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Musa Publishing

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CC.Allen

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While a bummer for myself, I wanted to assure those who questioned it earlier in this thread that Musa is not taking everything. I also received a timely and polite rejection this morning.

Even as a scorned (j/k) submittee, I still like where this company is headed and will say that I am excited for them and those writers who have joined their ranks. Maybe another day down the road I will have another opportunity... until then, I - as are many others I believe - am still keeping an eye in that direction.
 

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I submitted to Musa last night and have cried all day because my $%# email program completely boogered the submission that I spend four hours perfecting to comply with their standards. The editors probably think I'm a moron.

i only have hotmail and yahoo email accounts. Yahoo wouldn't let me use Times New Roman, so I was forced to use hotmail.

I blind-carbon copied myself....and hotmail inserted multiple spaces between lines and skewed paragraphs.

I sent a follow-up message to the editor with an explanation and apology, but don't have much hope they'll actually read it.

I hate stupidity. How much more excremental luck can a person have in this business? Especially when this WASN'T my fault.
 

mscelina

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I can assure you that, seeing as the editor at Musa once misspelled the name of her OWN BOOK in a query to an agent once (fortunately, the agent thought it was funny) that no one at Musa is going to deep-six your submission because of a hotmail error. In fact, I saw your explanatory email last night. No worries.
 

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Ohhh.... I could use up a thesaurus and still not find adequate words to express my gratitude.

THANK you. (I know you don't like bolding, or I'd use it.)
 

Gravity

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Just a heads up that my SF novel The Radiance will be released through Musa Publishing on February 10th. Here's setup:

Former Army Ranger Travis Walker discovers hope for his shattered life coming from an unexpected source. A force of mysterious origin, dubbed the Radiance, is causing worldwide intelligence, both human and animal, to advance at a horrifying rate. Worse, no one knows when the effect will stop … or if it can be stopped.

A crack team of scientists and military leaders—and headed by Travis’s wealthy industrialist brother Cale—is hastily assembled to combat the phenomenon. Against his better judgment Travis is drafted into this group to give his “everyman” take on things. There he finds himself running on an inside track, battling not only worldwide hopelessness, terrorism, and greed, but his own dark and cynical passions as well.

And it is here, in this strange new battlefield at the brink of Armageddon, the wounded warrior will find his hard-won skills being called upon ... one last time.

The novel will be available on Kindle, Nook, and all the rest; if enough e-copies are sold (hint-hint, nudge-nudge), it'll be in print as well. Plus, the editor assigned to it told me today via email: " ... the corrections are very light as your writing is incredibly tight. The further I read, the more I was pulled into your story and anticipated just what would happen next."

Man, ya gotta love that! :D
 

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Oh, Gravity, congratulations!!!!

honeysock - same here. I also appreciate the emphasis on historical accuracy. I'm an historical reenactor, and an author loses credibiity when I find glitches in a novel. Too many writers use Hollywood (bleck!) for references instead of period sources. Kudos for a publisher that really cares.
 
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Old Hack

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You have signed a lot of authors in a short time...

I've noticed that too, and although I am absolutely certain that Celina has only the best of intentions and some useful experience with which to back up those intentions, I'll admit to being concerned by the speed with which Musa has developed. Because as we all know, good intentions are not a strong enough foundation upon which to build a good new publisher.

I'm also concerned that because so many of us know Celina, we've not asked her the hard questions that we'd usually ask of a new publisher who appeared here.

Celina, please don't take this post as a criticism of you or of Musa. It's not, not at all. But I am concerned that we're operating a double standard here because so many members consider you a friend, and I don't think that's fair. Not to you, nor to any of the other publishers who have had to endure ordeal-by-AW. I hope you understand.
 

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Now that MUSA has been up and running for a few months, I thought it would be helpful to find out a bit more about how you market and promote your books. You have signed a lot of authors in a short time, so I'm sure the topic of how you generate sales would be advantageous.

