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Vanilla Heart Publishing

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Momento Mori

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Apparently this is an imprint of Caged Heart Publications. There are red flags on the website that it's not offering a great deal for authors:

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs (Bolding Mine):
if you are an experienced, professional or previously published author with a manuscript that will require only the normal amount of professional editing and formatting, then Vanilla Heart Publishing will not charge a fee to publish your book, and may, in fact, offer advances to established authors.

That suggests to me that if they will charge a fee if your manuscript requires what they consider over and above normal professional editing and formatting or you're inexperienced, amateur or not previously published. Also, I have no idea what a "normal" amount of editing and formatting is.

They're not automatically offering advances, even if you have been published before.

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
If you are an inexperienced author who has never been published before but you can provide us a manuscript that sizzles, will likely sell well, is well written, and you can provide a working marketing plan, then we may offer to publish your book, but we will not likely offer you an advance, unless we feel you have a strong grasp of marketing and can prove you can achieve sales.

Erm ... marketing and selling books is what they should be doing.

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
The third way an author can make money with their book is by purchasing the book directly from the publisher without a royalty for the discounted author's price set in your contract, and then selling that book at a higher price yourself on your own website or at special events.

Uh-huh. So effectively, authors are being encouraged to purchase and sell their own books. That's never a good sign.

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
If we request a copy of your manuscript, that means we want to send it to our acquisitions editor for a full assessment prior to deciding if we want to accept the manuscript and offer you a publishing contract. This assessment will review things such as the plot and storyline, character development, grammar and punctuation, syntax, style, tone, point of view consistency and much more. The editor will assign points to the manuscript and then write up a short evaluation of how much editing or rewriting will be required to make the manuscript marketable for the genre.

Huh? Why would anyone need to know this?

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
We have a team of in house editors, proofreaders and formatters as well as contracts with professional editing companies who will receive a royalty contract to work on your title. The success of your book will benefit them, since they will receive a small royalty payment on each book sold that in no way reduces the royalties you will receive. As a general rule, we do not charge you, the author, for the editing and formatting of your book, since that is part of what is a normal business expense for publishers.

If the editors are taking a cut of the royalties, then that would eat into the publisher's margins. I don't know how common this is with small presses - anyone able to comment? I don't like the weasel words "As a general rule, we do not charge you" as it suggests that they are actually open to the possibility of charging the "exceptions".

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
Unfortunately, we cannot at this time give you the time frame in which this will occur or give you a list bookstores where your book will be sold. Different books will be placed in different bookstores depending on what the bookstores are currently seeking and what is currently selling well on the market. It can take up to a year for a new title to receive shelf placement when published through VHP, but we are working to reduce this length of time and seek pre-approval for shelf placement with national retailers. Until that time, we work with each book and each bookstore chain individually to seek shelf placement.

Huge red flag. It basically suggests that they don't have distribution already in place and the idea of placing books in individual bookstores is just insane. The fact that authors are required to self-market implies that such placement will largely be down to their own efforts.

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
Vanilla Heart Publishing will create a marketing and media kit that we send to you once your title is sent to the printer to help you begin the pre-sell and marketing phase of your book. We expect all of our authors to do as much marketing and promotion of their books as possible. Most of the promotional efforts we recommend cost nothing but your time and a few cost a few dollars only.

The publisher should be doing a large chunk of the marketing and promotion, not the author. It's worrying that authors are expected to spend money, even if it is "a few dollars only".

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
We do sometimes have special event agreements in which we can provide you a limited number of copies of your book in advance against sales of the book at the event if financial constraints prevent you from promoting your book properly at a special event, but these are limited and dependent upon our current marketing budget and determined on a case by case basis.

So basically, even if they can get you into an event, they won't be able to provide you with many copies to sell and I don't like the words "we can provide you a limited number of copies of your book in advance against sales of the book". VHP should be able to get a good number of books there without the author risking anything.

Vanilla Heart Publishing FAQs:
Vanilla Heart Publishing will only hold these particular rights until such time as your contract expires, which will be between one (1) and three (3) years, depending on the contract, and for some books, we will renew the contract after the expiration should both VHP and you agree to extend the contract and provided the book is still in demand.

I've not heard of fixed-term publishing contracts before and would suggest that the 1 year term is incredibly short (particularly as they admit it can take up to a year for them to be able to place books in stores).

As a general observation, the covers for those books currently being sold by VHP look like they came from clip-art and didn't strike me as either particularly attractive or professional in appearance.

All in all, this isn't an outfit I'd be interested in signing with.

