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rlfulgham
08-30-2004, 05:49 PM
www.bewrite.net (http://www.bewrite.net) . Looks like a good site to me. Neil Marr runs it. He also publishes books under the Bewrite imprint. Has anyone had any experience with this press? They use POD technology but charge no fees. I don't know about returns or bookstore display. Hi to everyone.

JohannaJ7
08-30-2004, 09:42 PM
Well, it says on the site that they're closed to submissions until July 2005, so you have until then to fnd out more about them. They also have a messageboard you might want to check out.

BeWrite.net community will accept submissions of work from developing authors for free editorial advice and possible free onsite posting. (As opposed to the many times we have to pay people to post our stuff online?)

reph
08-31-2004, 07:44 AM
Or...as opposed to our getting paid by a website that buys our material for posting? It's called online publication.

neilmarr
10-05-2004, 10:30 PM
Hello there:

Don't confuse BeWrite Books Publishing -- a mainstream publisher listed in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, Writer's Handbook, etc -- with our non-commercial Community (writers' workshop). You're right to point out that a charge for online posting is all but unknown, but you miss the fact that every single piece is personally handled on a one-on-one basis by a professional editor. Sometimes work can change hands between author and editor a dozen or more times before it's ready for posting. Pro editorial time isn't cheap -- I think we're the only guys who've provided it free for the past five years. Sorry, though. That's changing soon when we turn to a peer-editing budy system to allow our small pro editorial team to get along with the business of editing novels and full anthokogies for publication. Love and luck -- Neil
neilmarr@bewrite.net

James D. Macdonald
07-31-2005, 02:33 AM
When last heard from they were closed to submissions until July, 2005.

Well, it's July 2005 now.

KimJo
08-01-2005, 04:52 PM
Checking the link in the first post, the BeWrite site now says BeWrite is closed to all new members until further notice.

CaoPaux
08-01-2005, 07:15 PM
That would be the critique community. Here're the submission guidelines for their publishing arm: http://www.bewrite.net/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=7

KimJo
08-01-2005, 09:39 PM
Ah. Didn't read far enough on the site. Sorry.

jerseykat
09-27-2005, 02:47 AM
I submitted my lastest book to them about two months ago. Still waiting to hear anything. However, with another book, I had almost fell into the PA trap. I am not saying BeWrite is just like PA - I am just doing research. I posted on writers.net asking if anyone had more info on BeWrite and didn't receive anything. I was hoping someone here may have had an experiance with them or may know more about them.

Thanks!

James D. Macdonald
09-27-2005, 03:21 AM
They seem to be another Brit POD house.

Have you ever personally bought and read any of their books?

jerseykat
09-27-2005, 03:31 AM
No, I have not. A woman I used to speak to on another writing site had used them and had recommended them to me, but she had also gone the PA route with the book she published before BeWrite.

jerseykat
09-27-2005, 03:32 AM
I saw that, but it didn't really give me muh help.

neilmarr
10-06-2005, 05:05 PM
Hi chaps: (apologies in advance for a long post)

I'm so sorry for a late reply to this discussion. We're a small team (both on the books and the site sides) and answering questions on forums is one of my own wee jobs. I've been in and out of hospital since May (05) and am just creeping back into the saddle now (Oct 6).

Thanks for the interest you've expressed in this thread -- and you're dead right to smell a rat as soon as that four-letter word, POD, crops up!

But please understand that there is Print on Demand PoD -- a perfectly innocent expression of state-of-the-art print technology used by all the big houses as well as small presses -- and Publish on Demand PoD, which describes a business model ... an author mill churning out stuff for ssale to a list of family circle buyers provided by the author and/or charging the author for publication and ancillary services, a company charging to make your raw manuscript available in POD or ebook form, or a company charging you for what should be the most basic publishing services.

BeWrite just happens to use the technology and mainly internet outlets for sales. In all other ways, we're traditional. There's a full and PROFESSIONAL editorial service (check the team and our CVs on site), text design, cover art, technical work, publicity and promotion, the best marketing we can offer, all the paperwork, ISBNs, library placements of copies ... you name it. Full industry standard royalties, of course.

And it's all absolutely free, as it would be with any decent publisher who relies for his own income on sales to the general reading public rather than on fees paid by the author and buyers provided by him/her.

It is a simple matter to contact the author of any one of out hundred-plus BeWrite Book titles to establish that we have never asked for a red cent from anyone, we've paid expenses out of our own pockets when a book isn't covering its costs, we take no unfair contractual advantage, we provide the very best of pro services, we don't let folks down ... just ask, people, ask!

This does mean, of course, that BeWrite Books must be tremendously selective to compete in the marketplace with the big boys (though it doesn't mean we reject work out of hand ... there's a lot goes on behind the scenes here to help writers take that first big step).

If you want to be safe with a small press, the best rule of thumb would be to approach folks like BeWrite, UKAPress, Bluechrome and others WHO DO NOT SOLICIT MANUSCRIPTS!!!

Manuscripts are the last thing we need!!! A *real* publisher already has more than he can cope with and -- although he's always searching for that little gem -- will do everything in his power to filter out writers' work before it clutters his desk. To keep afloat, it's readers we need -- so only the best writers and the best stories will merit a second glance by our editorial team.

Sure, we closed to submissions for a while (we don't want to insult anyone by throwing their heart-wrung work onto a slushpile) to catch up on the logjam. The hufe majority of publishers are closed to submissions at any given time. Even UKAPress -- the people's favourite -- has locked the doors for a while. We're now open to proposals again, though. Good ones.

Do remember, though, that only a tiny fraction of submissions will reach publication. We use POD Print, but we are by no means a POD (PUBLISH on Demand) outfit (vanity press). Things are going so well, we'll soon be into short runs and stocking high street B&M shop shelves.

We are NOT a facility for the self-publishing author. We are publishers. We proviide what's necessary amd we pay the bills. The writers are our authors. They supply the raw material, and that's their job. We offer a slightly better chance to the Great Unpublished ... a fair crack o' the whip ... because that's our job. To open the door. Not the floodgates. Just the door. And just an inch.

If you do want to self-publish, though, because you really have what you believe to be a hot property nobody else has recognised as such, just be careful. Take advice from a company's other authors before handing over your credit card details, make sure you have experienced editorial help you can trust and afford, check your contract carefully.

First things first, though ... DO be sure you've run out of trad options (nomatter how small-beer) before you subsidise your own publication (remember The Beatles) and only pay out a red cent once you've thoroughly checked what's available.

I've been in the game now for forty years and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that the experts do let gold dust slip through their fingers occasionally. So don't be put off by rejection and do keep trying for traditional publication ... then, if you eventually must self-publish, get the best deal, rope in editors and friends for proof reading, work hard at promo and feel darned proud of every single book you sell. You've earned it.

Good luck and love to all. Neil (Neil Marr, Ed in Chief, BeWrite Books -- by no means the only honest game in town -- but offering no self-publishing option).

PS: And sorry we had to close for membership of the general non-commercial website meant for seriously developing authors. We were wasting too much time on ... well ... time wasters and those with nefarious ulterior motives. If you are serious about joining a serious group of about 700 good operators, the door's still open. But we need TRUE personal details (for file at least) and we need to see samples of your work for assessment before you'll be granted posting rights (and even then only after a piece passes an editorial board). Sound tough? Well the job is tough. We've only got time for seriously aspiring writers. Gosh this ;ppppng message is so not-me, but I'm sure you'll understand that careful selection at this level is necessary for real talent to ever hit the spot. There's a profound suggestion that says: "anyone who possibly can be put off writing, should be'.' True as eggs is eggs. N

victoriastrauss
10-06-2005, 07:27 PM
But please understand that there is Print on Demand PoD -- a perfectly innocent expression of state-of-the-art print technology used by all the big houses as well as small presses -- and Publish on Demand PoD, which describes a business model ... an author mill churning out stuff for ssale to a list of family circle buyers provided by the author and/or charging the author for publication and ancillary services, a company charging to make your raw manuscript available in POD or ebook form, or a company charging you for what should be the most basic publishing services.This faux POD/POD distinction was actually invented by the original author mill, PublishAmerica, in order to allow it to convince gullible writers that it wasn't a "POD publisher". There's really no difference between "publish on demand" and "print on demand"--the terms are used interchangeably (and rather confusingly) to indicate either the technology or the business model.

- Victoria

GeoffNelder
09-14-2006, 01:31 AM
Just to let writers know that BeWrite.net is open again. That is, BeWrite Books is open for novels - any genre. Be patient though. Every submission is considered carefully and notes made so that if rejected the writer is treated with respect and to constructive feedback. Accepted writers get royalties - no upfront fees of anykind. Authors do not have to buy any books (this isn't PA). Books are both as e-books and quality paperbacks.

And the BeWrite writing community is open for free membership - free registration: forums, word games, workshops, vol editors (such as me) for short story, poetry and article submissions for showcasing on the site. Enjoy.Geoff

neilmarr
10-19-2006, 11:28 AM
Hello there, Folks:

Just noticed it's a year since I popped by. Now that the decks are cleared a little here, I must add the Cooler to my morning rounds and see if there's anything I can contribute.

