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priceless1

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Samhain uses digitial printing, or POD technology.

Why? Because they have a) catalogs, b) distribution, c) marketing. They DO use the POD machine to print and not offset, they don't have the demand of a Scholastic or Scribner, but they get orders and print books in advance. If they get orders for 1,000 books, they print 1,000 books and some extra. The books are reasonably priced and fully returnable. If stores want more, they can get them in days.
Christine, as you say, Samhain has a ready income source through their e-books, but say those 1,000 copies come back via returns. You multiply that times enough authors, and you're in serious trouble because you still have all those printing costs. So on one end, it looks to be the best of both worlds. But on the other end, they have opened themselves up for more risk; the same risk trade publishers have, and I think they're having some real problems.

Returns can kill a publisher faster than anything. Mundania (trying to drag this back on topic) understands this, and that's why they are POD. They can operate on far less money. Since they can't get shelf space, they aren't beholden to large print runs unless they are a guaranteed sale - like Amazon, for instance. This reduces their risk. It keeps them in business, but it's not good for the authors who are looking for distribution and shelf space. Unfortunately, the Mundania site is so tightened up, it's impossible to discern they are POD, which authors discover after they've signed the contract.

I have no problem with POD provided they are up front about who they are and what they can and can't do for their authors.
 

Christine N.

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I also understand that too, but isn't that the risk you take when you put books on shelves? Every publisher with a book on the shelf also takes that risk. There are no guarantees. But by the time Samhain is ready to print a book, I think, they've already made money off of the title. There's a chance the print edition will tank, but then there's another title that will skyrocket that will make up the difference.

Which is most big publishers stay afloat anyway.

You're right, it's not something that will work for everyone. One of my publishers operates much the same way that Mundania does. They accept returns, and have been trying like heck to get shelf space but without much success. I KNOW that, and I've worked with it. As I said before, five years later I'm still collecting royalties. I promote myself, I write more books, my current releases help sell my backlist.

And yes, authors should understand all of this before they even submit to some place like Mundania or any of the other POD micropresses. Absolutely.
 
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priceless1

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I also understand that too, but isn't that the risk you take when you put books on shelves? Every publisher with a book on the shelf also takes that risk. There are no guarantees.
Right, there are no guarantees. However, trade publishers insulate themselves as much as they can by having stringent acceptance standards because it's their checkbook at stake. They understand what is selling, they have pre-sales before the book is released, so they have a general idea before the final print run how well that book may sell. They also have a sales team who's out there pitching their titles to the genre buyers. The trade publisher is working in the background to let readers and store managers know their new title exists. They send out hundreds of ARCs to anyone with a heartbeat and a big mouth.

Since PODs like Mundania have no distribution, they can't get in the stores. Since they lack a large enough operating budget, they don't produce ARCs that they send out to reviewers and big mouths. They have far fewer outlets in which to make money, so they have to depend on their authors to sell books for them.

Some spend a fortune hiring publicists - which is very scary for a POD author because many of the media outlets will ignore a POD book. They get ignored because they know there are no print runs.

If the book suddenly becomes popular and orders come flying in for thousands of units - stores want them yesterday, and they don't want to wait the month it normally takes to crank out a full print run. Chances are, they'll move on. This pisses off the people who publicized the book, and that's why many of your good publicists won't take POD authors.

It's almost scary for a POD to have an insanely successful author because the downside could bankrupt them. The POD publisher relies on their authors, and this is why they need a higher number of acceptances - yes, I've heard about the tough standards, but they do crank out a lot of books. They need high numbers to offset those authors who don't buy their own books or don't promote.

Before everyone begins screaming again, I'll just throw this out; if no one ever bought any of their own books, who would go out of business? The trade publisher or the POD?
 
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JulieB

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POD is good for short print runs, but it's still expensive compared to offset. It also requires an experienced tech who knows about how the machine works and about color printing.

I'll cite an example that was handed me earlier this week. I won't name the publisher (it's not PA, I'll say that), but the physical aspects of book have some problems. The binding is solid, but it was trimmed wrong. All of the pages on one side bleed so far into the gutter that the type practically runs into the binding. The cover, compared to the example on Amazon, is muddy. I can barely read the author's name. The book pushes 600 pages (I guestimate about 140K words) and sells for about $22. It's a brand new copy, but the plastic coating on the cover is starting to peel off the corners. Some tech wasn't paying attention, either because he or she wasn't trained or they're running off so many copies there's no time to catch any but the worst problems.

