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John Hunt Publishing / O Books / Perfect Edge

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

triceretops

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"repeated for the truth.

been there, done that - won't torture you with the details but I did a lot and got nothing back.

my "publisher" did no ARCs, few if any review copies, no distribution and no catalogue.

you can't go it alone. Unless you have more money than common sense
."

May I echo this? I came from exactly the same place.

Tri
 

Mr. Anonymous

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I'm confused guys. Maybe half my brain cells died while I was sleeping or something, but while all the posts in this thread are insightful, I am still left wondering about the topic in question. In other words, the publisher.

The publisher does not state that the author assumes all the responsibilities of marketing. Merely that he or she is expected to help. And from what I've heard, this is not an uncommon stance for independent and mid sized publishers to take. Furthermore, it is unclear what is expected in terms of help. Certainly, any reputable agent or traditional publisher would probably expect the author to have a website. Maybe keep a blog. And of course, book signings are hard to do without the author's input. All of these can be interpreted as part of the process of selling the author and his book.
 

veinglory

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I cannot speak to this case but in other cases lines of that sort proved a red flag, meaning the equivalent of 'when you book doesn't sell we will blame your lack of promo not our lack of distribution'. In this case it seems they so have some distribution in place, but I would agree that what authors do is promote, not market.
 

JulieB

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It certainly doesn't hurt to ask the publisher a few questions, such as how much marketing you'll be expected to do and whether they pay royalties on gross or net receipts. If royalties are calculated on the net, then you need to ask about how the net is determined. I'm with Tri that 10% on the net isn't terribly good.

If they don't offer an advance, pay those royalties on the net, and you have to do the bulk of the marketing, you could end up losing money unless you have a solid platform. For example, if you buy books at their discount and sell them at lectures and personal appearances, you could make a decent profit off of each book. If you're set up to do this and don't mind dealing with all the attendant details (shipping, inventory, accounting, hauling books to lectures), then it has the potential to be profitable.

I'm certainly not trying to discourage you or say that this publisher is in any way bad. I just want to be sure you go into publishing with your eyes wide open. That's always a good thing.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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The publisher does not state that the author assumes all the responsibilities of marketing. Merely that he or she is expected to help. And from what I've heard, this is not an uncommon stance for independent and mid sized publishers to take. Furthermore, it is unclear what is expected in terms of help. Certainly, any reputable agent or traditional publisher would probably expect the author to have a website. Maybe keep a blog. And of course, book signings are hard to do without the author's input. All of these can be interpreted as part of the process of selling the author and his book.

Website, blog, and book signings are part of promotion, not marketing.

And if a publisher doesn't know the difference between promotion and marketing, that's a problem.
 

Mr. Anonymous

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Veinglory - Point taken. However, I do believe we shouldn't drawn any hasty conclusions.

Julie - Well said. I think the best thing to do would be to simply ask, as you mentioned. So I'll send along an email when I get a chance, and tell you guys how they respond.

IceCreamEmpress - Please don't take offense when I say this. I believe you helped me more than once on this site and I am grateful for that... But...

With all due respect... Doesn't marketing entail promotion?

The dictionary.com definition of marketing is...
the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
The definition of promotion is...
something devised to publicize or advertise a product, cause, institution, etc., as a brochure, free sample, poster, television or radio commercial, or personal appearance.

Ergo, if part of marketing is advertisement, and if the goal of promotion is to advertise, then it may be said that promotion and marketing are running parallel to one another in regards to the subject in question.

And I would consider blogs, web sites, and book signs as a means of promoting the product, and therefore, they could be considered a form of advertising, and by extension, a part of marketing.

I'm not to trying to say this publisher is good or bad or whatever. Just think we shouldn't draw any loosely based conclusions. And I'll let you guys know what I find out.
 
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IceCreamEmpress

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IceCreamEmpress - Please don't take offense when I say this. I believe you helped me more than once on this site and I am grateful for that... But...

With all due respect... Doesn't marketing entail promotion?

I understand why this might sound confusing, because in most industries they're considered part of the same function.

In the US publishing industry, they're considered different functions, and are handled by different teams within an organization.

Authors work with the promotion (or public relations, as some places call it) team on stuff like websites, blogs, personal appearances, booksignings, guesting at conventions, etc.

The marketing side pushes the books via distributors, resellers, direct sellers, and so on.

Promotion/public relations raises the book's visibility; marketing gets the book on shelves and on websellers and what-not.

Authors can help with the first, and should not (in my opinion) be asked to help with the latter.
 
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ghost

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Ok, so bringing up an old thread. Someone brought this to my attention on another website. I've never seen such a thing so I'm going to put it out there. It seems shady to me.

http://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/index.php?id=66&i=0&a=26&p=34,42

Printed books; no royalties on the first 1,000 copies,
Author contribution; £10/$16 per 1,000 words.
Author contribution; £20/$32 per 1,000 words.

ARE YOU A VANITY PUBLISHER?
No. Vanity publishers get all their income from the authors. We ask for a subsidy on some titles; it amounts to under 2% of our income, 98% is from selling books.
 

DreamWeaver

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ARE YOU A VANITY PUBLISHER?
No. Vanity publishers get all their income from the authors. We ask for a subsidy on some titles; it amounts to under 2% of our income, 98% is from selling books.
I suspect they may have left out the end of the last sentence, which [if they are like most subsidy publishers] should probably be "...98% is from selling books back to our own authors."
 