I am soooooooooooo tempted to say that we generate sales by having good books, but I'm not going to do that to myself. Sometimes, smartass is NOT a good thing.

Right now, we've developed a thorough campaign through social media. Our authors work together, and under the direction of our promotions department, to generate interest and buzz on Twitter, Facebook, and industry blogs. Our promotions and marketing department also develops press releases, interviews, and guest appearance opportunities. We've had authors interviewed on the radio (For example, Martin Bodenham, author of The Geneva Connection, was interviewed on the BBC radio just this week). We also place our books with multiple third party sites--some tailored to a specific genre so we aren't putting up a horror book at an erotica focused site--and get our ARCs to multiple reviewers. I believe our current list of reviewers is around forty sites. And, I can't forget to mention that Musa books are receiving multiple nominations now that awards season is here, so our books are doing well with reviewers and readers both. In the next few months, the efforts of our marketing department are going to be focused on a particular project that I'm not yet at liberty to discuss--but should be within the week.

As with our publishing programs, our advertising and marketing programs are still growing. We do have a core of knowledgeable staff members (several of whom are marketing/advertising professionals) that are developing our future promotions to work better for our company and our authors. We are always seeking to expand our marketing in much the same way that we are always seeking to strengthen our core base. Our site is averaging 10,000 hits plus per day, and with some outstanding trade publisher authors will familiar and beloved names added to the Homer Eon Flint project, we're generating greater general interest for Musa books all the time.



I've noticed that too, and although I am absolutely certain that Celina has only the best of intentions and some useful experience with which to back up those intentions, I'll admit to being concerned by the speed with which Musa has developed. Because as we all know, good intentions are not a strong enough foundation upon which to build a good new publisher.

I'm also concerned that because so many of us know Celina, we've not asked her the hard questions that we'd usually ask of a new publisher who appeared here.

Celina, please don't take this post as a criticism of you or of Musa. It's not, not at all. But I am concerned that we're operating a double standard here because so many members consider you a friend, and I don't think that's fair. Not to you, nor to any of the other publishers who have had to endure ordeal-by-AW. I hope you understand.

Not offended at all and I agree. I've been tough on new publishers throughout my career at AW and absolutely expect the same scrutiny here. For the most part, I think Musa can stand up to it.

Look--here's the thing: regardless of who works there or who's being published there, Musa IS a fledgling press. And although the senior staff has extensive experience in e-publishing, we're still going to make some mistakes within the first year. And anyone who is uncomfortable or leery in submitting to a fledgling press should absolutely NOT submit to Musa just because I am there. My fingers are in a lot of little pies at Musa, but not every single book. That's impossible.

The Musa business model is based off two major points. First off, we wanted to bring the author further into the publishing process than other publishers. That's why we allow our authors to track their sales live, to know their royalties before they get the check, to keep them reassured and connected to the process at every stage of the game. That's why our royalties breakdown and contracts are on our website--because we believe in full accountability for Musa as a business and because we want to educate our authors for their careers beyond Musa.

But the other point is pretty simple: we're putting our money where our mouths are. We've taken on the challenge of building a publisher that no other publisher in the world believes can work.

We may fail. In fact, the odds are against us overall, I think. But, the fact of the matter is that we don't really care about the odds. There's a core of people at Musa behind the scenes--almost forty at last count--who are working long hours to make sure each book gets the same attention to detail as the USA Today Bestselling author, or authors with huge followings in their genres. Right now, we have over 400 books contracted, with our schedule working into summer of 2012, over two hundred authors registered on our database. We have agented and unagented authors, bestsellers and debut and genre hacks just like me. And what we really have at Musa right now that I've not experienced at another press (at least to this degree) is this overwhelming conviction among our authors and staff that Musa is exactly what we meant back in the day when we started off sentences with, "If I were a publisher, I would *blah blah blah.*"

Musa is going to hit speed bumps, naturally. We're a work in progress, established with a small financial cushion and 100 hour work weeks. January is our 'month off' with only four releases a week not counting the two Homer Eon Flint releases and Penumbra. But our authors, staff, and agents can check our database at any time to find sales figures. Our emails are usually answered in hours. Our submissions process is swift and particular. And our staff works as a unit to have one goal--to make Musa succeed.

