Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about Long Tale Press
Have a question that’s not in this list? Mail it to ‘faq (at) LongTalePress (dot) com’.
- Briefly, what are you all about?
- Grassroots publishing. Publishing meets Web 2.0. Call it whatever you want, but at heart we’re all about creating a community of readers and writers so that great stories can find their audience without all the fuss of agents, editors, and the other hoo-ha of the traditional publishing industry.
- Seriously? You don’t use agents and editors?
- Seriously. Look, agents and editors definitely have their place in the world of publishing. All we know is that there are a lot of great writers and great books that have failed to attract the interest of agents and editors who hold the keys to the traditional publishing world, usually because they don’t think a story will sell well enough to make money. But a) how should they know? And b), that’s really more a reflection of the problems with traditional publishing than any true reflection of the quality of such stories themselves. Perfectly wonderful stories that may appeal to an inherently smaller audience just can’t make it in a system where success is gauged in terms of tens-of-thousands of copies sold.
- So how do you know what to publish?
- Our readers tell us. We let them see excerpts of unpublished works, enough to give them the flavor of the writing, show them what the characters are like and what the story is about. Then they tell us which ones are worth publishing in their entirety. After all, readers are the ones who buy the books; why shouldn’t they have the say in what gets published?
- Wow. And that works?
- We’re not sure yet. If we’re still in business in three years, you’ll have your answer. Obviously, we have faith that it will or we wouldn’t be doing this. If readers are honest about what they want, and then actually buy the books we publish, it’ll work.
- Isn't this like "self-publishing"?
- Definitely not. "Self-publishing," in the book world, is when an author pays a publisher to publish their work and
submit it to the Books In Print list. Self-publishing firms aren't going to help authors do anything, really, beyond that.
They won't assign an editor to help tighten up the story. They won't actively market the book in any way. They won't even
copy-edit it. Self-publishing companies definitely have their place in the world--they're perfect for people who are, for
example, writing their life's story in order to preserve that history for their children and grandchildren, or simply need
a small number of bound copies of a book to give as gifts (although print-on-demand companies like LuLu.com are often more appropriate for that)--but self-published works also have a stigma in the
publishing industry. Fair or not, self-published works are perceived as "oh, well, I guess it wasn't good enough to get
published the usual way."
Long Tale Press is not a self-publishing company. We are a "real" publishing house, in that we not only handle the production end of turning your manuscript into things people can buy, listing it in Books in Print, et cetera, but we also provide mechanisms for editorial and copy-edit support, we actively market your book, the works. The difference between self-publishing and "real" publishing is this: does the company make its money from authors, or from sales of books. Long Tale Press is most assuredly in the latter camp. Writers should be wary of any publisher that asks for money up-front for anything; rest assured that we'll never ask you for a dime, unless you're shopping in our bookstore!
- You seem to deal only in eBooks. Why is that?
- We do audio books too, but yes. The answer is simply one of cost. EBooks are the most economic format for us to publish in, followed closely by audio books. Specializing in electronic formats allows us to produce and distribute our books at very competitive prices, and also positions us for the inevitable shift away from paper-based reading. The reality is that while we personally love real paper-and-ink books, they’re frightfully expensive to prepare, print, and promote. We’ll still do print editions for books which turn out to be particularly successful (we’d be stupid not to), but sadly we just can’t afford to go to print with titles that haven’t yet proven their viability in electronic form. I hope someday we will, but we're just not there yet.
- Why should a writer try your process instead of just finding an agent?
- First--and being a writer ourselves this is more than just theoretical--finding an agent is actually not easy. It’s time consuming and emotionally draining. And getting an agent interested in your work is no guarantee of actually getting published anyway. As a writer, I’d honestly rather spend my time writing and working on new stories.
- Second, because we have such low up-front production costs, we can afford to be considerably more generous with our royalty structure than a traditional publishing house. Our Writer Tour has all the details, but in short we give authors a 50/50 split of the profits from their book. We strive to keep our production costs low so that books can make a profit (and thus generate royalties) on sales of as few as 100 copies. So authors will see income from their books sooner and at much higher percentages than with traditional publishers.
- Third, there’s no risk. If a writer uploads an excerpt from their book to our website, two things can happen. Ideally, the community will like it and we’ll publish it. Win! But if the community doesn’t like it, the writer can shop it around to agents and traditional publishers just as if we never existed. And, unlike submitting a book to a traditional publisher, writers here can monitor the exact status of their submissions in real time to see how close they are to getting a publication offer. No more submitting a manuscript and waiting six months to a year before getting an impersonal, form rejection letter.
- So what’s in it for readers?
- They get to be part of the process, which doesn’t happen anywhere else. They get to preview unpublished works, and help find the next "great American novel." They get to say what they like and don’t like about the works writers have submitted. They get to interact with the writers and other readers with similar tastes in our Forums. And hopefully, they get to have a lot of fun doing it.