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kelliewallace

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They have a unique submission process where you get a log in and you have to submit a detailed proposal. I just got notification I got passed into this section of the process. They have beautiful covers and I assume a good distributing service, then I saw this http://www.johnhuntpublishing.net/. Not sure if I want to continue now.
 

john hunt

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I hesitate to tread in here, being the publisher concerned - but then I'm also an author, so maybe it's OK.
i don't recognize our business in some of the comments here - but we're really open in what we do - and the info is available to anyone to see, go to the "submissions" page of any of the imprints, like
http://www.moon-books.net/index.php?id=66&i=7

(We don't ask authors to read all that through, we refer them to different bits of it along the editorial/production/sales process).

We don't have full time staff, most of those working in the business are authors who we started off publishing, that's how it developed, and I reckon we're as author friendly as anyone, because it's in our DNA. Here's some posts on our Author Forum from the last two days;

Hiya,

I wanted to pass onto you John and all your wonderful team my GREAT thanks for you accepting my work.

For any author, it's a real warm, fuzzy feeling to have a publisher not only like your work but also spend oodles of time/money and energy getting it proof-read, designed, marketed and all the other millions of bits-in-between.

It's really been fun writing this series and I am now going to spend my time promoting them so all your work will reap rewards....(hopefully not in heaven!!)

Thank you again O-Books/Dodona Books : John, Catherine, Maria, Mary, Mollie, Elizabeth, Nick, Stuart, Trevor, Lisa, Krystina...and anyone I might have missed.

I have never met any of you in the flesh but I feel very glad to have shared this journey through the Zodiac with you....even if I did go backwards.....

In Peace

Mary xx

Hi mary, just going to hijack your post to say my own big thank yous! the past 18 months have been wonderful. i adore the organisation, the people and the way it all works. it feels like a family with authors helping one another and sharing work. the production side is second to none. the forums are such a help and the social networking is helpful. by the end of 2013 i will have 5 books published with you. a dream come true xx thank you all. colette


And I just gotta say, being my first experience submitting a manuscript to a publisher, and for that reason, being the two sweaty palms that I've been, this entire experience has been remarkably pleasant. Scratch that, just outright awesome. Not only am I stunned at how fast you all work, how efficient the process has been from the get-go, but at how transparent everything has been, too. Not to mention how easy it's been thus far to find solid answers to any questions I've had. I really do look forward to working with Zero. Thanks!

- Frank



Happy to answer any more specific points.
John
 

KimJo

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With all due respect, John, glowing praise that your authors have posted on your company's forums isn't necessarily indicative of your company's professionalism or reputation. Naturally, happy authors will post on the company's forums. Unhappy authors are likely not to for fear of reprisal.

It might help form a more complete picture of your company if you could provide some unbiased, objective information, rather than just forums posts from the happy authors among your list.

For example, you state you don't have full-time employees, and that the people working for you are also authors published with you. What are their roles in the company other than being authors? What are their qualifications for fulfilling those roles? If they're working as editors, what experience do they have in editing, other than doing so for their own books and your company?

Earlier in the thread, it says you take a subsidy from your authors, and that no royalties are paid on the first 1000 copies sold, assuming I read right (fighing a migraine, so the words are dancing about on the screen a bit). Are those statements accurate? If so, please explain how you consider "taking a subsidy" to be different to vanity publishing, given that in each case you are earning money from the author rather than from readers.

You've also been accused earlier in the thread of pressing authors to purchase their own books. Is this accurate?

Around here, we're quite used to seeing glowing praise from a select few authors for any publishing company. We're also used to seeing authors--and editors, and company owners--come in here and call us all a bunch of meanies for having the audacity to question their business practices, rather than answering the questions which are asked.

The companies which tend to stick around and grow good reputations are the ones that understand these questions are asked in an attempt to fully educate prospective authors about the companies, and to provide unbiased views of the companies and their business models, processes, etc. If a company representative--someone *officially* representing the company, not just showing up and saying they have something to do with it--is willing to answer the tough questions and actually *has* answers, that's a good indication that the company knows what it's doing, IMO.
 

john hunt

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fair enough, Kim/Jo. Was just trying to give the other side of the story.

Much of this info - about authors/editors working with us etc- is on the website, if i could refer you to that, under "who we are". There's a bit more on the imprint pages, about the individuals involved in the different imprints. For authors in the system, there's a "profile" in more detail on each editor.

There are a few dozen people involved, I can't get into it all here, space/time, but we're not talking about outsourcing to India or graduates here, most are published authors, a number teach/run writing courses. Some are magazine editors, for instance the New Writer magazine in the Uk, Suzanne who runs the new imprint for budding writers, Compass Books.

Mostly, they're authors we started publishing, we're always open to people getting involved more, some of them got involved in copy editing, then structural editing, others got involved in PR, some started running imprints within the business.

It's not been a fast track "here's a quick buck" kind of thing, it's taken 5-10 years to set up.

We ask for a subsidy from some authors. It's outlined more in the User manual, which is on the website, eg;
WHY DO YOU HAVE DIFFERENT CONTRACT LEVELS?

Up till 2011 we worked with a standard, one-size-fits-all contract. Every author was on the same, we did not ask for any author contribution/subsidy (except on rare occasions for more academic titles, or poetry).

