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[Publisher] Helm Books, LLC

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

grayworld

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I was contacted through social media by an apparent representative of theirs a few days ago and have yet to respond. They appear to be very new, but the verbiage on their website will probably look quite familiar to veteran AWers. They are listed at P&E, but that's it; no yea or nay. Here's a link to their site: http://helmbooks.com/

I was wondering if anyone here has had any experience with them. Also, I was wondering if they have any affiliation with Helm Publishing (publishersdrive.com). That thread can be found here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9854

Thanks!
 
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DreamWeaver

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Tell me they didn't really rip off the look and color scheme of the "Dummies" books for some of their covers.

Their legal department might want to look into that. I've heard the "Dummies" legal department are like pit bulls. Check out Paragraph A, Trade Dress:
http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/trademrk.html
 
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mrsmig

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I admire their earnestness, but no advances, profit-sharing schemes and buzzwords like "leverage," "meritocracy" and "unconventional business model" make me nervous. I'd wait and see.
 

Filigree

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The wide range of genres concerns me, too. This can be a flag for a new business whose principals don't know to market in individual genres - or do not care about marketing. From what I've seen, most really successful small presses pick a couple of genres in which to specialize.
 

victoriastrauss

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Apart from any other considerations--they are brand-new and haven't yet published anything (though they seem to have a fair number of projects in the pipeline--and despite their touting of their excellent design expertise, the covers look pretty meh to me). The "wait until they've been actually publishing for at least a year" rule of thumb definitely applies here.

- Victoria
 

HapiSofi

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I just read their main page. I don't know what their business background is, but it isn't publishing.

They certainly use a lot of glib jargon without pinning down much meaning.

Looks like they're setting up to be a flaky non-advance-paying publisher, and also a packager.

Don't send them your book.
 

Marian Perera

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I checked out their submissions page and read this.

And, if we fall in love with your work, you’ll get a call from an editor who thinks you are wonderful – imagine that!
You know, it's never occurred to me to wonder if my editor thinks I'm wonderful. We have a good working relationship and I know what she thinks of my manuscripts. That's far more important, to me, than her considering me an awesome person for sending her a manuscript she enjoyed.
 

Aggy B.

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You know, it's never occurred to me to wonder if my editor thinks I'm wonderful. We have a good working relationship and I know what she thinks of my manuscripts. That's far more important, to me, than her considering me an awesome person for sending her a manuscript she enjoyed.

They may be referring to the "you'll receive a call" as the "imagine that!" bit. I know Carina has a policy of calling to make an offer, rather than sending a letter or email.

Naturally, the "editor who thinks you're wonderful" slant is just fluff. But a lot of folks would be won over by the perception of personal attention that an actual phone call implies.
 

frimble3

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But, unless you're a full-time writer, isn't a phone call, while exciting, kind of inconvenient? If you've got a job, or are looking after kids, or driving, or... lots of other things when you can't really concentrate on a business call? And isn't a written or e-mail offer easier to look at, and consider, and ask questions about?
Unless the phone call is just "Yay! You're wonderful, and we accepted your book! Letter to follow" which is nice and all, but really...?
 

Aggy B.

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But, unless you're a full-time writer, isn't a phone call, while exciting, kind of inconvenient? If you've got a job, or are looking after kids, or driving, or... lots of other things when you can't really concentrate on a business call? And isn't a written or e-mail offer easier to look at, and consider, and ask questions about?
Unless the phone call is just "Yay! You're wonderful, and we accepted your book! Letter to follow" which is nice and all, but really...?

Hard to say. With agents everyone says you need to talk to them in "person" before accepting an offer. So, I can see how the same logic might apply to a publisher. (You get a better idea of a person in actual conversation, even over the phone, than you do in an email.) Of course, publishers and agents aren't quite the same species so the business relationship requires different things.
 

grayworld

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Thank you all for the quick responses. They're very new and have a few too many buzzwords on their site for my liking. I think I'll wait a while before giving them a serious look.
 

dramati

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Helms Publishers

1. Our book was accepted by Helms.
2. We were told we would receive a contract in 7 days
3. Our editor had been in contact with us and her nam is Jennifer Knight.
4. Suddenly they stopped all communication, did not answer our email, and even their website seems to be non-functional.

Can someone please tell me what is going on.

Thank you

David
 

aliceshortcake

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The website works for me, although I see that the last blog post was on 19th July.
 

dramati

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Helm publisher

We were offered a contract for our book from Jennifer Knight who is their chief editor in Helm Books.

She said we would get it in a week. Two months have passed since then.

They do not answer their phone, or email. The website is still up but they don't answer "contact us" either.

Can someone help us find out what is going on?

Please send correspondence to [email protected]


Thank you,

David
 

Aggy B.

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Repeated posts with the same information are probably not going to help you, David. And it's not that folks here don't look after each other, but you're brand new to the forum and jumping in here with a "Help me!" request. We aren't the Better Business Bureau.

If you look at the beginning of this thread, I think you'll find that members of this forum were pretty hesitant about Helm Books. It's not that they seem to be doing anything illegal, but there was very little in their website to convince us they can provide essential services for an author (things the author couldn't do for themselves by self-publishing).

Also, while the difference between one week and two months is a big one to most folks, this is the publishing industry which is notoriously slow about everything. (Many times even when certain timeframes have been laid out.)

It is problematic that no one at Helm seems to be responding to you. How many times have you tried to contact them in this two months you've been waiting on the contract?

Also, while it's very disappointing to find out that something isn't working out the way you thought it was, the good news is you haven't signed a contract yet. Now is a much better time to learn if there are communication problems, etc, because you haven't made any commitment to this publisher. They don't have print rights, etc, because there isn't a contract yet. At the very least, you can take your book somewhere else. If you sign a contract and these problems (or others) occur, you may find yourself stuck in an unfortunate deal, indeed.
 

victoriastrauss

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David,

I haven't heard anything about problems at Helm. However, whether the delay and non-response you describe are due to administrative inefficiency or overload (from their blog post, it sounds as if they got hammered with submissions) or other troubles at the publisher, they're not a good sign.

The website looks neglected--all books are still listed as "forthcoming." Just three show up on Amazon--one is out of stock, the others are "currently unavailable." Again, not a good sign.

IMO, Helm's business model (which is not as "different" as it thinks--other companies are doing something similar) is not really sustainable. I've seen some of Helm's documents and contracts, and it is less a publisher than a middleman, putting together a "team" of editors, designers, etc. that work with the author on producing a book. Whether this can work at all is dependent on the pool of skills Helm can assemble (and there's nothing on its website to indicate who or how many have signed up to participate); another problem is that the team--including the author--is paid out of the published books' income, which means tiny shares for everyone after Helm takes its cut. Plus, there's a cumbersome and potentially disastrous (for the author) arrangement whereby if one team member decides to pull out of the collaboration, all the material or work they've contributed goes with them.

I'm guessing that Helm has run up against these logistical realities--hence the silence, delays, and missing books. Maybe it will solve whatever problems it's having, maybe it won't--but either way, in my opinion this is not a desirable business model.

- Victoria
 

dramati

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Thanks. The information is useful. This is the second time in the last year this has happened to me and my co-author. I guess what we need to do is find a good agent. Any helpful input?
 

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