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Tirjasdyn
12-31-2008, 07:56 PM
So this morning I found the following comment on my blog:


Dear Writer,
We are a UK-based publisher and would like to publish and market your first novel.
Simply email us your Chapter 1 and we will set up a Profile/Pre Orders Page for you on our website.
If you (and us) then obtain 300 pre-orders for your novel via the Catcher website (Pulse Books), we guarantee to publish your book in April 2009 and to continue to sell it on our website with a royalty rate of 40% paid to you (this compares to a royalty rate of just c. 6% paid by other publishers to their writers).
Please visit http://www.catcher.me/pulse/users/chrisingram to see how your page will appear. We charge a small administration fee of £45 (or equivalent) to set this up for you.
This is a fantastic opportunity for unpublished writers but it’s critical that you register now so that your novel has the best chance of being published in April.
All you need to do now is email your Chapter 1 (as a file attachment) to info@catcher.me. Please include your full contact details (name, email address & telephone number) so that we can email/call you back.
We look forward to hearing from you - and to being the publisher that publishes your first novel!
Kind regards,
Julia Heron
Pulse Books
Catcher Limited
julia@catcher.me


So if I pre-sell 300 copies they'll publish me...all for the low fee of 45pounds..that's roughly 66$ right now.

The webpage they set up actually looks nice....and if you look at the sample page they offered there's a sponser me link and you can read the first chapter.

According to the actual site: http://www.catcher.me They do some kind of training program with schools. They have a similar deal with music.

Tirjasdyn
12-31-2008, 08:06 PM
Further delving shows you can just skip that pesky have people order your books process:


FIRST EDITION @ PULSE

* If you'd rather not wait for pre-orders but, instead, get your book published and sold immediately, you can commission us to provide one or more of the following services at very competitive prices:

o manuscript evaluation
o editing
o illustration
o cover/title page copywriting
o typesetting
o proof reading
o print
o registering the book with the trade
o sending book copies to the British Library etc.
o total book production/marketing management
o PR
o sales
o packaging & despatch


* Once the First Edition of your book is printed (with a limited edition cover), we will sell your book online and despatch it anywhere in the world.

* We can also sell and despatch to the retail trade.

* You can help to market your book by asking family, friends and colleagues (anywhere in the world) to visit the website & buy a copy of your book. (They’ll only be spending a few pounds – and they get a First Edition copy of your book in return!)

* You’ll receive a royalty payment of 40% of online sales value (less the cost of despatch.) If your book sells well, we’ll offer you a Publishing Contract (again, with a royalty of 40% of online sales value less the cost of despatch).


Notice they don't list their prices.....

Old Hack
12-31-2008, 08:17 PM
If you'd rather commission us to publish/sell your book immediately (i.e. not wait for pre-orders), FIRSTEDITION@PULSE is for you.

So, they wait until they get 300 orders before publishing your book--but if you are happy to pay up front, they'll do it right away.

Nope. Not worth considering. As far as I can see, they're offering nothing that you can't do for yourself via a POD printer--and that way you get to keep ALL the profits, not just 40% of them.

Despite what Pulse has reported in your blog, 6% is not a common royalty rate from a mainstream publisher--the lowest I've ever signed for is 8%, and anything up to 15% is normal. Bearing in mind those figures are calculated on cover price: Pulse doesn't specify what that 40% is calculated on, and if it's net price (as is usual when such high royalty rates are quoted), then it's likely to end up being no significant improvement on
6-8% of cover price.

I'd walk away. Quickly. If I were you.

Momento Mori
12-31-2008, 08:26 PM
I checked out the company on Companies House and it is duly incorporated, although the registered office appears to me to possibly be a residential address. The company was previously called Dreamcatcher Publishing Limited (and no, I've never heard of them either) which has been in existence since 2002. Accounts and filings appear to be up to date, although it's taking the benefit of small business exemptions on certain filings, which suggests it doesn't have a huge amount of revenue or capital behind it (not in itself a bad sign - lots of companies do - but it could be used to suggest a lack of resources).

There's very little information on the website about how their publishing business is intended to operate, whether they're taking print and/or Ebook rights and what that 40% royalty is calculated on (e.g. in practice it should be on the cover price, but it may be on net).

