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[Publisher] Writers AMuse Me / WAMM

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Katrina S. Forest

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Stew21, thanks for sharing your experience. This is really what I was trying to ask for in my first post and apparently I really dropped the ball on that.

Hope your book does great!
 

LillyPu

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It would be far more helpful if you'd specify what your concerns are: saying that the website is "pretty atrocious" isn't at all helpful, nor is it informative.

I have a few reservations about WAMM, but Stew21 is a shrewd and clever woman. I doubt she'd sign up with a press which wasn't professional in its intentions and business practises, and her endorsement of this press goes a long way for me.
Pretty atrocious: The overall look, colors, and what I could find inside it. Sorry not to be more specific, I'm no expert, but I know what looks good to me; just to me. Which is no indication about how good their publishing company is.

Unlike you, I don't know Stew21 from Adam. And I don't know what she'd sign with, or endorse. But her answers have been informative, professional and much appreciated. I thank her for the time she's taken to answer questions about WAMM.
 

Medievalist

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WAMM's website is pretty atrocious if you ask me. Sorrree...


Be specific; that's really not at all helpful. It could be a reaction to a font choice or color scheme or . . . .

Why? What's the problem with it?
 

fadeaccompli

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Be specific; that's really not at all helpful. It could be a reaction to a font choice or color scheme or . . . .

Why? What's the problem with it?

*goes to take a look, being curious now*

So, off the top of my head: the images at the top (those little round button-ones) look pixelated and low resolution, like maybe they've been converted in file type to save on file size, but with a loss in overall image quality. The words within are formatted poorly so that some of them run right into the borders of the circles, making them look cramped and haphazardly placed. They're in an enormous bordered box that looks awkward and empty for just having the four circles within it, and I'm not really seeing why they chose those brown-scheme colors to go with a page that's otherwise formatted in blue and gray; it seems almost accidental.

The title at the very top is just text; I tend to expect high-quality graphics, and possibly some sort of logo. Text alone, in a standard sans serif font, reads as inexpensive, and thus amateur. And since the title is done in that straightforward single font, the AM in AMuse looks like a typo, with someone holding down the shift key too long, rather than looking like a deliberate choice.

In the right-hand column, there's bold white text in a small sans serif font on a pale blue textured background, which is hard to read even on my fairly large monitor. The next box down uses another small sans serif font that ends up looking pixelated at that size, and thus awkward. The box below that has white on pale blue again, and then a bunch of links that are formatted as underlined all caps in black, which again looks...amateur. Not illegible, in that case, but certainly not like anything I'd expect from a professional designer.

In the main column on the left, the second box has a too-small font in it for convenient reading, with unusually large gaps between the paragraphs, and large empty spaces around the edges in general. After the last paragraph, there's an even longer space before the box closes. The box after that has a second line of top-header color, which looks like a mistake, beneath another white-on-pale-blue title. In which there's a statement of...copyright? But the very bottom of the page already has a copyright statement, so it seems odd that this longer copyright statement has been frontloaded.

I'm not a graphic designer by a long shot, though I did very basic web design for one company for a while. However, the look of this site would make me assume that the people running it can't afford to hire even a basic designer to do a general layout for them to put their text and products into. That's no crime, but it does make the whole site read as "hobby run by people in their spare time" rather than "business that makes enough money to pay the bills" to me when I look at it.

ETA: However, I wouldn't call it "atrocious," just "amateur". Failing to look professionally designed isn't the same as being outright ugly.
 

Medievalist

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ETA: However, I wouldn't call it "atrocious," just "amateur". Failing to look professionally designed isn't the same as being outright ugly.

Now that's actually helpful.

I hope that they didn't pay someone to create the site; it's based on old free templates from http://www.freewebs.com.

What I would suggest they do is move their content to WordPress.

They don't have to be a professional; there are thousands of templates, and they would be in control of their site and their content.

Right now, they're relying on images and other assets that are on another site.

