I stumbled upon this exchange in the EREC site blog. This is about a new publisher, Circle Dark Publishing.
Says Angelia Sparrow, one of their authors (so far, from what I can see, the only one having a book out with them):
"I know the folks behind Circle Dark. Part of that is humor, part of it is truth. They do have day jobs, and this is just starting up.
"They spent the last year squirreling away bits of their own paychecks so they could pay the authors of Twilight and Thorns. We were paid the Monday of the week it came out.
"My Nikolai, their next release, is a royalty item. I don't expect the first check on that until March.
"They do plan on going print, eventually.
"All that said, check out Twilight and Thorns."
Then comes Anonymous to spoil the feel-good party:
"They have day jobs....gives me a TON of confidence that the company will be run as a company should be run.......
"They spent the last year squirreling away bits of their own paychecks so they could pay the authors....ditto, a TON of confidence...NOT. They are using their personal cash to run a company? A LOOMING DISASTER!!!!!!!
"One of the owners (Heidi Something or Other) is supposedly a multi-published author with various e-pubs? Really? Googling her name turns up nothing no titles whatsoever.
"All confidence-builders...good luck to all the authors who get suckered into this mess-waiting-to-happen."
Angelia Sparrow responds:
"So, anonymous: saving the seed money, working nights and weekends to bring a dream to fruition, and taking a small business full time only whe it is turning enough of a profit to replace a day job is doing it wrong? I thought that was not only the American Entrepreneurial Dream, but also how the vast majority of small businesses got going."
You know, I can see where Ms Sparrow is coming from, but I am with Anonymous on this one. If I am an author, I will be very wary of signing any contract with a publisher who admits to having no start-up funds and are dependent on their day jobs to get the money to run their publishing business. This gives me the impression that the publishing business is either a "side-income" thing or a hobby. It lacks a show of dedication that I'd like my publisher to have. What happens if something happens to the day job? American Dream or no, I'm not going to risk some story I've worked hard over.
The problem with new electronic publishers is, from what I can see, this: the publisher has an uphill battle to win audience. I said it a long time ago but back then I was screamed down by authors who are now currently stuck in all kinds of litigation matters with Triskelion, Mardi Gras, and other charming companies - readers stick to an electronic publisher or two that they "trust". By "trust", I mean they know that the books sold by the publishers are the ones they will most likely enjoy. An author can only expect her readers to follow her from epublisher to another only after she has built up a loyal following. I don't see the point in an author submitting to so many houses hoping to get visibility because the best visibility can only be found at the big fish like Ellora's Cave, Samhain Publishing, Loose Id, and a few other houses.
Not many people want to admit this, but a new epublisher will have a hard time getting visitors/actual book shoppers especially when they do not have any big names writing for them. Nobody is going to see some online announcement that New Publisher A has opened its door and then rush to the website to go on a shopping spree because things don't happen like this. Electronic book shopping is not the same as real life book shopping. Because buyers can't browse the books (and no, some measly three-chapter excerpt is rarely enough) and because buyers have been burned many times by sloppily-edited and badly-written stories, eventually they will stick to buying favorite authors and trying out new authors at their favorite electronic publishers.
Unlike a bookstore where it is actually a pleasant experience to wander around for hours looking at book covers and browsing through books out of curiosity as well as interest, surfing through the websites of electronic publishers can be a time-consuming chore, especially when many new epublisher websites look like they are the result of a HTML Chernobyl. Are there many readers who actually do this? I know I personally only check out a handful of epublishers for new releases every week. If you must know, they are Loose Id, Liquid Silver Books, Samhain Publishing, Ellora's Cave, New Concepts Publishing, and Awe-Struck. Everything else... well, maybe I'll look if I have time once in a while and when I remember their names.
That's the problem I see with many new epublishers nowadays. They don't offer anything new to excite a reader like me. It's more or less the same old erotic fiction yarn, only by people I have never heard before so you can bet I won't be so eager to spend money to try out these books. Many of them have poorly designed websites that fail to convince me that I can trust them with my credit card number. Many of them are set up with the purpose of collecting submissions rather than getting the reader to buy their books, judging from how the submission link is often at the top of the page while the books displayed are so disorganized that shopping can sometimes be a pain in the rear end.
If a new publisher opens its doors and sells me formulaic erotic tripe, only with ugly sloppy examples of bad Photoshop works for covers displayed on a website that looks like hot mess, why should I bother with what they are selling when I could be shopping at Samhain Publishing?
A new epublisher has to offer something really special for me to care. At the very least, the website should look like a real business website with all the proper "you can trust us with your credit card number" icons and seals from the usual suspects displayed appropriately. Please don't give me that "we can't afford it!" sob story because if some joker can't afford to hire a professional web designer, that person really shouldn't be running a business, much less asking me to give him my money. If you can't afford a professional website, can I believe that you can afford to hire good editors? To get a secure shopping cart?
Frankly, I don't have much sympathy for people who moan that they are too poor to run a business well because business is not a democracy. No one is entitled to run a successful business. If you don't have the money to do things well, maybe you shouldn't be doing those things at all until you have saved, collected, begged, or stolen sufficient start-up funds to do things well from the get go.
I'm not saying that getting published with new companies is a bad idea. It depends, I think. This decision makes sense if the story written is more suitable to a niche market. But any new epublisher on the block has better offer something that cannot be found at Ellora's Cave because otherwise it makes not much sense to get published there instead of Ellora's Cave or any of the other high-tier publishers out there. An author wishing to submit to a new epublisher really should visit the publisher's website and think to herself whether, as a reader and consumer, she is willing to buy anything that is for sale on that website. If the answer is no, what makes her so sure that her books will sell at that very website?