There's no information on the website as to who is running this business or what their experience is plus the fact that they're resorting to spamming people suggests that they're pretty desperate and aren't that bothered about the quality of work that they're publishing. I also think it's pretty skeevy that they appear to be targeting schools.

The fact that they're only offering sales via their own website suggests they have no distribution in place - it's hard enough to make money from self-publishing if your books are on Amazon and the bookstore websites, but trying to make money if your book is only available from one website that people are very unlikely to have heard of is going to be very difficult indeed (if not impossible).


Julia Heron:
a royalty rate of 40% paid to you (this compares to a royalty rate of just c. 6% paid by other publishers to their writers).

I'd like to know what other publishers Julia believes to only pay royalties of 6% because this seems to be very low to me.


Julia Heron:
Simply email us your Chapter 1 and we will set up a Profile/Pre Orders Page for you on our website.

If you (and us) then obtain 300 pre-orders for your novel via the Catcher website (Pulse Books), we guarantee to publish your book in April 2009 and to continue to sell it on our website

I have absolutely no clue as to how this is intended to work in practice.

1. How can Catcher Books price the book if they only have 1 chapter?

2. How can an author generate pre-orders of a book if they don't know how much the book will sell for?

3. What does "pre-order" mean in this context? Does it mean that people have to actually undertake to pay the sale price or merely express an interest in purchasing?

4. What happens if you get a pre-order in January - does that person have to wait 4 months in order to actually receive a copy?


Julia Heron:
Please visit http://www.catcher.me/pulse/users/chrisingram to see how your page will appear. We charge a small administration fee of £45 (or equivalent) to set this up for you.

This had me confused as well. The way I read it is that an author has to pay 45 quid for Catcher to set up a site displaying one chapter of a book that they may not have been able to price up in advance, so that people can pre-order it, even though the book might not be available until April.

Erm ... Right.


Julia Heron:
This is a fantastic opportunity for unpublished writers

Why is it a fantastic opportunity for unpublished writers? A writer who wants to go down the self-publishing route has plenty of other options such as Lulu, which won't make you wait 4 months and doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is.

So basically, I don't see anything here that would make me want to sign up with them.

MM

Momento Mori
12-31-2008, 08:38 PM
Well spotted, Tirjasdyn.


FIRST EDITION @ PULSE:
you can commission us to provide one or more of the following services at very competitive prices:

o manuscript evaluation
o editing
o illustration
o cover/title page copywriting
o typesetting
o proof reading
o print
o registering the book with the trade
o sending book copies to the British Library etc.
o total book production/marketing management
o PR
o sales
o packaging & despatch

I sincerely hope that they at least have the decency not to charge for each of these services individually, but the suggestion is that they're all individually priced. In any event, these are all the things that commercial publishers do for free, having actually paid their authors in advance on signature of a publishing contract.


FIRST EDITION @ PULSE:
You can help to market your book by asking family, friends and colleagues (anywhere in the world) to visit the website & buy a copy of your book. (They’ll only be spending a few pounds – and they get a First Edition copy of your book in return!)

In practice, you'd have to tell your friends, family and colleagues because there's absolutely nothing to indicate that Catcher Limited is going to be able to sell your book for you - they don't even appear to be able to get it into bookstores (despite the fact that it's a First Edition!).

(As an aside, the fact that they're touting the First Edition status suggests that they envisage there being Second Editions or even Third Editions. If they're running on a POD basis, then this is pretty much a nonsense because POD doesn't operate a print run, but if they're printing a set number of copies, I'd scrutinise the contract to see how many they're obliged to produce and who takes the hit on that - my guess being the author).


FIRST EDITION @ PULSE:
You’ll receive a royalty payment of 40% of online sales value (less the cost of despatch.) If your book sells well, we’ll offer you a Publishing Contract (again, with a royalty of 40% of online sales value less the cost of despatch).

I'd usually expect the cost of postage and packing (which I'm assumign is what is meant by "cost of despatch") would have been charged to the purchaser rather than included within the price of the book. That's pretty outrageous - not least because assuming for the moment that you get a purchaser in Australia, the costs of post and packing could actually come out at more than the price charged for your book (depending on what postage you're using, the size and weight of your book etc).

I'd also like to see a definition of what they mean by "If your book sells well" - presumably a certain threshold of sales is required, in which case they should be open about setting out what this is. Not of course, that it matters because even if they do offer you a "Publishing Contract", you're not getting an advance and you're getting the same 40% royalty after "costs of despatch" and there's not even a suggestion that you'll recoup your initial (unspecified) outlay.

