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[Publisher] Clay Stafford Books

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Davin

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https://claystaffordbooks.com/

Anyone have any experience with this publisher? I searched the threads and the index, but didn't see anything.

They're really new... only two books published so far. I searched on Clay Stafford and there's a lot about him. I've just never heard of him or his other businesses, and hoped someone might have some insight.

Their submission is a 3-sentence pitch. That's all.

I sent them three sentences, and they responded asking for 50 pages. I sent that, and they asked for a detailed (chapter by chapter) outline/synopsis to send to their "editorial" board. A detailed outline is something I don't have. Maybe I should have one and this would be a good time to do it. However, that's a lot of work. Not sure I want to do it not knowing anything about the publisher.

The editor who responded both times (both times were very quick responses, within days), was very nice, courteous, and understanding. I put a lot of stake in that. To me, it indicates respect for me. He thanked me both times for letting them see my work.

There are some who say to research the publisher first, before submitting, Yeah, okay, I can see that. But to me it's a chicken and the egg thing. Why research if they do't respond anyway? And odds are, they won't respond, and if they do, reject. I prefer to wait until they respond, then noodle a bit and see what I shake up.

So, anyone have any experience with Clay Stafford?

Thanks,
Dave.
 

zmethos

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I don't have any experience with him, but he has one book--that he edited and contributed a story to--on Amazon (Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir) that came out in 2015 and that seems to be the exact same book as the site's Killer Nashville Presents... First Kills. So I don't know if he/they got the rights back and are republishing it or what. The site seems designed to bring in authors rather than sell books to readers. Maybe that's because they haven't published anything yet, but I'm also a bit confused by the press release on the Press page mentioning PJ Parrish's The Damage Done as coming out in Summer 2018. It was published in September by another publisher?

It's a very young company (the press release is dated February 8 of this year), so it might be fine given enough time. But I don't find the site persuasive. I have too many questions. That's just me, though, and I'm not really answering your question since I have no concrete experience with Clay Stafford or his various projects.
 

VeryBigBeard

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Is this fiction or non-fiction?

In fiction, at least, no legitimate publisher should accept a book for publication based solely on an outline. That's a black flag--run away.

Occasionally in non-fiction, you sell a book proposal, usually if you're looking for someone to stump up to a trip to outer Kyrgyzstan so you can research some thrilling anthropological find. But something tells me that's unlikely to be the case here, not least because this publisher hasn't published any non-fiction.

More generally, publishing houses started by authors and/or readers always fail. CEO of a small publisher is not an entry-level position. If you're feeling generous, wait 3-5 years, and even then be cautious. This is a publisher that hasn't yet released hardly any books--you can't check its sales, it won't have distribution, there won't be any unhappy authors with tales to tell--so why would you trust them with all the work you've already done? You have the product. Does Clay Stafford pay an advance? Will it get your book into stores? If not, what can this publisher actually do to earn its cut of your work?

(The one release, just under a month old, is not selling well judging from a glance at Amazon. This is the prime sales period for a book. Not a good sign.)

New publishers that are starting out should have capital--not just pure finance, but actual assets invested. Promising small publishers launch with a couple titles already in place, selling, often from established authors the publisher knows and has been able to lure. New publishers that just spring up out of nothing but an ideal are time-bombs.

You research publishers before submitting because being published badly is worse than not being published at all. A book that's been rejected a few--or more than a few--times can still find the right reader later on, sometimes even after you've published another book or two. A book that's published badly leaves a long, sorry trace across the world, and can negatively affect your chances with other projects. Sending a book to an incompetent publisher is wasting the work the author has already put in, only to create more work in all the back and forth of any offers plus eventual turning down. A rejection is quick--it respects a writer's time, it's quick, and polite, by the way, is standard, and the least that should be expected. A publisher being courteous and understanding isn't anything to get excited about. (In fact, you want a publisher that's offering to be excited, but also realistic about its plans for the book, how it fits in their catalogue, and so on. Publishers that don't have these in place aren't competent and won't sell your book.)
 
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Scythian

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https://claystaffordbooks.com/

/.../

Their submission is a 3-sentence pitch. That's all.

I sent them three sentences, and they responded asking for 50 pages. I sent that, and they asked for a detailed (chapter by chapter) outline/synopsis to send to their "editorial" board. A detailed outline is something I don't have. Maybe I should have one and this would be a good time to do it. However, that's a lot of work. Not sure I want to do it not knowing anything about the publisher.

