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Old 05-15-2014, 11:20 PM   #276
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For a three-year-old company, their rankings on Amazon are not good. I did a spot check yesterday: six books listed on Amazon, the bestselling one showing a rank of around 350,000. The rest were around 800,000 to a million, or over.

As Victoria said, Amazon isn't the only game in town, but its rankings can be a good barometer of small-press performance.

I'll check again.

ETA: Just did. First books published in 2013. Generally good reviews. Highest-selling book now ranked around 460,000, others into the millions.

It's refreshing to see a publisher that isn't shotgunning hundreds of books a year, and neglecting publicity on most of them. But at three years in, I still see this as a small boutique press that seems to be having a hard time getting wider notice.
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:50 PM   #277
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It looks like there are currently approximately 40 titles for sale in the Kindle Store, 24 titles for sale in Zharmae's e-store, and 47 titles for sale. Between sales rank and sales price (discounted in the Zharmae e-store), it's hard to envision the business being sustainable on assumed revenue (even with the contract). It's hard to understand, short of an investor injecting a lot of capital into the business, how it could grow organically given the assumed financials.

The books do get nice reviews from customers on Amazon, and that's nice. But I don't see any review coverage from publications of note and wonder how it is they're going to get the word out to the larger market.

Compared to Angry Robot, brought up earlier in this thread, there seems to be a wide gap in how things are done and the results attained.
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:37 AM   #278
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I noticed that gap, too. Until a publisher actively convinces me of its nefarious nature, I like to assume the best of all new and newer outfits. This still doesn't make any of them a good business venture for an author, until business models and stability are proven (or insured, with high-quality staff.)

The good reviews from readers should be giving Zharmae ammunition to approach larger market reviewers, publications, and contests. I hope to see that in the future.
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:11 AM   #279
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I noticed that gap, too. Until a publisher actively convinces me of its nefarious nature, I like to assume the best of all new and newer outfits. This still doesn't make any of them a good business venture for an author, until business models and stability are proven (or insured, with high-quality staff.)

The good reviews from readers should be giving Zharmae ammunition to approach larger market reviewers, publications, and contests. I hope to see that in the future.
Though the reviews are typically good, there aren't many of them (only a few books had more than ten). Angry Robot (a relatively new, small publisher) by comparison has multiple titles with 100s of reviews and a rough average in the multiple dozens. In the grand scheme of things, with the abundance of publishing companies that have sprung up in the last decade, those numbers aren't going to get the attention of anybody who can move the needle (large daily newspaper, general and trade magazines, tv, radio).
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Old 05-16-2014, 07:45 AM   #280
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Just wanted to provide a few thoughts from a Zharmae (FW Fife) writer.

My history until writing Gateway was in non-fiction academic writing with several journal publications in history and emergency management. I also have two academic books published; the most recent through McFarland Publishing (Southern West Virginia and the Struggle for Modernity).

Gateway, my first fiction work, is set for release in July and so far I am pleased with Zharmae. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few hiccups, which I do attribute to the experience issue, but in all cases those issues have been addressed quickly. Honestly, they are a little less organized than my previous experience with traditional academic publishing houses which have been around for decades but they are undoubtedly enthusiastic and passionate. Having served in the military and private industry (Oil & Gas) for 24 years, I appreciate the energy and dedication I have seen in the staff so far.

From my perspective, with a retirement income from the military and professional career outside of writing, I am less concerned about becoming the next Orson Scott Card or Jack Campbell as I am in getting my story out there and letting people decide. And I do not want to self-publish.

Frankly, I like the Zharmae team personality and can-do-attitude. If they maintain this level of motivation as they become more experienced and make it over the hump, that is a publisher I want to stay with for the long haul.

Finally, I have had a great experience with the developmental editor assigned to Gateway. In my opinion her input really tightened up the work and specifically addressed issues I think had turned away a few larger houses such as DAW and TOR (such as formal language in conversations instead of a more natural form-a piece of baggage from my academic writing that carried over to Gateway). As for the contract, they accepted all changes I wanted to make to the ‘standard’ contract.

A few works have bounced in and out of the top 100,000 for kindle sales (Shadow of the Mountain & Exile Empire are two examples that are fairly steady over the last few weeks-which I know doesn’t yet show longevity) and D. A. Stone’s Shadow of the Mountain has also been in and out of the top 100 genre list for dark fantasy.

