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Austin Macauley Publishers

edited February 2014 in Writing
Hi. Has anyone had any experience of dealing with Austin Macauley Publishers? I understand they are a a small independent publisher that will offer authors 'contributory' contracts to publish their books. In days gone by they would have been called a' vanity' publisher.


  • Don't know them, but I've just looked at their site and the covers shout 'self-published' - not very good quality.
  • Heard of them in relation to vanity publishing.
  • "Author contributory" shouts "You pay everything" to me.
  • Yes, I agree that their list is mostly composed of first time authors - having dipped into several books the writing in the main is 'pedestrian' to put it kindly.
  • I sub to them and got a full ms request. As my daughter lived near the address is Canary Wharf I decided to deliver the ms by hand. My daughter checked it out and the address they give is a postbox service. They do not have offices in Canary Wharf. It's just a front. Why have a prestigious address if you are honest and upright? Where are there offices? Do they actually publish anything that the writer doesn't pay for? Luckily I had not finished printing out my ms.
    Check on Preditors and Editors and Absolute Writers Beware site. They are to be avoided.
  • Casey - when did you have your dealings with them? AM had a lot of bad publicity back in 2011 when they were not making it clear that their offers to publish were mainly 'contributory'. They are attempting to up their image and have a stand at this year's London Book Fair in April and one of their books is a contender for the People's Book Award.

    Do they actually publish anything that the writer doesn't pay for?
    Yes they do, but it would be interesting to know what percentage that is of their overall book list.

    Preditors and Editors and Absolute Writers Beware site: does this still refer back to 2011 in which case it's really out of date.
  • Yes, it was a couple of years ago. 2011 sounds about right. Good on them if they are making it clear what it is they are offering. That wasn't the case when I subbed to them.
  • Information at Companies House is a little sparse.

    They changed their name in March last year - just removed the 'and' from the title. There's one director, Mohammed Bu-Malik, who was appointed in 2007. He was born in 1983 and is the director of two other companies. The registered office is in Cambridge.

    Could pay a £1 for their accounts, but I won't.

    Looked at couple of the events listed on the website - authors in bookstores, something not all writers can pull off.

    It would be easy enough to contact one of their authors for some feedback.
  • 'It would be easy enough to contact one of their authors for some feedback.

    Have done. One said they'd been very helpful in production of his book and with the promotion. Very grateful as he was a first time author. ( therefore did he pay ?). This was last year. A lady who had her book published in 2009 had a bad experience back then and has said, 'Don't touch them with a barge pole.'
  • I wonder what the bad experience was? Lack of sales wouldn't necessarily be the publisher's fault. I was impressed with the stores their authors were in.
  • A lady writer I know, was published by them but had NO financial input. Unfortunately she had no idea how to promote herself except on Facebook, and did not arrange any book signings or radio/newspaper interviews, so sale were poor, and the rights have reverted to her. Confession Time: I have submitted a synopsis and first three chapters. Just had confirmation they've arrived. If they wish to proceed further, will let you know plus their offer.
  • I vaguely remember that (in the past) they did offer some traditional contracts, but others were the contribution type.

    No idea what the ratio was.

    But if they are now under a different ownership and their procedures have been changed then, it may not be an issue anymore.