At best they're clueless amateurs. At worst they're shysters. Either way, they're not worth troubling with.

MM

M.R.J. Le Blanc
12-31-2008, 08:46 PM
Good publishers don't come to you. They don't have to. The very fact that they came to you and said 'we'd like to publish you' sent off warning bells. Definitely run the other way.

Tirjasdyn
12-31-2008, 08:47 PM
The thing is that they require your work (in this case only the first chapter...but they make money on that...so you can't compare it to the submission cycle) before they agree to anything.

They seem to make money by selling the promise that this chapter will lead to a book one day.

I've posted on my blog that this is scam...lets see if I get a patented "you must be a failure" letter.

Tirjasdyn
01-02-2009, 05:37 AM
Catcher Limited and Pulse Books (plus Pulse Music) and the offer we are making to selected writers (and musicians) is not ‘a scam’ and we will be taking legal action against you unless you can find a way of undoing the damage you may have caused. You issued your comment across the web without checking your facts first. Check us out at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk (http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/) - our Company Registration Number is: 4463969. Yes, we have contacted selected Nanowrimo participants but why not?! Nanowrimo themselves have issued a Forum Bulletin announcing our new offer to writers and many writers are already working with us. Our new offer for unpublished writers is a fantastic idea which makes best use of the web and, frankly, can be the anwer to many unpublished writers’ dreams. Incidentally, we also run a free (sponsor & government funded) arts and publishing programme with schools and colleges both in and outside the UK - why are you so cynical? We’re not even asking for the £45 administration fee (very under-costed by the way) until the writer/musician has a contract in place!
Julia Heron
Catcher Limited


This was in my blog comments today. Sigh. She's spamming people from Nanowrimo.

Tirjasdyn
01-02-2009, 05:57 AM
I just sent a complaint to companies house about the spamming they are doing.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-02-2009, 06:08 AM
This was in my blog comments today. Sigh. She's spamming people from Nanowrimo.

I'm going to check the NaNo boards, and see if they've been hit too.

Old Hack
01-02-2009, 01:20 PM
Tirjasdyn, I've just commented on your blog about this and will now repeat that comment here. But first, I'll copy Julia Heron's comments from your blog here (Julia Heron is Catcher Limited/Pulse Book's representative).


Catcher Limited and Pulse Books (plus Pulse Music) and the offer we are making to selected writers (and musicians) is not ‘a scam’ and we will be taking legal action against you unless you can find a way of undoing the damage you may have caused. You issued your comment across the web without checking your facts first. Check us out at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk - our Company Registration Number is: 4463969. Yes, we have contacted selected Nanowrimo participants but why not?! Nanowrimo themselves have issued a Forum Bulletin announcing our new offer to writers and many writers are already working with us. Our new offer for unpublished writers is a fantastic idea which makes best use of the web and, frankly, can be the anwer to many unpublished writers’ dreams. Incidentally, we also run a free (sponsor & government funded) arts and publishing programme with schools and colleges both in and outside the UK - why are you so cynical? We’re not even asking for the £45 administration fee (very under-costed by the way) until the writer/musician has a contract in place!

Julia Heron
Catcher Limited

Here's a direct link to the listing for Catchter Ltd at Companies House:

http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/2ca6da45ed0550c72b0d9e4342ea6ff2/compdetails

Nothing terribly impressive there: anyone can set up a limited company: all you do is pay a small fee and file accounts each year. This alone is no proof of a publishing company's integrity: Companies House has no interest in your business model, just in ensuring you follow legislation regarding the running of a limited company.

I've had a quick Google for Catcher Ltd and Pulse Books, and can find nothing about this company that would make me ever even consider using its services to publish my work. Both Catcher Ltd and Pulse Books seem woefully ill-informed about how publishing really works (catchy phrase, that, eh?) and I don't remember seeing any books published by them on the bookshop shelves.

I find it particularly telling that Catcher Ltd's representative, Julia Heron, has threatened legal action [on Tirjasdyn's blog] as a result of Catcher Ltd and Pulse Books being called a scam. I don't know of a single commercial publisher which would make a threat like that on such a flimsy issue: they'd probably just ignore it. There's a small chance that they might put forward their case and explain why they're not a scam: but threaten legal action? Nope.

