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[Publisher] Pan Macmillan / Macmillan New Writing

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victoriastrauss

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dink
This doesn't have much to do with PA, actually, but I can't find a suitable area in AW to post this.

Macmillan (the publisher) is doing something very strange. Is this a sign of things to come?

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/s...1473588,00.html



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JennaGlatzer

Dink, thanks for posting that. It's... bizarre! I'm almost speechless for the moment, too. What in the world are they getting into that for? Are they that strapped that they're willing to toss their reputation out the window?

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victoriastrauss

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This reminds me of Time Warner's ill-fated iPublish program (which was also, supposedly, a system to "give new writers a chance", and featured a really bad, exploitive contract) and also of Simon & Schuster's recent "The Story of My Life" contest, where writers competed to get their life story published (the winner got an advance of $10,000, for which she handed over all rights, including copyright, to the publisher.

I really think this is awful. The worst thing is that I'm sure writers are falling over themselves to get a chance at this exploitive deal.

What's next, in the name of uncovering new talent?

- Victoria
 

MartyKay

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"This is about Macmillan finding new authors," Barnard said. "Like a lot of mainstream publishers we haven't in recent years been accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but only ones sent through agents. And we are not discovering as many authors as we need.

"There are literally tens of thousands of writers out there - and we have a responsibility to help them. We can't do that by paying a half million advance to every author."

Umm.. accept unsolicited manuscripts then? And maybe you will discover as many authors as needed?

And I'm sure new unagented authors aren't going to expect a half million advance.

Let's see...
  • Macmillan grabs all the rights
  • No advance (and 20% royalty)
  • Author pays for editing above a certain level
  • Macmillan won't particularly support the books - ie the author might have to promote it

SO... if Macmillan offered a one dollar advance and put "Traditional Publisher" on their website, they could be......
 

James D. Macdonald

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The first thing that came to my mind when I heard of this was iPublish.

Do you remember the Millennium Philcon (Worldcon in Philadelphia, 2001, end of August)?

iPublish had papered the place with their advertising brochures, talking about how "for the first time the quality of your book will be considered" or words to that effect.

I was on a panel on the future of publishing or somesuch. I opined, from the front of the room, that iPublish fell in that vast grey area between being a Very Bad Idea and an outright scam.

This upset one member of the audience, who, it turned out, was iPublish's editor in chief.

They were out of business and he was seeking new employment by Christmas.

This too shall ... well, I see a smoking crater at the end of this particular company's business arc.
 

ResearchGuy

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Is this a sign of a new type of Gresham's Law? Bad publishing drives out good? (Gresham's Law is the economic phenomenon that bad money drives out good. Should be a highly Googleable term.)

Criminey.

--Ken
 

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victoriastrauss said:
What's next, in the name of uncovering new talent?

- Victoria

Absolute Write Idol?

I agree with Jim M.: unless they're successful with it financially, this too shall end in a smoking crater. We can help by not submitting to them and not buying the books in question.
 

JennaGlatzer

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aertep said:
Absolute Write Idol?

:roll: Hmm... if just one finalist from AW Idol winds up with a book deal (WITH an advance) from a real-live publisher, looks like we'll be doing better than just about any of these companies at "promoting new talent." Neat.
 

AnneMarble

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James D. Macdonald said:
This too shall ... well, I see a smoking crater at the end of this particular company's business arc.

Good!

I posted about that article on the copyediting list serv. One poster responded and said he didn't think it was such a bad idea. However, I think he didn't understand what "all rights" meant. I hope I explained it correctly in my response. Is there an on-line place where I can get good definitions of "all rights" and other such terms? (BTW he posted about it on his blog at http://greglifesentence.blogspot.com/)

If I really really wanted to get a "trunk novel" in print, I'd first try to rewrite it, and then submit it to publishers with good contracts. But if I couldn't get it published, I think I'd rather use Lulu or Cafepress to get it in print.
 

Lilybiz

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One thing about it that's really scary is that the publisher gets rights to the second book, under the same terms. So if you sign the contract and your book is a huge success, you can't shop your second one to other publishers who might give you a legit deal.

By the way, I hope I wasn't misunderstood when I suggested Absolute Write Idol as a place to find talent. I meant it sincerely.
 

