Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On the subject of ... (and a peek at my cover)

I just received a cover for my November release at Lyrical Press. I wondered what I’d get with this cover. Finding good couples for interracial covers is tough. John Black Feather is a Navajo half breed and Penny Thompson is a fair skinned redhead. I thought it would be almost impossible to get a good “couples” cover for this without simply slotting two images together. But this sexy clinch is a fantastic depiction of my characters.

Lyrical Press is a fairly small publisher, and when talking to a writer friend at my chapter meeting this week, the subject of “author mills” came up. There’s a lot of talk about how the larger epublishers are viewed by some as author mills. I listened to the opinions of the writers around me (all of them published with large epubs, New York print publishers, or both) and finally spoke up to say, “I don’t believe such a thing really exists.” In relation to legitimate, royalty paying publishing houses, that is.

According to Writer Beware, an author mill is a firm whose business model is based on author volume (selling a limited number of books from as many authors as possible) whereas commercial or trade publisher’s business model is based on book volume (selling as many books as possible from a limited number of authors).

I don’t believe it’s accurate to claim that a royalty paying publisher is an author mill based on the number of authors it currently lists in its “stable.” The list may be large when you look at a publisher like Jasmine Jade, but take a look at a house like Harlequin, or St. Martin’s Press. If you actually listed out all the authors who have ever written for either of these two houses, it would look like Santa’s nice list. And whether you're talking about epresses or NY houses, it's safe to say authors move around.

I think what an author or potential author must ask themselves, or ask others who can answer the question, is “how is the author treated at this firm?” At the four publishing houses I’m with, I’ve never had an email go unanswered. I’ve never been treated like an inconvenience. I’ve never been ignored, or ostracized. No employee of any of my houses has ever been too busy to answer my question, or take an extra step for me when I have a problem. So please, don’t call any of my publishers an author mill.

I’m sure there are lots of opinions out there, so let’s hear ‘em!


Savanna Kougar said...

First, Crystal, that cover is absolutely gorgeous!!!

I've never heard the term 'author mill'... but, then, I don't run in those circles.
I say, ignorance and jealousy will get you every time, if you're into ego pettiness.
Besides, what's more of an author mill than a here today, gone tomorrow marketing plan, as a lot of the NY Big Pubs practice.
Course, now, they've finally gotten on the ebook train, oh now, their authors can have a real backlist available.
It's always been a volume business to some, what's new?
What's new is that you can have your own cyber spots and say, here I am, here are my books, and they're available, regardless of when I wrote them.

Francesca Hawley said...

What a beautiful cover Crystal. Congrats.

As to the other, I'm happy with my publisher. EC has been very good to me. I may choose to be published with other e-publishers as well but I agree with you that I don't really buy the "author mill" thing either.

Paris said...

Gorgeous cover, Crystal! I love it;-)

As for the author mill thing. I think it's just one more misconception about e-publishing.

ladybirdrobi said...

Nice cover. I've never heard the term author mill. Being an animal lover I'm more use to hearing about puppy mills. I would assume an author mill to be similar in that they are only in it for the money. However as a former reviewer I've never had any problems with any of the publishers e or print.