Obviously there are unanswered questions such as the effectiveness of marketing, sales, delivery on royalties, post publication communication, and so on but I’m optimistic.

www.briandorseybooks.com

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Old 05-16-2014, 11:06 AM   #281
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bdorsey View Post
My history until writing Gateway was in non-fiction academic writing with several journal publications in history and emergency management. I also have two academic books published; the most recent through McFarland Publishing (Southern West Virginia and the Struggle for Modernity).
McFarland's a good publisher of its type but I think it specialises in publishing for the library market, doesn't it? If that's the case, then I'm not sure it can truly be an academic publisher, as academic works aren't usually shelved in public libraries. I might be wrong.

There are many differences between academic publishing, publishing for libraries, and trade publishing.

Quote:
Gateway, my first fiction work, is set for release in July and so far I am pleased with Zharmae.


Why don't you come back after your book's been out for six months and tell us how it's done?

Quote:
From my perspective, with a retirement income from the military and professional career outside of writing, I am less concerned about becoming the next Orson Scott Card or Jack Campbell as I am in getting my story out there and letting people decide. And I do not want to self-publish.
I've seen no evidence that Zharmae will get your book in front of enough of its potential readers to get your story out anywhere, I'm afraid. I hope I'm wrong.

Quote:
Finally, I have had a great experience with the developmental editor assigned to Gateway.
That's good, but you might like to get them to sort out the sales copy you've got on your website which you say is "from the publisher". I spotted a few errors of punctuation in that piece, and it could do with a lot of tightening.

Quote:
Obviously there are unanswered questions such as the effectiveness of marketing, sales, delivery on royalties, post publication communication, and so on but Iím optimistic.

www.briandorseybooks.com
Good luck, Brian. I hope your book sells well.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:14 PM   #282
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McFarland provides to both public and university/college libraries. I think in many cases, depending on the work, they focus more on one or the other. As for my book, it is part of the Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies collection so most of the sales have been to university or college libraries.
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:24 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by Bdorsey View Post
A few works have bounced in and out of the top 100,000 for kindle sales (Shadow of the Mountain & Exile Empire are two examples that are fairly steady over the last few weeks-which I know doesnít yet show longevity) and D. A. Stoneís Shadow of the Mountain has also been in and out of the top 100 genre list for dark fantasy.
Those genre lists don't indicate much unless there are a lot of books (like, hundreds) with that same label. You can be in the top 100 of a genre but if there are only 125 other books in that genre, it doesn't mean much.

I can tell you of my own experience that once your Kindle rankings get into the six-figure range, you're talking a handful of monthly sales.

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Old 05-17-2014, 04:08 AM   #284
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Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
Those genre lists don't indicate much unless there are a lot of books (like, hundreds) with that same label. You can be in the top 100 of a genre but if there are only 125 other books in that genre, it doesn't mean much.

I can tell you of my own experience that once your Kindle rankings get into the six-figure range, you're talking a handful of monthly sales.

- Victoria
This is truth and about as accurate as you can get. It's easier to gain a top 100 spot in the rankings if the genre is more obscure than others, or others in it are doing poorly. I can also remember taking best-selling slots at other smaller retail sites, while doing average or poorly on Amazon. So much depends. It's a variable nightmare.

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Old 05-19-2014, 08:17 AM   #285
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Hi Everyone,

It's been a long time since my last post and at that time I had said that I would get back to you all in May. Well the time has finally come and I'm back to chat and provide some feedback and hopefully effectively address some of your concerns.

+++

Based on feedback from our accountant and attorney, there was a significant change made to the publishing contract. Mainly that the discussion of royalties payments though accurate we're too confusing for the layman. Taking into account that the vast majority of our authors negotiate their own contracts with us directly without the use of an agent of attorney it is imperative that the terms of the contract be as clean and directly understandable as possible.

With that the royalties is now worded based on the actual Gross Revenues of the book's sales. The actual amount and accounting is the same but allows for a far simpler means for our authors to understand how we account and pay royalties.

***Let me be clear the royalty is 25% of Gross Sales on eBooks and Print and 50% of revenues received on Licensed Rights.***

It was also clarified that we pay royalties in May and November of each year, this was a point among some, that may not have been as clearly discussed as I had intended it to be.

Additionally we have employed the use of a Negotiation Worksheet to streamline the contracting phase which is simple for the author to understand and fill out for themselves - effectively negotiating the most requested to be changed items on their own - we will of course review and negotiate all clauses in the contract if the author requests to do do.

The Worksheet does include all areas of Granted Rights which I know has been fiercely discussed on this thread for some time.