We have changed the way we work. The quality of the text is still key. But that does not necessarily translate into sales. So the levels relate to marketability. Much of that depends on whether you have published before and what kind of "platform" you have (publishing jargon for whether anyone is going to buy your book because they've heard of you). It does not necessarily have anything to do with how good the book itself is. We enjoy publishing good books even when, on our reckoning, they may not cover our costs. In an average 10 contracts, there will be one level 1, five level 2, three level 3, and one level 4.


. We do, yes, publish a lot of books, it's about one every working day now. But every one goes through an acceptance process, with a number of readers reports at the second stage after a number have been declined, which the author can see, which I think are pretty good in terms of evaluating the manuscript and sales potential, which differentiates us from vanity publishing from the word go - we only publish a book if we like it, if it's good enough. And the readers know what they're talking about.

we've got a reasonably good idea of what sales figures on most are likely to be, broadly, (particularly on non-fiction, it's a heck of a lot harder on fiction). we're coming up to about 2000 titles published, we can see author's previous and competing title sales through the trade on Nielsen, etc, And on some, it's a case of "we like the book, but we're not going to sell enough to make it viable for us" - our costs much higher than in self-publishing - sending the info out, marketing the book, taking the returns back from the trade, etc.

So on some we ask for a subsidy (I've just been looking at the track record of the titles we published last September, there were 30 new titles, and we had an author subsidy on 3 of them). And we try and keep the "publisher's cost" part of the equation as small as possible, give as much royalty as we can. So on ebooks for instance it's 50%. For first time authors, on the first copies, it's really hard to get above 10% - you might send out 100 copies to B&N, and almost invariably, 70% of them will come back a couple of months later, when they're pulped.

we never, ever, press authors to buy their books. Never have done. We try and work with them on a marketing plan, and encourage them to have realistic expectations. Get the right balance of time/effort. We'll say what the sales of similar titles have been, whether ones we've published or titles they quote as being in the same market. As part of that, we ask them whether they might buy any, but it's not part of the "deal", (and invariably, unless it's an organization involved, it's not something we pay much attention to). The worst thing for us is disappointed authors. We don't advertize services, we try not to say that we do things which we can't, there are some authors who come to us through finding us on the internet but the vast majority are through recommendations from other authors.

I'm confident that what we do is realistic, honest, and that we're not ripping authors off. I'm sure there are points on which we'll differ, but the policies we've developed/are developing (it's all work in progress, and some time next month we'll be introducing a 25% royalty on print books from scratch for authors we've worked with before and know are likely to sell in 5 figures, along with the usual 50% royalty on digital), are designed to take as much of the traditional publisher cost out of the equation as possible.

Please, feel free to comment on our business practices, but do read the info first, which is publicly available. We welcome comments, the business is built around author input, from both sides - author as "author", and author as "doing the editorial/PR work". I'm not suggesting we've got it right, it's developing all the time, we invest a lot each month in systems to improve what we can offer.

it hurts a bit to be dumped into the "vanity publishing" bracket, when 95% of our revenues are not from authors, whether subsidy or buying copies, which is why I wanted to post something, but there we go......

There was one bad reference quoted in the thread about a google entry by one of our authors, johnhuntpublishing.net., about our being a crap publisher, - cybersquatting on our name (we're .com). just for reference, this was a book we published about 7 years ago. it didn't sell like the author expected, and the following year he asked for the rights back. And we gave them back. Hadn't heard from him since, until this website appeared last year. I find it difficult to comment on - the first few pages are about how great we were at the distribution and pre-pub marketing, getting the book into the trade, and after that I can't quite figure out what his problem was (we "didn't lift a finger to edit the manuscript", but on the other hand "we took a big section out", etc - I edited this one myself, I remember it...). Why he now wants to attack us, 7 years on, is just beyond me.

Apart from that instance, where he's using our name, we don't do "reprisals". Why? How? What kind? Don't even understand where we'ld start...

we've lost about 5 authors who have been offered an advance for their next book by a bigger company, and it's been a case of "thanks for telling us, sorry we can't match it, brilliant, go for it". and in some of those cases they've come back to us for a further one.

I can't promise to get back on this forum to answer anything else, it's a very old thread, and we kind of change every few months anyway, and it takes too much time to answer stuff that is so far away from what I recognize that we do. Will try. if that's acceptable.
john
 

veinglory

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As far as I can tell the question is whether you charge fees. And it seems you sometimes do. Which oer definitions used here makes that a 'vanity' deal.

The second part is: who to, and how much? Which, to me at least, remains unclear.
 

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sometimes we do ask for a subsidy, yes, I think I've said that. The last month I looked at in detail, last September, it was 3 new titles out of 30.

does that make us a vanity publisher? i don't think so. or those 3 books a vanity deal? I don't think so, given what we put into them.

I have to keep on saying.... look at the website, the whole user manual is up there if you go to imprint/submissions ( we don't expect authors to read the whole thing through, but refer them to relevant sections through the contract/editorial/production/sales/marketing/PR process).

if you click onto the "Proposal/contract" section, you'll find some copy there which I've attached below.

We change it every week as we learn more about publishing (I've been working in publishing for 40 years or so myself, but figure myself as a novice in these changing markets), and we're moving up to higher royalties on some of these, 25% throughout on print along with the 50% that's across the board already on digital, but at the moment, that's where we are.

