Writer Beware

Writer Beware®: The Blog

Vanity Press Storm Warning: Waldorf PublishingPosted: 29 Jan 2021 09:51 AM PST
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®
A couple of years ago I featured Waldorf Publishing in a post about a manuscript contest it was running, which was replete with red flags–not least of which is that Waldorf is a vanity publisher. At the time, it was charging a menu of fees, from which authors could pick and choose:
In 2019, Waldorf switched to a book purchase requirement: authors were required to buy 50 or 100 books, “to ensure us that Authors are participating in marketing and actively promoting their book”. Possibly it won’t surprise you to learn that there is nothing on Waldorf’s website or in its publicity materials to suggest that fees are involved.
Waldorf is owned by Barbara Terry, who describes herself as “America’s Favorite Auto Expert, CEO, Spokesperson, Author, Off-road racer, Columnist, Television Host, Marketing and Public Relations expert”. The company appears to depend heavily on unpaid interns for staffing (at least one of whom did not have a happy experience); this may explain the quality of its covers, some of which you can see here. For a time, in addition to pay-to-play publishing, it sold author services a la carte.
Recently the company has re-branded as Waldorf Publishing, Marketing and Public Relations–the marketing and PR being provided by Barbara Terry Public Relations Group, which promises MAXIMUM IMPACT without providing any examples to illustrate the claim (and no indication as to whether these new services entail extra cost for Waldorf authors). Ms. Terry has also started several spinoff businesses: Waldorf Bookstands LLC, which “provides books on spinner display stands to businesses all around the United States” and has no web presence other than a single mention on an investment websiteShaggy Pup, a distribution company focusing on “libraries and school curriculum” that also seems to be on pause (its Facebook page hasn’t been updated since January 2020, and clicking on its webpage URL produces a 403 Forbidden notice); and Waldorf Book Fairs, whose website is currently blank.
Other business ventures undertaken by Ms. Terry include Dream Coast Films, a production company she established in 2013 that doesn’t appear to have ever gotten off the ground, and Master Media Class, a short-lived media training course she co-founded in 2020 with two Waldorf authors. 
Over the past couple of years, complaints trickling in from Waldorf authors and contractors suggest a company under stress: unfulfilled marketing promises (such as paying for Kirkus Indie reviews that were never delivered), books paid for and not received, under-reported sales, and unpaid royalties. You can see additional complaints in the comments thread on my original Waldorf post (Ms. Terry threatened at least two of the complainants with legal action) and in other places online.
Recently, though, signs of trouble have increased. 
This document from the Fort Bend, TX library system appears to be a request to terminate a contract won by Waldorf in October 2019, through which Terry’s distribution company, Shaggy Pup, was supposed to supply “high demand” books to Fort Bend libraries. The document details numerous issues and lapses on Waldorf’s part; for instance:

This past December, a comment appeared on my original Waldorf post from a liquidation company that claimed to have acquired a large number of Waldorf books. I followed up with a request for more information and got this response, which I’ve been given permission to share:

A defaulted storage unit filled with thousands of books? Not good. 
Waldorf is also shedding contracts. In September of last year, a number of Waldorf writers received emails informing them that their books were being discontinued due to low sales. (A brief brouhaha erupted when a former Waldorf staffer contacted terminated authors to offer her own formatting services should they wish to re-publish, prompting the company to send out another email declaring that the former staffer was “misleading [authors] of communications from Waldorf Publishing” and that the matter had been referred “to our attorney as we speak.”)
Then, last week, I began hearing from more Waldorf authors who’d received termination emails in early January, this time from a lawyer apparently retained by Waldorf. Just like in September, they were informed that their books were being discontinued due to low sales. But this time, money was involved. 