JennaGlatzer

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I know you did, Petrea. :) I loved the thought. My laughing smiley was for the realization that we have our heads screwed on straighter than one of the most famous publishing houses about how to find talent.
 

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JennaGlatzer said:
I know you did, Petrea. :) I loved the thought. My laughing smiley was for the realization that we have our heads screwed on straighter than one of the most famous publishing houses about how to find talent.

Yeah. That is SO COOL.

G'night, everybody.
 

James D. Macdonald

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AnneMarble said:
However, I think he didn't understand what "all rights" meant.

All rights means "if you can think of it, they've got it."

More important, the option clause is apparently that they get the next book on the same terms. That's a real "Didn't you hear? Lincoln freed the slaves" kind of clause.
 

BlueTexas

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JennaGlatzer said:
:roll: Hmm... if just one finalist from AW Idol winds up with a book deal (WITH an advance) from a real-live publisher, looks like we'll be doing better than just about any of these companies at "promoting new talent." Neat.

From your mouth to a publisher's ear!! :) Honestly, I'm surprised some of the competitors don't already have book deals. I've already been bugging Joanne to finish her 1st entry (a novel excerpt) because I can't wait to read it.
 

James D. Macdonald

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[/font][/font]Alas, the nice folks at InsideSessions and the marketing folks at Penguin who came up with this plan had neglected to inform the "top editors" of their new duties, or even ask their opinions of the plan in advance. This scheme too turned into a smoking hole.
 

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From the Guardian article:
He believes the scheme could spot talent, pointing to examples of self-published books that fell through the conventional publishing nets to find success, such as Chas Griffin's Scenes From a Smallholding, which Pack read in self-published form before it was picked up by Ebury Press. It is about to become Waterstone's Welsh book of the month.

"Agents and publishers act as a filter, but they will filter out some bloody good things," he said. "There are loads of gems on people's slush piles."

There's a problem with his logic. He says that some "bloody good things" get "filtered out" by agents and publishers...and to illustrate that, uses the example of a book that was picked up by a mainstream publisher because it was good.


(Cross-posted in the PA thread, until I can figure out how to delete the one there.)
 

Fractured_Chaos

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JennaGlatzer said:

Interesting. They don't give you a whole lot of info.

If we do wish to consider publication of your book, we will send you a copy of our guide for potential authors, which outlines the terms of the author agreement.

I'm assuming at this point, they figure they already have you, and you're pretty much skrood.

I feel for anyone not familiar with the business, because it looks very attractive, and they're going to end up regretting it.
 

DreamWeaver

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aertep said:
One thing about it that's really scary is that the publisher gets rights to the second book, under the same terms. So if you sign the contract and your book is a huge success, you can't shop your second one to other publishers who might give you a legit deal.
*If you sign the contract.* I assume one doesn't have to sign any contract until after MacMillan have offered it, after reading your submission. At that point, I personally would tell them I want to negotiate some points on the contract. If they like my work enough to publish it, they are probably going to like it enough to negotiate. Especially if they truly think it my work is one of those many gems lost in the slush.

If they refuse to negotiate on the contract, I would start submitting elsewhere, believing that at least one publisher felt they could make money off my work. One of the best keys to avoiding being scammed or cheated is to be willing to walk away from the deal.

Kris
 

James D. Macdonald

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DreamWeaver said:
At that point, I personally would tell them I want to negotiate some points on the contract.

According to the article, the contract is non-negotiable.

And, you're required to accept a second contract on the same terms.

Anyone with the talent to find an agent or a different publisher will head elsewhere. Leaving them with a crop of folks with either a) no talent, or b) no smarts. Or possibly both.
 

DreamWeaver

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James D. Macdonald said:
According to the article, the contract is non-negotiable.
Sorry, my bad.

However, to be honest I would still tell them I want to negotiate. I may be the only one, though. Obviously, I'm not good at following directions. As my revered mother would say, "Ask, they worst they can say is no."

If they require an agreement to their contract BEFORE reading submissions...I don't even want to go there. That's on about the same level as PA's gag clause.

Oh...guess I was missing the point. Sorry.

Kris
 

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