Introducing: Jennifer Pereyra and her take on Tate!

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Children's, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , |

I have to apologize for not getting this out yesterday. Suffice it to say that it’s been a long week. That said, I’m posting now in the hopes that people will see this and find some good information from the interview I did with Jennifer Pereyra.

This is a part of the author interview Jennifer so graciously gave me, and I hope you’ll find her insight helpful when you consider Tate Publishing. Following today’s post, I’ll be putting up another post tomorrow featuring Jennifer’s background and history. I hope you’ll stick around to read more about this budding new children’s author.

With no further ado, here is the Q&A session I had with Jennifer concerning her experiences with Tate Publishing. She was very thorough and answered all my questions with detailed information about her experience, and I think you’ll find it as informative and helpful as I did.

What process did you go through to finally find your current publisher?

A LOT!  I did a ton of research to figure out how I wanted to go about publishing.

I looked at what the process would be to get an agent and to hook up with one of the big NYC firms.  What I found, however, is especially in the children’s book genre, unless you are a previously published author or a celebrity with built-in marketing (think Tina Fey) where people will buy the book just because it was written by you, your chances of getting out of the slush pile are slim to none.  I wanted to make sure that this book got into print during a timeframe when my daughters would still be able to enjoy it.  It was, after all, for them that the story was written.

Next I looked at the vanity presses and also read a lot about self-publishing. The vanity presses out there offer little to no marketing support, they don’t have relationships with the major bookstore chains, and they will print anything as long as you are willing to pay. One can literally be nickeled and dimed up to the point of having to buy back your own work should you choose to sever the relationship.   Going the self pub route didn’t seem realistic for me either as you are completely on your own.  To be successful going either of those routes, one would need to be able to dedicate time as if it were their full time career.  I just don’t have that luxury.

Then I came across Tate Publishing.  Being a business woman myself and always trying to find non-traditional methods for achieving good business results, I immediately understood and appreciated their business model.  By requiring an author investment, they are mitigating their risk. They want to make sure that once they have invested their time and money into your book that you are going to reciprocate and work as hard as you can to sell your books when at signings and other marketing events that they schedule for you. (By the way, I did put together an Excel spreadsheet comparing what the vanity presses would charge for the same services that Tate provides and it ended up being from $12,000-$18,000.  Knowing that, the $4K charged by Tate is quite a deal!) Dangling the carrot of the 5,000th copy sold to get your money refunded (which also results in Tate publishing subsequent works by you at no cost to you), is their “insurance policy”.  It made perfect sense to me.

Did you attempt to get other agents and/or publishers before going to Tate? What was that like?

I did have a conversation with Mill City Press, however, based on how they do business, it would have cost me a minimum of $12,000 for a full color picture book.  They seemed reputable but that price tag was just too high for me to even consider.  Beyond that, there weren’t any out there that after all of the research I had done, I would seriously consider.

How long did it take you to find a publisher who wanted to publish your book?

As with the writing, I dove into this project head first so I think I had made a decision in a few weeks.

When you first began researching Tate, what were your thoughts on the company? Did you have any initial misgivings?

Honestly, I completely understood their business model from the get-go.  However, I don’t trust anything at face value so I checked the Better Business Bureau and they had an A+ rating.  They were also listed as one of Oklahoma’s Top 100 Companies to work for.  In addition, I set up a Google Alert for Tate Publishing and followed those for a while to see if any red flags popped up.  At the end of the day, I decided that they were indeed on the up and up.

If you had any questions or concerns about Tate, what made you change your mind?

After I looked at all of the information objectively, I didn’t really have any concerns.  All of my questions were answered as a result of the research I had done.

I know Tate is fairly up-front about the cost investment for first-time authors. Did that bother you in any way?

No…well, don’t get me wrong, of course I would have loved for them to have taken on my book without having to invest any money into it but that isn’t how they work.  It is exactly that model which allows them to take a risk on first time authors.

What is Tate’s process for vetting books from first-time authors? Can you tell us how the process worked for you from submitting your manuscript to getting the go-ahead for publishing?

In terms of the review process they go through, well, you’re going to have to ask them about that.  I wish I could tell you but once I hit the submit button on their website, my manuscript was off and I don’t know what they did with it from there.  All I know is I received an e-mail, about 6-7 weeks after submitting it asking me to respond to some questions about my motivation for writing the book.  I replied to that message and within 7-10 days, a contract had arrived via UPS at my house.  I remember because I had been taking an afternoon nap and when I came downstairs my husband had the package in hand.  It was very exciting!

How involved have the people at Tate been in getting your book from the manuscript stage to the final published format?

They have been extremely involved in getting it to this point!  I started off working with my editor, Hannah.  She was great and handled making sure all of the commas, quotation marks, etc. were in the right places.  She also made recommendations to me as to where she felt the story could be enhanced a bit more and even in some cases where she felt that something just didn’t flow properly.  I was very pleased with all of her feedback and my manuscript is definitely better because of it.

