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Winter Goose Publishing

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

CillanXC

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Couldn't find a thread for them, so here goes. :) Has anybody dealt with them before? They're fairly new, so I haven't really been able to find much; the only thing I've been able to pull up is an interview with the editor-in-chief: here. Their main website is here.

They offered me a contract about a week ago. It looks good to me -- royalty rates seem to comply with industry standards, etc., etc. -- but I'm still quite a n00b at this.
 

veinglory

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The pink flags: founded this year, website aimed at authors, no obvious experience (owners/editors with publishing experience).

Nothing terrible but nothing to suggest a skilled publisher destined for massive success IMHO.
 
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aliceshortcake

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I'd be concerned by the fact that the site is aimed at writers, not readers, and that they publish practically every genre going including poetry. They also refer to 'full-length fiction novels'.

*screams*

What about marketing?

Winter Goose helps our authors find new readers by investing our resources in promotions for our authors and their work. We also require authors who are willing to put in the time and effort to partner in marketing efforts such as author signings, interviews, blogging, and communication with readers.

When submitting to Winter Goose we expect you to provide us with a basic marketing plan. We work with each author to build up your base and support you through the process. We integrate that process into our own plan for your success.

I get the impression that the author will be doing most of the work here, and there's no mention of distribution.

On editing:

Make sure you provide us with your best possible work. We provide a wide range of editing including development, however, that does not mean we will overlook large mistakes in your manuscript. It is good practice as a writer to edit your work and additionally have someone outside your immediate family/friends read through to check for mistakes.

Yes, by all means ask your family and friends to check your work for mistakes. WGP don't sound too enthusiastic about doing the job for you.

WGP is currently accepting submissions for its first Golden Goose competition (the winner gets $1000 and a publishing contract). I can't say I'm impressed by the writing credentials of the guest judges:

L M Stull, who has just published her debut novel through Black Kettle Publishing. A quick Google reveals that the founder of Black Kettle Publishing is...L M Stull.

Drew Kimble:

After escaping life as a high-school English Literature teacher with at least some of his sanity still intact, Drew began writing full-time and teaching creative writing to adults who had the desire to express themselves creatively with the written word.

As he continued to work with these emerging writers, he began to notice that the publishing world no longer worked the way that it had ten years ago. Writers were no longer being discovered by sending manuscript after manuscript to overwhelmed and understaffed editors. Instead they were being discovered online through their blogs, their websites, and by interacting with other writers in online forums.

How many new authors are discovered online rather than in the slush pile or through agented submissions? Very few, I bet.

Rachel Thompson:

Rachel Thompson (aka RachelintheOC) is the author of the consistently 5/5 star reviewed humorous and at times, poignant, collection of essays, A Walk In The Snark (released 1/2011), which hit #1 on the Amazon Motherhood Kindle list (beating out the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Tori Spelling!) in September, 2011 and again in October 2011! Her book has consistently stayed on the Amazon Top Humor Lists.

In May, 2011 A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on Smashwords Entertainment Bestseller list also.
Her latest non-fiction endeavor, “Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success” (co-authored with Carolyn McCray and Amber Scott) debuted at #1 on Amazon’s “Authorship” bestselling list in June, 2011.

Lori Hettler:

Lori Hettler is the indie lovin’ mastermind behind The Next Best Book Blog. She started blogging back in December 2009 after her TNBBC goodreads group took on a life of its own. Needing a soapbox from which to stand and shout her love for the independent and self-published novels, blogging just seemed to fit that need so naturally.

...and Jessica Kristie:

Jessica Kristie is the Writing Curator for ArtPlatform and the Co-Creator and contributor for the ArtPlatform book Inspiration Speaks.

Dreaming in Darkness is her first volume of poetry that has gained her many 5/5 star reviews. Jessica’s second book Threads of Life will be released March 2012 through Winter Goose Publishing.

Dreaming in Darkness was also published by WGP, so I don't know in what sense Kristie is a guest judge.

Does anyone else find it odd that every one of the judges is either self-published, a self-publishing advocate or already published by WGP? And boasting about 5-star reviews on Amazon is just pitiful!
 
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CillanXC

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My reading of them was essentially the same as veinglory's; no blatant red flags, but there were some things on the site that gave me pause.

@aliceshortcake, you do bring up some important points. (And on a related note, I had noticed that the staff members' last names are not given on their "about" page; I had to kind of dig to find them.)

