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This article by Lynn Serafinn provides not only one of the best explanations for how Amazon manages to elude every ethical practice in the publishing world, it lays out neatly and concisely how publishing actually works.

This is a must-read article if you intend to publish. Whether you are doing it on your own or through a traditional publisher, it is important to understand the different functions of printers, publishers, retailers, and distributors. 

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Becoming an Empowered SELF-Published Author – Ethics & Practice

By Lynn Serafinn

Other the past few months, many authors have been writing to me all in a fluster over a controversy that apparently has arisen between Amazon and Lightning Source. I wanted to address this controversy because, frankly, I think a lot of people are having a knee-jerk reaction to what I think is basically an ethical issue, and I would like to show what I think might be a more ‘holistic’ response to it.

First of all, you need to know a bit about the parties involved and what is going on. Before we do that, let’s take a quick look at the flow that is involved in the production of any product, including your book:

1) It starts with the creator

2) It goes to the publisher

3) Then it goes to the manufacturer

4) Then to the distributor

5) Then to the retailer

6) Then to the consumer

STEPS 1 & 2: When you are truly self-publishing a book, YOU are also the publisher (so steps 1 and 2 are combined). But if you are going through a subsidiary press (such as iUniverse, Balboa Press or Create Space), you are not 100% ‘self published.’ On the one hand, you ARE self-published in that you don’t need a publishing deal and you retain all rights to your work. On the other hand, you are NOT self-published in that your subsidiary publisher is entitled to (usually) around 50% of your royalties as long as you print through them.

STEP 3: In printing, the ‘manufacturer’ is the printer. The publisher (even if that means you) then sends the book to the printer. Either we get a quantity of books printed in advance, or we use a “print on demand” (POD) service. Back when I first started out in the published world (and also when I ran a record company), you typically have to order 1000-2000 copies of your book (or record/CD) in order to get a decent price. Then, you always ran the risk of your publication sitting around collecting dust because you couldn’t move 2000 copies. Since the rise of POD in the publishing industry, that risk and investment has been removed for self-publishing authors. Lightning Source is one such POD service, certainly the most known in the world, and the one I use and recommend to my clients. Instead of having to buy 2000 copies of your book and the ship them to distributors, they print them ONLY when you have a customer for them (whether wholesale or retail), so you only pay for what you know you are going to sell.

STEP 4: The next step is to send the books to a distributor who then sells the books to retail shops. Of course, this saves the publisher a heck of a lot of time and energy, so the distributor is one of the most important pieces of the sales puzzle. Distributors typically buy your product between 50-60% off the retail price (55% is the most common), so they can sell it on to retails shops, and the retail shops can make a profit. That means if your book is selling for $10, they will pay around $4.50 for your book. From that price, you deduct your printing costs (I spoke about this in another article – Click HERE if you’d like to read it), and that is your profit.

Now what is so cool about Lightning Source is that they will also distribute your book for you via Ingram Book Company. Mind you, that does NOT mean that retail shops will necessarily BUY your book. It just means that they can supply them with your book if they order it.

STEP 5: The next step is the retailer. The retailer is the ‘shop’, whether online or on the ground, that sells your book to the customer. Typically, in my experience, retailers in the book and record industry buy your product for between 35-45% off the retail price. That means they will pay about $6.00 for a $10 book, which means the distributor makes about $1.50 per book sold, and the retailer makes about $4.00. However, as we all know, retailers like to be able to have a good profit margin so they can LOWER the price, to be able to entice customers to buy your product OR to get RID of a product that isn’t selling (let’s hope that doesn’t happen to OUR books!). Back when I was a retailer, I often had to sell “dead stock” at cost or even BELOW the price I paid for it. It’s the only way to keep cash flow going. So retailers take a risk every time they buy something. They want to know they can sell it.

STEP 6: The last step, of course, is the customer. The customer likes to get a good deal on a product. That’s why, if you give your distributor a good discount in the first place, the retailer will have the freedom to lower his price and get more people to buy your book.

