1) Under Item V. in your contract you state “The Publisher shall, at its expense, edit, design, format and release quality trade paperback and eBook versions of the Book in the English language within 12 months of receipt of a complete and acceptable Manuscript.” By complete and acceptable, do I provide the cover art, back matter and camera-ready formatting? i.e., is Vine Leaves what’s known here in the U.S. as a hybrid publisher where the author pays for cover design, typesetting and interior?
No, manuscript means the manuscript (your written document), not the production files. We produce everything in-house and at our own expense. We are a small traditional publisher. Complete and acceptable manuscript is what it will be once you and your assigned development editor (which is also at our expense) have finished with the edits. You do not need to invest any money to produce your book.
2) What are the different types of edits that my manuscript will go through?
a) Developmental Edit (also called a content edit)
This type of edit checks that the book is suitable for the market and polishes the content.
If the book is nonfiction, we check whether it has explored its subject appropriately. How it compares to other books on the market. And what else could be done to make it more appealing or competitive in the market.
If the book is fiction, the developmental edit checks that it hits the right notes to be satisfying for its readers—in plot, characters, and tone. Each genre has defined characteristics. For example, the kind of protagonist who would be satisfying in a literary novel might bore readers of romance. Your developmental editor will be experienced with your particular genre.
A development editor has one major goal: to make your book the best it can be. Everything he or she suggests is to make you look good on the page, so respond to every query and consider the suggestions carefully. While you may decide to decline some (i.e., some push back is OK), you should have a valid reason. In sum, welcome the feedback, but don’t get defensive, and keep an open mind.
b) Copy Edit
This edit comes after the developmental edit and takes a closer look at the details. The copy edit picks up grammar, spelling, factual inaccuracies, and inconsistencies. The copy editor also checks the book’s timeline—where a number of unseen problems might come to light.
Proofreading is a final spruce to mop up any other issues. Copy edits inevitably find mistakes, and correcting them can cause other hiccups elsewhere in the book. A fresh pair of eyes is the best way to spot them—and that’s why you need this final check.
3) Why do I need to have a website presence?
To put it bluntly, if you don’t, you won’t sell books. Let me give you an example of a type of book that is the hardest to sell—vignettes. An author of ours with a collection out who has no online presence has sold a total of two copies in two years. An author of ours with a collection out who has a moderate online presence has sold more than 200 copies in two years. An author of ours with a collection out who has a well-established online presence has sold more than 500 copies in two years.
We advise having the following (at least):
a) Author website
b) Mailing list
c) Facebook profile
d) Twitter profile
e) Instagram profile
And these are optional extras:
Please read these articles for more information:
Why Every Writer Needs an Email List
Why Indie Authors Need to be Bold with Social Media
Social Media for Writers
How Successful Authors Use Social Media: 23 Content Ideas
4) Okay, so I’ve signed the publishing contract. What happens now?
You will be given a production schedule for your reference. Please don’t email us over and over again asking what’s happening. We will email you when we need something from you, and we will make sure you are given enough time to deliver. And please trust that we will get everything done, and on time. We have been through the same process with every book and know what we’re doing.
Here is a sample production schedule running over the course of about 9 months (variations on timings are likely and dependent on project):
Development edit: 3 months (working directly with an editor)
Galley for endorsements: for the author to send out
Copy-edit: 2 weeks (this does not involve the author)
Cover info needed from the author: 1 week after dev edit
Author tasks: 1 month after dev, a list of questions sent to the author for things like the front and back matter of your book as well as a description for the back cover
Proofread: 2 weeks (this does not involve the author)
Author proof: 1 month after author tasks, checking the typeset a final time
ARCs and newsletter from VLP: goes out to our list via Book Sirens, and uploading to a few review sites at our discretion
Receiving cover and promotional assets: 2-3 months after dev
Launch week info from the author: 3 months after dev, a list of questions sent to the author asking things like comparable titles and why you wrote the book
Approximate month available for pre-order: 3 months in advance of release (about 6 months after dev)
Social media posts: throughout the pre-order period to garner interest
Launch week: release day newsletter to our list, a week’s worth of social media posts exclusively about your book, listing with the LitNuts newsletter, utilizing our street team to push reviews, asking our private Facebook group to share the news
And a lot more going on in the background. Including registering ISBNs, typesetting and ebook formatting, compiling metadata and keywords, building website pages, and more. All of this for multiple books across the year.
5) Will my eBook be available on NetGalley or Edelweiss for advanced reviewers?
No. But we do make it available at Book Sirens. If you want it to be put up on NetGalley or Edelweiss, it will be at your own expense.
6) Will you pay for book contest/award entry fees?
No. You may enter contests/awards, and if you need us to be the official ‘submitter,’ we can do that for you. But the costs are yours.
7) I have no idea how to promote my book. Can you give me any pointers?
In addition to having a solid mailing list (see Question 2), a good place to start would be to read this article.
