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Old 03-12-2008, 05:58 AM   #1
SDennis
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Austin Macauley Publishers, Ltd. (formerly Austin & Macauley)

I've been looking everywhere and can't find this out, so I hoping you all can help:

Has anyone ever (or have first-hand knowledge of) been charged any publication fees by the London-based publisher Austin & Macauley?

Additionally, does anyone have personal feedback from dealing with this publisher?
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Old 03-12-2008, 12:52 PM   #2
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http://www.austinmacauley.com/

They're in my Writers' Handbook, but that doesn't mean much.

On checking their site, I got the distinct impression that they were selling their services as a pay-to-play publisher, although prices weren't mentioned. Most of the site tells you how to submit, how to prepare your work for submission... I'd prefer the focus to be on promoting the books they've published.
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:41 PM   #3
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Austin & Maclauley is a vanity publisher. I've gotten reports of fees in the 3,000 range.

Like many vanity publishers, Austin & Macauley claims to offer "traditional" publishing, and lures authors in with this promise. Once authors have submitted, they get a letter from "Chief Editor Annette Longman" saying that A&C thinks their work "has merit" and "deserves to be published." However, due to "the difficulty in placing the books of new or untried authors, as well as the general increased competition in publishing today, we feel that it may be necessary to ask for a contribution from you." There then follows some stuff about how such arrangements are "likely to be more common in future," and then Annette lowers the boom:

Let me stress: the situation is that, at the moment, we are only asking you to agree in principle [to make a contribution]. I can, however, assure you of one important point. If you were to agree in principle, the amount asked of you would be reasonable; it would be a contribution to initial costs only; it would not match the investment we ourselves would be putting into teh publishing, promoting, and marketing of your work.

The final paragraph of this letter sinks the hook, implying that the contribution may not be required after all: "...on the other hand, [the Publishing Board] may well agree to take responsibility for the entire financial risk."

These are standard vanity publisher sales tactics, designed to make authors believe that a) the publisher isn't solely a vanity publisher, and b) if they pay, the publisher will contribute either its own money or services of substantial value. However, it's quite likely that neither is true. While some vanity publishers do have non-vanity programs, in many if not most cases the claim to provide "tradtional" publishing is a sales ploy designed to make authors feel more confident that the publisher is reputable ('cause any publisher that does non-vanity publishing is reputable, right?). Ditto for the joint venture claim--it's far more likely that the author's "contribution" has been carefully calculated to cover not just publication costs, but the publisher's overhead and profit.

Apart from anything else, A&M's website is deceptive in that there's no indication that any of its authors will have to pay. However, as Old Hack noted, to anyone with any real publishing experience, it screams "vanity publisher."

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Old 03-12-2008, 08:04 PM   #4
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I emailed them this morning, and have just received the following reply:


Thank you for your email, albeit I think you may be mis-informed of our
publishing methods. We do not necessarily charge to publish an author's
work, nor will we offer to publish at all until we have reviewed the work
and feel that it merits publication on our lists. Moreover, we consider
each submission carefully with a view towards a non-contributory publishing
contract.

It is sometimes the case that we feel a book is publishable on its literary
merit but is constrained by commercial factors. In these cases we ask for a
contribution from the author towards the cost of production. However, there
is no figure set in stone. Each book is considered individually.

We will welcome a synopsis and a few sample chapters, if you should wish to
submit work to us. However, if you are looking to self-publish, then Austin
& Macauley is probably not for you.

Yours sincerely,

***** * *******
Editorial Department



Definitely a vanity press trying to pretend that it's not.

Last edited by Old Hack; 06-04-2008 at 09:35 PM. Reason: To remove the name of the editor who sent me the email, in order to avoid the legal action which he threatened
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Old 03-13-2008, 03:39 AM   #5
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That's what I was looking for - thank you. I received an unsolicited letter from them and the wording on it made me think vanity, but the site didn't outright say. I didn't want to tell my author "they are..." without being able to show proof somewhere.


Thanks.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:34 PM   #6
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w00t! w00t! I've been initiated as a real scam-buster! I've had my first threat of legal action made against me!

I have just received an email from Austin & Macauley, which reads:

Quote:
Dear "Jane Smith,"

I have noticed that the email I sent to you has been posted on a website,
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=95685.

The publication of my name in any context without my express permission is
in violation of the Data Protection Act 1998, specifically Part II: Sections
6, 10 and 11.

I was completely open and honest with you regarding Austin & Macauley
Publishers, and take no issue with you doing what you like with the
information I sent you. Frankly I don't care how you wish to use the
content of the letter, whether for personal use or for subversive
propaganda.

