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Golden Fleece Press

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Hi, all!

I'm new here, so hopefully I'm posting this question in the right spot  :-) I've been a member of SCBWI for a few months now, but I've mostly been taking advantage of the lectures and workshops and haven't used the forums very much yet.

Long story short, I have a picture book manuscript that I've been polishing since 2018, and over the past year and a half I've started sending it out to publishers -- lots of them.  So far it's been all rejections, but yesterday I received an email from Golden Fleece Press (http://www.goldenfleecepress.com/)  saying that they would like to accept it for publication. I was pretty surprised since I sent it to them over a year ago and their timeline for replying is 6 months. Until yesterday, I'd assumed it was just another silent rejection.

The thing I'm a bit worried about is that they don't have much of an online presence, and a lot of what is up there about them is a bit outdated. Also, their catalog is very very small, and it's really hard to tell much about them from their website. They do have a presence on Barnes & Noble's website, which seems promising, but I wasn't able to find any of their books in our local library system (I work at the library) and none of the librarians I work with had ever heard of them. I find that a bit concerning.  On the one hand, I'd love to work with a small, indie publisher who is trying to do great things,  but I'm also leery of selling my work to someone that seems so unknown.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Has anyone heard of or worked with Golden Fleece Press before?

Thanks so much in advance for you insights :-)!
#1 - May 22, 2021, 09:47 AM
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 09:56 AM by rachel-berkowitz »

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I have not heard of them. I notice they state they are a full service publisher, but if they ask for $, then I would definitely run.

I would personally order a book from them to see if you like the quality. If you don't, then that will make your choice easy. Sometimes small start-ups lack in the quality of traditional publishers and it's good to know that before signing any contracts.

Also consider how their distribution. Will libraries and schools be able to get these books on their shelves?

I hope others chime in if they have experience with them!
#2 - May 22, 2021, 10:38 AM
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Thanks @dkshumaker for your reply! I appreciate it :-)

The full-service publishing was a good sign to me, and one of the reasons I initially submitted to them since I almost got duped by a vanity press once before. They sent the contract and they are definitely not asking for $ so that's good. The royalty rate seems pretty good, too, although I'm such a newbie that it's hard for me to know if I'm interpreting all the legalese in the document correctly. 

Do you have any suggestions on how I might go about learning more about their distribution process? Do you think it would be unprofessional to directly ask them about that? And if so, what would I ask them to know whether or not schools and libraries would be able to get their hands on their books?

Also, I know publishers generally have control over the illustrator they pick, but is it super unprofessional to ask them who they have in mind before I sign anything? I know I wouldn't have control over the actual illustrations once I agree to the contract, but it's hard to want to sign away my work without at least seeing an art sample.

Thanks again :-)

#3 - May 22, 2021, 02:15 PM

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I would ask about their distribution and who they might have in mind for art. It's all part of the business.
#4 - May 22, 2021, 04:18 PM
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Rachel, I don't know a lot about Golden Fleece, but they've been around for a while. Five years ago when I was still publishing my ezine, "Writing for Children's Magazines," I did an interview with, Julia Ehrmantraut, the editor of their "Wee Tales" and "Refractions" magazines. I don't know if that happens to be the editor you're communicating with. If it is and you'd like to see that interview, just let me know.
#5 - May 22, 2021, 04:24 PM

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Hi Ev! Thanks for sharing your insights. I'd love to see your interview with Julia! She is the editor I'm communicating with, and she seems really great so far. Maybe the interview will shed a bit more light on the company as a whole? I think it's just that with them being so small and not having much of a presence online, it makes me a bit nervous about their reach/distribution and potentially the production quality. It's just so hard to say.
#6 - May 22, 2021, 04:50 PM

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Rachel, here's a link to the interview. Best wishes to you on your decision-making. I've been there, so I know the struggles. I had an offer for one of my pbs from a very small traditional publisher. I ended up saying no to the contract. But later I wished I'd made a different decision. At least I would've seen my book in print, and now that may never happen.

http://evelynchristensen.com/magsED-WeeTales&Refractions.html
#7 - May 22, 2021, 05:29 PM

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Wow, that interview was really awesome! Thanks so much for sharing, Ev! Even though she was mostly talking about stories for their magazines, I really liked hearing her philosophy about what they look for in submissions in general.  They may be small, but they sound so much more welcoming than many of the bigger name publishing sites I've been on, and it seems like they'd be nice to work with. Definitely gives me some more insight into the company.