I'm not embarrassed about the contract levels, and asking for a subsidy on some titles. I read every proposal that gets through the first filters, a few a day, and just say what i think - "how good is the ms, how many are we likely to sell" and that info is up there for the author to see, along with the other reader reports (and, later, the monthly sales info, the marketing info, etc).

I think all we're doing is being honest about it ("why should the vast majority of books that lose money be subsidized by the few authors who do"etc...) rather than spending $tens/hundreds of millions on buying up vanity publishers, like all the big six and others are doing. Or getting the libraries/taxpayer to subsidize the books with academic prices. -

I'ld have been really happy to talk about whether these terms are fair or not, how they could be improved, whether they can be, what the right balance is in the author/publisher/reader equation, but, hey, I can't get into correspondence when you haven't looked up what we already say.
And we have this kind of correspondence going on within the business, among authors/publishers, every day, so it's hard to take time out to get onto a forum which doesn't know where we're starting from.

so, as regards subsidies, sure, if, you, "veinglory", for example, came to us with a proposal for a new book, we look up the figures; your three books have sold 26, 113 and 172 copies through the book trade in N America in total, according to Nielsen Bookscan (nothing confidential here, it's available to every bookseller). The amazon ranking on the top one is around 350,000, which probably means a handful of copies at best over the last year. Maybe there's a load of stuff happening somewhere that I'm not seeing (we try and look into it).

But on the info we'ld have, could we push that into the trade? No, because it takes retail buyers a few seconds to look up the same figures. So we read the manuscript, we try and figure out "is there more about this book that would sell than the previous ones? what can we add to it? Is that enough to make it work?" And we make a judgement.

The default position for us here, on this one, (in the absence of other info from you, and however much the readers like the manuscript, they're usually too optimistic), is likely to be that there would be an element of subsidy involved; online promotion would be the best bet (because there's no chance of getting it into the trade, because they know the figures too), with a $3 kind of price, and on that we pay 50% royalty, so there's no margin on it for us (after the editing, distribution of info, preparing the sales sheets and so on) till it's really successful. And there are tens of thousands of these kind of books around - "good, but haven't sold yet".

And we want to make them work, but if we took on everyone we'ld be bust by Christmas. Because we need to pay copy editors,designers, printers, marketing/sales/PR people, etc., there are a dozen people involved in bringing out any one book, and a lot of info/systems cost, and you can't pay them on books that sell a hundred or so copies (hard enough on ten times that, unless we charge academic prices).

So we're giving an option to authors. We try and add more value every month to what we can do for them. W~e're developing reader/author communities on a number of imprints, check out moon Books for instance. If authors don't want to take the contract offered, if they want on keep looking for one of the big publishers, or an agent, or self-publish, hey, that's fine..... great...we encourage it....

I think we know what we're doing, and that it's going to work, it's a different model; could of course be wrong there. But i can't get into indefinite correspondence like this with pseudonyms, a website funding by advertising, etc, too much work to do with the authors we have, it's not fair on them. I'm sorry to have troubled you, this was a mistake, I shouldn't have got on here, the tone seems to be "author versus publisher", whereas we're trying to be more "author to author" -I'll unsubscribe.

john

What are your contract terms?

Contract levels

The Publisher of the imprint offers a contract based on the Reader Reports.

Key points;

On every contract level-

Every title is published in print and as an ebook.
E Books are 50% royalty throughout, on net receipts (less a small deduction on royalties for conversion costs, see Ebooks).
Subsidiary rights; 60% in author's favor. No "non-book" rights like film etc included.
Every manuscript is copy-edited. Every title is marketed, and gets a certain amount of promotion, more in Marketing introduction, particularly the section What do you do on marketing?
The royalty on print editions, in terms of the number of copies it is paid on, varies between levels 1 and 2, and on levels 3 and 4 there are varying levels of author subsidy.
To get a feel for how titles usually sell, in the industry as a whole, see Estimate of likely sales.

CONTRACT LEVEL 1

Titles that look like they could sell in five figures. The author has a track record of that, in the last 3/5 years. Or, if a first time author, it’s an outstanding text, tailored to the right market. The name is recognizable to a bookshop buyer in that subject area, in both N America and the UK, and/or there are compelling endorsements from recognizable names. The buyer thinks “this is one we have to stock”.

"Net receipts", throughout, is the money we actually receive from retailers/readers/distributors, we do not deduct anything to cover our own costs.

E Books; 50% throughout, on net receipts (less a small deduction on royalties for conversion costs, see Ebooks).

Printed books; 10% on net receipts on the first 10,000 printed copies, 15% from 10,001 up to 25,000 copies, 20% from 25,001 to 40,000 copies, 25% thereafter.

Subsidiary rights; 60% in author's favor. No "non-book" rights like film etc included.

Price list A. For retail price list, see Price. Our average word count per printed page is 300.

Publication schedule; six months from finished files.

Includes;

· Blurb, author info and other book information edited.

· Distribution of title information to all databases, wholesalers and online accounts worldwide.

· AIs (advance information sheets) and presentation to all major retail accounts in N. America.

· AIs, presentation to all major accounts in UK.

· Trade copies offered to trade magazines; PW, Bookseller, etc., offered in programs such as Advance Access.