We have NOT gone back to paying advances, and I doubt that we will ever pay advances again. I am aware that this is an area of contention, but we're moving beyond this for now and dealing with other areas in TZPP's production and logistics that need fixing.

+++

We are paying out royalties this month and this will be completed (that is, the last checks sent) by the end of June - I know that there was some questions on whether we would actually make our Royalty payments when and as due, this is happening and all of the authors, artists, and staff will be able to attest to this as having happened by the end of June when the last check are mailed out.

Full Disclosure: As many of you know, TZPP's operations are personally funded by myself, which unfortunately has resulted in a small debt being owed to one Artist and several Authors from the last two Anthologies, due to an unexpected personal financial hardship through the last half of 2013. Additionally, author book copies for several authors have not yet been shipped. I have sent emails to those involved and all are aware that book copies will be shipped out after Royalties have been paid and in order of Date of Publication.

Now I know that many of you will comment on that fact that this is considered highly unprofessional or that this "would never happen at a large publisher" and I realize that both comments and thinking are valid. But please also take note that, we are upfront about where we are, and I am taking the necessary actions to correct the situations.

+++

I do want to jump into the conversation that managed to steam through 2 pages of the thread - Club Z.

Club Z is a tool that we use mainly for marketing. The people who are reading here, do provide feedback but are not influencing our decision to acquire or not. Club Z members are only being shown work that one of the Editors has decided they want to pick up. Often the Author will be given filtered or unfiltered commentary from the panels review of the book, but if the work is actually picked up, usually only marketing and the Editor actually see the commentary, and the editor will take that commentary into account when they go through the conceptual edits of the book. This is a tool for the Editor in that it can help to provide a second set of eyes from people who ARE NOT in the industry either as beta readers or interns or first readers - they are actual book buyers.

They were never meant to be "qualified" to edit a book, but simply to read it and tell us what they thought.

This is also a marketing tool - if they like the book, they can directly help us promote the book to the people in their sphere of influence.

These people all sign very strict NDAs and are very well aware of their responsibilities to safeguard the MSs they are given access to review - some of which are already signed, and others that are not yet signed.

+++

Growth prospects is obviously an area of discussion that has finally come up, and I would like to address that.

I'll reiterate that we are here and after 4 years we are still here. Our first regular publications did not actually begin until November 2013. Because we do operate on several imprints I view growth by the imprint, not necessarily by the company as a whole. This far Zharmae and Luthando Coeur have had regular publications between 1-3 titles per month. The other imprints will begin seeing publication regularly with 1-2 titles per month beginning in June 2014.

We have used this last quarter to fix problems in the actual production process which should provide a generally smoother experience for authors as well as company watchers. One area that I am personally actively developing is the Marketing Department which is an area that we have struggled with, partly due to not having certain assets available to us, but also due to using the first half of his year to train, and experiment with certain activities in marketing that did not yield the intended result but which did yield some other very interesting data that we plan on implementing.

+++

I've said this before (at least in my head) Zharmae is not for everyone. Those who do work with us, are generally happy with their experience with us, those who are not, have regular access to me and they do let their consternation and concerns be very well known.

I think there are more issues and concerns that you all may have, I will be back in a little while and will reply to any direct questions that are asked or me.

Otherwise, I'm glad to see such an lively conversation as always.

Best,

Travis
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Old 05-19-2014, 01:03 PM   #286
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Thank you for returning to the forum, traveo2343. Your transparency and honesty are greatly appreciated

I hope that you manage to get back in the black soon. The debt situation sounds stressful for all involved.

It's great to see you taking all the feedback here on board and working so hard to improve. Good luck with everything!
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Old 05-19-2014, 04:15 PM   #287
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I'm a bit confused about Club Z. Here you say:

Quote:
Originally Posted by traveo2343 View Post
Club Z is a tool that we use mainly for marketing. The people who are reading here, do provide feedback but are not influencing our decision to acquire or not. Club Z members are only being shown work that one of the Editors has decided they want to pick up.
Except on the Club Z info page, you say:

Quote:
You get to influence the likelihood of a manuscript going on to becoming a Zharmae published book.
Have things changed?
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:07 PM   #288
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Based on feedback from our accountant and attorney, there was a significant change made to the publishing contract. Mainly that the discussion of royalties payments though accurate we're too confusing for the layman.
I would love to see the new contract, if you'd care to share it with me.

Quote:
***Let me be clear the royalty is 25% of Gross Sales on eBooks and Print and 50% of revenues received on Licensed Rights.***
How exactly do you define "gross sales"? I ask because I've seen contracts where it was defined as list price, and other contracts where it was defined as net revenue.

