Friday, March 28, 2008

A couple things... New Concepts Publishing.

Now I hate to complain and beat a dead horse, but I am one of those chicks who thinks of the great things to say after the fact. Soo, good freakin thing Ima writer eh folks?
Anyway, last night I had a couple of beers and stumbled across this blog about New Concepts Publishing.

A word on the use of multiple pseudonyms.

I myself have always been a rather creative person, This has lead me down many roads some I am more proud of than others. Should something ever be taken out of context, from anything other than a learning experience as most things tend to be when you are young and trying to find your way in the world, I would hate to see some work get dropped from pub-houses simply because they published other works that run perpendicular to the past history of any author. Learning from everything, you can and sharing what you discover while going through the entire process should be a priceless commodity to everyone, and therefore shared if you care about your craft. Thank God for the Internet, but sadly this is not always the case. Some things receive more negative attention than they can possibly bring positive to. So, I use pseudonyms in my writing. Also I have a really bad habit of drinking-and-blogging. It’s always good to have a deny button should you need time to feel as brave as you did the night before. Or someone feels they were a major force in your writing despite the fact you maybe haven’t talked to them in 15 years. Hey, it happens. Pseudonyms certainly serve their purpose and I think they are a great tool for writers as well as felons. However, you might find that like a felon, if you can’t stick to the same couple-few, maybe you need to focus, regroup, and change genre.

NCP states most if not all of their graphics artists DO NOT read the books they are making covers for! Therefore, should you express your wishes and ideas in clear questionnaire format (LOLOL)--you might get A when you wanted B, but even worse, are stuck with whatever the result is because homeboy doesn’t do romance. Again, I am forced, with fierce recognition that they do not hire people that care about their craft. A lineup of babes with killer bods that screw like rabbits with long sun-bleached hair dividing their time between graphics art and finding the “sickest waves, bro” are what you get. (Fine call me a labeler. I confess). Moreover, artists have complained an author made a request and their art was murdered with a slop job color change. Eeek!

As an avid Incredmail junkie, I know so many creative women who actually do care about their work and the romance industry, as devoted readers. How about someone in the position to do so, recognize that there is a niche here that can only benefit everyone in the long run. Let’s face it, giving professional stay-at-home-moms a say in the industry they create is a frakkin awesome idea. In my “expert” opinion, (LOL) should have been thought of much sooner. These women make breathtaking graphics daily just for kicks, and love our books. No one else is thinking chocolate and peanut butter here?

Regardless of your feelings or experience with one (and I am stressing the “one” here ladies (& gents should there be any) publishing house, there is one undeniable fact: NETWORKING IS THE KEY TO LIFE. The free exchange of information is the most important lesson in all of this. Anyone, any company, any house e or print, should not only be aggressively disenfranchised, should they threaten, or blackmail, or hint the least bit of bully to anyone of us, publisher or author, housewife or executive, but all of us must deal with them swiftly and justly. For there is nothing quite so deplorable as someone who preaches free speech and collects an income from it, but clearly can’t stand free speakers!

Olive branch: NCP along with the immediate release of all requested works, should also extend the anti-blacklist invitation for the writer to come back at another time. Perhaps even in an annual multi-writer publishing, of all authors that previously were unhappy. Free publicity for all with all proceeds going to women’s foundations, domestic abuse comes to mind. Or the financiering of an underprivileged inner city/backwoods author who otherwise wouldn’t dream of it.