· Title information distributed to subscribed independent retailers (via mailing).

· Special Amazon promotion and co-op advertising with wholesalers such as Ingram, Bertrams, Gardners.

· Electronic review copies and hard copies where requested (unlimited within reason).

· High profile presence in JHP mailing to retailers, media and foreign rights.

· Writing press release and distributing to all subscribed relevant subject/category contacts.

· A PR program tailored to the author and the book; building author profile on general and author sites; raising profile on online retail sites; push for articles, reviews, prizes. A further PR push whenever 500 copies are sold through the trade and online.

CONTRACT LEVEL 2

Likely sales in the thousands. Great text, right presentation. Author is more likely to be known nationally than internationally. Has or will get good endorsements from key figures. Author has a good “platform” and is active. The main push on sales is either in N America or UK rather than both.

E Books; 50% throughout, on net receipts (less a small deduction on royalties for conversion costs, see Ebooks).

Printed books; no royalties on the first 1,000 copies, 10% on net receipts 1,001 to 10,000 copies, 15% from 10,000 up to 25,000 copies, 20% from 25,000 to 40,000 copies, 25% thereafter.

Subsidiary rights; 60% in author's favor. No "non-book" rights like film etc included.

Publication schedule; three complete months from finished files. We ignore the current month, so files finished in January will be scheduled for publication in May.

Price list B (except for fiction, which is A). For retail price list, see the help icon against "Price". Our average word count per printed page is 300.

Includes;

· Blurb, author info and other book information edited.

· Distribution of title information to all databases, wholesalers and online accounts worldwide.

· AIs (advance information sheets) and presentation to all major retail accounts in N. America.

· AIs, presentation to all major accounts in UK.

· Trade copies offered to trade magazines; PW, Bookseller, etc., offered in programs such as Advance Access.

· Title information distributed to subscribed independent retailers (via mailing).

· Unlimited electronic review copies and up to 30 hard copies (additional at author expense).

· Lower profile presence in JHP mailing to retailers, media and foreign rights.

-A PR program tailored to the author and the book, building author profile on general and author sites; raising profile on online retail sites; push for articles, reviews, prizes. A further PR push whenever 500 copies are sold through the trade and online.

CONTRACT LEVEL 3

Likely sales in the high hundreds/low thousands. Could be a great text, but the author isn’t particularly “known”. Could do a lot better on the sales if it spreads by word of mouth, if pushed through activities, networking – but a buyer is unlikely to stock many, or any, initially.

E Books; 50% throughout, on net receipts (less a small deduction, see Ebooks).

Printed books; no royalties on the first 1,000 copies, 10% on net receipts 1,001 to 10,000 copies, 15% from 10,001 up to 25,000 copies, 20% from 25,001 to 40,000 copies, 25% thereafter.

Subsidiary rights; 60% in author's favor. No "non-book" rights like film etc included.

Publication schedule; three months from finished files.We ignore the current month, so files finished in January will be scheduled for publication in May.

Price list B (except for fiction, which is A).

Author contribution; £10/$16 per 1,000 words.

Includes;

· Blurb, author info and other book information edited.

· Distribution of title information to all databases, wholesalers and online accounts worldwide.

· AIs generated and presented to selective relevant accounts.

· Title information distributed to subscribed independent retailers (via mailing).

· Electronic review copies sent by author, 10 promotional copies sent to author (in addition to 12 free in contract).

· Lower profile presence in JHP mailing to retailers, media and foreign rights.

-A PR program tailored to the author and the book; building author profile on general and author sites; raising profile on online retail sites; push for articles, reviews. A further PR push whenever 500 copies are sold through the trade and online.

CONTRACT LEVEL 4

Likely sales in the low hundreds or less. Good material, worthwhile publishing, could find its own niche, could do well, but it’s a long shot.

E Books; 50% throughout, on net receipts (less a small deduction, see Ebooks).

Printed books; no royalties on the first 1,000 copies, 10% on net receipts 1,001 to 10,000 copies, 15% from 10,001 up to 25,000 copies, 20% from 25,001 to 40,000 copies, 25% thereafter.

Subsidiary rights; 60% in author's favor. No "non-book" rights like film etc included.

Publication schedule; 3 months from finished files.We ignore the current month, so files finished in January will be scheduled for publication in May.

Price list B (except for fiction, which is A).

Author contribution; £20/$32 per 1,000 words.

Includes;

· Blurb, author info and other book information edited.

· Distribution of title information to all databases, wholesalers and online accounts worldwide.

- A PR program tailored to the author and the book; building author profile on general and author sites; raising profile on online retail sites; push for articles, reviews. a further PR push whenever 500 copies are sold through the trade and online.
etc..


john
 

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sometimes we do ask for a subsidy, yes, I think I've said that. The last month I looked at in detail, last September, it was 3 new titles out of 30.

does that make us a vanity publisher? i don't think so. or those 3 books a vanity deal? I don't think so, given what we put into them.

My bold.

Yes, it does. If you're charging authors for publication you're a vanity press, no matter what else you do or how good your intentions are.

Moving on, I was sent this link yesterday. It's on the Perfect Edge website, which is apparently an imprint of John Hunt Publishing.

A quote from that very long page:

Lawyers

Whatever you do, please don’t send the contract to a lawyer/attorney. It will come back with pages of suggested alterations (which they have to make to justify their fee) and we have too much to do to read them, let alone respond in detail.