How much of this can be chalked up to the fact that they're a brand-new publishing house? Is it reason enough to steer clear? Or is it OK just to accept that I'll be shouldering most of the responsibility for marketing/publicity? (Don't most debut authors do that anyway?)

Thanks so much for your feedback, guys!
 

MysteryRiter

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I'm no expert in this field but it all depends on what you want to get out of this. I'd wait for others to comment after me, but it's all about what you want and what you feel is best for you. Have you tried querying agents? If so and no luck, you need to decide what you're expecting from this. It is pitiful that they're boasting about 5 star reviews, as mentioned above, but are you expecting a lot? I don't think they can give you a lot but they could be a good starting place if you're a new author, though I don't think the sales will be anything remarkable.
Again, wait for more knowledgeable people to comment after me, and think about what you're aiming to get out of this. Also, have you weighed the option of self publishing against this? You get more control and income by going self pub, btw, but if they offer something you can't do yourself self publishing - like a built in readership - maybe go with them. It does sound to me, though, that you'll be doing all the work. Self-pub may be the better option.
Best of luck. :)
 

CillanXC

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I have been querying agents extensively, and have had a few promising nibbles but no takers as yet. I have seriously considered self-pubbing, too, for a number of reasons... the novel is very difficult to categorize (I call it fantasy, but it has no magic whatsoever) and therefore difficult to pitch to agents; plus, I've worked as a professional graphic designer and I just think it'd be cool to have complete control over the "look" of my novel. :)

But when it comes down to it, I'm just not sure I'm ready to resign myself to self-pubbing. For some reason that seems like defeat. :Shrug:
 

MysteryRiter

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Then it sounds like you might want to go with them. :)
Wait for others first to post here, though...
 

Momento Mori

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CillanXC:
How much of this can be chalked up to the fact that they're a brand-new publishing house?

Being a new publishing house doesn't give you a pass or any lee-way on these things. The majority of new publishers tend to go bust within the first 2 years. When they go bust, they at worst, take authors' manuscripts with them (leaving the authors in limbo as regards their legal right to the same) and at best, have totally used up first publishing rights for low sales.

If you're going to go with a new publisher then it's really important to find out what their credentials are. People who set up companies to self-publish themselves are fine - they know the risks and can deal with the same. When they're taking on third party's manuscripts though, then they're taking those risks with your manuscript. At least with self-publishing, you're in control of the process.

CillanXC:
Or is it OK just to accept that I'll be shouldering most of the responsibility for marketing/publicity? (Don't most debut authors do that anyway?)

Most commercially published debut authors get an advance and can be sure of in-store book distribution (to a greater or lesser extent).

What is Winter Goose giving you? A royalty only contract and the ability to order books from stores (which is not the same as having them stocked within them).

Marketing costs money and is time-intensive. Think about how much you're going to pay as against the amount that you'll earn back in royalties - many authors who go with outfits like this find that they don't make enough to cover their costs.

CillanXC:
I'm just not sure I'm ready to resign myself to self-pubbing. For some reason that seems like defeat.

But what does Winter Goose give you over and above self-publishing? Pretty much nothing other than the ability to say that someone else liked your book enough to offer a contract. Validation's all well and good, but it doesn't pay the bills and if the people giving you that validation can't offer much credibility to support their opinion, then it all becomes a bit meaningless.

CillanXC:
I have been querying agents extensively, and have had a few promising nibbles but no takers as yet. I have seriously considered self-pubbing, too, for a number of reasons... the novel is very difficult to categorize (I call it fantasy, but it has no magic whatsoever) and therefore difficult to pitch to agents

Sounds like your query letter needs work. There's a SYW forum here you can post it to or you can advertise for some betas to take a look at it.

A separate flog of Winter Goose will be posted shortly.

MM
 

Momento Mori

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Winter Goose Website:
We only publish a limited number of Poetry and Children’s Books per year.

They shouldn't be releasing poetry full stop. There's no money in it. Poets are generally better off establishing their reputation through poetry magazines and active poetry reading communities rather than releasing collections of their work.

Then there's the fact that Winter Goose seems to accept practically any type of book. Most publishers find it more effective to start in one genre and then branch out because it means they can focus their own marketing/promotion spend and establish a good reputation within that reading community.

