Friday, March 14, 2008

Working with Good E-Publishers--Pepper

Right below this post, Emily has a list of Teddy's recommended e-publishers, as well as the recommended e-publishers based on sales. I am very lucky, because I began my career with Liquid Silver, and then branched out to work with Amber Quill, and Samhain. I have several books with each publisher, solo as well as with Vivien. So, in light of the anger and dismay over New Concepts, I thought I'd explain what it's like to work with a good and competent e-publisher.

First, the submission process. Amber Quill is a little different because they do not have open submissions. They're by invite only, except during their annual Amber Heat contest. That's how I got there. But, even though the process with them is a little different, there are still some things to take into consideration.

When I emailed to ask questions prior to submission, all three publishers responded promptly and with an appropriate answer. After I submitted my manuscript, I received confirmation from all three that it was, indeed, received, and told roughly when to expect an answer. They were prompt, helpful, and pleasant.

After acceptance, I was assigned to an editor. In the case of LSB, the acquisitions editor introduced me to my editor. In the case of Samhain, I received an acceptance letter from the editor I was to work with "permanently" (it's in quotes because she later left and I was assigned to a different editor). In the case of AQP, I received an email from the editor with the edits already attached. In all three cases, a dialogue between myself and the editor was highly encouraged, and I didn't feel shy or awkward about contacting them with questions, problems, or suggestions.

The editing process is always harrowing, but never because I had a "bad" editor. And bad editors are out there. In one instance, I had an editor that I had a major personality conflict with. When I kept feeling like I was hitting a brick wall, to the detriment of the book, I sent a politely worded email up the food-chain, and the problem was worked out. You should always be able to talk to your editors without fear of reprisal or being "black-listed." Remember, the editors and publishers are not doing you a favor by accepting your book, and you should never have to kow-tow to them. Be polite, of course. Be professional. Don't work for a publisher where you have to be afraid of what you say.

The editing process varies with each of our publishers. Samhain is far more labor intensive than AQP for various reasons, for example. Every publisher has their own process, and if you're unsure of how that process works, do ask questions.

Once you get to this step, editing isn't the only thing you have to worry about. All the e-publishers I've worked with have an art information form. Don't be obnoxious about the cover art--it's never going to be exactly how you imagined it, though there are certain artists who get pretty damned close. (Here, I must give a shout out to April Martinez and Anne Caine.) You also have to start considering what you're going to do for promo.

Your publisher should be a part of promotion. This is their money, too, after all! If your publisher leaves it all up to you and doesn't even bother sending out review copies, this is a problem. A big, stinking problem. If your publisher doesn't tell you when your release date is so you can make plans, that's also a big stinking problem. If you don't get your artwork until 2 days before the book is released, that's another big, stinking problem. Your publisher should never, ever hinder your promotion. If your publisher does, find a new publisher.

This is getting really long, so I'll do part 2 next week--everything that happens after the release and sustaining a relationship for the long-term. If I left something out, please feel free to add it in the comments. :)


Teddy Pig said...

Hell yes! Always give a shout out to April Martinez and Anne Caine.

Because they are fabulous.

veinglory said...

I would add that in reference to all in our top 5 and others like Changeling that probably would be if I had enough data...

Good epublishers answer even stupid questions with open transperancy. I have asked many epublshering owners and staff many questions and none of those I am recommending has reponded with pique, accusations or threats of lawyers. Instead they just answer the question and possibly also explain why it might not have been the most important question to ask. They have nothing to hide because their policies are thoughtful, professional and open.

Cat Grant said...

How would you describe your experience with Liquid Silver? They're looking at a manuscript of mine right now.

Jamie said...

My experience with Liquid Silver has been fantastic. Royalties are always paid on time, and they mail out monthly sales figures. There's a good community of writers, and the editors are all fantastic. My sales figures have been all over the map, depending on the genre, though generally FW sales are good. I've always been very pleased with the level of their professionalism and the final product (from editing to art work). Since I'm posting this under the Jamie Craig account, I'll add that Vivien agrees with my assessment completely.


Vivien Dean said...

Yeah, Pepper's spot-on. I adore Liquid Silver for far too many reasons to list. There's a sense of community, and I don't think there isn't anything I couldn't bring up that wouldn't get addressed in a timely, professional manner. Like Pepper, my sales have ranged from really, really good to "well, I love my baby even if nobody wants to buy it," but that difference has zero responsibility on LSB's shoulders. There are no divas there. Everybody gets equal and fair treatment.

Cat Grant said...

Thanks, Pepper and Vivien. I appreciate your comments! LSB sounds like a great market. ;)

Barbara Sheridan said...

I echo Pepper & Vivien. LSB is a solid, professional company.

Teddy Pig said...


Covers top shelf
Editing top shelf
Website not bad, wish they showed more of their books available up front because those covers are so nice.

Jules Jones said...

Elaborating on what Emily has said about publishers answering questions -- it's not a bad sign if publishers don't participate on author and reader forums. It is a bad sign if they participate in order to jump on anyone who they feel is portraying their company in a bad light.

By way of contrast, look at Treva Harte of Loose Id and Angela James of Samhain. They'll certainly correct what they see as misinformation, but they do so politely and without getting aggressive. They very clearly don't treat dissent as a threat.

There are other examples, but those are the two that come readily to mind for me because they often post in places where I hang out. Obviously I have a degree of bias where Loose Id is concerned, but I've never even submitted a manuscript to Samhain, so I don't have any personal reason to be nice about Angela. This is simply something I've noticed over time, and factored into my views on where to try submitting if I feel the urge to be published at more than one house.

Stacia said...

Oooh, Pepper, what a GREAT post!

To this day I regret not following my instincts and pulling my book from one publisher when it because clear it was being handled terribly and I was literally sobbing over some of the editorial comments. Sobbing from being upset AND from fury. I should have realized what was happening, but I honestly didn't have quite enough confidence and experience yet to know that. I thought it was wrong, it felt wrong, but the certainty wasn't there. And I was made to feel it was only me who had a problem with it.

Anonymous said...

my publisher not only refused to answer questions but was rude and nasty when I emailed them over and over again regarding the release date of my book.

it was released two months late, damaging any promotion that I had attempted to do and if it had been edited, I sure didn't see it.

and now, of course, any bad sales numbers are MY fault due to my lack of promotion...