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[Publisher] Big Bend Productions / Marfa House

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

eternalised

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Here's the link: https://www.bigbendpro.com/
https://www.bigbendpro.com/marfa-house


I couldn't find a topic on this publisher, so I made a new one.

Authors who work with Marfa House and Big Bend Pro can't publish other books with other publishers - not just books in other series, just other books in general. Once you sign with them, they want you to be exclusive to their publishing company. I've seen one author post something on social media for a book she had published on her own or with another publisher (not sure) and the next day, her contract was terminated.

They hired me as a cover designer, and from the start told me I couldn't design covers for other publishers / authors while I was with them. I didn't mind that much because cover designing was more of a hobby for me back then, and I didn't have any other clients yet. Once I saw how they treated authors, I was wary of working with them, but didn't want to speak out because I was still under contract. Last night, they sent me a termination letter because I had posted about one of my upcoming books (by another publisher) on social media. Then the owner also posted a new rule that no staff members are allowed to promote books published outside of Marfa House - including their own books.

I'm glad to leave them behind me and move on, but I wanted to send out a warning to everyone. It's not normal behavior for a publisher to demand this kind of exclusivity from their authors; it's a huge red flag.
 

ctripp

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Honest, I read that company name as "Mafia" House at first. Now I'm thinking I was right the first time, based on what your saying about them demanding absolute loyalty.
Why would a writer want to be tied down to only one publisher, let alone one that looks this bad (that's a really terrible looking site)
Going through it, it has to be the strangest "publisher" I've ever seen. They sell stock covers, really amateur b/w Illustration, (baby announcements, really?) odd looking photo's, supposed oil paintings that are really just photoshopped pics, loot with your name on them and some strange author incentive "the climb"? thing. I really can't make out what they are but it's the furthest thing from publishing.
 
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ajaye

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Yeah not the best looking website for a publisher. They're listing an employment opportunity for an editor whose qualifications should include 'Excellent grammer skills'. Perhaps they should add 'urgently required'.
 

be frank

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They're listing an employment opportunity for an editor whose qualifications should include 'Excellent grammer skills'. Perhaps they should add 'urgently required'.

To be fair, they didn't specify "spelling skills." LOL.
 

ajaye

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To be fair, they didn't specify "spelling skills." LOL.
True!

Wish I had 'a love for the written world' so I could be a Formatter.

ETA maybe they do mean world, they specify the same for Editor and it does work.
 
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VeryBigBeard

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For example, if you sell 1500 books, your title is converted into a board or card game.

This is so weird. I mean, I like board games. I have designed one or two. Selling them these days is not an easy task. Making them is time-consuming as well. So what you're really signing up for here is a bad boardgame based on your book that nobody outside of you and your very sympathetic friends will ever see.

(I know you know this Ben. Just putting this here for those who might wander by and think, "Oh, a boardgame! That sounds cool! If you want to make boardgames, more power to you. Many have interesting story components. Find a local game collective or meet-up and folks there will be happy to help you design, test, design again, test again, and maybe even help get the game to markets.)
 

Helix

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I just spent far too much time looking at the Big Bend Productions website. It's really quite something. You can buy leggings to help promote your book.
 

VeryBigBeard

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I just spent far too much time looking at the Big Bend Productions website. It's really quite something. You can buy leggings to help promote your book.

Why? I'm... speechless. Quite something, indeed.

What this is, is another Etsy shop pretending to be a publisher.
 

VeryBigBeard

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The sad part is the founder is obviously actually quite creative, just lacking the business understanding to sell books and manage authors. It's more like a local community endeavour that's expanded too quickly.

The same is true of the film business, which is really a script doctor service from someone with zero stated experience in film.

The house is looking for year-long unpaid interns to edit manuscripts, which is exploitative of the interns and bad news for the authors. At least the non-compete stipulations are mentioned up front now (though non-compete clauses are legally fiddly and I'd be real curious what a lawyer would make of it). The application form is directly on the site and asks for loads of personal info, which makes me wonder exactly how confident they are in their cybersecurity game.

Formatter
Formats book in ebook and print format.

Pay:
$50 for ebook or print/$100 for ebook and print
This is a contractual employment opportunity

Qualifications:
Attention to detail.
Ability to work in a high pressure environment.
Excellent communication skills.
Working knowledge of Microsoft Word.
Customer service skills.
Must have a love for the written world and
a desire to help authors make their book the best they can be.
Experience formatting for Smashwords a plus
Must not be currently working for another formatting service.

Ouch. Both on the pay (they're offering their editors $1/page), which is not going to get you an attentive or skilled candidate and because there's no knowledge of InDesign, Quark or some other design suite required. MSWord, despite its overextended feature set, is NOT a design suite.

Do they realize how long editing takes? How to a book is actually produced? Doubt it. Passion's great. Skill is better, for both authors and the publisher's long-term health.

(Addendum: Ah, "customer service skills". What this really means is a.) we expect our staff to manage their author, probably with no proper process or back-up from the house, b.) we have no idea how the production process works, and c.) the author is our primary customer and the customer is always right--can you hawk them some leggings? The designers I know are, shall we say, brilliant at what they do but tend away from human contact because design involves long hours alone in a dark room making minute adjustments only for InDesign to crash right as an author calls.)
 

witchybelle4u2

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Absolutely shocking company!

