In regards to vanity publishers

edited December 2014 in - Writing Problems
Hello all,

My question is in regards to vanity publishers, are they really all that bad? Should they be avoided at all costs? I have done some research on their meaning but I still am undecided. To be more specific, out of the two publishers I've sent my first book to (sample chapters ect) only one has give me a yes. The other one told me it had promise, but had stylistic problems. I didn't respond after that.

I've just got a piece of mail from Austin Macauley Publishers saying that, "Your words speak good, give more, please." I dare not lie, I was quite honoured. When I sent those sample chapters to them, I didn't know about vanity publishers nor did I know that they were actually one. I don't have money and I couldn't afford to publish my own book through them, which is what I understand will happen if I send my final manuscript and they accept it. Is that really what is going to happen though? If they say yes, are they seriously going to ask for my money? If so, how much? Is it worth it? Or should I send my work off to other non-vanity publishers?
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Comments

  • LizLiz
    edited December 2014
    Hello and welcome tir.

    All vanity publishers will ask you for money. They bankroll your book by getting you to pay for it. At an inflated price. It's cheaper to get it published yourself, and you will earn more.

    Austin Macauley occasionally do not ask for money, but only if the author is a recognised author already, or if the book really does show great promise. In that case you would have been told you had a proper contract.

    There's quite a lot on here about Austin Macauley, most of it negative. The only positive from two authors who are/will be published by them and have not had to pay.

    Personally I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. The price you will have to pay is about £2,400.

    This would have rung alarm bells if nothing else: "Your words speak good, give more, please." It's not even proper English.

    Who is the other publisher who said you had style problems? If it isn't a vanity publisher, that DOES show promise - they like your story, but see it could be made better. If they are willing to give you feedback, you must have written well. This is NOT usual. Most people get back a form letter 'no'. I would get in touch with them again, depending on who they are, and ask for feedback on the style issues, and listen to their advice.

    It is very unusual for an author to get their first book published. You learn as you go on.

    Here is a thread about AM.

    http://www.writers-online.co.uk/talkback/#/discussion/185201/austin-macauley-publishers-canary-warf-london-
  • I agree with everything Liz has said, and welcome , Rain
  • Hello TIRain.

    Agree with all above.
  • Totally disagree, I am an unknown writer and I have just been given my second non contribution contract by Austin Macauley. In both cases they have paid me an advance; if you search on here you will find about 4 people have posted that they also received a Traditional contract.
    The only way for you to find out is by sending off your finished work.
    A big Welcome tearsinrain.
  • Welcome tearsinrain.

    Another query about AM, then.

    Has anyone noticed that a lot of people who submit there don't seem to have English as a first language? How curious. And judging by their response, AM don't seem to have English as a first language, either.

    tearsinrain said "I've just got a piece of mail from Austin Macauley Publishers saying that, "Your words speak good, give more, please."
  • edited December 2014
    Thanks for all the responses.
    First let me clarify that they did not say, "Your words speak good, give more, please." or anything along those lines. That was an attempt at humour on my behalf. AM wrote me quite a formal letter saying that their board of editors liked it and they wanted the final manuscript. They didn't speak about anything else in regards to contracts or prices. The other publisher was A&A publishing. They said it had promise but it could do with a good edit. I asked her to elaborate through emails and she then went on to say that the issue was punctuation of dialogue (I've since fixed this issue) and a stylistic problem. I asked her to elaborate further on what the problem with my writing was, and she bluntly replied, "Our quote for one of our editors to edit your manuscript is $870 plus GST = $957. You will receive a full report on all aspects of the writing as well as marked-up comments on your electronic manuscript." After that I decided that I didn't want to deal with this person anymore. Thanks again for the replies, from what I've gathered... it won't hurt to send AM my manuscript right? Also, as a side note, I sent the sample chapters to one other publisher, HarperCollins. As an extra side note/question, the book in question is sci-fantasy and is 30k words long. Is that too short for a novel? I've seen that some publishers have a 100k minimum for science fiction / fantasy.
  • Hello, TIR, and welcome.
    30k is a novella, not a novel.
    If AM ask for money, back out - you could publish this yourself for next to nothing. But I would say get it proof read; there's nothing worse than a badly punctuated, amateur-looking book.
  • Welcome to the forum, tearsinrain (sad name).