Agents


If you are working through an agent, that is fine, we work with a couple of dozen. Would just ask that you still follow our system through the different editorial, production, sales and marketing processes. We are happy to send your agent a password so that they can use the website as well. But we can not get your book through it if you are relying on an agent to communicate on your behalf on every single query by the traditional email route. We need you to be able to use the system here, download and upload manuscripts/proofs, see when review copies have gone etc. rather than asking an agent to ask us (and the agent won’t do it him/herself).


As far as royalty payments go, if your title has come to us through an agent, they will be listed on the contracts page, and payment will be made to them, and they will make a corresponding payment to you, minus their agreed %.


You're advising writers to avoid using a lawyer, which I'd agree with on the whole; but you're also advising writers, albeit indirectly, not to use agents either, which is terrible advice. Writers with representation routinely do better than writers without.

It might be easier for you to work without agents, but it's not in the writers' interests.
 

aliceshortcake

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John, how many of your authors have sold more than 1000 copies of their printed books?

As for the quality of editing, I looked at two books by Julia Heywood, an O Books author who says she didn't pay to be published (http://tophat-books.com/blogs/topha...rs-should-only-self-publish-because-its-free/). The Barefoot Indian and Miracles are Made of This suffer from run-on sentences and odd punctuation, both of which should have been spotted and corrected by any competent editor.
 
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john hunt

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replying to points

how many of your authors have sold more than 1000 copies of their printed books?

Again, if I could refer you to our user manual, which is available on the internet if you go many of the imprint under "submit your proposal";
how many do I expect my title to sell?
it will answer your questions there. It will be in the hundreds.

quality of the editing

We don't get it right every time, sure. But we published Julia Heywood's titles 6 and 4 years ago. It's a different kind of business now, I don't think it's reasonable to judge us on titles from the last decade, today.

Perfect Edge

Yes, it's an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, literary fiction, a new one. We have a couple of dozen imprints. We'll be publishing a couple of dozen Perfect Edge titles this year. We haven't asked for an author subsidy on any of them.

If you're charging authors for publication you're a vanity press

that's fine, your opinion, but then pursue it logically - virtually all publishers are vanity presses then, on that definition. We take in thousands of times less in author subsidy for instance than Random Penguin, who own authorhouse, ilbris, trafford press, iuniverse, etc..., or the university presses...

We just happen to be more open about it. And because we peer review every proposal, and actually do market them, I think there's a difference.

Agents

we actually refer authors to a list of agents, in Can you recommend other publishers?
We say the same kind of thing in the submission guidelines.

And I quite agree that writers with representation do better than writers without, if you can get an agent. We're not saying "don't get an agent", we're saying "if you have an agent, it doesn't make any difference to the contract you'll get from us, because we don't negotiate on different contract clauses. And we still need to work with you directly on the book, rather than through an agent".

the User manual is for the benefit of authors who want to work with us, it's not meant as a general introduction to publishing. As far as we're concerned, we need to work directly with the author, not answering agent queries every step of the way. That's just the way we work. Seems reasonable enough - we point it out, if an author doesn't want to log into the database, but wants an agent to do the work, then they don't get through the proposal stage. And, as the manual says, there are around 70,000 other publishers to follow up.

john
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how many of your authors have sold more than 1000 copies of their printed books?

Again, if I could refer you to our user manual, which is available on the internet if you go many of the imprint under "submit your proposal";
how many do I expect my title to sell?
it will answer your questions there. It will be in the hundreds.

That page you link to doesn't answer the question, John.

You weren't asked, "how many books can your authors expect to sell, you were asked this:

how many of your authors have sold more than 1000 copies of their printed books?

Further, much of the "information" given on that page you linked to is flawed. For example:

The average sale of all new titles has been variously estimated at 99 or 250 or 500 copies, depending on who you listen to, which year they’re talking about, and whether you include self-published titles or not.

<snipped>

All had enjoyed excellent reviews, and all had been bought out with substantial marketing and loads of hype by major publishers, and pushed heavily through the shops. Of course, after being shortlisted, their sales went up. But these kinds of figures are more characteristic of good book sales (and of really good books) than the millions you read about in the press. Sales in the low hundreds, or even dozens, are the norm for fiction. Six months hard work on the marketing and $10,000 spent might push it up from 100 to 150. It might, of course, do a lot better. But do not bank on it.

There are so many fallacies in those paragraphs that I'm not even going to point them out. But if any of the publishers I've worked for or written for sold an average of 100 to 150 copies of most of the books they publish, they'd be out of business. That most of them are still in business indicates that your figures aren't true.

While I was on that page I also noticed this:

Our average so far is around 3,000 copies (over the life so far of the book). But with a couple of hundred thousand more new titles getting published each year in English worldwide than the year before, it always gets more difficult.Ps; it's an "average", not "median". And it follows "Pareto distribution", not a "bell-curve". ie; if you plot it across 1500 or so titles, there's few in 6 or 7 figures, more in 5, loads in 4 figures, but most new titles sell in hundreds.

Could you clarify this, please? The median average sales for the books you publish is around 3,000 copies? But most of your books only sell a few hundred copies? Is that right?

