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Promontory Press

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eqb

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Hi, Leif, If you don't mind sharing, what are your sales like in general terms? Are we talking about three-digit, four-digit?
 

leifwright

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I’m not sure whether I have signed anything saying I wouldn’t reveal those numbers or not, so until I go back over my contract, I prefer to err on the side of caution. I’m probably worrying about nothing, but I’d rather know before I blab.

That said, the point of my post was to talk about my experience with Promontory, which to date have been nothing but positive.
 

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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.
 

leifwright

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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.
 

Round Two

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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.

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.
 

aliceshortcake

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[FONT=&quot]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.
[/FONT]
https://www.promontorypress.com/about-us/

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:

https://thoughtcatalog.com/porter-a...-publishing-our-terminology-may-need-pruning/
 

leifwright

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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.


OK. I don't work for the company. Maybe their approach sucks, maybe you're being too hard on them. Either way, I don't really have a dog in the fight. I was just reporting my experience with them.

Sure, if someone has bazillions of dollars to throw at a new publishing venture, they could start from your definition of a mid-size publisher, but then, why would they? Book publishing isn't exactly burning up the revenue charts enough to justify that kind of investment. So what's a new publishing company to do? My guess is start from the bottom, do the best they can and try to grow with each thing they do.

I don't think they're publishing low-quality books (at least that I have seen) these days. My book was "reviewed favorably" in trade publications, so I don't know that what you're implying (this publisher puts out low-quality books that couldn't be reviewed favorably in national publications) is true.

I'm going the agent route with my next book, but it's not because of an unpleasant experience with Promontory. My goal when I started writing fiction was to get bigger audiences with each book, and I believe it's not possible to do so without an agent. But for people who are looking to get published without an agent, I would feel completely comfortable recommending Promontory to them.
 

leifwright

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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:

https://thoughtcatalog.com/porter-a...-publishing-our-terminology-may-need-pruning/

I agree that vanity publishers work like that.

My experience with Promontory has not been that way. They sold my book to booksellers and featured it in national ads and other things that vanity publishers won't or can't do. And as I said above, they've never asked me for a single penny. And they sent me a number of complimentary copies of my book as well.

Like I said, they're no Algonquin, but for a tiny press, they did everything I expected of them.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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I appreciate hearing your experiences, Leif. I think the point to be made about midsize publishers (correct me, others, if I'm wrong) is that a publisher doesn't have to be "midsize" to be legit. (I've heard everything that isn't Big 5 or notably small described as "midsize," including my own publisher.) Big, small, and midsize — all can be excellent, with the right ingredients in place.

I'm interested in Promontory because I've spent some time writing about a small pub in my area that has switched to a similar model: some books are hybrid, with an author contribution, while others are not. As a believer in Yog's law, I'm suspicious of this model. But for now, I feel like the jury is still out in this particular case. The publisher in question has a distribution agreement with Midpoint, a solid brand/niche that unifies its titles, and strong relationships with local booksellers. It doesn't over-stuff its list. It sends review copies and gets books on shelves, at least where I am. The books are edited (I've read or skimmed quite a few). As an observer, I'm curious to see where it goes and give it the benefit of the doubt, despite my general feelings about "partner publishing."

So, before submitting to Promontory, one of my big questions would be about the market niche the company occupies. Glancing at their website, I'm not seeing common themes in their list yet, but I could well be wrong. 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. The other big question would be about distribution.
 

ctripp

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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.

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

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.
 

leifwright

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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.

My book is supposed to be their first hardcover book. They told me they were "stretching" or some other word to that effect.

I'm glad you guys are doing all the research here, and yes, Promontory mainly publishes Canadian authors, but they do some in the US. As far as the picture books goes, I'd imagine those are solidly in the "hybrid" list. It's not something I'd do, but I'm not a book publisher.
 

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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?
Zen Publications
http://zenpublications.com
 

leifwright

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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?
Zen Publications
http://zenpublications.com

Have your agent contact them. He or she could certainly suss out whether they're a good deal for you.
 

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