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atmosphere press

bauman

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Anybody ever heard of Atmosphere Press? It's a hybrid publisher of sorts. I'm a book editor and one of my author clients received an invitation to publish with them. Said it would cost her about $5,000, but it isn't clear exactly what she would get for that. Thanks for any feedback about this company. It was started in 2015.
 

Maryn

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If it's going to cost your client $5,000, we can safely assume it's a vanity press and to be avoided.

We don't have this one listed at Bewares, Recommendatios, & Background Check, where our members share information about various publishing businesses. Here's their website: https://atmospherepress.com/

I'm pleased to see an editor looking out for their author client, and I really wish you could impress upon them that they need to do their due diligence with any potential publisher. It should have sent a red flag waving that Atmosphere Press contacted your author client rather than the other way around.

Maryn, glad to meet you
 

Maggie Maxwell

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Good publishers pay you. Readers are the customer, so they are encouraged to make sales. Bad publishers ask you to pay. You are the customer, so why would they ever be encouraged to sell your book when they've already been paid? Tell her to walk away and never look back.
 

Richard White

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I've been beating this drum, but in my opinion, there are hybrid authors (trade and self-published), but there's no such thing as hybrid publisher. As soon as they ask the author to pay for anything, they've moved into vanity publishing.

Now, honestly, vanity publishing has its place for specific* projects, esp. for people who don't want to deal with all the work that goes into self-publishing. But, to offer it as an option to an unsuspecting author (also promoted at co-op publishing) is deceptive at best.

* for example, a church congregation putting together a cookbook to sell at a town event; a family history only going to be shared among family members; basically one-time or sporadic events.
 

mrsmig

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Quoting from the website:

Does Atmosphere Press publish anything that comes to its door?[FONT=&quot]No! We are not a vanity press, and so we have no interest in publishing unexceptional books. The way we see it, we owe it to our current roster of excellent writers to not sully the press’ name by publishing subpar work. We’ll offer consultation and advice to anyone who has a project he/she wants to see the light of publication, but, at the end of the day, we only publish the best.
[/FONT]
And virtually in the same breath:

[FONT=&quot]We strive to have incredibly low overhead, which keeps our costs down, and we pass that savings onto you. That’s why you can get everything from hours of editorial coaching and consultation, interior and cover design, ISBN assignment, international distribution through a recognized major league distributor, and advice on marketing and publicity, all for $5000 or less. Compare this to vanity/self-publishing venues, who sometimes charge an absolutely brutal near-$10000 for the same services. Atmosphere Press will never nickel-and-dime its authors, and any book that sells more than 500 copies will start making its author a substantial profit.
[/FONT]

Yep. Sell more than 500 copies and you'll "start" making a substantial profit. Until then, you're out $5k.

No matter what Atmosphere says, when they charge you to publish your book, they're a vanity press - pure and simple.
 

frimble3

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And, from their website:
[FONT=&quot]Whether you’ve written a novel, a collection of short stories, a book of poetry, or a scientific manifesto, [/FONT]
So, no matter what they say, they'll take anything.

Also, as for what your client will get for their money? Purposely vague, but "connect you with an editor" and "hook you up with a cover designer" suggest that 'atmosphere' may introduce you to them, but making arrangements are on the author.
 

aliceshortcake

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How many books will sell more than 500 copies? I'd guess somewhere in the region of none. And what do they mean by "international distribution through a recognised major league distributor"?
 

mrsmig

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Atmosphere Press

This "hybrid" press came up for discussion on a Facebook authors group I belong to, and since I didn't see a pre-existing thread about it here, I thought I'd get it on the AW radar. The website features the usual We Are Not a Vanity Press language: "we take 0% royalties!" and "we're selective about what we publish!" and "we use a partnership model!"