Now, there are two ways to read this email. The first is that two separate things are being offered here: one, the return of “physical and electronic” rights, and two, a suite of (dubious–see below) extra services. Saying yes to the first offer, which does not involve a fee, doesn’t mean you have to accept the second, which has a price tag of $350.
The other way to read it–especially if you are in shock at suddenly discovering your book is being axed, or your eyes glaze over at the sight of legalese–is that the return of rights is contingent on handing over $350 for a bunch of services you didn’t ask for. Which is, in fact, exactly what all the authors who contacted me about this email assumed. 
Poor wording, or deliberate ambiguity? Hmmm.
As for the services writers are being asked to buy, they are at best dubious, and at worst undeliverable. The shoddy quality of much of Waldorf’s design and formatting work is not a huge recommendation for the reformatting offer–plus, there’s no guarantee it would result in a file that was usable by another publisher or publishing platform, all of which have their own requirements and protocols. The new ISBN might not be especially useful either; ISBNs uniquely identify the purchaser, and if Waldorf bought them, they are Waldorf ISBNs just as much as the ones on the books that are being discontinued. 
As for the offer to “release and reassign” audiobook rights…Waldorf audiobooks are published through Audible/ACX. ACX contracts extend for seven years, can’t be terminated (except by Audible), and can’t be reassigned without written permission from Audible (and Audible is highly resistant to such requests). So it’s unclear how–or if–Waldorf could accomplish this. 
I can’t say for sure that Waldorf is in the kind of death spiral that offloading contracts and abandoning stock often indicates for small presses. What’s clear, though, is that Waldorf’s business ventures are in disarray, and it is not just getting rid of books, but trying to monetize the process by making a few bucks on its authors on their way out the door. 
Writer beware.

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Trying to Hang in There

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been very active on this blog for a while. With everything that’s going on I just haven’t had the inclination or desire to write. The political uprisings, people being censored on social media, free speech being tossed in the garbage can as well as other liberties, Covid deception, (I do not discount people being sick and loss of life,) as well as other things that life has thrown at me.

All that seems to be invading my world and has left me feeling empty of being able to write without anger and “non-Christian” language. Glen Beck did a short video and it is exactly how I feel! He says a whole lot more than I can say here.

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I think many others feel the same way but all we can do is pray, wait, and watch for what God has planned. He will not be mocked! And has told me, and others, “Watch, be patient, wait, it isn’t over!” (in regards to China Joe taking a seat in the White House) It reminds me of my five years of hard lessons in learning to trust Him and to be obedient as He moved me all around the country. (I wrote a book about that – Laying Down my Net)

As stated in a previous post I have been sending several books to the Prison Book Ministry and even though others have encouraged me to write another book it just isn’t there. The desire has vanished. Whether it returns is up to the Lord. For now there’s absolutely no desire to write one.

Isn’t that how the world will invade our peace, joy, and desire to take another step in the right direction? I’ve listened to little news. The T.V. is off most of the time and I seldom listen to the radio, but if I do it’s a Christian station when I’m driving.

So what’s with the down trodden spirit I have to ask myself. The answer? I’ve looked out over what’s going on in the world instead of looking up to see what the Lord our God is doing. In other words, get your focus right, Cass!

I have been clinging to Him, but somehow the enemy always comes sneaking in to redirect my attention. I think that’s true with many of us. With all that is happening in our crazy mixed up evil world we MUST stay focused on Christ and try to be a part of what He is doing. And that is not always easy!

We’re being invaded by evil spirits like never before in this country. They are determined to not only destroy our country and every Christian breathing but lead as many into hell as they possibly can. I’m not talking about republicans, democrats, independents! I’m talking about the spiritual warfare that is being carried out across our country and the world! Christ is coming back and Satan knows it even more so than many of us. His time is short and he is determined to rob, steal, and destroy as much as he can and through anyone he can! Our battle is in the heavenlies, not each other.

This post is as much for me as it is being written for you. I’m as guilty as everyone else in the anger, frustration, and name calling. I will make it very clear though, I will NEVER accept evil as any part of leadership in my country and I’m looking to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to deal with it in His way and in His time.

In the meantime hopefully we all can hang in there. My prayer: Come Lord Jesus come!

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Snows Splendor

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WOW, Mother Nature sure knows how to handle things! These photos really are appropriate for the weather this week. Fixing some soup and baking some bread sounds like a great plan for today…..Have fun and enjoy yourself.

#2The Ice Neatly Folded Itselfoddly-satisfying-photos-snow-perfection-#3Fresh Snow Over Christmas Lights#4Art Only Nature Can Create. My Fence This Morning After A Snowy Night On Terschelling, The Netherlands#5This Pattern In The Snow On A Patio Table#6When Constant Winds And Ice Meet A Fence#7How My Cat Feels About Snow#8The Snow Was Very Geometric When I Went Skiingoddly-satisfying-photos-snow-perfection-#9When They Ask If There’s Much Wind Where We Live#10Yep That’s Snow#11The Way The Snow Is Resting On This Handmade Stone ArchApple Orchard After A SnowfallSnow Striped ForestThis Stop Sign After A Week Of No SunThe Snow Has Settled Only On The Outline Of The Bricks On My…

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A Smile for Your Day

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Don’t let your worries get the best of you;
Remember,

Moses started out as a basket case.