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

The thing that confuses me is how Amazon fits into this picture. Now I have a close connection to Amazon in that much of my business depends upon it, as I work with authors. And as a customer, I have also found them to be both reliable and convenient. Authors love to see their books on Amazon because they can reach a wider audience much more quickly than they could by going only through traditional distribution routes to retail shops. All in all, Amazon is a great asset for us authors.

But here’s where things are a bit hazy. According to their entry on Wikipedia, they are it is often called the world’s largest online retailer. Most of us associate Amazon with books, but they have really expanded and now sell just about everything.

So Amazon is a ‘retailer’ (Step 5 in the model above) BUT for some strange reason, when it comes to purchasing power, they are not paying the same price for the books they sell as other retailers. In fact, they are paying the price that wholesalers/distributors pay for your book (Step 4). That means they are buying books at an average of 15% LESS than other retailers. This means they have a tremendous advantage in that they can seriously undercut your High Street book shop.

But wait… there’s more…

Read more here.


 
 
These publishers accept manuscripts directly from writers. As is the case with most publishers that don't require an agent, they have a narrow focus. But, if your work falls into the categories they publish, you will have a good chance of having your proposal read. As always, go to the website, look at their other publications to see if yours will be a good fit, and follow all of their submission guidelines carefully.
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Small Beer Press

Small Beer Press was founded in 2000 and is run by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link. It publishes books as Small Beer Press, Big Mouth House, and Peapod Classics, and occasionally chapbooks and a zine - on recycled paper. 

They also have an ebooksite for indie presses: Weightless Books.

Generally, they publish 6-10 books per year. They pay a small advance and standard royalties. Their ebook royalty rate is 40% of net receipts. While their catalog is not extensive, they do have two short story collections by Ursula LeGuin. 

What they are looking for: Fiction (leaning toward the speculative), both short story collections and novels. No poetry.

How to submit: Print format by post only. 

Please send a query with the first 10-20 pages of the book (not the full manuscript) in standard manuscript format, and an SASE (with a Forever Stamp or an international reply coupon) by mail to:

Small Beer Press
150 Pleasant St., #306
Easthampton, MA 01027
Phone: 413.203.1636
Email: info at smallbeerpress.com
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Allworth Press

Allworth Press publishes business and self-help information for the general public and creative professionals.  They share distribution with Skyhorse Publishing, using W. W. Norton in the United States. Allworth Press titles are now distributed in Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, Southern Africa, the Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Books from Allworth Press have been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Japanese. Allworth Press currently has 300 titles in print.

What they are looking for: Graphic Design, Business, Performing Arts, Interior Design, Art, Theater, Web Design, Book Arts, Photography, Crafts.

How to submit: Prospective authors should submit a book proposal that includes a query letter, synopsis (1-2 pages), annotated chapter outline, market analysis, sample chapter (or two), bio, and SASE. 

Send all submissions to: allworthsubmissions @skyhorsepublishing.com. If they are interested, they will get back to you within 4-6 weeks
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City Lights

City Lights Publishers is famous for launching several poets, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, but this press also specializes in literary fiction and nonfiction. City Lights publishes 12 books a year. 

From the website: For over fifty years, City Lights has been a champion of progressive thinking, fighting against the forces of conservatism and censorship. We are committed to publishing works of social responsibility, and to maintaining a tradition of bringing renegade literature from other parts of the world into English. In our function of discovery, we will continue to publish cutting-edge contemporary literature and brilliant new non-fiction.

What they are looking for: Fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, poetry, and books on social and political issues. They do not publish New Age, self-help, children’s literature, how-to guides, or genre works such as romance, westerns, or science fiction.

How to submit: City Lights does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, but they do accept proposals. Prospective authors should submit the following: 
  • A one to two-page letter that describes your book and includes your resumé, with a list of any prior publications and information about your relevant writing and professional experience.
  • A sample (10–20 pages maximum) of your work.
  • An additional outline and table of contents for a nonfiction work.
To receive a response, you must enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). You will receive a reply from our staff within six months letting you know if they want to see a complete manuscript. Telephoning or e-mailing will not speed up the review process.

City Lights takes no responsibility for the loss or damage of submitted materials. Please do not submit irreplaceable materials.

