green_knight: (Cygnet)
[personal profile] green_knight
So I'm browsing tarot books to put on my wishlist for later, and come across one that's, hm, interesting. Quite the chip on the author's shoulder about how Tarot is misunderstood and has been suppressed most cruelly and needs to be freed, and...

Needless to say, that was one book that didn't go on my wishlist, but I was curious to see who would publish this. The answer was, a company I'd never heard of before, John Hunt Publishing with UK and US imprints.

I'd never heard of them, so I got curious. I'm in publishing – I'm a copyeditor who has gone through the whole publishers listing of the Writers Yearbook and has contacted a good many of them – and I'd never heard the name. So I took a look.

The first thing I noticed was that there are two prominent streams on their website: 'are you looking for a book? Are you looking to publish a book?' and that told me everything I needed to know, really, but I am cooking dinner and have no brain and had a few minutes to browse.

The website does not mention fees. It tries to present itself as very proper, with some weird operating practices (quick turnaround - always a red flag in my experience, and saying they have no staff (this is rarely a good sign, someone needs to manage those freelancers and be a buffer between author and freelancer).

At this point I tried to look for the list of disrecommended publishers on Writers Beware... and hit a blank. I mean, I can find Writers Beware on the SFWA website, but the list of alerts is less than a dozen entries long. My brain eventually supplied 'preditors and editors' but apparently the list has been offline for many years and is now stuck in a permanent 'give us your details' harvesting page. It doesn't seem to have been archived. While some of the preditors may have moved on, I am sad that publishing seems to have lost this resource.

Anyway. Someone looked at John Hunt Publishing in detail, and the most astonishing thing about that article is that it ends on 'we don't know whether that's a good idea or not, probably not, but the company seems legit' because

We don’t put books out of print. But if, after three years, your title sells fewer than 100 copies during a 12-month period, you can cancel the contract, if you want to. It is subject to your buying any remaining stock at 75% discount + freight, and paying for the production files for the print and ebook edition at $6/£4 per page, and the cover file at $400/£250. They are then your property. You can not reuse the ISBN (it is company-specific). – USER MANUAL

raised red flags I'd never even HEARD of. This is, I hope, the lousiest reversion clause you've ever heard of. There's a lot of gaslighting going on otherwise, with arbitrary judgements of what tiers authors will be offered a contract at (in other words whether they get full royalties, limited royalties, or whether they pay £500/$795 + £22/$35 per 1,000 words... which is not cheap.

Also not impressed by a production flow that waits for proofreading to be complete before commissioning a cover... but that's a mere nitpick in a sea of whoa.

But yeah. Any time a publisher is advertising to writers instead of readers, you don't want to be published with them.

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