Got suckered in by this so-called publishing house too.

I've never worked with such an unprofessional group of people before.

CONSTANTLY trying to Skype and FB message me - at all hours of the day and night - and got nasty when I wasn't always available. INSIST on doing business through Facebook groups but will block you from the group if you disagree with them. They don't respond to emails and don't stick to their own deadlines.

Cover quality is a joke but you have no choice to go with it because they want to charge you a ridiculous amount to use your own.

Editors are subpar. I've worked as a freelance editor and was constantly arguing with the editor they provided me with over basic stuff they should have known.

They have no idea what their own chain-of-command is. Told repeatedly that I needed to report to this person, no THAT person, etc.

Don't know their own contracts at all. They tried to force me to do things not in my contract and, when I contradicted them, they started threatening me. Gave me all this "You'll never work in this industry again" crap and all. Nothing but a petty group of bullies.

Just to emphasise that point: I was bullied by four separate members of staff - so you can't even say it was just one person's behaviour. It's company-wide.

(Can I just mention again that these conversations all took place via FACEBOOK MESSENGER? If that doesn't sum the company up, I don't know what does.)

Never told me they were terminating my contract, only that since I had requested a cancellation - which was not the case - I owed them a ridiculous amount of money and would never see any of my royalties. Have NEVER confirmed whether or not my contract has been terminated but since they're in major breach of it in so many ways, meh.

I know of at least one other illustrator who did several illustrations/cover and never got a penny.

I've been receiving nothing but total radio silence from them for appx. 5 months. Website hasn't been updated in over a month. Wouldn't even know if the company was still around if it weren't for new marketing videos going up on YouTube.

Did a bit of research on the owner of the company and she's been involved with other publishing houses before - none of which are around now, of course. (Check out Mountain Springs House and at least 2 more.)

Please, please, please don't get involved with this company! Not worth the headache!
 

Marketeer

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I did my own research on Big Bend Productions and discovered it is the parent company. It is a transmedia company which means they can just about do it all. It is industry standards for a publishing house to have right of first refusal. This is what Marfa House does. I discovered they are very professional and they do not accept every author or publish every book. They screen every book before deciding on publishing it. The owner is actually a teacher with a masters who specializes in working with children who have special needs. I found it disturbing to see a company who works with children who have special needs being bashed by you. This says a lot about the kind of person you are. I suggest you do some honest research before posting misinformation.
 

Marketeer

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I did my own research into Marfa House and found it to be a very professional house. It is industry standards to have right of first refusal. This means an author that is with the publisher must go to them first and then they can go to another publisher if the first publisher does not want to publish their book. You mentioned the climb. It is simply a way to reward authors for their hard work of marketing and selling books. I think it is a great idea.
 

Marketeer

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I think that having an incentive to sell books is a great idea. It is unique.
 

eqb

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Hi, Marketeer, and welcome to Absolutewrite. Could you tell us if you have a connection to Marfa House or its parent company?
 

Marketeer

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After reading all these comments I decided to do my own research into Big Bend Productions and Marfa House. I discovered that Big Bend Productions is the parent company and Marfa House is the publishing house. I also discovered that the owner is a teacher with a masters who specializes in working with children who have special needs. To bash a company who works with children with special needs tells people a lot about who you are. Why should any one listen to what you have to say? I suggest you do some honest research for yourself.
 

Marketeer

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I did my own honest research and discovered that the owner is actually a teacher. She started Big Bend Productions in order to help people. I found Marfa House to be a great company and their staff to be professional. The reason they look for interns is that they try to help college students that are planning to go into the publishing field. I think this is a great way to help college students. I also discovered that Marfa House is a traditional publishing house which means they do not charge the author anything to publish their book. Marfa House takes on the risk completely so they have to be very careful what author they publish. I suppose if you had done some honest research you would have discovered that they have a company that works with children that have special needs as mentioned before that the owner is in fact a teacher. It is very sad to hear you or anyone else bash a company that works with children that have special needs. It says a lot about what kind of person you are.
 

Marketeer

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You must be a very sorry person to keep on bashing a company that is owned by a teacher and works with children who have special needs.
 

eqb

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I did my own honest research and discovered that the owner is actually a teacher. She started Big Bend Productions in order to help people. I found Marfa House to be a great company and their staff to be professional. The reason they look for interns is that they try to help college students that are planning to go into the publishing field. I think this is a great way to help college students. I also discovered that Marfa House is a traditional publishing house which means they do not charge the author anything to publish their book. Marfa House takes on the risk completely so they have to be very careful what author they publish. I suppose if you had done some honest research you would have discovered that they have a company that works with children that have special needs as mentioned before that the owner is in fact a teacher. It is very sad to hear you or anyone else bash a company that works with children that have special needs. It says a lot about what kind of person you are.

Hi, Marketeer, Since you've done research on the company, do you have any information about why freelancers aren't being paid?
 

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