    Do keep us updated, toothlight.
  • Toothlight: AM are good at responding and will not keep you waiting too long. It will be interesting to see whether they come back asking to see the complete script ( which is likely) and then offer a traditional contract or a 'contributory' one. Fingers crossed for you.
    It does seem the new management are putting efforts into getting themselves more well known. Facebook/Twitter presence regularly updated. I contacted them by Twitter suggesting they got on to SmashWords with the ebook promotion coming up.The next thing I saw was AM offering 75% discount on ALL their ebooks for the duration of that promotion. Impressed.
  • Good luck, Toothlight.
  • edited July 2014
    EDIT: comment removed after publisher request to author
  • Hi Davide. I've my third pet novel, Pets Aplenty, being published by AM this summer via a traditional publishing contract. Like you, I've found all departments so far very responsive to any queries I've made often responding to emails on the same day - a rare occurrence with many publishers. Let me know how you get on. Perhaps drop me an email. [email protected] I've touched based with several AustinMacaulians recently and they've been happy with AM. so fingers crossed all goes well with you.
    Re promotion, that will definitely fall on you. AM publishes up to 14 titles per month so can't devote much time to publicising every book. But that's typical of most publishing houses unless you're a known name.
  • Just back from a break to find an 'offer' from A & M. They love my book, the editorial team want to publish..wow! Just one 'little' snag. Would I like to contribute over £2000 towards the costs, oh yes, they'll give me 20% royalty on each copy sold. AND, would I care to submit more work! A suitable reply is being formatted.
  • Bad luck, toothlight, but I'm not surprised. Better luck next time, eh?
  • LizLiz
    edited May 2014
    £2,000? Crikey, sorry to hear that MW. I wouldn't have thought you'd get that back, let alone make a profit.

    Is that after they have offered you a traditional deal - you say above that they would be publishing you 'this summer'?

    Might this happen to Davide?
  • I worked out that if the book had a net price of say £4 (50% is the usual discount for shops) I would get 80p a copy. So to get my £2300 (not £2k as I said) back, we would need to sell roughly 3000 copies. The contract also says they can stop publication when they liked!
  • Is that after they have offered you a traditional deal - you say above that they would be publishing you 'this summer'?

    I think it was Malcolm that said that, not toothlight.

  • So A & M haven't changed at all - still vanity publishers. If you are thinking of self-publishing I recommend CreateSpace. They will publish free and put it on Amazon and make it available toall distributors. You have to format it yourself and provide a cover and of course promote it but it won't cost you £2,000!
  • Thanks for the info, Casey, but I still have a couple of interested publishers, so will wait. What A & M didn't send back was the CD disc of my manuscript which they asked for, so a suitable letter will be sent.
  • They didn't return my synopsis and three chapters either despite the sae. Then they had the cheek to write and ask for £1 postage so they could return the submission. I didn't respond and eventually they returned the submission in the sae provided. Didn't leave a very good impression.
  • Ah, yes, you are right, Heather. Even though I can make the type really big, for some irritating reason everyone's names stay tiny and I can't read them - I go by the piccies, usually.

    So why the difference? Why does MW get a 'proper' deal, and not the others? It seems like a two tier system.
  • Liz - if you hold down control and then the plus sign the whole page will enlarge on TB.

  • So why the difference? Why does MW get a 'proper' deal, and not the others? It seems like a two tier system.
    It certainly does sound like a system designed to offer different deals - presumably depending on what sort of sales they think they might achieve and therefore whether they're willing to risk spending their own money!

    Toothlight - I wish you well with your submissions to other publishers.
  • MW's books have been shown to have readers, so there's a sales history- less risk, which is probably why there's a difference.
  • I already have the type huge, Lizy, it's too big to be comfortable really, but the names are not big enough when I'm on the laptop, I can see them here on the big computer well enough.
  • I, too, am a published author (and I don't mean self-publish), with reasonable sales until the publisher went bust, suggesting I was not a big risk. But I also know of one of their authors who had nothing published, but was given a traditional contract, albeit a nominal 'advance' of £50. This is why I am contacting confused.com to see if they have an answer!
  • It's certainly strange, but without the author knowing what the company's deciding factors are, it will just add to the belief that they are a vanity publisher. :(
  • Very strange indeed and doesn't sound professional to me. You may be well out of it, Toothlight!
  • An advance of £50. I wonder what their royalty rate is. How many books do you have to sell for £50?
  • I can tell you that for my 'contribution' of £2300 I would receive 20% royalty on each NET(very important) sale.
  • edited June 2014
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Toothlight. Writers have got to stick together.
    I got a book that previously had a publishing contract (the publisher left the company) turned down very quickly by a company called Endeavour Press. They helpfully suggested "a friend" who'd format the book for me for Kindle for £150. I don't think they even read the manuscript. The next publisher I sent it to (a traditional one) took it.
    Having read what your publisher wanted, perhaps I should consider my offer to be cheap:)
  • edited July 2014
    EDIT: comment removed after publisher request to author
  • As a self-published author I get 70% royalties on the e-book and 35% (net) on the print version. If you do all the work you should get all the reward (IMO)
  • Reading this discussion has reminded me about why I was always loathe to submit to small/lesser-known publishers - and therefore didn't. It's such a minefield. How do we know who is legitimate, respected and dedicated?
  • edited July 2014
    EDIT: comment removed after publisher request to author
  • That lure...

