More about Pay to Play Publishers

Apr 8, 2015 | The Publishing Industry

A while back, I wrote about Tate Publishing, a subsidy publisher  that had been in the news as a result of some… rather callous business practices. I think it’s a good time to revisit publishers like these in light of a recent comment on that post. (For the uninformed – a subsidy publisher is basically ‘pay to play’. You pay them some amount of money, usually in the thousands of dollars, and they will do the production work to publish your book, meaning they will typeset the print version, format the ebook, create the cover, and put it up on various sites like Amazon etc. This may sound like a good deal, but it’s not.)

Look, there’s no easy way to say this: it is my completely reasonable opinion that Tate Publishing is complete junk. Consumer Affairs has a list of complaints against them a mile long, and the same issues pop up all the time.

  • They don’t respond to authors in a timely fashion.

  • Their royalty accounting is highly suspect.

  • Royalties are paid late or not at all.

  • Their production work is questionable at best, sub-standard at worst, and sometimes not even completed.

  • They miss deadlines.

  • They constantly move authors from one representative to the next, possibly in an attempt to avoid accountability.

  • Their marketing department is more concerned with selling services to authors instead of selling authors’ books to readers.

  • Their marketing department doesn’t even do the barest minimum to market an author’s book.

  • The up-front fee (around $4000) is supposed to be refunded after an author sells 1000 retail copies of their book, but it seems that Tate actively discourage authors from getting retail sales, and even after passing the 1000 copy threshold, authors still have issues getting any kind of refund.

This is a ‘Christian’ company, as if that’s supposed to be proof against the kind of shady business practices that plague unethical secular companies. In truth, Tate Publishing is just as susceptible to having a lack of ethics as any other, and by all accounts, that ‘Christian’ moniker is for marketing purposes only.

Consider this a warning, if you should deal with a subsidy publisher. The current state of affairs for these companies is that they may talk the talk, but they fail completely at walking the walk. They can’t deliver what they promise. For more information on companies like these, see David Gaughran’s posts on Author Solutions and its many, many subsidiaries.

The golden rule for publishers is thus: if they ask you to pay money up front, then their interest is not in selling your book in order to make a profit. Their interest is in getting your money to make a profit.