They need to create a clearer navigational hierarchy. The bookstore is a link; their top page should have a blog or another way to easily add new information--say, about new releases, or short excerpts with a link to posts by their authors, or even observations about what they're looking for in submissions, etc.

One of the problems with their current templates is that they use fixed fonts; that means that the type that looks fine on a 17 inch screen isn't going to be easily readable on a large monitor. They need to use a percentage of ems, for instance, or even a straight font percentage rather than fixed sizes.

Most of the data they need to provide users/readers/authors/submitters is available, but you need to hunt a bit.

They need to have an About page that clearly describes the backgrounds of the principles, including the editors.

They need a Contact/Contact Us page that has email address(es) and/or a form.

They need to concentrate on the Website as a hub; they drive traffic to it, rather than provide traffic to other hubs.

It would be nice if the site accommodated people who use screen readers; very few publishers do that, and a lot of visually impaired readers buy ebooks especially.

Some of the language and usage is . . . odd; memoire instead of memoir (no, they are not the same), for instance.

But it's absolutely not atrocious.
 
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Stew21

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I mentioned marketing before and figured I would give a little more information. This is by no means a complete list of what they d0; I just wanted to mention a few things.
For starters, press releases, review copies, contest entries. For example, they entered my book for an IPPY and the The Hemingway/PEN. They also do various online marketing (of which I don't know all the details, so can't give you specifics), and there is very book-specific marketing, as well. For example, my book has an association to Ernest Hemingway, so review copies went to the Hemingway Foundation, the Hemingway Society, Hemingway/Pfieffer Museum, and to Mariel Hemingway. Other books are treated the same way for their particular niche. A western gets entered into a western contest, several books were sent in for IPPY's, press releases are sent to appropriate places by genre and subject matter of the books.
One of the great things, with regard to their size, in my mind, is that they aren't biting off more than they can chew. They know they are small. They aren't trying to be Goliath. They do spend a great amount of time with each author for each book, they make their marketing meaningful and specific for each book. These things can be tailored because they have chosen to NOT be a "mill". I respect that. (and it's also pretty cool when mariel hemingway tweets to her 450K followers about your book, just sayin).

I know this isn't the same as marketing to bookstores and taking advantage of publicity with large distribution chains and reviewers. Like I said, I have no delusions about the size of this fish in this particular ocean. I just wanted to mention that for as small as they are, they really do take care to be pointed with their marketing. That may be out of necessity for budgeting reasons, but for their size I believe they operate fairly effectively in that regard and make do with what they have.
 
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shakeysix

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I don't think it is ugly. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea but I find it offbeat, low keyed. I'm kind of a low key author/ reader.

Did I find WAMM or did they find me? I really don't remember. I had posted some pieces on AW and had some solid feedback, most of it favorable. Maybe I should add that I live in a very small town, smack in the middle of the continental USA. Before AW I had never had any feedback but rejections. It was great to be able to post and hear the good and the bad about my work.

I had managed to garner some betas for my novels and was working with them. One summer some of us sort of melded into a writing group. I really enjoyed writing with them. They were a smaller group than AW and --I know this is going to sound like a line from an old hippie anthem but it is true--I like to think that we became friends. We built several storytowns together and it was a blast. Then I had some health problems and dropped out.

A couple of years ago they contacted me when they were planning to put out a short story collection. I think I gave them three stories. I had had another one or two published in another e-zine but that used up all of my short stuff. I didn't have anything else to send in. (I tend to write in 6,000 to 12,000 word chunks-- usually about the same family of western Kansas alfalfa farmers. Not exactly glam lit. But it is funny.)

When WAMM was set to publish novels a friend from the block asked me to submit something. I did have a novel that was just a little over their word count so I sent the first and last chapter. The first and last chapter seems to me a good measure of someone's writing ability. It beats a query letter that has been worked and re-worked until it sounds like a manic chant.

Anyway my novel was accepted. And then the real work started. There were at least three edits before the galley proofs. The errors that the editors were finding almost always jibed with feedback I had gotten in the past from AW and my beta readers. It was a learning experience. The second novel went together faster because I had learned from the first. i am working on another submission now.