Winter Goose Website:
Winter Goose Publishing (WGP) is a royalty-paying publisher. There are no fees associated with editing or publishing of any kind, including cover art or marketing. All material published is under contract and any rights sold to WGP will revert to the author at the end of the contract period. All material submitted and published remains the property of the author

I can't find any information on the site about the royalty rates or whether they are net or on cover price. It's good that there are no fees charged but, as I said in my previous post, if you end up having to spend money in marketing and promoting your own book, then you'll need to be certain that the royalty rate is such that it could cover the same - plus you'll need to have an idea of their average sales figures to see if you actually stand a chance of earning anything (a high royalty but no sales means no money).

Winter Goose Website:
WGP publishes books in print and eBook. We are committed to accepting and putting out only quality work.

Unless they have a deal in place to actually place your books in stores, they shouldn't be taking print rights. There's no information as to whether they're taking world-wide or territory specific rights either.

Winter Goose Website:
Winter Goose helps our authors find new readers by investing our resources in promotions for our authors and their work.

I'd want to know the specifics of what they actually do and what resources they commit.

Winter Goose Website:
We also require authors who are willing to put in the time and effort to partner in marketing efforts such as author signings, interviews, blogging, and communication with readers.

Who sets up the author signings and interviews? With author signings, does the author have to pay for the books?

Winter Goose Website:
When submitting to Winter Goose we expect you to provide us with a basic marketing plan. We work with each author to build up your base and support you through the process. We integrate that process into our own plan for your success.

I'm always leery of new publishers that require the authors to submit a marketing plan - especially when there's little information on what the publisher is actually going to do to support the book.

Then there's the Golden Goose award with its whopping USD55 entry fee to be judged by people who only have self-publishing experience. (Note, I am not knocking self-published authors in the slightest, but if you're being expected to pay such a high price, then you'd want to at least know that the people judging you have a lot of experience in commercial publishing. The worth of a competition is in its judges and the prize - USD1,000 and a publishing contract with a start-up that may not be around in 2 years time is hardly worth the risk.

MM
 

aliceshortcake

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Whoa, I completely missed that $55 entry fee - ten submissions and WGP has covered the cost of the prize!
 
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veinglory

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I would suggest that you go the appropriate genre room and post the details of your manuscript, and ask for publisher suggestions.
 

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Update

I see that you (CillianXC) have decided to publish your book with Winter Goose. When in 2012 is it going to be released? What made you decide to publish through them?
 

CillanXC

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It's scheduled to be released in May. :)

There were a couple different factors that went into my decision. A big one is that they genuinely seemed excited about the manuscript, despite the fact that it's not really a traditional "fantasy" and therefore might be a little more challenging to market. (The personalized rejections I'd received for it all said pretty much the same thing--it wasn't "epic" enough. But "epic" wasn't really what I was going for.)

In the end, the small-press route just felt like the best option for this manuscript.
 

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Well apparently this press is still going. Someone asking about them on another website.
 

Polenth

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It looks like CillanXC ended the contract with Winter Goose this year and self-published the book. I didn't see any mention of why on her blog and she's not active here anymore, but that still might be of interest to people.
 

CillanXC

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Apologies for the long inactivity. To shed some light: yes, I ended my contract with WG for a variety of reasons. I was very unhappy with their treatment of the manuscript (the "edits" they made were appalling: after the first pass I had to go through and correct multiple sloppy grammatical errors they introduced into the manuscript. I was sent final edits only a few days before the book was scheduled to be released, and had no time to review them fully. The book went to press riddled with errors and with some proofreading marks still in). Also, they claimed the rights to the cover design, but used some of my own art on the cover without crediting me. Lesson learned, but thankfully not the horror story it could have been, as they did agree to end my contract early and release the rights back to me.
 

karenmoulding

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Hi there,
Just wondering if there are any other scoops or thoughts about Winter Goose, since this thread is a few years old? I've just joined Absolute Write. I am sending my novel to small presses now, and sent it to Winter Goose before seeing this. Since then I have come across some tips about checking for a small press's distributor (which does seem to be missing here) and also about print runs. I think Winter Goose is mostly publish-on-demand. I am in an odd situation because my child is on national tour with a Broadway show. I am able to stop in to independent bookstores all across the country and give readings, so working with a small publisher could be wonderful. But maybe not so much if they are not able to supply hard books to the stores? Any thoughts or tips. The search for small presses is very slow! Thanks much!
 

mrsmig

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Hi there,
Just wondering if there are any other scoops or thoughts about Winter Goose, since this thread is a few years old? I've just joined Absolute Write. I am sending my novel to small presses now, and sent it to Winter Goose before seeing this. Since then I have come across some tips about checking for a small press's distributor (which does seem to be missing here) and also about print runs. I think Winter Goose is mostly publish-on-demand. I am in an odd situation because my child is on national tour with a Broadway show. I am able to stop in to independent bookstores all across the country and give readings, so working with a small publisher could be wonderful. But maybe not so much if they are not able to supply hard books to the stores? Any thoughts or tips. The search for small presses is very slow! Thanks much!

