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Old 11-12-2012, 11:33 PM   #1
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Fireship Press

I came across these guys for my historical fiction novel. Anyone deal with them?

http://fireshippress.com
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:04 AM   #2
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It sounds like a pretty standard POD publisher:

Quote:
Our books are published as Print on Demand trade paperbacks and will be available to the title lists of major book distributors in the United States and Canada, so any customer, at any store, can order it. Fireship also provides Print on Demand in the UK and Australia.
Book titles will appear in Books in Print and will be available through Ingram, and Baker & Taylor -- the two largest book distributors in the United States. Books will be available in Europe via both Gardner's Books and Bertram Books, the two largest book distributors in Europe. Books will also be available in Canada via Chapters/Indigo, the largest book distributor in Canada.
So, no bookstore placement.

Quote:
Although most of the responsibility for the marketing of the book will fall to the authors themselves, it is our intent to do as much as possible to assist in the promotion of our authors' books. We can provide some printed advertising materials for the author's use, including flyers and books marks, and authors may purchase copies of their titles at 45% off the cover price. We encourage authors to acquire either Facebook fan pages, or personal Facebook pages so that they can interact with readers on Fireship's Facebook page.
It doesn't sound very promising to me, unless there's a niche market for historical fiction with a nautical tinge.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by aliceshortcake View Post
So, no bookstore placement.
It also doesn't sound like those operating this POD publisher know the difference between a distributor and a wholesaler.

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Gardners Books is Britain's leading book, DVD, Blu-ray and Music CD wholesaler.
http://www.gardners.com/gardners/default.aspx
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:19 PM   #4
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I met two Fireship authors, who said that Fireship took on four of the writers in their critique group.

I also talked to someone who read a Fireship book and said it was not up to a professional standard. I got the impression that the person meant both the quality of the story (plotting and so forth) and the editing.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:18 AM   #5
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They liked my first 3 chapters and asked to see the full MS with the help of a line edit. What is that? I would have thought they might have done that?
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:34 AM   #6
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They liked my first 3 chapters and asked to see the full MS with the help of a line edit. What is that? I would have thought they might have done that?
A line edit is a full-scale text edit. It stops short of suggesting that you delete chapters and rejigger the plot, but addresses more complex large-scale structuresl than a conventional copyedit would.

You're right that your publisher should do this for you. It's only proper -- and besides, line edits are expensive. High three figures, low four, is what you would wind up paying.

Fireship doesn't sound like a prize among publishers.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:18 AM   #7
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Its a shame, because they seem to be a good press.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:58 PM   #8
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I've just read a mention of Fireship in another thread, and so went to look at their website. I found this:

Quote:
4. Fireship Press does not provide an editing service within the company other than final copy editing to ensure that quality is maintained at publishing. We can, however, assist authors seeking to improve their manuscripts by providing recommendations for reputable editors.
Publishers which don't edit the books they publish are either uninterested in publishing books which are the best they can be, or they're just unable to do so (whether that's because they can't afford to or don't have the skills required to do so is up for discussion, but the end result is the same).

Quote:
Our books are published as Print on Demand trade paperbacks and will be available to the title lists of major book distributors in the United States and Canada, so any customer, at any store, can order it. Fireship also provides Print on Demand in the UK and Australia.
Both bookshops and customers are highly unlikely to order books they've never heard of. Publishers of print editions need to get books on shelves if they want to sell a decent number; but if they're using POD then they can't afford to. The figures just don't work out.

Quote:
Book titles will appear in Books in Print and will be available through Ingram, and Baker & Taylor -- the two largest book distributors in the United States. Books will be available in Europe via both Gardner's Books and Bertram Books, the two largest book distributors in Europe. Books will also be available in Canada via Chapters/Indigo, the largest book distributor in Canada.
Ingram and B&T might be "the two largest book distributors in the United States" but I doubt that Fireship has a full distribution account with either of them. So their books won't be actively sold into bookshops: they'll just be listed on various websites, waiting for people to order them. But people won't know to order them because there's no real marketing strategy that I can see, and no proper sales effort or support. Which means sales will be low-to-none, I'm afraid.