This is just a note to say that the Community Geoff mentions above is still steaming ahead. The volunteer peer-editing system is working really well and the forums are more lively by the day. Cuts both ways because the volunteer editors are learning as are their authors. The informal teaming produces some quite stunning results.

BeWrite Books, the publishing arm, is also going strong with about 150 titles up and running now. We've tightened a tiny bit on genre since we lost one of the pro editorial team to a better paying editing job (they're all better paying editing jobs) but still have an open mind to subs in most fields. Madly busy, though, so please do count on up to three months before your project's studied and you get meaningful feedback from one of the editorial team.

In the past year, another two or three valid new independent publishers have also dipped their toes in the water, so we don't feel quite as isolated as we did. If you've exhausted mainstream possibilities, there's growing potential now with legitimate smaller houses. As always, though, do try to target the right publisher; some new players are pretty genre specific. And do read publisher requirements and style guides before submission to increase your chances.

Very best of luck. Neil
PS: my email address changed because the old one was swamped with spam. I'm now on ntmarrATbewrite.net (use the @ sign). That's just for informal stuff, though; if you're sending in work, please follow the directions on site at bewrite.net. N

veinglory
10-19-2006, 06:02 PM
Hi there Neil, perhaps you could outline the genres Bewrite is most interested in?

soloset
10-19-2006, 10:37 PM
Its books are available at all leading online stores and, on order, from 100,000 high-street bookstores worldwide.

Honest. I like that. This isn't the avenue I would choose, but for someone who had different goals than I do, it seems like an option.

The book synopses are also reasonably well-done, if a bit dull (what can I say, Hollywood has spoiled me).

The excerpt I read (from The Vanson Curse) was about on par with the excerpts I've read at Ellora's Cave. And, despite some issues, it held my interest to the end, which is pretty rare for an e-book excerpt. It kind of reminded me of Jordan's Fallon series a bit.

I still have a few questions, after looking through the website a bit. My apologies if I just missed seeing the answers. What are the royalties like? What kind of marketing can an author expect, if any?

Sassenach
10-19-2006, 11:19 PM
on order, from 100,000 high-street bookstores worldwide.

Something iffy about this phrase..yes, one can special order a book from most any bookshop, but that a very broad definition of "available."

soloset
10-20-2006, 12:07 AM
I thought it was refreshingly up-front.

So many of these places say "available" with the intent to convey "on the shelves", and leave off the "on order" part, then, when called on it, refuse to admit there's a difference. I just liked that they had it square in the first paragraph on the front page.

Sassenach
10-20-2006, 12:27 AM
I'd like to know the source of the "100,000."

soloset
10-20-2006, 12:53 AM
D'oh. Didn't even notice that -- that's one heck of a lot of bookstores.

("High-street", in case I'm not the only one who had to look it up, apparently means the same as "Main street" does around the US.)

Sassenach
10-20-2006, 01:27 AM
Without checking, I'm pretty darn sure there aren't 100,000 bookshops in the UK.

robertmblevins
08-03-2008, 07:51 AM
I know this is an old thread, but I thought I should say something about BeWrite. They are straight shooters, and there IS a difference between Print on Demand and Publish on Demand. Most small to medium presses now use print on demand technology because it's cheaper than buying up mass copies upfront and having to go into the hole right away.

I've known Neil Marr for years. BeWrite isn't Bantam, but they are honest. Some of their books sell reasonably well. Not NYT bestseller well, but enough to send out royalty checks occasionally.

The BeWrite Forum is now closed. But at its height, the BW short story database contained 12,000 short stories (all pro-edited/categorized/searchable). That's a lot of stories. You could read one a day and it would take you more than thirty years to finish them all. This means BeWrite was serious about writers, or they wouldn't have bothered.

Geoff Nelder was a member of the staff for a while. We ended up writing 'Dimensions' together, which was a lot of fun.

I would say BeWrite is a good second choice if you can't get the big boys to take your work. And BW rejects 90% or more of submissions, so they are not an author mill.

They use Lightning Source, I think.

'High Street' is a British term meaning 'brick and mortar' (bookstores)

veinglory
08-03-2008, 08:00 AM
'High Street' means a main or principle street, on both sides of the pond. If anything it is more a British phrase than an American one.

robertmblevins
08-03-2008, 08:02 AM
Neil Marr said once he meant it referred to traditional bookstores. But I'll accept your explanation, too.

veinglory
08-03-2008, 08:14 AM
I can see how the meanings might get crossed, but using less ambiguous terms would be advisable.

robertmblevins
08-03-2008, 09:30 AM
Me or Marr? I can barely spell, let alone use a dictionary.:D

neilmarr
08-04-2008, 03:39 PM
Sorry to be late back into this.

Of course you're dead right to question the 'available in 100,000 hightreet outlets' line, Veinglory.

It's not meant to mislead, though. We are very, very up front about our mainly internet marketing. The 100,000 figure is supplied by Ingrams who undertake to fill BB orders from this number of traditional bookstores around the world. The books are unlikely to be on display on the shelves. They'll be supplied if you place an order with the desk clerk.

Something I'd like to point out, though, in hopes that it will put paid to any lingering suspicion is that, after assessing a submission (synopsis and a couple of sample chapters), along with any resulting request for the full ms, we send a very, very detailed note to the author of the ins and outs and pros and cons of publishing with BeWrite Books. At the full ms assessent stage, way before contracts are even discussed, we provide the author with a full line edit, detailed editorial notes and a full editorial report. So it's in our interest to be pretty sure an author's happy to go with us if we say 'yes'. (Those manuscripts we must decline, by the way, receive exactly the same professional attention.)

Nothing is held back and we never ever delay in answering fully any questions a prospective author might have, and we happily invite them to seek advice from ANY author previously published by BB.

Sure, some very few authors -- made fully aware of our limitations -- decide not to go ahead to the full ms assessment stage. They always receive personal notes of best wishes and an invitation to return if they feel they want to. They've saved us wasted time, and we appreciate that.

Of those who do publish with us, we have never had an unhappy camper. And I mean never. I wonder what other publishing house -- huge or tiny -- could say that and encourage others to check the truth of it for themselves by contacting any of our authors through their personal websites, etc.

Gosh -- I feel like I'm on some kind of defence kick. I'm not. Your questions are perfectly legitimate and caution is always the best approach. But there really are some white hats out there: and we're not the only ones. Check out UKAPress, for instance, BlueChrome, etc. All expert, all trying hard. None with salaried staff, none whose profits from a book are not ploughed right back in to help finance the next release.

Cheers. Neil
ntmarrATbewrite.net (use the @ sign).

PS: The poster who mentioned the fact that the difference between print on demand and publish on demand has been mentioned (and fudged) often before is also spot on. It has. But because there IS a world of difference that some people are still unsure about, it needs to be repeated over and again until it is clearly understood. For instance, any author who offered my little house a penny piece to encourage publication of his work, some smart marketing plan, the offer of buying himself a number of copies, would not be welcomed ... s/he would be considered guilty of offering a bribe and would be rejected out of hand. N

PPS: Sorry I had to come back and edit this for typos. My keyboard's taken such a hammering that some letters don't register when I type quickly. Och well ... there goes this week's beer budget. N

victoriastrauss
08-04-2008, 07:32 PM
PS: The poster who mentioned the fact that the difference between print on demand and publish on demand has been mentioned (and fudged) often before is also spot on. It has. But because there IS a world of difference that some people are still unsure about, it needs to be repeated over and again until it is clearly understood.

I posted this question before, and then deleted my post because it sounded a bit snarky, and I didn't want to get into an argument. But now that this supposed distinction has been mentioned for a second time--I really would like to know what you consider the difference to be.

- Victoria

veinglory
08-04-2008, 07:39 PM
I think it would be advisable if more publisher made it really clear when they are saying 'this book is currently on the shelf in 100,000 stores' versus 'this book can be special ordered for you by a bookstore clerk'. Because many novice authors really will jump to an assumption and end up rather disappointed. This is not specific to Be Write, but in general. Aurthors need to accurately understand the distribution in place at the get go, and I say that as someone quite happy with a publisher that sells ebooks only, albeit a rather good volume of them and I was very clear on what they were providing.

priceless1
08-04-2008, 11:14 PM
Most small to medium presses now use print on demand technology because it's cheaper than buying up mass copies upfront and having to go into the hole right away.
No. Digital printing is used for backlist books and ARCs. Anyone who is using digital printing is doing so because they don't have enough demand for their books or money to do standard print runs which will keep the retail price competitive. And, more than likely, this is a result from not having a distributor's sales teams pitching their titles to the genre buyers. Please don't try to say the print on demand business model is anywhere close to independent trade publishing. It isn't.