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Some people are kind, polite, and thoughtful
until you try to sit in their pews.

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Many folks want to serve God,
but only as advisers.

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It is easier to preach ten sermons
than it is to live one.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
The good Lord didn’t create anything
without a purpose,
but mosquitoes come close.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
When you get to your wit’s end,
you’ll find God lives there.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
People are funny; they want the
front of the bus,
middle of the road,
and back of the church.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
Opportunity may knock once, but
temptation bangs on the front door forever.

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Quit griping about your church;
if it was perfect, you couldn’t belong.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
If a church wants a better pastor,
it only needs to pray for the one it has.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

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Books for Inmates

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Jan23

The Gift of Compassion

The Gift of Love

Your generous donation provides vital books to inmates in jails, prisons and rehab centers nationwide! All donations are tax deductible and will be used for printing and shipping thousands of books; offering hope, healing, and comfort to a nation of people hidden from society but not hidden from God!

Thank you for being a part of this life-giving ministry outreach. In partnering with us in this mission, you are partnering with Jesus and helping to set the captives free!

The Gift of Comfort

To Donate go to: http://www.nationofwomen.com/contributions. Scroll down to the ‘Books for Inmates’ image as shown above. Click on the donate button and write ‘prison books’ in the comment section, when it takes you to the fill-in page.

Please give confidently and with a joyful heart. This author is not taking anything from the proceeds of her first three published books. Please make checks out to Nation of Women Ministries, 619 Roberts Cut Off Rd., River Oaks, Tx 76114.

Donations will be handled by the publisher, Cindy Neatherly, of Nation of Women Publishing, Fort Worth, Texas, for printing and shipping books. Thank You!

To order books go to: https://www.nationofwomenpublishing/authors Scroll down to Lori J. O’Neil

For further verification, you may visit Prison Book Project of Titusville, Florida. There, Joyce and Ray Hall will be glad to answer any questions or concerns you may have. You might consider partnering with their ministry! Thank you so much and may God Bless you!

To visit Prison Book Project go to: http://www.prisonbookproject.org


“Lori O’Neil’s latest book, His Voice in My Heart, is so well written and truly penned with God in her heart. Her Testimonials are especially significant to me along with all the love she conveys in every word, sentence, and book she has written. Lori is an amazing writer and I look forward to book four. Thank you, Lori, for this gift!”

Barb Z.

All proceeds, from ‘Comfort in the Challenge’ books ordered, will be sent to Canaanland Ministries of Autaugaville, Alabama. An amazing ministry with a 40 year history of restoring men from a life lost to addiction, to a new life in Christ. Please consider a tax deductible donation directly to Canaanland Ministries as well, by visiting https://www.canaanland.com. Your generous contribution will be helping them to fulfill the vision the Lord has placed on their heart–a Canaanland in every state!

All contributions and proceeds from orders of ‘His Voice in My Heart’ and, soon to print, ‘His Voice in My Heart Volume II,’ will be invested in books placed in inmates hands. Thank you for opening your heart to this ministry and its mission!

“‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:37-40

“…They shall follow like sheep…”

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Note: This was given to me by the Holy Spirit 7-26-10 and it sure seems worthy to repeat with all that happened today with this phony inauguration and this past year. Listen closely for the Lord has spoken.

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“When those who refuse to turn from their sins there is a price to pay. It is society that allows the leaders of their countries to take control. They shall follow like sheep or stand as warriors protecting and guarding the rights of my children. If they follow those who look not to the Lord Almighty they shall perish in their ignorance for those who know me their eternal life is not in jeopardy. It behooves my children to hold the leaders of their country responsible for their actions. (emphasis mine)

Take heed leaders your leadership shall be judged. (emphasis mine) Follow not the creeds of the world. Eternity is not…

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Let’s do it!

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http://garytalley.com​ brings you another gospel song. This was written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson. This is my 93 year-old Mother, Nita Talley. Recorded in August, 2019 at Nita Talley’s apartment in Memphis. Mama, Belinda Leslie, and me. We recorded several songs in 2019. We can’t do any more until Mom gets out of quarantine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking to our Lord and taking one day at a time will get us through this madness that’s happening all around us.

