Has anyone not heard yet that Triskelion Publishing has claimed bankruptcy and is closing their doors? The news has quite a lot of authors pondering their options. It is so far unclear as to whether rights to their books under contract with the company will be reverted to them or sold off to try to recover some of Triskelion's debts.
Yep, it's possible the rights to the books could be sold to the highest bidder. Is that fair to the authors? Of course not. It is business, and publishing is big business.
At the moment, sales of Triskelion books are on hold, meaning promotional efforts that have gone into them are being lost. More importantly, authors will not be making income from contracted books and those who have series started with the company must put the series on hold.
Why? When you contract with a publisher for a series, not only the finished books are under contract, but so are any books using the same characters. Authors are receiving unsolicited advice to move forward and work on something else and realize it's just a business. The problem is ... are our books really just business? Are our characters so easily expendable? They've also been told getting a lawyer would be a good idea. How many can afford that?
I've been out marketing a fair amount recently. Joining forums and mailing lists with other authors and readers gives me a bit of an oddball feeling when I see authors of this or the other publishing company (small press) banding together for chats and contests and such. I see the community we don't have as indie authors and can't help wondering again about my decision.
And then a publisher closes business and pushes me back into reality.
When we indie publish and retain all rights to our work, we guard ourselves against such business practices. If whatever company we use for printing and distribution closes, we simply pick up our books and place them elsewhere. Granted, we may be out set up fees, but our books are still ours.
Also this week, a young beginning writer with whom I have contact sent out a message saying he'd been contacting writer's agencies and was accepted. The agency accepting him answered within a week's time and said they thought they could sell his so-far unfinished book; his first written novel. This is a writer with no formal training and only recently started. His story is good. It's in a well-selling genre. But it's not ready for an agent.
I used my research skills, picked up the name of the accepting Literary Agency, and did some digging. Not surprisingly, they are on the Preditors & Editors list of "highly unrecommended" agencies (see link below). Looking further, I found them also on the Better Business Bureau site with unresolved complaints. Apparently, they charge no fees for reading or submitting, but they do later charge "administration" fees that get fairly steep, with no confirmation any of the work was performed and no history of actual sales to publishers.
I passed the info along to the writer, emphasizing he shouldn't be discouraged because there are tons of these preditors out there and when the book is ready, it will find a home. I bring it up here as a warning. The cliche about something being too good to be true is usually more than just a cliche.
Publishing Company Highlight
Trafford Publishing is well advertised in writing circles, so I was curious as to how they compare to other companies:
Trafford's site says it was the world's first print-on-demand publisher, opening for business in 1995. They belong to the Better Business Bureau and their site is very professional, including the technical business name and shareholder information.
On first inspection, I'm impressed with the variety of services offered. Along with paperbacks, Trafford does hardcover books, ebooks, and children's picture books. They also offer extra options as in two paper choices, laminated or non-laminated covers, and book size (most companies offer varying sizes). Based in Canada, they also provide services to many countries and provide quotes in different currencies.
Along the lines of most PODs, Trafford specifically says, "You keep your copyright, and all other marketing rights." They offer free publishing guides by mail, and I would encourage getting one before making a final decision.
Setup: Depends on package selected; from $1499 which includes announcing some marketing materials and advertising, along with 40 copies of the book and sales from their online bookstore, to $699 for 10 copies of the book and setup only. (Setup includes ISBN assignment and storing the book in their system.)
Chart comparison: http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/yourbookneeds.html?178144259-6722aaa
Revisions: any revision after book is submitted is at author's expense ($55 an hour plus proof)
Cover art: Author provides cover, no stock covers available
Annual host fee: None. Your book is maintained in their database and print-ready until you tell them to pull it out.
Total cost: Cost of books vary depending on page number and format.
Distribution: Listing in Baker & Taylor, Ingrams, and with Amazon.com, Borders.com, and Barnes & Noble ONLY with $1399 package. No distribution for other packages. $999 package will include listing in Trafford's bookstore while $699 package does not.
Royalties: 60% of "gross margin on each sale," which means retail price minus discounts given. Discounts vary upon who buys them (libraries get 15%, bookstores 40%, distributors 50%, Trafford bookstore 25%)
Ebooks: offered with $1399 package for no extra charge (restrictions apply)
Order Time: Bookstore says 4 days plus shipping, with different shipping options; also grants discounts for 5 or more copies of the same book.
Returns: Books are non-returnable.
Overall, Trafford looks like a good quality publisher. My only problem with them, other than non-returnable books which is fairly standard with PODs, is the cost per book. I used my own as an example in their profit calculator. It's rather large, at 624 pages, but my retail price through Infinity is $26.95, while at Trafford the minimum for the same size is $35.57 ($40.66 for hardcover)! Authors can raise the minimum to allow for higher royalties, but I can't imagine anyone paying nearly $36 for a paperback book, even a large paperback book. The current price is already an issue. It would never sell for $36. The author's cost for purchasing it to sell is also higher; roughly $3.50 per book higher.
This is a rather expensive option, but it does have extras some companies don't provide, such as professional layout and transcribing from a print copy into the computer (at extra charge).
I encourage anyone who has any experience with this company or any other to share it in the Market Listings forum: "On Our Own Market Listings" .