In my opinion, writers would be far better off self-publishing than signing their books to Fireship.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:06 PM   #9
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Hello again, chaps! I wanted to share my experience with Fireship. The published my first novel in 2009. The site looked very different back then. Since then both the press and the site have come a long way. In 2011 the founding editor died. He was a former college professor. He had a heart of gold (which ended up giving him a heart attack) and very little business savvy. The new editor has taken the press to a higher level. Ultimately, it is what it is. It's a small niche press with limited marketing budget. They are not going to land you in bookstores. But then again, shelf placement is overrated. If a book store orders 3 copies of your books and sticks them on the top shelf somewhere, the chances of you getting noticed are not that great. There is a lot of waste with big publishers. They print way too many copies, most of which end up going back to the warehouse. I think that for a small press, a POD/ebook hybrid is the way to go. You build your readership step by step. Again, I reiterate, it is what it is. I must say, they truly have come a long way. What the site used to be in 2009, and what it is today, it's day and night.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Hello again, chaps! I wanted to share my experience with Fireship.
Lily, I'm glad you wanted to share but I see several problems with your comment. I'll take them one at a time.

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The published my first novel in 2009. The site looked very different back then. Since then both the press and the site have come a long way.
I can't think of any good publishers which haven't updated their sites since 2009. I don't see why this is a significant point in their favour.

Quote:
In 2011 the founding editor died. He was a former college professor. He had a heart of gold (which ended up giving him a heart attack) and very little business savvy.
I'm sorry to hear that the founding editor passed away: it's always sad when someone dies. However, being a college professor does not qualify anyone to become a publisher, no matter how good their heart is; and having "very little business savvy" is a big problem for someone who goes into business--both for them, and for the people who work with them.

Quote:
The new editor has taken the press to a higher level. Ultimately, it is what it is. It's a small niche press with limited marketing budget. They are not going to land you in bookstores. But then again, shelf placement is overrated.
"Shelf placement" is not at all overrated. If anything, it's underrated, particularly by publishers which don't or won't manage to achieve it.

A huge percentage of all the books sold are sold from bookshops.

And nearly half of all the books sold online are first selected in a physical bookshop, thanks to that "shelf placement" which you say is "overrated".

If a bookshop presence were not an important factor in a book's sales, do you really think that so many successful publishers would bother with it?

Quote:
If a book store orders 3 copies of your books and sticks them on the top shelf somewhere, the chances of you getting noticed are not that great.
Your logic is flawed.

If that happens, the chances of you getting noticed are greater than if that bookshop didn't order any copies of your books.

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There is a lot of waste with big publishers. They print way too many copies, most of which end up going back to the warehouse.
No there isn't, no they don't, and no they don't.

Big trade publishers produce meticulous P&L accounts for every book they consider; they make money on most titles they publish; they certainly wouldn't routinely print "way too many copies"; and even though they do accept returns, those returns certainly don't account for "most" of a print run.

By the way, what does using false statements about bigger publishers have to do with whether or not Fireship is a good option for writers?

Quote:
I think that for a small press, a POD/ebook hybrid is the way to go.
It's impossible for presses which use POD to get a good distribution account, which means their sales are severely limited. How is this "the way to go" for any writer?

Quote:
You build your readership step by step.
You do indeed. But you need many, many more of those steps if your publisher doesn't edit your books, relies on POD, and has no proper distribution.

Quote:
Again, I reiterate, it is what it is. I must say, they truly have come a long way. What the site used to be in 2009, and what it is today, it's day and night.
The fact that they've updated their website since 2009 doesn't make me think that they are the publisher for me, to be honest. I expect far more from publishers than that. Like editing, distribution, and effective marketing, none of which I see any evidence of here.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:28 PM   #11
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They are not going to land you in bookstores. But then again, shelf placement is overrated. If a book store orders 3 copies of your books and sticks them on the top shelf somewhere, the chances of you getting noticed are not that great.
Partially true. Shelf presence still counts as a measure of market validation to reviewers and readers who visit bookstores. A recent study of several thousand romance viewers indicated that over 50% still read books in print. Chain stores are terrible at ordering or promoting, but indies can have a good influence with signings and other promotions. I live near two famous indy stores (Changing Hands and Poisoned Pen) and their events are always cool to attend.

