This post is regarding comments posted on a ‘writers’ blog.
Actually this is a writers forum using message boards, not a blog.
IFWG Publishing is an honest, up-front small press, helping authors get a leg up in a tough industry, and promising no more than what we can deliver, and what we state we can deliver.
No one here has questioned your honesty.
No one here has questioned that you're upfront about what you do (in fact, I specifically say in my post on this thread that you are up front about not paying advances).
What we do question is whether you are positioned to "help authors get a leg up", given that you are essentially a POD operation with a potential to offset on an unspecified basis and in general, POD operations are unable to get their books stocked in stores in sufficient quantities to make for a decent royalty to authors. We are entitled to raise that question, whether you like it or not.
Once in a while people will sensibly ask others if they have heard of us, and opinions, facts, and sometime incorrect statements, will be aired.
And that is what is happening in this thread - people are asking for information and seeking opinions. You should therefore be fine with that.
The downside is that if an untruth or misleading statement is made, it can stick around a long time like a bad smell and many people can, and will, read it and believe it.
Please feel free to identify any untruths or misleading statements made about your company on this thread.
It is very easy to sling about words like that. Unless you can point to something that you specifically object to though, it is difficult to take your complaint seriously.
Randy and I have decided to write a lengthy response to a particularly ugly set of statements made by a few ‘forum Nazis’ (of which there are many in the world, and most public facing forums seem to have at least one clique with them), not to debate them, but to try to ensure that we have our opportunity to have our say.
Firstly, it's your right to issue a response if that is what you wish. However, be aware that a failure to debate or respond (including a failure to respond to questions/issues in your statement or inconsistencies) are usually more damning of you than they are of us.
Secondly, using the term "Nazi" to describe anyone who raises a concern with your company raises instant questions as to your professionalism. "Nazi" is a perjorative and emotive term, especially when used in an incorrect context. Ironically, using it here suggests that you are one of those "idiots and miscreants" that you are trying so hard to decry.
Jasmine calls one of us a 'gem' (thanks Jas) and yet others in the same forum consider our co-owned company as 'worrisome', nepotistic (or alternatively, set up to publish ourselves), are self publishers (and are avoiding the label), wont support some of our authors when we tighten our genre scope, that our book covers (inferring majority) consist of clipart, that we are exclusively POD, and don't understand publishing terminology.
Let's take this one-by-one so that we can put these words back in the context from which you have so thoughtfully/thoughtlessly removed them.
This term was used by DreamWeaver
by reference to the fact that the front page of your website says ""Congratulations, <name redacted>! You are a Published Author!"
As you may be aware, the words "Published Author" including the capital are synonymous with Publish America, a vanity publishing outfit. Commercial publishers, such as Penguin, do not feel the need to put a congratulations note on their websites for each author they publish. This is because it's the act of publication that makes an author published, without any further statement being required.
This is your word, which you are using to describe yourselves. No one on this thread has accused you of nepotism (which, you should know, means someone who shows favouritism to close friends or family). No one here has accused you of publishing your close friends or your family.
3. "(or alternatively, set up to publish ourselves)".
CaoPaux identified that:
IFWG was co-founded by Randy "R.A." Knowlton. Who is published by them. Yet the front page declares None of our titles are self-published! But editor Gerry Huntman's book is coming soon.... *head hurt*
The definition of self-publishing is publishing a book yourself through your own publisher. You, Gerry
, work for or run IFWG Publishing. You are also publishing your books (in the case of Gerry
, may shortly be publishing your book) through the company that you own/run.
That is self-publishing.
4. "are self publishers (and are avoiding the label)"
See above for why people here are suggesting that you are self-publishers. No one has specifically said that you are seeking to avoid the label of self-publisher, but we have pointed out that the front page of your website says "none of our titles are self-published".