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#GaryTalley #Video #Song #93yearold

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Writer Beware®: The Blog


Pay-to-Play as Pedagogy? The Creator Institute and New Degree PressPosted: 15 Jan 2021 10:04 AM PST
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

A few months ago, I began getting questions about a self-described hybrid (read: fee-charging) publisher called New Degree Press (NDP). Reported fees were in the $5,000 to $8,000 range, which paid for a suite of publishing services including editing, formatting, and publication via KDP and IngramSpark.
So far, so unremarkable. But there’s something that sets NDP apart from more familiar pay-to-play publishing ventures: although it presents the appearance of an independent publisher on its rather sparse website (including soliciting submissions), NDP is in fact the publishing arm of The Creator Institute, an entrepreneurship course created by Georgetown University professor Eric Koester.
THE PROCESS AND THE PUBLISHER

Likened to a master’s degree or MBA, the Creator Institute (CI)–dubbed the bSchool Program (for Book School)–enables students to “learn-by-doing–enabling you to discover your passion, develop your expertise and establish your credibility through the creation and launch of your very own book.” Both the CI and Prof. Koester have won awards for innovation, and there are offshoots of the program at colleges across the country.
Primarily targeting college and high-school students, the bSchool Program proceeds in two phases, per the Creator Institute’s (rather confusing) FAQ, taking a total of around 10 months. The first phase consists of lectures, group discussions, and work assignments geared to producing a complete book manuscript. The second phase focuses on publication of the ms. via NDP.
Publishing with NDP is not compulsory; students who complete the first phase don’t have to move on to phase two. It appears, though, that most people do.
Co-founded in 2017 by Prof. Koester and Tucker Max of Scribe Media, NDP is prolific. To date it has issued 540 titles, according to Amazon, more than half (311) published in 2020 alone. In 2021, projected output will nearly double, according to Creator Institute’s Spring 2021 Program Overview (page 10). Many of the books are under 200 pages–NDP mss. average 25,000 words for a rough draft and around 30,000 words for a finished manuscript–and the vast majority are nonfiction, with a small number of fiction titles scattered in.
Three author “cohorts” sign up with CI annually, each consisting of well over 100 writers. Georgetown University students can attend in-person sessions–or at least they could; I don’t know what impact the pandemic might have had on this–but the bulk of the learning is virtual, via an open version of the course. Writers receive one-on-one attention from editors and designers, and there is a roster of outside speakers, but much of the instruction appears to come in the form of recorded lectures and workshops, as well as weekly meetings and community discussions between the writers themselves. Class materials are template-heavy, based on examples I saw, an approach that I imagine is helpful for non-writers, but for creative writing, including creative nonfiction, not so much (this was acknowledged by NDP editors who contacted me).
CI/NDP promises that “All the developmental editors working with the program are professional editors who have worked on numerous books” (Overview, page 10). Neither Creator Institute nor NDP identify their staff, so it’s difficult to assess this claim. I have managed to glean the names of several editors, however, and while some do show substantial experience, others have much less (in some cases, per their LinkedIn bios, they don’t seem to have worked as editors at all prior to being hired by NDP). Brian Bies, Head of Publishing, does not appear to have had any professional publishing or writing experience before assuming his position, other than going through the CI program and publishing his own book through NDP. (Here’s his explanation of economies of scale in publishing, aka “batching”, which he compares to dining at Benihana.)
Writers are expected to do a lot of heavy lifting over the course of the publishing process–from drumming up support for their crowdfunding campaigns (see below), to providing ideas for cover design (including creating mock covers), to doing some of the work of layout. Authors get assistance in developing “a 3-4 month automated marketing plan” (Overview, page 6) but must handle the actual implementation (and expense) themselves. Authors are also encouraged to write back cover blurbs for each other, and are responsible for ordering books to mail out to campaign backers (NDP reimburses them for this).
The final work of uploading and publishing the finished books to KDP and IngramSpark is entirely done by authors.
THE MONEY
Participants in the manuscript-creation phase of the program pay just $249 ($499 for non-students) to cover the cost of their developmental editors. The big bucks don’t kick in until the publishing phase.
Last spring, NDP’s publishing fee options were laid out as a flat $5,000, $6,000, or $8,000. They’ve been re-formulated in the Spring 2021 Program Overview to include cost breakdowns (page 6), but the basic amounts remain the same.