I would say BeWrite is a good second choice if you can't get the big boys to take your work.
I advise you to do more research because this publisher appears far from viable. There are many solid small and midsized publishers who do very well and sell lots of books. This is because they have good people on their payroll who know what they're doing. They have distribution and a market presence. Their books are reviewed by all the big trade publishers. This will never happen under this man's business model. Ever. The main reason is below:

Neil said: The volunteer peer-editing system is working really well and the forums are more lively by the day. Cuts both ways because the volunteer editors are learning as are their authors.
Neil may be as nice as the day is long, but this is not at all professional, and I wince every time I read it. Editors do not learn on the job. That is what interns do. Learn. Editors have to know how to judge a good and marketable manuscript. I daresay peer-editing is about as effective as if my beagle was put in charge of manuscript reviews.

neilmarr
08-05-2008, 09:42 AM
Thanks, chaps. I'll try to cover all points in order.

Victoria: PoD has become synonymous with printers who will publish anything at cost to the author or (as with author mills) relying on profitable author-circle sales. No editorial intervention is offered. We're tremendously selective and editorially driven.

Veinglory: You're right and this point is fully explained to authors before full ms is offered for consideration. It's vital that they know our limitations before we spend a great deal of editorial time on their work. I assure you that no author gets anywhere near the contract stage until his eyes are wide open.

Priceless: You're right, too. Many admirable small presses can operate on short run. We still can't afford it. Until we can, we don't have a high street presence because PoD per-item print costs are such that, to keep cover prices competitive, we can't yet run to sale or return. When we have stocked shelves, we upwardly adjust cover price to help cover high retail commissions.

As far as the peer editing thing goes, that applied only to our online community of 'developing' writers, which closed eighteen months ago on its seventh anniversary because we could no longer spare the time it gobbled up. Of curse no one can learn to be an editor this way, but unpublished writers can learn much about their own work by putting themselves in an editor or proof reader's shoes. The Community was never meant to be anything other than -- like several others -- an informal workshop to bring together amateurs who would otherwise be writing in isolation.

At BeWrite Books, we have three editors on the team (I'm the only full-timer) with about a century of professional experience between us. We're none of us spring chickens.

Thanks for your interest and for making me think again about some of the wrong impressions we can so easily (if innocently) give. I assure you that our discussion here isn't meant to attract new mss (the last thing we need with such a small team) but purely to give-and-take on information.

Very best wishes. Neil

victoriastrauss
08-05-2008, 08:10 PM
Victoria: PoD has become synonymous with printers who will publish anything at cost to the author or (as with author mills) relying on profitable author-circle sales. No editorial intervention is offered. We're tremendously selective and editorially driven.

Sorry to be pedantic, but from the above, I'm still unclear as to which label you consider to apply to which business model.

I understand the difference between a POD-based vanity publisher or author mill, and a small publisher that uses digital technology to produce its books. However, the supposed distinction between "publish on demand" and "print on demand" is entirely spurious. It was invented by PublishAmerica to enable them to claim that they are "not POD," and doesn't have any generally accepted meaning.

- Victoria

priceless1
08-05-2008, 08:47 PM
Priceless: Many admirable small presses can operate on short run.
Well, no they can't, and that was my point. If you're only digitally printing 200 books, that is a big cash outlay for so few books. You'll never make enough to stay afloat. The only way you can obtain street presence is to have a good distributor pitching your books to the genre buyers. But the only way you're going to get a distributor is if you have enough advertising dollars to meet their requirements and enough books in their warehouse to meet demand.

When books fly out the door, they fly fast, and there is rarely time to say, "Oh, hold on, old chap, whilst I get another hundred printed up." By that time, the buyer has moved on and decided to spend his budget elsewhere.

I applaud what you're trying to do, but you've done it backwards using a broken business model. It always looks lovely and logical on paper, and this is where POD companies (and their authors) get sucked under. The reality is always different. If you don't have the capital now, chances are you never will.

neilmarr
08-06-2008, 10:09 AM
Some very small presses like BlueChrome and UKAPress and the new ScreamingDreams (SF) use a UK company called Biddles for short runs of sometimes just 100 copies, Priceless. They keep afloat, but it's always hit and miss.

Even using purely PoD, you're dead right that it's a struggle to keep your head above water. Perhaps we did put the cart before the horse, but we had no choice. We've stuck with it for six years so far, though, and we've no intention of giving up just because we don't yet have the capital to join the major league. Limited as we are, our authors and readers are happy -- and that's no mean thing.

Hi Victoria. You're quite right to point to PA's use of this argument. The big difference between our claim and theirs is simply that ours is honest.

Very best. Neil

James D. Macdonald
08-06-2008, 05:06 PM
Hi Victoria. You're quite right to point to PA's use of this argument. The big difference between our claim and theirs is simply that ours is honest.


Yes, but what does "Publish On Demand" mean, and how is it different from "Print On Demand"?

neilmarr
08-07-2008, 12:09 PM
Sorry, James. I thought it was self-evident.

Publish on Demand is another term for vanity press and self-publishing. Publish on Demand outfits are basically print shops in disguise or unofficial brokers of print shops who will 'publish' anything at author expense or (in the case of author mills like PA) on the profitable swings-and-roundabout principle of author-circle sales.

As an aside, these Publish on Demand people often make their money by simply converting (unread) every manuscript that arrives in Word or RTF to a simple PDF format at the touch of a few keys and passing it on to Lightning Source International (the biggest Print on Demand operator).

Amazon caught onto this highly profitable service-on-pass chikanery to the extent that they recently bought out the (then) small BookSurge Print on Demand outfit and now insist that PoD publishers use that print service or lose full Amazon sales facilities.

Funnily enough, although this has hit the giant Publish on Demand guys right in the pocket, genuine little houses like BeWrite Books who have exclusively used LSI for years have not been affected. Maybe someone at Amazon has some heart after all.

Print on Demand is merely the definition of a new print technology, James, that allows books to be printed according to the immediate demand of reader orders rather than speculative mass production. Some little operations like ours are editorially-driven and highly selective as to which manuscripts to publish but simply can't afford to use any other production system yet (short- or mass-run).

For instance: if you wanted to buy a BeWrite Books title you find in one of the online stores or at our own site, you place your order and pre-pay. The order is automatically transmitted to the printer who will immediately print your book (from the US or UK print plant nearest to the ordering address), package it and send it out. Same system if you order through a local book store in town. We tend to keep a small stock of our titles at Amazon, etc to save a day or so on what is, anyway, pretty nifty delivery time. But that's not strictly necessary.

Of course, unless you're pulling one of the free delivery deals on orders over, I think, $25 or so, you've got to add the price of postage to the cost of your book. Our books themselves, though, are competitively priced to compete in the open market with those of the main players. When I say 'open market', by the way, I'm talking internet. We can't afford to stock shelves in the high street on the sale-or-return deal the big guys have because per item print costs with PoD are high and we simply can't afford it.

Apart from professional editorial, technical, art, design, and admin time, the cost of set-up, listings, library placements, review copies and free author copies, ISBNs and what have you, the actual financial risk of a new title release is relatively low (compared with mass run) and within our means. We can put out now maybe ten titles a year with any profit from one starting at last to cover any losses on another. After actual print, the biggest item is retail commission. Because commissions are much higher in traditional, brick-and-mortar street stores than online, we have to inflate price a bit to break even if an author wants us to stock a local shop or hold a signing.

It's not the biggest deal in town, of course, and we'd always advise authors to be sure they've exhausted all possibility of a chance at the big time before subbing to us, but it is a respectable and honest alternative.

I'm sure that many here will agree that non-acceptance by a major house or well-established agency does not necessarily imply a sub-standard piece of work. There's a heck of a lot of luck and who-you-know involved. We're just one of several wee guys trying to offer a fighting chance at an alternative to bottom-drawing a deserving ms. I can't say for sure, of course, because no actual figures -- other than anecdotal -- exist, but I would think our acceptance rate is slightly higher than that at the big houses. Because we are offered fewer manuscripts, we can actually take the time to study proposals and overlook some of the picky points that might otherwise disqualify a darned good possibility. If the ms sparkles, there's no detail that can't be fixed in the lengthy editorial process, which I'd guess on average is about a six-month job per title. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter.

And if a better deal comes along for an author who's had at least a minor break with us; well the paperwork would be happily scrapped and we'll do all we can to help (this is spelled out in a legally binding covering letter to our contracts). At our low rung on the ladder, the kudos attaching to having spotted talent would be more than enough to justify this apparent altruism. I know that a couple of other small operators we're friendly with take the same approach.

Hope some of this is of help to anyone who's thinking of trying out a little league house. Just take care. Be sure that the editorial service is sound, all basic needs are being met, royalties are fair, contracts are good, that you're being dealt with personally and closely ... and that you're not being asked to buy a bunch of copies yourself, being asked for email addresses of friends and family -- and, of course, don't part with a red cent.