I have some very high quality POD books, and I have some that are falling apart. Overall quality and consistency has to improve, and that means hiring operators and technicians who know what they're doing. Can your local bookstore or coffee shop afford to do that? Probably not unless they're willing to pay for the skills.
 

Christine N.

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Right, there are no guarantees. However, trade publishers insulate themselves as much as they can by having stringent acceptance standards because it's their checkbook at stake. They understand what is selling, they have pre-sales before the book is released, so they have a general idea before the final print run how well that book may sell. They also have a sales team who's out there pitching their titles to the genre buyers. The trade publisher is working in the background to let readers and store managers know their new title exists.

I agree, and I'd have to say that someplace like Samhain is also doing a lot of that (marketing meets with the sales teams quarterly, I think), and seem to be making it work VERY well. Distribution IS pricey.

Julie, I agree that sometimes the POD quality physically isn't as good - and that's up to the printer to fix and the publisher to scream about. I think LS prints Samhain books, and they're great. But SP probably pays for the premium stuff. I've had bad books come from booksurge, where the cover machine wasn't working properly. I sent them back and they fixed it.

I'm not saying that all POD's can DO what SP does. I'm only holding them up as an example of a publisher that's made it work, getting books on shelves without being offset. Do ALL SP books get shelf space? No. I don't know how it's decided, but I think the sales team looks over the titles and decides which ones they will push. ALL of them are in the catalog, but if a store decides not to order them, those titles don't get printed until ordered.
 
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priceless1

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POD is good for short print runs, but it's still expensive compared to offset. It also requires an experienced tech who knows about how the machine works and about color printing.
You're right; it's expensive compared to offset (web based), but there are many great digital printers who crank out great books where the color holds up, and the binding stays put. They should send out a proof that the editor approves before they go to a print run - even if it's for 25 books. If the print run is crappy, the editor has to contact them and make them reprint the run because the books are unusable. I'm shocked anyone would allow a run to go out that's anything less than perfect.

And...we're veering off topic again.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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I'm not saying that all POD's can DO what SP does. I'm only holding them up as an example of a publisher that's made it work, getting books on shelves without being offset. Do ALL SP books get shelf space? No. I don't know how it's decided, but I think the sales team looks over the titles and decides which ones they will push. ALL of them are in the catalog, but if a store decides not to order them, those titles don't get printed until ordered.

I've seen SP books in the bookstores on their shelves.

I've never seen any Mundania books.

:(
 

JulieB

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Julie, I agree that sometimes the POD quality physically isn't as good - and that's up to the printer to fix and the publisher to scream about. I think LS prints Samhain books, and they're great. But SP probably pays for the premium stuff. I've had bad books come from booksurge, where the cover machine wasn't working properly. I sent them back and they fixed it.

This particular book was printed through BookSurge, but the author gave it to me so I can't exactly send it back. She did scream about the cover and they fixed the title so it didn't blend in to the cover art, but they didn't fix the author's name. Really, it's too bad.
 

priceless1

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This particular book was printed through BookSurge, but the author gave it to me so I can't exactly send it back. She did scream about the cover and they fixed the title so it didn't blend in to the cover art, but they didn't fix the author's name. Really, it's too bad.

Off topic again, but I've heard nothing but horror stories about Booksurge.
 

Christine N.

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They did go through a period where the cover machine wasn't working properly a few years back. My other publisher uses Booksurge, and except for that one incident, every other book I've seen from them (at least in my titles) have been fine.
 

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Before everyone begins screaming again, I'll just throw this out; if no one ever bought any of their own books, who would go out of business? The trade publisher or the POD?
I can't think of any trade publisher that would go out of business.

Many PODs would go out of business. Many would not. Some PODs rely on their authors as a sales force (or source of income). Some do not.

It's fair enough to say that a POD author is likely to sell a lot fewer copies of his book than a trade author. It's fair enough to say that an author submitting to a POD has to do his homework and make sure he knows what his publisher will and will not do, wheareas this isn't necessary when submitting to an established trade publisher. But it's unfair to say that all POD publishers rely on selling books to their authors, or via their authors. Many POD presses exist to serve a small niche market of readers, and do it quite successfully.
 

Feidb

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Jut got my 615th rejection today, and it was from Mundania. They have now rejected all three novels (in different genres) I've submitted. Of course, I have absolutely no idea why. Oh well...
 

Sheryl Nantus

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Jut got my 615th rejection today, and it was from Mundania. They have now rejected all three novels (in different genres) I've submitted. Of course, I have absolutely no idea why. Oh well...

how long did you have to wait from submission to rejection?

just curious...

good luck in the future!!!

