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Old 02-05-2007, 09:36 AM   #1
Songweaver
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Red face [Publisher] OakTara (formerly Capstone Fiction)

Hi,

Has anyone ever had any dealings with the following Christian publisher:


Capstone Fiction


Any information provided will be appreciated. Thank you.

Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 02-05-2007 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:10 PM   #2
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http://www.capstonefiction.com/
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Old 02-06-2007, 02:14 AM   #3
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Has anyone heard anything negative about them?
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Old 02-06-2007, 02:26 AM   #4
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Song, if you're looking into CBA houses, check out Christian Writers Market Guide 2007, by Sally Stuart. It's pretty exhaustive, but you'll still need to personally vet any pubs you're considering. It really is a caveat emptor world. Best of luck!
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Old 02-06-2007, 02:31 AM   #5
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Have you heard anything positive about them?

The question with any publisher isn't "are they bad enough to cross off my list?" -- it's whether they're good enough to add to your list.

Have you ever read any of their books? Has anyone you know read any of their books? How did you hear about them? Are their books in physical stores?

This one looks like a startup POD with no presence outside of the on-line bookstores. Their homepage is aimed at writers, not readers. No advance. They talk about being "partners" with writers. All in all their website makes me uncomfortable.
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Old 02-06-2007, 02:42 AM   #6
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Can you find their books in stores?

Are their covers attractive?

Is their editing competent?

In other words, have they demonstrated they can provide what you want for your book?

If they profess to be too new/small to provide the above, keep looking. If they ask you for money, run.

ETA: What Uncle Jim said, too.
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Old 03-27-2007, 08:05 AM   #7
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Here is some info I received recently from Capstone Fiction:

Capstone is a traditional publisher (not a self-publisher). Usually traditional publishers take approx. 6-9 months to sign a contract for a book/acquire a book, then approx. 18-24 months to publish the book. Because of Jeff's and my years in the industry (you can feel free to "google" our names for additional info about us)--more than 40 years combined--we've set up Capstone so that once authors sign a contract with us, the book process is complete within @6 months. Also, we offer a 25% of net proceeds royalty, v. the 10-12% of net proceeds royalty that other traditional publishers offer because we take advantage of a method that mainstream publishers have used for years: print-on-demand, which means we don't have to have the extreme overhead of keeping a warehouse stock of titles. Print on demand means that as orders are received via amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, the capstone web site, etc., they are printed and shipped so that the customer receives them within 1-2 days (whatever shipping method they choose).

Capstone Fiction is printed by Ingram, the largest printing company (and the one that the majority of traditional publishers such as Zondervan, Howard, Tyndale, etc. use). So Capstone Fiction has the same quality covers, the same quality paper, etc.

Capstone Fiction was founded in Dec. 2006, so we are a new publishing company (though Jeff and I are far from new in the publishing field). In these first three months, we have been focusing heavily on the acquisitions phase, though many of our titles are now moving into editorial and design.
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Old 03-27-2007, 09:24 AM   #8
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Songweaver -- sorry, that reads like a "spot the red flags" exercise.

traditional publisher
6 months contract-to-final -- what gets left out or skimped?
royalty on net
web sites as the primary/only sales venue
printed by Ingram -- Ingram is a distributor

I'm betting the other publishers mentioned & the 40 years experience have other red flags, but I'm too sleepy to Google just now.

(did I miss any? is this a quiz? )

(Those who know more can explain better than I can. Those issues just jumped out at me from what I've read here.)
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Old 03-27-2007, 10:22 AM   #9
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Printed by Ingram = printed by Lightning Source. (LSI is owned by IBC.) That's POD all the way, and POD is incompatible with bookstore shelving.
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Old 03-27-2007, 10:28 AM   #10
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Thanks, I missed that connection. Still learning.
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:49 PM   #11
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On the other hand--and unlike many startup POD publishers--both Jeff Nesbit and Ramona Tucker have substantial publishing industry experience, as authors and editors.

The printing method a publisher uses is just one piece of the total picture. There are some reputable smaller publishers (Prime Books, for instance) that started out all-POD. While I agree that the short submission-to-publication time period and the nonstandard royalty structure are concerns, and I ALWAYS advise writers to wait to query a new publisher until it has actually published some books (which it doesn't seem that Captstone has done yet) I wouldn't dismiss this one out of hand.

- Victoria
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Old 03-27-2007, 09:10 PM   #12
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You should find out if Capstone Fiction will be distributed via Ingram's new sales-force distribution program, or they will just be listed by Ingram as part of its standard wholesale catalog.
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Old 03-28-2007, 05:27 AM   #13
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Thanks for the words of advice and feedback. I've received very positive feedback from Capstone Fiction concerning my manuscript and they actually took the time to read it, pointing out what works for them and some minor things that need to be polished up more. When I received the info I posted on this board I started to wonder if I should let them publish my book. I have already turn PublishAmerica and American Book Publishing down flat because of their unethical practices and didn't want to fall for the same trap with Capstone. I will continue do my homework before I sign anything with them. Thanks again.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:01 AM   #14
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Many Christian or religious publishers use the POD method, because it works best for them. That's because most religious book stores must actually buy the books up front. They can't take them on consignment and there are no returns. They can order a few books at a time, and turnover is usually swift. This is good for the author if the publisher pays, say, 20% of the wholesale price. The author receives royalties right away from the outright sales to the bookstore. S/he doesn't have to wait for customers to buy the books.