In the small press world, this kind of terminology tends to be fluid (to use the kindest word), and you can't assume that any two (or three, or more) small presses will define the same terms the same way. (Which is why it's so important that a contract include a precise definition of terms like "gross sales" or "gross revenues" or "sales price" or "net" or any other terminology used in connection with the payment of royalties.)

- Victori
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:58 PM   #289
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Hello, hello,

In regards to the Club Z, yes, commentary can influence an editors decision to acquire the novel if they feel that the feedback is particularly negative and they have no idea how to overcome those concerns during revisions, however, this would likely be the case in a situation where an editor is on the fence about the book.

The Club Z members have no direct contact with the authors, like you mig be with bets readers, thus there is no possible means for a reader to directly make changes to an author's work.

Again, we do take their feedback and utilize it in our efforts to revise the work, and to market the work.

+++

Victoria, I think that I still have your email address, I'll forward the contract over to you in the next day or so. Feel free to email me as we'll at tgrundy@zharmae.com
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:15 PM   #290
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Thank you, Travis.

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Old 06-10-2014, 11:04 PM   #291
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My experience, for what it's worth:

I was one of the winners of Zharmae's 2013 short story competition. We went through a moderately painful contract negotiation; while all Zharmae documents recommended talking with a lawyer, I got the impression they were surprised that I requested changes. After a month or two of back and forth, we ended up with a contract - imperfect, but adequate.


I didn't hear from them again. I've had stories in some other anthologies, and in my experience these things can take time for a young firm. I waited, waited, and then put it at the back of my mind. After most of a year, I sent a query. No answer. Exactly a year from the contract date, I sent a rescission letter - canceling the contract and reclaiming all rights. That, they answered, saying that they thought they had answered me, and that short stories were now handled by their imprint Max Avalon.


It's possible that their e-mail went astray (though all others came through fine). And I'm not much harmed by this; my story was off the market for a year, but that's not a crisis in this case. What troubles me is a lackadaisical attitude - instead of the payment we negotiated, I got a much-delayed letter saying "Oh yeah. Sorry." Not much reward for pretty substantial (ok, excessive) patience.


That's just one person's experience, and I admit that I didn't exactly pester Zharmae with requests for status updates. Still, based on this experience, I don't see working with them again, and I can't recommend them to anyone else.
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Old 06-12-2014, 01:47 AM   #292
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My experience, for what it's worth:

I was one of the winners of Zharmae's 2013 short story competition. We went through a moderately painful contract negotiation; while all Zharmae documents recommended talking with a lawyer, I got the impression they were surprised that I requested changes. After a month or two of back and forth, we ended up with a contract - imperfect, but adequate.


I didn't hear from them again. I've had stories in some other anthologies, and in my experience these things can take time for a young firm. I waited, waited, and then put it at the back of my mind. After most of a year, I sent a query. No answer. Exactly a year from the contract date, I sent a rescission letter - canceling the contract and reclaiming all rights. That, they answered, saying that they thought they had answered me, and that short stories were now handled by their imprint Max Avalon.


It's possible that their e-mail went astray (though all others came through fine). And I'm not much harmed by this; my story was off the market for a year, but that's not a crisis in this case. What troubles me is a lackadaisical attitude - instead of the payment we negotiated, I got a much-delayed letter saying "Oh yeah. Sorry." Not much reward for pretty substantial (ok, excessive) patience.


That's just one person's experience, and I admit that I didn't exactly pester Zharmae with requests for status updates. Still, based on this experience, I don't see working with them again, and I can't recommend them to anyone else.
In all honesty, I think they're lost among themselves. Sort of like the Roman Empire (without the greatness), they've spread themselves so thin they can't keep track of anything.

I queried them twice. No response either time, despite the fact they insisted they responded or would respond. *shrugs* I almost completely forgot that fact until I read your post.

Suffice to say, I wouldn't recommend even bothering to query them. Just my two cents.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:17 AM   #293
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Old Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsOld Hack is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Last November Travis promised to send me some review copies of the books he'd published:

Quote:
Originally Posted by traveo2343 View Post
Old Hack,

Please feel free to PM me your address and I will send you a few copies.
I did PM him my address, but I didn't ever receive those review copies.

Just tidying up loose ends.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:19 AM   #294
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Sounds like the Bermuda Triangle of small presses. With their non-response on so many critical issues, they're certainly not doing themselves any favors here.
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