I blog when I booze, fair warning to all.
I was looking to publish years ago through an e-book company. I had a ton of books written, and my husband was bitching at me to do something with them for all the damn hours I spend typing away like a crazed word-junkie.
That said, I surveyed many of the e-houses (that’s what I call em’) I carefully scrutinized and dug for complaints. First thing I noticed is they are not a Better Business Bureau accredited business. (tiny flag its an e-thing)
New Concepts sounded great, but as a small business owner and a debate group moderator, I was very leery. Though some great authors I had become friendly with published there, I noticed right away that their sizzling sellers section was extremely out of date. (thus removed recently after what 4 years?) So out of date that I had to wonder WTF was going on where they didn’t even update their best sellers list? Any idiot knows this is how you tell newbies what is coming, and newbies are your bread and butter if you plan to last. It became clear everyone who bought or published was directed to a group where authors gave things away, and the publisher announced what was coming. Great idea and fun, but to do this and not update your very own website? This told me right away that someone was lazy. I can only expect correspondence as well as other time-oriented aspects of this company would be handled in the same I got out of bed at 2PM because I closed the bar last night, manner. This phrase will be referred to again–it is a metaphor only. I do not actually know if these people party like rock stars. Therefore, I want to make it clear that I myself being a childless adult writer, often do. I am however, not running a publishing house.
It is also clear to me the “author liaison” is just an aspiring author himself, as he certainly does give it a go, however poorly, in his posts. More than likely the poor sap just likes to write and took the position out of the kindness of his heart, and because NCP isn’t getting out of bed until 2PM, and with hangover, they could care less as long as someone is doing it free. It was made clear this person only took the position because the last person either quit, or jumped the proverbial praising perch to voice some of her own opinions about the plethora of slackers that run the joint.
There are a lot of good authors out there that never get published. Maybe, it is not such a horrible thing that they have the opportunity to show-and-grow on these lesser run e-houses. Though in a perfect world all houses would conduct themselves with glory and the idea that things must be done correctly and beneficial for all, if they are to last.
The person makes it clear, look we aren’t hiring a super editor to edit your work. You should learn to do it anyhow and by doing it yourself; you save us cash and thus increase your chances for publication. You know by this–very clearly, they do not edit most works, if any, because he wants you to submit your work, as you want to see it and expect no changes. Well hello? LOLOLOLOL!!! Even the best authors need editing. By the time I am done editing I have read a work so many times that a repetitive paragraph could be staring me in the face, I would probably, and have, missed it.
As far as favoritism, well yeah of course. It is all about making money, any agent or publishing house should not have to tell you; if you don’t sell well you aren’t going to be getting advertising dollars wasted on you and therefore, self promoting is always a great idea. Free blogs, and Myspace and Yahoo groups and so many other forms make it too easy for an author to work their magic. It only makes sense because any authors I find myself enamored with, I want to know as much as possible about them. Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of this well known fact is either lazy, or doesn’t get it. You should have your own website, blog, self promotion thing where you talk to your fans (aka bread and butter).
Another thing I have learned having run some smaller companies in my short 33 years is this; you have to decide if you are going to close or expand a small business right from the start. There is no in-between, you decide either you don’t want to hire more people and make more money, or you do and are constantly striving for the goal of expansion and growth. You see this with a LOT of small business owners. They start off with some success after quite a brawl and think they have learned everything there is to learn, and know everything there is to know about their business. This appears to be the case with NCP that either they changed the original plan from just publishing their own works, with no real plan to be a successful e-house, and only fell into it because the market was so great at the time, or something has gone terribly wrong there, either physically or mentally, and the business is no longer the main concern. Ie, closing the bar and getting up to go to work at 2PM. One can only deduce that being a successful publishing house for the long run, is not their current goal. The only proof one needs for this, is the unpaid position of just anyone to be an “author liaison”.
I have to say I think the previous AL (?) James, (insert home James joke here) said it best; there are two kinds of artists. Ones that write for themselves and for pleasure and ones that write for pay as well as pleasure (commercial). Most agents and houses will tell you they have to be able to market your product and you must be professional about it and roll with the punches. I think NCP is great if you just write for pleasure, and do not actually care how you works sell, nor generating devoted readers for life. Clearly, they are lax at being professionals and a commercial artist would hopefully think twice before publishing with them. I believe many commercial artists who are established with NCP, now publish through huge print houses, and only leave their older works and short stories to generate publicity which is ultimately still making royalties, sitting at NCP. Who wouldn’t?