Many POD publishers stress shelf presence is 'not important' to their authors because they cannot get their product into bookstores to begin with. Bookstores don't generally stock POD books and will only do pre-paid orders.

Prospective authors should be looking at what a publisher can do to market their books. Too many POD presses throw all or most of marketing and promo back on authors, which often leads to two conclusions from outsiders:

1) The press makes money by coaxing or requiring authors to buy their own books. Or it charges subsidy fees for stages of production. Or both.

2) The press makes money off long-tail sales, selling just a few copies of many hundreds of books.

Neither way is particularly helpful to individual authors. I don't know how Fireship operates, since I haven't gone to their website. But these are common problems with POD.

ETA: From Fireship's website, here is their stance on marketing, my bolding:

"Although most of the responsibility for the marketing of the book will fall to the authors themselves, it is our intent to do as much as possible to assist in the promotion of our authors' books. We can provide some printed advertising materials for the author's use, including flyers and books marks, and authors may purchase copies of their titles at 45% off the cover price. We encourage authors to acquire either Facebook fan pages, or personal Facebook pages so that they can interact with readers on Fireship's Facebook page."

So, handsold copies by authors, flyers and bookmarks, and Facebook.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:18 AM   #12
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Oh dear, I feel that there's going to be a Mommy War brewing, between stay-at-home mommies and career-oriented mommies, and what is best for the baby. There seems to be a lot of conflicting data being fed, rumors flying from both sides. And it's not surprising, given that the market is changing. Shelf placement may have been very important 30 years ago, when there weren't so many authors, and so many channels on TV. Just look at how many bookstores are going out of business. All I know is what I see with my own eyes. Now is not a good time to be a writer. I walk into a bookstore, and shoppers are literally in the single digits, and most of them are by the Starbucks stand anyway. So many books, so few shoppers. How in the WORLD does a book get noticed? Big publishers want a sure thing. I have several friends who got rejected by big publishers just because they "had no track record with first-time authors".
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Oh dear, I feel that there's going to be a Mommy War brewing, between stay-at-home mommies and career-oriented mommies, and what is best for the baby. There seems to be a lot of conflicting data being fed, rumors flying from both sides. And it's not surprising, given that the market is changing. Shelf placement may have been very important 30 years ago, when there weren't so many authors, and so many channels on TV. Just look at how many bookstores are going out of business. All I know is what I see with my own eyes. Now is not a good time to be a writer. I walk into a bookstore, and shoppers are literally in the single digits, and most of them are by the Starbucks stand anyway. So many books, so few shoppers. How in the WORLD does a book get noticed? Big publishers want a sure thing. I have several friends who got rejected by big publishers just because they "had no track record with first-time authors".
Wow.

I don't think there are any "rumors flying from both sides." I see evidence offered by writers with a lot more experience in professional publishing.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:42 AM   #14
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So you don't think any small press is worth the trouble? You think it's better to go straight to self-publishing? I mean, if you look at most small presses, they follow a similar model. And you've never heard of horror stories about authors being dropped by big houses because they didn't sell through? I am not slamming big houses. They have a business to run. I'm sure that having even 2 copies of the book on the top shelf increase your chances of getting noticed, but having your book with a small press increases your chances of getting reviewed by a semi-reputable reviewer, as many of them won't even tough a self-published book.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:52 AM   #15
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Old Hack, as far as the site is concerned, in 2009 it was a total mess. And yes, having a professional looking site is a major element of the publisher's image. The new editor did a great job attracting new editorial and markering talent. It started off as a one-person operation. It's a miracle it survived after the death of the founding editor. Honestly, you are demanding too much from a small press. I am thankful to the founding editor. Because of him I got on the cover of a magazine in the UK. I also got featured in the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. Small presses open doors that otherwise would've been closed. It depends on what your goals are. I am not looking to make a living by writing books. I have a day job. I've been able to build modest by appreciative readership. It's very possible that some people have different goals.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:55 AM   #16
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Generally, a book gets noticed by being a really great book. Sure, there are great works that fall through the cracks. But if you write something truly fantastic, people will read that truly fantastic work and want to share it with others.

