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New Metric for Choosing ePublishers

Shannon Stacey pointed out a new epublisher launching on April Fool’s Day 2009. As the publisher came to defend herself in the comments, I assume that this is not some elaborate joke.

Given this blurb on the submissions page of Cherry Lane Press, my new metric for choosing epublishers is any publisher whose submission page contains three grammatical/spelling errors or less.   Anything less than three is acceptable otherwise, clearly, we are holding epublishers to too high a standard because, as the epublisher says in Stacey’s comments “Please keep in mind though that you can’t judge a book by its cover or a site by its typos.

Of course not.   Why would readers or authors care about a publishing site having “typos”.   Is “exceptable” really a typo?   Look, if you, as an epublisher, really care about the business, don’t embarass the rest of the epublishers, eauthors, and ebook readers but putting this crap up.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Bev Stephans
    Sep 25, 2008 @ 22:07:27

    Shannon did an excellent job answering Cherry Lane’s excuses for all of the poor spelling and grammar. Go to her website and read what she had to say.

  2. Emmy
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 01:23:11

    Wasn’t there just a thread about epubs and their lack of editing?

    SPD sucks, but if you know you have it and can’t spell for crap, maybe you should have your professional site proofed by someone who can spell. Maybe run your business like an actual business. I suck rocks at crunching numbers, so I hired an accountant.

    All that aside, those…dare we call them submissions guidelines?…are hilarious on multiple levels. What qualifies as depraved? And fuck, when is profanity ever so pertinent to the storyline that it can’t be substituted by another, equally descriptive, word? And it’s ok if a character poops, as long as they don’t get off on it, or boink a wolf as long as it turns into a human sometimes? That’s special.

  3. Emmy
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 01:25:27

    don't embarass the rest of the epublishers, eauthors, and ebook readers but putting this crap up.

    Also, that was a little funny in the middle of a typo rant. *g*

  4. Lisa
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 06:57:09

    Aside from the spelling those are typical epub guidelines. She would have done better to just copy and paste them from another site.

  5. Mireya
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 07:31:09

    That’s pretty much standard so I agree with Lisa. As to the typos, well, I just came back from visiting another epublisher’s website … seems to be standard now to have typos in publishers’ websites. :(

  6. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 08:47:06

    I like Jane’s standard. And I also like Shannon’s stand on it. I’m rather tired of the million and one epubs that open, cause all sorts of issues with either unprofessional behavior, lousy sites, shoddy clauses in their contracts, and then they are gone in a matter of months.

    If you’re going to do it-do it right. From the get-go. Every little detail is important, because every little detail adds to the big picture. Especially details like poor editing and sites that take eons to load.

  7. Kathleen MacIver
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 08:51:25

    When I read this post, I thought, “Gracious! That’s awful!” But then I went and read the comments in the other post.

    And now? Well… my overwhelming feeling is pity for this woman. Not because she has health problems, or because the Internet isn’t being kind to her. Rather, I feel pity because she doesn’t seem to understand the publishing business. I’m afraid that she’s destined to sink a lot of money into this, sign up a bunch of hopeful authors… and end up folding when the books don’t sell. Gracious knows we don't need any more folding businesses! I don’t want to see happen… for her, or her authors. Unfortunately, that’s what seems destined to happen.

    Grammar and spelling are not only necessary, but they’re only the beginning of what is necessary. I’d like to think that having her site edited is the only thing she overlooked… but her comments show that that’s not likely. If you read the teaser of her book on her website, that hasn’t been edited either. And that doesn’t even address other aspects of poor writing I see there. I’m not saying that to be cruel… I simply know that I, at my level of writing skills, shouldn’t be able to easily identify problems in a published book.

    Yes, there are some readers out there whose spelling skills and reading expectations are not terribly high, and who might be satisfied with books written is at this level. Obviously she knows some readers like this. The problem is… those readers aren’t enough to carry a publisher.

    She seems to think that she can hire people to take care of what she knows she cannot. To a certain extent, that’s true. The problem is that there has to be someone who knows 95% of everything, supervising everyone else and making sure that nothing is overlooked. That is what is missing… and she’d have to turn control of her business over to someone else to have that.