And whether we succeed or fail, it's all going to be above-board and public. We can't hide behind the label of 'publisher.' Everything we have and are is available to our authors at any time.
 

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Sometimes, smartass is NOT a good thing.

That's a lesson I really need to learn one of these days. I live in hope.

I believe our current list of reviewers is around forty sites.

Forty seems far too few to me, Celina, but my background is mostly in print publishing, so perhaps I'm out of line here. I'm used to upwards of 150 ARCs being sent out, plus enough to cover the list the author provides which will usually be in the low tens, but with some authors can run to hundreds.

Not offended at all and I agree. I've been tough on new publishers throughout my career at AW and absolutely expect the same scrutiny here. For the most part, I think Musa can stand up to it.

I'm glad to hear that. Brace yourself!

Look--here's the thing: regardless of who works there or who's being published there, Musa IS a fledgling press.

This one point is enough to make me hesitate to recommend Musa to anyone, I'm afraid. As I hope you'll realise, this isn't personal: but we don't know how well you're going to do just yet, nor do we know how well you're going to react to any problems you might encounter (and you're bound to encounter a few).

The Musa business model is based off two major points. First off, we wanted to bring the author further into the publishing process than other publishers. That's why we allow our authors to track their sales live, to know their royalties before they get the check, to keep them reassured and connected to the process at every stage of the game.

Judging from what you say there you're giving your authors more information about their sales, but not giving them more power in the publishing process. Which is good, because authors don't always make the best choices when it comes to cover design and so on (and speaking of cover design: I find the titles on many of your covers impossible to read, even when they're not at thumbnail size--you might want to take a look).

Putting how you treat your authors so high on your list of priorities is not good from a business point of view. Yes, it's nice of you: but authors don't fund your business, readers do. It's readers you should be focusing on. I've seen so many publishers fail because they placed more emphasis on looking after their authors than on attracting readers. Please don't fall into the same trap.

But the other point is pretty simple: we're putting our money where our mouths are. We've taken on the challenge of building a publisher that no other publisher in the world believes can work.

And here I get really, really worried. Bravado is all very well, but it doesn't pay the rent.

If "no other publisher in the world believes [Musa] can work" then you're pretty much bound to fail. Most publishers I know are astute business people. If this wasn't just a throwaway comment you should have thought about more carefully, and is really how you're operating, then I have to advise everyone who has submitted to you to withdraw their submissions immediately; and if it was a throwaway comment you're now regretting, it doesn't speak well about your professionalism.

We may fail. In fact, the odds are against us overall, I think. But, the fact of the matter is that we don't really care about the odds.

I hope you've made this clear to the authors you've signed up. It's not a good base for you to be operating from; and if it really is where you're at, then in your position I'd start reverting rights to all the authors I'd signed. Sorry, Celina, but if you're so certain that the odds are against you but you just don't care then you should not be contracting writers to publish with you unless you're absolutely clear about this with them before they sign. And even then I'd question whether it's reasonable for you to do so: we both know how desperate writers can be when there's the chance of publication before them.

Right now, we have over 400 books contracted

FOUR HUNDRED?

FOUR HUNDRED?

I'm sorry, I'm gobsmacked. Unless you have a ridiculously long publishing schedule and/or almost as many editors working for you as you have books signed up, you're in trouble. Sorry: sorry. You know I consider you both a friend and jolly good sort but I don't see how you can cope with that many books when you're so new, and so small. And if you're not small, and have all sorts of staff engaged to cope with this huge schedule, then that implies a whole new raft of other problems because I don't see how a publisher which is as new as Musa can succeed if it's expanded as quickly as it seems Musa has. Cashflow scuppers publishers which expand too quickly, every time.