What is the mean average of sales?

quality of the editing

We don't get it right every time, sure. But we published Julia Heywood's titles 6 and 4 years ago. It's a different kind of business now, I don't think it's reasonable to judge us on titles from the last decade, today.

I took a look at some of your more current titles. I see no reason to believe the quality of the editing you offer has improved.

Perfect Edge

Yes, it's an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, literary fiction, a new one. We have a couple of dozen imprints. We'll be publishing a couple of dozen Perfect Edge titles this year. We haven't asked for an author subsidy on any of them.

That's a lot of books. How many books in total do all of your imprints publish each year, and how many editors do you employ to work on all of these books?

If you're charging authors for publication you're a vanity press

that's fine, your opinion, but then pursue it logically - virtually all publishers are vanity presses then, on that definition. We take in thousands of times less in author subsidy for instance than Random Penguin, who own authorhouse, ilbris, trafford press, iuniverse, etc..., or the university presses...

We just happen to be more open about it. And because we peer review every proposal, and actually do market them, I think there's a difference.

I am troubled by Random Penguin's acquisition of AuthorHouse, but have not seen any information showing that it makes most of its income from AuthorHouse. I'd be interested in seeing those figures, so would appreciate it if you'd share with us your sources for the claims you've made here.

Moving on, your implication that because your turnover is less than Random Penguin's, you are less of a vanity publisher than them, is somewhat illogical.

I think it was Jonathan Trafford who came up with the name "vanity press". His definition of a vanity press is one which earns most of its income from the authors it publishes, and not from selling the books it publishes to readers.

Do your publishing endeavours raise more money from the sale of books to new readers, who are unknown to you and your authors, or do they earn the majority of income from subsidies paid by the authors you publish?

Agents

we actually refer authors to a list of agents, in Can you recommend other publishers?
We say the same kind of thing in the submission guidelines.

That link doesn't work, I'm afraid.

And I quite agree that writers with representation do better than writers without, if you can get an agent. We're not saying "don't get an agent", we're saying "if you have an agent, it doesn't make any difference to the contract you'll get from us, because we don't negotiate on different contract clauses. And we still need to work with you directly on the book, rather than through an agent".

I can't imagine any good agents advising the writers they represent to submit their work to a publisher which charges writers for publication.

And of course publishers work with writers directly on their books: this has nothing to do with whether writers need agents or not.

the User manual is for the benefit of authors who want to work with us, it's not meant as a general introduction to publishing. As far as we're concerned, we need to work directly with the author, not answering agent queries every step of the way. That's just the way we work. Seems reasonable enough - we point it out, if an author doesn't want to log into the database, but wants an agent to do the work, then they don't get through the proposal stage. And, as the manual says, there are around 70,000 other publishers to follow up.

john
.

I'm not convinced that any writers will benefit from your user manual, as it contains so many statements which are incorrect, misleading, or untrue.

Based on what I've seen on your website, and your responses here, I wouldn't submit my work to you, and I wouldn't advise anyone else to either.
 

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response;

answering the question;

this info is there in the user manual, further down the page;
Our bestseller is an inspirational/devotional, God Calling, with over 6 million, still going strong. At the other extreme we have a lot of titles that have sold in the low hundreds, or dozens. A few thousand copies is good for us, around one in ten gets up to five figures. We have several new titles over the last three years that have sold in tens of thousands, we have not had a recent one in the adult area that has sold in hundreds of thousands.

Fallacies;
"the norm for fiction"
OK, poorly phrased, I've changed it to "common in fiction". I've given specific sales figures there for the titles that went on to be Booker shortlisted in that year, and specific sales figures taken from the Bookseller for the top titles in a couple of specialist categories, which are more the kind of areas we publish in (which you've snipped out of your quote - I'll add the relevant bit below, because I think it supports what I say).

I didn't mean to suggest that sales in the low hundreds were average in fiction, for publishers, obviously, yes, then they'ld go bust. Our average is 3000 copies (total number of sales divided by number of titles). But yes, most of our new titles sell in hundreds. I think that's true of publishing as a whole, taken broadly. All publishers rely on a small number of titles to bankroll other attempts. Obviously, major fiction houses will have a higher average, they have higher costs, higher sales hurdles etc.

I think I've said earlier, about a book every working day on average, around 15 publishers/editors, and we use a couple of dozen copy editors proof readers. They are not all employees, but that again is true of publishing generally.

I don't think I said that Penguin makes most of its income from AuthorHouse. From memory, Penguin is v roughly a £1 billion business, and they paid $120 million for AuthorHouse, about once times revenues. Maybe it's nearer 5%, I'm not sure. I've said before, around 95% of our own sales are sales to the trade, physical and online, with 5% as author subsidy and books sold to authors. Last year, one out of four titles we published had a subsidy element.

I think this started with my querying Preditors & Editors why we were described as a vanity house (and why they strongly recommend
some other publishers who are obviously vanity ones, and class some others like Hay House as vanity publishers who are obviously not). Their reply was
Although you use subsidy on only a small percentage of what's accepted, it's much like being a "little bit pregnant" which is technically impossible. In other words, either you are or you aren't.......Though it might not be any consolation, P&E has applied the same reasoning and recommendation to large publishers that have delved into the opening of a vanity arm for their publishing house.