However, your inclusion of any of my personal information is not only
distasteful, but also illegal.

I expect my name to be removed from this website immediately.

If, in three days' time, my name is still publicly displayed on this
website, you can rest assured that I will be taking legal action.

Sincerely,
***** * *******
You'll notice I have now blanked out the person's name, both in this message and in the previous one that I quoted. I have left my name visible in this email as it's my real name and although it's quite a dull name, I'm not worried for it to be associated with any of my posts here.

I don't know if the sender was right or wrong about the Data Protection Act; I've not checked. However, I'm happy to remove his name for now, as a courtesy. What I am sure of is that threatening legal action with just three days' notice to respond is not thought well of within the UK legal system. Fourteen days is considered reasonable. And email is not the best medium to use.

Having said all that, Austin & Macauley still charges to publish, so is still a vanity press, and I'd still stay well away from them.

Last edited by Old Hack; 06-04-2008 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:36 AM   #7
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Well, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV (I'm usually cast as the neighbor who always walks in without knocking) but:

Data Protection Act 1998

Part II, Section 6: Section 6 is in Part I and discusses how the office that created the Data Protection Act in 1984 is still in force for the sake of this 1998 act and how the officers are appointed.

Part II, Section 10: sounds like he can ask you stop but he has to give you 21 days to reply.

Part II, Section 11: looks like it's about having your name removed from mailing lists.

But looking at Part I, Section 2, mentioning his name and where he works doesn't seem to be covered under "Sensitive personal data". I'm going out on a limb here - remember: not lawyer, but wacky neighbor - to say since he's working with the general public as an editor with a publisher, he really can't expect this information to be kept private. Kind of like Tony Blair suing the Times for saying he used to be Prime Minister.

And as your wacky neighbor, I feel it is my duty to inform you you're out of mustard.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:39 AM   #8
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Why, thank you, Mr Panced. That was pretty much my reading too. Once I'd stopped celebrating.

My main reaction to this is to wonder why our mysterious Austin & Macauley employee is so anxious not to be associated with them. Could he be terribly shy? Or could it be that he's embarrassed to admit that he works for a vanity publisher?
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:02 PM   #9
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IMHO, the more someone threatens you with immediate legal action (before kind and pleasant reminders) the more likely he is to be a bit - ahem - shady. Think Robert Maxwell. Think Bully. Think - well you can think it but I couldn't possible comment.
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:16 PM   #10
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I notice, however, that the name of the person who wishes to remain anonymous is quoted in the post above from Victoriastrauss. Will she get a threatening letter as well?
I've been surfing and find that A & M's name appears on several warning websites. Someone has also very astutely pointed out that the names Austin (Austen?) Mcauley and L******n are all names of esteemed writers of the past.

Coincidence or a clever marketing ploy? Mmmm . . .
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
If, in three days' time, my name is still publicly displayed on this
website, you can rest assured that I will be taking legal action.
Interesting. This is the first time I've seen the DPA being cited in this respect.

I don't know why s/he's citing Section 6 because that relates to the establishment of the Information Commissioner and the Tribunal and as far as I can see, has little to do with what they're complaining about (i.e. the public revelation of their name). Section 11 also seems to have very little to do with what they're complaining about because that section relates to information processed for direct marketing (i.e. spam).

Regarding Section 10 of the DPA, the individual would have to prove:

(a) the processing of those data or their processing for that purpose or in that manner is causing or is likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress to him or to another, and

(b) that damage or distress is or would be unwarranted.

Arguably, the fact that this individual is authorised by his/her company to send emails to prospective authors in their own name on behalf of the company should raise questions as to whether there is damage or distress given that the contents of the email seem fairly benign and whether such disclosure of their name is unwarranted (which it arguably isn't since it's someone acting on behalf of the company). However, the statutory period for when a response has to be made is 21 days and not 3.

As a data controller (and I'm really not sure whether you could be regarded as a data controller for these purposes, given that it's a personal correspondence issued in a private capacity), you can get around this Section if any one of four conditions set out in Schedule 2 is met (the most obvious one being where a subject consents to having their name published), but it's not clear whether these apply in this instance.

You don't say whether this individual's name is available on the company's website. If so, it's possible that this would defeat an action (although you'd need to consult someone who is experienced in the field as this Act is notoriously complicated).

If this person was serious about suing, they'd have already hired a lawyer who would have sent you a letter. Really, this looks like scare tactics and for those people from Austin & Macauley lurking in this discussion - it's only likely to make people ask more questions and draw more assumptions about how you run your organisation.

