The Fine Print of Self-Publishing fifth edition

NOTE: Below is the entire review from 2011 edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.  It is provided ONLY for informational purposes, as the service offerings and publishing packages LIKELY have changed since 2011.  The contract terms, printing costs, and royalty amounts often don’t change significantly, HOWEVER, you should check the publisher’s website for the most current offerings and pricing.  Also, none of the links below are live as many have changed.

Updated information on this publisher’s printing markups and royalties can be found in the  2014 edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

 

TATE PUBLISHING

http://www.tatepublishing.com/

FORMAT OF BOOKS: Ebook, audio book, paperback, and hardcover

GENRES ACCEPTED: Tate is a Christian publishing company, but it does not specify that its books need be on Christian topics. Tate accepts most genres, but will not accept books that contain any: obscene or explicit material, unnecessary profanity, vulgarity, or inappropriate or graphic love scenes. Tate does have an extensive “Statement of Belief ” that all authors must acknowledge. The Statement is provided along with the publishing contract.

PUBLISHING FEES: Tate is a hybrid of self-publishing and a more traditional publishing model. It doesn’t offer publishing packages, but rather asks the author to participate in a partnership. In this partnership between Tate and the author, both parties contribute funds toward the process of getting the book designed, marketed, and distributed.

In most cases, the author is asked to contribute $3,985.50 to the publishing process. Tate promises to contribute $15,700 to $19,700 of its own resources to the book, saying, “We pay for the production, printing and distribution and marketing of the books we publish.” Tate’s contract provides that if an author sells five thousand copies of her book (or purchases five thousand of her own books), not only will her investment be returned, but her next book will be published for free. However, the author is not required to publish any additional book with Tate.

As part of its publishing services, Tate provides:

  • A choice of an audio book, book trailer, website, or social networking site setup (one option is included in the publishing package). The author can pay for any of the others; prices denoted below.

  • Audio book ($999, if purchased separately)

  • Copyright, LCCN, bar code, and UPC code

  • Distribution through Ingram, Spring Arbor, Appalachian, and smaller distributors

  • Book sales and availability through 25,000 stores and libraries, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Walmart, and Tate Publishing Marketing: A representative told me that the bulk of Tate's $20,000 investment in each author goes toward marketing, which would initially focus on local bookstores and media. A Tate informational email says that the publisher promotes the book through catalogs, online promotion, publicity, and the annual CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) conferences.

  • Ten copies of your book

  • Editing: copyediting, technical editing, and conceptual editing

  • Custom cover design

  • Custom interior

  • Ebook creation and distribution (through Amazon.com and Tate's website)

  • Website design and hosting ($399 if purchased separately): The website is part of the Tate website and not an individual domain and author site.

  • Video book trailers ($299 if purchased separately)

  • Dedicated marketing representative

  • Publicity: Every event and book is promoted to local and national media for the life of the work.

  • Distribution: Tate Publishing's books are all 100 percent returnable and warehoused, not simply made available for order or on a list.

RETURN OF DIGITAL COVER AND INTERIOR FILES: A Tate representative told me that, if the author should determine to leave Tate and publish elsewhere, the book's design files would remain with Tate. When I asked if it would be possible to pay a fee for the files, the representative said that I would have to discuss that with the acquisitions editor and that, if it were possible, a clause stating the specific terms and price would have to be added to the contract.

RETAIL PRICE OF AUTHOR'S BOOK: Although pricing seems to vary, while scanning the Tate bookstore, I found a 208-page fiction paperback for $13.95 and a 200-page nonfiction paperback for $15.95. These prices seem in line with the rest of the industry.

PRICE AUTHOR PAYS FOR BOOKS: Authors receive at least a 60 percent discount off the book's retail price. Assume that the author of the 200-page book that retails for $13.95 wants to buy copies. Here is the breakdown:

tate.jpg

The 48 percent markup is based on 2,000 books at $1.50 per book (a reasonable wholesale cost). Again, on orders this size it's hard to calculate an exact markup given that pricing at different printers can vary widely. As for the price per book for 250—999 copies, $3.49 is quite low. Tate has its own printing facilities for short runs of under 5,000 books per order, so their cost is most likely less than companies who go through Lightning Source—and when an author prints larger quantities, the savings are quite good. Good job, Tate! These prices are good.

ROYALTIES PAID TO AUTHOR: Tate's royalties are based on the retail price of the book. If the book is sold on Tate's website, the author earns 40 percent of the retail price; for third-party and wholesale (e.g., sales on Amazon.com) the author earns 15 percent of the retail price.

