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So says James Lightsey, New Concepts’ author liaison person.

He goes on to add:

“NCP customers want and expect something different. Futuristic, Paranomal, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, these are genres that NCP readers most want. These genre are in high demand by a select group of readers that want more variety than mainstream can provide.”

Nothing like generalisations on a massive scale huh?

When I first read Lightsey’s post on Mrs Giggles’ blog, I assumed that it was a response to the NCP dust-up. I was wrong. The post was sent to the NCP loop in January. So still no official comment from the publisher.

It certainly makes for interesting reading though: (the bold emphasis are mine)

To: authorpromotion@yahoogroups.com
From: “new_concepts_pub”
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008
Subject: [authorpromotion] Greetings from the Author Liaison

Dear Authors,

As most of you know, I’m sometimes slow(OK always slow) to answer e-mails. So I try to answer as many questions on the author loop as possible. As author liaison for NCP, my loyaty lies foremost to NCP, however I am honor bound to help NCP authors in any and every way that I can. So here is my best advice on many of the concerns on the loop.

Submissions:

Always send the 100% complete, self-edited, RTF format version of your manuscript. Include any and all dedications, forewords, prologs, epilogs, glossaries, or whatever, because they might not be added later. Also to speed up the editing process at this point, go through your book and remove all references to trademarked items. Replace the trademark name with the actual name of the item ie. Q-Tips are cotton swabs, McDonalds=burger joint, whatever, we can’t use trademarked names without permission.

Contracts:

When you receive a contract from NCP, as is true of all contracts, read it until you understand everything. Do not sign the contract unless you agree to stand by your decision. If your legal name, book title, or address is different than what is typed on the contract, strike through it with a pen, write in the correct info, and initial it. The contract is as is and not negotiable. Any questions about the contract may be sent to me.

No negotiations? This strikes me as being a little inflexible. What would happen if they managed to attract a big name author who didn’t like some of the terms?

Art Questionare:

You should receive with your contract an art questionare. If not, ask for one. If you have a strong idea of what you would like for your cover, detail it very clearly. Include your psuedonym and your full legal name, your e-mail address, mailing address, word count, genra, and sexual rating. Final cover art approval is made by Ms. DePasture.

Scheduling:

Our schedule is tentivetly full for a year in advance. There are scheduling changes made for various reasons. For the sake of variety for the customer we don’t release for example four shortstories or four paranormals in the same week. I can usually give an author a month or least a rough timeline on when a book is to be published. I do not give an exact date. Final scheduling is ultimatley decided by circumstance and Ms. DePasture.

Is this the norm? Don’t authors normally get given a release date at least a month out?

Cover art:

Our cover artist rarely read the books that they do the covers for. They use the art questionare as a guideline and use popular layout formats to create the covers that we are known for. When covers are finished, they are sent to me and I forward them to the respective
author.

Editing:

A note about the evil “track changes” feature. If you have used track changes at any time during the writing of your book, even if you turned it off, editorial remarks and edit may reappear during the conversion process. Don’t use it. If there are minor edits, a book will be sent to the author once for changes. Major edits may take a few more times. Often short stories, novellas, books written by very experienced author are edited completely in-house as they require nothing more than line editing.

Always self-edit your manuscript to the very best of your abilities before you submit it. This does several things; it increases your editing skills, cuts edit time, and increases the
likelyhood that your manuscript will be accepted. The amount of time between edits and pub. is largly based on this.

Release:

I very seldom alert an author that their book has been released. We try to follow the upcoming titles pages and also when an author returns her/his edits they should be aware that the release will be very soon. Normally before release I receive a PDF file of your finished book as it will go up. I try to send these as soon as they come, but I may not. If your book is very close(a week) to release and I have not sent you file please send me a reminder. You are permitted as per the contract to make up to 50 copies for review purposes and as promotional giveaways. You may duplicate and use your cover in any legal way to promote your book.

