Every so often I come across something on which I'd like to get Sensei Dean Wesley Smith's thoughts. I try not waste his time with garbage but yesterday I came across an intriguing new idea by a man named Lou Aronica. Lou's new imprint, Fiction Studio Books followed me on Twitter yesterday. I clicked on the link to their website and I read a very interesting story about Lou's career in literary publishing and the reason why he was deciding to launch this new imprint. You can read his story here.
Taking a piece from his site, I'll let Lou describe his new concept in his own words:
"The Fiction Studio imprint will be the home for very good writers who have as yet to win the lottery. It is an invitation-only publishing program – I consider no submissions – for writers whose work I love who have decided to try a different path to publishing success. Fiction Studio will publish these books in both paperback and e-book formats (there will be the occasional hardcover as well), the writers will have a huge level of equity in their publications, and because of this, they will participate in their publications at their highest possible level.
I am putting a premium on professionalism with this imprint. The books will look great and they will have extremely high editorial values. While I learned a long time ago that readers don’t care about imprints (no one goes out looking for a Viking book, for instance), I want the Fiction Studio imprint to tell readers that they can rely on the quality of the work. Everyone associated with the program – from the editors to the copyeditors to the cover designers to the marketing and publicity people – have many years of experience at major publishing houses."
I shot it off to Dean and as always, Dean replied promptly. I had a funny feeling that, because of their long tenures in the literary publishing business that Dean and Lou may have known each other. Well, I was right.
I won't quote Dean's reply here because I didn't ask for his permission to (just didn't want to bother him again with another email) but the gist of his reply was that Lou Aronica and his new imprint are the real deal! Indeed, Dean and Lou are longtime friends dating back to their brick-n-mortar publishing days and are still in contact with each other. Dean also confirmed that anything with which Lou Aronica would associate his name or create would always be interesting.
I was glad to hear that because I think Lou's new imprint, in its very mission statement addresses a key issue of self-published and indy-published works ... and that's quality!
I've been brewing an idea to try and create an association of self-publishers - perhaps branded "NASP - The National Association of Self-Publishers." The reason I've tossed this idea around is because I think one of the main issues going forward in this 'New World of Publishing,' as DWS dubbed it, is product quality. Product quality would incorporate all aspects of a published, written work from the editing to the cover design. Notice I didn't say from the 'writing' to the cover design. I purposely omitted writing because I believe writing is the creative and unique aspect of the art form. I wouldn't ever want to place some subjective quality standard on the art itself - just on the craft associated with publishing the art.
In other words, I believe, for the sake and protection of the folks ... the readers and potential consumers - that they would benefit from some type of quality standard. For decades, readers have been able to depend on TRADPUB to uphold quality standards and for the most part, they have done a fine job of it. Even the indy/boutique publishers have made strides towards maintaining a certain level of quality for their published works. However, in this new age of self-publishing, there simply is no quality 'standard.' Quality is left up to each individual self-publisher and the results, in this newbie SELFPUBBERS opinion, have been horrendous! Just click on an average SELFPUBBED work on Smashwords and you'll see what I mean. Forget about our own individual tastes as to about what is being written. I'm talking about punctuation and grammar! Run-on sentences ... partial sentences ... misspelled words ... incomprehensible paragraphs ... chaotic changes of voice ... YIKES!!! It makes me embarrassed to even publish on Smashwords and that's a shame!
I have a real problem with that because the folks consider all self-published works as being part of ONE type of publishing - read:SELF-PUBLISHED.
To illustrate, ask a reader/consumer what he/she thinks of self-published works and they will almost ALWAYS answer in a UNIVERSAL way ... something like "...most of it is garbage" or "...poor quality books."
My point: If consumers view self-published works in a universal way (all the same) then the only way to change any negative perception they have of the medium is to establish a universal STANDARD.
That's easier said than done. I won't go into all the problems associated with establishing a standard here but suffice to say, it is a daunting task - but one I think that would ultimately benefit the consumers and as a result would benefit all reputable self-publishers.
Getting back to Lou's imprint, I think he is addressing that core concern with non-TRADPUBBED literary works - that is, QUALITY!
To this author, Fiction Studio Books is one of the first HYBRID imprints. It combines the talent and expertise of TRADPUB with the new 'estributor' model and incorporates many of the benefits of self-publishing, including, as Lou puts it, "huge level of equity in their publications." The result will invariably be indy-published works adhering to a QUALITY STANDARD that would rival TRADPUB.
Now that's sexy to me! While Lou's imprint isn't a universal solution to the quality standard problem inherent with self-publishing, it is a step in the right direction. I'll go into more detail on what it would take to establish a quality standard in self-publishing in my next posts and hey .. would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the topic!
Self-publishing is a global community and like any community, there should be some way for the folks of differentiating a 5-star restaurant from a ptomaine shack before the customer get the bill!
Moving on ... author Barry Eisler just penned a six-figure deal with the new Amazon venture becoming one of their frontlist author's. You can read about it here.
Barry passed up a half-million dollar deal from St. Martin's Press, in the process. Congratulations to Barry Eisler and Amazon! This author is very excited about the Amazon/Larry Kirshbaum ship.
Here's one interesting piece from the article:
"It is expected that Kirshbaum will make 10-15 hires for the office that he will set up somewhere in Manhattan, as real estate has to be found as well as people. It is also expected that he will be publishing in digital format while Houghton Mifflin Harcourt takes care of the print versions of his books. However, what was confirmed by several publishers, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, is that Philip Patrick, who recently joined Amazon from Random House’s Crown subsidiary, was trawling the exhibition hall looking for publishers other than HMH who would be willing to license print versions of Amazon-originated digital works.
In other words, it seems to be traveling back to the future, seeing itself in the role of the traditional hardcover house looking to find a paperback reprinter, only the hardcovers have morphed into e-books and the paperbacks have morphed into hardcovers. What was crystal clear was the reaction of one publisher whom Patrick had approached: 'Think of how hard it would be for our sales force to sell that to B&N!'”
All that means is that the new Amazon venture is a work-in-progress but it will undoubtedly become one of the premier shapers of, as DWS branded it, the 'New World of Publishing's' landscape!
On the JarRyJorNo Publishing home front - I just finished uploading the revisions for the third edition of _The Watchman of Ephraim_. Currently, the status with my distributors is:
+Smashwords - Pending approval of Premium Status
+CreateSpace - Awaiting mailed proof of trade paper version
+Lightning Source/INGRAM - Awaiting mailed print-run, hardcover and trade paper versions.
I decided to forgo the proof-stage from LS/INGRAM with the anticipation that there will be no problems with my revision. By doing so, JarRyJorNo will save a few dollars - LS charges more for proofs than print-run copies. The trade-off is that by forgoing the proof stage, I will not be able to make changes unless I create another revision (costing more bucks). It will be a learning experience for me, either way..
Also, I'm making steady progress writing _Signs of War_ and am on pace to have it published by September. As you know, this year marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and as you may also know _The Watchman of Ephraim_ novel incorporates 9/11 and its 10th anniversary. In fact, the entire series stems from 9/11 so it is important for JarRyJorNo to publish _SoW_ so that it is available by September 11th.
(Please feel free to leave comments – your comments can be as helpful as anything I write for others. I hope this series turns out to be less my talking at you and more – a group of like-minded storytellers that self-publish or intend to. Peace & God Bless!)
About Gerard de Marigny
Gerard de Marigny is an American novelist and screenplay writer. His newest release is WHITE WIDOW (Cris De Niro, Book 7) and he is currently writing the sequel to the Amazon-Bestselling Modern War Western, JOSHUA'S COUNTRY.
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