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Jeff Potts

Anyone had experience with Monster Ivy Publishing?

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I saw that, in October, they are accepting submissions.  They say they are looking for clean, edgy, quirky fiction.  When I told my wife about what they look for, my she exclaimed, wide eyed, "That describes your book to a tee!"

 

My book is Fantasy, with subtle Christian themes.  It sounds like a perfect fit for what they want to publish.

 

 

Edited by Jeff Potts
Wrong word in the title.

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Couldn't find anything negative about them. Not as a negative, found this written about them...

 

A pair of Latter-day Saint authors from Texas is publishing young adult books with a twist. Their books tell stories that are "edgy but clean" while also teaching Christian values.

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1 minute ago, lynnmosher said:

Couldn't find anything negative about them.

 

I couldn't find anything bad, either. Their website doesn't give me a "vanity" feel, but they don't really share much about their submission/publishing process. So I suppose you'd have to reach out to them, or join their mailing list, to get more info. Or perhaps contact one of their authors? Maybe you can find one on Goodreads and reach out?  

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

 

I couldn't find anything bad, either. Their website doesn't give me a "vanity" feel, but they don't really share much about their submission/publishing process. So I suppose you'd have to reach out to them, or join their mailing list, to get more info. Or perhaps contact one of their authors? Maybe you can find one on Goodreads and reach out?  

 

 

 

Well, their submissions start in October.  So I'll just reach out then.  I was just wondering if anyone had worked with them in the past.

 

After looking at what the majority of agents want as far as submissions, they look like my best alternative.  That or self-publishing.

Edited by Jeff Potts

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Yes. I was invited to submit my MS after contacting them back late last year. Only there was a delay in getting the copy edit back and by that time they had closed their submissions window. 

I was gutted. They are certainly on the up and have a good stable of writers. Last time I looked they were still  closed to submissions.

Good luck

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19 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

Well, their submissions start in October.

 

While they open submissions in October, they should have their publishing model clearly spelled out on their website. This would let you know royalty rates, what they do for you as a publisher, what retailers they sell through, and most importantly, if they have any "fees" (which would be a red flag).

 

At this point, they basically force you to go through all the work to make a submission before you know if they're even a publisher you want to deal with. 

 

Again, not a bad sign, but I'd be very careful in absence of basic information.

 

 

 

 

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I could find any such info but I did read some articles about them. All were posivite so I don't think they are a vanity publisher just a bit new to the business. They have a FB page which very up to date.

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8 hours ago, Accord64 said:

 

At this point, they basically force you to go through all the work to make a submission before you know if they're even a publisher you want to deal with. 

 

Well, I'm jumping through hoops as it stands right now with the normal submission process, and from what I'm seeing, the mainstream publishing industry is hostile to anything with the Christian theme, or one that includes any sort of normalcy.  The odds of me getting an agent, based on their "wish lists", is up there with getting struck by lightning...twice.

 

So if I am doing work, it ain't going to be much more than what I'm doing now.

 

\I get your point about making sure I understand their publishing structure, and how much they take.  In the era of self-publishing, I'm unlikely to sign with anyone who is going to provide me the "honor" of making $0.10 on every copy sold, or hidden fees, and all that.  Especially when I can pull in anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 per book self-publishing, and sit on distribution as long as I want, via POD and eBooks, a to build a brand.

 

But I thought I'd try a small press to see if they are interested.

 

Warning: a rant follows.

 

I feel like I'm just going through the motions with querying an agent, and trying to publish traditionally.  I see the wish lists of these agents.  They want "under-represented" writers.  My translation of that is: not me.  So, that's strike one.

 

They also want all sorts of non-traditional characters (let he/she who hath understanding reckon this).  I don't do that.  So that's strike two.

 

They also want characters that are People of Color.  While I am actually working on a couple, the book I'm pitching doesn't fit that at all.  So...strike three.

 

And the Christian / Fantasy market is, well, almost non-existent.

 

I've been watching a bunch of YA and Fantasy critics on YouTube recently.  After hearing the criticisms they have of the current crop of YA fiction out there, I'm fairly convinced that what I have is so antithetical to what's being published, that it almost seems that I'm swimming upstream at this point.  That being said, when the culture goes one way, the guy who goes the other is the one who sets the trend.  After a while, when the market gets saturated with gritty / dark, or political / romance, something that goes off on the fun / adventure side starts to stand out.