Royalties:

There are four royalty periods at NCP. JAN-FEB-MAR royalty statements and checks will be sent by the end of April. APR-MAY-JUN royalty statements and checks will be sent by the end of July. Royalties can not begin to be tabulated until the last day of the last month of the quarter and so forth. Complete and accurate accounting takes about a month to complete. If your are to be paid by paypal or some way other than check, you should tell me as soon as possible.

Contract expiration:

As stated in the contract, the author must inform NCP sometime before 90 days of the expiration of the contract or it renews for another year. The longer that you give us notice that you do not intend to renew the contract, the faster we will be able to take it down. Once a book goes up it spreads to our distributors and e-book stores and it is a long slow process to bring it completely down.

Communications:

While I’ve often claimed to have a big S on my chest, I have great difficuty keeping up with nearly 200 authors on four continents. If there is an error on the web page, please write to the webmaster. I have other duties at NCP that draw from my time as author liaison.

I’m pretty sure that not all of the 200 authors are writing to him at the same time, and even if they were, you’d think he’d at least reply to the majority of them within a month. Surely that’s what he’s being paid to do?

I’m very sorry if I have neglicted anyone. Please keep in mind that e-mail communications are flawed, they are just as likely (or more so) to be lost, rejected, or misrouted as snail mail.

E-mail communication is flawed? I wonder how large multi-nationals cope then? One or two e-mails may become lost in the ether, but 200? And where would they be re-routed to?

In addition to this information that I’ve just presented, most of which is available either under the files folder of this group or under submission guidelines on the home page, I would like to offer a couple of suggestions from my personal perspective. These are my
opinions and not NCP’s.

This is where it gets even more interesting:

NCP is a niche company. There are thousands of romance novels published each year. For the mainstream romance reader, the formulated novels offered by the large publishing houses are adequate to their needs. NCP customers want and expect something different. Futuristic, Paranomal, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, these are genres that NCP readers most want. These genre are in high demand by a select group of readers that want more variety than mainstream can provide.

Length:

Readers want long books, if they like the story they don’t want it to end. If you have a complex story idea, don’t waste it on a short story. Short stories also make very little money for the effort involved in their publication.

HEA:

NCP does not insist on Happily Ever After endings to our publications, however I’ve seen more than one author have to abandon a pseudonym because they had killed the hero and/or heroine.

Sex:
Our readers like an equal measure of great sex,a solid central plot, and dynamic internal conflict with a resolvable end. Writers that build their stories around these tenants sell better. Spicy to carnal sex with multiple partners w/ intense love triangle..octangle w/ nearly unresolvable internal conflict with HEA are the top sellers.

Old manuscripts:

Before you dust off an old manuscript and send it to any publisher, re-read it, re-edit it. Your writing style will typically change and improve over time and what you once thought was a masterpiece might not be up to your current standards.

Editing:

Regardless of which publishing company you submit your manuscript to, editing is vitally important to presenting yourself as a professional writer. Well polished manuscripts are much more likely to be published.

Titles:

When thinking of a title for your book, keep in mind the appearance of the cover. If the title is too long, it will obscure the cover. A title shouldn’t contain negative words like nerd. {K: He’s obviously never heard of Vicki Lewis Thompson}

One to three power words can be used in combination to create a powerful and striking title. Often made up names catch a readers eye like Ms. Becraft- Woodall’s PMSing and Weremones. Both imaginative titles.
Also, always have a back-up title in case the one that you have chosen has already been used recently.

Artist vs. Commercial Artist:

During one of my art classes in college, my art teacher told me that I had a better chance of becoming a commercial artist than anyone else in the class. That surprised me because one he didn’t like me and two I was no where near the artist as my classmates. It was then that I saw the difference between a pure artist and a commercial artist. A pure artist creates for her/his self without care whether the piece will be liked, accepted, or bought. A commercial artist creates art for a patron, both for the sake of art and money. I assume that all of our authors are commercial artist. This requires flexibilty.

