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J. Taylor Publishing

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AuntB

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Anyone know anything about this new indie publisher?

http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/

The website has some information, but not a whole lot. No royalties. There's a marketing plan, but not really any details about it. No information about contracts that I could find. Anyone have any personal experience? I know they literally just launched their website days ago. They put out a call on twitter for YA books.
 

Old Hack

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I always advise writers to avoid start-up publishers until the publishers have proved themselves.

In addition, I have specific concerns about this one.

Here, they state:

We are an independent publisher who, thanks to the Internet, has a worldwide reach. Our debut authors are in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
That implies to me that they're relying on online sales for their books. If they're only publishing e-books that's one thing; but if they're publishing print editions, then they're going to struggle. Those print editions need to get into physical bookshops if they want them to make a decent number of sales.

More worrying, perhaps, is this:

Do you pay advances?

We do not. Why? Advances are loans against future sales. While we want to believe every book will be a raging success, what happens if one doesn't sell out its advance? The answer: That money will be owed back to the publisher. We never want to put you in that position. Ever. We want every sale to count toward your royalties—to be guaranteed money you won't ever have to pay us back.
They're wrong: writers who have signed up with a reputable advance-paying publisher don't ever have to pay their advances back if their books fail to sell. That's a myth.

If the people behind this publisher don't understand that bit about how publishing works, what else are they going to get wrong? And do you really want your work published by people who don't know about or understand the publishing business?
 

Momento Mori

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There are a number of things on the site that would give me cause for concern.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
A successful writer takes feedback and learns from it. They educate themselves on how to write, what the industry suggests they do, and how best to tell their story. The only way to do so is through critique groups, partners, and/or writing sites. If you have never had your work critiqued by peers or other authors (family and friends do not count), you must. Tell us about your book, but show us that you know how to give and take feedback as well as assimilate and process that information.

The fact that the submissions page includes a box where authors have to give details of where they got their manuscript critiqued strikes me as completely nuts. Yes, writers are well served by finding critique groups, betas etc. However a publisher should know within a couple of pages where the book is well written - so relying on other sites as some kind of testing ground to prove that an author is serious would make me wonder if they know how to spot good writing.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
We want writers who can both write and be active in their communities, who are online and get involved, and who enjoy socialization. Why? Because being involved is 95% of the battle in achieving sales. When you're willing to talk about your writing, people will listen. This doesn't mean you have to have thousands of Twitter followers or hundreds of Facebook friends. Are you a part of a book club? Do you volunteer with community literary organizations? Tell us.

On-line presence is important but it most definitely does not (and should not) account for 95% of the battle in achieving sales. What disturbs me about J Taylor Publishing is the emphasis that it places on authors getting involved with sales, but there's little on how the publisher will get word of your book out there.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Our Mission:
We're here to publish great novels, and in turn, help authors build their brand. We'll do this through extensive editing, quality control, and personal relationships with each of our authors.

There's nothing in this mission statement about getting out there and selling books. Books are sold through marketing and distribution and the publisher should be actively involved in both. A personal relationship with an author means v. little if the author only sells a couple of copies of their book.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
There's an old saying "There is no 'i' in team." It's so very true in our case because we are a team. From reviewing submissions, to reading manuscripts, to editing, production, publication, and the dreaded marketing. We have folks working on a book at every step of the way. We're a collective unit with a love of business and books. The combination of the two is like icing on a cake

There are no details on who is in this team and there should be. Identifying editors and marketing folk by name lets you know whether the people you are relying on to help sell your book actually know what they're doing.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
We publish stories our editors fall in love with. Our current editorial staff has a preference for romance, urban fantasy, mystery, and thrillers for both the YA and Adult markets. As we employ additional editors, we may branch out further.

This suggests a lack of focus. Publishing isn't just a question of "well we love this so let's put it out and see what happens". Publishers should know what market they're focusing on, what brand they're looking to build in that market and then focus their marketing and distribution efforts on reaching paying readers who are interested in buying the same.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Do I need an agent?
No. We will work with your agent if you wish, but we intend to establish one-on-one relationships with our authors.

J Taylor Publishing doesn't pay advances, so no reputable agent is going to find it worthwhile submitting to them. They also have no current track record, so an agent isn't going to want to take a punt on sales either. If the people behind J Taylor Publishing know how publishing really worked, they wouldn't even be raising the point.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Are you a vanity press?
Absolutely not. We call ourselves a traditional publisher up-and-coming. Why? Because we are very selective in the books we choose to publish. At the same time, we do not charge fees for any of our services. All authors that contract with us are paid royalties based on the sales of their books. We work with our authors before, during, and after the launch of their novels, again, at no cost to them. Our goal is the growth of an author's career. If they are successful, we are successful.

Okay, it's good that they don't charge fees, but "traditional publisher up-and-coming" is a mealy mouthed term that does not inspire confidence. They're a royalty only paying publisher and it's not clear what level of royalties they are paying and this is very important information that I would want a start-up to be telling me from the outset as it goes to making an informed decision.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Do you pay advances?
We do not. Why? Advances are loans against future sales. While we want to believe every book will be a raging success, what happens if one doesn't sell out its advance? The answer: That money will be owed back to the publisher. We never want to put you in that position. Ever. We want every sale to count toward your royalties—to be guaranteed money you won't ever have to pay us back.