I think if a truly fantastic work falls on an editor's desk at a big publisher, their first concern is going to be about this amazing piece of art. Everything else is secondary.
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:02 AM   #17
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Lily, bear in mind that in this thread many of the people you are talking to are full time publishing professionals, not just some person on the internet with an opinion.

On my blog I track sales figures and it seems pretty clear that publishers with distribution sell more books than publishers that don't. Not using a sales channel as rarely a good idea. Also making a book you can sell ay $6 is generally a better idea than one you can sell at $12.

I say that as an author who has published with 7-8 publishers and only 2 of them have distribution. I like all my publishers but guess which two make me the most money?
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:28 AM   #18
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I think the issue isn't one of saying small presses are worthless, but rather not saying they are better at getting you sales. It's the untruths about small presses and in store buying etc that's the problem. My latest is published by a small press and I love it, but I'm not going to kid myself I have the same kind of exposure I do with my books with the Big 5.

And yes, for some kinds of books, it makes more sense to go small press because the one big advantage of small press is the ability to take risks on books that might not be blockbusters. THAT's a good recommendation. Not falsehoods about the nature of how books are sold.
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:52 AM   #19
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So you don't think any small press is worth the trouble?
No one said this.

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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
You think it's better to go straight to self-publishing?
Well, if one is choosing between "self-publishing" and "a publisher that doesn't edit their books and has no distribution" -- I'd have to ask what the publisher is doing to earn their percentage. Do they have outstanding marketing and connections on the e-book side? That's the only other thing I can think of to add value. I haven't seen their covers -- what is their cover art like? That's another potential value add.

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I mean, if you look at most small presses, they follow a similar model.
Define most. Are these presses that you've personally investigated, or just a rumor you've heard? In the case of the former, I'd be interested in knowing which presses -- there are a lot of differences between small presses, and I'd be interested to see if it was a broad sampling of many kinds, or a narrow one of a few similar presses.

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but having your book with a small press increases your chances of getting reviewed by a semi-reputable reviewer, as many of them won't even tough a self-published book.
Very true -- depending greatly on the press. Do you have stats on how many of their books have been reviews by "semi-reputable" or better reviewers (and how that is defined for the numbers that you give)?
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:59 AM   #20
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Because of him I got on the cover of a magazine in the UK. I also got featured in the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal.
Ah! Missed this the first time through. That partly answers my questions. Congrats!

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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Small presses open doors that otherwise would've been closed.
No one here is saying that no small publisher is worth the trouble, or that a small publisher can't add value to your work. (I won't repeat what they ARE saying, since it't right up there in their posts )
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:16 AM   #21
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Lily, it sounds like Fireship did well by you so far, and I'm glad to hear it. Many small presses don't measure up, and that was my main caution. Of course the industry is changing. Wait a year or less, and it will change again. But some constants remain, and value added is one of them. There are small presses who do briliiant, time-consuming work, and others who are either clueless or predatory.

This isn't really comparable to the mommy-track issue, but more along the lines of who gets suckered into a multi-level-marketing scheme to get out of debt.
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Oh dear, I feel that there's going to be a Mommy War brewing, between stay-at-home mommies and career-oriented mommies, and what is best for the baby.
I can't work out what any of this has to do with the ongoing conversation: what I can work out, however, is that you're patronising many members of AW, and that's not on.

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There seems to be a lot of conflicting data being fed, rumors flying from both sides.
I don't remember you posing any data; nor do I remember perpetuating any rumours. Please be more precise in your future comments: words matter.

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And it's not surprising, given that the market is changing. Shelf placement may have been very important 30 years ago, when there weren't so many authors, and so many channels on TV.
I explained in my previous post how bookshop presence is still important. You can try to dismiss my comments: but that doesn't make them any less true. And I have no idea how the increasing number of TV channels affects the importance of bookshop presence. Perhaps you could explain that particular point?

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Just look at how many bookstores are going out of business. All I know is what I see with my own eyes.
Bookshops are going out of business, and I find that incredibly sad. It affects all writers, and it's not good. But again, that doesn't make any of my comments any less true, nor does it prove any of the points you made.

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Now is not a good time to be a writer.
I'm not so sure about that. Things could be better, but I'm doing ok.

