Publishing Reinvented, Um...

Moses on a moped, here's *another* business (I can't bring myself to call them a publisher, and will explain why) claiming they're "reinventing" publishing. They've revealed they're "somewhere between traditional publishing and the new do-it-yourself digital world."

Yuh-huh. That's the first alarm bell, dear Aspiring Author: some dope, more likely a canny shark, is "reinventing" publishing. There is nothing new under the sun here. Believe that. Nothing new.

Next, they claim: "Traditional publishers publish only a fraction of the good manuscripts that come their way — leaving quality work unpublished" -- which is true--sort of.

The second alarm bell: calling it "traditional" publishing, a term coined by a notorious author mill we all know and loathe. Vanity operations and other scams just love to flash that word around like a perv in a raincoat showing off his junk. The idea is to make prospective customers (not writers, *customers*) feel safe.

Ah, but those big mean commercial publishers who keep turning down good manuscripts have reasons for saying no. THEY are investing 100s of 1000s of their dollars (not yours) into titles and accept only a tiny fraction because those are the books that are most likely to SELL and not only get back the investment, but turn a profit.

While a commercial publisher does reject quality work, it's going to be stuff they are sure won't sell, or perhaps they have a surfeit of similar books on that already. Trust me, if a publisher has a few dystopian kill-the-zombie books out now, they aren't looking for more until those turn a profit.

Then there's the 98% of the other books which will be unpublishable crap--I know, because I read slush and slush is too kind a term for most of it. There's also a fraction of slush where "crap" is much too nice a term, and I self-medicate with eye bleach and chocolate to get that trauma out of my brain. Commercial publishers don't buy those either, but this place, since it's not risking its own cash, is free to accept anything that comes their way, good, bad or toxic. Like any hooker, it's your money they find sexy.

The business finally swings into the sales pitch in earnest: "Your manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect we won’t publish it until it’s terrific, as ready as any book coming out of one of the traditional publishing houses."

*DO* go on! I've seen THAT one before on countless other vanity sites, never on a commercial site, though. They don't have to solicit for new writers, they're busy buying and selling books, not themselves.

"Talented editors, designers, marketers, and other professionals help your book take form."

Names and resumes, please. What sort of experience do they have in professional publishing? Who have they worked for or where have they at least interned?

(Hears crickets, which at this time of year is unusual.)

"However, _____ charges for this. We ask authors to support these costs, most often through successful crowdfunding campaigns. There are many ways to support publishing your book. This is part of our reinvention!"

Ding-ding-ding-ding! GAME OVER!

Had to call it, because that's the same old crap vanities have been selling to desperate writers since the dawn of print. Taken in that way "traditional" publishing does have a bit of truth to it. In the bad old days publishers demanded that authors foot the bill. Many writers went bankrupt unless they could talk a rich patron into paying those costs.

The rest I need hardly detail, but it has to do with the necessity of paying them thousands of dollars to get the book ready and suggests crowdfunding as a means of getting there. Yes, by all means ask a pack of friends and strangers to send money to publish a book that may or may not be readable.

Of COURSE the place accepts ALL genres! What self-respecting vanity is going to turn away any desperate to publish writer who's got a few grand in the loose change drawer?

Of COURSE the place claims your book will be available on Amazon etc. Like that's hard to do!

What they fail to mention--the same as all vanities fail to mention--is they can't get your book into stores.

Yes, I know, many writers are anticipating the death of the brick and mortar bookstore, some seem positively gleeful about it, but for now the stores are still the make or break for any place claiming to be a publisher. Can the publisher get the book into stores? Does it have DISTRIBUTION?

Without that, your book is dead in the water. You might as well self-publish, which you can do easily enough for low to no cost. For what this place charges -- $1000- $4000 for the first (first??!!) round of editing -- you can hire an excellent freelance editor. Hells bells, I'm dirt cheap and you can hire me, but the problem is I won't edit a book that isn't ready, danged scruples.

They claim that final costs are between 5,000 and 15,000 dollars. (but hey, crowdfunding!).

For THAT much a self-pubber can not only hire an outstanding editor, but get a Hugo-winning professional artist + graphic designers for the cover and likely bribe a few starving authors into writing glowing blurbs. It ain't ethical, but if you're that desperate, go right ahead.

You'll likely never make back your crowdfunded 5-15 grand, but dang, that book is gonna look awesome!

Not naming names, but I don't have to; the message here is not the reinvention of publishing, but the same dreary tune played by every vanity looking to score cash from desperate, deluded or uninformed writers who don't know how real publishing works.

That's where you and I counter with the same highly inconvenient truth: if they want your money they are not your friend.

Now, if ANY of you have $15,000.00 to spare, I'll drop EVERYTHING and give your novel my full editorial attention up to and including ghostwriting the lot, hiring a Hugo winner to do the cover, and I'll blurb about it until pigs fly.

But that means I'm not your friend.

Danged scruples!