They do not accept proposals by e-mail or at the front desk at City Lights Bookstore.

Please mail proposals to:

Editorial Department
City Lights Publishers
261 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco CA 94133
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Chicago Review Press

Academy Chicago Publishers is one of the oldest publishing houses in Chicago. They publish both fiction and nonfiction and have more than two hundred published titles on their list. Academy Chicago publishes about 60 new titles yearly under five imprints: Chicago Review Press, Lawrence Hill Books, Ball Publishing, Zephyr Press, and Academy Chicago. 

What they are looking for: Chicago Review Press publishes general nonfiction on a wide range of subjects including history, popular science, music, film, biography, autobiography, DIY, craft, and travel, as well as an award-winning line of children's activity books and young adult biographies. Lawrence Hill Books publishes nonfiction on topics of African American interest, progressive politics, Middle Eastern studies, and feminism. Ball Publishing specializes in gardening books, and Zephyr Press publishes professional development titles for teachers. Academy Chicago publishes memoirs, mysteries, and other exciting, new, and well-crafted fiction and nonfiction. 

How to submit: For non-fiction send:
  • A brief synopsis of your proposed book in 1–2 paragraphs
  • The estimated word count of the final manuscript
  • The estimated completion date
  • Author biography or resume specifying credentials and publication credits, where appropriate
  • Approximate sales of previous books published, if any
  • A complete table of contents and/or a complete outline of the proposed chapters
  • 1–2 sample chapters
For children's activity books, include a few sample activities and list the others
  • Any information regarding photographs or artwork for the book
  • A description of the target audience and any information about the market
  • A list of competing and comparable titles and how your book differs—be sure to tell us what makes your book unique
Please e-mail your proposal to frontdesk@chicagoreviewpress.com

Their turnaround time on reviewing proposals is about 4–6 weeks.
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Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books  "We're always looking for the new and unusual." Chronicle Books publishes 90 titles per year.

What they are looking for: Art and design, art, craft, graphic design, interior design, photography, food and drink, kids and teens, literature, lifestyle, pop culture.

How to submit: They review all proposals. However, they do not personally respond to unsolicited proposals unless they are interested in pursuing the project. Chronicle accepts submissions by mail or e-mail. Please allow three months for the editors to review a proposal.

What to Include in Your Proposal:
  • Include a one-page cover letter giving a brief description of the project, why you think Chronicle should publish it, what's included in the package, and your contact information.
  • If your proposal is a simultaneous submission, please indicate this in your cover letter.
  • Include an outline, introduction, sample illustrations or photographs, sample captions, sample recipes (if cookbook) or projects (if craft book), and text/sample chapters.
  • When submitting artwork, either as a part of a project or as samples for review, please do not send original art, as it will not be returned. Anything from photocopies to tear sheets will do.
  • Include a market analysis of the potential readership for the book. Who is the reader? What trends does the title speak to? Include a list of similar titles including the publisher, date of publication, and a brief explanation of how your book differs what's currently available.
  • Include author/illustrator/photographer biography that includes publishing credits and credentials in the field.
  • If you would like confirmation of receipt, please include a self-addressed stamped postcard for the editor to put in the mail upon receiving your proposal.
Please send submissions to:
Chronicle Books; Submissions Editor
680 Second Street
San Francisco, California 94107
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Lee & Low Books

Lee & Low Books  is a children’s and young adult book publisher focusing on diversity. As of 2012, Lee & Low Books has published more than 650 titles in hardcover, paperback, lift-the-flap, and board book formats. Many titles have also been adapted for Spanish editions. They publish 12-14 titles per year. 

What they are looking for: Lee & Low focuses on titles for readers age 5-12. Tu Publishing is an independent imprint publishing diverse fantasy, science fiction, and mystery for middle grade and young adult readers. Children's Book Press (CBP) publishes bilingual books. 

