Hardback or Paperback?

How do publishers decide whether a book is hard cover or paper back?

It varies depending on the publisher.

Some publishers only publish hard cover.

Some only publish paperback.

For publishers who do both, it depends on the type of book, how many copies they think they’ll sell, and how they think the end reader will use it (ex: read it once then give it away vs keep it and read it multiple times). Each publisher will have their own internal guidelines that they use to make this decision.

Covenant and Cedar Fort release all their fiction as trade paperback (trade = the 6×9 size). Shadow Mountain puts their fiction out in hardcover and often sells the paperback rights to other publishers. Deseret Book does a mix of both—The Undaunted got hard cover; Lemon Tart got trade paperback.

New Kids on the Block

Hi, LDSP. I’ve seen several new publishers lately that are open to LDS books—Valor, WiDo. Do you know anything about them? What do you think about them? What are their chances of surviving against the Deseret Book monopoly?

I can’t give you an opinion about new publishers until they actually release a title. I’ve talked to authors who’ve signed with both companies, and they seem happy with them. So let’s see what they produce.

The chances of surviving in this market depend upon the following:

  1. Funding. Do they have enough to get them through the start-up and into growth?
  2. Niche. Do they have a niche that will support them? What makes them different? What can they offer that the big guys can’t or won’t? They can either specialize in a genre or area (like doctrinal) or they can offer things to the author that others don’t.
  3. Quality. Most authors are going to hit DB and Covenant first. If they reject, they work their way down the list. By the time a mss hits a start-up, there’s usually a reason they’ve been rejected by all the others. Do these new guys have access to good mss? Also, what do they do with them once they get them? Do they have the skills, staff, resources to edit well? Typeset and design well?
  4. Distribution. This is the big one. Can they find a cost-effective avenue to the reader? Can they get into bookstores? Can they do the advertising needed to get their book noticed?

Personally, I hope they’re successful. If they are, I might think about putting out a shingle. . .

How Many LDS Publishers Are There?

I am also a BYU student who just turned a “self published” book in as a creative project for a class. The professor loved the book and suggested I should look into publishing it for real. Since I was more concerned about a good grade than publishing, this is a brand new concept for me, and I have no idea where to start.

My book has a definite LDS slant so I jumped on the internet to see who the LDS publishers are and found your site. You may be just the perfect person to get me started wading into this undertaking. I’ve looked at the submission guidelines for Shadow Mountain, Covenant, and Horizon. (I tried to look at Cedar Fort also, but the link to their submission page was broken.)

Are there other LDS publishers out there other than these? Is any one better than another to start with? Any other suggestions or helpful hints you want to throw my way would also be appreciated. Much thanks in advance.

Oh, there are so many more LDS publishers than that! For example, the biggest one: Deseret Book. (Shadow Mountain is one of their imprints.) How many are there? I don’t know—there are always new ones popping up and others closing.

Without knowing what your book is about, it’s hard to know what to advise. Do your research. Submit to the companies that publish the type of book you’ve written.

There are free lists of LDS publishers online HERE and HERE. Some of the info may be outdated.

Or THIS, which costs money but is pretty comprehensive.

[Cedar Fort’s site is working fine right now. HERE is the link to their Submission Page. ]

Speaking of Publishers. . .

An editor from a new publishing company left a comment on Monday’s post. I love it when my peers comment. Especially when they say nice things. Because I’m vain.

She didn’t post a link to WiDo’s website. Here it is. I’m glad to see that there are some people who aren’t afraid to jump into the market with both feet right now. (Personally, I still have my big toe in the market but that’s about all I can do right now.)

It isn’t clear whether they’re looking for books with LDS content or just good clean books. Maybe they could clarify?

The reason I brought this up though, is I’m wondering what your perspective is on the LDS publishing market now.

It’s been awhile since Deseret Book and Covenant/Seagull joined together. Several small publishers have closed their doors. Other publishers have cut back on accepting new titles. One publisher seems to be going nuts acquiring new authors, but they’re also pushing back release dates.

What has been your experience lately?

Previously/Continuing to be published authors: Are you finding it business as usual? Are your publishers accepting your new manuscripts with the same zeal as before? Is the time from acceptance to release the same? Or has it increased? Have you had to look for a new publisher because yours closed? Are you finding that being published by a now closed publisher gives you creds to get in somewhere else? Or not?

Accepted authors waiting for release: Has your release date been pushed back? By a little or a lot? Or has everything gone forward as planned?

Not yet published authors: Do you feel your chances of being accepted are less than they were a few years ago? Do you feel you’ve run out of options in the LDS market? Does that make you want to give up on writing for LDS readers? Have you considered self-publishing? How seriously? Would you consider an alternative type of publishing—say, a new publisher who distributed through less traditional methods?

I’m just curious as to the general feeling of those writing for the LDS market right now.

Waiting for Spectacular

[Now that the technical issues have been resolved, I can post Wednesday’s post.]

This may seem like an odd question, but do publishing companies ever find themselves without something good to publish? What do they do then? Not publish? Or publish something mediocre?