 

But you will NEVER convince an agent or publisher of that.  Especially nowadays.  What I write would be considered a "risk."  It's too trope-y.  It's too traditional.  Supposedly, that's not what  readers want (despite the fact that roughly 75% of the books I've seen reviewed on YouTube pound the same stupid tropes as a dozen-and-a-half books and movies already out there).

 

So, I'm thinking I have a proverbial snowball's chance in Perdition of being published traditionally.  

 

(That's not what I really wanted to say, but I think you get the point.)

 

Please, someone tell me I'm wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

OK...rant over.

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7 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

The odds of me getting an agent, based on their "wish lists", is up there with getting struck by lightning...twice.

 

Getting an agent or publisher is like hunting for the Holy Grail - and for all the reasons you have stated Jeff.

 

I am subbing to agents at the moment and each one has been done separately with my not only tweaking the query letter, but the synopsis as well to make sure it focuses on the theme or plot their bio leans too. The average length of time to get a reply (if you get a reply at all) is 12 weeks. i.e 3 months. So my last batch end date is 30th Nov.

 

The bottom line is that most agents say they are looking for originality but actually they want books that will sale i.e. books that follow the trend.  That is why they often ask for you to give them comparisons to other books. The problem I have is that I can't see anything like mine on the market other than Karen Kingsley books. To be honest I would feel a bit big headed to go and say my work is like hers because she is a really good writer. It just sounds pretentious to me.  

 

Maybe it is the British reserve in me  but I hate bigging myself up. There is part of me that feels - let the work speak for itself. Either you get it or you don't. 

 

The only advantage I can see of having a agent is that they can help get to a traditional publisher and possible a wider readership and help market the book.  If you are very, very lucky, there might be spin off associated with the book. (i.e many of King's books have been made in TV series and films. But it's Stephen King.)

 

Don't give up hope. I know my book wont be accepted by Monster Ivy because it doesn't meet their 'clean' standards. It does tackle relationships in a fairly tame way in comparison to secular fiction books,  but not conservative Christian. 

You think the Christian fiction book market is bad in the US - its doesn't exist over here other.  They are always marketed as secular books.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

But you will NEVER convince an agent or publisher of that.  Especially nowadays.  What I write would be considered a "risk."  It's too trope-y.  It's too traditional.  Supposedly, that's not what  readers want (despite the fact that roughly 75% of the books I've seen reviewed on YouTube pound the same stupid tropes as a dozen-and-a-half books and movies already out there).

 

So, I'm thinking I have a proverbial snowball's chance in Perdition of being published traditionally.  

 

(That's not what I really wanted to say, but I think you get the point.)

 

Please, someone tell me I'm wrong.

 

1 hour ago, Shamrock said:

Getting an agent or publisher is like hunting for the Holy Grail - and for all the reasons you have stated Jeff.

 

I think there's another, overriding factor in all of this. The traditional publishing industry has been in steep decline over the past decade. The reinvention of self-publishing that Amazon spearheaded in 2007, when they rolled out Kindle Direct Publishing, transformed the publishing industry.

 

Since then, many mid-list trad-pub authors came to the realization that they could self-publish through all the major outlets, with equal quality, but make far more for themselves in royalties (with an audience they already have). This kicked-off a significant ripple effect on the industry. Many mid-list publishing houses either folded or merged with larger publishers. Even the "Big 6" shrank to the "Big 5."

 

So my long-winded point is this: While you feel your manuscript is at a disadvantage due to the factors you stated, don't beat yourself up over it. I think there's bigger issue that everyone faces when going through the query process. There's simply far fewer trad-pub options out there, and they're all dealing with a perpetual avalanche of queries.

 

 

 

  

Edited by Accord64
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4 hours ago, Shamrock said:

The bottom line is that most agents say they are looking for originality but actually they want books that will sale i.e. books that follow the trend.  That is why they often ask for you to give them comparisons to other books. The problem I have is that I can't see anything like mine on the market other than Karen Kingsley books.

 

That's my other frustration.  My wife makes a direct comparison with my book and Lord of the Rings.  And the more I think about what I'm writing, I place it somewhere between Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stuff, although I'd have a hard time making the comparisons to either.  The reality is, I don't know where to classify it.

 

But if I compare my books to Lord of the Rings or Narnia, it will be the kiss of death for the book.  As one of the YouTube agents states, "Lord of the Rings was published in 1954.  Things have changed since then."

 

My response would be, "Yeah, and Lord of the Rings still sells, and has a rabid, multi-generational fan base."  The same goes for Narnia.