How to submit: Manuscripts should be typed doubled-spaced and accompanied by a cover letter that includes a brief biography of the author, including publishing history. The letter should also state if the manuscript is a simultaneous or an exclusive submission. They will respond to a submission only if they are interested in the manuscript. If you do not hear from them within six months, you may assume that your work does not fit their needs. Only submissions sent through regular post will be considered.
  • Picture book manuscripts should be no longer than 1500 words for fiction and 3000 words for nonfiction. Please send the complete manuscript. Do not include illustrations unless you are a professional illustrator. Do not send irreplaceable materials.
  • For middle grade manuscripts of more than 10,000 words, please send a query letter with story synopsis and chapter outline. Do not send the complete manuscript.
PLEASE SEND ALL SUBMISSIONS TO:

Submissions Editor
LEE & LOW BOOKS
95 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

 
 
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Dana Weinberg has done another survey analysis, this time of author satisfaction.

She compared how happy authors were with royalties, editorial help, copies sold, and so on across three publishing platforms: traditional, self-published and hybrid (a combination of the two).

Are the horror stories about traditional publishers true? Her conclusion was a resounding "meh." 

I have a few comments to make about this survey. The first is that people are more reluctant to give negative answers on surveys than positive ones. This means that every survey will be slanted towards positive responses.

The second thing to keep in mind is that
the majority of books that are traditionally published don't make back their advances.

What this means is that publishers don't put a lot of time or energy promoting books by authors who aren't already celebrities. The reason they don't bother is that they would rather invest their resources in promoting cash cows. With hundreds of authors, and thousands of titles on their lists, this makes sense for large houses.

The other thing to keep in mind is that authors who are "cursed with ugly covers ... receive very little assistance or support in the way of marketing and promotion, or learned that their publishers had little investment in their careers as writers and/or no interest in their future books" is not a horror story - it is the reality of the publishing world, and thinking otherwise is delusional.

Just to give you some perspective, here are a couple of real horror stories:

You sign a contract with a major publisher, only to have is scrapped when the house goes through an organizational shake-up. You can't find another publisher. (That happened to a friend of mine.)

You submit your manuscript, and your editor wants you to take out any word longer than two syllables, shift the POV, change the title, and delete half the chapters. (That happened to me, as did having an editor insert the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence into one of my short stories.) Your baby is butchered.

While traditional publishing is not all it's cracked up to be (it really isn't), believing that self-publishing is the road to the Land of Milk and Honey is delusional as well.

Those who find themselves dissatisfied with self-publishing have to ask themselves some hard questions. Have I spent several hours a day marketing and promoting my work? Have I researched the market to find out how I can reach my audience, or have I assumed that simply "putting it out there" is enough? Did I expect instant fame and fortune?

Let's be realistic. No  matter how you publish - whether you have taken the traditional route, or done it yourself - great expectations must be matched by a great amount of work. There is no substitute.
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How Common Are Traditional Publishing Horror Stories?—Author Survey Results

By Dana Beth Weinberg, Digital Book World

I have heard numerous horror stories on the fiction front from authors who sold their books to publishers only to find they had lost control of content, were cursed with ugly covers that doomed any hope of sales, received very little assistance or support in the way of marketing and promotion, or learned that their publishers had little investment in their careers as writers and/or no interest in their future books. Such horror stories often seem pervasive, and they easily become rallying cries for self-publishing and the greater control it provides authors. Are these tales of dissatisfaction with traditional publishing notable exceptions, or are they the norm?

The traditional-publishing victims I’ve encountered typically report that they had been thrilled to receive their contracts and had accepted neglect or poor treatment or disadvantageous terms because they felt they had no choice. Indeed, before self-publishing became a viable option, few of them did. Worse, such experiences could harken the death spiral for an author’s career: no investment from the publisher could lead to sluggish sales which in turn could lead to poor chances of selling a subsequent title either to publishers or bookstores. Authors would be forced to abandon series or throw away their brands and try to reinvent themselves.

Cautionary tales capture our attention, and they tend to get repeated and even embellished. In other posts, I reported survey results showing a preference for traditional publishing among authors. I also found that authors had expectations for several advantages of traditional publishing relative to self-publishing. With so many authors positively disposed toward traditional publishing, perhaps these horror stories are very visible and heartbreaking exceptions, a disappointing conclusion to the struggle to break into the traditionally published ranks.