/.../

In my experience this is how any submission of a book-length work of fiction by an unknown author happens: the agent or editor reads the one-sentence pitch, and if it grabs them, they read the short blurb, and if it grabs them they read the opening pages, and if they grab them they read the synopsis, and if it sounds promising--then and only then they read the whole manuscript and make a choice. Frequently, but not always, the pitch, the synopsis, and the opening pages are all present in one query--which process the folks discussed in this thread appear to have chopped up into seperate consecutive elements, which is their choice.

"Outline" and "Synopsis" may sound intimidating, but just read a few wikipedia entries about famous books and then five or ten drafts later you'll have a great synopsis, which is an important skill to have. Just remember to *always follow the guidelines*. If people ask for a 1-2 page synopsis--then this is what you give. If they want "around 500 words"--then it's around 500 words, and so on.

Long synopsis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eagle_Has_Landed_(novel)
Short synopsis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bad_Place

Since *the fall of the midlister writer* in the last decade, in the sense of the big publishers deciding that an author whose books consistently sell "a mere 3000-5000 copies" is not really worth investing in, this midlister is left with either a) self publishing, or b) finding a solid indie publisher (because if you only pay royalties and only provide digtial and print-on-demand formats--the 3K-selling book is very much worth investing in).

Just back circa 2010-12 digital indie publishing was a bit of a Wild West, with everyone blurring into each other, but now--and not least of all due to the positive influence of Absolute Write and friends--the indie genre publisher scene is becoming more clearly stratified into "zones" and "classes".

Some are geared to "hobby writers" and hope to stay afloat by investing 50$ into each book and making 100$ off it. *author mills* A fine way to impress friends with your book "in print" and by a non-vanity publisher at that, but make your peace with 30 copies sold, unless lightning strikes.

Others focus on specific niches--"we only publish paranormal BDSM thrillers by authors from Kentucky".

Others still try to be "a solid indie midlister publisher"--i.e. take over a part of the market which the big publishers have dropped (and are now trying to get back through certain low-risk digital-first royalty-only imprints). Of those one portion invest mostly into reprints of existing recognizable names, and others--mostly into new authors. Speaking Volumes are an example of the reprint-oriented indie, while Black Opal--the new author indie.

These guys here are also trying to be that, but they are so new that unless one has some sort of super-trustworthy intuition, it tends to be better to wait and see what happens. Of course, if everyone waits, quality books don't reach the publisher and things don't get off the ground, but everyone should decide for themselves.
 
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mrsmig

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I gotta say - their covers are kind of awful. Their most recent (and as far as I can tell, only) release came out in October and doesn't appear to have made much of a splash - at least on Amazon.
 

Scythian

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These days almost half or more of every genre fiction subgenre’s bestsellers on Amazon is made up of self-published books, and quite a few of them have clunky covers and clunky writing.
Yet they are successful, because in these genres the interesting story being (clunkily) told by the author, combined with the author’s marketing strategy, has allowed the book to achieve its maximum potential, reaching the readers that would enjoy it the most.

In this sense, neither the book cover nor the prose style is as important in these subgenres (thrillers and suspense included), when speaking of indie publishing, as is a) the story, and b) the marketing.
Apparently most indie publisher are incapable of marketing the books of their authors well enough. Which is *understandable* for the author mills with fifty books a month, but also affects those with a current catalog of half a dozen books.

The publisher under discussion in this thread appears to have one book out, published 2-3 days ago, and one coming out in March 2019. With such a small number of books out right now, it should be more than possible to be flexible, play around with giveaways and price changes and whatnot, to get the maximum effect for the published books. Which does not appear to be the case for one out right now, and is a shame. The point of publishing a small number of titles a year is to focus more on them reaching their maximum sales potential, is the way I see it. And not through nagging the author to "be more active on social media" :)
 
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Scythian

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Apparently there’s a whole indie media company of which this publisher is but a branch https://americanblackguard.com/ and is also affiliated with https://killernashville.com/ So who knows. Maybe there’s even bookstores in the local area where the books will appear.

Anyway, best of luck to the authors and everyone involved. Maybe it’ll grow into a solid midlist publisher, or will linger in a half-alive state, or will collapse. Fingers crossed for the best possible outcome.
 

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