Interesting discussion. Just goes to show you shouldn't judge a publisher by their rep any more than you should judge a book by its single review on Amazon.
If by rep you mean reputation, then it's usually derived from multiple sources. So, yes, it is a good way to judge a publisher.
I guess I do need a caveat: Promontory offers two tiers of publication: in my case, they footed the entire bill. In some cases, they ask the authors to foot half.
I was unwilling to do that, but many beginning authors are. I don't recommend such a course of action, but I understand why some people find it attractive.
So my experience with this publisher may vary from others', and I think that needs to be considered in evaluating them. Like I said, I've had nothing but positive, pleasant interactions with them, even during the editing process, when they were Canadian Friendly while editing my manuscript and pointing out boneheaded mistakes I'd made.
In many ways, the fact that I was unwilling to do the half/half thing with them may have colored my experience, making it very positive. I do believe they're looking to progress more toward that model, where they foot the entire bill for each book, but the reality of breaking into the publishing world—at least from their viewpoint—means publishing some less-polished authors who are willing to put up some of their own cash to get published. That's not my cup of tea (I have always thought that if someone isn't willing to pay the entire bill to publish something of mine, it probably isn't worthy of being published at all), but I do understand Promontory's perspective on that business reality.
My previous fiction publisher, Moonshine Cove, is a predatory publisher seeking to cash in on the possibility of future success of the authors so they can then re-sell publishing rights to bigger publishers. I don't get that vibe from Promontory at all. Maybe I'm blind, but I really do believe they're interested in becoming a mid-size publisher, and though I don't agree with the 50/50 deals they offer some authors, I understand the pragmatism that spawned them.
To recap: I found Promontory to be professional, capable and accommodating, but my perspective could have been colored by the fact that I was one of the few authors for whom they pay the entire costs of publication and then pay a royalty. Those being asked to foot half the bill may have a much different experience.
[FONT="]Promontory has made a habit of taking chances on first time authors, giving some very talented and deserving folks their first shot at the market. This is our big vision: to be a conduit for new and exciting voices in literature, and to ensure that the industry remains accessible to newcomers of all stripes.
How are you defining mid-size publisher? I understand that to be at least ten million dollars a year in annual revenue. I'm guessing from the description of Promontory having to get money from some of their authors to publish books, it isn't realistic to think they'll get there.
Also, there are plenty of small presses that publish high quality fiction (and by that I mean, fiction that wins well known and prestigious awards (Pulitzer, National Book Award, etc.), reviewed favorably in trade publications and newspapers like The New York Times). There's no reason, whatsoever, for a publishing company to put out low quality books.
But surely the industy IS accessible to newcomers, provided that said newcomers have written saleable books? First-time authors are published by major publishers all the time. "Less-polished" authors won't be amongst their number because the only people likely to buy their books are friends and relatives, which is exactly why vanity publishers take money up-front (or further down the line when the authors realise that the only way to make any money is to buy their own books for re-sale).
An interview with Promontory's founder Bennett R Coles:
If I were subbing to small-press imprints, I'd want them to have a strong track record in my particular category/genre, and not to extend their efforts too far outside that arena
Something to keep in mind is that in Canada, Publishers apply for and receive decent sized yearly grants from various Gov Agencies to help them remain solvent. The grants for a small press (6-8 books yearly for example) can add up (say 80K plus) but they have to be commercial royalty paying presses in good standing and mostly publish Canadian Authors/Illustrators.
I completely agree Fuchsia. I'm seeing problems with their including pic books in their listing. The Authors have either Illustrated their own books or partnered with their own Illustrators. I don't see any indication that the Publisher has hired the artist. The page count goes from 11 to 40 but standard pb page counts are almost always 32. I don't see hardcover offerings (may have missed some?) and without that a large portion of any pb sale, school and public libraries, are lost (durability is key in pb lending). While larger publishers can handle a number of different imprints dealing with Adult, YA, MG and PB's, a small publisher is hard pressed to do it all, well.
Reading this thread with interest. Does anyone know if they are planning to re-open to submissions anytime soon? I'm agented and would like to try them with a literary fantasy/magical realism. I'd only be interested in a traditional publishing deal, though, not a hybrid one.
Also, does anyone know anything about their partner publishing company in Mumbai?