Read more HERE.

 
 
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I've been keeping tabs on the most recent Digital Book World/Writer's Digest survey, not just because I want to know what other writers are up to, but because I want the reassurance that we are all up to the same thing. 

There is safety in numbers.

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DBW 2014: Survey Finds Most Authors Want to Earn More
Publishers Weekly, Jan 15, 2014

The Digital Book World/Writer's Digest 2014 survey, discussed at the organization's New York event this week, found that, in spite of the growing popularity of self-publishing, many authors would, given the chance, still opt for a traditional book deal.

Just over 9,200 authors responded to the survey, and they fall into four categories: aspiring (not yet published in any manner); self-published (have never worked with a traditional publisher); traditionally published (have only been published by a traditional house); and hybrid (have had experience self-publishing and have also been published by a traditional house). The survey, which is available for purchase at the DBW store, focuses on commercial fiction writers who are not treating their writing as a full-time job, and would like to be making more money from their writing.

Among some of the big picture takeaways from the survey are that, despite some negative impressions of traditional publishing, it remains the route many authors would like to pursue. Although the sampled authors felt traditional publishing offers less creative freedom, what it provides in other areas--namely marketing, distribution and editorial support--is a positive that outweighs the negative.

DBW found that the traditionally-published authors surveyed felt traditional publishing offered "lackluster" experience relative to what they hoped for, and expected.

Among hybrid authors surveyed, DBW said they were showing a "pattern of movement" from traditional houses to self-publishing. The DBW survey highlighted a familiar tale of the traditionally-published author who, unhappy with his or her treatment/sales/revenue, opts for self-publishing, which offers a much higher royalty rate. Among these hybrid authors, there was more satisfaction with self-publishing, and only 16.1% of this group, DBW found, said they intended to go back to traditional publishing.

Most of the authors in the DBW sample who had been traditionally published did not receive an advance, and almost all of the authors interviewed identified advances as a benefit of traditional publishing. Also, interestingly, DBW found that there was not a significant discrepancy in sales among authors in the survey who self-published and those who were traditionally published.

Overall, DBW found, these authors were not happy with their sales period. As the survey notes: "Neither mode of publishing, it seems, provided authors with what they hoped in terms of sales, earnings, distribution, or marketing."

Read the full article HERE.

 
 
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Until quite recently, it was nearly impossible for writers to submit their manuscripts to publishers without an agent. The success of self-published ebooks has changed all that. Even big publishing houses now have mechanisms in place for writers to submit ebooks without a middle man.

Small publishing houses, on the other hand, have always been open to direct submissions, which means if you write for a niche market, it is not difficult to find a publisher.

Here are four specialty publishers that accept manuscripts directly from authors. (Make sure you read their guidelines carefully. If you don't follow them your submission will be rejected.)
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Career Press, Inc.

Mission Statement: It is our mission to publish and distribute quality, nonfiction books for adult readers seeking practical information to improve themselves in careers, college, finance, parenting, retirement, spirituality, and other related topics. We strive to deliver well-written, comprehensive books that inform, advise, and educate the reader.

Categories:

  • Business
  • Career
  • Job Search
  • HR & Work Place Issues
  • College Preparation Small Business/Entrepreneurship
  • Motivation/Self-Help
  • Management
  • Marketing/Sales
  • Negotiation
  • Study Aids
  • Reference
Submission Guidelines: Authors may submit a completed manuscript or a full proposal. Please read the submission policy HERE.

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Gryphon House, Inc. 

Mission Statement: Our goal is to publish books that help teachers and parents enrich the lives of children from birth through age eight. We strive to make our books useful for teachers at all levels of experience, as well as for parents, caregivers, and anyone interested in working with children. The staff at Gryphon House cares deeply about children and about teaching them appropriately and positively. We also believe that spending time with children is a valuable and fun thing to do. Our books reflect these beliefs.

Note: Gryphon House does not publish children's books at all.