From there I worked with Liz, my illustrator.  Liz read the story and then contacted me to set up time to speak with me about the main characters in the book.  After going back and forth several times, we came to agreement on the character reference sketches (which can be seen in the photos section of my Facebook Fan Page).  A few days later, Liz contacted me so she could talk with me about her ideas for the storyboard.  She told me how she envisioned the illustrations and I was able to comment on some things that I thought should be included.  I will say, however, that I am a firm believer in letting the experts do what they do best so while I would share with her what I was thinking, I also made it clear to her to push back on me if anything I was saying wouldn’t have the desired effect…and she did in a couple of circumstances.

After the illustrations were complete, my file was passed on to Chris, in layout who was responsible for the cover design of the book.  Chris looked at the illustrations that Hannah had done and provided me with a few different options (they can also be seen in the photos section of my FB Fan Page) and this is where I decided to do something a little bit different.  I reached out to as many people as I could via e-mail and through Facebook and asked them to vote on their favorite.  In addition to voting, many people provided ideas for minor tweaks here and there that ended up getting incorporated into the final choice.

From there, Chris (not my layout designer, Chris…another Chris) my marketing representative contacted me to set up time to talk about the pre-release marketing plan for my book.  I told him what I had in mind and what I was already doing and he also provided me with some additional suggestions.  Chris has been great about getting review copies out to those that have expressed interest in writing a review on the book.  He is also in the process of coordinating the development of my media kit which will be ready by the official release date of the book which is April 5th.

Do you feel that Tate was the right choice for you in getting your book published?

I do.  Thus far, they have done everything that they said they would and there has not been one bump in the road.  Considering that the book was just printed, I am sure there is still much to write in terms of our relationship, however, for now, I have no complaints.

What were your experiences working with the people at Tate?

So far all of the interactions have been great!  My e-mails are always answered and my phone calls are always returned.

What would you say to those people who are curious about the claims that Tate is a vanity publisher?

I guess that I would say they are trying to stick a square peg into a round hole.  The fact is that as human beings, we like things to fit nice and neatly into predetermined definitions and whenever something is outside of the norm of how we understand things to work, we get uncomfortable.  I think that thus far, the publishing world has been defined by three means of publishing; traditional, vanity, and self-pub.  Tate doesn’t fit neatly into any of those and as opposed to creating a new “bucket,” folks would rather try to make Tate fit where they feel appropriate.

Do you believe the author investment is a fair one to make in order to get your book printed? And is Tate making good on their promise to invest a far heftier amount in publishing, advertising, and placing your book?

I do think it is a fair amount.  Like I had said previously, of course I would have preferred to not pay anything up front.  With that said, it’s the nature of the beast.  I am fairly confident that with the genre of my book and the fact that it appeals to a niche market, I would not have even gotten a first look from a traditional press.  They are looking for books that appeal to the market where everyone is a target reader.  There are few examples out there of a traditional press taking on a children’s picture book that was written by a first time author.  Also, I mentioned earlier that I had priced out what it would have cost me to go with a vanity press and get the same services that Tate offers and it was pretty astronomical.  Finally, if I had chosen to go the self-pub route, it would have cost me more than the author investment to hire an illustrator and layout designer.  On production alone, the investment has paid for itself.  I am, of course, definitely working towards selling the 5,000 copies to get the investment refunded altogether!

Since it is fairly early in the marketing phase, I can’t fully speak to all aspects of marketing yet as there is still much to be done once the official release date hits.  Perhaps we can touch base again in 6-9 months to follow up on that topic.

Overall, have you had a positive experience getting your first book published?

Yes, I can honestly say that I have had a very positive experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers who are considering getting a book published?

Do your homework.  Don’t try to tackle something that’s been done a hundred times before unless you really believe that you have a truly unique way of telling the story.  Also, start making your own connections, even before you have been accepted for publication.  Of course the writing has to be good, however, never…never…never forget that books make it on “best-sellers” lists, not “best-written” lists so good writing is never enough!  Finally, do your own research on what method of publication is best for you.  Read everything that is out there and look at both the positive and the negative.

Then take all of that information into consideration when deciding what will work for you.  I believe that ultimately, when provided with all of the necessary information, people will make the right decision for themselves.

And there you have it! Jennifer Pereyra is the author of “Mommy and Daddy Work To Make Some Dough,” which will be coming out in stores on April 5, 2011. She has already agreed to speak with people who have questions about her experiences with Tate, and she was gracious enough to offer her thoughts to me for the purposes of my blog.

Check out her Facebook page for more information about the book and her writing! And check back here tomorrow for more information about Jennifer, her book, and my review of the book before it hits shelves! Feel free to leave a comment as well!

– Rae


 

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Gratuitous Author Help or Frustrating Scam?

