I need advice on a publishing proposition.

Ramble House has offered to publish my first novel "The Boss of Hampton Beach" as a trade paperback, hardcover and ebook.  Gavin O'Keefe would do an original cover.  

The publisher has explained that there would be no advance and they do no marketing or promotion.  I could be involved in the process as little or as much as I like.

All their titles are on Amazon, stores for Create Space, Lulu, etc.  Also a web page for each book at Ramble House site.

I recognize some names--Ed Gorman, Gary Lovisi, Dick Lupoff.

I haven't heard much from other agents or publishers.  I don't think it says anything about the quality of my writing because almost none have seen anything but a one-page query.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



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I'm not sure I can advise you.  Much depends on what you want.  I assume you have checked out the publisher thoroughly.

Beyond that, you might compare what you'd earn if you self-publish vs. what they'll pay you.  They don't seem to offer much other than the cover design and the formatting, and print copies.  All of this is feasible for self-publishers.  Do they have a distributor for the print versions?

Dear I. J. & Pepper,

Thank you for the responses.  No, I don't think they have a print distributor.  All their titles are on Amazon, etc. and their own site though.  I was told they pay around $2.00 a copy.  Haven't asked to see a contract, don't know if it'll get that far.  

Yes, the publisher has a good name but only does what he does and he's been honest & made that clear.  

If I self-publish could I do all of this--hardcover, paperback and e-book?  I think that might be a better alternative but it's very intimidating to someone who has to ask his kids every time there's even a small computer problem.  Thank you both for your advice.  Jed

Well, read J.A.Konrath's blog.  He has advice on self-publishing.  If you want print copies, it will cost something.  You need to shop around for those services, though Konrath's site lists the people he uses.

I totally understand the intimidating part, and you could certainly give your publisher a try and then investigate alternatives for the next or another book.  Do check into the length of time the publisher will own your rights and at what point they'll be returned to you.

Read the contract very carefully.  See what rights they want and the length of time they want them.  Be aware that if they don't market or promote, you'll be carrying that burden, and that places like the big box stores will give you the run-around about doing book signings and won't stock your books.

I found their website.  There were no submission guidelines or invitations to hear from authors, so no way of judging what they're looking for, if anything.  They're flying far enough under the radar that Preditors and Editors and Absolute Write haven't heard of them, so no help from that quarter.  Most of their catalog appears to be books that are long out of print and out of copyright.  Their 'About' page spends a lot of time patting themselves on the back about copying the books.

Really, this is up to you, but you are going to be the major force pushing your book to readers, moreso because they don't do any promotion or marketing themselves.  I'm not comfortable with the way this feels, but I'm not the one looking for a publisher, so you have to go with your own gut feeling on it.  Your books will be available for sale, but availability and sales are two different things, and this may make nothing at all for you, or very little.  It depends on what kind of effort you're willing to put into it.

I'm no expert, Jed.  And I think Pepper's advice to read the contract carefully (like maybe get somebody more legal to read it if it's not straightforward) is really good.

But I would say this.   If I were you, I'd grab it.  Boom, you're published.  You have an amazon author page, you aren't "self-published", for benefit of those who still look down their noses at that.

I assume you have to pimp it yourself.  But it will also gain some mo' from being on that label with those other people.

You're in the club, move on to your next book.  Remember that you get a fifteen percent "bonus" for not having an agent to pay.

The two big concerns I'd have is the length of the contract, and if there is an opt-out.  My contract for my first one has no lifespan, but has a "buyout" clause where I can reacquire the rights for a fixed sum.

The other one is... if they aren't doing print books, does that leave you those rights?   Because you could play the ebook thing awhile, then put it out on CreateSpace or something and link the two versions on amazon.  That sort of "mixed rights" thing seems to be getting common.

A question you might ask yourself... if you don't take this, what will you do?   Keep slamming away on the agent marathon?   Put it out yourself?   If this is your only book and dear to your soul, OK, maybe you want the world for it.  If it's just your first shot and you plan on being around, it sure seems like a good, fast place to start.

Hi Cammy

Thanks for the advice.  I agree with all you've said but after going back & forth for the weekend I've decided to try the self-publish route.  My son, an art school grad, will do the cover.  We'll do paper first on Create Space then ebook on Kindle.  Sounds intimidating but I've been on both their boards and there seems to be plenty of help when I'll need it.

Keeping "Control" of the book was the deciding factor.  Also, however small the money it makes I might as well keep the lions share instead of a tiny percent.

No, "The Boss of Hampton Beach" is not my only crime novel.  "Hampton Beach Homicide" is almost complete & three others in the series are in various stages of revision.

Thanks for your response, it helped.  Also, thanks again to I. J. & Pepper.



Very good luck to you, Jed.

Good luck, Jed!

I'm kind of passing this on from discussions with those lunatics --oops, sorry, "my publishers"--and I agree completely with their scheme.  Which is to start with ebooks. Kindle and SmashWords both.  Use smashwords to help get reviews, build  reviews and "also boughts" on Kindle,  using a "soft launch" to friends, etc.  thus building this "suit" for your book with cheap ebooks.  

Once it's got some trappings and gilt, do the "real launch" maybe even at a lower price. 

Wait a while then do a big launch for the paperback, perhaps chip the ebook price up a notch.

Link the two at amazon so all marketing leads to both.  Push the ebook hard.

I love to argue with those guys, but I can't see much wrong with this plan.

If you are very good at marketing and sales yourself or if you have a lot of money to invest into the sales, then this is still liable to help you.  If not, and you are good at making cover pages yourself then this is sadly a junk offer to stroke your ego but otherwise do pretty nothing for you.  I'm tempted to use the phrase "screw you over" but in reality, it might just be "not much real help".

I just took a quick look at the site and I can't tell you what to do. But I would be skeptical about this company. The main problem I see are the book prices. $18 for a paperback? $30 for a hardcover? Unless they discount them on Amazon and other sites your books won't sell. You've really got to be careful of these kinds of publishers. Yes you will be published but at what cost to your career when your numbers are always low because the prices are too high. Even in the traditional world, this is a problem. A big one.

Google the publisher. Trust me, with the Internet, if their authors complain it won't take long to find it. Check out the kinds of complaints you're seeing and then make a decision. Research is key.

Never heard of this place but am I the only one who thinks the name is awfully close to Random House?

For those who aren't sure if a publisher, agent or whatever is reputable you can always check out the Predators and Editors listings.


Always, always research a pub before signing with it. Too many newbies are just desperate to sign with anything. You should read books from the publisher to get an idea of their editing as well as contact previous authors with the company.

I think the OP has flown the coop since this has been months ago but always be careful when signing with a publisher especially one that's new. You don't wanna end up with a bad situation (being published badly is worse than being unpublished).

Also if a pub doesn't have what it takes to promote you or get your book in front of readers then you don't need to waste your time. Some pubs are so tiny and insignificant that being published with them is not even considered a publishing credit so forget what it might do for your reputation. Some can't even get you reviews. Sure pubs don't promote the way they used to but your publisher should at least be able to send your books to reviewers and they should have some contacts no matter how new they are. Sometimes it's like some of these smaller presses are run by some dude in his basement with no help whatsoever. So always be careful working with publishers you haven't heard of or who doesn't have a reputation.

Being signed with just anyone is not the same as being with a valuable publisher who actually does right by your book.


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