    I know it well.

    The best of luck, davide.
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  • edited June 2014
    Sorry to hear of your experiences with AM Toothlight. But that's the company's policy. They'll sift through the scripts they receive. Any that they feel are likely to be commercial successes they'll put their money behind and offer a traditional contract. Who could blame them for that? After all they're running a business. Other scripts where they're not so sure, then they'll approach the authors with an offer such as Toothlight got. It's the author's choice then. If daunted by the prospect of doing it yourself I suggest you look at two companies that will do the hard graft for you as recommended to me by the Society of Authors : ebookversions and PublishNation. I approached both of them earlier in the year and both made personal contact explaining what they were about.

    Back to AM. I've just received the 1st proofs. I had been very particular in my requirements for the lay-out. eg start on the right hand page for each successive chapter, chapter numbers and headings in Bodoni MT Black capitals, 16 font size centred on the page, dropped capitals over first two lines of first paragraph, text in Bookman Old style.
    They've gone along with every requirement.

    Re the cover, I'm in personal contact with the graphic designer who responds quickly to emails. He's currently working with the cartoon cover I sent in. Last week I had a quote given me by the book columnist for The Sun:
    'You'll laugh a lot and thoroughly enjoy reading about the rather hapless Paul Mitchell's escapades. Perfect for animal lovers the world over.'
    I sent this through suggesting that part of it could be incorporated on the cover. Immediate reply was a resounding 'Yes' with a suggested edited version.

    Thus, so far, I've been impressed. Remains to be seen whether AM can deliver the goods - am hoping for a publishing date of end of August which they've said should be possible.
  • I am in dispute with them, and getting angry. The manuscript was returned but not the CD requested. I have written, and telephoned with my concern, that if the CD got in the wrong hands, it could be slightly altered and published under another author's name. Luckily I am a member of the Society of Authors, so I do have back-up.
  • M.Welshman, I have just seen your profile and books published. You ARE a success, so A.M were not taking a chance with you. It would have been an insult to offer you the same contract as me.
  • edited July 2014
    I am new to this forum,but have seen many bad reviews about Austin Macauley, but are these just disgruntled writers who have been turned down? you only have to look at TV programs like X Factor an how many people think they can sing, the same can be said about writers, nearly most people dream of retiring and becoming a writer but it never happens or they think that a rejection is the end of their career as a writer.
    I was lucky I was loaned a writers & artist yearbook, I was surprised that I was offered a contract with 2 publishers and one of them was Austin Macauley. I never paid anything and was given a small advance, my book is due for release in early 2015 and will post links to the launch. I also have a friend who has also sent a manuscript to Austin Macauley and was asked to contribute but in all fairness for what they asked him to contribute would have in fact cost far more to have the book proof read and edited.
    Times have changed in the field of publishing as I had spoken to the other publisher on the phone for some time, and they are a well known established firm. but they gave a depressing story of how books are to big and the print and storage costs etc, well to be honest it put me off from using them. so far I have had good contact from Austin Macauley and they are prompt.
    all these reviews you read about them are like someone else pointed out, old news from way back. I also note that some US forums do love to rave and put people down they never seem to post any positive news. Rejection is a hard fact of life and unless you have sent your manuscript to at least a dozen or more publishers then you are clearly not trying hard enough.
    I end this by also saying I was rejected by 8 and never heard from the other 7, I wrote too even when I enclosed self address with stamp to cover the postage.
  • Hmmmm...
  • edited July 2014
    You said it

  • LizLiz
    edited July 2014
    Is this an open thread?
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