I seem to think that an individual can put a request to a company regarding information that the company may hold on them. If I received an email such as this, I would certainly be tempted to serve such a notice on A&M regarding any information that they have on me and how it's being processed.

MM

Last edited by Momento Mori; 06-05-2008 at 04:57 PM. Reason: Additional point
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Old 06-05-2008, 04:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Magdalena View Post
I notice, however, that the name of the person who wishes to remain anonymous is quoted in the post above from Victoriastrauss. Will she get a threatening letter as well?
I've been surfing and find that A & M's name appears on several warning websites. Someone has also very astutely pointed out that the names Austin (Austen?) Mcauley and L******n are all names of esteemed writers of the past.

Coincidence or a clever marketing ploy? Mmmm . . .
Annette Longman, whose name appears in Victoria's post above and also on the FAQ page of Austin & Macauley's website is not the person who emailed me asking for me to remove their name from this post. So perhaps Annette is OK with having her name associated with a pay-to-publish organisation like this. I wouldn't be, but then I wouldn't work for a vanity publisher in the first place.

Last edited by Old Hack; 06-05-2008 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 06-05-2008, 04:45 PM   #13
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I have today received not one, but two more emails from the same individual (identical in content as far as I can see, so perhaps he's just making sure that I get the message), this time using his private hotmail address rather than the Austin and Macauley email address.

This time, he wrote:

Quote:
Dear Jane,

Hi, ***** ******* (from Austin & Macualey) here.

I just want to thank you for blanking out my name from your post.

I'm glad you seem to have gotten a thrill out of the whole thing- maybe it brightened your day. I must admit I find it all mildy amusing too, but probably for different reasons.

I'm now using my own address because as far as I'm concerned, this isn't an issue for Austin and Macauley, but rather for me personally. I'm not quite sure why you want to go after the guy who answers the email and phone. I don't exactly run the company, you know. I just do my best from day to day to be as helpful as I can with queries.
At any rate, my sole concern here is that my name isn't floating about the internet when I'm not aware of it, and I thank you for your timely response.
So yes, I suppose that I am in fact just terribly shy. But we're constantly reminded that you can't be too careful these days- there are a lot of crazies out there.

All recent unpleasantness aside, I wish you a good day.
Despite his threat of legal action against me, I'm not going after this man at all, and I'm sorry that's the way he's taken my comments. For that, I apologise. My beef is with people and companies who seem to think that it's OK to misinform the innocent and the uninformed that it’s normal to pay to get published.

Now, the person who sent me the email could easily be as uninformed about how publishing works as are most of the people who fall prey to vanity presses. I’ll accept that. However, I would suggest that he reads up a little on vanity publishing. Particularly some of the real-life, personal accounts of the destruction that vanity publishing has wrought on the lives of many of the writers who have succumbed to it.

Perhaps then he might spend a little less time worrying about having his real name floating around on the internet, and a little more time worrying about how he might just be involved with stripping novice writers of their cash, their hopes and their dreams.
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:01 PM   #14
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First threatens to sue, calls your use of the email "subversive propaganda", tells you he finds it all amusing, and then says he doesn't run the company, just answers the phone and emails.

Someone's sure to get Bingo with this one.
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
I'm not quite sure why you want to go after the guy who answers the email and phone. I don't exactly run the company, you know.
But s/he communicates on behalf of the company and is therefore acting for the company. I understand that you've respected their wishes in this regard, Old Hack, but I really don't follow the person's logic. If they're not happy to have their name associated with the company, then don't work for the company or don't send out emails with the company's name attached.

Also - don't make legal threats that are incorrect. If you're going to go to the trouble of citing three sections of the DPA, make bloody sure you read them first.

Finally, if you think that something doesn't have anything to do with the company you work for, don't send out threatening emails from your work email. It makes you look like a schmuck.

In conclusion, A&M is a vanity operation.

MM
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:37 PM   #16
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WE'RE OUT OF SUGAR!
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:56 PM   #17
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There's some reading material here which tells how one of the Great Ones among us started to understand the full impact that vanity publishing can have. It's well worth a read. But don't stop there, there's an awful lot more stories out there on the internet, many of which are far more unpleasant.

http://www.sff.net/people/yog/
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:03 PM   #18
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Interestingly enough, A&M seems to have no problem quoting the names of authors who've written the company with questions.*

- Victoria

* Assuming the names and questions are real.
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:19 PM   #19
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As far as I can see those answers, whilst not complete lies, are somewhat economical with the truth - especially the one about great authors in the past paying to be published. For example, the Bronte sisters did go down that route with their first volume of poetry because they were naive and suffered a huge disappointment but their subsequent novels were published by well-regarded publishers. Genuine agents do not charge 'for their services'. The fee they get is a percentage of the fee paid by the publisher to the author. No writer should ever pay anything to an agent. The money comes from the publisher. I had an agent who tried for months to sell a novel of mine. She sent the manuscript out to many publishers. She phoned me with frequent progress reports. She did not charge me a penny. Not one. Nothing.