What this "partnership model" translates to is authors paying upfront to publish, for which they get "everything from hours of editorial coaching and consultation, interior and cover design, ISBN assignment, international distribution through a recognized major league distributor, and advice and direct assistance on marketing and publicity, all for under $5000, with the exact amount often much less than that figure, and always revealed transparently right up front, with no sneaky surprises later on in the process." Beyond inclusion in the catalog of their "major league distribution," they don't appear to offer any real marketing - in fact, their "Masthead" section includes a buttload of editors but nothing much in the way of actual salespeople. BUT - they'll give you access to a "database of independent booksellers" - so you can do the actual selling legwork yourself. As expected, promo falls heavily on the author's shoulders, but Atmosphere will hook you up with other authors so you can cross-promote and not only be your own publicist, but pimp other Atmosphere authors' books. (Naturally, Atmosphere offers an add-on package to handle your promo and marketing, at an unnamed additional cost.)

They're not an author services company because they are the publisher of record. So, vanity press - but with a twist I haven't seen before. Atmosphere's website directs potential book buyers to Bookshop dot org - not Amazon, not B&N, not any other bookseller. If you look at their Privacy Policy and Disclosures, it states that Atmosphere earns a commission on sales through Bookshop dot org. So not only are they making money off their authors' upfront payment, they get a cut of sales from their website. With this business model in place, there's no reason for Atmosphere to market the books anywhere else.

The website is full of the usual trash-talk about trade publishers, but denigrates self-publishers as well, with statements like "a self-published book can be spotted for its unprofessionalism a mile away." I guess this makes sense, because they're marketing themselves to authors who haven't been able to break into trade publishing and are considering self-publishing as an alternate route.
 

Marian Perera

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Well, when I read "trash-talk", I had to know what they were saying.

What We Stand For :

because our mission is to be author-friendly, that means always giving the most straightforward and honest advice about the ins and outs of the authorial life. We pride ourselves on telling the truth [...] publishing is rife with dodgy behavior, from predatory vanity presses who promise the moon (if only you give them twenty grand), to traditional presses who mark up author copies and make book changes without the author’s permission.

FAQs :

Here are some of the problems that often plague traditional publishing: long time from acceptance to publication; expensive author copies; limited editorial assistance; little say in cover design; little say in interior layout; little say in book dimensions; onerous royalties contracts; outrageous contest and reading fees; rejection rejection rejection.

Whereas many traditional publishers front the initial costs of publication and design, they often end up gouging authors on the back end through onerous royalties contracts and marked-up copies sold to the authors themselves; we’ve seen this happen to great writers over and over again. They also take the rights to authors’ work, and can seriously limit authors’ control of the destiny of their own words.

I don't have time to tackle every false claim here, but what's with this weird fixation on marked-up author copies? I've never heard of such a thing. Do they mean galleys?

Regardless, there's an atmosphere about this press all right. An atmosphere of deceit.
 

Marian Perera

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Oh, they meant "marked up" as in a jacked-up price on the author copies. I thought they meant "marked up" as in notes made on the author copies.

I now wonder if their only experience with publishing has been PA. That might explain the hate-on for what they see as trade publishing.
 
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zmethos

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I also thought "marked-up" referred to editorial notes on actual pages, but that might be because I worked as an editor so that's where my mind first went. In any case, I'd definitely steer well clear of Atmosphere.
 

Maggie Maxwell

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Oh, they meant "marked up" as in a jacked-up price on the author copies. I thought they meant "marked up" as in notes made on the author copies.

I now wonder if their only experience with publishing has been PA. That might explain the hate-on for what they see as trade publishing.
How many vanity publishers and "hybrid"s have we seen pop up over the years that have clearly been made because someone got mad at being swindled by PA and then started swindling others? I've lost count.
 

MaryLennox

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with statements like "a self-published book can be spotted for its unprofessionalism a mile away."
Okay but....I looked at their covers and most of them scream indie press/self-published to me. They are better than some of the other vanity press book covers, but still not great.
 
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ArianaF

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Oh, they meant "marked up" as in a jacked-up price on the author copies. I thought they meant "marked up" as in notes made on the author copies.