Cheers. Neil

veinglory
08-07-2008, 05:12 PM
I don't think it is self-evident. I am a small press print-on-demand format author (Samhain), and I also run a blog that reviews self-publisjed (often POD) books. And to the extent that there is any consensus on defintions in those communities, they don't align with what you have described.

neilmarr
08-07-2008, 06:51 PM
Because it obviously wasn't as self-evident as I'd believed, Emily, I tried my best after James' earlier post to explain at greater length in my own last how things operate with us. I stand by that, of course, but if I left any loose ends, just holler.

I just took a look at Samhain and see they list six novels as 'new this week'. They must have one heck of an editorial department for such impressive output. Wish I could personally handle that number of accepted manuscripts in a full year.

Your blog's great and Samhain seems to be doing a fine job in its chosen way. All a matter of horses for courses, I guess.

Best wishes. Neil

veinglory
08-07-2008, 07:00 PM
Terminology/defintions are a problem with the different models of publishing currently operating, especially at the small press end.

victoriastrauss
08-07-2008, 07:04 PM
Neil, your definitions are essentially the same as the ones given by PublishAmerica (which, as I noted above, invented the distinction in order to serve its own disingenous purposes). They really are meaningless--they aren't widely used by reputable publishers, small or large; they have no generally accepted meaning; and most people won't have any idea of what you're talking about when you use them.

I'm not bashing BeWrite, by the way, about which I've never gotten (or seen) any complaints. I'm just saying that using this spurious terminology--tied as it is to the most infamous of the author mills--isn't helpful, either for your authors or for your image as a publisher.

- Victoria

priceless1
08-07-2008, 07:07 PM
Some very small presses use a UK company called Biddles for short runs of sometimes just 100 copies, Priceless. They keep afloat, but it's always hit and miss.
I'm sorry, but I've been doing this a while now, and the economics just don't add up. How can anyone stay afloat printing 100 books unless they're selling all those books to their authors? It's unlikely they're going to bookstores on any kind of established distribution. And at that, you have to take discounting into consideration, which cuts down on your bottom line.

Then there's the returns to deal with, and few PODs can weather that little financial storm. And chances are those books will be returned unless the author has a nice platform and the publisher does its marketing magic that sends people into the stores. If they have that nice a platform, they are less likely to go with a POD company unless the book is obscure or very niche oriented. At that, the author must have a good platform.

And let's say that you literally don't do print runs, and every physical order shoots over to LSI. You still have to pay your production costs. which takes you closer to insolvency. Without pre-sales and commercial distribution, you're in the tank for nearly every title unless the authors are buying their own books.

"Hit and miss" bothers me a lot because this affects the authors. You can't run a publishing company on a shoestring. You must have a solid business plan before you open your doors. Having an experienced mentor is a godsend. But you do not, not, not 'hit and miss.' Not when you have author's books at stake.


Apart from professional editorial, technical, art, design, and admin time, the cost of set-up, listings, library placements, review copies and free author copies, ISBNs and what have you, the actual financial risk of a new title release is relatively low ...
You're joking. I want your crew. Just those elements alone run our titles into the thousands. Editing runs easily $1500 - $2500. Cover design, roughly the same. Interior design is also roughly the same. ARCs are far from free, depending upon how many you print. We do about 100. Neil, what this tells me is that, well, you get what you pay for, and I will never believe that a quality book can be done on the cheap.


There's a heck of a lot of luck and who-you-know involved.
Oh stop. This just isn't true, and it bugs me to no end when people bandy this about as a selling tool for a lesser viable company. I know agents, I meet authors at writer's conferences, but I didn't know most of my authors before they submitted to us. Yes, knowing people helps because it'll get the work read. But please don't imply that this is how the industry works. We need great writing. Period.


We're just one of several wee guys trying to offer a fighting chance at an alternative to bottom-drawing a deserving ms.
Ach, this is yet another one of those Publish America-type selling tools. "We're giving the little guy a chance." It's naive. Publishing isn't about making the writer feel good and being their benevolent benefactor. You'll be staring at a bankruptcy judge before too long with that attitude. If a manuscript needs to be in a desk drawer, then don't impede its path. But how is it good for anyone to produce substandard work? How does that enhance your bottom line? The only way this type of company can stay afloat is by selling books to their authors. And, again, the author loses.


Because we are offered fewer manuscripts, we can actually take the time to study proposals and overlook some of the picky points that might otherwise disqualify a darned good possibility.
Please stop with the sales snowjob. You don't think everyone in the business studies proposals? How else can we determine whether to sign someone or not?

Overlooking those "picky" points equals longer editing time. Longer editing time equals more money you have to shell out to the editor. That's how it works in commercial publishing. You have to offset that more expensive editing against your expected sell through. If you're only printing 100 books, I guarantee that you're pouring money down the drain. Plus, I have serious doubts that an experienced editor will work for 1 percent of sales. This means that the editors you probably have lack the ability to give a substandard manuscript the kind of editing it needs.


Hope some of this is of help to anyone who's thinking of trying out a little league house.
No, it really doesn't. We are a little league house, and nothing you've advocated is anywhere close to how we run our business. There are little league houses, and then there are PODs who are unable to get the job done. And in the end, who loses? The author.

herdon
08-07-2008, 07:50 PM
I agree that the PoD vs PoD debate is meaningless. Not only does it require a variety of business models to be lumped into two categories which may or may not be a perfect fit, but it is very dependent upon one's perception of the terms.

But more than that, I find it -- simply put -- to be meaningless.

A far, far better question than "Are you PoD?" is "Do you have distribution?"

JulieB
08-07-2008, 08:10 PM
I
A far, far better question than "Are you PoD?" is "Do you have distribution?"

Hit the nail on the head, IMO.

veinglory
08-07-2008, 08:14 PM
Or, what are you distribution channel and typical sales volumes?

Some micro-presses do relatively well outside the normal distribution channels, although it does to some extent set the likely scale of performance.

neilmarr
08-07-2008, 08:57 PM
Bear with me, Priceless; I'll have to bounce between your post and this message window to answer what I can in order:

*The tiny short runs tend to be to stock bookshops local to an author, from what I gather, and to produce cheaper copies for that and signings. The little companies using this system also set their books for PoD print to hit the internet market.

*Any publisher -- massive or tiny -- works on a hit and miss basis. All a publisher can do, as you know, is qualify the risk. There are few guarantees, although some lucky authors may be heavily pushed by the marketing boys at the big houses with a budget for that, many don't even earn back their advance. Some can afford to lose hundreds of thousands on a project. We can't.

*Editorial. We have three editors (I'm the only full-timer), Priceless, all experienced (and one [SF and Fantasy], who I think you maybe know personally, is well known to members here). All of us, though, when BeWrite kicked off, agreed to work on a small royalty (much less than an author's) for reasons that would sound corny to you, but which boil down to a helping hand. The others can afford it for reasons you needn't know. I had to start working from home ten years ago for health reasons and find this is the best way I can now use my experience. Other costs, we cover up front (now from breaking even, earlier from the shallow pockets of the three partners who set the thing up -- me in France, my son and his wife in Germany [my son kept things afloat for a long, long time with his day job]), because we can take that relatively small financial risk.

*Luck and who-you-know? We all know the truth of that. And there's no sales pitch involved. I'm not tryng to sell anything, just to explain how we work for the sake of those who've expressed an interest. I didn't start this thread.

*Yep. We offer a chance. Not a bigger chance. Certainly not the chance of riches. Just another door to knock on where you'll be well and professionally treated if we can go with your work.

*What the heck do you mean, Priceles: 'sales snowjob'. How often must I say that I'm selling nothing here? What the heck have I offered you to buy? Haven't I already said that the last thing we need is more submissions? This is becoming tedious.

*Little league houses. I think you have an axe to grind, Priceless. We're no competition to your own fine house or to anyone else at our level. Behler -- an admirable publisher with well-deserved and hard-earned prestige -- is much, much bigger and obviosly better financed than we are. Quite frankly, your hostility surprises and disappoints me.

Och well. That's the game, I guess.

We just give authors what we say we can offer. Nothing less, often more. They're happy, their readers are happy (even if there ain't too impressive a number of those yet), and we sleep straight in our beds after a hard day's worthwhile work that we love.

I really don't think there's anything more I can say that would be of any help and unlikely to attract snipers, Priceless. I didn't come here to push my own barrow, I came because I thought it might interest some folks that there was something out there if they hit a brick wall elsewhere that doesn't necessarily involve sellng your soul to the likes of PA.

Seems I'm on a hiding to nothing. Now back to some work.

Very best wishes and certainly no hard feelings this end. Neil

Sheryl Nantus
08-07-2008, 08:59 PM
I agree that the PoD vs PoD debate is meaningless. Not only does it require a variety of business models to be lumped into two categories which may or may not be a perfect fit, but it is very dependent upon one's perception of the terms.

But more than that, I find it -- simply put -- to be meaningless.

