Tag Archives: money

Authors Held at Gunpoint

I received a note from a friend recently that asked me a very disturbing question. She wanted to know if I would offer my opinion on whether or not I thought she should pay to have her books reviewed.

It seems there is an independent bookstore that requires “certain” authors to have their books reviewed by this specific service in order to be carried in their store. They have been carrying the author’s books, but now have decided that they will remove the books unless the author meets this new requirement. Furthermore, the author must PAY to have those reviews done.

Once the reviews have been done, the store will then take the books into the store on consignment only. It would seem that the store also receives a fee for the books reviewed.

Now, I fully understand that some stores (mostly chain stores) charge for shelf placement, but even under those circumstances it is prime shelf space, not the difference between in the store or not.

Is it just me or have the chances for an author actually selling books become as dangerous as driving through gang territory? There seems to be a constant barrage of bullets flying from all directions determined to take out the authors that some booksellers deem unworthy.

What of the readers? Don’t they deserve to choose the books they want and not have to settle just for what booksellers tell them the should read?


A Word to the Wise

Okay, for those of you who have recently had some kind of interaction with me or one of my staff at Echelon Press, please read this in the spirit it is intended. How is it intended? It is a gripe, not a rant. I am not angry, I am just frustrated. I don’t dislike you, but I did experience moments of annoyance with regard to you if you did what I am about to discuss.

Free editorial service. Yup, there I said it. When you submit your work to a publisher it it supposed to be the very best that it can be.

  • It should not need to be reformatted to fit our guidelines.
  • It should not need to be spell checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be grammar checked by our editors.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve major issues.
  • It should not need to be rewritten to resolve minor issues.
  • It should not need to be rainbowed (some of my auuthors call that the great was, were, that hunt)

Seriously. This is how MOST of the manuscripts we are getting have to be addressed. I understand and will accept some flaws, you are after all human. But let’s be serious folks. It is NOT an unwritten rule that you must send a fully edited manuscript to a publisher for consideration. It is written all over the place. 90% of our submissions need to be 50% overhauled.

Now, the free part. My editors are very considerate. I have always had a policy that if your work is rejected, you know exactly why. This means notes, suggestions, advice. You can take it or leave it. But I feel that it only serves to help the author better his craft. It is a courtesy.

Well, it seems that Echelon has gotten a reputation for being really easy! We have had an influx of authors who submit to us, I should say submit work that needs serious work, with the notion that we will edit it. Okay, we will HELP.

But those same authors are getting all kinds of input and help with revision suggestions, notes on grammatical and spelling errors, stuff like that BEFORE they have a contract. Okay, that stops here! Right now. From this point on, Echelon will only give editorial comments and the like on contracted materials. Why?

In the last month, we have had about a dozen submissions where a pending offer was made, the editor began working with the author, time was spent, MONEY was spent, and then when it came time to actually sign and mail the contract, the author decided to go with another publisher or in the case of five different authors, they decided to self-publish.

For pete’s sake people, you can’t make this decision BEFORE you submit and get a gander at our contract which is not for public viewing? You wanna self-publish, good for you. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. If you are willing to make that commitment and follow through, then I applaud you. Sincerely. But do I have to pay the price?

I am, after all, a publisher, not a FREE editorial service. I have to pay my editors and when you get their work and then don’t sign the damn contract, I still have to pay them, or they quit. Are you following what I’m saying?

For those of you who fit this bill, I’m really not mad, but I am disappointed because we do put a lot of work into what we do, and when it is for nothing, that means you have taken the time we could have been devoting to someone who really did want to be published by us.

Be courteous. Is that too much to ask?

You’ve Got to be Kidding!

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Okay, I have been participating in a thread on the Murder Must Advertise Yahoo group about what authors think their publishers should do. This morning, after much deliberation, I went ahead and posted some of the things I, as a publisher, do and some things that I won’t do any more.

I had someone ask me privately (concerning a different post) why I get so frustrated and complain about my authors when they work so hard. This question actually came from one of my authors. They also wanted to know why I don’t do more for my authors. It seems to them that I make excuses for not doing things. Okay, fair enough. I answered, even kindly since this author has sold a total of 113 books in the last year.

But this made me think. How come my excuses are bad and an author’s are not? With that in mind, here are the last ten excuses I have received from authors hen I asked them about their personal marketing efforts. They are in no particular order and are very real.

  • I have  family and I have to put them first. I don’t have time to call stores or travel around for nothing.
  • No one is going to come to a books signing anyway so I don’t bother.
  • I wrote the book and am writing my next one for you, so the least you can do is market it for me.
  • I sent out 100 post cards when it first came out and no one contacted me back, so I am not going to waste my time or money.
  • I didn’t get in this business to be a salesperson. I am a writer and have no desire to have to sell.
  • All of my money goes on my family, I never expected to have to pay to market my own book.
  • The economy is really bad and people are not buying books anyway.
  • I work a full-time job, take care of my family, and I need down time. That doesn’t leave time for me to market, that is why I got a publisher.
  • It would seem to me that you would have a lot more time to market my book since you don’t work a full-time job. (this is my personal favorite)
  • If I market it myself, why do I need a publisher?
  • Bookstores and libraries never pay attention to the author, all that marketing stuff has to come from the publisher.
  • No legitimate author does their own marketing.
  • I don’t know how to find readers. If you find them for me, I will talk to them.
  • Nobody sells books from promoting on the Internet, it is a huge waste of time.
  • Social networking is not going to reach readers. It never does.
  • If you want your business to succeed, you are going to have to prove to your authors that they should even bother with you.
  • It is not my responsibility to fund your publishing house.

Okay, more than ten, but I was on a roll. This doesn’t even touch the list. I would very much like to make a very general statement to authors.