How many editors do you have working for you? How quickly do you intend to get these 400 books edited, designed, marketed and published? How much attention do your writers and their books get prior to publication? I've seen you talk about editing with great passion: you must be intending to edit your books properly and market them effectively; but if you have 400 books signed up already I simply don't see how you can do this.

And what we really have at Musa right now that I've not experienced at another press (at least to this degree) is this overwhelming conviction among our authors and staff that Musa is exactly what we meant back in the day when we started off sentences with, "If I were a publisher, I would *blah blah blah.*"

Good intentions and a big dose of the warm fuzzies are not enough to guarantee success.


I'm going to take a deep breath here.

Based on the single post from mscelina which I'm responding to here, I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time. I strongly advise anyone who is considering sending their work in to wait at least a year, to give Musa time to prove that it can sell books in good quantities.

I give my sincere apologies to all involved, and hope that I'm wrong to be so worried and so cautious. Only time will tell.
 

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First off, we wanted to bring the author further into the publishing process than other publishers. That's why we allow our authors to track their sales live, to know their royalties before they get the check, to keep them reassured and connected to the process at every stage of the game.
I'm not certain how letting authors track their sales is bringing them further into the publishing process. Can you clarify this?

But the other point is pretty simple: we're putting our money where our mouths are. We've taken on the challenge of building a publisher that no other publisher in the world believes can work.
I really worry when publishers talk like this because there isn't a model that hasn't been tried (and many failed), so what makes this such a landmark statement? Furthermore, I'm not even sure what this means. If that many people believe you'll not succeed, then how is this supposed to reassure your authors?

Right now, we have over 400 books contracted, with our schedule working into summer of 2012, over two hundred authors registered on our database.
I can't tell you how much this alarms me. How on earth can you edit, market, and promote that many authors in that short of a time span? I know you'd never become an author mill, but I'm sorry...this frankly scares the tar out of me.

I know you're honest and have your heart in the right place, but I think you've taken a huge bite without assurances that you can pull it off. Is this fair to your authors? When you said upstream somewhere that you were taking things slowly and were being careful with your money, I thought it meant you were signing a manageable number of authors in order to properly promote your authors. It seems you're spreading yourself awfully thin with four hundred authors. My head is still spinning.

I have to agree with Jane here and recommend that authors give Musa a couple years to solidify their reputation and create a firmer foundation.
 
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CC.Allen

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I have a question, Old Hack (or anyone else who may have the knowledge to chime in, obviously)... And for the record this is a straight up question with no hidden cynicism or such within. I honestly do not know the answers to this.

Anyhow, what happens to an author and their work(s) if the worst does happen with their publisher?

It seems to me that Celina and Musa would obviously have a lot to lose, but I don’t see how much a writer under contract would have to lose, other than time invested. And if many writers new to this game (such as myself, I admit) have much more to gain than lose, would you still recommend they pull away from Musa? Your concerns, point by point have a lot of merit as I read them, which makes me worry for the Musa folks, whom I find myself rooting for, for some reason. For the record, I have submitted to and been rejected by Musa & have no ties to them whatsoever. I am thinking more along the lines of the plethora of other young-ish publishing companies that I am thinking of submitting to over time.
 

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what happens to an author and their work(s) if the worst does happen with their publisher?

If a publisher goes belly-up then the authors who signed up to them can lose the rights to their books.

Publishers will sometimes revert rights to all books back to their authors before they fail, or include clauses in their contracts which put this in place in such an eventuality: but there have been cases where the Administrators of the companies concerned (or whatever you call them in America) claw those rights back as it's sometimes considered an illegal disposal of assets prior to bankruptcy.

It seems to me that Celina and Musa would obviously have a lot to lose, but I don’t see how much a writer under contract would have to lose, other than time invested.

Time invested, and the book under contract.

And if many writers new to this game (such as myself, I admit) have much more to gain than lose, would you still recommend they pull away from Musa?