 

3 hours ago, Accord64 said:

I think there's another, overriding factor in all of this. The traditional publishing industry has been in steep decline over the past decade. The reinvention of self-publishing that Amazon spearheaded in 2007, when they rolled out Kindle Direct Publishing, transformed the publishing industry.

 

Here's the thing, from what I hear, there is a lot of garbage that's being self-published.  I don't know if that's the case, but that's what I hear from a variety of sources.  But for the sake of argument, let's say it's true.

 

If the traditional publishing houses were putting out stuff people wanted to read, the self-publishing would never be able to compete.  It takes money to put out a decent product.  If I go the self-publish route, I'm looking at maybe $3000 to $5000 up-front costs, buying in volume for distribution, outside of just throwing out an e-book.  You're talking anywhere from $300 - $1000 for editing alone (including a professional proof-read), roughly $200 - $800 for artwork.  So before you actually get to physical copies, a first-time author is paying anywhere from $500 - $2000 out of pocket.  I can do that.  Not a lot of people can. 

 

Yet, from what you're saying - and I'm apt to believe your analysis is true - traditional publishers are getting clobbered by people self-publishing, where the cost of entry is still prohibitive.

 

It's not hard to move from physical books to e-books.  In fact, it's a cost-cutter for the publishers.  No need to print large volumes of books, no need to keep them in inventory (which is taxed, by the way).  The cost of developing the content of the book remains the same, but the expense of distribution drops dramatically.  Even in the physical format - if your distribution now goes online, POD is essentially your friend.  If an on-the-shelf paperback costs $6.00 at checkout, selling one for $4.00 as an e-book essentially means more revenue.  You've eliminated a TON of costs getting that book from the printer to the store.

 

Even the cost of producing the book has dropped.  Before, you used to have to print the manuscript, mail it in, get it edited, revise it, and repeat for a second round.  I can do that now with software from Microsoft or Google, over the Internet., for half the cost, and in half the time. 

 

Big publishers really have ALL the advantages when it comes to producing and selling books.  More so than a guy like me, being keyboard commando down in a basement somewhere.  They have access to all the distribution channels.  Their names have clout.  They have access to top editing and production talent.  They have a huge advantage in marketing, which is 75% of the game right there.  They can literally throw all sorts of money at revising infrastructure for the Internet (this I know all too well....I'm the guy they throw it at).  The Return on Investment of that type of work is actually pretty high.

 

Book publishers vary dramatically from magazines and periodicals, all of whom have gotten hammered by the rise of the Internet.  Periodicals made their revenue off of a mixture of subscriptions and advertising, which got disrupted dramatically by technology, and the instant access to public information at, essentially, no cost.  And the music industry?  Aside from pirating, that industry got disrupted by the decline of AM and FM radio, which was the main marketing channel by which record publishers pushed their product.

 

But book revenue was always a single purchase - like toothpaste.  And it never relied on any specific medium for marketing.  Ad buys are ad buys, whether you do it in Newsweek, or Facebook.

 

And yet...traditional publishers are in decline.

 

If your costs decrease, you still maintain your advantage in the marketplace, and your marketing channels really haven't changed, how can you be in decline?  (He said, knowingly.)

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46 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

Here's the thing, from what I hear, there is a lot of garbage that's being self-published.  I don't know if that's the case, but that's what I hear from a variety of sources.

 

Yes and no.

 

It's true the self-publishing revolution opened up a volcano of,...um,.. crap (not the word commonly used 😉), but it has also created an avenue for high quality work that would likely be sitting on agent slush-piles (under the old publishing paradigm). 

 

Now that the gatekeepers are gone, it's like a fire hydrant has been opened up.  

 

 

53 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

Big publishers really have ALL the advantages when it comes to producing and selling books.  More so than a guy like me, being keyboard commando down in a basement somewhere.  They have access to all the distribution channels.  Their names have clout.  They have access to top editing and production talent.  They have a huge advantage in marketing, which is 75% of the game right there. 

 

I respectfully disagree.

 

Yes, trad-pubs (the larger ones) still hold some advantages, but not nearly as many as they'd like you to think. Particularly in marketing. The dirty little secret in trad-pub marketing is most authors have to do the majority of their own marketing! Only top-tier authors in the Big-5 get the royal treatment, and by some accounts I've recently read, even that is drying up.

 

As far a distribution channels go, as a self-pub author I have access to all the same heavy hitters that a trad-press would (Apple, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, B&N, Kobo, Library Direct, and a number of print book distribution channels through KDP Print). Some will likely have better in-roads to bookstores, or genre-specific outlets, but keep in mind that bookstore presence is a shadow of what it used to be 10 years ago. On-line purchasing has long since surpassed them.