MM
 
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JerseyGirl1962

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Someone mentioned to me that they had just signed a contract with Vanilla Heart Publishing. I looked at the website and while they do not charge to publish your book, they also don't offer an advance.

Could someone figure out if this is a twist on a POD or something?

http://www.vanillaheartpublishing.com/

It's owned by a publisher named Caged Heart Publishing. Caged Heart is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, and this is their blurb:

"The primary mission of Caged Heart Publishing it to raise appreciation of finely crafted erotica and more 'edgy' literary endeavors by carefully selecting our authors, insisting on professional editing and production, from interior layout to cover design, and marketing and promotion."

From Vanilla Heart's "About Us" page, they focus on "overcoming hardship stories, coming of age novels, fantasy, and other mainstream fiction works." They state this was because Caged Heart received mss. other than for the erotica they publish, so they decided to open a separate company to publish those more-mainstream stories.

This is interesting from their FAQ:

7. Will my book appear on bookstore shelves?
Definitely!
Unfortunately, we cannot at this time give you the time frame in which this will occur or give you a list bookstores where your book will be sold. Different books will be placed in different bookstores depending on what the bookstores are currently seeking and what is currently selling well on the market. It can take up to a year for a new title to receive shelf placement when published through VHP, but we are working to reduce this length of time and seek pre-approval for shelf placement with national retailers. Until that time, we work with each book and each bookstore chain individually to seek shelf placement.

Your book will appear on bookstore shelves, but they can't tell you when or which bookstores? Makes me wonder if they have any distributors in place.

Ah, Momento Mori beat me to the punch! :tongue Another thing that made me think "WTF?" is the marketing scheme, where inexperienced authors (that is, debut ones) are given short shrift (to put it nicely).

I think I'd pass on this one.

~Nancy
 
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Thrillride

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Hmmmm...Okay, guys. See, this is the feeling I was getting. So, this poor girl (on another site that I frequent) thinks...well, she thinks she's broken into the big time. *sigh*

I guess since she's not truly a friend, just a voice, I should just keep my big mouth shut. Yes?

Oh well, at least I am clued in.

~Thrill
 
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Thrillride

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Considering she isn't actually a friend, just a voice on the internet, I am opting to not say anything. For one, on this particular website (if I did say something) it would be construed by many as me trying to burst her bubble.

Second, someone else just reminded me that this woman could very well know the score and would rather keep it to herself, letting others believe she just broke into this major industry (and actually got paid bonafied money for) a book that took a couple of months to write and will be available in April (and she just signed the contract) - that was my first red flag.

So, I will just learn from this.
 
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Meira

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. . . Second, someone else just reminded me that this woman could very well know the score and would rather keep it to herself, letting others believe she just broke into this major industry.

Okay, maybe. I don't know the situation or the young lady. . . But my heart still aches a little. I understand that you don't want to be the spoilsport, but perhaps a PM directing her to this site wouldn't be so bad? Just a little PM. . . :Shrug: ?

Almost every day I check the Bewares thread, either to research an agent or hear what's new. I am honestly flabbergasted. . . well, no, downright revolted, by all the cockroaches out there preying on new authors. You guys knock 'em down, and they crawl right on back -- new name, new scheme, same old b.s.

How do people do that? Wake up in the morning and decide they are going to feed on another person's dream? Suck it up and spit it out on the sidewalk. It makes me sick.

So, anyway, drama aside. Just a little nudge wouldn't hurt, would it?
 

JulieB

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Almost every day I check the Bewares thread, either to research an agent or hear what's new. I am honestly flabbergasted. . . well, no, downright revolted, by all the cockroaches out there preying on new authors. You guys knock 'em down, and they crawl right on back -- new name, new scheme, same old b.s.

Same here.

But then I see the thriving threads about reputable publishers and agents alongside the threads about the dubious ones, and it does my heart good.
 

Thrillride

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Uhhh. Wow, Deadly...small world. Okay, so I am truly happy that at least she is aware that this website is here.

Hey, for all I know, that was the type of publishing she wanted. At least she knows where to go to get good info.


~ Thrill
 

Vanilla Heart Pub

Hello from Vanilla Heart Publishing

My name is Kimberlee Williams and I am the managing editor and co-owner of Caged Heart Publications, which has the imprints Caged Heart Publishing and Vanilla Heart Publishing. We stumbled upon these posts in AW’s forum, and were very pleased to see them. OK, so we are disappointed that we didn’t make the best first impression with our website and FAQs, but we were pleased to gain valuable feedback from talented, experienced, and professional authors.

CHP was started as an alternative lifestyle and alternative sexuality erotic publisher, and as such, the rules for publishing that genre are very different from the mainstream genres. When we decided to open the VHP imprint, we admit to a learning curve deficit for a short time until we learned the different rules for mainstream publishing. The VHP imprint has now been in business about a year, and we believe we are going full swing with this imprint.