Old Hack has already covered this as being utter bollocks and a sure sign that J Taylor doesn't have a clue about the industry but I wanted to pick up a further point - an advance is the publisher's investment in your book and an indication of how much money they think they're going to make. A publisher who is only offering you a royalty is asking you to take part of the risk on sales - that's not so bad if the publisher has a proven track record of sales (and there are plenty of respected epublishers out there operating on that basis) but this is a start up. There is no track record and therefore no indication of how many books you might sell. That means you're taking an even bigger risk than normal.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Am I going to have to do marketing?
Yes you are. Now, as the jitters take over, let us say one thing: Marketing is not scary when you have a detailed plan in place. Every one of our books has a 6–8 month release cycle and by the time you reach your launch date, you'll be a marketing expert. We provide a 16-week pre-launch marketing program, a launch week program, and a 6-month post-launch program. Trust us when we say having a plan is 90% of the battle. We have a plan! And, we do not charge for it.

There are no details on what J Taylor's plan is. I would need to know what they're doing and how they plan to support the author's own efforts.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Will I retain my copyright?
Without a doubt, yes. You will always retain the copyright to your work. We will simply license it for a specific period of time. We do not, however, register your work with the Copyright Office of the U.S.A. According to U.S. law, your work is copyrighted once created in any form. If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Copyright Office, we encourage you to do so.

This is another fundamental error, which worries me. Publishers should be registering copyright because it goes to enforcement of publication rights - by encouraging authors to do it instead, authors will incur a cost. The fact that J Taylor isn't willing to do this (and worse, appears to believe it's not necessary) indicates it's run by amateurs.

Further, J Taylor is promoting itself as an international publisher. Every territory has its own copyright registration requirements - therefore registering in the US may not be sufficient if you're also publishing in the UK.

The only marketing activity that I can see J Taylor doing is its reviewer programme. Now, I've been running a review blog since 2006 and I get ARCs and free books from all the major commercial publishers. The terms that J Taylor are offering reviewers worries me:

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Free ebooks before the public ever gets their hands on them
Free digital marketing materials about our books (media kits, cover images, bookmarks)
Opt-in access to future novels and novellas
Priority for future back-of-the-book quotes with your name on them
Priority for blog tours and interviews
Promotion of your website on our blog
Priority on the use of quotes, with your name and website, in future marketing efforts for our authors
Exclusivity. No more than 1 reviewer will be selected per book, per “area”

The exclusivity bothers me because I don't review books to drive traffic to my blog - I do it to share my opinion. The idea of one reviewer per area (with no definition of "area") suggests some kind of attempt at quid pro quo and given that the internet is international, I don't see how it's going to work in practice.

I also don't need my blog to be guaranteed promotion on a publisher's website or for my name to appear on the back of a book (it has happened to me before - Frances Lincoln did it on their website for a review I did of one of their books). It's a nice surprise, but it's not why I review.

The concept also carries an inference that reviews will be positive. Like I said, I get books from the big publishers and I have absolutely hated some of them and given them poor reviews accordingly (and for the record, it's never been a problem). There's nothing on the J Taylor website that suggests they're geared up for that possibility.

Worst of all though is this, which they aim at reviewers who are also writers:

J Taylor Publishing Website:


If you are a writer, you will also receive:
  • Priority reviews of any query submitted to us
  • Personal feedback on the above submissions
Frankly, it smells like a bribe and it reads like a massive potential conflict of interest. A person who reviews and writes needs to keep the two things separate - this is an automatic red flag for me (even if it's not what is intended).

J Taylor would have been better off researching the established book review blogs out there (and there are tonnes) and then seeing if they'd be interested in free copies for review purposes.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
We publish both—at the same time. We believe that print and ebooks should live symbiotically. However, we don't believe in printing thousands of copies at a time as we have a duty to maintain our environment.

So they're taking both print and electronic rights even though there's nothing to suggest they have distribution in place for print books (by which I mean a deal with stores to physically stock books). Also, it seems their print operation is POD, which probably means the cover price will be expensive and they're not doing offset runs to get either a distribution deal or a lower cover price. That's not good news for authors.

A start-up would be better served focusing on ebook sales to begin with and then only taking into print those books that seem to be picking up a decent following.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
Can I get one of your books in a bookstore?
Absolutely! All you have to do is ask them to order it.

Again, this is mealy-mouthed. Being available to order from a store is not the same as being available in store.

As an aside, in the UK I've found it increasingly difficult to get Waterstones (the only UK chain still around) to order books that they do not physically stock. It's therefore worth checking with your local store whether they will actually order it for you because many aren't, citing returnability in the event that you don't pick it up.

J Taylor Publishing Website:
What formats do you offer for your ebooks?
We provide files for e-readers only (no PDF, HTML or text files). We build our files for the Kindle and Nook as well as any e-reader that is compatible with the EPUB format.