I learned this tidbit from a dear friend who owns a very successful Christian bookstore. Her initial investment in the books is quite high, but she is an aggressive sales person and is situated in the heart of the Bible Belt. She is constantly re-ordering books, so getting them in fast is good for business.

There are plenty of big house publishers who have religious divisions. Despite what I've said above, I would try them first, if you have the time, and if they all say no, then go with the independents.

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Old 05-27-2008, 02:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Many Christian or religious publishers use the POD method, because it works best for them.That's because most religious book stores must actually buy the books up front.
I guess things have changed. We didn't find that to be at all true with the one religious title we pubbed years ago. Christian stores are extremely picky about what they buy and buy almost exclusively from a distributor who specializes in Christian books - sorry I can't remember their name, this was a long time ago. We couldn't get into the Christian stores for this very reason - yes, yes, live and learn. In order to develop a relationship with that distributor, you have to be a religious publisher or have a religious division and have plenty of stock on hand - something that PODs can't provide - and have a return policy.
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Old 06-11-2008, 04:15 AM   #16
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Updates?

Any further updates on Capstone, since most of these posts are from last year? I noticed Hartline Agency just contracted a multiple-book deal with Capstone for one of their authors. I did a quick check with Amazon (keyworded Capstone Fiction) and the first hit was one of theirs. I realize that's weak, but I didn't press on from there due to time constraints.

The books they have listed on their Web site look decent (cover art). Anybody have any further experience with them?

Thanks.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:56 AM   #17
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My current thoughts on Capstone:

As I noted in my post from last year, Capstone is run by two very experienced people--a good thing. However, they appear to market mainly online, and admit they have minimal bricks-and-mortar bookstore presence--one of their FAQ questions is "Why don't I find Capstone Fiction in bookstores?" Around 20% of book sales happen online, and the percentage is growing, but for volume sales you generally need to cover all the bases with a balanced combination of online and offline availability.

When I looked at Capstone's website last year, they hadn't yet published anything. That has changed: in 2007, they published close to 50 books. This is a huge number for a new small publisher, and suggests to me that they don't spend a great deal of time on individualized marketing (or, possibly, editing). They certainly don't seem to be spending much cash on cover design--to me, many of the books have that poorly-composed, off-the-shelf-fonts self-published look.

Another indication of a lack of marketing is that the books don't seem to be getting professional reviews. Also, a spot check on Amazon indicates that most of Capstone's books have Amazon sales rankings in the high 100,000's and 1, 2, and 3 millions--which once again suggests a lack of marketing. It's especially unencouraging for a company that uses Internet booksellers as its main sales outlet--and suggests that for the average Capstone author, sales will not be terrific.

All in all, Capstone doesn't appear to do much more for its authors than other POD-based indie publishers and micropresses.

By the way, Capstone Fiction shouldn't be confused with Capstone Publishers.

- Victoria
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Old 06-12-2008, 06:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
My current thoughts on Capstone:

As I noted in my post from last year, Capstone is run by two very experienced people--a good thing. However, they appear to market mainly online, and admit they have minimal bricks-and-mortar bookstore presence--one of their FAQ questions is "Why don't I find Capstone Fiction in bookstores?" Around 20% of book sales happen online, and the percentage is growing, but for volume sales you generally need to cover all the bases with a balanced combination of online and offline availability.

When I looked at Capstone's website last year, they hadn't yet published anything. That has changed: in 2007, they published close to 50 books. This is a huge number for a new small publisher, and suggests to me that they don't spend a great deal of time on individualized marketing (or, possibly, editing). They certainly don't seem to be spending much cash on cover design--to me, many of the books have that poorly-composed, off-the-shelf-fonts self-published look.

Another indication of a lack of marketing is that the books don't seem to be getting professional reviews. Also, a spot check on Amazon indicates that most of Capstone's books have Amazon sales rankings in the high 100,000's and 1, 2, and 3 millions--which once again suggests a lack of marketing. It's especially unencouraging for a company that uses Internet booksellers as its main sales outlet--and suggests that for the average Capstone author, sales will not be terrific.

All in all, Capstone doesn't appear to do much more for its authors than other POD-based indie publishers and micropresses.

By the way, Capstone Fiction shouldn't be confused with Capstone Publishers.

- Victoria
Thanks, Victoria. I appreciate the feedback. I'll do some more checking.