Put simply, if you have no idea what you are doing, but only know you must write, NCP isn’t a bad place to start, but there should be no doubt, there is better out there. Everything from day one is a learning experience. If you lose out, or are screwed over, my father always had this saying, “call it tuition for the education you just received.” The man has a point, though I would be hard pressed to admit that to him. (grrr dad!)
There is much room for improvement throughout the e-house industry, though from my own personal experience, I would not ever have thought my gritty, self indulgent, sociopathic, demented yet lovable characters, could ever have found a home let alone a following. E-houses are the entire reason I went for it. I knew I didn’t have to fit into certain rules and e-houses were nothing if not risk takers.
I think we can all thank God for that.
Moreover, not for nothing, but I have seen some serious typos on the best and most published author’s work. It just happens and many things can contribute. A recent release from a major reputable house comes directly to mind, and was just spell-check-fodder. I had to reread many things because they just kept popping out at me and completely destroyed the story. Though in hindsight I suppose reading in the bathroom as little time as I spend in there, more than likely, did not give it it’s due. Or perhaps it did….HA!
I believe this to be true, if nothing else in this industry; it is like managing a fish tank, a career, or the best thing to use for cleaning out bloodstains from white fabric; everyone will tell you something different and it is up to you to learn what is best for YOU. If NCP has worked great for you and you feel like you are being well taken care of, by all means, if it aint broke… But if there is something rotten in Denmark, make sure you follow your contract and like any contract you must use actual paper with signature to get out of it, and within the time frame allotted by the contract. I have a feeling some of these authors, submit, get through, are just happy to have a contract, and then are relaxed about getting a notice to quit letter in with 90 days notice. Also, hearing this is a classic feature in their contracts I cannot help but to be reminded of the time I signed up for 4 free magazines, only to be charges 400 bucks a few weeks later when I did not write them in an actual letter and tell them I wasn’t interested. Sure, efficient for them, but if you aren’t on your game you are going to get taken advantage of, and I gotta say, if you signed that without knowing, ya learned something didn’t ya?
I think what has happened here is the Internet finally caught up with bad business practices. They signed an author or two and were body-slammed back into reality when she got bloggy on their ass. Good for her and any publisher worth their salt knows this is part of the business. Not everyone gets along, but I thought we all learned that from Oscar The Grouch.
I dare say all of this could have been avoided if you find an agent that believes in you and you hire them to handle the particulars for you. With a little research into your genre you can find an agent who more than pays for their 10% the first contract. Any publisher is glad to work with agents because these things do not happen nearly as often, and your agent, not you takes the fall or any bad blood—which is their job. Your editing is done, and done well, so regardless of the lax methods of the house, you don’t put out a crappy product. Who can say 100% that a poorly edited work only reflects on the publisher, and doesn’t hurt the writers career. If I buy one of your books, and it sucks, or is a pain to read, I probably won’t buy from you again for a while, if you last that long, until you have time to get your act together.
NCP, if they had any idea how monumentally bad this negative publicity is for them, would hire an agent of their own to clean up this mess. The fact they have not speaks volumes.
I hope everyone who has read this blog and who has learned as much as I have from it, accepts this to be true; NCP can turn this around if they do it genuinely and sincerely. A public apology would be a great start, along with the immediate release of any and all works that have been requested heretofore.
NCP if you are reading this, and I believe more-than-likely you are, do not waste time arguing, you blew it, hire a professional and fix it. If you have sucked from the start, and only now the Internet is catching up with you in blogs like this and , if you want to stay in business, hire someone to handle all this for you, or maybe it is time to buy a yacht with the money you get from selling to someone who will care. A change in ownership or management can often times rejuvenate a great idea, into a great company. If you love your company, it doesn’t matter who is at fault, its long since time to do something about it.
Either way, a public apology can go a long way to show that you are eager to do the right thing in the future, even if possibly you somehow dropped the ball. Just ask my husband, he is an apologetic genius, I tell ya.

Very Truly Yours,
Nicoel Suzanne
Aka Paxton Hood

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