    I would continue to send your book off to as many publishers as you can. If it has merit, others will recognise that. If you get continual rejections, maybe it's time to give your manuscript further examination. Publishing at any cost is completely foolhardy; the journey could end right there. If you have any money at all for this project, it should be spent on editing/proof-reading or other professional services.

    Getting a book published is only the very beginning of the journey, as I'm sure you know. You want sales afterwards, not for it to die a lonely, dusty death. Google publishers to see which authors they work with and what they are prepared to do for you. A copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook (current) is always useful for cherry-picking those who are interested and experienced in working with your genre. Have a look at agents, too, who will take the leg-work out of your search for the right publisher.
  • Sadly, at that length Harper Collins will probably just reject it.

    I get the impression that you haven't made any study of the market you're aiming at, or what publishers are expecting from you the writer. :(

    Can only agree with what Mrs Bear and TN have already said.
  • edited December 2014
    OK going to tell you a true story, I own and run many websites some large some small. I applied to Google to display adverts on my websites, the money started to roll in then one day out of the blue my account was suspended for click abuse; it seemed that Google thought I was clicking on the adverts myself to generate a income.
    Now after a few years it all came to light that rival companies were clicking on the adverts on my websites to cost their rivals money.
    On the same note I have seem many posts that are posted about Austin Macauley claiming they wanted money to publish then the person whom posted never seems to make any further comments on any other posts they just seem to disappear. I do not for one minute say the AM do not ask that you may be required to contribute as it states it on their website. But it does make me think that some of these post are to cause trouble for this publisher. I am not saying this is the case for tearsinrain but loads of other publishers ask for contribution and not all claim to be self publishing publishers. AM have been going for many years and if people thought they were no good then they would have folded a long time ago.
  • I think the answer is that there is a never-ending stream of hopeful writers hoping to make a fortune getting their book published with very little idea of how the industry works, and willing to spend their own money just to see their name in print - whether the book looks shoddy, self-published, is badly edited and punctuated or not.
  • edited December 2014
    For me tearsinrain, I did my research for my first book, I spent many hours of research to find where my book would sit in the market place. I then sent it off to 17 publishers, some whom never even sent a acknowledgement letter. I also received 2 offers one was AM the other a very well known and respected publishing house of more than 100 years. As Liz Tiny Nell, Carol, are all respected in their own right they do give some great advice. Even if you do finally get a contract you are expected to self promote your book in every way that you could imagine; as it is not just getting the publishing contract and then watching the money roll in, far from it.
    As your novel is only 30,00 words perhaps you may want to look at writing film or play scripts as they are normally about 20,000 words, as Mrs Bear points out 30,000 is not really a novel. I am in the middle of 2 novels now and one of them is at chapter 4 and it stand at 34,000.
    Some publishers do not mind short stories, so stick by you guns and go for it, just try until you get the right deal.
    After all it is not about getting your name in print it needs to give you a financial reward as well.
  • LizLiz
    edited December 2014
    You can sell novellas - particularly if they are scary.

    And it's true self-promotion is needed even if you have a traditional publisher - but knowing authors, and I know many, who are published by Transworld, Bloomsbury, et al, their publishers do a LOT. It's a completely different ball game - you are only having to supplement the publisher's own machine. they send the book to every bookshop all over the country, arrange to have it translated, advertise it in many different ways. On their far-reaching websites for a start.

    As a self-publisher or allied to somewhere like AM, you do that all yourself.
  • I will also point out tearinrain Austin Macauley are also at the London Book fair 2015, this is now their second year, so you can always go and see them in person. here is the link.
    http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/find-exhibitors/#search=startRecord=61&rpp=12
  • edited December 2014
    You've all given me a lot to think about and I think I will go make up some more pages.

    edit: Say AM gives me a traditional contract, what happens from there? Will the books be posted to me and the rest is up to me? I understand that I will have to self promote ect but I am unsure as to how one might go about doing that. Is it as easy as me walking into a bookstore and asking, "Will you sell my book?"
  • tearsinrain, how much do you know and understand about the publishing process from the time your manuscript is accepted to the time it is published?