There’s also a $300 deposit to cover production of a promotional video (refundable if you choose the $8,000 option and make your goal).
To defray these hefty fees, writers can choose to “self-fund”, or they can raise the money through a crowdfunding campaign. Most choose a campaign.
Conducted on Indiegogo, the campaigns all follow a similar template (a cookie-cutter approach that has been noted by observers), featuring pre-orders (suggested softcover price: an eyebrow-raising $39) and other perks, such as “become a beta reader”. The goal is to engage in a prelaunch effort to sell 125-250 books, in order to “build your audience in advance of a formal book launch” (Overview, pages 7-8). While any professional writer will tell you that building an audience involves getting people you don’t know to buy your books, for NDP, pre-sale audience-building primarily relies on people to whom you are already connected. This isn’t emphasized in the 2021 literature, but it’s explicit in last year’s Overview (“Most presales come from friends, family, coworkers, classmates, alums, and people you’ve interacted with through your book-writing process” [page 13]) and was confirmed by writers who contacted me, some of whom said they found this leveraging of relationships uncomfortable.
Technically, writers who reach their crowdfunding goals don’t have to pay out of pocket–something CI makes sure to emphasize throughout its literature. And indeed, a large number of campaigns do succeed in raising or even exceeding the desired amount of cash.
What about those that don’t, though? CI encourages writers to believe this is unlikely: “96% of authors reach their campaign targets” (Overview, page 13–an estimate that’s a step down from the prior year’s Overview, which assured students that “Creators Program alums have, to date, all succeeded in their targets.” [page 12]). But in fact it’s very easy to find campaigns that have missed the mark, in some cases by quite a considerable amount of money.
Might there be substantial incentive for writers to chip in themselves to make up the difference? I’ve heard from NDP writers who say they did just that. So did this writer. Even a brief survey of NDP writers’ campaign pages indicates that selfcontributions are not at all uncommon. (Writers seem to be encouraged to help fund campaigns by other NDP authors as well–a practice that appears to involve a certain amount of quid pro quo.)
Another question: suppose writers who don’t reach their goal decide to walk away, rather than making up the difference. Work on editing and other tasks is concurrent with campaigns; would writers have to reimburse NDP for the cost of those activities? Here’s what CI has to say about that (Overview, page 13):

I find this explanation far from clear. No, authors aren’t responsible for costs, period? Or no, authors aren’t responsible for costs “beyond those from their pre-sales and applied to publishing activities”–which would seem to add up to “yes, you are responsible for costs”?
Indiegogo is one of the few crowdfunding platforms that allows participants to keep the money they raise whether or not they make their goals. But remember, the campaigns are for pre-orders, and if there’s no published book, backers will want to be compensated. If indeed there are financial repercussions to walking away, authors could be faced with a quandary: refund backers and pay NDP out of pocket? Or pay NDP with campaign funds and find some other way to reimburse backers?
This absolutely needs to be more fully explained. It should really be included in the contract. Which brings me to…
THE CONTRACTHere’s where things get really murky.
NDP repeatedly identifies itself as a publisher (specifically, a “hybrid publisher”). NDP titles carry NDP ISBNs; Amazon and other retailers list it as publisher, and its name is printed inside the books and on back covers.
It also issues a Publishing Agreement. That agreement, however…well…here’s one from September 2020.Almost nothing you’d expect to appear in a publishing agreement is present here. Grant term? Nope. Copyright? Nada. Warranties and indemnities? Absent. Termination or cancellation? Never mentioned. Publisher’s signature? Apparently not deemed necessary. As for rights and royalties, there’s only this…