8) You’ve just offered me a publishing contract for an earlier draft, and I want to change something in the book. Will that be a deal breaker?
Not likely, but we would need to know the extent of the changes to make a final decision.
9) Tell me what it means as a US writer (with a US set of contacts and followers) to be published abroad. Will the book be widely distributed in the US?
Yes, the book will be available in English all over the world. It will be distributed via Ingram.
10) I want a lot of input on the cover. I've looked at your other books and I really like the covers, so I know you will do a good one. But I need to love it. I have ideas that I would like to talk about. I also wanted to ask you about using original art for the cover of a book. Does VLP have a policy about this, and is there a way I should proceed?
If you have photographs you want us to consider, you may send them. We can make almost anything look good, but the issue is, what impression do we want to give your potential audience? A photograph as art is to be admired. A photograph on a book cover is an advert. It's there as a selling tool, not something pretty to look at. So, you may offer your own suggestions, but we’re afraid that we cannot guarantee we will use your ideas, and we will ultimately have the final say. If your ideas don’t work there will be no compromises. When it comes to designing book covers, we are the experts, so please trust us. You can see a huge portfolio of covers designed by us here.
If you want to use original artwork from another artist, and we approve it, you need to acquire all the permissions yourself. I'm afraid we don't have a budget for that.
11) Tell me about the “no competing works” clause in the contract and what that means.
It just means you can’t publicly publish the material contained in the book without our prior consent. But you can approach us and say, I want to publish this in BLAH. We'll take a look at the venue, and if we think it worthwhile, we'll say yes. 99.9% of the time we say yes.
12) What does it mean for an eBook to be “out of print? in the contract?” Can this section detail a sales level below which the book will be considered out of print?
It means if we stop publishing it and it is removed from distribution. It has nothing to do with sales level. This would only happen if your five-year publishing contract wasn’t renewed or the company shut down.
13) Tell me if I understand this correctly. If you sell a book directly to a consumer, I receive 40% net of that sale as a royalty payment. But if I sell a book (at a reading or other event that I have set up and promoted), and I sell it at the cover price, I keep just 40% of my earnings after purchasing at a 40% discount. Aren’t I essentially just getting the money I spent back? Why is that reasonable?
You are receiving 40% of the net profit on each sale we make. Net means the total net publisher compensation after retailers, printers, and distributors have taken their percentage. For example, a 300-page paperback sold at $17.99 USD, receives approximately $4.79 net publisher compensation after a 40% wholesale discount and a $6 printing and distribution charge. The author would therefore receive approx $1.91 per paperback sold at $17.99. If you buy directly from us at 40% off retail price ($10.79), and you sell it for $17.99, that leaves you with $7.20 profit. So, you are therefore making almost four times the typical royalty by selling the books you purchase from us. Not to mention the fact that you can sell autographed copies at a higher price. And that’s totally up to you.
14) As an author from the US, is the royalty money being converted from USD into EUR and back again? I just sold something to a European online magazine, and I didn’t make out that well in the exchange. Is anything lost through this part of the process?
All sales are made in the currency of the country they're being purchased in. The only time a conversion takes place is when Ingram pay us, as all compensation is converted into USD for us to receive the funds. It all depends on the rate on the day that we are paid. But this isn't something that only applies to us. When American companies sell books overseas, they have to deal with the same thing. Also, when payment time comes, we don't calculate your cut from the money we receive from Ingram, we calculate your cut in each separate currency from the initial sales reports, deduct 60%, and then convert to whichever currency you prefer to be paid in. So, say you want to be paid in USD. You would be paid the original USD royalties. Whatever else was earned in other currencies will be converted to USD direct from the sales reports.
15) There’s no mention of reprint rights – if someone wants to reprint a portion of the book or a piece from the book in an anthology. My understanding is that, in such an instance, that publisher would need your permission and might expect to pay for those rights. What happens in that instance?
Reprint rights come under the section "competing works." Basically, if you want to submit one of your pieces to an anthology you need to ask us. If we say yes, we won't take any money from that.
16) I have a publisher in Spain who wants to publish a Spanish translation of the book I have under contract with you. I know that you have only purchased print and eBook rights in English, so I am allowed to do this. Can they also use the cover you created for it?
If your Spanish publisher wishes to use the cover we created for your book, they will need to purchase it from us. The copyright of the artwork belongs to us. The cost would be the same as commissioning a new cover from Jessica Bell Design.
17) In Section I: Grant rights and territory in the publishing contract you mention that you will use my biographical information for promotion. Can I check the biographical material you send out?
The only biographical information we use is whatever you provide us.
18) In Section II: Manuscript in the publishing contract you mention,
"If such revised, corrected and/or supplemented materials are not delivered in a timely manner" can we specify an exact time?
We can't put a specific time limit on it at the moment, as it's going to depend on your production schedule, which can vary. You can see how the production schedule generally works under Question 4 in the FAQ.