Extending the services offered by your company to other people, does not mean that you are no longer self-publishing. You are merely a self-publisher who also publishes other people.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that - there are plenty of other companies out there that have done and will do the same thing. The issue that we have (given that this is a forum aimed at authors) is whether you are capable of giving a commercial return to authors who publish with you. The risks that you take with your manuscripts are up to you, it's when you take a risk on other people's manuscripts that we are concerned.
5. "wont support some of our authors when we tighten our genre scope"
I guess this is one aimed at me. I did not say that you will not support authors when you tighten your genre scope. What I said is that the fact that you're looking to tighten your scope when you currently have books published outside those genres, "doesn't sound great" for those authors. And the reason I said that is because it doesn't sound great. For example, if I've published a memoir with you and now you're a SF/horror/Fantasy publisher, will my book get the same attention in terms of marketing? How do the legacy books fit into your new model? Will you be releasing them?
6. "that our book covers (inferring majority) consist of clipart"
That's another one aimed at me. The book covers on your website do look like they use clipart.
Are you saying that isn't so?
7. "that we are exclusively POD"
Another one aimed at me. I have said that you are a POD operation because that's what your own website says. Specifically this page:
Where you say: "we utilize the printing on demand (POD) printing system". I don't see how you object to being called a POD publisher, when you are using a POD system.
8. "don't understand publishing terminology"
The fact that you don't seem to understand what self-publishing is suggests that this is a correct assertion.
The reason why they are disturbing is that they were presented within a membership forum but public facing, which doesn’t make it necessarily easy for those who are attacked to respond.
Erm. You're posting here with a response to our assertions. It is therefore easy for you to respond to what is being said here.
No one is banning you from commenting. You could equally come back with answers to my questions if you so wished (and I think we'd welcome that). That decision is up to you, but no one here is stopping you and your assertion that you are in some way being prevented is wrong and "disturbing" as you seem determined to claim censorship when there is none.
Additionally, the authors make strong statements while being in the comfort zone of anonymity, behind their avatars.
At least two of the commenters here have posted under their real names.
The fact that some of us use handles, doesn't mean that our comments are wrong or invalid. Much as you may like to think otherwise.
Based on the poor research, knowledge and logic provided in many of the statements, we are underwhelmed by most of the forum authors.
That's ironic. It's for those same reasons that I'm underwhelmed by your response here.
IFWG Publishing began about a year ago, with the express purpose to help new authors climb the vocational ladder.
Okay. I'm not sure why you're classing it as a "vocational ladder", given that many writers seeking publication are seeking to do so to make money.
It didn't take long to discover that the hybrid model was not feasible, and so we bit the bullet and we transitioned quickly to traditional (again, MM, definition below), which was our ultimate goal. We have published 6 titles and three magazine editions thus far, and by end of December we will have published 11 titles (three are coming out in the next four weeks) and four magazines. We only started publishing titles from January, and that means our business plan is on target—we aim to publish 10 to 12 titles per year.
Okay, well it's good that you were intending to start out with only a limited number of titles - a mistake that many start-ups make is to launch a load of titles at the same time.
Our hybrid model was VERY short lived and in fact we have NOT published one word where the author had to pay—all our authors paid NOTHING (oops, sorry Terrie et al.—we don't and never have self published).
See above for the definition of "self publishing". If you were ever considering requiring people to pay to be published (and I note that you now are not, which is good), then that is called "vanity publishing".
We are a company that is run by authors for authors.
So none of you have any previous experience of running a commercial publisher? Do any of you have previous experience of running a company?
We think we are pretty good authors, but time will tell (nothing else will, not even you, MM).
I have never made one comment about the quality of writing being published by your company. I have however made the point that authors thinking about using you should wait to see what the sales figures are like after a couple of years of operation.
Hey, why don't you write to some of our authors (other than Duleek, who kindly already responded) and ask them how we perform—or are primary sources hard to swallow? (perhaps it is, and goes with a hurting head).
