MARKET Storm Moon Press

Saturday, January 02, 2010

On first impression the website is attractive and well-designed. Here are a few thoughts I have about the contents:

"Storm Moon Press is an independent, small press that specializes in romance and erotica of alternative lifestyles, including but not limited to, male/male, female/female, ménage à trois, polyamory, and BDSM in all genres."

Alternative lifestyles? : /

"Submissions for our first anthology, Cast the Cards, are now being accepted. Cast the Cards is a short story anthology where all stories included are based on the themes of individual Major Arcana cards from the Tarot with romantic and erotic tones."

A tarot card theme, how many of these do we need...?

"We offer a $1,000 advance, though it is not paid in one lump sum. 25% is issued upon signing of the contract, 50% is issued upon publication, and the remaining 25% is issued once the initial 75% of the advance has earned out through sales."

This suggests rather optimistic sales expectations?

"Royalties on print books sold will be 25% on the net earned, and royalties on e-books sold will be 40% on the net earned."

Note: net

"Storm Moon Press will also register the copyright; this will not be a cost authors incur. Copyright remains with the author."

This is nice to see and very unusual for epublishers.

It does not seem to be explicit on the website but the owner and founder of Storm Moon Press seems to be S. L./Saundra Armstrong, who does not appear to have publishing experience outside of self-publishing.


S.L. Armstrong 1:11 PM  

Thank you for taking the time to review the information on our site. I would like to respond to some of your concerns, and hopefully open a dialogue on these points. As you correctly stated, we are in the initial start-up phase of the press and welcome any suggestions for improvement.

Alternative lifestyles?

I am confused by this reaction. Are you objecting to the term itself or to some other point? Male/male fiction as a genre is a large (and growing) market, especially in eBooks, but there is a dearth of presses that offer selections geared to other niche markets.

A tarot card theme, how many of these do we need...?

Can you please offer examples of other tarot-based anthologies? In our research, we did not locate any others, which is why we chose this for our first theme. Additionally, we are not limiting submissions to male/male selections only, which we feel will help us to stand out.

This suggests rather optimistic sales expectations?

Optimistic, perhaps. But people rarely begin businesses with the expectation of failure. Sales figures will depend heavily on the amount of effort the authors themselves put into the sale of their work, making us no different than any other independent press (or, frankly, mainstream publisher). While we have certain channels and outlets that will allow us to provide a certain amount of exposure, the majority of the marketing will be done by the authors. That is the reason for the stipulation regarding the final 25% of the advance. If an author really pushes their work to be a success, then we feel that effort should be rewarded.

Note: net

We made the decision to offer higher royalty rates on the net earnings rather than smaller royalties on cover price in order to be competitive with other independent presses. The intent is to funnel the majority of the sales through our site and not through third party vendors which will take a large retail markup. As an example, a $10 200-page book (to keep the numbers easy; most books will be priced lower) purchased through a third party vendor, at 25% on the net earnings, will only pay the author $0.15 per book. However, the same book purchased through our site does not incur the retail markup and will yield the author $1.53 per book. Compare that to the $0.80 (8% on cover) which represents the high end of royalty rates offered by traditional-model publishing houses. eBook rates are also higher and remain competitive with other independent eBook presses in the market.

It does not seem to be explicit on the website but the owner and founder of Storm Moon Press ... does not appear to have publishing experience outside of self-publishing.

Everyone has to start somewhere. Every publisher on the planet, at one point, had zero experience with publishing. Both Torquere Press and MLR Press (among others) began initially as avenues for their respective founders to self-publish their own and their colleagues'/friends' works, but then expanded to accept submissions from outside that initial circle.

We are making no effort to misrepresent ourselves as anything but what we are, which is a small, independent startup press that, yes, will publish certain titles by the founding authors (yes, there are more than one of us). Our intent with this business is not to become a large press with a huge stable of authors that makes millions of dollars. None of the founding authors will ever draw a salary from the business itself -- our profits will come from the sales of our own works (and yes, we will hold ourselves accountable to the same split in royalty revenue).

Again, thank you for taking the time to look over the site. Hopefully, we have been able to clear up some of the issues that you pointed out. If there are still concerns, we would be grateful for the chance to address them.

S.L. Armstrong
on behalf of Storm Moon Press

Emily Veinglory: 1:58 PM  

Hi there, my previous post about tarot themes is here: --and there have been others since then. I like tarot, but it seems to me like there must be other themes to use?

Emily Veinglory: 2:02 PM  

Re: alternative lifestyle, yes I am objecting to the term. Gay and lesbian ia gay and lesbian--or you can go the full quiltbag QLTBG. Alt lifestyles is at best a euphemism (implying one chooses a sexual orientation to match the curtains) but technically is considered to refer to things such as veganism, swinging etc which are lifetyle *choices* outside the mainstream. I would strongly suggest rethinking use of that terminology.