This threat doesn't help Catcher's cause: all it does is provide another reason to avoid them. I certainly wouldn't want to get involved with a company that threatened legal action at the first hint trouble: I'd want them to use reason and logic in the first instance. Another good reason to avoid them.

Momento Mori
01-02-2009, 04:28 PM
Tirjasdyn:
I just sent a complaint to companies house about the spamming they are doing.

Companies House won't do anything about that. They're not responsible for and don't care about companies that spam. They're only interested in maintaining the companies register.

You would be better off to check the Terms of Use on each of the websites that they're putting spam on to see if spam is prohibited. If it is, then make a report of it.


Julia Heron:
Catcher Limited and Pulse Books (plus Pulse Music) and the offer we are making to selected writers (and musicians) is not ‘a scam’ and we will be taking legal action against you unless you can find a way of undoing the damage you may have caused.


Julia, if you're reading this - please provide the contact details of the lawyers that you plan to instruct with regard to this "legal action". I'm sure that Tirjasdyn would love to get in touch with them to verify your threat and if Tirjasdyn can't be bothered, then I'd like to have a word with them because the English courts take a very dim view of what is termed "vexatious litigation" and in fact plaintiffs found to be wasting the courts time because they have no basis for their claim can themselves be found liable for damages.

In fact, you might want to check out the implications of making a claim before you actually make one - even if you do decide to make good on your words, there's this little process called "Discovery" which means that Tirjasdyn and any other defendant can ask for documents pertaining to their defence, including matters such as your business model, who you're set up to distribute books to etc etc.

Oh - and you might want to consider the fact that law suits are expensive in England and Wales and I notice that you're registered as a small company. Are you really sure that you want to take the risk of legal action when you appear to have low capitalisation? Because if you lose, the costs against you can be prohibitively expensive.


Julia Heron:
Check us out at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk - our Company Registration Number is: 4463969.

As Old Hack has already pointed out, this means precisely bollock all. There aren't many prohibitions on who can set up a company in the UK and in fact the main ones that I can think of from the top of my head is the prohibition on a company having directors who have been insolvent or banned from running a company by the Department of Trade and Industry.

However, one thing I did notice when I took another look at the company's details is that it's not actually listed as carrying out publishing activities (instead it's listed under "9305 - Other service activities"). In itself that means little because so far as I'm aware, that's a broad category, but it does seem interesting that not even the company owners want to describe it as a publisher.


Julia Heron:
Our new offer for unpublished writers is a fantastic idea which makes best use of the web and, frankly, can be the anwer to many unpublished writers’ dreams.

And how precisely is a company that appears to have no publishing experience and seems to only make books available through its own website (which the company is having to resort to spam in order to promote) "the answer to many unpublished writers' dreams", Julia?


Julia Heron:
Incidentally, we also run a free (sponsor & government funded) arts and publishing programme with schools and colleges both in and outside the UK

If that's the case, why don't you list those sponsor and government funding bodies on your website?

In any event, any funding that Catcher Limited has with regard to its schools/college programme does not in any way legitimise your self-publishing business. Indeed, I would suggest that operating a self-publishing business at the same time as doing whatever it is you do with schools and colleges could itself be a conflict of interest, particularly if you're promoting that business to the students you're supposed to be educating.


Julia Heron:
why are you so cynical?

I can't say why other people are cynical about Catcher Limited, but the reasons why I'm cynical about them are listed below:

- Julia Heron does not cite any publishing experience that would give me faith in the fact that she or her company knows what it's doing.

- There is nothing to indicate that Catcher Limited is in any position to sell books to the public. At present they talk only about making books available through their own website, which they're having to use spam in order to promote.

- They're charging £45 for the privilege of being published by them. Commercial publishers don't charge money because they know how to sell books to the public.

- They require authors to generate 300 orders before they'll publish a book. Commercial publishers don't require their authors to do this.

- They're charging authors for services that should be standard for any commercial publisher and they're not open about the fees that they plan to charge.

- At the first sign of people questioning the value of her company, Julia Heron threatens unspecified legal action. Commercial publishers don't need to do that.


Julia Heron:
We’re not even asking for the £45 administration fee (very under-costed by the way) until the writer/musician has a contract in place!