And, thanks for sharing about your experience as well. I'm sorry about your PB project that didn't work out. These types of decisions are always so hard. Wouldn't it be much easier if we could just know the future!?  ::-)

Thanks again  8)
#8 - May 22, 2021, 05:45 PM

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I don't know them, and they may be great to work with, but they have no published address, no real presence on linked in and if you check Goodreads/Amazon zero to one reviews on each book.

Plus their current Children's catalog shows four books written 3 to 5 years ago.

Make sure you ask about the size of the print run and returns.
#9 - May 22, 2021, 05:55 PM

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Authors make so little money as it is, so I'm concerned about this:

Quote
As a charity-friendly publisher, a portion of all our proceeds go to whichever charity our authors choose to benefit from their work.

I would be very wary of a publisher that *insists* on giving profits away to charities. As lovely as it sounds, it's a concern for authors.

Edit: I just saw they publish *everything* from picture books to erotica.  I've never seen that before!
#10 - May 22, 2021, 06:18 PM
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 06:33 PM by Sonya Bright »

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I don't know them, and they may be great to work with, but they have no published address, no real presence on linked in and if you check Goodreads/Amazon zero to one reviews on each book.

Plus their current Children's catalog shows four books written 3 to 5 years ago.

Yes, both of these things are exactly what I've been worried about.  They seem really nice and professional, but I'm not getting a lot from their online presence.

Make sure you ask about the size of the print run and returns.

Sorry...I'm a newbie. What does this mean, exactly?

#11 - May 22, 2021, 06:30 PM

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I would be very wary of a publisher that *insists* on giving profits away to charities. As lovely as it sounds, it's a concern for authors.

Yeah, I'm a little confused about this. It does sound lovely, but I don't understand what's in it for the publisher. Unless they are just...really really nice people? It doesn't say anything about a percentage going to charities in the contract they sent me, so I'm assuming it comes out of their end of the profit...? Unless I'm dumb and just not understanding this correctly.

Thank you, everyone, by the way, for dealing with my newbie questions.

#12 - May 22, 2021, 06:34 PM

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Quote
I just saw they publish *everything* from picture books to erotica.  I've never seen that before!

Haha yeah...pretty interesting, right? I'm still trying to understand why exactly they picked my book...
#13 - May 22, 2021, 06:37 PM

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So there is a section on contracts in SCBWI's The Book if I recall correctly.

There are things you need to know: How do they publish---print, proint on demand, ebook?

What is considered in print? What happens if the book goes out of print?

How are your royalties paid: on retail price, net for the publisher (and does net consider any donations made or come before those are removed)?

When a books tore buys books that don't sell, they return the rest to the publisher. These are called remainders. The question is how are they counted in terms of your total sales?

If you aren't sure you understand the legalese, find a lawyer to help you translate. Never sign something you don't fully understand. And it is absolutely okay to ask them and to negotiate. Just know what you can and can't live with.
#14 - May 22, 2021, 07:01 PM
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Make sure you ask about the size of the print run and returns.

I mean: How many copies of your book do they plan on publishing initially and what happens to the copies that aren't sold or are returned? Or do they just print a book when a copy is requested (Print On Demand  or POD publisher)
#15 - May 22, 2021, 07:38 PM

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Thank you, both David and Debbie, for explaining all of that! I super appreciate it -- your advice is helping me a lot :-)
#16 - May 23, 2021, 07:21 AM

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These are all great suggestions. It's not a dumb newbie question to ask--if something is sending you unsettling feelings, then you are right to ask questions. There certainly are small presses out there but you want to know what you are getting into.

The one thing I do want to say is that sometimes we as writers recognize the difficulty of getting published to the extent that we allow an unbalanced business relationship to occur. Yes, the gatekeepers have power, but we should not ever feel that we just jump at all costs in the hopes that we can get published. This is a hard thing for me as well, as I often feel like I need to grab whatever opportunity I may have. But it is something I am learning. It's okay, professional even, to ask questions about distribution, returns, how the illustration process works and if they have someone in mind, how they pay, etc. And it's okay and even professional to either say yes if you like the terms, or no and walk away if you don't.

Good luck whatever you decide to do!
#17 - May 23, 2021, 07:23 AM

If you're going to enter into contracts & business with them, I would ask to see an endorsement of previous work & past partnerships.
Look through some of the threads on SCBWI: there's plenty of them.
I think most of us have learned that no author (or illustrator) needs to pay for publication of their own work: that's just third-party vanity publishing.
You might want to check out Harold Underdown's site: https://www.underdown.org/blog.htm
He gives great advice.
#18 - May 23, 2021, 10:50 AM

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A few things send up warning signs for me, such as the owner, Julia and the other 2 woman involved in running the press, make up a large portion of the Authors who's books they have published. 
They have a Patreon account, hoping for $ to run the press, hire an editor, print books, get an office space, etc.  While crowd sourcing may not be uncommon in Indie, it doesn't instil trust that there are available funds to finance the expensive tasks of Illustration, design, print and promotion, of an Authors book.
The charity aspect? Just be sure the contract states the donations come from the press's portion of sales, AFTER any royalty you have earned are deducted and paid to you. 
You'll want to carefully read the contract, ask more questions (remember, there is NO rush) and make sure their publishing goals matches your's.
#19 - May 24, 2021, 04:36 AM
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Thanks again, everybody, for these great insights. This is helping me a lot. Especially the advice not to rush into anything.