  • You've all given me a lot to think about and I think I will go make up some more pages.

    edit: Say AM gives me a traditional contract, what happens from there? Will the books be posted to me and the rest is up to me? I understand that I will have to self promote ect but I am unsure as to how one might go about doing that. Is it as easy as me walking into a bookstore and asking, "Will you sell my book?"
    If your book is excepted then it goes to the production team who will proof read it and edit, they will ask you for your vision on the front cover they have a person that mainly deals with just the covers. then when all is complete they send you a copy for you to check. when the book is complete it will then be offered to many online book sellers. They also promote works at the London Book fairs and other places, they will also arrange some press coverage; many authors self promote by asking bookstores to do a book signing day. Stay at it and good luck with the novel, lets hope in some time in the future you post back on here to say you got that publishing deal.

  • edited December 2014
    Carol, I am a baby, a pup. At only twenty-one years of age, my understanding of most things in life is extremely minimal, this included. I have no experience in this field at all ~

    Happy_Author, was that your personal experience? Because I have heard that's how it was for non-vanity publishers but for AM, it might be different.
  • TIR, you would do yourself a service by finding out more, otherwise you will be at serious risk of falling prey to the numerous cowboy companies that lurk around the web or email people directly.
  • I'm using predators and editors to its fullest and making sure to avoid things like that.
  • Happy_Author, was that your personal experience? Because I have heard that's how it was for non-vanity publishers but for AM, it might be different.
    That is my personal experience with them. I also read many many bad posts about this publisher but most were way out of date from 2008/9.
    I received 2 contract offers from 2 publishers both paid an advance, but as I did meet the Head Editor in person from Austin Macauley, this greatly helped me make my mind up. So far I have been very happy with how they have dealt with everything. My first book comes out at the end of January and my second is still in the early stages as only just sent back the contract.

  • edited December 2014
    Thanks happy_author, I think it's safe to assume that the opinions of AM are outdated. One last question for you, you mentioned that they proof read and edited the manuscript once they accepted it. I was planning to meticulously work through the manuscript and fix any punctuation errors myself, should I not bother with that if they are just going to do it? And by that I mean, will things like that effect their final decision?
  • I would do as much as you can to get it perfect, as the first impression is what counts, this includes your covering letter. use the internet and type into google how to write a covering letter, or how to write a synopsis.
    http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/
    Even on Writers Online you will find loads of tips and help.
    The most important thing is don't get hooked on to forums that just constantly give negative, one persons opinion does not mean that the publisher should be avoided. There are many bitter people out in this world that think because their work was turned down that they spout negative comments all the time. Rejection is something you will have to live with as even the best writers get the No Thanks letter in the post.
    If you are a good writer you will never need to part with your money to have your work published. Paying for proof reading and editing services is acceptable just make sure you check them out first.
  • Thanks happy_author, I think it's safe to assume that the opinions of AM are outdated.
    tir - happy_author has a contract without having to pay anything towards it. If you get that, all well and good.

    But if you have to pay - then that is an entirely different story. Then AM becomes a vanity publisher and will fleece you to print your book, which will be much more than if you did it yourself. They very well might be using money from the people they ask money from to subsidise people like h_a.

    As mentioned above, you would do much better to use the money to get it properly edited before sending it out to traditional publishers or publishing it yourself.

    Carol is asking you how much you know because if you really know as little as you seem to, it is very unlikely (although not impossible) that your book is ready to be printed by anyone. If you get a contract from AM for which you have to pay - the standard of your book could be anything. They will print anything, if you are paying for it.

    Ths is what everyone is trying to tell you in the nicest way possible.

  • To sum up, tearsinrain, if Austin Macauley offer you a contract without asking for any money from you, you *may* have a reasonable experience with them.
    If they ask for money, there are many other, cheaper alternatives out there.
  • edited December 2014
    Liz, that final paragraph was ridiculous. I understand that you desire to help me "in the nicest way possible" but you essentially contradicted yourself. You assume I'm an idiot, that I need things spelled out for me. You are insulting me when you say things like that. Give me some credit. Regardless of the replies I got, I never planned to, nor will I ever, give someone my own money to publish my own work.

    Carol asked me a question and I answered it. I shouldn't have to state that I understood her question, it should just be assumed. Next time, unless someone specifies that they do not understand, just assume that they do.
  • edited December 2014
    tir, this, is a cheerful, laid back and very helpful writers forum, populated by writers with varying interests and talents. We tolerate each others little foibles and shortcomings with humour and a big helping of p*ss taking if the occasion demands. Very occasionally we will send an obvious 'undesirable' packing, but only in extreme cases.