I just did an Amazon search for the two titles to be released in July - there's nothing there. Given J Taylor's self-quoted marketing programme, this lack of basic availability is a major mistake.

All in all, I'd rather wait and see if they're still in business in 2 years time and if so, what the average sales per title is.

MM
 
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AuntB

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Thanks guys! I wasn't planning on submitting because of the statement about advances, but you guys certainly caught a whole lot more than I did!
 

AC Crispin

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Writer Beware's advice to writers contemplating signing on with one of these new "indie" publishers (there are so many!) is to make sure they've had their doors open at least a full year. So many startups go bellyup within their first year, and that's a mess for their authors.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

-A.C. Crispin
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom
Disney Editions
May 17, 2011
 

aliceshortcake

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What won't you publish?
Stories with illegal activities without negative consequences
Bestiality of any kind
Rape (male or female)
Pedophilia (any physical relationship between minors and adults)
Same-sex romances
Pornography

Not a suitable home for that steamy m/m romance, then!
 

amergina

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I do have to say, the covers look nice, and the website is clean. Took a brief look at a sample chapter and didn't see any glaring errors (though it was the standard "wake up from an important dream with the alarm going off" opening).

So that's all good.

But this publisher has one of my personal red-flags: absolutely no information about the people behind it. None.

In contrast, e-publishers like Entangled, Musa, Loose ID, Samhain, Total E-bound, Cobblestone... etc. etc. etc. list their owners and chief staff.

When a press doesn't, I can't help wonder what they're hiding. I mean, if you own a company--own up to it!
 

MysteryRiter

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I think that they look good but as amergina said, where are the bios?
 

Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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Given the genres that J Taylor publishes, I'd argue that if they don't sell through bookstores, then (given that their Amazon rankings are in the millions) they probably don't sell squat anyhow. They're covers are nice, but is that enough to make one want to be their guinea pig?
 

MysteryRiter

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Well, there are a bunch of authors who are already their guinea pigs at the moment so we'll see what comes of it. Since they're so new (it looks like their first book only came out recently), I don't think it's fair to judge them by their sales yet. Give it a month or so, come back, and if there is no improvement, judge all you want. Everyone needs some time to establish themselves. :)
 

Old Hack

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Mysteryriter, I don't think we have to wait a month or two and then look at their sales to work out if they're a good option for a serious writer: all we have to do is read my earlier post in this thread, and the one from Momento Mori which follows it (comments two and three in the thread). There's enough information there to suggest that the publisher isn't knowledgeable enough to be able to do well for you.
 

Marian Perera

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Stories with illegal activities without negative consequences

I'm curious about this guideline. What if the story is set in a different time period or another world with different laws? And does it apply to any petty crimes that might occur - if a pickpocket steals the heroine's reticule at the start of the story, should he be in fetters by the end of it?
 

aliceshortcake

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That's exactly what I thought!

And I wouldn't touch a publisher who lumps same-sex relationships together with bestiality, rape and pedophilia. :eek:
 
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Old Hack

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It could be that no one has had any experience with them: but I doubt that enough has changed since last December to make me change my mind about them.

I am an old grump, though.
 

Kastil

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I know most, if not all, the authors who are signed with them. I love the authors dearly but I wouldn't send anything to them for personal reasons. I just don't think I'd mesh well. I'm not a fan of "must have a professional author's picture" schtick they have. I hate my pic being taken. I'm not selling myself, I'm selling my book(s).
 

veinglory

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I'm curious about this guideline. What if the story is set in a different time period or another world with different laws? And does it apply to any petty crimes that might occur - if a pickpocket steals the heroine's reticule at the start of the story, should he be in fetters by the end of it?


  • No gay, no sex and crimes must be punished (presumably including speeding, dropping litter etc).
  • Rape and homosexual love put in the same list.
  • Pass.
 

EMaree

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A reasonably new UK/German lit agent has one of her three authors published under this house, so until I checked out this thread I'd thought this was an advance-paying publisher. Again, I'm thankful that AW is here to keep an eye out for us writers. :)

Their covers are nice, their website's cleanly laid out, they seem to have removed that FAQ about not paying royalties, but...

What won't you publish?

In alphabetical order ...

Bestiality of any kind
Children's books (Middle Grades stories are okay)
Editorial articles
Non-fiction (including textbooks)
Pedophilia (any physical relationship between minors and adults, whether for YA or Adult readers)
Picture books (of any kind, including coffee table books)
Poetry
Pornography
Previously published stories (whether self-published or published by another publisher)
Rape (male or female)
Same-sex romances
Stories with illegal activities without negative consequences
Stories written in a language other than English

...They're still homophobic. How disgraceful.

They've also got some pretty tight word limits (85k max for YA novels), their form makes you show which websites you've submitted your manuscript to 'for feedback' before your submit to them, and this FAQ answer makes me uneasy:

Do I need an agent?

No. We will work with your agent if you wish, but we intend to establish one-on-one relationships with our authors.

It looks to me like they're implying they'd rather you didn't inconvenience them with having to deal with an agent... and I can't think of many good reasons not to encourage authors to have an agent.
 

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