I now wonder if their only experience with publishing has been PA. That might explain the hate-on for what they see as trade publishing.
Clearly the "Atmosphere" in the publisher's name is referring to how high their prices are.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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Why do so many hybrid publishers feel the need to trash-talk and make these bizarre broad-brush statements about trade publishing, some of which actually are true of the Big Five (long wait to publication, limited cover and design input), while others mainly apply to outfits like PA (the marked-up copies thing; the trade contracts I’ve had actually bar you from buying books at the author discount to resell them)? And then to turn around and badmouth self-publishing, as if the worst and most poorly marketed books were representative of the whole phenomenon? I know there’s no point in asking; the reason is clear.

There’s a hybrid based in my area that sends us press releases and sometimes review copies, and their books don’t seem poorly produced, but they have a FAQ like this, and that makes it much harder to take them seriously as a small press. Would it be so hard just to represent your services honestly without misrepresenting the competition and spreading misinformation? (Several people have told me with great authority that editors at trade houses “don’t edit anymore,” and that’s … not … true. Or anyway, someone’s doing the editing!)
 

Cassie Knight

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I think they trash talk others because how else are they going to convince authors to part with money? It kills me after all these years that there are so many authors willing to spend thousands of dollars on something that we do for free. Well, royalties. :) It's strictly a sale push, that's all. What else are they going to say that makes them stand out when there are so many publishers out there? There's such a proliferation of bad, inaccurate information from self-processed experts that it boggles the mind, and I see and hear it all of the time.
 
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midiguru

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I think they trash talk others because how else are they going to convince authors to part with money? It kills me after all these years that there are so many authors willing to spend thousands of dollars on something that we do for free. Well, royalties. :) It's strictly a sale push, that's all. What else are they going to say that makes them stand out when there are so many publishers out there? There's such a proliferation of bad, inaccurate information from self-processed experts that it boggles the mind, and I see and hear it all of the time.
Sure, you do it for free (up front, anyhow) -- but the real issue is ACCESS. I've pitched a few dozen agents on three different novels, and gotten absolutely zero positive response. And I'm a professional writer; my books are not bad, they're just not quite what agents think the market wants. A vanity publisher provides access to authors whose only other recourse is self-publishing. If you don't let yourself be deluded by the sales hype, and if their services are actually operated in a reasonable way, a vanity publisher can save the author quite a number of headaches (such as file prep for e-book upload). If you have the money and don't have any illusions, I'm guessing it can work reasonably well.
 

MaryLennox

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Sure, you do it for free (up front, anyhow) -- but the real issue is ACCESS. I've pitched a few dozen agents on three different novels, and gotten absolutely zero positive response. And I'm a professional writer; my books are not bad, they're just not quite what agents think the market wants. A vanity publisher provides access to authors whose only other recourse is self-publishing. If you don't let yourself be deluded by the sales hype, and if their services are actually operated in a reasonable way, a vanity publisher can save the author quite a number of headaches (such as file prep for e-book upload). If you have the money and don't have any illusions, I'm guessing it can work reasonably well.
But there are other ways to go about self-publishing if you don't want to do all the nitty gritty stuff yourself. You can choose to hire your own cover designer, editor, etc. or a team that will take care of this - all while being in full control and retaining the rights and all profits from your book.

(Also, file prep for ebook upload can technically be done for free using Draft2Digital and it's super easy to learn how to use. This works for novels, but probably not for books with lots of pictures and formatting, like cookbooks.)

The problem with most vanity presses is they they pretend to be a real press, they often have authors sign over the rights to their manuscript, they take a cut of royalties, and the editing and cover design is extremely subpar, especially for the price being paid. Just go on Amazon and look at some vanity press books and read the first few pages. There is very little editing being done to these books (if any) and very little time or thought is being put into the covers.

If someone is looking to have their book published and just want to pay someone to do it all for them, that's fine. They just really need to look over the "contract" and all the fine print and are better off going with an author service company.

It says this on the Atmosphere Press page: "We use a model in which the author funds the work behind the project, but keeps 100% rights, royalties, and artistic autonomy."

So, maybe they are slightly better than other vanity presses? But there are probably more affordable author services out there, and ones who aren't pretending to be a publisher.
 
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