Blacklist:

I know that all authors speak of a blacklist of problem authors. As far as I know, one does not officialy exist and I’ve been in the industry since ‘91 {K: Doing what I wonder?}. I will just say that there are a finite number of bridges to burn in the publishing market. There are always first time jitters for new authors. Always be very carefull of what you say and do publicaly, once your name is in lights so to speak, you are under the public eye and industrial eye.

I hope this answers a few questions about NCP and the publishing industry in general. I would like for all of our authors do well. If you were accepted by NCP then you obviously have talent as an author. I wish you all equally well in business. I would also like to thank Ms. Mandy Roth and Ms. Charlee Compo for being so supportive of our new authors {K: Not sure how this related to the post, other than as a smackdown for the ‘unsupportive’ authors?}. I know your plates are full and I appreciate your time.

James Lightsey
Author Liaison
New concepts Publishing

There you have it, a word from the wise and the good.

Just one question, what are prologs, epilogs, and genras? *g*

29 Comments »


  • Nora Roberts
    March 13
    11:27 am

    I have to believe anyone working for an e-pub works on a computer. Computers have spell check. Anyone sending out information to their authors representing a publisher should, at the least, be expected to present the information professionally. Mucho misspellings aren’t.

    And that doesn’t even go into what’s being said. Non-negotiable, rarely informs authors of their release, print books are formulaic, author liaison who has trouble keeping up with author communications. What then IS an author liaison?

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  • Perplexed
    March 13
    11:47 am

    but this isn’t uncommon these days – I’m stuck with an e-pub (and print, tho they don’t have a distributor and don’t even bother to send out review copies) who doesn’t release books on time and regularly threatens to blacklist or at least hunt down anyone who dares whisper off-list about problems.

    there’s authors there that have been waiting YEARS for their books to be released and new ones slipping in front for some reason… and the answers are always that there’s personal problems or that people are saying nasty things about them on blogs and must be responded to…

    or the classic “it got caught in the spam folder” reply and darn it, how DARE you ask about your book’s production schedule or who the editor’s gonna be!!!

    if you don’t release a book on time then you can’t fault the author for having a problem promoting it – and if you don’t TELL the author it’s being released, then what’s the point?

    this may be the first one to poke up above the water but like icebergs, there’s a lot more out of sight.

    more’s the pity. e-books have a great future but not with these companies dragging everyone down for the sake of a fast buck and egos running amuck.

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  • I will just say that there are a finite number of bridges to burn in the publishing market. There are always first time jitters for new authors. Always be very carefull of what you say and do publicaly, once your name is in lights so to speak, you are under the public eye and industrial eye.

    Always be careful of what you say and do publically? Because New Concepts is watching? Authors if anything, need to speak out if they are treated badly. From my own personal experience with OMP, it took a while for the owner to pay me my royalties. It took four months after the quarter for me to get paid. But that didn’t stop me from publically speaking about how they treated me. At first, no one would back me up even though I knew there were others who were being treated the same way. And here I sit, a year later as I watch other authors pulling their books. My point, if “shit” is being handed to you from a publisher, don’t take it. Do what’s right for you, not what’s right for them.

    ReplyReply

  • This tone is quite different than that I received when I originally submitted to them; and at that time I didn’t have to go through any liaison. Makes one wonder if they have changed their official philosophy in order to validate recent past behavior toward authors.

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  • Nora Roberts
    March 13
    12:05 pm

    ~there’s authors there that have been waiting YEARS for their books to be released ~

    Why?

    I understand, I do, what it feels like to want to be published. It’s not something you forget. But to tolerate being treated this way, to be ignored, to have terms of contract ignored, to continue to put your hopes, energies, time, talent into a void?

    Why?

    ReplyReply

  • But to tolerate being treated this way, to be ignored, to have terms of contract ignored, to continue to put your hopes, energies, time, talent into a void?

    I suspect it’s because many of these authors have never been published before and they don’t know how the publishing industry works. Many of these authors with epublishers don’t have agents or anyone else who can give them advice. Or maybe they are even so grateful to be published that they are willing to settle for much less than they deserve.