I think the term you're looking for is "Print on Demand," or POD. POD books are not generally carried in brick and mortar stores because the distributors for POD don't usually take returns - so if the bookstore orders ten copies of a new release and only sells a couple, they're stuck with the remaining stock.

If you're willing to haul your books along on tour, you might be able to do those independent signings more easily - but having been on a National Tour myself, I know the additional luggage can be problematic.

Many small presses use Ingram Spark as their distributor (a subdivision of behemoth distributor Ingram which specializes in self-publishers and small presses). However, Ingram Spark will not get your books on the shelves in brick-and-mortar stores, either, although your book will be available for special order from the Ingram catalog.
 

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The best way to search for a small publisher is to find a publisher who publishes books in the same niche or genre as your book.

Find those books at public libraries and physical book stores.

Compile a list of possible publishers.

Research them to find out if they're legit and suitable for your book.

Take that list and discover what the publishers want in terms of submission.

Submit.
 

karenmoulding

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Yes, I meant "print on demand." Very helpful comment, thank you. Anyone else have experience with Winter Goose? I've now sent to several other small presses with books roughly similar to mine (literary fiction with a comic and "hip" urban edge). I'm now only looking for publishers with actual distributors listed on their websites. But if Winter Goose gets back to me first, I wonder if I can negotiate some hard copies sent to stores as part of my contract? Any other tips so much appreciated! (Amazing that you were also on national tour, mrsmig. Quite an adventure for my 4 year old! She is currently performing at the Kennedy Center!)
 

mrsmig

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Yes, I meant "print on demand." Very helpful comment, thank you. Anyone else have experience with Winter Goose? I've now sent to several other small presses with books roughly similar to mine (literary fiction with a comic and "hip" urban edge). I'm now only looking for publishers with actual distributors listed on their websites. But if Winter Goose gets back to me first, I wonder if I can negotiate some hard copies sent to stores as part of my contract? Any other tips so much appreciated! (Amazing that you were also on national tour, mrsmig. Quite an adventure for my 4 year old! She is currently performing at the Kennedy Center!)

Ah, your daughter must be in Miss Saigon - how exciting for her! I live in the DC area myself, but doubt I'll be able to see the show before it moves on after this weekend's performances.

I had a look at Winter Goose's most recent book on Amazon, and I have to say I'm seeing a couple of red flags. First, it released last July and has just one review, which indicates that the publisher's promotional efforts may have been marginal at best. Second, the book doesn't appear to have any sales rankings after six months' availability (to be fair, that might be an Amazon issue). Third, there's a fairly glaring error in the very first paragraph of the book ("...her slurred speech sounds as though she had imbued a bottle of cheap gin..."), which points to a lack of editing on the publisher's part.

I'm also wondering if they've given you a projected release date. Judging from their website, this is not a fast-moving publisher (they have two books listed as "upcoming," with no release date shown for either). From contract signing to actually having your book in your hands can take months or longer, so it may be that your plan of doing signings and appearances while on tour may be premature. If this is of real importance to you, you should discuss the publishing timeline in detail and get some hard dates before signing with this press.

ETA: Winter Goose is, indeed, a POD press (they state that in their "About Us" section), and seem to prefer digital over print as part of their environmentally-conscious mission statement. Another red flag in that same section is the recurring emphasis on the press and its authors as "family." You see this "family" model a lot with small, under-capitalized presses - while it's a term designed to make writers feel comfortable and loved, what it usually translates to is an expectation that the author will excuse the shortcomings of the publisher, especially in the marketing and promotions departments, because "we're family." Think hard about what you want from your publisher - do you want warm fuzzies, or do you want your book available in stores, provided to reviewers well in advance of release, and promoted like crazy so you and the publisher will benefit from its sales?
 
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frimble3

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And for that matter, does 'family' automatically give everyone the warm fuzzies? When I hear 'We're like family', my hand goes to check my wallet, and my eyes dart toward my more desirable possessions.
 

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