    Ms. Barmann, if you’re reading this, please know that I wish you and your authors the best. You’re probably too far into this to back out now, and suggesting that you do probably sounds like advising that you give up on your dreams. I don’t want to suggest that to anyone. But dreams must be realistic before they’re even worth pursuing. I don’t encourage my son to go ahead and trying building a submarine that can also fly. Why? Because he’s only nine years old, and he thinks he can manage it with two canoes and some tape. I've told him that if he wants to build such a thing, he must first learn everything that mankind has discovered about flying, ditto with submarines, and he must know how to build each individually. Only then can he possibly make a realistic plan for a submarine that also flies.

    I’m afraid you’re in a similar position. I am the type of person who believes that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. But if I know that I’d have to learn a lot before I could possibly be in the position to be a book publisher… and if I can see multiple problems in the first paragraph of your book… then that leads me to believe that you, too, would have to learn a lot to successfully be a book publisher.

    So I will simply wish you the best as you continue this learning adventure.

  8. JD
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 09:13:31

    The thing I’m not seeing in any of the new epubs (or some of the existing ones) is a business plan — what is their market, how is it different from the market of all the other epubs, and what are they doing to connect with that market (i.e., advertising, distribution, PR, or perhaps knowing that there’s an identified, existing need that’s not covered by the other epubs, etc.).

    Publishing books is vastly different from writing books. It’s a business. I’d like to see some indication from the epubs that a) they know how to run a business, and b) they know the existing market.

    Most of the “plans” I see are along the lines of “if I build it (the website) they will come (and buy the books there).” Not really a tenable business plan.

  9. Stacia Kane
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 10:34:38

    …he's only nine years old, and he thinks he can manage it with two canoes and some tape.

    I love your son. How awesome. You must be very proud. :-)

  10. Sparky
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 10:41:22

    This is silly. Yes we do judge a publisher by its typos (especially when some of them are somewhat dodgy for typos) because that is what they DO! It’s like saying “You shouldn’t judge an accountant on his fuzzy maths.”

  11. MCHalliday
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 11:43:32

    It isn’t surprising Ms. Barmann has difficulty understanding the requirements for a successful business as SPD is the misinterpretation of some or all sensory information and has been classified on the Autism Spectrum.

    If both visual and auditory processing disorders are present, the result is often dyslexia. Problems with correct spelling and grammer might indicate this diagnosis, but as a (past) teacher with a specialization in disorders and disabilities, I have to wonder why she has not learned to access and rely on aids; in this case, both spell check and a final proofer.

  12. Chrissy
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 11:50:29

    Even I (gasp) feel a little bad for the beating she’s taking, but then again… it was so unprofessional to slap up a poorly designed site full of typos and then promote it on the blog of a stranger… *shrug.*

    I, too, would be more interested in a business plan clearly mapped out than the millionth “we wanted to do it right” declaration.

  13. Steph
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 12:12:36

    Cherry Lane will not be opening with me on board anyway. I am walking away from the writing world completly. I was so excited when I got a great review and with all the wonderful people I have worked with. I was not in this alone yet I will not allow those with me to be dragged down. Is the SPD adults I work with going to be mad…yes. I just can’t believe how cruel this industry can be. Put down Cherry Lane, but my writing has been my one escape all these years from a world that can be quite overwhelming and even now I will never get the same joy out of that. I am in tears writing this as I had emailed Stacy last night and found her to be great and even asked her if I came across as a snot and she said no, because I care about peoples feelings. She is a great woman and I had a nice email exchange with her last night. I told her a few things which weren’t put up, but I forgot this is a world were nothing can be dropped. I’m going back to working with charities and that’s it.

  14. Chrissy
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 12:39:20

    Deciding not to write or be associated with the press is your choice. But please… when people use disabilities as an excuse they set everyone who shares those challenges back.

    As somebody with wonderful Autistic and Aspergers folk in my life, I find that offensive.

    Business is not a place to work out life issues, but good luck anyway. Honest!