Depends on the company. Larger companies get enough submissions that they can fill their schedule with enough good titles to satisfy their sales department.

Smaller companies do sometimes find themselves without manuscripts they feel strongly about. My company was often in that situation—especially the first couple of years.

What they do about it also depends on the company. We chose not to publish anything, rather than publish something we weren’t ecstatic about. Other companies insist on putting out a book on their regular time schedule, so they’ll publish something less than wonderful.

Now my question for you is, why did you ask this question?

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. . .

My publisher just pushed back my release date by six months. This has also happened to some friends of mine (different publisher). I also have a friend who kept getting their date pushed back, then finally, the publisher dropped them completely. I’m worried. What’s going on?

If you’d asked me this question a year or two ago, I’d have said that most likely your book was pushed back because the publisher picked up another book with a more timely topic or a book they thought would sell a little better. And that could still be the reason for your change of release date.

These days, however, it could also very well be that they just don’t have enough money to publish according to their original schedule. Publishers all over are delaying releases and trimming their publishing budgets. It’s just part of this wonderful economic boom we’re experiencing.

Unfortunately, the only thing you can do about it is to come up with some killer promotional ideas, present them to your publisher, and hope it will impress them so much that they’ll bump someone else’s book back and put yours in their slot.

[Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. . . by Jack Johnson (Love this song!)]

Does Granite Publish?

I know Granite distributes for other smaller publishers and individual authors. But they also publisher their own books, right? Do you notice any niches they specialize in, or direction they appear to emphasize?

Yes, Granite does publish their own books and they do a little bit of everything—from children’s to romance to non-fiction.

It’s hard to tell which titles Granite publishes though because their website dumps everything all together and there’s no indication of publisher for any of the books listed there.

Here is the link to their submissions guidelines—although that’s not a lot of help either because it’s so vague.

This brings up a topic that I love to rant about, concerning LDS publisher websites. Most of them do an inadequate job of promoting/marketing their titles. Each title should have all the info a reader would need to walk into a bookstore to special order it—including the ISBN #, the publisher and publication date. Genre category, size, binding and page count would also be nice.

I can hear the publishers saying, “If they’re at our website, they can just order the book online from us and they don’t need all that information.” Well, yes. Perhaps. But some people are loyal to their local brick and mortar bookstore and want to get it there.

AND all publisher websites should all have a New Release section by month, so that we can easily find what new books they’ve published.

Oh, and one more thing: They should make sure their books are listed on the website by the actual title that’s printed on the front of the book and that their author’s names are spelled correctly. (Uhm, yes. I’ve been unable to find books posted on publisher websites because they’ve made these very mistakes.)

When is a Vanity/Subsidy Press a Good Choice?

Did I hear you scream, “Never!”?

Not so. There are times when you can and should legitimately choose to go with a vanity/subsidy press or a POD (print-on-demand) company.

But first, let’s define these terms. Most publishers lump vanity and subsidy presses together as one—a huge insult to the true subsidy presses. I admit that I pretty much put them in the same category and I apologize to all the legits out there. There is a distinction between them, albeit small.

One of the links I gave you yesterday provided a good definition of the two types of companies. Just in case you didn’t click on it, here is an excerpt:

A vanity publisher prints and binds a book at the author’s sole expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually a good deal more expensive than self-publishing. The completed books are the property of the author, and the author retains all proceeds from sales. Vanity publishers may exclude objectionable content such as pornography, but otherwise do not screen for quality–they publish anyone who can pay. For an extra fee, some may offer editing, marketing, warehousing, distribution, and/or promotional services (often of dubious quality), or they may provide variously-priced service packages that include differing menus of extras.

A subsidy publisher also takes payment from the author to print and bind a book, but contributes a portion of the cost and/or adjunct services such as editing, distribution, warehousing, and marketing. Theoretically, subsidy publishers are at least somewhat selective. The completed books are the property of the publisher, and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.

(Taken from SFWA, Vanity and Subsidy Publishers, Definitions. Kudos to them for providing great info on the subject. These are the same people that bring us Preditors and Editors. If you haven’t already done so, you really should go spend some time surfing their site. )

There are also POD (print-on-demand) companies, which pretty much print the files as you deliver them, but they don’t claim to be any type of publisher. They are on-demand printers, some of which will also provide light editing and order fulfillment services for a fee.

So, when would you want to use one of these companies? When you’re publishing for a limited audience. This might include family or personal histories, a book of poetry, a collection of short stories, a book with regional interest, or a book aimed at a very specific, niche industry or reader.

In these cases, what you’re looking for is a company that is upfront about what they are and that doesn’t claim to be a real publisher. You want a company with a good reputation and reasonable prices for their services. If you want to make your book available for sale online, you can either do it yourself or find a company that also offers these services as part of a package.

I’ve seen decent products come out of BookSurge, Create Space, Lightning Source—and even Author House and Publish America. There’s nothing wrong with using these companies, as long as you understand what they are and why you are using them.

And as long as you don’t brag about them as if they’re a traditional national publisher.