    It’s the same story even with various small presses that deal with print and vanity publishers – many authors who are being mistreated either believe that such behavior is normal or that if they are patient enough, things will be fine eventually. Denial, ignorance, desperation to be published, et cetera – any or all of these could be at play here.

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  • Nora Roberts
    March 13
    12:46 pm

    I get what you’re saying, Mrs. G. I can understand all of that, to a point. But if you’re seeking e-publication, you’ve probably got a computer. You’ve probably got the interwebs. After awhile desperation should lead to the seeking of information.

    You, Karen, Dear Author, the SB, others blogs have been posting information regarding e-pub practices–the good, bad and ugly, for a long time. Authors load the comment sections with their experiences, with warnings, with advice.

    When I hear authors are waiting years after signing for their book to be released, or routinely don’t get paid, or informed, or are ignored, threatened, intimidated, treated like crap, again and again–and the sheer WRONG of that is reported, again and again–I can’t understand why they put up with it.

    Denial is the only reason that makes any sense to me.

    I wish e-pubs could do what the founders of RWA did, and form a tangible organization for networking, information and education.

    It makes me heartsick, honestly, to see this happening to people over and over.

    ReplyReply

  • Perplexed – why are you ‘stuck’ with a publisher? Unless you signed away body parts an author isn’t stuck anywhere.

    I have one publisher who was fab and pretty much redefined the ebook market place and I’ve stopped writing for them. Most authors would KILL to write for them. Why did I stop? Their print program is horrible. They have no distribution, their reputation among the booksellers and distributors that they’ve dealt with in the past is very very bad. Bookstores can’t order the books and they keep trying to reinvent the wheel to the detriment of their authors.

    I refuse to sign with a publisher who demands print rights then doesn’t exploit those rights for all they’re worth. You have to stand up for whats right for your career and that includes not letting a publisher climb over your corpse on the path to publication.

    Nora – well said.

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  • Nora wrote: I wish e-pubs could do what the founders of RWA did, and form a tangible organization for networking, information and education.

    They did. It’s called EPIC and that group has been hijacked from doing just this because its members and board are published authors who don’t want to make waves. If someone states the truth about a publisher well they’ve just cut off their nose to spite their face. I was a charter member of EPIC and it’s only ‘good’ aspect is connecting with other epubbed authors.

    Yes, I realize that is crazed but I’ve been a small press author since 1998 and I’ve seen so many authors destroy their careers before they ever signed a contract.

    ReplyReply

  • If someone states the truth about a publisher well they’ve just cut off their nose to spite their face.

    What I *meant* to say was, they’re more concerned about their own careers than in presenting a united front. They’re more concerned about preserving their paths to publication than to call a spade a spade.

    Sheesh, I need coffee.

    ReplyReply


  • Perplexed
    March 13
    1:02 pm

    I was offered the choice to pull my book (to make the owners look good, since I was yapping on the private lists and complaining so much – they’d rather have authors ask to leave and then look good releasing them than admit that they’re overbooked and unable to do the work properly) and decided that since it’s already in print (and my local store is willing to order in ten or twenty copies for booksignings) that I might as well let it lie where it is. After three years I’ve written it off and am moving on.

    The sad thing is that this pub had a great rep on P&E and other sites where the authors gushed about how great they were. Except for the no distibution and the push for the author to buy their own books, since they don’t like returns…

    but heck, they have/had great PR in the industry!

    😛

    so you move onwards and upwards… I won’t be working with them again, obviously. But I can’t identify myself for fear of being harassed again.

    it would be great if there WERE an organization that did this sort of work for epubs – EPIC comes to mind, but I’ve found that to be as useless as… well, fill in your mantra here.

    ReplyReply

  • Above, Nora asks “Why?”

    I think I have an idea as to the why, though I can’t be 100% positive. I think it’s just that when new authors get a contract, they are like, “YES! I’m going to be published!” and they are either:

    (A) So excited they don’t take the time read the contract and just sign it without reading the terms, naively assuming the publisher is being fair.

    (B) Do take the time to read the contract but don’t understand what it says and sign it anyway.