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I walk into a bookstore, and shoppers are literally in the single digits, and most of them are by the Starbucks stand anyway. So many books, so few shoppers.
I visited two bookshops today: they each had plenty of people in them, and several people buying books, too.

But what does this observation have to do with Fireship? They don't get their books into bookshops so the number of people shopping in those bookshops is not pertinent to this discussion.

If you're using this comment to try to disprove my point about the percentage of online sales which originate in bookshops, you've not achieved your goal. Try posting some real, provable statistics instead, or perhaps mention an appropriate study or reference. I'm sure we'd all be very interested.

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How in the WORLD does a book get noticed? Big publishers want a sure thing.
So are small publishers happy to publish books they think won't sell?

Quote:
I have several friends who got rejected by big publishers just because they "had no track record with first-time authors".
I'm confused. Is it the publishers which "had no track record with first-time authors", or is it the writers themselves? Your meaning is not clear. Either way, it's nonsense. First-time writers get picked up by publishers every day. Every writer was a debut author once.

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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
So you don't think any small press is worth the trouble?
I didn't say that.

I do think, however, that a small press which doesn't edit or market the books it publishes, and which has no distribution in place, is not worth bothering with.

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You think it's better to go straight to self-publishing?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

Please stop implying conclusions that I didn't draw.

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I mean, if you look at most small presses, they follow a similar model.
The small presses I've worked with have not.

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And you've never heard of horror stories about authors being dropped by big houses because they didn't sell through?
Yes, I have. I've also heard horror stories about small presses dropping authors for various reasons.

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I am not slamming big houses.
You are making misleading and untrue statements about them in order to imply that they're not a good bet for writers.

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They have a business to run. I'm sure that having even 2 copies of the book on the top shelf increase your chances of getting noticed, but having your book with a small press increases your chances of getting reviewed by a semi-reputable reviewer, as many of them won't even tough [sic] a self-published book.
Hang on. You were talking about small presses vs large presses; now you're talking about small presses vs self publishing. It would really help if you'd stay on-topic.

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Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Old Hack, as far as the site is concerned, in 2009 it was a total mess.
The last time I looked, it was 2013. Not 2009. The state of their site in 2009 is no longer pertinent to this discussion, and I don't know why you keep bringing us back to this point.

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And yes, having a professional looking site is a major element of the publisher's image.
No one's denying that. What's your point?

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The new editor did a great job attracting new editorial and markering talent.
Except that Firepress says on its site that it neither markets nor edits the books it publish. So what is this talent for, exactly?

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It started off as a one-person operation. It's a miracle it survived after the death of the founding editor. Honestly, you are demanding too much from a small press.
I'm not demanding anything from anyone. I'm just pointing out that if you want to be published, and you want your book to sell in anything like a reasonable quantity, Firepress and others of its ilk aren't going to be able to deliver what you want.

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I am thankful to the founding editor. Because of him I got on the cover of a magazine in the UK. I also got featured in the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. Small presses open doors that otherwise would've been closed. It depends on what your goals are. I am not looking to make a living by writing books. I have a day job. I've been able to build modest by appreciative readership. It's very possible that some people have different goals.
I'm glad you're thankful to the founding editor. I congratulate you on your achievements. But what I won't do is agree with you when you make foolish claims about publishing.

By all means make it clear why you made the choices you did: but don't try to mislead others into taking the same path you took. It isn't helpful, and it isn't going to work here.
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
Big publishers want a sure thing. I have several friends who got rejected by big publishers just because they "had no track record with first-time authors".
This is absolute nonsense. Where do you think first time authors come from? Publishers want books they think readers will buy. End of story.

As to how to promote you books, there's an entire subforum on book promotion.
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:05 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
This is absolute nonsense. Where do you think first time authors come from? Publishers want books they think readers will buy. End of story.

As to how to promote you books, there's an entire subforum on book promotion.
First time authors often copy the latest fad (vampires, the Tudors, P&P rip-offs)
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Old 08-03-2013, 03:24 AM   #25
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Quote:
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First time authors often copy the latest fad (vampires, the Tudors, P&P rip-offs)
I would say that bad writers jump on trend bandwagons, regardless of how many other things they've written. Skilled writers tend to gravitate towards stories that speak to them in really personal ways, and those books tend to feel original, even if they tread on familiar ground.
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