S.L. Armstrong 3:13 PM  


Thank you for the reference to the post about the tarot theme. I wish we had known about that before we put out the call for submissions. Still, much as in traditional mainstream publishing, when an idea can be shown to have market potential, there are invariably a number of followers trying to ride that wave of popularity. And though that was not our intention when we came up with the idea, I would not be disappointed if we were able to benefit from a similar effect.

As far as 'alternative lifestyle' goes, I agree with the sentiment that reference to GLBTQ as 'lifestyle' can seem to portray it as a choice and not an identity. However, we are not using the term to refer only to GLBTQ stories, but also polyamory, swinging, BDSM, and kink, which you have agreed above, are non-mainstream life choices. Perhaps rephrasing the statement to read "GLBTQ and alternative lifestyles such as..." would be better received, as it makes the distinction more clear?

S.L. Armstrong
on behalf of Storm Moon Press

Anonymous,  12:05 PM  

I'm usually pretty good with math, but I'm not understanding the numbers here at all.

The bottom line: how is the publisher defining "net"? Is it "cover price, minus distributor's cut" or is it a more true net, subtracting out the costs of the copyright and editorial fees and cover fees and publisher overhead, and other costs (such as the printing cost of a paper book)?

From the example, with a $10 book, somehow an author gets only 15 cents if sold through a third party, at a 25% royalty. Which means the "net" is 60 cents. And if it's sold through the website, the royalty (again 25%) is $1.53, which means the net is $6.12 (why such an odd number?), a tenfold difference.

Given that distributors generally take about 50%, the numbers don't make sense. A ten dollar e-book, sold through a third party for $5 net should lead to a $1.25 royalty to the author; and sold through the main site for the full $10 would lead to a $2.50 royalty. Unless the publisher is taking other expenses off the top. Copyright, perhaps? In which case, the author IS paying for the copyright, albeit not up front.

I also wonder about the comparison to paper publishing, with the 8 percent-on-cover rates (which is probably twice or three times that percentage of the "net" after the cost of distribution plus printing and shipping the paper books), rather than comparison to other epublishers (at least for the books sold in that format), with generally 35% (more or less) rates on cover (at the website) or cover-minus-distributor's-cut (at distribution sites), with no adjustments for other costs.

S.L. Armstrong 1:50 PM  

The bottom line: how is the publisher defining "net"?

In our case, it is simply cover price minus distributor cut minus printing cost. Direct sales through the site will not have a distributor cut and therefore a higher net. Editorial costs, cover art costs, copyright costs, etc, are not subtracted, but are repaid via the remaining net of the book after author royalties.

One of the pitfalls of the print on demand model is higher printing costs per book, which is one reason why we have chosen the payment model that we have. Paying royalties off the net allows us to keep cover prices competitive with mass market paperbacks.

(The distributor cut percentage we used, by the way, was 55%, which is on the upper end of vendors in our research, so your assumption of 50% was incorrect when applied to our calculations.)

Also, the numbers we provided above apply only to print books, not ebooks, which is why there was no comparison to epublishers. Our site states that royalties for ebooks are 40%, which is greater than the 35% average that you list. Purchases from the site incur no additional costs and are therefore the same as 40% off cover, and purchases through third party ebook vendors are 40% off cover minus distributor cut.

And considering that some traditional publishing houses pay as little as 5% of net for certain genres, it is our belief that 25% of net is quite fair, especially if the author's marketing strategy funnels readers to the direct sale site.

S.L. Armstrong
on behalf of Storm Moon Press

S.L. Armstrong 12:26 PM  

I would like to let you know that we have made changes to our site as per the feedback we received through this and other sites and invite you to take a second look at our site.

The phrasing of "alternative lifestyles, including GLBT, polyamory..." has been changed to "GLBT and alternative lifestyles, including polyamory..." in the hopes that this removes the sense of GLBT as a lifestyle choice as opposed to an identity.

Additionally, our royalty structure has changed from paying off the net to paying off the cover in direct sales, and off the cover minus distribution costs in third party sales, which seems to be a reasonable compromise made by many other independent niche presses.

Thank you once again for the honest feedback, because we have been able to put it into practical application and hope that this will ease some of the doubts among you and your readers as to the validity of Storm Moon Press as a business entity.

S.L. Armstrong
on behalf of Storm Moon Press

Emily Veinglory: 12:47 PM  

I think it is always a good sign when a publisher does not see some blog discussion as a personal attack ;)

I will add SM to the publisher list on the nest update.

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