    Liz is a popular and long-established member of this forum and was trying to be helpful.
  • Thanks, s-m.
    Carol, I am a baby, a pup. At only twenty-one years of age, my understanding of most things in life is extremely minimal, this included. I have no experience in this field at all ~
  • TIR, Liz was not being unpleasant toward you, please be assured of that.

    I'm NOT suggesting the following is you, but this may help put stuff in context.

    Sadly every year there are new people who join and have absolutely no idea about publishing. They decide to take part in NANOWRIMO and think that their first draft is it. They send their work off and then get upset when it is rejected, and/or believe the rejection is because they don't know someone in publishing.

    You are doing some of the right things, but from your answers- and your own admission- it is clear you don't yet have all the knowledge you need before applying to any publisher.
    It will be helpful to you to look at the websites of the publishers you are interested in and study their submission requirements- every one has their preferences.

    There are a lot of groups out on the web covering the various genres and they are a wonderful resource for writers at any stage; you can learn so much from these things.

    It wastes your time and work if you start submitting before your manuscript is completely ready. Hopefully when it is at that stage you will get a positive response because you have done everything that's been wanted...
  • edited December 2014
    I've already done that and am still doing that, Carol. Believe it or not, even AM has submission requirements... They wouldn't have asked back for my final manuscript if I didn't meet those requirements when I first submitted the work. I agree with a lot you said and I'll search for those groups later on today. Thanks.

    Liz, I am aware of what I have said, stop trying to undermine me (or whatever that was.)

    Carol asked me a question and I answered it. I shouldn't have to state that I understood her question, it should just be assumed. Next time, unless someone specifies that they do not understand, just assume that they do.
    I was stating that if a question was asked of someone, and they say that they don't understand what was asked of them, that's perfectly alright. If they don't say anything, just assume that they do understand the question.
    ^ I thought that this was obvious.
  • Liz was just pointing out why she had made the comments that she did - because you said yourself that you had little experience in this field.

    She was trying to protect you from making an expensive mistake, that was all. She has no reason to want to undermine you and this isn't that type of forum.

    Please try to take comments in the spirit in which they are offered and assume the best of us, rather than the worst.
  • Tearsinrain, you are new to this forum and perhaps have had experience of people being unkind on other forums. As Heather points out - this isn't that type of forum. We are very supportive of each other on talkback and you can be rest assured that no one here tolerates that sort of behaviour.
    :)
  • TIR, the assumption made (if any) was of innocence and inexperience rather than idiocy.
  • I agree with what has been said.

    There is a lot of expertise on this particular forum and many have been through the long and arduous rigmarole of submission to publishers and agents and, therefore, have experience of what to avoid and how difficult it is to have work accepted by an established and respected publishing house. I have only ever submitted to what I believe to be highly-regarded publishers. I nearly made it, once...

    There are pitfalls, there is disappointment and there are mistakes to be made along the way to reaching that goal, and those who have been in the writing business for some time know that. If anyone gives advice here, it is with the best intent and Liz was merely pointing that out.

    The very best of luck to you with whoever you choose to go with. You might well have written that elusive manuscript and be the lucky one who achieves the fame and fortune many writers seek.
  • To be honest, I had a really physically exhausting day when I replied to Liz's comment. I know that doesn't justify any of what I said, but I thought I would just put that out there regardless. You're all right, of course, I probably am jaded from other forums ~ I'll be sure to remove that part of me when I'm on this website. Thanks again for all the insightful comments everyone :) I really do appreciate it.

    @Tiny Nell, I do no seek fame or fortune, rather recognition of my ability to write. That might make sound like an egotist, but I assure you, that's not the case.
  • Tearsinrain - I was very pleased to read your post. It's easy to misunderstand the written word - especially when you're new to a forum and don't know the other members. I'm sure we all look forward to your continuing contributions to our happy band of writers!
    :bz
  • edited December 2014
    Sigh. It's taking forever to post, then appears twice.
  • edited December 2014
    Why that posted 3 times, I don't know.
  • Oh, for goodness' sake.
  • It usually resolves itself, Mrs Bear. It's been doing the same to me this week. The next time I log in the duplicate is either gone, or gone and showing up in my drafts bit.
  • I think the answer is that there is a never-ending stream of hopeful writers hoping to make a fortune getting their book published with very little idea of how the industry works, and willing to spend their own money just to see their name in print - whether the book looks shoddy, self-published, is badly edited and punctuated or not
    Exactly.