  15. Steph
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 12:46:29

    And just for the record I didn’t write the site, I just took the fall for it. I should have noticed the mistakes and didn’t. My name is the one on their since I was the one who paid for the site, but I was never going to edit just do cover art. And as for using SPD as an excuse I’m tired of hearing that. I have been on my adult SP baord and spoke with them about this. Want to knwo how my SPD was involved with this…emotionally. I should have noticed the mistakes and didn’t cause A. the letters ei can look like ie even if I see them 15 times. My mistake was not noticing the mistakes and taking the fall. Beleieve me as I was told by a friend you learn who your friends are and they allowed me to take the fall and that is a major reason I am walking away! The one good thing that came of this is getting adult SPD out there and as I told Stacy last night that is something I am very passionate about.

  16. Marsha
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 12:54:53

    Wait a sec…on the comments at Shannon’s you said you “hired an awesome staff” and that you should have had your editor proof the site. Are you in charge or not? If you are in charge, then you should take the fall because that’s what people who are in charge do. If you’re not in charge you shouldn’t have represented yourself as such at Shannon’s.

    I support your apparent zeal for entrepreneurism and hope that you don’t “walk away from” an activity that you have enjoyed in the past because of this. Take some time, regroup and launch only when 100% ready and you may find yourself having more fun than you could imagine. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

  17. Julia Sullivan
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 13:11:18

    Steph, nobody is mocking you for having SPD, or from having dyslexia and/or dysgraphia as part of that.

    But professional communications need to look professional. Especially from publishers.

    You know that you have trouble proofreading accurately. There’s nothing wrong with that–lots of brilliant people have trouble with spelling and proofreading.

    But the part where the professionalism comes in is when you understand that proofreading isn’t your strength and you ask someone else to do it. That’s what being professional is about–understanding your strengths and the areas in which you need help from others.

  18. Anion
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 13:20:54

    Sorry, Steph, but only one person here mentioned your writing; it’s hardly a vicious tirade. If one bad review (which wasn’t even a review or a particularly negative comment; simply that your writing had problems) is enough to put you off writing forever, perhaps it’s best you not keep doing it. This is an extremely tough industry. People will have opinions about your work and they will express them if you put that work out into the world. I don’t say that to hurt your feelings or to encourage you to quit, just to encourage you to grow a thicker hide.

    So…you didn’t write the site? But you took the fall for it, hoping that if you mentioned you had SPD people would overlook someone else’s bad spelling and grammar? Isn’t that a little…um…really hugely offensive and odd? What the heck sort of people would allow you to do that?

    BTW…is this a record for an epub? From announcement to closure in less than 24 hours?

  19. B
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 13:31:14

    Deciding not to write or be associated with the press is your choice. But please… when people use disabilities as an excuse they set everyone who shares those challenges back.

    As somebody with wonderful Autistic and Aspergers folk in my life, I find that offensive.

    As someone who actually has Aspergers Syndrome, so do I.

    I admit, it can make me hesitant. It makes me worry that I’ll phrase things poorly in situations like writing a query letter and of course it makes me careful about what internet discussions I’ll get involved in (often few of them). I know from past experience how easily I can get into a misunderstanding. I have absolutely no social cues to work with online and I know that sometimes things that seem perfectly innocuous to me would sound really offensive to others.

    This does not mean I’m incapable of understanding how to interact socially in the least. And it does not excuse me from doing my best to learn how. It’s not always easy, I’m not always successful, but I try, because I know what’s wrong, and because I know I can.

    And so can other people with AS and similar problems.

    You know you won’t pick up the mistakes. If you’re not sure you can trust other people to, find people you can trust. Ask someone completely outside the business if you need to. There are a lot of people, especially among writers, who are fully supportive of people who know they struggle with spelling but make every effort to get it right.

    And if getting SPD out there is that important to you, then don’t just give up. Show people that you can do it, and do it right, SPD be damned. If you show other people with SPD how much you can achieve, they’ll believe that they can too.

    …ahem. /soapbox –;

  20. Keishon
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:14:38

    Any business no matter the type should want to look and project a professional image to the public no matter what. Just like restaurants that don’t clean their bathrooms, what makes you think the kitchen is clean, too? Maybe not the best analogy for epubs but you know what I mean. Shoddy image = shoddy work = avoid.

  21. Steph
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:15:07

    Again for the record if people read the other blog the only thing I said about SPD is I over look stuff. I took full blame and said I should have had it looked over. I never used it as an excuse ever. I can’t believe all this has been turned into me blaming SPD. I love being different lol. I take offense to the fact that this has been made to seem that way as I just pointed out on Shannon’s site reread what I wrote and u will see I took full blame for missing what was missed and as for Cherry Lane I am not the only owner I am the only one backing out!