I think all the large publishers have a vanity arm, apart from Hachette. I replied to Preditors with relevant URLs to company press releases etc, as they didn't believe me, but haven't had a reply. All university presses publish a significant % of titles with a subsidy of some form. If the reasoning was applied consistently, there would be very few people to publish with.

I can't see that you've pointed out any incorrect, misleading or untrue statements in the User Manual. There are places where it could be phrased better, and given its length, that's not surprising. You seem intent on misunderstanding what I say if at all possible, but I guess that's your privilege.

the bit you snipped out;

The sales are not evenly distributed, with a small number of "brand name" authors taking the lion's share. This is particularly so in fiction, where about 0.01% titles account for 50% of the sales, 0.1% account for around 80%, etc.

The average sale of properly-published books, outside the roster of top brand names, reduces each year. It is not the "fault" of publishers, that they can not or do not want to sell books. It is a straightforward equation between the number of readers (roughly static) and the number of titles (always increasing, and through online sites etc. all increasingly available – several million on sale at amazon, and the number of books Google is currently digitizing runs to 130 million, see http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2010/08/books-of-world-stand-up-and-be-counted.html.)

Looking at the latest Bookseller analysis of sales in 2008; in the kind of non-fiction specialist areas that we mostly publish in, a sale of 3,000 copies in, for example, "popular philosophy" (rather than academic philosophy, where good sales are in the hundreds), would easily get you into the top 20 titles in the UK in 2008, into the company of authors like Julian Baggini, Alain de Botton and Bertrand Russell (yes, he still sells). In the larger area of "popular science", a sale of 6,000 copies would get you into the same top 20 as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. In a smaller area like environment/green books, 500 copies gets you into the top 20*. Sales needed in the USA would be a little higher, but not in a different ballpark. Given the tens of thousands of new titles coming out in each of these areas each year, these achievements are rare. Its one reason why it makes sense for us (and you) to publish for all markets around the world, despite the extra costs of servicing more than one.
As a post from Scott Pack, publisher of The Friday Project imprint (Harper Collins), ex-head buyer of Waterstones (equivalent in the US of B&N and Borders together), said in a post Fall 2010- 1,000 readers for any book is bloody good these days. More below.

Fiction

The Man Booker prize for new fiction is the most important and prestigious in the English-speaking world. In 2007, when the shortlist was announced for that year, selected from the cream of thousands of new fiction titles that had been submitted, the sales of the selected titles had been, since publication in the previous 12 months;

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan; 101,137

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; 1,519

Master Pip by Lloyd Jones; 880

The Gathering by Anne Enright (the eventual winner); 834

Darkmans by Nicola Barker; 499

Animal’s People by Indra Sinha; 231


Non-fiction

It is not much different for non-fiction. Amusing piece recently at http://www.booktrade.info/i.php/23658.

Well known author, weekly article in two national newspapers, national BBC TV presenter, lots of articles and promotion, loads of 5 star reviews on Amazon, OK it is hardback, but just getting up to 1,000 copies.

*Heres an update on total trade sales in the UK for the first nine months of 2009 for the top 20 environmental/green books, both new titles and evergreen sellers; The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock 10,702; Sustainable Energy by David MacKay 9,857; The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock 3,941; Waste; Uncovering the Global Food Scandal by Tristram Stuart 3,418; Heaven and Earth; Global Warming by Ian Plimer 2,756; The Transition Handbook by Bob Hopkins 2,730; Six Degrees by Mark Lynas 2,492; Silent Spring by Rachel Carson 1,585; The Hot Topic by Walker & King 1,420; Ecologic by Brian Clegg 1,307; Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman 1,222; An Appeal to Reason by Nigel Lawson 989; An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore 907; Change the World 9 to 5 748; Field Notes from a Catastrophe 500; The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin 443; Do Good Lies Have to Cost the Earth? by Smith & Simms 357; Save Cash and Save the Planet by Smith & Baird 341; ACME Climate Action 312. (Source; The Bookseller)

Ps; update in 2010

The trends listed above have increased dramatically over the last couple of years. The top selling environmental title in 2010 for instance was still The Vanishing Face of Gaia, but with sales now of 5,234.
 

LindaJeanne

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You say that you don't pay royalties on the first thousand books sold.

You say that most books you publish "sell in the hundreds"

I can't help wondering: what percentage of your authors have received a royalty check from you? The hard number, as in X%

My second question: I'm only on my first cup of coffee, so perhaps you did answer this and I missed it, but I still haven't seen the answer to
How many books in total do all of your imprints publish each year, and how many editors do you employ to work on all of these books?

Which I also think is an important question.
 

Momento Mori

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I like the fact that John's User Guide quoted the Man Booker figures for 2007 only 5 years ago). The whole purpose of the Booker prize is to boost sales figures for literary fiction, which traditionally sells lower numbers than other types of book. Those figures are always published as part of an article on whether book awards boost sales and it's worth noting that after her win in 2007, Enright went on to sell 250,000 copies of that book by February 2008 (source here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/mar/15/fiction.featuresreviews).

As for mainstream publishers owning vanity presses? Yes they do and it's not something that I like. However, those vanity arms are independent companies within the corporate structure and they are honest up front about only offering pay-to-play services. And what John is conveniently failing to mention is that the other arms of Penguin et all, all offer advances, which John Hunt Publishing does not appear to do - even for those who look like they could sell over 3,000 copies.

MM
 

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