• Guest please check The Index before starting a thread.

Cuil Press

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

VeryBigBeard

Preparing for winter
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2014
Messages
2,097
Reaction score
696
I don't mind publishers with a specific political or ideological aim. (And I happen to support this one.)

I do mind publishers being run by crowdfunding, soliciting manuscripts without any kind of backlist established.

Cuil Press said:
hunderclap is a crowdspeaking platform. Like a social media flashmob, everyone who signs up for a Thunderclap campaign shares the same social media message at the same time to help make sure the message isn’t drowned out in the endless flow of Tweets and posts.

Cuil Press is using Thunderclap to spread the word about our crowdfunding campaign. We’re going to be raising money to cover our first year expenses. By signing up for our Thunderclap you will help us get the word out about our crowdfunding. Our hope is that with a large enough Thunderclap our crowdfunding campaign will have a strong start and build momentum quickly.

No, this is spamming. It won't work. It is not how you raise capital.

I am not overly familiar with "crowdspeaking" but my guess, given the political aims, is that the founders have experience in raising money for activism. Which is good but very, very different than running and capitalizing a publishing company. This will need far more and far more stable financing in order to even keep the lights on, let alone be successful.

From a look at the About page, the founders are a group of friends who want to see more diverse fiction. Which is great! No experience of any kind in editing, acquisitions, anything--this feels like a book club just became a publisher and, as always happens, everyone is going to lose here.

About Page said:
At first the small group acted as support and cheering section for each other, but Lilith kept thinking. “I want more books like this, and I can’t be the only one!” So ze pitched an idea—let’s start a new kind of publisher. One that writes about real people, facing real problems, and not just buff white guys who fight dragons and fly starships.

This is a noble goal but there are a few clues here that suggest the founder isn't reading widely enough and isn't familiar with the market. Books like this are not impossible to find, and Cuil is going to have to compete in this market as well as know it inside and out. The founder needs to know what diverse books have been published and have a specific take on that market. It's fine to have a focus and a list of tropes you don't want--that suggests a certain amount of specialization--but it isn't a publishing strategy. To run a publisher, you also have to know how to run a business, and that means you need to be able to deal with a group that isn't a "cheering section for each other". That isn't how a publisher works, and a successful business thrives on criticism, even when it's blunt and honest. I like the writing voice on this page, and the founder is an author so that's a good sign for hir authorial intentions, but someone in this company needs to have piped up to mention that "real people, real problems" is so vague as to be effectively meaningless and that most publishers have clear submissions guidelines for a reason.

So standard warning about new publishers: wait AT LEAST two years, see if they're still in business. If they get through 2-3 years on crowdfunding and start to develop a loyal readership, then I'll be intrigued.

But I'm teetering a bit on the edge of run away just because of the lack of experience. 99.9% of the time, these well-meaning outfits start off with endless energy and then go down fast. That's bad news for authors, for editors, and for anyone who has invested money into the operation.

Questions to ask this publisher:
-What editing experience do any of the company's partners have? (Answer needs to go beyond any kind of college lit-mag or newspaper.)
-What is the company's plan for distribution?
-Particularly if the distro is e-book-only, what resources (namely, capital) does the company have to commit to marketing? (Answer needs to go beyond social media posts and this Thunderclap thing.)

I'd love to be pleasantly surprised by the answers to those questions.
 
Last edited:

VeryBigBeard

Preparing for winter
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2014
Messages
2,097
Reaction score
696
Slight update after some more research:

Submissions guidelines can be found way down their blog, here.

Founder is self-pubbed author turned freelance sensitivity editor Michon Neal. The books look interesting but aren't professionally edited--I'd have grave concerns if Neal is the one doing all the editing for Cuil Press.

Additionally, the press seems to be tied in with the self-pubbed books. See here and here. Which again, looks vaguely interesting as a reader but makes the press feel like it's very much inviting authors to come play with in the founders' self-coined genre/world rather than actually finding a readership and selling books. Given the Amazon ranks of the many self-pubbed books, selling is a bit of a problem.
 

Hanukkah sameach!

Gold menorah and on a gradiated purple background