A far, far better question than "Are you PoD?" is "Do you have distribution?"


exactly.

no distribution means little to no sales outside of what the author manages to scrape up - or they buy copies for resale, doing what the publisher *should* be doing.

and that doesn't mean "Available via Baker & Taylor and Ingram's".

priceless1
08-07-2008, 09:32 PM
*Any publisher -- massive or tiny -- works on a hit and miss basis. All a publisher can do, as you know, is qualify the risk. T
Well, to be fair, there's hit and miss and there's hit and miss. We've all bought works that we felt would hit and missed. The manner in which you used the term, however, had to do with staying afloat. That is an entirely different matter. If an author has to be concerned about whether their publisher is going to be around next month, then what kind of security do they have if they put countless hours into promotion? I've seen this happen more times than I care to count.


*Luck and who-you-know? We all know the truth of that. And there's no sales pitch involved. I'm not tryng to sell anything, just to explain how we work for the sake of those who've expressed an interest. I didn't start this thread.
It's true that you didn't start this thread, but you chose to come and explain how you work, so I think you should be able to withstand the scrutiny as well. Yes, this bit is about 'it's all about who you know' is a sales pitch that many PODs use in order to attract authors.


*Little league houses. I think you have an axe to grind, Priceless. We're no competition to your own fine house or to anyone else at our level. Quite frankly, your hostility surprises and disappoints me.
Hostile? I'm asking questions and pointing out the tenuous viability of creating successful and well-distributed authors. The only ax I have to grind is ensuring authors fully understand the ins and outs of POD publishers - how their sales pitches can lead authors down a path that guarantees the death of their books. Yes, I'm passionate about this because I've seen far too many authors who looked at me through tears, saying, "I didn't know." Their books are as dead as their dreams. So, while I apologize for my tenor, I don't apologize for asking tough questions. This is a tough business, and authors need the straight poop.


I really don't think there's anything more I can say that would be of any help and unlikely to attract snipers, Priceless. I didn't come here to push my own barrow,
I don't believe that asking direct questions and pointing out the holes in your business plan is sniping. And, yes, whenever a publisher comes to their own thread, they do have to push their own barrow. After all, who will?

Look, I don't mean you or your company ill. I hope the very best for all of your authors. I just worry that the foundations upon which you reside are pretty shaky, and that spells doom for your authors.

neilmarr
08-07-2008, 10:46 PM
*** The only ax I have to grind is ensuring authors fully understand the ins and outs of POD publishers - how their sales pitches can lead authors down a path that guarantees the death of their books. Yes, I'm passionate about this because I've seen far too many authors who looked at me through tears, saying, "I didn't know." Their books are as dead as their dreams. So, while I apologize for my tenor, I don't apologize for asking tough questions. This is a tough business, and authors need the straight poop.***

Sorry if I appear to have taken a huff, Priceless. And certainly no need for apologies on your part. But, believe it or not, I'm no less passionate than are you. So bloody passionate that it hurts at times. After nigh on forty years at the editorial end of publishing, I've seen enough tears to drown in; many of them my own.

And, of course, all your questions and observations are valid and generously aimed at warning unsuspecting authors of the potholes in the road.

I can only repeat that we make no sales pitch. We never solicit manuscripts. Ever. Folks hear about us by casual word-of-mouth, by recommendation of our authors and readers. If you look at our wee site, it'll take you forever to find how to submit -- that's intentional -- and there's no invitation to do so anywhere on our visible pages. We can hardly cope editorially with what we get. That's why we must so often decline the offers that do come in.

No author can go ahead with us until we're absolutely sure they are fully aware of what we can't do. We spell out, stress, even exaggerated, our limitations before we invite a full manuscript for assessment after initial synopsis and chapters submission is considered. There's too much involved in what we offer even rejections to waste editorial time. No ms -- even rejected -- goes home without at least a full line edit, extensive editorial notes and a full editorial report to the author.

If we can go with a piece, we make even more of a point of being 150% sure that eyes are wide open -- forced open if needs be because many an author gets so excited (even with a wee place like ours) that he'll not ask about the ins and outs, the pros and cons -- well before a contract is offered. We advise them to check the agreement with experienced author friends, our previous authors chosen at random and not recommended in any way by us, any sound agencies or pals in publishing they might have, lawyers ... whoever they can think of.

And we wouldn't dream of holding an author to paperwork, anyway, if he's subsequently disappointed (none has been) or lands a better deal.

We don't need anything less than true content in the house, Priceless, and we bend over backwards to be sure no one ever feels in the slightest bit let down. After the lengths we go to to underline our shortcomings, our authors are pleasantly surprised to find what we actually do have on offer. You'd have not the slightest trouble tracking a whole bunch of them down and asking for yourself.

And I'm confident, Priceless, that we're not the only guys at our lowly level who play from a straight bat. That was the point I wanted to put over a long, long time ago when someone asked me to pop in here and try to answer a question or two when BeWrite was mention (two or three years ago now?).

And there's no danger of heartbreak to an author because we might go under. That's one wee advantage of the system we use. We don't need big income to pay salaries (there are none) and cover costs at the level we now occupy. We have no financial investors to satisfy. We have no debts. We can and do cope just dandy. The only way things can go is up. And -- in its own wee way -- it looks very much that's the way things are headed.

Sure the foundation's unconventional, Priceless, and we have one heck of a way to go. But it's anything but 'shaky'. Short of all of us spontaneously and simultaneously combusting, there's nothing that could close us down and leave an author high and dry.

Please understand that I'm not trying to sell anything here but the idea that folks don't have to give up when the bigger, and rightly prestigious, houses can't help. There are (since PoD print made it financially possible to some white hats), other doors to knock on. They won't open on fame and riches, maybe, but they offer a respectable, if small beer, alternative to the spike.

I know that you, with good cause, will not be one to be impressed by a bunch with their hearts in the right place. But that's who we are. And we actually do offer a lot that might even make Behler consider us not altogether a waste of an author's time.

Very best. Neil

neilmarr
08-07-2008, 10:55 PM
PS: I hope when the subject of BeWrite Books is exhausted (soon?), I'll be able to pop into some other threads here just to shoot the breeze without mention of my own place. Although there was a hint here that things might get heated, I've really enjoyed the exchange. OK, I've been close at times to tearing out what little hair I have left, but the company at the Water Cooler is the kind I like to keep. Thanks, chaps. Neil

victoriastrauss
08-08-2008, 12:43 AM
Neil, thanks for your answers, and for maintaining your cool in a tough discussion.

- Victoria

priceless1
08-08-2008, 02:28 AM
I know that you, with good cause, will not be one to be impressed by a bunch with their hearts in the right place. But that's who we are.
You do me a disservice, Neil. I'm always impressed with people whose hearts are in the right place and they're honest. I have no doubt that your authors are happy, and that you're doing all you possibly can for them. My only desire is that authors are fully aware of the various flavors of publishing so they are in the best position to make educated decisions. I wish you and your authors all the very best.

I echo Victoria's sentiments that you stayed cool through some tough questioning, and I do hope you come back. If it makes you feel any better, my feet touched the flames years ago, and deservedly so. It's to be expected with any new company. It's not done for the purpose of being a PITA, but to ensure author education.

neilmarr
08-08-2008, 08:41 AM
Thanks again. I hope the discussion's been as helpful to some others as it has been to me. I'll snatch some time over the weekend to take a look at some of the other threads. The Water Cooler's a busy place. Cheers. Neil

James D. Macdonald
08-08-2008, 03:40 PM
Ah. I see Neil has confused Print On Demand (a business model) with Digital Printing (a technology).

neilmarr
08-11-2008, 09:30 AM
Thanks, James. You could well be dead right.

I've done a lot of soul searching over the weekend and realise I'm going to have to put some serious thought into how to be even more sure that a prospective author knows every possible pitfall before even making a first submission, never mind at the stage where a full ms might be invited for consideration.

Please bear with me for a few days and I'll come back to explain how I feel I might be able to go about this. And if anyone could spare the time to respond, any further advice would be invaluable.

I really do appreciate what I've heard from everyone who's contributed to this thread and can assure you -- even though it may influence only one tiny house -- that the questions, responses and what I've learned from them will be well used to the benefit of everyone we can reach.

Best wishes. Neil

veinglory
08-11-2008, 05:26 PM
I know it can be hard to mix realism with postive branding--but it is something we need a whole lot more of. Be sure to let us know how it is going :)

triceretops
08-11-2008, 05:51 PM
Neil, your participation here (and civility) is greatly appreciated.

Tri

neilmarr
08-11-2008, 06:04 PM
Will do Veinglory.

I take your point above, but we're not trying to sell anything to authors, so concentrating heavily on the negatives might be a great help to them, and really wouldn't be any skin off our noses.

In fact, it would probably be a positive practical move. I've spent more time than I'd like to estimate over the years on the tedious job of line editing on the fly as I read a full ms for the first time, the thought and effort that goes into my notes and reports, only to find if I say, 'OK, let's go ahead', that an author has has had a change of mind because s/he's, in the meantime, read and fully digested my current 'look out for the pitfalls' letters.

Probably happens two or three times a year. And -- with the best will in the world -- I'd rather spend that three or four weeks' working time on someone who's already pretty sure that we're for him/her, no matter what the obvious limitations we've fully splled out.

Saving our own time isn't my main consideration here, Veinglory, but that side effect would certainly be welcome.