  • One of the nice things about this forum is that people RARELY ask others to read and give opinions on their writing which is refreshing - I have found on other forums that there are a number (a large number it seems) of bitter and twisted posters who will shred every bit of prose submitted for review regardless of it's quality - this undermines new writers who's confidence is likely to be very brittle anyway and puts you off seeking opinions full stop.

    I'll post the same advice I always do - PAY someone impartial to CRITIQUE your work before you do ANYTHING with it - they have no axe to grind and will give you an honest appraisal. It is easy to find a whole host of people who will do this - some are even members of this forum. Most will allow you to send them a sample for free to see if you 'click' with them. The editor/critiquer (if that's a word) needs to GET you - you'll know when they do.

    Don't worry about spelling and grammer at that stage it's all about the story - if that doesn't work it doesn't matter how word perfect or otherwise you are.

    A decent crtitque will cost around £400 for a full manuscript - sometimes more but they will be worth it. You need to be prepared for criticism and to amend your work - I reckon I accept about 85% of what my critique tells me to change and I've been doing this for a while now!!!

    Sometimes its just small bits and pieces that need altering but sometimes you need to re-write a whole character which I've just done. Hope this helps.
  • Thanks datco2014, interesting read.

    I suppose, in a way, I've already done that. My co-worker, who is a fan of novels, asked to read my manuscript. I asked him if he liked it and he said, "Yea, it's good." He noted grammar and punctuation as an issue, but apart from that, he didn't have anything else to say about it, apart from the fact that he found it interesting. Whether or not he thought there was an issue in the book, I don't know. Perhaps he didn't know how to articulate what he thought was wrong with it, or maybe he genuinely couldn't find a glaring problem that stood out for him. Personally, I'm hoping for the latter.

    I also have another person I send work to (an avid novel reader) and it's the same person I've been sending it to since I started writing. This person is impartial, and as such has given me some very harsh advice in the past, especially in regards to my first book. She has read the first couple of chapters from this new book and has said that she is enjoying it so far, even going as far to say that, for the most part, the dialogue is flawless. I'm not one to let such things go to my head, and bloat my ego, but it definitely gave me more confidence in my ability to write.
  • Joining a critique group works well for some people (I belong to an online one) It's not the same as the service Datco refers to - some people use both.
  • Hi There, new author here, just written a non fiction educational book, I received 20 or so Dear John rejections. AM said they would like to publish & promote, do all the sales & marketing. They want £2300 (payable in instalments) and they pay royalties of 25%. Obviously I would like cash in advance, keep 50% and they do all the hard work but I realise you don't get anything for nothing in this life and it sounds hmmm ok to me, what do people think ? About the deal and AM
  • edited March 2015
    If that's a route your committed to, I'd get some other quotes and ask for them to provide info re the marketing for other clients. How many books will you need to sell to break even?
  • I'd like to know what they mean by 'they would like to publish and promote, do all the sales and marketing' ie what exactly does that involve and how long would they commit to doing that for?
  • 'Educational books' tend to be bought by educational establishments, or students. Have you assessed the competition? Schools are unlikely to take a gamble on an unknown writer, so you'd have to be pretty confident about getting your money back elsewhere.
  • How many books will you need to sell to break even?
    When calculating that, take into account whether it's 25% net or gross. Usually it's net which means about 20p per book.

  • 'AM said they would like to publish & promote, do all the sales & marketing. They want £2300 (payable in instalments) and they pay royalties of 25%. '

    So what they are saying is, if you pay us £2300, we will publish and promote sell and market your book for you.
    If they sell any books at all (in no way guaranteed) they will then pay you 25% of some unstated percentage of sales. Do they specify the breakdown? After all, if you've paid all that cash upfront for all their work, why are you not getting a bigger percentage?
    You pay them, so they take no risk; if they promote your book in the wrong places, or make no sales on your behalf, it doesn't matter as you have paid them; they need never pay you a penny if your book doesn't sell.
    Therefore, in plain terms, it is actually in their interests that it doesn't sell at all!
    I'd shop around, AO, and compare and contrast: I'd also do a lot of homework about the market you're aiming at, and work out for yourself whether the book is saleable.
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