Submission Guidelines: Gryphon House prefers to receive a letter of inquiry and/or a proposal, rather than the entire manuscript. That means you don't have to wait until you've completed your book to send it to us. Click HERE for complete submission guidelines.

Your proposal should include:

  • The proposed title
  • The purpose of the book
  • Table of contents
  • Introductory material
  • 20-40 sample pages of the actual book

In addition, please describe the book, including the intended audience, why teachers will want to buy it, how it is different from other similar books already published, and what qualifications you possess that make you the appropriate person to write the book. If you have a writing sample that demonstrates that you write clear, compelling prose, please include it with your letter.

Send all materials to:

Acquisitions

Gryphon House, Inc.
PO Box 10
Lewisville, NC 27023

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Ripple Grove Press

Mission Statement: Our mission is to create picture books that come from life experiences, elegant imagination, and the deep down passion in our hearts. We want each Ripple Grove Press book to enlighten a child’s mind with fun and wonder. We look for stories that flow word to word, where we cannot wait to read the next line. We search for art that complements the narrative; whichever medium is used, we look to create magic that shines on each page. 

We are looking for picture driven stories for children aged 2-6. Please do not send early readers, middle grade, or YA manuscripts. No religious or holiday themed stories.

Submission Guidelines: Ripple Grove accepts submissions by mail and email, as attachments.

Submit a cover letter including a summary of your story, an age range for the audience, a brief biography of yourself, and contact information. Please submit your manuscript as a PDF attachment.

Send PDFs to: submit@ripplegrovepress.com.

If submitting by mail include a SASE to have your materials returned.

Send submissions to:

Ripple Grove Press
Attn: Submissions
PO Box 491
Hubbardston, MA 01452

Please allow 3 months to review your submission. Click HERE for complete submission guidelines.
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Necro Publications and Bedlam Press

Necro Publications is a long-standing publishing house with a niche market in dark horror novels and novellas.  They are only interested in work with a modern voice. Violence, sex, gore and disturbing elements are fine, but they expect good character development and story progression. 

Bedlam Press is looking for everything other than dark, brutal horror. It can be science fiction, but they especially love humor, dark and bizarre. Light humorous horror is fine. They also want urban fantasy along the lines of Jim Butcher's DRESDEN series and Simon R. Green's NIGHTSIDE books, books that are dark with an infusion of humor and shows new worlds, monsters and creations. Our favorite authors include: Christopher Moore, Matt Ruff, and A.R. Martinez.

Weird West Books is looking for novels and novellas that are westerns with a horror, fantasy, sci-fi element. Think Joe R. Lansdale and King's THE DARK TOWER series.

Submission Guidelines: Those interested in Necro or Bedlam should query David G. Barnett with a description of your project at dave@necropublications (dot) com. Please read their full submission guidelines HERE.

 
 
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It is becoming increasingly rare to find publishing houses that will accept manuscripts directly from writers.

But in some genres, notably science fiction, you don't need an agent to get published. TOR is a major player in the sci-fi scene, with a large distribution network. (If you are a science fiction writer, don't be shy. Go ahead and submit your story.) If you love dogs and cats, or the great outdoors (and can take pictures), consider Willow Creek. Poets - check out Blaze.

Willow Creek Press publishes 25 titles per year. This press specializes in gift books, cookbooks, and nature books. Read full submission guidelines HERE. (Note: Does not accept electronic submissions.)

What they are looking for: "Willow Creek Press is a publisher whose primary commitment is to publish books specializing in nature, outdoor and sporting topics, gardening, wildlife and animal books, and cookbooks. We also publish nature, wildlife, fishing, and sporting calendars. Personal memoirs, children's books, and manuscripts dealing with limited regional subject matter may be considered, but generally stand little chance of acceptance."

CQ Press is an imprint of Sage, an academic publisher. It focuses exclusively on political science, journalism, and reference. Prospective authors should submit a complete proposal. (Even if you don't write political science texts, take a look at their proposal outline HERE. It's quite useful for any nonfiction manuscript.)