All of my novels are centered around the same county and the same characters at different times of their lives. They wash dishes, climb grain elevators and ride bicycles because they have too many DUIs to drive. No sex, no fancy costumes, no exotic locations, no inspirational stuff, no blood. I understand that this is not exactly the formula for a best seller that would catch an agent's eye. Like I said, i'm a low key kind of author--s6
 
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Al Stevens

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Here's a link to their fiction books, including Stew's and Shakey's.
http://www.writersamuseme.com/fiction.htm
I'm curious about the general reaction to their covers. Like them? Dislike them? I'm not good at cover art, and I like to hear the opinions of others.
 

fadeaccompli

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Here's a link to their fiction books, including Stew's and Shakey's.
http://www.writersamuseme.com/fiction.htm
I'm curious about the general reaction to their covers. Like them? Dislike them? I'm not good at cover art, and I like to hear the opinions of others.

Glancing at thumbnails alone, it looks like a few of them would strike me as having been released by a trade publisher, when judged briefly and from a distance. Most would lead me to believe they were self-published.

None look terrible, I guess? Usually my brain filters "looks self-published" pretty fast as "not worth looking at further," so you'd probably get more useful judgment of like/dislike on the covers from people who don't filter that way.
 

NewKidOldKid

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The covers look very "handmade" to me. I know that's not the proper word, but that's the first thing I thought about when I saw them. It's basically just a big picture with the title/author's name on it. Not the right font, either. To me, they look self-published, which is a bad thing. Not the self-publishing part, which I have nothing about --But if you're going to self-publish, it should look as professional as anything else that's out there, or you have no chances to compete.
 

Medievalist

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The problem with the covers is largely with the typography, not just the type treatment but with the kerning and letter spacing. I suspect that the type was set in Photoshop; generally speaking, I'm accustomed to the text -- all of it, the spine, title, cover copy--being set in Illustrator and then brought over in a separate layer. It would be anti-aliased typically, though I'm not sure where/when.

It's difficult to get covers to look right at 1200/2400 DPI with inkjet inks, for anyone at all. There are problems with resolution and color, never mind all the usual problems, because there's just less data available.

N.B. I am not a designer or graphic artist at all, I'm basing this on working with professionals as a production manager and IT support person. I know a bit about the process, nothing about the art and skill.
 

Al Stevens

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You can do manual kerning in Photoshop, but it takes a good eye and lots of patience. Its automatic kerning uses whatever is built into the font.
 

LillyPu

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For starters, press releases, review copies, contest entries. For example, they entered my book for an IPPY and the The Hemingway/PEN. They also do various online marketing (of which I don't know all the details, so can't give you specifics), and there is very book-specific marketing, as well. For example, my book has an association to Ernest Hemingway, so review copies went to the Hemingway Foundation, the Hemingway Society, Hemingway/Pfieffer Museum, and to Mariel Hemingway. Other books are treated the same way for their particular niche.
Re your title: Oh, THAT Ernest! Well, that's gotta be pretty exciting! Do you have links to the reviews they provided?

I couldn't find what kinds of novels WAMM published in their guidelines. I didn't see where they stated they published literary fiction. From their website, I thought they only published MG, YA, memoirs, and... they don't really say what kind of fiction. Memoires, spelled with an E is odd, but correct. They use "covering letter" instead of cover letter (which I'm not familiar with). Minor nit.

I did look at the covers Al Stevens posted a link to, and noticed the labeling of their books is like none I've ever seen. Literary fiction is what I read and what I write. I've never seen the designations Literary Romance, Literary Humor, or just plain Literary. I mean, I don't know what to think of that. Doubt it will catch on with other publishers accepting literary fiction submissions, but who knows...