Quote
The one thing I do want to say is that sometimes we as writers recognize the difficulty of getting published to the extent that we allow an unbalanced business relationship to occur.

I definitely struggle with this as I'm new to the industry and want to so badly to get something out there. But, at the same time, I've worked really hard on this manuscript for 3 years, having it reviewed by children's librarians, other writers, my writing teacher, etc. and taking it through 5+ drafts to get it really polished. So, newbie or not, I feel like I've put my heart and soul into it (which I'm sure all of you understand) and it would be pretty crushing to have my work not handled well. I'm not saying it wouldn't be handled well with this press necessarily, who knows, but it's a lot harder to have faith in the quality given a lot of the things everyone is so helpfully pointing out.

Also, I hadn't come across their Patreon while searching online, so thanks christripp for sharing that.

I'm still waiting to hear back from them about some of my questions, so I'll see if anything tips the scale one way or the other.

Thanks again, all  8)
#20 - May 24, 2021, 12:18 PM

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Please keep us posted, and good luck with whichever direction you choose.
#21 - May 24, 2021, 06:12 PM
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Yes Rachel, what Debbie said :goodluck
#22 - May 25, 2021, 03:36 AM
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I think you kind of said what you want to say:

Thank you very much for this opportunity. I'm honored that you liked my work enough to make an offer on it, but I have decided to pursue other options. Thank you again, and enjoy the holiday weekend! (I'm assuming they are in the US.)
#23 - May 27, 2021, 05:50 PM
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When a book store buys books that don't sell, they return the rest to the publisher. These are called remainders. The question is how are they counted in terms of your total sales?

Just a terminology correction here. Unsold books sent back to publishers by booksellers are NOT called "remainders." They are called "returns." Returns are a standard part of the business. Authors don't make any money on them, but then, neither does the publisher. The publisher may hold a "reserve against returns" out of royalty payments, because they expect returns that haven't happened yet. Those are then accounted for in the next royalty statement... And publishers, of course, attempt to sell returned books, perhaps by putting on a fresh new jacket if needed.

"Remainders" are books publishers have decided to sell on a non-returnable basis at a higher-than-usual discount. As the name suggests, they are left over--books they don't think they will be able to sell in the usual channels. Remainders happen either when a book goes OP, as the publisher clears out their stock, or may happen when the publisher simply wants to reduce the amount of stock they have.
#24 - May 28, 2021, 02:05 PM
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Just a terminology correction here. Unsold books sent back to publishers by booksellers are NOT called "remainders." They are called "returns." Returns are a standard part of the business. Authors don't make any money on them, but then, neither does the publisher. The publisher may hold a "reserve against returns" out of royalty payments, because they expect returns that haven't happened yet. Those are then accounted for in the next royalty statement... And publishers, of course, attempt to sell returned books, perhaps by putting on a fresh new jacket if needed.

"Remainders" are books publishers have decided to sell on a non-returnable basis at a higher-than-usual discount. As the name suggests, they are left over--books they don't think they will be able to sell in the usual channels. Remainders happen either when a book goes OP, as the publisher clears out their stock, or may happen when the publisher simply wants to reduce the amount of stock they have.

Thanks for the correction, Harold. I'll try to keep it straight for next time.
#25 - May 28, 2021, 06:05 PM
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You're welcome, Debbie! For future reference, you'll find both of these terms and many others in my Publishing Glossary.
#26 - May 28, 2021, 06:53 PM
« Last Edit: May 28, 2021, 06:55 PM by HaroldU »
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Update: I decided to accept after all!

After talking to them more and asking lots of questions, I think it will be a good first experience and I decided I wanted to go for it  ::-)

Wish me luck  8) and thank you all again for hammering this out with me!
#27 - June 08, 2021, 05:26 PM

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Good luck, and happy sales to you!
#28 - June 08, 2021, 07:02 PM
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Best of luck!!!! Congrats!
#29 - June 08, 2021, 07:04 PM
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 :thankyou
#30 - June 08, 2021, 07:33 PM

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