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Old 06-12-2008, 07:05 AM   #19
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Was the Hartline deal with Capstone Fiction, or Capstone Publishing? Hartline is my agency, and I can't imagine them counseling a client to go with a press that sounds small and uninvolved in marketing.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Was the Hartline deal with Capstone Fiction, or Capstone Publishing? Hartline is my agency, and I can't imagine them counseling a client to go with a press that sounds small and uninvolved in marketing.
Deb,

Terry Burns posted this bulletin in ShoutLife:

"We just contracted a 5 book series entitled "Angel Quintet," a 5 bk series entitle "Coulter Mountain" and a stand alone title "The Impossible Years," all by Mark Littleton to Capstone Fiction. Congratulations to Mark."
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:21 PM   #21
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Bruce, thanks. I do wish some of these pesky publishers wouldn't choose names so similar <G>.
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:38 PM   #22
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Bruce, thanks. I do wish some of these pesky publishers wouldn't choose names so similar <G>.
Agreed. Harumph! Pesky publishers! (So why am I groveling to so many of them for a chance to be pestered?)
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Songweaver View Post
Hi,

Has anyone ever had any dealings with the following Christian publisher:


Capstone Fiction


Any information provided will be appreciated. Thank you.
Songweaver,
Here is what their site says about them:
About Capstone




Capstone Fiction was founded in 2006 by two veterans of the Christian publishing world, Jeff Nesbit and Ramona Tucker, to promote and encourage fiction by both new and established authors. We publish only inspirational fiction (for adults, teens, and children) including allegory, biblical, contemporary, fantasy, futuristic, historical, mystery/suspense, romance, and science fiction. Capstone Fiction published 52 titles in 2007. We now include every genre in the inspirational fiction marketplace.

Ramona has more than 20 years of experience in Christian publishing. She was a senior editor at Tyndale House, former editor of Today’s Christian Woman magazine for Christianity Today, and former director of editorial services for Harold Shaw Publishers (now part of WaterBrook, a division of Random House). She has also freelanced for Barbour, David C. Cook, Guideposts for Kids, Howard Books, InterVarsity Press, Simon & Schuster, Thomas Nelson, Viking Penguin, and Zondervan.

Jeff has written 20 Christian novels for publishing houses such as Tyndale, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Harold Shaw, Victor Books (now part of David C. Cook) and Hodder & Stoughton. He was a national journalist with Knight-Ridder and others, communications director to former Vice president Dan Quayle, and a senior public affairs official at the FDA and other parts of the federal government. His public affairs consulting firm represented more than 100 national clients such as the Discovery Channel networks, Yale University, the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Red Cross.

Capstone’s purpose is simple: to create opportunities for new, talented Christian writers and to promote leading-edge fiction by established Christian authors. Capstone books are sold thorugh every major national online retail store -- including www.amazon.com, www.bordersstores.com, www.buy.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.walmart.com, www.booksamillion.com -- as well as selected bookstores in the U.S.

Capstone respects an author's hard work. We're all about creating a new market for inspirational fiction, especially with readers who may not traditionally enter a Christian bookstore but avidly shop the Web. With other publishers of Christian books choosing to focus on marketing only a few “top name” authors, Capstone has stepped into the Christian book marketplace gap to provide dozens of writers with new opportunities: from first-time publication, to widening the readership for already-published authors who have yet another gem to publish or an out-of-print book or series that they’d love to have available again.

I have signed with them for my book "The Unwanted". They have been very straight forward about what they can or cannot do for their authors. Their contract is very simple and clear. Capstone is not a self-publish POD. They ask for no money however there is very little in the way of marketing. You will be mostly responsible for your own success. They do help out with a marketing package. I hope this helps some.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:34 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by dancarter View Post
They ask for no money however there is very little in the way of marketing. You will be mostly responsible for your own success. They do help out with a marketing package.
Can you tell us more about the marketing package? What does it include?

Thanks for posting, and welcome to Absolute Write.

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Old 06-12-2008, 09:41 PM   #25
Sheryl Nantus
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Location: Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Or New Babbage, Second Life!
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Sheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSheryl Nantus is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
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Originally Posted by dancarter View Post
Capstone is not a self-publish POD. They ask for no money however there is very little in the way of marketing. You will be mostly responsible for your own success. They do help out with a marketing package. I hope this helps some.
having "been there, done that" I would say that this sends up a huge honking red flag for me.

a publisher that does NOT back your book up with marketing and publicity doesn't really want to sell your book other than to YOU. If they're not sending out copies to be reviewed; press releases and at least making an effort to do more than just list your book on Amazon then it's going to be all on your shoulders.

and, frankly, that's an almost impossible burden to carry. You, the author, should help promote and sell your book but you should NOT be expected to replace the entire marketing/publicity department of a decent publisher.

saying that you'll be responsible for your own success basically thrusts the entire responsibility for your book's success or failure on YOUR shoulders - which should be shared with the publisher. And when those sales don't materialize because of the lack of marketing or promotion no matter what you do, then it'll be blamed on you.

large.honking.red.flag.
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