As for my unfortunate use of the word "atrocious" for the website. I should've chosen my words more carefully, no place for hyperbole here. From my phone, the buttons display vertically (like a stoplight). When I looked at the site from my computer they were horizontal, just mentioning. I think others have voiced it looks amateurish, and in better detail than I could've. I'll hold comment on the covers. I'm more interested--because I see they publish literary fiction--in WAMM's overall experience and sales.

I don't know what to think of this message (from the WAMM website) from their editor-in-chief:
A Few Words from our Crusty Leader

“It will never work!” “You are just a bunch of writers who started this publishing house to get your own junk published!” These, dear friends, are just a few of the statements made to my partners in crime regarding WAMM.

Here we are a year old; sales going well. We have authors who believe in the house, that yes indeed, were having trouble getting really fine work out to the reading public; they tell us that life is good for them, that they have not been lied to, that nobody has asked them for anything other than working to help us publicize their books, that they have great books, great covers, and great friends here. I suppose the question is ‘are we authors who could not get our work published for whatever reason and are we just playing?’ Here is the answer----HELL NO!

The reason for the WAMM publishing house is indeed to offer our fellow writers an opportunity. Those that know me know when I say something, there is no bullshit. Nothing has changed.

As ever there are no fees, as our writers know. The money flows to them. There is not a soul involved in the creation of this endeavor who has made a single penny from the house -- yet. That will change. You can bet on it.

It doesn't really instill much confidence in me that David Smith has much experience in publishing -- What IS his experience? -- nor is he very professional sounding. WAMM appears like what I thought it was: Writers who couldn't get published traditionally/commercially, so started a company, bringing friends along, and friends of friends to shore up their list -- not that these books don't deserve to be published, not saying that. It also seems to me that its probably the authors (and friends and family) buying their print books to take to signings, etc. Not a requirement or obligation, but most likely a given.

So, I'll pass...

But good luck to those publishing with WAMM. Those authors posting here seem to know WAMM's limitations, along with their (author's) own expectations and goals for their novels. I wish the authors the best of sales and hope to see WAMM celebrating their 2nd anniversary next year. :)
 

Flicka

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The problem with the covers is largely with the typography, not just the type treatment but with the kerning and letter spacing.

I agree; it's mostly the typography that's the problem. Either way, they do look very amateurish. I think investing in a graphic artist with experience in making covers is definitely a worthwhile investment. Some even offer ready-made templates that look definitely more professional than this, which would be a cheap option.

Sorry to say, but I'm very put off by the look of most of those. I don't just think 'self-pubbed', I think 'self-pubbed by someone who doesn't worry too much about quality'. It makes me assume that editing etc. will be along those lines too.
 

Al Stevens

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Sorry to say, but I'm very put off by the look of most of those [covers]. I don't just think 'self-pubbed', I think 'self-pubbed by someone who doesn't worry too much about quality'. It makes me assume that editing etc. will be along those lines too.
Not sure what is included in your etc, but cover design, editing, and layout are different disciplines. I wouldn't make that assumption until I had read a book or two edited by them. Particularly given what writers here have reported.
 

Literateparakeet

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I wouldn't make that assumption until I had read a book or two edited by them. Particularly given what writers here have reported.

That is how I feel as well. I looked at Stew and Shakey's books on the website. They all looked interesting to me. So I decided to give one a try...both to try the book and the publisher.

I went with the ebook...(love my nook!), so I can't comment on hard copy. The book is great so far though. No editing issues that I have noticed. I don't tend to notice unless they are glaring. Anyway, I haven't seen any problems...I love the story. Which reminds me...I gotta go read. What am I doing here?
 

DreamWeaver

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To me the cover pictures look badly PhotoShopped. The two cowboys look out of scale with the cliff they're standing on, and appear to be cut and paste. So does the teddy bear on another cover. It's hard to tell for sure due to the small size.

ETA: I saved the cowboy picture and looked at it enlarged in PhotoShop to confirm that the cowboys were cut and paste. Yep. It looks very, very amateur IMO.
 

