Lies told about small presses

There is an article up on A Writer’s Path by Steven Capps called Lies told by small presses and as a person running a small press I’d like to offer some thoughts about the authors diatribe.
Here at Superversive Press we endeavour to provide value to our writers and we take a percentage of that to cover our cost and time. There seems to be this strange idea that there is such a thing as a free lunch. I assume the author doesn’t write or read Science Fiction or else I assume he would be familiar with the acronym TANSTAAFL.
Onto the so called “lies” that small presses tell authors. The first seems the most egregious and brimming with weird misinformation.

Lie #1 New authors don’t get advances

Here at Superversive Press we don’t pay advances to our authors. It would be nice but we are a small decentralized operation and we don’t have the funds upfront to pay a large advance to an authors. I make no secret of this. The bit I don’t understand though is, who the hell is paying a new author an advance? An advance is money I pay you upfront for work not yet written for you to live on against future earnings. If you are a new author trying to get a first book published are you submitting half finished manuscripts to presses expecting them to pay you to finish it? Maybe that goes on, I’ve never encountered that. If the work is finished why am I paying you an advance when all the work left to do is on my end?
I suppose I could pay you an initial payment upfront to secure your work but if you are a new author who hasn’t sold any books before with no data on how well your book would sell, why would you expect me to take that sort of a risk on you? That is a serious question.
Additionally it fails to appreciate something important about publishing. If Superversive Press takes on your book and agrees to publish it, then goes on to provide editing services, cover art services, promotional help etc, then we are giving you an advance by bearing that cost ourselves. Go and try and self publish a book, editing and covers aren’t free. The press is essentially giving you an entirely unsecured loan of that money to get your book published and charging you 0% interest on that money. Go to a bank and see if they are willing to float you a few thousand dollars to get your book published with an unsecured loan. You can expect an interest rate in the 15% – 20% range on a loan like that. If your book sells 4 copies the press will have to eat that loss, none of the contracts I have ever seen offer a provision for the press to recoup that investment if the book does terribly.
If you self publish you bear all that cost and risk yourself and you get to reap all the reward, if you go with a small press then you get to reap less of the reward because the press will take a percentage too to repay them for the risk and faith they showed in you. Superversive Press contracts normally pay the authors a good chunk of the money earned, certainly an order of magnitude more than the 6% the Big 5 typically pay authors.
You can decide to self publish yourself if you want but you bear all the risk and costs yourself as well. There are no right or wrong answers to the question just different trade offs made for different approaches.

Lie #2: Publishers don’t help with marketing

This is sort of a half truth. He is right, a small press will not have the muscle with book retailers that one of the Big 5 does. Which lunatic thinks they do? Will you get books prominently displayed in book stores if you go with any small press? Probably not, they lack the resources and the clout to get that. That being said, self publishing will never get you that, and publishing with a Big 5 publisher wont either unless you are bringing them in a lot of money.
If you are a superstar author then I’m sure you can get superstar author treatment by people with deep pockets. But new authors aren’t superstars yet and expecting to be treated like one is madness.
The author also seems to forget that the big publishers who give you all this promotion and have all this clout also take a really enormous share of your earnings. 94% remember! I don’t know the authors background but I have played in bands and worked in the tech industry for start ups. People with money who come along and fund your band/invention/book want a return on their investment and the more they do for you upfront the bigger slice of the pie they will want to do it.
As with all things in life, everything is a trade off and their ain’t no free lunches.

Lie #3: Authors need to pay for editing

This is one of those sections that has some half truths in it. I agree if the press said “You pay for the editing yourself we don’t do that” then that would be a red flag. That being said, if an author wanted a particular editor and turned around and demanded we pay for that editor then I would probably pass on the book. Whoever pays for the editor gets control over who does the editing.
That being said, the author always ends up paying for the editor. The author pays for everything involved in one way or another by either paying for it themselves or giving over a percentage of the work to the publisher to have them do that job instead. The author is still ultimately paying one way or the other, either covering a cost up front and reaping a greater return or deferring an upfront cost in exchange for smaller future earnings. There are no free lunches no matter how much people seems to want there to be a free lunch.

Final Thoughts

In the final thoughts section it is claimed that without an advance an author is always better off self publishing. If by “no advance” it means an author bears all the costs for themselves upfront and handles all of the distribution and money themselves, then yeah, it makes perfect sense to self publish instead. Heck, that is self publishing. You take on all the costs you get all the rewards. If you go with a publisher or any size, they take on some of the risk and get some of the reward as well.
If you want to self publish it basically means becoming a small publisher yourself with all the paperwork and hassle that goes along with that. A publisher takes some or all of that burden away an leaves you free to write. I’d encourage all authors to make whatever trade off works best for them. There are no wrong choices here just different ones.
If you are interested in publishing with Superversive Press then drop us a line, editor@superversivepress.com.
If you would like to support some small press authors check out these books from Superversive Press

Steampunk Live stream and launch party!

Coming up on this month on our livestream we have Jon Del Arroz and others talking about all things Steampunk and celebrating the launch of his new book For Steam and Country.

Grab For Steam and Country Now!


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Quatermaster General a quick review

I picked up a great game from Amazon called Quartermaster General by Griggling Games.