At this point I recommend that writers do not submit to Musa. If writers are already signed up to publishing with Musa then that's an entirely different case: there might not be provision in the contracts which have been signed to allow them to withdraw from their contracts without incurring financial or other penalties.

Your concerns, point by point have a lot of merit as I read them, which makes me worry for the Musa folks, whom I find myself rooting for, for some reason.

I hope Musa succeeds too. If they've signed up four hundred books then there will be lots of distraught writers if they don't.

For the record, I have submitted to and been rejected by Musa & have no ties to them whatsoever. I am thinking more along the lines of the plethora of other young-ish publishing companies that I am thinking of submitting to over time.

The usual advice is to wait until a company has established itself before you submit to it. A high proportion of new presses collapse in their first year or two of trading. Why expose yourself to that possibility?
 

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Anyhow, what happens to an author and their work(s) if the worst does happen with their publisher?
It depends on the publisher and what that "worst" means. If you're talking about the publisher going under, then the author would be smart to try to get a letter of reversion from the publisher. Barring that, the book may be lost.

It seems to me that Celina and Musa would obviously have a lot to lose, but I don’t see how much a writer under contract would have to lose, other than time invested.
Authors stand to lose money. Many publishers who go out of business fail to pay royalties. As I mentioned above, they may also lose their book.

And if many writers new to this game (such as myself, I admit) have much more to gain than lose, would you still recommend they pull away from Musa?
I would exercise great caution with any new publisher until they prove they have what it takes to properly edit their books, have the ability to market, promote, and distribute their books, and have a good cash flow.
 
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honeysock

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With all due respect to Priceless and Old Hack who offer tons of great advice backed by years of experience, I think this is a bit alarmist: "I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time."

I cannot speak for all the writers who have signed with Musa, but I knew when I signed that I was taking a risk by going with a fledgling e-publisher. I'm TOTALLY okay with that. It's not like there's no information about that here on these forums.

Over a two-year period I exhausted my list of potential agents after doing revise and re-submits for the likes of such established agents as Marc y Posne r, Bo b Meco y, and Ann e Bohne r (who actually submitted my book to a major pub. without signing me!) and running into dead-ends with Thoma s & Merce r and a few other new or small print publishers. My book and I were both tired to death of trying to find it a home. When I submitted to Musa and they said "Hell yeah!" (in a manner of speaking), I laughed and danced. If they were willing to take a risk on my between-genres "crookbook," then I was willing to take a risk with them.

My eyes are wide open. There are no guarantees in this business anywhere.

Will I sell ten books? A hundred? Doesn't matter. It's more than I would have sold with the book still sitting in its hundred revised forms in my laptop.

Poll: who, of those who have signed with Musa, wants to cancel their contract?
 

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With all due respect to Priceless and Old Hack who offer tons of great advice backed by years of experience, I think this is a bit alarmist: "I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time."

I cannot speak for all the writers who have signed with Musa, but I knew when I signed that I was taking a risk by going with a fledgling e-publisher. I'm TOTALLY okay with that. It's not like there's no information about that here on these forums.

As I understand Priceless' and Old Hack's post, one of their major sticking points is the number of books Musa has under contract, not necessarily that Musa is fledgling. Four hundred is a lot of books for a small house in such a small window of time.

It's a valid concern I'm sure Celina understands.
 

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I just wanted to jump into the discussion as a Musa author and share my two cents about my experience with them. I knew when I signed with them that I was taking a risk because they were so new. I am totally ok with taking a risk. If something goes wrong, I can always write another book. I signed because I had a good gut feeling about them and I've learned to follow those feelings. I've been nothing but happy with them. They answer my (sometimes silly) e-mail question usually within minutes and jump through hoops to help their authors. The promotions director is really hands on and gives us all kinds of markerting oppertunities. Blog tours, radio interviews, and social media are just a tiny bit of the marketing going on. I also have been working on my own marketing plan because I think every author should take some responsibility in marketing their work. No matter what happens in the future, Musa has been a great experience in my life. It may not be the right place for every author, but I know in my heart it is the right place for me (and my book.)
 

