CHRISTOPHER MATTHEWS PUBLISHING
SOUL FIRE PRESS
Are you a self-publishing company or a vanity press?
Neither. FIRESIDE, CMP and Soul Fire Press are the hybrid divisions of First Steps Publishing. Self-publishing companies will generally publish whatever is submitted to them, regardless of writing quality, careless editing, poor cover design and unprofessional interior design. We have over 40 years of publishing and design experience. We know what differentiates a self-published book from a book that is well-written and exhibits professional quality publishing. Hybrid publishing is an emerging choice for writers whose work is well done, but who have found getting an agent or a traditional publisher almost impossible to give them a chance, and who have no interest in going the self-publishing route.
What is Hybrid Publishing? How is it different from self-publishing and traditional publishing?
Hybrid publishers are an emerging breed of experienced publishers who are an alternative to traditional publishing or self-publishing.
Traditional publishing generally requires having an agent; and both agents and traditional publishing houses are extremely hard to break into because they select very few of the manuscripts submitted to them, especially if they are written by first-time authors. Self-publishing requires learning a whole new set of skills including formatting, editing, cover design, promotion and distribution and fulfillment. You may be able to do some of these things yourself, but the quality is not likely to be there unless you hire people for the different aspects. Plus, you will find that retailers and libraries will not purchase self-published books.
A hybrid publisher works with writers to create a professionally edited, produced and attractive book that will be promoted and distributed to the worldwide book trade. The relationship between a hybrid publisher and an author is much closer and personal than in either traditional publishing or self-publishing. Like a traditional publisher, a hybrid publisher carefully vets the manuscripts it accepts for publication—unlike a self-publishing operation which publishes anything submitted regardless of content or quality. The likelihood of a first book being highly successful is extremely slim, so the author and the hybrid publisher share the risk. The publisher provides the same quality services of a traditional publisher and the author pays a fee for those services. In the end, the author has a book that they can be very proud of and that will be promoted globally. In many cases a book produced in this way can be a stepping stone to increased recognition from the larger traditional publishing houses.
Why do you charge for your services? I can do most of the work myself.
You could also build your own house. However, the learning curve and the years of training and experience it takes to understand how to do it correctly, attractively and up to code, the expense of tools you have to buy—all these factors are why you hire a competent builder. While there is nothing wrong with self-publishing, the perception exists, rightly or wrongly, that self-published books are of lower quality than those published by a traditional publisher. If you have spent a year or several years crafting your manuscript, don’t you want it to have the production quality that best displays your writing and the chance of being picked up by a bookstore or library?
Why do you say Author Run / Author Friendly?
As authors ourselves, we have experienced the frustrations of trying to get an agent and a publisher to give our hard work serious consideration. We’ve had the instant form rejections and the months of no response.
As publishers, we realize that agents and publishers are swamped with submissions and don’t have time to give every manuscript the time it deserves. We promise to give your manuscript thorough and careful consideration. We also realize many writers do not have a lot of money. If we accept your manuscript for publication, we will provide our services at the lowest costs possible, even providing many services like a web page, ebook conversion, social media marketing, etc. at no cost. Our personal service is highly rated.
Do I need an agent?
If you plan on approaching commercial publishers and/or First Steps Publishing, our traditional publishing press, yes, you will need an agent. It is the only way you will get your manuscript seen. Virtually all big houses refuse to look at unsolicited manuscripts. You will pay an agent 15% for his/her services. An agent is critical for getting a contract from most of the big guys and can negotiate the best terms for you. You do not, however, need an agent to submit your work to Christopher Matthews Publishing. We are dedicated to helping the new writer get published. We will give your work a careful evaluation and will let you know if it is something we are interested in.
Speaking or royalties, what do you pay authors?
Our hybrids pay 40% print; 50% ebook — however, every contract is negotiable.
Can I submit my own cover design?
No offense, but our covers are part of our trademark because they are created by award-winning cover designers who conceptualize the soul of what your book is about and artistically encapsulate that into a compelling cover design to swaddle your baby in. Remember, people really DO judge a book by its cover. We provide you with a Cover Design Questionnaire that allows you to provide information and suggestions to help the creative process and to come up with a market-targeted compelling cover that demands to be opened.
What if I want to sell my own books?
That’s great! We encourage it. Your return on each sale you make from your own stock will be the highest because we sell you your books at a discount, which means you make a profit for each book you sell!
I hear a lot about ‘bailing a platform.’ Do I need a blog? I’m really not that tech savvy.
A blog is an excellent and low-cost vehicle for an author to get known and promote his/her work, as are regular contributions to Facebook and Twitter sites. But we realize not everyone has the skills or even interest in getting involved in social media. Unfortunately, that is a crucial element to building your author brand, and we highly recommend it.
Are there any additional or hidden costs?