It might also reduce submissions at the synopsis and early chapters stage. OK, these usually take only an hour or two (often much less) to suggest whether we should ask to see a full ms. But even a tiny place like ours isn't short of subs, and we do study each one, so time-saving there would be another bonus.

Cheers for now. Neil

neilmarr
08-11-2008, 06:11 PM
Thanks, Triceretops. Sorry our messages crossed in the post. It's really not too difficult to keep the old head screwed on straight here once you come to realise the good intent of the group. I've found the input tremendously helpful and expressed with sincerity and civility .. even if it has been a little ucomfortable at times. Very best. Neil

neilmarr
09-24-2008, 11:27 AM
Just so those who so generously took part in this discussion don't feel that their time was entirely wasted, I've completely re-drafted our current 'About BeWrite Books' section of the BeWrite site and guidelines taking into account all points raised and the suggestions made.

At this point it's only in draft and will be sent for the approval of my (like-minded) partners and posted only when I'm sure I've covered all bases fully and fairly.

I sent the draft to a highly respected, expert and old established member here last week to cast an eye and will carefully consider all her further suggestions.

It would be rude of me to impose such a long piece (1,500 wds) on the forum, but if anyone would like to take a look and make suggestions, I'd be happy to send along the draft as an email attachment and would very much appreciate (as will future prospective BB authors) your insight and suggestions.

This forum is largely in place to point out the pot holes in the road and fill them wherever possible. I assure you that our intentions are no different. I firmly believe that we cannot progress as a tiny house without an author pool that's entirely content. Everything starts with the author.

Many thanks again for such constructive advice.

This is some place.

Best wishes. Neil

ntmarrATbewrite.net (use the @ sign, of course)

triceretops
09-24-2008, 01:54 PM
Very nice to see you again, Neil. I'll check out your website. I do remember subbing to BeWrite many moons ago, and I was handled quite fairly.

Tri

neilmarr
09-24-2008, 06:52 PM
That's good to hear, Triceretops. It'll be a few days before the new piece is posted on site, though. I'm just waiting for some expected feedback so that I can adjust accordingly. Meantime, I've passed the piece by the three other full-timers on our wee team and they're all happy that we should go with it and make as sure as possible that folks know exactly what's what before making any move at all. Cheers for now. Neil

neilmarr
11-24-2008, 03:41 PM
Woops -- I've just been into our site and realised that I hadn't posted the link here to the promised update for prospective authors we've had running since this Water Cooler discussion.

http://www.bewrite.net/bookshop/submission_requirements.htm

Many thanks to those who offered such sound advice in the above posts and in PMs and emails. I hope I've done it justice and that the new pre-submission note will mean that -- before submission -- authors will have their eyes wide open to what we can and can't offer.

Please don't hesitate to holler if you think we've still not covered things properly.

Thanks again. Neil

neilmarr
11-28-2008, 09:40 PM
Well, I guess you lost interest, folks. Fair enough. BeWrite Books is, after all, pretty small beer and doesn't matter very much, if at all. Our authors ain't small beer, though, and I got the impression they did matter to the community here from this three-page thread I've sweated through and acted upon. They certainly matter to me, which is why I'm still bustin' a gut to do them proud. Best wishes. Neil

victoriastrauss
11-29-2008, 12:54 AM
Neil, sorry I missed your post first time around. I've taken a look at your revamped submission requirements, and I think they're straightforward and fair, and offer good disclosure about your business model. It's great that you provide this info for your authors.

- Victoria

gothicangel
12-01-2008, 02:59 AM
If anyone is interested, I have a friend - Jay Mandle - who has published several books (and successfully too!) with BeWrite.

If anyone is interested in talking to him, let me know.

priceless1
12-01-2008, 06:40 PM
Nice changes, Neil. You're to be commended for being up front.

neilmarr
12-05-2008, 06:38 PM
Many thanks, Victoria, Gothic and Priceless.

Your input and that of others (both in the forums and more privately in PMs and emails) has been invaluable. I hope we did it justice.

Those who pointed out that our earlier 'mission statement' might be misleading were quite right, of course, as were those who saw my earlier 'defence' in his thread as old hat. Sorry it took me so long to see the wood for trees.

My partners -- Cait and Alex -- and two other full-time editors -- Hugh and Sam -- are equally enthusiastic about the way we now spell things out, warts 'n' all.

I think you realise that our original words were placed with the best of honest intent ... but, of course, so were the cobblestones on the proverbial road to hell. That you were able to set things to rights only goes to show just how effective this board and its concerned members can be.

We're still soldiering on in our small way -- release schedules filled until the second half of '09 with some outstanding titles (we believe) -- and I hope you'll continue to hear from no-one but satisfied authors and some happy readers.

In the mean time, if any other small indies confined to PoD production and limited to internet sales should come across this exchange, we'd be glad to hear from them and share your insight and its result.

Very best wishes -- and here's to a wonderful Christmas and New Year for you all. Neil

1POV
12-05-2008, 10:11 PM
Neil, just for the record, I couldn't be happier with BeWrite Books and our long-term working relationship. Anyone who questions the quality of BeWrite Books should buy and read a few. Anyone who questions readers' and reviewers' reactions are more than welcome to visit my site at www.martastephens-author.com (http://www.martastephens-author.com). Click on the book covers for the links to each book's reviews.

Better yet, go at it on real time. I'm in the middle of a virtual book tour. All the links are available on my website (above) and on my blog http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com.

All the best,
Marta

Daddyo
07-18-2010, 01:13 AM
Since the last post in regards to BeWrite Books was way back in December '08, I thought that I'd jump in here with a bit of recent experience with them. I'll begin with the disclaimer that I have absolutely no affiliation with the publisher other than submitting my manuscript to them within the past couple of weeks. I have no idea whether they will accept my work or not, but I've been highly impressed with the prompt and professional response from Neil Marr.

After reading my query and sample chapters, Mr. Marr responded with a request for the full manuscript in a lengthy and detailed e-mail outlining what BeWrite Books was all about and what they could and would do for their authors and exactly what they couldn't and wouldn't. He details many of the same points on BeWrite Books' submission page (which he mentions here back in 2008), so that every potential author's eyes are wide open to the pros and cons of doing business with them. His e-mails to me have been chock full of wit and wisdom (especially wit), and since BeWrite Books is still alive and kicking in 2010, they must be doing something right.

I know that they've had editorial staff changes and that the company bears Canadian registration now, but they appear to stand on solid ground. I've contacted several BeWrite Authors and have yet to read a negative response. I've read books by two of the authors and just hope that Neil Marr finds my manuscript worthy to stand alongside the quality of the work of these two fine story tellers. I know it seems that I'm gushing, but no, I'm just impressed with my initial contact with BeWrite Books. I'm not writing this to impress Neil Marr either. He's quite firm that the only books they'll print must represents a tale well told. I'll appreciate the man regardless of the future status of my manuscript.

neilmarr
08-15-2010, 02:15 PM
Many thanks, Daddyo. You were a delight to work along with, and I trust we'll stay in touch with each other. As you know, your subject matter is close to my heart, too. I hope our advice was of some use to you. Very best of luck with the book.

By the way, the BeWrite Books website (http://www.bewrite.net (http://www.bewrite.net/)) has been completely revamped under the direction of new technical and design director, Tony Szmuk in Canada. (The editorial team remains as was.) The new submissions guidelines, which spell things out in even greater stark detail than before, can be found here: http://www.bewrite.net/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=AUTH

And you might be interested to hear exactly how paying serious attention to the advice of WC forum members has worked out:

*Since applying your ideas, submissions have not dropped off, as expected, but have increased.

*Submissions seem to be of a higher standard than previously, well laid out and more accurately targeted.

*Since posting new guidelines, on full ms assessment not ONE author has declined an offer to work toward BB publication. (The valuable time previously wasted on the work of 'second-thoughts authors' is now invested in handling the submissions increase and avoiding the development of a slushpile.)

So far, our release output has not increased beyond our previous dozen new titles a year, but that has now become a distinct possibility.

In other words, people, you have proved your point ... clarity is the best policy.

Many thanks again for our invaluable input. Very best wishes. Happy summer. Neil

Fallen
08-15-2010, 05:27 PM
Good to see you back on the cooler, Neil. :) Thank you for the update, and also your thanks to the cooler authors that have made submissions clearer for your authors.

It's always good to see a publisher replying to queries here, but even better to see that they benefit from listening too.

Best wishes for you and your company.

neilmarr
08-15-2010, 06:11 PM
Mille Mercis, Fallen. I strongly suspect that you merit your avatar. Best. Neil

Sydewinder
08-15-2010, 07:02 PM
Hi Niel, thanks for coming to AW. On your website it says you have distributors, wholesalers, and warehousers, could you tell us who these companies are?

neilmarr
08-15-2010, 07:37 PM
Ingrams, Sydewinder (ain't it always so?) But we're currently working a retail sale-or-return deal with their print arm, Lightning Source International. If that comes off, we'll try (within a tight budget) to put together some kind of on-the-ground sales representation to push titles and to start routinely stacking high street shelves, rather than the special-occasion stacking we've done so far; mostly in B&Ms local to an author.