    I can tell you, as someone who negotiated a contract, that it costs $150 to have a lawyer look over your contract and explain it to you. That’s it. Just a $150 investment in your future to cover your butt. And once you learn the jargon, you can negotiate your own contracts. This is a small price to pay to avoid the consequences of a bad deal.

    Will you be scared to negotiate a contract in fear of losing it? Oh hell yes! But do it anyway to ensure a good future for my career!

    And in my opinion (which doesn’t mean much) if a publisher, e- or otherwise, isn’t willing to negotiate with you, then the best thing you can do is to walk away.

    Will your gut be tied up into knots? Yes. Will you play the “what if” game? Oh yeah. What if this is my only shot? What if I can’t get published anywhere else? What if, what if, what if. But honestly if your work is good enough for one publisher to want to buy it, it is good enough to get published elsewhere. And even if that doesn’t happen, at least you didn’t get stuck in a deal where you get shafted in the end… and I think you’d be better off because the mess that I’m seeing now? So not worth it… at least to me.

    ReplyReply

  • the public eye and industrial eye.

    What is the industrial eye? Is that something new in the ebook publishing field? Is it the eye of the printing press? Is it a prosthetic eye? and therefore all knowing?

    ReplyReply

  • Choose the place you submit carefully. If people don’t answer your emails – that’s a danger sign! I’m sorry, it’s ridiculous and unprofessional not to respond to business correspondence. Yes, emails get lost from time to time. And you know how I know that? Because when I don’t get a reply from my editor who normally responds to me within 48 hours, I know there must be a problem because they’re all so normally on the ball. I write for more than one publisher and every single one of my editors across the board gets back to me and acts professionally.

    Don’t ignore danger signs just because you want to publish a book or you may very well be here talking about being screwed over eight months from now. Publishing is painful enough, don’t add to your troubles. Patience in finding a good fit is necessary even if patience is the least plentiful of all my personal virtues.

    ReplyReply


  • Karen Scott
    March 13
    4:20 pm

    What is the industrial eye? Is that something new in the ebook publishing field? Is it the eye of the printing press? Is it a prosthetic eye? and therefore all knowing?

    OK, that made me laugh out really loud.

    ReplyReply


  • Another anonymous
    March 13
    4:55 pm

    “Don’t ignore danger signs just because you want to publish a book or you may very well be here talking about being screwed over eight months from now.”

    Good advice. But I want to poke my head in and point out that NCP has DETERIORATED. When I signed with them, years ago, they seemed to be a decent small publisher. When I signed with them, I emailed directly back and forth with my editor about a few clauses I didn’t like in my contract, and she happily and courteously allowed me to alter them. I emailed her every time I had a questin, and was responded to very promptly and politely. Getting real, substantive edits out of them has never been easy, but they did at least send me light edits (copy edits, really) well in advance of the release date, and were willing to discuss them with me. They told me when the book would be released. They sent me a JPG of my cover the moment it hit the upcoming books page. They sent me multiple e-copies of my book in different format BEFORE it hit the site. They sent out my book to a long list of review sites. Royalties were paid on time. Customer service was occasionally slow, but overall it seemed adequate to the task. They worked hard to get their paperback books into Borders.

    This was true of my experience with them up to about one and a half to two years ago, when inexplicably they quit responding to authors. They eventually put in the Author Liaison (which in my opinion is no substitute for actually talking back and forth with an editor), but he can’t seem to be contacted either. Customer Service doesn’t seem to respond to customers at all, even when they rant and rave on the publisher’s own discussion loop.

    Now, this isn’t to say NCP was ever perfect. I have serious issues with the fact that the owners are authors who have been getting preferential treatment. But of course I didn’t know that at the time, since they were keeping it so carefully under wraps. Also, the site was hacked at one point, creating some very unhappy customers, but NCP did buy a better cart system, and it hasn’t happened again. It’s easy to say from this perspective that authors should have known better, but on the whole, NCP seemed like a pretty good place to be until recently.