…which merely affirms a basic truth about intellectual property (unless they surrender copyright, authors always “retain full ownership rights”; it’s what allows them to grant publishing rights in the first place), and doesn’t explicitly license any rights to NDP or say how or when royalties will be collected.
Of course, NDP doesn’t need to license rights, because it doesn’t actually publish anything. Writers themselves upload their finished books to KDP and IngramSpark, at which point they agree to those platforms’ rights licenses and payment terms. Presumably that’s why there’s no license language in NDP’s agreement, and no payment stipulations other than confirmation that authors keep all platform income (NDP does not take a share of sales income).
But do you see the problem here? Publishing agreements should not require you to presume. More to the point–if NDP leaves it to authors to do the actual publishing, why have a publishing agreement at all? Surely a service contract–which NDP’s agreement in fact resembles far more than it does a publishing contract–would be more appropriate.
As it is, NDP’s publishing agreement leaves important issues unaddressed, protecting neither the author nor NDP itself, and potentially setting everyone up for awkward outcomes.
For instance, suppose an NDP writer decides they want to seek a different form of publishing. They can unpublish their book from KDP and IngramSpark, per the terms of those licenses–but what about the NDP publishing agreement, which has no stated term and no provision for cancellation by the author (or even by NDP)? Presumably (that word again) the author could ask NDP to cancel it–but if NDP refused, or became unreachable, what then? How would a potential new publisher, or even another self-publishing platform, feel about an existing interminable publishing agreement, even one as vague as NDP’s? At the very least, it would be a complicating factor.
Or suppose it turns out that an NDP writer plagiarized portions of their book, or included content that someone deems defamatory, and lawsuits are filed against NDP as well as the author. With no author warranties, and no indemnity language, NDP is totally exposed. Might it claim that it wasn’t actually the publisher, since there was no explicit license of rights? Courts might be skeptical of that argument, given NDP’s repeated identification of itself as a publisher, not to mention its ISBNs and the presence of its name inside its books. Self-publishing service provider AuthorHouse did not do well with a similar argument when it was sued for libel (and now includes extensive disclaimers in its service agreement). For a publisher that touts its entrepreneurial focus, this does seem a bit short-sighted.
These scenarios are not far-fetched. The odds they’d happen might be slim–but they aren’t zero.
CONCLUSIONDespite its name and claims, NDP is not much like a publisher, in the traditional sense of a company that takes on the entire work of producing, distributing, and marketing a carefully curated catalog of books.
It more closely resembles a self-publishing services provider, with an added element of coaching and community interaction. With its focus on entrepreneurship, NDP seems a better fit for people who want to use a book as a calling card or a line on their resume, than for those with ambitions of authorship. In particular, it seems a bad fit for novelists and other creative writers.
Regardless, anyone who decides to sign up with NDP should be aware that to all intents and purposes they are self-publishing, that crowdfunding success is not assured, and that–as with any self-published book–the burden and expense of marketing will fall to them.
Most of the authors I heard from had positive things to say about their CI/NDP experience, and were happy with their finished books. But all expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the program and/or business model, from concerns about the quality of editing and copy editing, to doubts about the usefulness of the seminars, to disappointment with the lack of marketing support. These concerns echo those expressed by Clare Marie Edgeman, who lays out in a detailed blog post why she regrets publishing with NDP (see especially the section titled “The Red Flags I Ignored”).
I’m also troubled by the ethics of the CI to NDP pipeline. CI students don’t have to publish their books with NDP. But what about alternatives? CI/NDP literature paints a discouraging picture of traditional publishing, claiming it offers few chances for first-time authors “unless the author has a built-in audience that can purchase 10,000 copies of a book”, and gobbles up “90-95% of all the profit” (Overview, pages 11 and 12). According to a previous Overview, trad pubbed writers “give up their rights” and “typically end up owing the publisher money” if they don’t meet sales targets (page 11). Similarly misleading claims are made in a CI video lecture I viewed, including the common false meme that the “average” trad pubbed book sells just 250 copies over its lifetime.
Of course, for most CI authors, trad pub is moot, since 30,000-word manuscripts are unlikely to interest bigger houses unless they’re for the juvenile market, and the low word count eliminates many smaller presses as well. What about self-publishing, then? That’s portrayed as too expensive: “the average self-published author reports spending $4,450 on publishing costs” (Overview, page 14–it’s worth noting that this is just $550 less than NDP’s lowest fee level). According to the video lecture, first year sales for most self-pubbers are 50 copies or fewer. (I’m sure there are many successful self-publishers who can attest to spending far less–and selling more, too.)
The inevitable conclusion: “Hybrid publishing…offer[s] the best combination for first-time authors” (Overview, page 12). Essentially, it’s a closed loop: the CI program produces manuscripts that, for word count and possibly other reasons, have limited publishing options, and NDP is there to publish them.
Prof. Koester is NDP’s co-founder. This fact isn’t exactly hidden, but it is also not disclosed on NDP’s website or in its literature, which describes the relationship between CI and NDP as a “partnership” (as though NDP hadn’t been created specifically to service the CI program) and only acknowledges that Prof. Koester “worked” with NDP to “design this innovative, group-based, hybrid publishing experience” (Overview, page 2).
For me, this raises a question: is NDP a profitmaking entity? NDP’s cost breakdown for its services does suggest that it’s break-even, more or less, for CI students–but NDP also calls for unsolicited submissions from non-CI participants, and does “custom” publishing where costs are higher.
I sent this question, along with a number of others, to Prof. Koester several weeks ago. He has not responded.