There are no “hidden” additional costs to the author beyond the package fee. You can also purchase additional services, for a fee.
What about editing?
Your manuscript should be carefully edited prior to submitting it to us. In order to maintain the quality we are known for, we will give your manuscript a final PROOF edit before going to press to ensure it is in the best shape grammatically and professionally.
How long does it take to produce a book?
Production time on a book varies depending on several factors. How much editing is required, how quickly the author turns around the editing proof, our internal workload and the size of the manuscript all effect how long it takes. It is best not to rush the process. Both we and the author need to take the time to carefully go line by line through the manuscript and check and double-check spelling, punctuation, grammar and all the other factors that go into crafting a quality manuscript. Generally, it will take roughly a month to prepare a book to go to the printer, though depending on such factors as those listed, it can take longer. Once the bookbuild is released to the printer a proof copy will be ready within a week. We share that with the author and both parties give it one final check. After the proof copy is approved, the book can be ready in a matter of days.
The ebook will be generated once the Galley Proof (print) copy is approved, and is release, usually a few days prior to the print.
What digital services can CMP ebooks be displayed on?
Our ebooks are designed to be uploaded to and read on all digital devices—Kindle, Nook, iPad, tablets, computers, cellphones, etc.
How are books marketed?
The extent of the marketing depends upon your package choice.
We promote our books through catalogs that reach all the major book retailers and libraries in the world. Social media marketing is our primary vehicle. Our online presence is seen on our own websites, Goodreads, Facebook and others around the world.
Our distributor, Ingram, is one of the leading wholesalers in the world for reaching the book trade and the library markets.
Without question, the best marketer of a book, whether with a large publishing company or an independent publisher like us, is the author. As the author you have a relationship already with a target audience of family and friends, organizations you belong to, interest groups you may be a member of online, etc. We provide our author team with marketing ideas and suggestions via email on an ongoing basis.
We can supply review copies of your books at 40%+$2 above print cost per reviewer for any reviewers whose names you provide us. Today, there are many online reviewers and bloggers who would prefer to have an ebook version of your book. We provide those at (average) $1/ reviewer.
Where will my books be available?
Our books are sold internationally to bookstores, libraries and individuals. We are connected to the ordering systems of 38,000 independent and chain bookstores, libraries, and online retailers worldwide, plus every major e-book retailer (including iBookstore, Kobo, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, etc…)
Our distributor, Ingram, is a leader in book wholesaling, selling to brick and mortar stores and all online booksellers around the world (including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.). Baker and Taylor, is the leading library wholesaler who sells our books to the library market. The two largest wholesalers to the book trade and library market.
We provide an extensive social marketing effort via Facebook, Goodreads and numerous other sites.
We also email regular tips and suggestions to our authors to aid them in their own writing and marketing efforts.
A partial list of some of the sites where CMP books have appeared:
Amazon (and all it’s international sites)
Asia Books (Thailand)
Baker and Taylor (Library wholesaler)
Barnes and Noble.com
Bol.com (The Netherlands)
Bookshop Kriostomus (Estonia)
BooksOnBoard (United Kingdom)
DEA Store (Italy)
Ebookshop (South Africa)
Fishpond (New Zealand)
Follet (Library Wholesaler)
Independent Publishers Group
Indian Gift Portal (India)
Indigo Books and Music/Chapters
Ingram (International wholesaler)
Paddyfield (Hong Kong)
QBD Books (Australia)
Sony Reader Store
Soul Fire Press
The Book Depository
Whitcoulls (New Zealand)
How many copies of my book do you think you can sell?
Every publisher and certainly every author wishes they knew the answer to this question. The fact is, it is very hard to predict the sales of any book, especially if you are an unknown author. Your book’s success depends as much on your abilities to market it as upon the publisher’s efforts. We wish we could guarantee a certain level of sales, but that’s impossible.
Authors who promote themselves and their books via online activities, bookstore signings and schmoozing friends and family do far better than those who do little marketing, or have a minimal online presence. Sometimes a book will take off quickly, and often it takes a year or two to catch on. Most books, sadly, never achieve the level of sales either we or the author would like to see. But every once in a while a Harry Potter miracle comes along. That’s what we all hope for.
How long should my manuscript be?
Manuscript length varies with the type of book and getting across what you want to say.
In general, we look for novels to be between 65,000 words to 120,000. If the work is for a young adult market the range can run from 55,000 to 75,000 words. If your manuscript is longer than 120,000 words we/you might consider editing it down or splitting it between 2 novels.
Do you sell books overseas?
Yes! CMP and Soul Fire Press books are sold around the world.
We are connected, through Ingram Content, to the ordering systems of over 39,000 independent and chain bookstores, libraries, and online retailers worldwide, plus every major e-book retailer (including iBookstore, Kobo, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, etc…). (We do not do book translations, however.)