What they are looking for: "CQ Press is your first source for information on politics, policy, and people. We are the leading publisher of books, directories, subscriptions, and Web products on American politics, federal and state government, American institutions, campaigns and elections, current events, and world affairs. Our content is known for its objectivity, breadth and depth of coverage, and high standards of journalistic and editorial excellence."

Forge and TOR Books publish science fiction and fantasy novels. They're both imprints of Tom Doherty Associates, which is part of Macmillan-so it's a major player that accepts direct submissions. Submission guidelines are HERE.

What they are looking for: "Tor.com welcomes original speculative fiction short stories and poetry. We define “speculative fiction” broadly, including SF, fantasy, horror, alternate history, and related genres. We want our stories to represent the full diversity of speculative fiction, and encourage submissions by writers from underrepresented populations. This includes but is not limited to writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and ability, as well as characters and settings that reflect these experiences. We’re particularly interested in stories under 12,000 words. We will consider stories that are slightly longer than 12k, but we really must put our foot down at the “novelette” mark—in other words, we will not read anything over 17,500 words."

BlazeVOX [Books] publishes poetry, fiction, and literary criticism. With an emphasis on poetry, prospective authors can submit via e-mail or an online contact form. Submission guidelines are HERE.

What they are looking for: "Our books push at the frontiers of what is possible with our innovative poetry, fiction and select non-fiction and literary criticism. Our fundamental mission is to disseminate poetry, through print and digital media, both within academic spheres and to society at large. We seek to publish the innovative works of the greatest minds writing poetry today, from the most respected senior poets to extraordinarily promising young writers. We select for publication only the highest quality of writing on all levels regardless of commercial viability. Our outlets of publication strive to enrich cultural and intellectual life, and foster regional pride and accomplishments."

 
 
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This fascinating little industry tidbit (below) appeared in Publisher's Weekly a couple of weeks ago. Wattpad, for those of you who are not familiar with the site, features free chapters of self-published books. It boasts a readership in the millions. (Its Alexa ranking in the US is 2,553, which is very good.) This makes Wattpad an excellent platform for new writers, who generally care more about getting noticed than raking in the cash. (That comes later.)

Given Random/Penguin's recent launching of its various e-imprints, Loveswept among them, I was wondering how it was going to compete with the lure of Amazon's KDP Select, a program that has dominated the self-publishing scene for more than a decade. KDP Select allows writers to give away their books during 5 out of every 90 days in exchange for exclusive distributing rights. As a promotional tool. nothing beats giving something away for free, so Amazon, which has an immense reach, drew writers to it in droves.

Random/Penguin's strategy, apparently, is to give books away for free before they are released. Chapters will be published on the Wattpad site in serial form, another tried-and-true method for hooking readers.

The progress of Knox's novel, Truly, is something the industry will no doubt keep a close eye on. If Random/Penguin's strategy works, it will solve the pesky problem of how to build an online readership while undercutting Amazon's most successful marketing scheme.


Random House's Loveswept Partners With Wattpad

Publisher's Weekly, Aug 19, 2013

Thanks to a deal between Random House's digital-only romance imprint, Loveswept, and Wattpad, author Ruthie Knox will have her new series appear in serialized form on the online writing (and reading) community. Through the deal, Knox's novel Truly, which is the first title in a planned series, will debut on Wattpad as a free story in the fall, before being released as an e-book by Loveswept in August 2014.

Chapters from Truly will begin appearing on Wattpad on September 3, and continue to appear until the conclusion to the story is posted on November 4. Throughout the process, RH will invite Wattpad readers to take part in choosing the cover for the e-book. The effort, RH said, will also allow a high level of author access to Knox as readers will be able to use Wattpad's platform, which has mobile engagement, to contact her

Allison Dobson, v-p of business development and digital publishing at RH, said that Wattpad offers an "innovative approach to content creation and distribution," noting that the site already draws "millions of voracious readers" from all over the world.

 
 
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This article, published in The Independent a few days ago, answers a question I have been pondering for, well, it must be hours now - What the heck are New Adults? The answer, not surprisingly, is that they are a demographic that has not, as yet, been sufficiently exploited by publishers. 