    In short, until recently, NCP seemed to me to be a reasonably run small publisher with some organizational difficulties. But lately they’ve just fallen apart, and “organizational difficulties” does not begin to describe what’s going on there now.

    ReplyReply

  • I know from “things just suddenly deteriorated” – big time.

    ReplyReply

  • Don’t use Track Changes when editing? I’ve never heard the like! And the idea of going straight to line edits without the author ever having a chance to make changes is crazy. How can one publish books without going through the complete editorial process?

    ReplyReply

  • industrial eye?

    Is that the brown one?

    ReplyReply

  • Don’t use Track Changes when editing? I’ve never heard the like! And the idea of going straight to line edits without the author ever having a chance to make changes is crazy.

    I thought I was the only one to take serious offense at this. During edits with Samhain, my manuscript was not altered one iota without my approval every step of the way. Not a single comma was removed without my agreement between both my editor and myself.

    But to not use “track changes”? How else is an author to know how substantive the edits actually are, without comparing befores and afters side by side. And for the editing to simply be done “in house”, excluding the author from the process? Unbelievable! How can authors put up with this?

    They sent me a JPG of my cover the moment it hit the upcoming books page.

    Shouldn’t they show you the cover before it goes up? In case it is unacceptable to you, or needs to be refined?

    ReplyReply


  • Another anonymous
    March 13
    9:42 pm

    “Shouldn’t they show you the cover before it goes up? In case it is unacceptable to you, or needs to be refined?”

    I’ve only worked with one publisher that did this, actually. My New York publisher didn’t ask for my input at all, and stuck me with a cover I hated. NCP does (or did) send out a cover request form with its contracts, so the cover at least did have some input from the author. And NCP did change one of my covers on request. I seriously doubt they’d do that now, however… but I could certainly be wrong.

    ReplyReply

  • The thing about the great fear of offending an epublisher and all their industry friends is that many of them are two people and a cat in a basement. There really isn’t much to get intimidated about. By all mneans don’t spit in Donald Maas’s coffee, but raising some issue about a micropress providing basic services like, oh, editing and paying isn’t quite the same thing.

    In the end so long as you sign short term epublishing contract the very worst that will happen is you wait a couple of years for it to expire.

    ReplyReply


  • shirley
    March 13
    11:20 pm

    “I get what you’re saying, Mrs. G. I can understand all of that, to a point. But if you’re seeking e-publication, you’ve probably got a computer. You’ve probably got the interwebs. After awhile desperation should lead to the seeking of information.

    You, Karen, Dear Author, the SB, others blogs have been posting information regarding e-pub practices–the good, bad and ugly, for a long time. Authors load the comment sections with their experiences, with warnings, with advice.

    When I hear authors are waiting years after signing for their book to be released, or routinely don’t get paid, or informed, or are ignored, threatened, intimidated, treated like crap, again and again–and the sheer WRONG of that is reported, again and again–I can’t understand why they put up with it.

    Denial is the only reason that makes any sense to me.”

    Absolutely, one-hundred percent, this is what I meant. Halleluiah!

    ReplyReply


  • shirley
    March 13
    11:20 pm

    Hallelujah – damn, dragon doesn’t speak that 😀

    ReplyReply


  • Shayne
    March 13
    11:47 pm

    It sounds like what was once a decent epub has gone downhill.

    Which means that authors need to check for danger signs no matter how good their epub currently is.

    ReplyReply


  • Michele Lee
    March 14
    5:26 am

    Contract automatically renews? I’d never sign that.

    ReplyReply

  • Contract automatically renews? I’d never sign that.

    Is that the one where they claim they never received your request to terminate?

    ReplyReply

  • Contract automatically renews? I’d never sign that.

    Uh. Yeah. From one bad experience with a publisher — I would NEVER sign a contract that automatically renewed. Sorry, that’s something that needs a “mutually agreed upon” clause.

    ReplyReply

  • […] the ad for the author liaison role: (You remember their former liaison officer don’t you? James Lightsey. He’s the guy who allegedly tried to sell new NCP print books on Amazon, so that TPTB […]


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