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With all due respect to Priceless and Old Hack who offer tons of great advice backed by years of experience, I think this is a bit alarmist: "I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time."

I think it's quite reasoned. I don't read it as and indictment on Musa, honeysock, or as ringing the death knell on any of their authors' books, but concerns have been raised (some by Ms. Celina herself), which warrant caution. The same caution that's recommended throughout the BR&BC, and we'd be hypocritical not to recommend it here, simply because we know the publisher.

For what it's worth, I've had several of these concerns for quite a long time, but as others seemed okay with how things were proceeding, I didn't trust my vastly limited understanding of the industry enough to raise my hand and say "hey, that's a LOT of new books being picked up."

I look forward to my concerns being put to rest. I could not mean that more sincerely.
 

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It depends on the publisher and what that "worst" means. If you're talking about the publisher going under, then the author would be smart to try to get a letter of reversion from the publisher. Barring that, the book may be lost.

Authors stand to lose money. Many publishers who go out of business fail to pay royalties. As I mentioned above, they may also lose their book.

I would exercise great caution with any new publisher until they prove they have what it takes to properly edit their books, have the ability to market, promote, and distribute their books, and have a good cash flow.

Extremely good advice. New publishers are always risky. I'd be interested in knowing the terms of Musa's contract. How long is an author required to sign up for, and is there a termination fee? Also, in the event of the publisher going out of business, do all rights then revert back to the author?
 

Stacia Kane

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With all due respect to Priceless and Old Hack who offer tons of great advice backed by years of experience, I think this is a bit alarmist: "I cannot recommend that any writer submits to Musa Publishing at this time."

I cannot speak for all the writers who have signed with Musa, but I knew when I signed that I was taking a risk by going with a fledgling e-publisher. I'm TOTALLY okay with that. It's not like there's no information about that here on these forums.

Right, you're fine with that risk. But Priceless and Old Hack--among others (including myself) never recommend that authors take risks on publishers. That's why OH said she cannot recommend Musa. Because you yourself acknowledge it's a risk.

"I can't recommend them at this time," especially in context, does not equal "Anyone who signs with this house is a fool." It means "I don't recommend authors take risks with their work."



Poll: who, of those who have signed with Musa, wants to cancel their contract?

This is an example of the logical fallacy known as "appeal to inappropriate authority." There are only a few Musa authors here; none to my knowledge have had their books released yet or have completed the editing process--they're in the "Honeymoon period." The likelihood of Honeymooning authors wanting to cancel is slim. Furthermore (again, to my knowledge) none of those signed authors are experts on publishing or even have extensive experience in it, so their opinions, while important, are not necessarily indicative of the odds of success for this publisher or of the odds of success for each author at this publisher, nor are they proof of quality.

Not that I'm comparing Musa in any way to Publishamerica, but an awful lot of their Honeymooners are awfully happy, too.

Personally, I'd love to see Musa succeed and am hoping they do, and think the odds for them are better than many startups. But they *are* a start-up, and Celina acknowledges the risk in that herself (which she would, being a smart, fair-minded, and knowledgeable individual). So I wouldn't necessarily recommend them either; you might be happy with only a handful of sales (I'm not saying that's all you'll get, I'm just using your words), but that's definitely not the case for most of us, and I'm just not comfortable recommending a publisher with no track record of sales.
 

Marian Perera

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The same caution that's recommended throughout the BR&BC, and we'd be hypocritical not to recommend it here, simply because we know the publisher.

Agreed. I have a lot of respect for how Celina handled the Aspen Mountain debacle, but imagine what the reaction would be if a new publisher no one had ever heard of started a thread here and said, "The odds are against us and no other publisher believes our business can work".

People would be wondering (rightly so) if those other publishers had a good reason for their consensus of opinion.
 

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