19) In Section III: Royalties in the publishing contract you mention that we get 40% of publisher compensation. How are net receipts for ebooks defined?
Depends on how much the retailers and distributors charge. We distribute ePubs through Ingram and Amazon. Your book will be available on pretty much every online store that sells books in English.
20) What is the 'distribution charge'?
That depends on the size of your book and the rules of the country it is bought from. And again, it's up to the retailer/distributor, not us. It varies for all books depending on content and size. You can read about how Amazon do it here. Note that your book will be available under the 70% royalty option at Amazon.
21) Do you do print runs or is it print-on-demand?
We're print-on-demand. But you are welcome to order as many books as you like, directly from us, at a 40% discount and free shipping worldwide. For an order above 250 copies, we can offer a 50% discount.
22) Do you send out review or publicity copies or is that up to me?
We will submit to reviewers who accept electronic submissions and that do not charge a reading fee. If there is a charge, and/or they require print copies, that will be up to you. We also offer 20 electronic review copies via Book Sirens for general readers.
23) I’m interested in more author copies – or some galley proofs – mostly for reviewers. Some reviewers will not want e-copies. (I’m a reviewer and would not be receptive to an eBook.) Is this a possibility?
I'm afraid this isn't possible, sorry. It's not in our budget. We also don't give out print galley proofs due to it not being in our budget. But your paperback will be ready to print around three months in advance of the release date (see sample publishing schedule to the left) and you can purchase as many copies from us as you like to send out to reviewers who desire print. Also, don’t forget that you can sell these copies yourself, at author events, etc.
24) Which distributor do you use and do you get copies into bookstores?
We use Ingram. Very occasionally we get books into bookstores. But in those instances the owners of the bookstores have approached us, or the author has shopped their books to them. It will be up to you to pitch your book to bookstores if you wish to be in them. You will receive a sell sheet for that purpose. Please note, however, that we do not offer returns, and will not be able to offer returns even if they ask nicely. If a bookstore won't take on a book because of our non-returnable policy, then its best you offer copies to that bookstore on consignment.
25) Will it be possible to publish short excerpts on my blog for publicity purposes?
Yes, of course, that's totally fine.
26) Why does it say on Amazon that my book is out-of-stock, or that there are only a few copies left?
It's nothing to worry about. Stock availability messages do not reflect the actual situation. The situation, in reality, is that they do not have any in stock. Your paperback is print-on-demand. Once purchased, it's printed and shipped. This can also happen when Amazon doesn't receive orders on a book for a long period of time. As they don't actually stock it in their warehouse, any orders they receive will be synced to Ingram (our distributor), who will then fulfill the order for Amazon, and then Amazon will ship the book. If a few people place an order at once, they will see that it's in demand and the stock message will disappear. Oftentimes, the stock message is there without rhyme or reason. Amazon can be a mystery.
27) If your wholesale discount is 40%, why does my local bookstore tell me that they can only receive a 20% discount when they try to order?
To receive the highest possible discount, your local bookstore will need to order direct from Ingram via iPage here.
When you set the discount at 55%, which is the highest (and Ingram gets its 15% for distribution), you will find the discount to Booksellers on iPage listed as "REG" (for Regular). If you set it at, say, 40%, which we generally do, (and Ingram gets 15%), you'll likely find the discount listed as "25%".
If they don't order direct from Ingram, for example, they prefer a wholesaler like Gardeners, there will always be a difference between the discount we set and the discount the wholesaler sets to the retailer. This could include things we cannot see, such as free delivery, and/or generous payment terms (60/90 days). Don't forget wholesalers only make money by buying at one price and selling at another. And discount is only one part of it. Sometimes a retailer will want a lower discount, but free shipping, or 2 months payment terms. Some will then get more, others less.
If you have a large promo running and expect a lot of bookstore orders, please let us know so that we can adjust the wholesale discount to 55% in your home country for a limited period of time. Please be aware, however, that the higher your wholesale discount, the less royalties you (and we) are going to receive for online sales. So be sure this choice is going to be beneficial. Alternatively, we can keep the wholesale discount at 40% so you get the most out of online sales, and you can sell to bookstores on consignment.
28) Why is the BookScan sales data on Amazon different to the number of sales logged in my Royalty Reports?
BookScan data is misleading. Key point: "Nielsen BookScan data is updated every week for the most recent week’s sales; sales on Amazon.com and other retailers may not be reported to your publisher or distributor on the same schedule. The Sales Info tab in Author Central is meant to allow you to see sales trends, but is not meant to replace reports you receive from your publisher." You can read more about how it works here.
29) Can booksellers return books published by Vine Leaves Press?
We have a no-return policy, I'm afraid. As a small independent press, we just don't have the means to store returned items. If you were to sell copies you've purchased from us, directly to bookstores on consignment, however, then that would be up to you.