 

59 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

It's not hard to move from physical books to e-books.  In fact, it's a cost-cutter for the publishers.  No need to print large volumes of books, no need to keep them in inventory (which is taxed, by the way). 

 

Self-published authors have an advantage here. We don't have to worry about inventory with POD (Print on Demand).  And this isn't some small operation - we can choose vendors like Amazon, B&N Press, Ingram Spark, etc. to handle the printing and distribution - at no out-of-pocket cost to us. 

 

1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

It takes money to put out a decent product.  If I go the self-publish route, I'm looking at maybe $3000 to $5000 up-front costs, buying in volume for distribution, outside of just throwing out an e-book.

 

Well, I've self-published five books and didn't come anywhere near these costs. Sure, it's possible to spend that much, if you contract out everything at top dollar. But you can save a lot of money by learning to do some things yourself, or find people who charge far more reasonable rates. The self-pub ecosystem has gown dramatically over the past few years. There are numerous quality vendors out there., and many of these people used to work for the trad-pubs. 

 

Also, not sure what you mean by "buying in volume for distribution." If you're talking about print books, well, self-pubs don't work that way. We don't do print runs and carry inventory, aside from whatever copies we had printed for ourselves. 

 

Overall, it depends on what a trad-pub offers if they want to sign you. It also further depends on the size of the publisher. If you're dealing with a small-press, then you'll likely have to do a lot of your own marketing.  

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

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You know, @Accord64 you're only giving me more reasons to drop querying, and go self-pub.     :)

 

But I have to disagree with POD.  Unless these people are idiots, POD is kinda the norm, especially with JIT inventory models.  So they are likely doing the same.  They just get better deals for volume.

 

They get a better price point for, say, 10,000 units than I could for 1000.  And those vendors will give them a better deal also because they are a guarantee for higher volumes.

 

And I've been following a lot of comic book artists as of late.  Their model has changed because most of them are going independent, and crowdfunding.  Even with that, they'll do a campaign (IndieGoGo or Kickstarter), fund the book, then buy lots for distribution.  The difference here is that as a book self-publisher, that kind of crowdfunding isn't popular.  Even with that, you have to do a bunch of marketing up front to fund the campaign.

 

Now I'm a newbie at this.  There is some of this stuff I know, especially the supply-chain stuff (I've worked on a lot of inventory management systems in my past).  I have no reason to doubt the rest of what you're saying.

 

I think I'll cap my search at thirty agents before I bite the bullet and go self-publish.  Maybe its some incessant need for recognition on my part why I don't just drop this query process at this point.

 

Edit: And I'll add, I sort of bristle at the notion that an agent takes a cut of my earnings, when they basically only introduce me to a publisher.  I'm sitting around for months trying to get an agent, and I may sit around for maybe another year before someone agrees to publish.

 

I guess I'd better stop now.  I'm only making myself angrier the more I think about this.   

 

Edited by Jeff Potts

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Hey @Jeff Potts I might have a publisher that I might be able to connect you with. Could you give me a synopsis or a link to your story to take a look and make sure it fits their type of book? 

 

I'm checking on them right now with an email. Hopefully, they're still going and interested in the same sort of stuff they used to be.

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Jeff

 

This might cheer you up. Although it is mainly about devotional, the PW article does state that Christian fiction writing is also on the up.

 

Christian writing

 

Thought - if it is that difficult to get publsihed has this group every considered publsihing work as group? 

 

 

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I submitted to Monster Ivy. They turned me down. I follow them on Twitter and they seem legit. 

This was a good discussion to read from the side lines. May you be blessed with your submissions and decisions!

God has it all well in hand. You can trust Him!

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8 hours ago, Thomas Davidsmeier said:

Hey @Jeff Potts I might have a publisher that I might be able to connect you with. Could you give me a synopsis or a link to your story to take a look and make sure it fits their type of book? 

 

I'm checking on them right now with an email. Hopefully, they're still going and interested in the same sort of stuff they used to be.

 

I'm having my wife check my synopsis right now.  I'll PM you the synopsis in text when I get done editing.

 

My first synopsis was 4 pages.  People want 2, and with "flair."  

 

I also have a boilerplate query letter I can send along.

 

Edit: Sorry I didn't get back sooner.  I decided to stop looking at my own comments for a while.

Edited by Jeff Potts

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