For the uninitiated, "demographics" are people who buy books. In this case, "New Adults" (as opposed to Young Adults, Recent Adults, Old Adults, Senile Adults, and Adults Who Have Inner Children), are college students, or recent graduates, who, apparently, have money to waste on yet another redundant genre.

So, you may ask, what is New Adult fiction? Lots of swearing, lots of sex, and, of course, unemployment.

From Young Adult to New Adult: Books for the inbetweeners

By John Walsh, The Independent, July 28, 2013

Does the book world need a new genre? The “Young Adult” demographic began in living memory and dealt with parents, teachers, good friends, treacherous friends, crushes, body-consciousness, social diseases, moral issues and lots of snogs. Then it splintered into sub-genres of teen vampires and playground werewolves, school gangs and school romance. Teenage readers were spoilt for choice, provided they had a ceaseless appetite for pubertal trauma and pustule management.

Stand by, then, for the newest genre on  the block: “New Adult.” Although the term was coined in 2009 by Dan Weiss (who masterminded the Sweet Valley High series of mild school romances for 12-year-olds), it’s only recently acquired credibility among major publishers. NA novels are written about (and often by)  18 to 25-year-olds, charting the lives of post-school, university-age friends as they encounter the world of work, offices, money, identity, rented flats and dates with people they’ve met online.

Read the rest of this enlightening article here.

 
 
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Finding an agent is harder than finding a needle in a haystack. But most major publishers, and even most mid-range publishing houses, will not look at manuscripts submitted directly to them by authors. Miraculously, there are some exceptions. Apart from DAW, these tend to be small houses. However, in matters of publishing, size doesn't always matter. Chicken Soup for the Soul was published by a small publishing house.

In all of these cases, be prepared to wait three to six months for a response. Make sure you follow their submission guidelines to the letter. (If you don't, they will toss your manuscript into the recycling bin without a second thought. Whenever there is stiff competition, remember: Do not give anybody an excuse to throw you out.)


1. DAW Books Inc. (now owned by Random/Penguin) is one of the few major publishers that accepts work directly from novelists-so you don't need an agent. They publish science fiction and fantasy novels. (No short stories, short story collections, novellas, poetry, or novels in other genres.) The average length of the novels they publish varies but is almost never less than 80,000 words. Hard copy only! Go here for complete submission details.

2. Peachtree Children's Books, located in Atlanta, Georgia, publishes 30 books per year, including picture books, middle grade and young adult novels. Authors should submit either a full manuscript or table of contents and first three sample chapters. For more information go here.

3. Kensington Publishing Corp. prides itself on being a major independent publishing house.For fiction, send cover letter, first three chapters, and synopsis (no more than five pages). They do not publish science fiction or fantasy. Nor do they publish poetry. For non-fiction, send cover letter/query, including the author's qualifications and connections relevant to the book's content and marketing, and summary or outline of book's content. All submissions should be double-spaced, paginated, cleanly printed and readable. Do not bind pages together. For more information go here.

4. Dzanc Books is looking for literary fiction that takes chances and does so with great writing. They do not mind books that do not fill a marketing niche. They are looking for absolutely fantastic works to fill those slots. "It really is all about the writing to us." (How refreshing!) Electronic submissions are accepted. For more information go here.

 
 
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With no UK publishing deal for her debut novel, Tracy Bloom decided to go it alone. A few weeks later, her book was sitting at the top of the Amazon Kindle chart.

Tracy Bloom: I learned a huge amount from self-publishing

SourceThe Guardian, Tuesday 9 July 2013 09.03 EDT

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

I wrote my novel, No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, while living in Connecticut, US having moved there temporarily with my husband's job. I left behind a dream career developing rides for theme parks and found myself in a foreign country with a new baby and a desire to make the most of my dramatic change in circumstances. I joined an evening class in creative writing and about a year later I had completed my first romantic comedy, written mostly during my son's afternoon naps. To my utter shock an agent and foreign-rights deals came quickly afterwards, but although I had some very positive comments no UK publisher stepped forward. Having watched the self-publishing industry evolve to become a valid gateway to reach an audience I decided that the time was right to go it alone.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

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