In Quatermaster General you play as a team made up of either Axis or Allied powers with 2 – 6 players. The number of players determines how many of the powers each player will have. It is an interesting cooperative game where either the Allies or the Axis win by amassing the most victory points or capturing two of the other sides home cities. The cooperation comes from either all winning or all losing as a team and each player has a deck of cards that determines what they can do in a turn. Some of these cards help out an ally rather than the player themselves.
The interesting mechanic in the game, and the one that gives it its name, is the way you don’t build armies and move them around but instead construct chains of supply. You can only advance as far as the end of your supply chain and having one cut will destroy all unsupplied units further down the chain. Which makes long thin supply lines dangerous.
Over all the game is fun to play and an inexpensive purchase that I would highly recommend if you want a game to play with friends. The rules are quick and easy to learn but the randomness provided by the card decks and the cooperation required between powers to win make for a variable and fun game with a lot of replayability.

The racists come out in force against Jon Del Arroz for being Hispanic

So it seems the cntl-left has it in for Amazon Best selling author of Star Realms: Rescue Run and Superversive SF author Jon Del Arroz.

Is this a sign of the times of the divisive legacy that Barrack Obama left us?

(San Francisco) Hispanic novelist Jon Del Arroz receives threats of being “shooed out of the country” by alt-left internet trolls after writing a daring column for The Federalist about blackballing practices in the comic book industry. Obama supporter and white male Daniel Lee Brandt, from flyover state Indiana, sent further microaggressions by typing in all caps to him.

The situation was further amplified by blonde, white male and alt-left troll C. Thomas Hand, former RPG writer of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG aggressing toward Mr. Del Arroz with devastatingly racist bullying words such as “F- off” and seemingly considering HIspanics “generally horrible people.”

President Barrack Obama’s supporters have become increasingly hostile to minorities like Mr. Del Arroz since his frightening 2008 rallies, which have been likened to the kind that Hitler held. Mr. Obama so far has refused to disavow these supporters.

When will the madness end and what do we make of the silence of the left in the face of this excrebale behavior on the part of their members?

Poem: The Olive Pressed

We have some more guest poetry from Cameron Wood who blog at Cultural Rumbles

The Olive Pressed

I.

The Olive Tree that would my wild branch tame
Stood meekly by the pure spring drinking life
Unblemished, until false accusers came
With biting nails and hammers forged for strife,
And broke the mighty branches of that tree
Then razed it to Golgotha, drawing blood
While harsh ropes bound the tree in cutting tether.
The Pure Olive prayed: this I do for thee,
And – pressed – wept oil upon the blood-stained wood,
Which oil would sanctify all pure endeavor.

Thus issued forth the stream no sin could still,
To flood the thirsty cup of absolution.
And as accusers raged upon that hill
The Tree did weep the tears of purification
For sin-stained folk who would clean garments show.
For on the Olive Tree mixed blood and oil
Within the crushing press of our deepest pains;
And from such bitter drink the Tree does know
Our every leaf and root, and won’t recoil
From washing us until no dross remains.

II.

When, fasting, I came to the Olive Cross–
My wild branch in hand and heavily borne–
I thought that sacrifice was naught but loss,
And that such loss would end in bitter mourn,
Because I loved my sins. While the old wants laughed,
I tended to my branch as best I could,
But all that graced my branch when I was done
Was one weak blossom, so I took to graft
Onto my branch a Tree-grown shoot that would
Abet my own, for loneness grieved my one.

With two tame blossoms on my branch I knelt
And gave humble prayer upon that hill,
And wept for pain that all my years I’d felt;
Then I took symbols which I hoped would fill
My soul, and with hands still moist with oil
I poured a sacral drink and broke my bread,
And blessed them, reverencing the Olive torn.
Then succor came, abating my heart’s toil;
And saw I that which cast away my dread:
Pure olives from my blossoms had been born.

III.

That day the Olive Tree to me did say:
Canst thou be joyful even in duress?
Then came to me deep trials through which the only way
To pass did lay my fruits upon the Press.
My heart did sorrow, but in life’s stone crush
Sweet oil flowed out; then heard I through my rue:
Dost now though understand my love for thee?
And so again my verdant branch grew lush.
Heard I: As by thy pressed fruit I know you,
So by that very fruit dost thou know me.

And then upon the hill the Tree became
An Altar made of polished olive wood,
Enquiring me if all my fruit I’d tame,
Enquiring if I’d bind there all I could.
I wondered, could I sacrifice my all?
How could I not? The olives in my hand
Did show how trials had purged away the dross.
Thus, grafted to the Altar, straight and tall,
My branch became a tree that burst its band.
Heard I: True sacrifice is never loss.

IV.

In time I grew to ancient age as well;
My branches and my roots entwined complete
The Altar where upon my knees I fell
And where by grafting I did live replete.
My child, it said to me the day I died,
The Husbandman awaits, art though afraid?
Ah, dearest Lord, I smiled, I have no fears,
For it was Thee who blessed me when I cried,
And it is at Thy Altar I am laid,
And so beyond death’s veil you’ll kiss my tears.

For thou art Husbandman and Olive Tree,
And thou art Olive pure and Olive pressed,
So, too, Thou art the Altar at my knee,
Where spilled the blood and oil with which I’m blessed.
Well said, my child, well said! Thou hast been true;
‘Twere in my Press you overcame thy gall,
My blood and oil I gave as Olive Tree,
As Altar Pure thy best-grown fruits I knew,
As Husbandman I wash and dress thy all;
Now come, dear friend, and know Eternity!

by Cameron C. Wood
copyright 2017