Based on your comments here, we realize that there may have been some ambiguity in some of our FAQs. Because of this, we have revised our FAQs to make those issues clearer. Our actual policies haven’t changed, but we did want to remove any confusion the FAQs may have caused. We hope you authors will review them and let us know, without holding any punches, if there are other issues that are sparking ‘red flags’ for you. We’re tough. We can take it if it means making our company a better place for authors to consider submitting their books.

It is the authors and their books that make our publishing company shine, and we want you to know that we take your feedback seriously, so that we can continue to provide a publishing company that really puts the authors first. Just to clear up any confusion, we are not a vanity or subsidized publisher. We never charge the author for anything, period. We can and do reject manuscripts daily. We can and have offered advances. We are a small publisher, so we can’t offer huge advances nor can we offer an advance on every book we offer a contract. The smallest advance we have offered (when we have offered an advance) was $300.00 and the largest thus far was $4,000.00. We hope to offer more advances in the future.

We realize that we are not a typical publisher, and we say that repeatedly on our site. We don’t want to be a large conglomerate that takes a months to respond to queries, a year or more to get the books out and doesn’t have personal contact with our authors. We want to make dreams come true, help aspiring authors break into publishing, and treat authors with the respect their talent deserves. Our standard publishing contract is available for review prior to submitting to us and we are available to answer any questions you may have.

Keep in mind, even though we want to give every author who submits a chance to be published, we simply cannot do that. Some manuscripts just aren’t polished or well written enough to publish, and others may be good, but would require too much invested time and money to make them cost effective for us to publish. Currently, we only are slotting 12 titles plus two anthologies for Vanilla Heart for 2008, though we hope to double that for 2009, because we want the time and the finances to properly promote and market our titles. This means the majority of manuscripts submitted to us will be rejected. (Caged Heart will be offering 17 titles in 2008, possibly 19, and 24 in 2009)

I hope this clears up any confusion about VHP, and that you authors will let us know if there are other issues we may need to address to make our publishing company a place where all authors can be proud to submit and be published. Again, if you have any questions, please contact us, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.

Thank you again for your honest feedback.

Sincerely,
Kimberlee Williams

Managing Editor
Vanilla Heart Publishing
http://www.vanillaheartpublishing.com
 

kiwiauthor

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Hi Kimberlee, welcome to the aw boards. Just a suggestion. The 'wow' us approach you use in your sub. guidelines, honestly, I'd lose it. You might want to have a look at Samhain's submission guidelines for a professional, yet author friendly approach. I'd also take seriously the red flags and concerns that Momento Mori raises above. We all need more small publishers, but of the Samhain variety. :)

I wish you well in this venture.
 

Birol

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That's a good question right now.
Almost every day I check the Bewares thread, either to research an agent or hear what's new. I am honestly flabbergasted. . . well, no, downright revolted, by all the cockroaches out there preying on new authors. You guys knock 'em down, and they crawl right on back -- new name, new scheme, same old b.s.

How do people do that? Wake up in the morning and decide they are going to feed on another person's dream? Suck it up and spit it out on the sidewalk. It makes me sick.

I think it's important to note that a lot of the publishers that aren't recommended aren't scams. They're not out to feed on people's dreams or take advantage of them. That's not what they set out to do. Some do, yes, but not all. For many of these small publishers, owning and operating a publishing company, putting out quality literature, is their dream. And, when the experts who provide information and feedback to writers pick through their contract and business policies and explain why they're not qualified or a bad idea or not proven, they feel preyed upon, too, and wonder: Who are those people to feed on my dream? Who do they think they are? Why can't they crawl back under the rock they came from?

Yet, just as the ability to string together a coherent sentence doesn't make one an author, having a dream, being a sincere and honest individual, isn't enough to run a publishing company. People like Victoria and Jim know this and point it out. This does not mean Victoria, Jim, et. al., are bad people any more than it means that the individuals running some of these start-up publishers are bad people. It just means the publishing companies are not a good idea for writers. Nothing more, nothing less.


(NOTE: Although this is appearing in the Vanilla Heart Publishing thread, I am not specifically commenting on them. This is a general statement based on my own observations.)
 

Meira

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I think it's important to note that a lot of the publishers that aren't recommended aren't scams. They're not out to feed on people's dreams or take advantage of them. That's not what they set out to do. Some do, yes, but not all.

Point taken. And actually, in my experience so far, the watchdogs at AW are diligent to distinguish between "scam red flags" and "inexperience red flags." Momento Mori's breakdown included a couple of "scam red flags," I think. . . unless I am totally off the mark.