If you want to talk "primary sources" why don't you share how many copies of your published books have been sold in total (I'll even make it easy and take an average number of ebook and POD sales)?
PA has loads of happy authors until they receive their first royalty cheque and see how little they've made.
Aside from recognition by Ralan, Duotrope, etc, our authors are finding they are eligible for submissions to awards that require legitimate (read traditional, MM) publishing as a criterion for entry—and categorically state that self published works are ineligible.
Ralan and Duotrope are market listings. They only set out the facts about what publishers accept and what pay rates are. They are not a legitimising body.
As for acceptance into awards, so what? You're not saying what those awards are - there are tonnes of award bodies available, but very few actually hold sway in the industry.
Unless you're claiming admission as a publisher for the purposes of SFWA (which I think you'll find won't accept you because you're not paying advances) this is all meaningless babble.
Of the eleven titles that will be published this year, two will have been by members of the company.
Yup. That's what makes it "self-publishing". Thank you for admitting it.
The amount of work to edit, proof, InDesign format internal block, etc is HUGE. The cost also accumulates as we publish with worldwide wholesale distribution (through Ingram, same used by the big 6), along with epublishing.
Okay, the fact that your with Ingrams might mean that your books are available worldwide, but please don't confuse it with worldwide distribution. Unless you are physically stocking your books in bookstores around the world, then you are not in a worldwide distribution situation.
In my opinion, you would have been better off focusing on one market only, e.g. taking US rights and focusing on US distribution. That's what most commercial publishers do - they establish themselves in one market, take rights to sell in that market and leave the author with the remaining world wide rights to dispose of as they wish. That's because it's impossible to effectively establish yourself in each geographic footprint without the capital to support you.
This is all really basic stuff.
As another point, I know that the costs are huge, which is why a concern with start-ups is whether they have the capital to deliver on their promises. Many do not, which is why they go under in 2 years.
Now, I'm not saying that this will happen with you and nor am I wishing that it happen with you. I'm saying it because it is a sad fact of the industry and a concern that new authors need to be aware of.
The industry accepts us as a small press, the only people who don't are a small scattering of armchair quarterbacks (quaint US term), in a variety of forums and wikis.
Define "industry" and define "acceptance".
You've said that you are moving to specialise in SF, horror and fantasy. Are you accepted as a paying market by either SFWA or HWA?
We are figuring that Momento Mori (MM) may be the alpha forum Nazi in this particular eco-system
I'm planning to change my user status to read "alpha forum Nazi" in honour of your bile spewing.
I hope that CaoPaux
and Uncle Jim
are taking note of the fact - I'm alpha forum Nazi here and all you bitches answer to me.
Dance, puppets, dance!
it is her/his (can’t tell, with the anonymity)
"She" will do fine. Or we can go with "ma'am", given that I'm alpha forum Nazi. Just as long as you're bowing when you type, it doesn't really matter.
Why be so volatile? Why filter the data gathered from our site? Why bother going into such depth? Why so quick to respond, and change the tack of attack in different postings?
1. It's hypocritical to accuse my comments here of being "volatile" given that you're the one who has resorted to childish name-calling and foot stamping. The only thing I can understand that you might object to is "well intentioned but clueless amateur", which IMO, you are. You don't have a background in publishing. You don't understand simple industry terms. I have raised reasonable questions about your operation and your response has been to foot stamp and name call. That's up to you of course, but it does nothing for your professional reputation (or, indeed, given you any semblance of dignity).
2. I have quoted from your site in context. If you think otherwise, please feel free to highlight the same.
3. Why would anyone object to my going into depth in terms of analysing statements or responding to questions? Surely that's a good thing?
4. I don't know why you think I've quick to respond. I've responded when I've happened to be on the board. There's nothing sinister about that. Plenty of people respond to posts when they're made if they happen to be there at the time.
5. I have never changed tack in my responses here. I understand that it serves you to suggest otherwise because you are clearly in a victim mentality. However you wishing it was so, doesn't make it so.