Medievalist

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That is how I feel as well. I looked at Stew and Shakey's books on the website. They all looked interesting to me. So I decided to give one a try...both to try the book and the publisher.

I'm looking forward to reading Taking Lessons from Ernest; I'm lookin' at a copy right now.
 

Flicka

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Not sure what is included in your etc, but cover design, editing, and layout are different disciplines. I wouldn't make that assumption until I had read a book or two edited by them. Particularly given what writers here have reported.

I'm talking about my assumption as a reader/buyer, not as a comment on the actual publisher. When I browse for books, I don't really go looking for what the writers think of their publisher. I glance and judge and move on.

Call me narrow-minded if you will, but that's how most people shop. That's why covers matter.
 

LillyPu

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To me the cover pictures look badly PhotoShopped. The two cowboys look out of scale with the cliff they're standing on, and appear to be cut and paste. So does the teddy bear on another cover. It's hard to tell for sure due to the small size.

ETA: I saved the cowboy picture and looked at it enlarged in PhotoShop to confirm that the cowboys were cut and paste. Yep. It looks very, very amateur IMO.
I agree. The 'two cowboys' cover also caught my eye as being out of scale. It looked as if the horses could as easily step off that cliff as step off a sidewalk curb.

My overall feel for this publisher is: Amateur. Their website, their covers, and after looking at a few first chapters from Amazon, their editing.

It's not the quality of the prose being discussed here, but I admire the loyalty shown from the deep benches. It's the quality of the publisher that's up for consideration. I can't tell half the writers from half the publishers. Comments like: We are new at this. We? As writer, or part-publisher? If posters can indicate what role they play in the publishing house, it'd be helpful. I'm neither published with Wamm, nor do I have any business affiliation with them, nor do I know any of their authors. I've looked at their website, their covers, and have read the first 5 chapters of some of their novels on Amazon.

Someone mentioned they had a WAMM book in hand and were "lookin' at a copy right now." Is that a print copy, or Kindle? In your opinion, how is the formatting, cover, print, editing? Is this publisher a good bet for literary fiction and/or genre writers? In your opinion?
 

kaitie

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I'm not a big fan of the covers. Most of them I had to actually read the text under the book cover to see what the title was because I couldn't read them on the thumbnails. Not a great marketing tool, imo. I also agree that while a couple are decent, many of them look like badly self-published covers. The writing and editing might be great, but I wouldn't have made it far enough to read blurbs on many of those based on the covers.
 

shakeysix

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i say we because we started together in a writing group maybe four years ago. we encouraged each other and shared our work. we talked about getting some sort of publishing thing going. i dropped out because of health problems but then they asked me to submit. so i did.

i don't do any editing but i did do some translating for them this winter. i don't have any money invested, if that is what you mean. i'm not a sock puppet, if that is what you mean. i have been posting on aw for five years.

i said we are new at this because i have had some feedback from readers on the website and have talked to a couple of the editors about possible changes. they were talking about hiring someone this spring to rework the site. i don't mind the website like it is and said so. i don't know what the other authors said. it seemed to be a group decision.

i have written a series of long short stories that are not going anywhere. WAMM is a good place for me to submit them. i'm not worried about their going out of business and my losing my rights. at least the stories and characters are off my hard drive. i can always write more stuff.

i have been offered help marketing my novels but haven't bothered to do much. i have a full time job. i am close to retirement. i'm not worried about finances. --s6
 

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It was first changed by CaoPaux to add the descriptive metadata identifying them as a publisher, then it was changed by MacAllister to explain the otherwise confusing use of initials.

Both are standard practices for Bewares, Recommendations, and Background check, and have been for years.

There was nothing "nit-picky" about it it, but should it continue to disturb you, feel free to complain to MacAllister.

Thank you. Rest assured, had it disturbed me that much I would have.

It seemed nit picky because as someone else pointed out, the thread changed and morphed and became something else anyway. While I understand that threads change and morph etc I thought it a bit odd it took so long to get the original questions answered. It was changing and morphing before it ever got started.
 

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