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Manuscript Submission, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , |

I surf the NaNo forums a lot these days, and I found this post yesterday that caught my eye. The author, to make a long story short, has managed to write a novel for the Christian world, but of course, she can’t seem to find a place where her novel fits. The reason for that: somewhat in the neighborhood of 90% of all Christian fiction these days has an element of romance in it. The publishing houses are loving it, and the majority of Christian fiction readers are women apparently, so they continue to publish period romances and coming-of-age tales of innocence and romance.

I have no problem with that, but it was what the poster wrote in addition to her publishing woes that really surprised me. Apparently a lot of Christian publishing houses are asking authors and those who would otherwise submit unsolicited manuscripts to instead send them to one of three “holding tanks” for manuscripts.

The first is a place called Christian Manuscript Submissions and is billing itself as a place for authors to get exposure for their manuscripts to a number of high end Christian publishers. Normally this would excite me. A place for someone like me to submit a manuscript where it will be viewed by publishers? That’s every writer’s dream.

Yes, for only $98 you can submit your manuscript to this website’s system where it will be made viewable to their affiliated publishers! (For six months only, of course, and then you’ll be required to renew your term of viewing by paying another $98 for a second six months of visibility.) And if you’re really dedicated to getting your novel out there? Pay another $300 for a critique by one of the company’s readers, guaranteeing you either a bronze, silver, or gold medallion on your novel and more visibility to publishers.

Well, what’s the point of doing that when I can pay an equivalent amount to get someone at CreateSpace or Lulu to edit my manuscript for me? Then I can choose my marketing and publishing packages and self-publish to my heart’s content, free in the knowledge that I’m at least getting published after spending all that money.

The same kind of services are offered at another Christian manuscript holding tank. This one, The Writer’s Edge, is a little different in that they screen book proposals and the first three chapters of a manuscript. You send in your chapters via snail mail along with a check. The service is completed, and if they like your manuscript and feel it fits their criteria and the image their company looks for, they’ll change your proposal to fit their readers’ critiques, post it to their website, and let their cadre of publishers sift through the books they feel are worthwhile.

The problem I’m seeing with both these services is that they don’t offer any hope that you’ll really get published. Even if you get through The Writer’s Edge screening process, it’s likely you’ll be dropped into a report with a dozen like-minded authors and set on some publishing agent’s desk only to be ignored like so much dross. To me, I think that’s a genuine waste of my money. I’d prefer to spend money on stamps for the elusive query that can be sent out to multiple agents. At the very least, if I secured an agent for my book, I’d be assured that the person would be looking for a publisher for me. These services don’t care one way or the other whether their authors get published. Authors are paying them.

I’ve read in places it’s best not to submit manuscripts to places where you have to pay, so why are publishers asking authors to do this? Sure, if it were a free holding tank for authors that publishers could go to, that’s a whole different ballgame. I’m sure they’d get thousands upon thousands of manuscripts, and it’d be the same thing as a regular slush pile any publisher deals with. But is paying $98 to get a manuscript on a list really going to do me that much good when the publisher’s more likely to look at Joe Blow on the next page with the bronze medallion next to his work since he paid the $300 to get it reviewed?

Now this last company that was listed by the NaNo-er is actually a branch off Harper-Collins, a publisher most people will recognize. The group is called Authonomy, which is a play off the author’s autonomy, I’m sure. What Authonomy does is different from both groups listed above, and it gets me even harder than those two.

First, Authonomy is free, so of course, there are a lot of people already publishing there. What it encourages is authors to put up at least 10,000 words of a manuscript for perusal by the other members there. Members read, comment, and occasionally “shelve” the books they enjoy. If a book gets “shelved” enough times, it goes to a higher position in relation to the other books.

If I’m recalling what I read correctly, the top five books with the highest number of shelves are sent to the editors’ desks at Harper-Collins where they’re read and reviewed. Of course, this doesn’t say anything about possible publishing, and really , Harper-Collins has said they expect to find good new talent through this service. But there’s no guarantee anyone from the company will ever read an excerpt of your work, especially as it’s the readers who are doing the choosing for the publisher.

Authonomy asks that you have as complete a manuscript as possible, allows you to upload 10,000 words to the entire novel, and lets you attach a piece of coverart for your novel. There are a number of genres you can submit the novel to, and once it’s up, you can start receiving comments from the number of readers that are already a part of the site.

I noticed as I perused some of the books listed that a lot of the authors are using this mainly as a tool to get noticed. The comments ranged from very constructive to “this was great – please check out my book.” The only reason I’d put my book on the site in all honesty was if I were self-published and looking for a little more exposure as Authonomy allows authors of self-published works to include links to their sales websites.

In any event, I’ve heard from a lot of people that something like Authonomy is bad juju if you’re wanting to get published. Anything a publisher thinks is already published, even if it’s e-publishing, can potentially get you dismissed as an author. It’s why I never put my novel up on my LiveJournal account. So what does that say about Authonomy?

Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear it cause this is making me curious. Personally I’m staying away from any of these websites for now. (Not that I have a Christian manuscript to submit to the first two, but you know what I mean.) What does everyone else think?

-Rae-

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