However, now that VHP has responded with a very courteous and professional posting that includes real facts and figures and a desire to clear the muddy waters, it all sounds more promising.

Nevertheless, I am still confused about one thing. It seems unlikely to me that a novel written in two months would be available in April 2008 if 2008 only has 12 selective titles to be released. Any comments?
 

Vanilla Heart Pub

Vanilla Heart Publishing Expedited Scheduling

However, now that VHP has responded with a very courteous and professional posting that includes real facts and figures and a desire to clear the muddy waters, it all sounds more promising.

Nevertheless, I am still confused about one thing. It seems unlikely to me that a novel written in two months would be available in April 2008 if 2008 only has 12 selective titles to be released. Any comments?

Meira,

While we were planning our title lineup for 2008, we purposely left several open periods, to allow us to push through exceptional manuscripts and exceptional authors.

We selected the manuscript I believe you are speaking of because of many factors, not the least of which is the author's skill and fervor, the quality of the work, and the marketability factor.

We fully support our contracted authors and certainly our processes for this manuscript are expedited. Fortunately, hiring additional contractors for the various stages of production and promotion allows us to choose to expedite manuscripts we believe in.

Thank you for the question, and I hope I am answering what you are wondering, lol.

Kimberlee Williams
Managing Editor
Caged Heart/Vanilla Heart Publishing
 

Death Wizard

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Very delighted to see Kimberlee come into this discussion with such a professional attitude and clarity of mission statement. Thank you for clearing up some topics for us. I wish you all the success in taking your publishing house to prosperous and celebratory status.

Tri

Agreed.
 

twnkltoz

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Hmmmm...Okay, guys. See, this is the feeling I was getting. So, this poor girl (on another site that I frequent) thinks...well, she thinks she's broken into the big time. *sigh*

I guess since she's not truly a friend, just a voice, I should just keep my big mouth shut. Yes?

Oh well, at least I am clued in.

~Thrill
1. Perhaps you could quote here where I indicated that I thought I made it into the big time.

2. I took two years to write this book. Yes, I did another one during nanowrimo. Believe it or not, you can write a good book in a couple of months. There are lots of published books out there that were nanowrio books. Yes, there's some editing that has to happen after that.

3. I invite you to read some of my work. There are links in my signature, so you can decide for yourself if you think I'm some poor, untalented slob being preyed upon. If I am, I got one hell of a nice contract.

4. Hey Kimberlee...welcome to the forums. Thanks again for taking a chance on this poor, naive author! :)
 

twnkltoz

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While I'm at it...if you want to see what all the hubbub is about, the title is Bubba Goes National. It'll be available at major online retailers in April or May. :)
 

Momento Mori

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Meira:
Momento Mori's breakdown included a couple of "scam red flags," I think. . . unless I am totally off the mark.

I think I identified them as "red flag red flags", although I was concerned that the language left room for shennanigans. ;)

I'd like to third the other comments praising the very professional attitude taken by Kimberlee Williams, not least because of the way she's focused on the issues within her FAQs. I haven't had a chance to go through them, but it's really refreshing to see a publisher come here wanting to address concerns rather than engaging in a petulant snitfest and I applaud that attitude.

The fact that Vanilla Heart is exercising quality control and is only committed to publishing a limited number of books goes towards alleviating some of my biggest concerns, although I'd also like to see a comment about what distribution is in place.

MM
 

Meira

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I think I identified them as "red flag red flags", although I was concerned that the language left room for shenanigans.
My bad. I assumed the possibility that they might charge the author for manuscripts that need more than the "normal amount" of editing and the encouraging authors to buy copies were "scam red flags."


I took two years to write this book.
Sorry. I was concerned that you (an unknown fellow writer) were being taken advantage of and that thought upset me. Clearly, I did not know the full story.


Thank you for the question, and I hope I am answering what you are wondering.
Yes, thank you, Kimberlee, it does. I apologize for my implications that something smelt fishy. I have become rather cynical over the past couple of months. Some would call it mild paranoia. :scared:

I wish to echo what others have said above. It is very refreshing to see an agent or publisher visiting the forums with straightforward, detailed and snide-free responses to direct questions. Thank you for joining us.
 
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twnkltoz

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I appreciate all of your concern, I really do. I just wish someone had asked me if I had done any research before I signed, because this thread would have had a completely different tone.

Thrillrider, I didn't say that to pick a fight.
 

veinglory

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Given that the thread is in the communty to foster discussion about any active presses and inform anyone interested, where it starts is far less important than where it ends.
 

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