:Hug2:
 

triceretops

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Jut got my 615th rejection today, and it was from Mundania. They have now rejected all three novels (in different genres) I've submitted. Of course, I have absolutely no idea why. Oh well...

OMG. I can't beat your overall sub rejects, because mine are sitting around the 400 mark for about 23 years. But Mundania hosed me for six novels--all different genres, in the past three years. The good news is, I can't keep the rest of the small press off my back--so far seven offers on five different titles.

Feidb, run your query through our Hell, if you haven't already. Might need some doctoring.

Tri
 

Feidb

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Triceretops,

Thanks for the kind words. I have run my fantasy query through Hell and got plenty of great responses, however many of them were contradictory. Once we got past the occaisonal awkward phrase, it came down to differing opinions on format. Overall, it helped me tweak it and I have used that version several times, but still with no luck.

After the Las Vegas Writer's Conference, I have a bunch of nibbles. At least the agents can put a face to the rejection! I may do another mass slam mailing and see if anything rises from the smoke.

I admire that you've been at it 23 years. I've been at it 15 years now. I'm just glad I write for pleasure, otherwise I would have given this up a long time ago!
 

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Feidb, I submitted in September 2008, and have yet to receive an acceptance or rejection from Mundania. I sent an inquiry in January, was told that they were still evaluating the submissions from the late 2008 open submission period, and to be patient. I just followed up tonight with a second inquiry. I'm not sure what to do if I'm told it's still under consideration, but this extensive wait is putting a crimp in my submission schedule. I don't want to have too many simultaneous submissions out there, and some of the places I'm considering submitting don't accept simultaneous submissions, so they're on hold. So at this point, I suppose I'm in a holding pattern waiting to hear back on my latest inquiry.
 

mlhernandez

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I saw a similar press release. Apparently Hard Shell (like Awe-Struck) will be an imprint of Mundania.
 

Angela James

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Christine, as you say, Samhain has a ready income source through their e-books, but say those 1,000 copies come back via returns. You multiply that times enough authors, and you're in serious trouble because you still have all those printing costs. So on one end, it looks to be the best of both worlds. But on the other end, they have opened themselves up for more risk; the same risk trade publishers have, and I think they're having some real problems.

Returns can kill a publisher faster than anything. Mundania (trying to drag this back on topic) understands this, and that's why they are POD. They can operate on far less money. Since they can't get shelf space, they aren't beholden to large print runs unless they are a guaranteed sale - like Amazon, for instance. This reduces their risk. It keeps them in business, but it's not good for the authors who are looking for distribution and shelf space. Unfortunately, the Mundania site is so tightened up, it's impossible to discern they are POD, which authors discover after they've signed the contract.

I have no problem with POD provided they are up front about who they are and what they can and can't do for their authors.

I hope you don't mind me dredging up a several-month-old convo but you forgot something important in the discussion that makes the entire discussion incomplete: reserve against returns. The reason we (Samhain) can do print, and do it w/out complete fear of it taking us under is because we have a reserve against returns clause.

Also, we are extraordinarily lucky to have an unusually low return rate, for whatever reason.
 

allenparker

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The reason we (Samhain) can do print, and do it w/out complete fear of it taking us under is because we have a reserve against returns clause.

Also, we are extraordinarily lucky to have an unusually low return rate, for whatever reason.

Return rate has to do with knowing your market, quality books with authors who know how to write, and with editing that is above reproach. With those elements, your return rate will be small.

Although this is probably off topic again, when a POD publisher incorporates those elements into their business plan, they cease to have the risk others have with returns.

That said, returns kill equally. They kill the POD publisher who has not done his homework and they kill the offset publisher when he hasn't done his homework. In this discussion, it is a wash.
 

JL_Benet

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Please excuse me if this question has already been asked (I've tried reading through this entire thread, but I may have missed something): why are most of the covers made using Poser?
http://poser.smithmicro.com/poserpro.html
I've seen many small and even micro presses that are able to make amazing covers either using stock art or by hiring up-and-coming artists. It seems that using Poser would be a detriment to the ability to sell the books. I know people say, "Don't judge a book by it's cover;" but readers do exactly that.
 
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veinglory

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Phaze is rather well know for their outrageous poser covers. While I agree with you in the abstract, there is no evidence that it is effecting their sales which are better than for your average epublisher. Nor is there any reaon to think they are paying less for their Poser covers than other presses do for their stock photo covers.