One thing is clear is that MM, despite the rhetoric, is clearly not an expert in the field of publishing.
I've never claimed to be an expert in the field of publishing. I have raised questions and concerns that any author looking to be commercially published (i.e. make money from their work) should think about when looking at your company. They are all reasonable questions and concerns and I'm sure that some of the other posters here who are experts in publishing will back me up.
We find it interesting that someone claiming to be an author would slam a company who is simply making a way for unknown authors to get a foot in the door. We never claimed that we would kick the door open, just that we would do our very best.
Again, it serves you to categorise my comments as "slamming" because it's easier than addressing the real issues and questions raised.
If you read my posts or even took a few minutes to take a look at this forum, you'd see that my concern is whether a publisher claiming to want to do something, can actually deliver on that.
Now, I have never doubted your intentions. My concerns are whether you can fulfill them.
The fact that:
- you are not a company run by people with publishing experience,
- you are confused by what is meant by "self publishing"
- you don't seem to know what distribution is
- you are already complaining about the huge costs associated with publishing
- you seem intent on establishing a worldwide presence from the get go
- you had to abandon your first "hybrid" model
- you are looking to specialise AFTER you have already published books outside your chosen specialisation
makes me worry that you can't. You might not like that (in fact, you pretty obviously don't like that), but your responses here have done nothing to counter that.
Advances - we assert on our website that payment of royalty advances are 'disappearing' or 'diminishing in size'. Note that the wording is not in absolute terms—this is our observation of a trend. MM's criticism is illogical and unwarranted, as she/he is stating that we are making an absolute statement.
How is this "we note that this practice is disappearing even among larger companies" not an absolute statement? You are saying that even larger companies are not paying advances. That is not correct. You would be on better ground saying that larger companies are seeking to reduce advances (which they are).
2. We use a high level definition of 'traditional'—contrasting it with 'self publishing'. Many traditional, mainstream publishers use POD (Printing on Demand, Digital Printing, Green Publishing) facilities—particularly the small press, but not confined to them. We consider it being part of traditional publishing technology for some years now. We see it as a viable option compared to hundreds of thousands of unsold books ending up in landfills, which is what happens every year. We ALSO carry out offset print runs of titles, by the way. POD does not equal Self Publishing, but Self Publishers almost exclusively use POD. POD is a technology. Some statements made in this site about POD are categorically wrong, and a whole lot of reputable small, medium and large publishing companies would be most unhappy indeed with the insults. We think MM is the one with definitional problems.
Okay, let's break this down. I said:
I'd love to know what they mean by "traditional" when 2 paragraphs down on the Submissions Page
they say that they're POD.
Your explanation suggests that you are using POD to print limited offset runs. Is that correct?
If this is correct, then you need to change your website, because your website specifically states here: http://ifwgpublishing.weebly.com/submitting-manuscripts.html
that you will "will only print on order via online booksellers""
which is not "traditional" publishing. You also say:
There will be opportunities to make print runs and sell to distributors for shelving, but this is a decision we make on a case by case basis.
Which means that you are not automatically doing offset runs for your titles (and therefore, by your own definition, not "traditionally" publishing.
If I'm confused on your business model, then it's because your website is confusing. And for what it's worth, the fact that you seem to be saying that you will not be automatically publishing offset runs for titles, suggests that you'll rely on POD as a default.
Regarding our statement about not necessarily putting books on shelves—it's just a natural extension of point 2 above. We are up front about everything, and certainly in more detail when we work with our authors.
I believe that I acknowledged that you were being up front about not putting books on shelves.
Is it easy to get a book on the shelves? No. Will every book that the big 6 publishes make it on book shelves. No. The amount of shelf space that they would require comprises 2 feet of new shelf space per day every day of the year. Bookstores would have to double in size every year and that is just for new releases.
I know that it is not easy to get books into stores. I equally know that none of the major commercial publishers will have copies of all of their titles in every store.