The all-important questions that new writers should ask publishers is how they make their money, which company handles their distribution and do they operate on a sale or return basis with bookshops. (Without the latter bookshops will not stock them and some will not order them even if a customer asks them to order one. Any profit publishers receive should come entirely from bookshops ie from people who pay to buy the book. Not from their writers. Not for anything. Not for spurious 'editorial services' like copy-editing and cover design, not for obtaining an ISBN or sending their novel to the Library of Congress/British Library.

If only most new writers would realise that their difficulties in getting published are not because of nasty, elitist, rude publishers and agents. It's always been hard to get published. The reason those instant fame and fortune stories - which you should take with a hefty pinch of salt - make the news is that they are extremely rare. If you get fed up with years of rejection (and expect years, not months) and have the cash and think you can promote, advertise and more importantly sell your own book and make a profit, why not self-publish? (And no, self-publishing is not the same as vanity/subsidy publishing, whatever these crooks tell you. If you self-publish, the publisher's name and address after the title page of the finished book is always yours and yours alone.

PS I am a published novelist, formerly a fiction magazine editor who has also worked in bookshops.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:22 PM   #20
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I think that Anna Magdalena is going to fit in rather well around here. Thank you for that, Anna.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:16 PM   #21
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Why do I keep hearing the quartet from Rigoletto?

Welcome to the cooler, Anna.
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:58 PM   #22
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Austin & Macauley Vanity Virgin

In the summer of 2008 I contacted Austin & Macauley with my new book Hysteria. I contaccted them under the knowledge that they were a well respected publishers in London, and my initial dealings with them were vey good.

They asked to read my entire manuscript and then provided me with a exceptionally good evaluation report. But in Jan 2009, today in fact, I had a rejection letter. WHY? Because they wanted a fee to help with finacial costs (due to the current ecenomic crisis) and I refused, being young, disabled and a student.

In my opinion this is outrageous. Austin and Macauley are not a vanity publisher, yet they are treating their authors as one. Well respected Organisation should not be allowed to do this, and I can only assume that it is an attempt to cover their costs whilst retaining their integrity.

My advice to anyone is this: Vanity publishers are bad news, even if they do work under an old, respected name. Avoid them at all costs - There are hundreds of other publishers out there who can do a better job and even pay us for our efforts. Failing this - find an agent, which will be my next step. And above all else- Stay away from A&M who seem to be a cheating money grabbing outfit.

Just a quick note to finish: My first book 'Wild Intentions' has just been released. I you want to know more visit my new website - www.chrishaleswriter.com - and don't let A&M get you down. Keep trying and try other avenues. I will do my best to discredit them in any way I can, especially after they said that they loved my book but wanted money.

Chris
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrishaleswriter View Post
... they wanted a fee to help with finacial costs (due to the current ecenomic crisis) and I refused, being young, disabled and a student.

In my opinion this is outrageous. Austin and Macauley are not a vanity publisher, yet they are treating their authors as one. Well respected Organisation should not be allowed to do this, and I can only assume that it is an attempt to cover their costs whilst retaining their integrity.
Chris, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it's a duck. Not sure where you got the idea A&M is a "respected publisher," but anyone who charges you to publish your book is a vanity press. Period. They can call it whatever they want, but the facts remain that they're charging for publication. Respected? By whom? They told you they loved your book in order to loosen your checkbook. All vanity presses do this. Flattery is a seductive mistress in the POD/vanity business. It's how they attract authors. Vanity...get it?
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:21 PM   #24
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This publisher seems to use the 'bait & snare' method with authors, and if my memory serves me correctly, their name appears on other writer's forums (Books & Tales - more than a year ago) along with similar complaints about their 'economic' methods of getting authors to sign contacts and publish with them.
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Old 01-15-2009, 01:31 AM   #25
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Yes. They present themselves as a "traditional" publisher, and their letter warning writers that they're going to ask for a fee presents this as if it's only something that happens sometimes, not all the time. Classic vanity publisher bait-and-switch.

- Victoria
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