  22. Keishon
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:19:55

    My response is to the article Jane wrote. Uh – from skimming the comments, I see that there’s been a shift in discussion.

  23. Teddypig
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:37:54

    And just for the record I didn't write the site

    I took full blame and said I should have had it looked over.

    I am so confused.

  24. Teddypig
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:42:43

    You're right lots of typos, thanks for pointing that out. I will admit to my grammar/spelling issues, that's why I hired an editor, guess I should have had her proof the site, which BTW is a work in progress.

    Yep, still confused.

  25. MaryK
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:50:10

    [No] beastiality with the exception of shifters, necrophelia, or other depaved acts.”

    OMG! That was very startling before I realized there were comma problems.

  26. MaryK
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 14:51:46


    Why is the edit function not there half the time?

  27. MCHalliday
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 16:01:59

    Steph, kudos to you for taking responsibility and for trying to achieve a goal. As others have suggested, don’t give up. Find skilled people you can trust.

    Challenges are presented to all of us and be assured, not many find it easy peasy to cope with harsh reality. Allowing time for reflection should help and also afford you an opportunity to form a comprehensive business plan. Good luck!

  28. JulieLeto
    Sep 26, 2008 @ 21:56:46

    I think the fact that an epublisher requires very little start up money is the reason why so many people think they are prepared to open up a business in publishing. If they had to shell out big bucks for start up costs, they’d have to have a business plan, a real, paid staff of professionals, etc. and capital. There might have been a time when an epub could open on a shoestring and work their way up to success, but I think those times might be over.

    What boggles my mind is that the authors who submit to outfits like this then wonder why no one treats THEM like a professional author. Hmmm…

    If you want to be a professional author, work for a house (e or print) who acts professionally. No publisher is perfect, but most of the established houses at least operate with a bottom line in mind. It’s not about being a family, or being nice, or publishing work that isn’t up to par because the author has problems, but IS THIS BOOK GOOD ENOUGH TO COMPETE IN THE MARKETPLACE AND MAKE MONEY? That might be overly capitalistic for some, but it often makes for the best business model.

  29. Kathleen MacIver
    Sep 27, 2008 @ 05:24:20

    Please don’t stop writing, Steph. Not if you enjoy it! Writing can be an outlet, and a release… therapy, to help get us through our days. I did not mentioned what is on your site to tell you it was bad. I merely mentioned it because writing because you enjoy it and publishing other people’s books are two totally different things. Just because a person loves to write, doesn’t mean they can be a publisher. Getting their book published by New York doesn’t even mean that you’ve got the qualifications to be a publisher. That is all I was pointing out.

    If you enjoy writing, don’t stop! Tell the stories inside of you, and share them with your friends and neighbors. That’s what I do… and it may be all I ever do. But that’s the beauty of having a hobby. It’s for us.

    So enjoy writing for you, Steph. You sound like a wonderful person. I really do wish you the best of everything.

  30. Kathleen MacIver
    Sep 27, 2008 @ 05:25:11

    grrr… what a thread to not be able to edit our posts on! LOL! Oh well…

  31. Anon76
    Sep 27, 2008 @ 10:23:43

    Steph, as Kathleen said:

    “I merely mentioned it because writing because you enjoy it and publishing other people's books are two totally different things. Just because a person loves to write, doesn't mean they can be a publisher.”

    I applaud you, Steph, for your drive, but I’m also looking at this from a different perspective. I understand that you are feeling beat up on because of, perhaps, a lapse in judgement, however I’ve watched too many authors jump on “new pub” bandwagons and found themselves seriously devastated by the results.

    Seriously devastated to the point where I can hear their “collective sobs” rather than just yours as an individual. They “bleed when cut” just as you do, hence, as a whole, authors and those aspiring to be try to send out warnings when a new house doesn’t seem to be honkey-dorey.

    You yourself said how you rely on those you trust to keep you on track, and that is important. However it is just as important for those like Shannon and Dear Author, with a little more world experience when it comes to the publishing industry, to warn aspiring authors when they see something that may turn into a huge mistake for all involved.

    And now I’m way over my 2 cents.

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