I have never suggested otherwise.
However, a big 6 publisher will make sure that a new title is available in stores - maybe not in absolutely every store, but certainly in most. That's why the major publishers have deals with groups such as Barnes and Noble.
MM infers (by way of contrast with us) that just because one of the big six publishes a book, that instant success will follow. Not true and if one of their titles does not sell well, they mothball it.
I have not implied any such thing. If you have drawn such an inference then that is a matter for you. You will not, however, be able to point to anything I have said here to support the same. (As a writer, you need to learn the difference between "infer" and "imply").
Even if an author published by a big 6 publisher does not have a runaway success, they will still have an advance to cushion them - i.e. money up front.
both ebook rights and print rights—and more importantly, we actually publish in both mediums for every one of our titles. Most publishers include this clause
And? I said that you take both ebook rights and print rights. I haven't seen however anything to suggest that you are capable of selling an attractive level of books in either medium.
Prediction on how well Duleek’s novel will sell, including marketing, royalties etc.
I have made no predictions with regards to the potential sales of Duleek's novel. I have asked what advertising, marketing etc will be done and I have invited her to come back in a year to share sales figures and royalty levels.
You should really learn that saying something you wish to be true, doesn't actually make it true.
MM’s statement is a lazy statement, as in a year the posting is likely to have (deservedly) fallen into relative obscurity.
In which case, why are you taking the trouble of posting here?
MM’s statement is a lazy statement, as in a year the posting is likely to have (deservedly) fallen into relative obscurity. MM’s understanding of the publishing industry is dismal. How many authors who are taken up by the big 6 get decent royalty checks (ie get good sales)? How many of them have contracts that require them to spend large amounts of time travelling, at their own expense (via deduction from royalties?) How many of them with books that don’t sell, find that they are removed from the shelves (mothballed, as stated in 4 above?) Research, MM, research.
Oh dear. You really are terribly annoyed and offended by all this, aren't you, Gerry
? That's no reason to let hyperbole and vitriolic spewing get in the way of some cold hard facts though. So let me take your bullshit nastiness in order.
How many authors who are taken up by the big 6 get decent royalty checks (ie get good sales)?
There are more midlist authors then there are bestsellers. There are authors who are taken on, the book doesn't make the sales anticipated and they are then dropped. There are authors who are taken on and don't make enough sales to earn royalties.
That's all true and I have never said otherwise.
What you are so conveniently overlooking though, Gerry, is that all these authors get paid an advance up front
. This means that even if the book tanks - even if it never earns out into royalties - the author still has that up front payment.
You do not pay advances. Therefore your authors do not have that cushion and are dependent on the sales that are made.
At the moment, I don't see anything that suggests your organisation is geared up to make significant commercial sales. There is therefore a reasonable possibility that authors will not earn a lot from their royalties.
How many of them have contracts that require them to spend large amounts of time travelling, at their own expense (via deduction from royalties?)
Commercial publishers don't have contracts requiring their authors to do this. It's great if authors get involved in publicity - many publishers would love their authors to do so. There is no contractual requirement for them to do so. They most certainly do not have a clause requiring deductions from royalties if they fail to do so.
How many of them with books that don’t sell, find that they are removed from the shelves (mothballed, as stated in 4 above?)
Books don't get removed from shelves by publishers unless there's a massive mistake in them (see Franzen's UK publishing experience) in which case they are pulped and replaced. Unsold books may be returned by bookstores (that's what the returns policy is there for) and the big 6 will have priced for that risk when they paid their advance to the author.
Again, research, Gerry
, resarch. This is all basic stuff.
The chances of IFWG Publishing turning a first-timer into a best seller is very small indeed, but we will give them the leg up through bona fide, recognized, publishing, and are likely to be on parity with the majority of first time midlist writers in medium publishing houses.
I do not doubt that this is your intention. Do you have the sales figures to back it up?
