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Pen Name Publishing

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

shelleyo

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In summary, run from this one. Here are the details:

They appear to be brand new with only one book published so far, and two in the queue. My first impressions are that they're not out to take authors--they don't charge writers money. That's good. Beyond ascertaining that, I'm not reading their site (though you can glean a lot from it, like how they don't use commas where they should a lot of the time). I'm much more interested in their books.

I don't care for their covers at all, though of the three, the book that's out is the better one.

The book that's been published is by a new author and has 44 reviews. That's about 43 more than books from small publishers that aren't any good seem to get. But a lot of those 5-star reviews, particularly the early ones and even some newer ones, are from people who have only ever reviewed that one book, or they reviewed 2 or 3 other non-book things on the same day as the book, and that's it. I'm not saying the reviews aren't real or anything, but that always raises my eyebrows when it's a large number of the reviews. Could be lots of people who follow her fashion blog buying and reviewing because they like her, when they don't normally buy and/or review books on Amazon. That's a distinct possibility to keep in mind.

One reviewer (at least, didn't read them all) mentions Facebook events for the author, and another (at least) also mentions Story Cartel. That's a site where you provide your book to readers free in exchange for an honest review. I don't know anything about that site, personally, whether it's on the up and up or not. But it does at least appear the publisher is making an effort toward marketing. That's something many small publishers, especially upstarts, fail at. So that's good.

Yet, I didn't get through the entire book description. It looks bad on the page. They need to fix that and make some paragraphs. It's been up since May, so that's 3 months to go in and fix the thing. The overuse of ellipses and dashes sets off alarms in my head. The lack of necessary commas does the same. You're trying to sell a book. Is it too much work to make it correct and pleasing to the eye to read?

I read the first several paragraphs of the book, and without commenting on the quality of the story (which may be fantastic, in all fairness, I don't know), the editing is terrible. In my opinion, both the content and copy-editing are seriously lacking, but the copy-editing is downright atrocious.

First, and some of this may be subjective, I think the opening could be so much tighter and focused. We have the character, but nothing about her as much as the scene around her, and then we're already in a daydream flashback to yesterday in paragraph two. She has to be snapped out of that before anything happens. And then nothing really happens. It's warm-up, descriptively lovely warm-up, but warm-up all the same. I want the main character's personality, not a description of the hotel redesign that she's writing about in an article. I don't mean to sound harsh or anything, because this is the way a lot of writers start. But it's first-draft stuff, or should be. I put this solely on the shoulders of the "publisher" who put it up that way. If they can't recognize a typical beginner opening, they shouldn't be publishing anybody's books. Unfortunately, this is all too common among small pubs this days.

Second, there are enough basic comma errors to put me off, without even taking any other mistakes into account. So many missing commas. So many. This is basic stuff. A publisher providing simple, competent proofreading, let alone editing, would never allow that.

The writer has a way with description and an eye for detail, but the mechanics need work, and a little murdering of the darlings is needed, too. This publisher didn't help with any of that, unfortunately.

I don't even have to look for editing credentials on the site. No one with any editing skills edited that book. A writer competent in basic mechanics didn't even edit that book, because those errors would have been corrected. If your publisher isn't going to correctly edit your manuscript, you don't want them. I'm aggravated on the author's behalf, because with some work and a toss of that book into a rock Tumblr a time or two to grind it down and polish it a bit, she'd have a much better book with better chances of success. And she'd have a better idea about how to write the next first draft in a way that gets it closer to the final draft, faster.

Run, writers, run.
 
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aliceshortcake

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Their 'What We Want' list includes 'Drama, Adventure Novels, Suspense, Thriller'. I'm puzzled - what's the difference? They also want 'Workplace Tell All', whatever that is. And what are 'Champion Tales'?
 

Clairels

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I have no experience with them, but here are my observations: Most of the website still seems geared toward authors rather than readers. Their first FAQ is "are you a vanity press?" I also noticed quite a few typos. They seem to go out of their way to keep referring to both authors and readers as a "family." Ugh.

On the other hand, I like their covers. But that may be because the founder, Dionne Aboulela, has a background in art, not publishing.
 

zmethos

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I have no experience with them either. Their covers are nice, but the dissolve between pages on their site is maddening. Takes forever. And as for their books, I did look at a few on Amazon. I noticed a number of reviewers mentioned (over more than one title) the editing wasn't great, there were typos bad enough to be distracting. Take that for what you will. But if there are typos right on their own page . . .
 

mrsmig

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I have no experience with them either. Their covers are nice, but the dissolve between pages on their site is maddening. Takes forever.

Amen to that.

I'm not liking the fact that they stress that the marketing is going to fall mostly on your shoulders, and that their marketing guy is "able to be contracted to help you with your marketing through the Bookworks at www.frenchpressbookworks.com." (bolding mine)

If you click on that link, you'll go to their imprint's website, which will launch August 8th. Except it's not really an imprint. The only books referenced are Pen Name Press' books (through a link back to that website), and prominent on the page is a tab soliciting for vendor applications. At the bottom of the page are logos for Paypal, Mastercard, Visa and American Express. Infer from that what you will, but I'm guessing this is the pay-for-play arm of Pen Name Press. In other words, you're going to get a pitch for a marketing package, sooner or later.
 

josephperin

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Any updates on these guys? Got a couple of favs from them on #SonOfAPitch
 

ctripp

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to create a community of like minded authors who uplift each other, work closely with each other, and reap the spoils of their success. We firmly believe that authors tend to be the most neglected part of the publishing process, while also being the most important part.

Too much talking to the writer, none to the reader. I don't want to work closely with other Authors (does that mean review and promote their books?) just because they are with the same publisher and I really, really don't like the term "reaping the spoils":(

but the dissolve between pages on their site is maddening. Takes forever.

That is the most annoying, fade in/fade out, disappearing sub text site I've ever seen! I had to leave!
 

VeryBigBeard

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One more slow, badly-built site doesn't scare me: I've just spent the past hour wrangling with Microsoft for keyboard drivers.

A look at this publisher's blog confirms the source of the comma woes. It's also written like it's selling hair oils or something. The whole thing is set up with almost every social media blogging trope. There's no genuine engagement, which is sad because the authors have posted short stories on the blog and I imagine the traffic there is low, to say the least.

As for the French Press Bookworks imprint, it's got almost every vanity gizmo: storefront, writing group, spammy newsletter.... The picture backgrounds are illustrative here: MacBooks, iPhones, cafes, new artsy furniture--the perceived hallmarks of a creative lifestyle without any hint of the actual work of writing. I'm probably being cranky here, but it's not a bad sell to a wannabe writer: want this ideal? Sign here. That kind of sell takes a certain level of intent.

They will, however, sell you an image of your book cover in "3-D" for $9.99. It's a shadow along the edge of the your cover image. Takes 25 seconds in Photoshop. I was so very bitterly disappointed that it wasn't a 3-D printed copy of my book. That I would pay ten bucks for.
 

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