What exactly does this £45 "administration fee" cover? If it's "under-costed" as you claim, then why do you need it in the first place because you seem to be saying it doesn't actually cover your costs. And in any event, you shouldn't be charging anything without a contract in place anyway so that everyone knows what they're entering into.

MM

Tirjasdyn
01-02-2009, 07:08 PM
Companies House won't do anything about that. They're not responsible for and don't care about companies that spam. They're only interested in maintaining the companies register.

You would be better off to check the Terms of Use on each of the websites that they're putting spam on to see if spam is prohibited. If it is, then make a report of it.

Verified by Companies House. They suggested legal action again Catcher Ltd. I'm hoping that this is typical scammer gut reaction. It's not even a C&D.





Oh - and you might want to consider the fact that law suits are expensive in England and Wales and I notice that you're registered as a small company. Are you really sure that you want to take the risk of legal action when you appear to have low capitalisation? Because if you lose, the costs against you can be prohibitively expensive.

Not to mention trans-Atlantic law suits.



However, one thing I did notice when I took another look at the company's details is that it's not actually listed as carrying out publishing activities (instead it's listed under "9305 - Other service activities"). In itself that means little because so far as I'm aware, that's a broad category, but it does seem interesting that not even the company owners want to describe it as a publisher.



And how precisely is a company that appears to have no publishing experience and seems to only make books available through its own website (which the company is having to resort to spam in order to promote) "the answer to many unpublished writers' dreams", Julia?

If that's the case, why don't you list those sponsor and government funding bodies on your website?

In any event, any funding that Catcher Limited has with regard to its schools/college programme does not in any way legitimise your self-publishing business. Indeed, I would suggest that operating a self-publishing business at the same time as doing whatever it is you do with schools and colleges could itself be a conflict of interest, particularly if you're promoting that business to the students you're supposed to be educating.

I can't say why other people are cynical about Catcher Limited, but the reasons why I'm cynical about them are listed below:

- Julia Heron does not cite any publishing experience that would give me faith in the fact that she or her company knows what it's doing.

- There is nothing to indicate that Catcher Limited is in any position to sell books to the public. At present they talk only about making books available through their own website, which they're having to use spam in order to promote.

- They're charging £45 for the privilege of being published by them. Commercial publishers don't charge money because they know how to sell books to the public.


The £45 (~$66) is only for a webpage from which an author can sell their own books. Problematic that you pay the money with no guarantee of publication. Especially since you can do this for free with a lulu account and a free blog.


I am so completely irked by this lady. Not only is she threatening me (which I don't stand for), she keeps posting her sales pitch to my blog. I removed the sales pitches and banned her IP.

I need to send a complaint to L&L.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-02-2009, 08:41 PM
Yes, we have contacted selected Nanowrimo participants but why not?! Nanowrimo themselves have issued a Forum Bulletin announcing our new offer to writers and many writers are already working with us.

There is no such post on the NaNo boards; I've checked. Either it was pulled, or never put up. They spammed one of the mods though, which left a bad taste. Just becaue Catcher may have emailed the ad, doesn't mean they actually put it up. So this is a false claim.

Tirjasdyn
01-02-2009, 09:24 PM
There is no such post on the NaNo boards; I've checked. Either it was pulled, or never put up. They spammed one of the mods though, which left a bad taste. Just becaue Catcher may have emailed the ad, doesn't mean they actually put it up. So this is a false claim.

I'm one of the ML's for Denver and I can tell you I've seen no such forum post (I checked) or any thing in the emails to members or ML's.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
01-02-2009, 10:14 PM
I'm one of the ML's for Hamilton, ON. Nice to see another ML around :)

Old Hack
01-02-2009, 11:27 PM
I am so completely irked by this lady. Not only is she threatening me (which I don't stand for), she keeps posting her sales pitch to my blog. I removed the sales pitches and banned her IP.

I'd have been tempted to allow her to continue to post, and then used the opportunity to point out all the problems with her business model. But then I'm just MEAN.

Tirjasdyn
01-02-2009, 11:58 PM
I'd have been tempted to allow her to continue to post, and then used the opportunity to point out all the problems with her business model. But then I'm just MEAN.


I thought about it, but I don't like tempting folks who threaten me.

Besides if she does a google search on her company...ever...This thread is second on the google count.

CaoPaux
12-28-2011, 08:45 AM
Site is long gone. Blog remains: http://catcherme-julia.blogspot.com/