While IFWG Publishing knows that author participation makes a big difference in sales, it does not expect or require the author to do anything. If the author chooses to promote their work by doing independent advertising, that is their choice. IFWG and the author are partners in the process. IFWG promotes authors work by contacting book buyers, especially those in the area near the author. Our authors are from all parts of the world so our promotion varies from country to country.
I asked 3 very simple questions in my last post here:
What advertising have they done? What promotion have they done? What marketing have they done?
All you seem to be saying that you do is contact book buyers. Well, whoopdy-do. Anyone can contact book buyers, it's getting them to buy that's the tricky part. What have you done to get books into store? Give me some kid of example of the actual promotion that your people have done all over the world. Don't give me vague, unsupported assertions and then claim it supports your point. It doesn't and people reading it will recognise that it doesn't.
It would be hard indeed to find a publishing house that pays higher royalties than us. Our authors receive royalties in four different categories. If anyone knows anything about other publishers the best you will get are two categories.
A high royalty on zero sales is zero. It doesn't matter what your royalties are. It doesn't matter if they're the highest in the publishing world. If you can't make sales and if you don't make sales, then authors won't actually be receiving anything.
That's basic maths, Gerry
This is probably the most underhanded, ugly statement that MM has made. Whenever we announced this move, targeted for 1 January 2011, we made it crystal clear we will support all our authors for as long as they want to associate with us, gladly. We emphasize loyalty and are committed to it.
See my memoir example above as my answer to this.
What I will add is that any author who leaves you, loses their first publishing rights. I don't doubt that you will release them from their contract so that they can take their book elsewhere, the problem is that if their sales are low, it will be difficult for them to get another publisher to take it.
You might see that as "ugly", but it's a fact, Gerry
We should also point out that all four author-owners are specific specialists and have good, and growing connections in the industry (hence the ease to get Barnes and Noble to review, to get Ralan to pick us up, etc).
It's not difficult to get Ralan to pick up a market. You simply fill out the form here:
and agree to their terms. Honestly, if this is your idea of "specific specialists" (LOL), then you're in more trouble than I thought.
Clipart, schmipart. We aren’t the big 6 and we aren’t in the top end of the midrange publishers. MM is using a high benchmark of the big 6 to pick on the small dudes. IFWG Publishing, by and large, have good art and getting better. SQ Magazine and The Devil Came East were produced by excellent artists, They Never Gave Up is a very clever graphic job, delighting the author with its symbolism (the inverted footprints), etc etc.
Again, I was not judging you against the big 6 on covers. I just want to see something that looked like a professional design. It seems that you're saying that you're hiring artists. It would be good to know if those artists have previous experience of cover design and if so for whom. It's not a question of delighting the author, a cover should delight readers.
We do plenty and plenty more to come. Rhetoric by MM with no information at all, for reasons that we cannot fathom, but guess.
The irony. It burns.
You say you do plenty of marketing and then give no information. It's easy to say you're doing something, I'll reserve judgement until I see some concrete examples.
We believe that MM smacks of an ill-intentioned, clueless amateur.
Oh, no! And I thought that we were getting on so well ...
It would be good to have our say equally visible, particularly on points of fact.
And you have. You've also left the door open to rebuttals such as this one.
We currently have eighteen new authors who are doing their damnedest to break into the market and we are doing everything we can to help them.
Are members of this fine forum helping them?
Unless it's too late for them to seek termination of their contracts then no, sadly there's nothing we can do for them on this book.
However, any other writers looking up this company on Google might want to take a look at the professional, unemotional way in which Gerry Huntman
has conducted himself in his response, assess the complete lack of information that he provides to support some of his points and then assess the confusion he displays on how publishing in general operates, before making a decision to send them your manuscript.
This is, as inferred above, our last post on this thread.
Oy vay. If it is, then it is. However, the cynical part of me is expecting sockpuppets in 3, 2, 1 ...