We've been looking at other distribution and wholesale options, too, but -- right now -- they're financially out of reach. And we're just about to experiment with our first short run -- so we'll start to learn independent warehousing and physical distribution from the ground up.

Meantime, we spell out our undeniable limitations before anyone takes a chance with their work. No unhappy campers. Authors tend to be pleasantly surprised by what we can do that we either understate or don't mention at all, rather than disappointed by our falling short of expectations.

That way, I can sleep at night. So can they.

Best wishes. Neil

robinsgd
09-24-2010, 09:45 PM
According to BeWrite's web site, they are closed to submissions, but I sent my query anyway. Within a few minutes, I had an email asking me to send two chapters to one of their editors, Hugh McCracken, who handles their WWII novels. I did and by that afternoon, he asked me to send the full ms. I sent it to him in Scotland and within a week, he contacted me saying he would recommend that their publisher send me a contract. That arrived the next day from their office in Canada.

From what I can find out, and from reading the entire thread from 2005 - 2008, they seem like a good place for someone like me who gets no replies from the big houses and can't interest an agent. I'm hoping someone will have some additional information in the last two years.

neilmarr
09-25-2010, 11:52 AM
Yep, your work really caught Hugh's attention, Robin (he's actually Canada-based but spends some months of the year at his second home back in Dunoon, Scotland). WWII is very much Hugh's bailiwick as a historian. He's also an excellent editor of vast experience. Can't understand why you got the idea we were closed to submissions, though. Wonder if you're somehow hitting our old website. The site was re-vamped -- in fact, re-built from the foundations up -- in the spring. Try http://www.bewrite.net (http://www.bewrite.net/) again, go to the 'for authors section, and you should see that we're currently open to unsolicited subs. Agency representation welcomed, but not a requirement. A good round dozen submissions appeared in my own overnight mail. Good luck with the book. Best wishes. Neil

neilmarr
11-24-2010, 09:41 PM
By the way, folks: Just for the heck of it I took a stroll down memory lane through this entire thread (gosh -- it was hard going at times, eh?).

The first post was made at the end of August 2004. That's six years and a half ago. So I guess our very existence today answers some early predictions that we couldn't possibly last on the business model we were operating.

And the huge majority of authors who were with us then are still will us today (as are most titles), providing beautiful new raw material over and again.

Things are moving well -- and still not a suggestion of an unhappy author or reader. We're still standin' after all this time, and everyone seems more than content.

In the past month, we have released six exclusive new titles (in edit for an average of nine months each), which is a huge increase over our earlier schedules that ran to ten or a dozen releases per year. And the editorial team has only been increased by one -- more work, but the same individual attention to each ms. Nothing goes off half-cocked.

We're still working strictly PoD in print editions (and paperback sales grow by the year even on that per-item-expensive production method), but what's really delighted us has been an explosion in ebook sales.

We set up for ebook right from kick-off because we had a strong feeling that there was a shining future there, but this year we've put in a lot of technical and editorial time into carefully preparing titles to a range of digital formats that cover the entire range of digital deading platforms.

We gained additional registration as BeWrite Books LLC in the USA in September so that we can deal direct with the major ebook stores (they disqualify publishers without an 'official' US presence; we're registered in Canada and, previously, UK) and can now offer our own carefully in-house-prepared files rather than accept sub-standard auto-formatting through a convenient US-based aggregator. The result is pleasantly surprising, to say the least.

Author royalties cheques are now what you might consider significant.

We've also secured a sound Chinese agent and have moved half a dozen titles for translation and mass-run print to major publishers behind the Great Wall over the past few months (our authors have already seen advances reflected in their last royalties cheques). More are in the pipeline. We've also secured a Latin American agent moving similar deals.

The workload is 16x7-heavy on the small full-time BB team, but -- even though we still can't afford in-house salaries for ourselves -- we're really steaming ahead. We can afford the expensive equipment we need, the software (don't ask), all kinds of unwritten benefits to authors, retained pro accountant and lawyer, the promo, etc, etc, etc -- you name it.

Ten years' hard slog is now paying off. Had it happened more quickly, I think we'd all feel slightly unformfortable. I prefer to see hard work and good intent rewarded through backbreaking spadework rather than it being the instant result of good luck, crafty business footwork or venture capital.

Thanksgiving tomorrow for y'all on the other shore of the Shining Big Sea Water, eh? Have a great time -- and love to all you have gather around your dinner table.

If you'd like to see an example of an ebook version of a BB title or two (or three), just email me, and I'll send the files over by way of thanks for all the help we've been given here since 2004. It's ntmarrATbewrite.net (use the @ sign, of course).

What a wonderful ride this is turning out to be. Thanks chaps and chappesses. Best wishes. Neil

CaoPaux
12-23-2011, 08:56 AM
Is now primarily ebooks.

neilmarr
12-23-2011, 01:16 PM
Ciao, CAO: What you're seeing right now are test pages for a website makeover to be completed and to go live early in January when we re-open to unsolicited submissions. But you're partly right.

When our USA company registration kicked in during 2010, we were able to deal direct with all major ebook stores for the first time. With these and many other new retail outlets, we soon withdrew our ebook titles from Ingram Digital Distribution. The result of that and heavy investment in new technology and retained professional services is that we saw an amazing 98% of sales in digital editions through our own new distribution base in 2011. And our authors were delighted by their vastly increased royalties and readerships.

So there's a special deal on the table for NEW authors in 2012 where we release ebooks first and move to print once a modest digital sales target (750 ebook downloads) has been achieved. When this target is reached within 12 months, we will move to BB print as normal (but at double our usual print royalty rate) OR the author can opt to go it alone on print.

If s/he chooses to take that route or if the target isn't reached, we will return print rights after the first year of a three-year contract and freely provide fully prepared (edited, proofed and text designed), ready-for-print files, including cover, spine and back, and cross-promote digital and resulting print editions.

Existing BB authors and titles in the catalog and those newcomers who have been kindly holding their horses for the new submissions period to open will have the choice of the old model or the new.

Because of pleasantly surprising digital results in 2011 and an increase in ebook royalties from 25% to 40% under the new deal, I guess many will choose to have their print rights and for-print files returned when a title comes up for its annual renewal, but it will be some years yet before we could correctly be described as being 'primarily' ebooks.

Perhaps for three to five years, the vast majority of titles in the BeWrite list will be covered by BB print. Most that are not will carry links to paperback availability elsewhere (something we've already effectively done over the past eighteen months with half a dozen or so non-fiction works on which we hold only digital rights).

In a nut shell, print will now be a by-product of digital editions rather than vice versa.

I hope this outlines a little more detail, CAO. The whole shebang will be polished and fully explained on the new site, hopefully, within the first week of January.

It's taking time because each title will now have its own 'mini-book' presentation with cover and including book notes, reviews, author bio and pic, and free excerpt, downloadable and shareable at the click of a mouse to help with promotion.

Although the updated website will appear streamlined, there's a lot of fancy clockwork behind the scenes so that the site itself, rather than the browser, does the work.

Happy holidays, folks, and here's to a great new year for everyone. Best wishes. Neil

neilmarr
12-23-2011, 02:01 PM
By the way, as a PS to the above; our developments in the digital field mean that we can use our new technical and distributional resources to only a tiny fraction of their potential for BeWrite Books alone. (The editorial and design attention given to each BB title will never allow us to increase release output to any great extent.)

So we opened a new division last month to use our spare capacity to help other established publishers, agencies and pre-published authors who still clearly hold digital rights break into the digital field.

We believe it's an effective, particularly flexible and very generous deal. If you're interested, take a look at http://www.limitrophepublishing.com (http://www.limitrophepublishing.com/) or drop me a line for a PDF of the full, formal proposal. (ntmarr[AT]bewrite.net).

Cheers for now. Neil

neilmarr
12-23-2011, 02:07 PM
Finally: My apologies for having had to edit the previous two posts. I had second cataract surgery a few days ago, and it went skew-whiff. It'll be a week or two before I'm firing on all pistons and can properly see what I'm doing. Bestests. Neil

neilmarr
01-01-2012, 03:37 PM
And as promised, our new website is now live at http://www.bewrite.net (http://www.bewrite.net/) and http://www.bewritebooks.net (http://www.bewritebooks.net/) with a whole bunch of new features and a new submissions conditions brochure that some might find attractive. Best wishes for 2012. Neil et al

neilmarr
07-07-2012, 03:41 PM
A wee note for CaoPaux (above):

Seems your time telescope is more powerful than ours, Cao. BeWrite Books did, in fact, adopt an ebook-only model on June 1, 2012 when we found that online print sales had fallen to below 1% of the total. That the online retail market presents a very different landscape to the general marketplace, including brick-and-mortar stores, is often overlooked.

