning I had to train my editors off some bad "other house" techniques as well as editing myself. That includes the interior book designer, who is flat out one of the best in digital publishing. That includes the IT staff, who've developed a database for every aspect of a publication schedule as well as a royalties calculation system which permits our authors to know where they sold every book on each pay period. That includes our art department, who not only create book covers, but all the websites and blogs, all the promotional art, all the artists' promotional art PLUS the magazine. That includes our marketing/promotions department who are currently putting together multiple genre-specific marketing campaigns for Musa AND Penumbra--with print ads upcoming in major periodicals or on big sites, radio interviews, and organized social media and networking. That includes our interns, who give us a few hours a week in exchange for hands on training, professional credits in art, editing, or the e-magazine, our Master Class program (open to authors and staff too) where twice a month we have industry professionals do workshops on various aspects of publishing including the Writer Beware 'How Not To Get Published' presentation and upcoming workshops in March--one with an agent, the other with a bestselling author on character development.

So you see--THAT'S why I don't need any kid gloves and why these folks aren't giving me any. I'll let Musa stand on its own merits, and it doesn't affect my respect for my friends in B&BC in the slightest. I'll answer any questions that are legitimate and not obvious attempts to start pissing matches, and I'll do so while being as professional and courteous as they are.

But, since this answer was an epic and my incision is really screaming at me to lie down--not to mention the MIL shaking her finger at me from the door for sneaking my laptop open when I'm supposed to NOT sit up for a few weeks, the other questions will have to wait until I can go back through the thread for a little ways. I'll try to get to more of these tomorrow.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:09 AM   #648
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:19 AM   #649
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:20 AM   #650
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danslak View Post
I've been skulking around for a month now. Love the forums and learned much. But I did have these questions for Musa specifically, since they seemed keen to actually answer questions on this forum. I've asked these questions, and many more, to other publishers with absolutely no response. Given the ease of self-publishing, I find that odd.
I don't understand all your talk of self-publishing. That's not what THIS forum is for. Go to AW's self-publishing forum if that's what you want to talk about.
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