So, for a 200-page paperback book sold on Tate's website, the royalty would break down as follows:

$15.95 Retail price of author's book

x 0.40 Author royalty percentage

$6.38 Author royalty

On that same sale, Tate makes $5.70 after printing expenses. For a sale on Amazon.com, that same book would earn you:

$15.95 Retail price of author's book

x 0.15 Author royalty percentage

$2.39 Author royalty

On the Amazon.com sale, Tate makes $1.68. ($15.95 — $7.98 (Amazon .com 50 percent discount) — $3.90 (actual cost to print) — $2.39 (author royalty) = $1.68.)

When you look at Tate's royalty structure, keep in mind that they are providing many extra services for the author's initial investment. These royalties are low if you only consider the up-front fee paid to Tate relative to the up-front fees of other self-publishing companies. But, when you factor in the included editing services, warehousing, marketing, and related services, these royalties are quite good.

NOTABLE PROVISIONS OF THE PUBLISHING AGREEMENT: The publisher does not provide sample copies of its publishing agreement until it has accepted a book for publication. This is not a practice I'm a fan of, but they did send me a contract for review.

There is a publishing agreement, which covers the actual book publishing process, and a multimedia agreement, which covers the creation of the audio book, book trailer, website, or social networking setup.

Publishing Agreement

The contract is good, and quite straightforward. Section 1 (2) details that once the author sells five thousand books (even if he buys them himself), Tate will publish his next book at no cost to him. This is optional, obviously.

Section 2 (5) makes clear that, at the publisher's discretion, the author will get an audio book, website, book trailer, or social media setup.

Section 2 (9) indicates that the author owns and controls all rights to his work, such as serialization, motion picture, and so on.

It's important to note that Section 3 stipulates that the publisher gets the final word with regard to things like trim size, retail price, and type of paper stock. Normally, this would be an issue considering that you are paying almost $4,000 to publish. However, given that Tate is assuming a lot of the risk and has to sell books in order to recoup its investment in an author's project, Tate's ability to make final decisions regarding the presentation of the book is fair and reasonable.

Section 4 (8) is worth noting. If the author wants to create items related to the marketing of his book, (e.g., bookmarks or T-shirts), Tate must approve them.

Section 5 sets forth the responsibilities of the author during the publishing process.

Section 6 details how disputes are resolved, which is by arbitration held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is quite standard for publishers to require that disputes be resolved in their city of operation.

Per Section 6 (1), an author can terminate the contract at any time, but the author will not get any money back, regardless of the stage of the publishing process. Section 6 (7) indicates that authors have ninety days from the date of termination to purchase all remaining inventory of their book. If not purchased within that time, it becomes property of the publisher and the publisher may sell the remaining inventory.

Multimedia Agreement

This agreement covers the creation of an audio book, book trailer, website, and social networking website setup. As the publishing agreement states, the author and publisher will jointly decide which service will be provided as part of the publishing package. The author will then have the option to pay for any of the other three if he or she so chooses.

AUTHOR-FRIENDLY RATING: I trashed Tate in earlier versions of this book. While I don't apologize for it based on what I knew then (Tate wasn't very forthcoming with information and wouldn't provide me with a contract to look at), my opinion is now completely different.

Tate's biggest problem is that it does a terrible job of demonstrating that it really does put in substantial money above what the author contributes to the publishing process. However, I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it with my own eyes. Ryan Tate called me after reading this book and said, "You've got it all wrong. Come see what we're doing down here." I took him up on his offer. What I saw was an energetic staff of at least sixty people, including ten full-time editors, fifteen illustrators, and fifteen graphic designers.

When you start adding up items included in every publishing package, like complete editing and unlimited cover and interior changes, Tate really is investing money in an author's book.

Also, if you accept Tate's assertion that they take 4—6 percent of ten thousand submissions received per year, it comes to about five hundred books. If each author is paying $4,000, that is only $2,000,000. That amount of money can't even cover the payroll. So, Tate has to make money from sales of authors' books to the public. It needs the portion of royalties and printing revenues to pay for its existence. The only way to get sales is to invest time and money to promote books. Is Tate putting in $20,000 toward every author's book? Probably not. For some it might be more, and for others it's probably less. Regardless, Tate is definitely investing money and resources to promote its authors' books. It's making a nice profit on the printing and taking a healthy royalty, but that's not unlike any traditional publisher. Because the author is investing money up front, the royalty taken by Tate is substantially less than a totally traditional publisher would demand. Tate is a solid choice with great management, staff, and continuing vision. Tate doesn't need to sell the sizzle. The facts are good enough.