The deal now is that authors get all the professional benefits of an all-service house and an ebooks royalty of 40%. But on release of digital editions (we ask only digital publication rights now, and not print rights), they also get a ready-for-print file for their own private use.

They can use this fully-edited, text-designed and covered print file as they will, but we also negotiated a deal on their behalf with a major print and distribution company under which they have free print set-up. We have no commercial interest and, of course, this is merely a suggestion to them. They are free to use their retained print rights and the file in whatever way suits them best. We will also cross-promote our digital editions and an author's print alternative.

Best wishes. Neil

TWErvin2
07-07-2012, 05:42 PM
A wee note for CaoPaux (above):

Seems your time telescope is more powerful than ours, Cao. BeWrite Books did, in fact, adopt an ebook-only model on June 1, 2012 when we found that online print sales had fallen to below 1% of the total. That the online retail market presents a very different landscape to the general marketplace, including brick-and-mortar stores, is often overlooked.

The deal now is that authors get all the professional benefits of an all-service house and an ebooks royalty of 40%. But on release of digital editions (we ask only digital publication rights now, and not print rights), they also get a ready-for-print file for their own private use.

They can use this fully-edited, text-designed and covered print file as they will, but we also negotiated a deal on their behalf with a major print and distribution company under which they have free print set-up. We have no commercial interest and, of course, this is merely a suggestion to them. They are free to use their retained print rights and the file in whatever way suits them best. We will also cross-promote our digital editions and an author's print alternative.

Best wishes. Neil

Does that mean authors published with BeWrite that have print editions through BeWrite will be discontinued in print? If so, when their print rights were released, were the authors affected released from their previous contract, assuming they were then offered a new contract for the ebook only rights with different terms, such as royalties?

While it's far less likely a that publisher will sign an author if they only have print rights available (ebook being with BeWrite and ignoring other rights such as audio), that BeWrite has set things up for the author to self-publish the print edition of their work, if they choose, is of some value.

neilmarr
07-07-2012, 07:35 PM
Yes, TW, that's right. Existing authors with print editions were given six months to place last orders or ask for a no-quibble return of all rights -- digital as well as print -- before we withdrew print from Lightning Source and Ingram distribution in late May.

They're enthusiastically in support -- as are our new authors-in-waiting -- and regard the ebook-only arrangement with freedom to print to their advantage.

You see, when you consider that we've always had pretty well exclusively on line sales potential -- and our submissions brochure particularly emphasized this situation -- print sales were mostly made through brick-and-mortar stores local to the author rather than sold online to a general international readership. We used to carry the high cost of ARCs, at least half a dozen free author copies, copies for review and contests ... and we supplied author-ordered copies at print cost and shipping only to allow them to on-sell or arrange local retail deals to their benefit rather than ours. The significant loss we made on each print sale was hampering our digital development and, therefore, in the long run, harming the authors themselves.

Of course we realize that other publishers will be reluctant these days to accept a print-only rights offer. So we have -- and will continue -- a twelve-year policy to immediately return all rights (print and digital) should an author land what s/he thinks is a deal that suits them better.

Meantime, for-print files are prepared along with the digital files through the editorial, design, cover and technical process and we send them, freely, to authors at the same time as we send them their DRM-free ebook editions. All authors -- existing or newcomers -- are supplied with these files for their own use (I would guess mostly for local self-publishing and local b&m and author circle sales and family gifts).

Cheers. Neil

TWErvin2
10-18-2012, 11:29 PM
BeWrite Books is moving from ebook only to winding down and closing its doors according to its blog posting dated 10/11/12:


Link: BeWrite Books: Turn the Page but Don't Close the Book (http://bewritebooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/turn-page-but-dont-close-book.html)


The main reason listed is competition with self-published books.


They did put out some good stuff as, over the years, I read and enjoyed a couple of their released titles.

triceretops
10-19-2012, 06:36 AM
Read through this whole thread until I came to this sad end. Neil, for what's it's worth, you put up one hell of a fine show here over the years and your passion bled through in a very good way. I hope that something arises from the ashes out of all this. So, so sorry to see the end. But I will and can agree with you and your points in your final blog post. About the competition. I see this too. And it's not good for small or large trade publishers.

Best of luck to you and your staff.

Tri

neilmarr
10-22-2012, 12:47 PM
Thanks, folks. We gave it our best shot, working long hours, seven days a week, for thirteen years without personal income, ploughing all profits back into development. But there's no way our dozen or so $5.95 titles a year by unknown authors can compete with hundreds of thousands even cheaper (or free) by other unknown authors who choose to so easily self-publish through all the cost- and quality control-free channels now open to them.

Our professional input, you see, is invisible pre-purchase and -- with such a deluge of new releases now flooding the marketplace -- the majority of browsers have, understandably, become more price- than quality-driven. Few allow time to read the detailed brochures and free extracts we produce for each BB title.

BeWrite Books may be a tiny fish in the pond, but its operational overhead is high, and our share of sales income after retail commissions (average about 35% of cover price) and the 40% author royalty we pay on the remainder quite simply has not been able to meet it in 2012.

We've managed to foresee and adapt to recent drastic industry changes, but one thing we didn't see coming was the knock-on impact of the massive self-publishing trend. A wind-down to eventual closure now appears to be the only realistic option open to us, but with ample time and our help for authors to make alternative arrangements for their work.

Infinitum nihil, I guess, et c'est la vie. A heart-warming parting gift is a whole heap of supportive email over the past week or so since we sent a detailed letter to them all from authors around the world who feel they've greatly benefited. I'm still struggling to answer them all individually. Their writers merit and have come to expect that personal attention.

We've seen two hundred or so titles through to publication and freely helped countless developing authors behind the scenes, so the effort's by no means been an exercise in wasted time for anyone involved.

We'll be supporting distribution and sale of existing titles for the duration of agreements. However, authors requesting an immediate return of all rights will be accommodated on a no-quibble basis and freely supplied with fully edited and designed working text files and with original cover work to help in publication elsewhere, and all other in-house-generated title-specific material we have. Royalties will be fully paid up to the date of a title's removal by third-party retail.

And we've offered to work through to publication and distribution a handful of titles in the pipeline unless their authors would prefer a return of rights and our in-house editorial and technical input so far. So this move ain't exactly a vanishing act.

A sad time for my two fellow editors and me. At our age (average seventy, average pro experience forty-five years), it signals retirement -- apart from the chance, at last, for each of us to actually write those books of our own that have been burning holes in our pockets while we worked on those of others.

Very best wishes. Neil

Daddyo
10-22-2012, 09:05 PM
Hate to hear this Neil. I do know that no one gave this business more of a heroic run than you. I'll always be beholding to you for the great advice and suggestions that you gave me to make me a better writer.

neilmarr
11-19-2012, 07:29 PM
Thanks, Ricky. I know we felt your book was better placed with a more specialised press than with us, but I enjoyed the draft manuscript and our exchanges and still enjoy our continued, if sporadic, contact. Hope our editorial advice was of help and that the work's moving well. Bestests. Neil

MickRooney
04-19-2014, 02:53 AM
Folks, I think this is the most appropriate place to put this post. Neil spent many hours here over several years answering questions on Bewrite when it existed.

Sadly, Neil Marr passed away late Thursday evening (April 17th) after a brave and untimely battle with cancer. Neil was a dear friend and work colleague and I got to know him particularly well over the past couple of years as an editor, particularly since his Bewrite days.

I think the tone of his comments in this thread (laced with coolness, courtsey and humour) is a testament to the professional gentleman he was. He will be missed.

Go peacefully, Neil. RIP.

Filigree
04-19-2014, 03:05 AM
I'm so sorry to hear this. I followed his thread on BeWrite with interest over the years.

triceretops
04-19-2014, 04:07 PM
This is indeed, sad. He will be remembered, certainly.

tri

TWErvin2
04-19-2014, 09:03 PM
I knew Neil Marr from another forum, where he was more active than here. A truly decent fellow who cared about author and about readers. He'll certainly be missed by many, especially his loved ones.

GeoffNelder
04-23-2014, 10:24 PM
Indeed, Neil was a gentleman publisher and until it went horribly wrong, Bewrite was a fine ethical small press. I had the pleasure of working there for a short while. My own tribute to Neil, warts and all, is here http://geoffnelder.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/neil-marr-a-personal-tribute/

Saanen
04-23-2014, 11:29 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about Neil. I had a book contracted with BeWrite just before they went all-digital, and although we had finished with the edits, Neil very graciously let me out of my contract after the change-up was announced. He was always cheerful, helpful, an excellent editor, and extremely kind to me when I lost my mother in the middle of our edits. He'll be missed.

Daddyo
04-24-2014, 06:09 AM
Great tribute to a great man, Geoff. Back in the day, Neil requested the first 50 pages of my first manuscript. He sent back an extensive edit of those pages with excellent suggestions. He felt that the book was not right for his readers, but encouraged me to keep plugging along toward publication. He was my cheerleader and was truly excited when RIVER BOTTOM BLUES was offered a contract. He read it, loved it, and promoted it. We conferred frequently online. I miss him.