In the last post, I wrote about L-Book from a reader’s point of view. Now let’s look at what L-Book offers to writers.
Our CEO, Roxanne Jones, took the time to answer a few questions for me to give us some insight into L-Book from a publisher’s point of view. I quoted a few of her answers below, but the rest is what I can tell you from my personal experience with L-Book.
What sets L-Book apart from other lesbian publishers? Why should an author choose L-Book?
- You get your book published in e-book, audio, and paperback format. I know it’s still important to many authors to actually hold their book in their hands. And even though I believe in the future of e-books, I admit it was pretty nice for me too to be able to place my books on my bookshelf.
- You get a say in every step of the publishing process, including the cover art.
- The contract and the royalty rates are fair (more about that below).
- There’s no story formula or love scene requirement. L-Book is a publisher who doesn’t put expectations on you about what to write and how to write it. If you want half a dozen explicit love scenes in your book, that’s fine (well, as long as it serves the plot). If you want fade-to-black loves scenes or no loves scenes at all, that’s perfectly okay too. There are no expectations and no pressure about the amount of sex, the storyline, or the genre. While my books all have romance, I write in multiple genres, and I wouldn’t want a publisher who pushes me to write only a particular type of book.
- L-Book doesn’t have length restrictions for submissions. You can submit a novella or a 200,000-word story. L-Book doesn’t force you to cut half of your book or publish it in two volumes. You also don’t need to add filler to a shorter story to ensure it meets a minimum length requirement.
- The submission and publication process is fairly uncomplicated, even for writers who don’t live in the US. Before I signed with L-Book, I never seriously thought about getting published. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I always thought it would be horribly complicated for a German writer to get published in the US. L-Book made it easy. The submission and all the paperwork are done electronically.
- L-Book constantly keeps up-to-date on the newest developments and technologies and does a great job at promoting our books.
- L-Book is a real-time publisher, so books are released sooner than the books of other publishers.
- With print on demand and e-books, your books will never be “out of print,” even if sales drop over time. Years from now, there will always be readers just discovering lesbian fiction and/or e-books, and they’ll still be able to buy your books.
What does L-Book look for in an author or a novel?
“We’re looking for a good, well-written story. We don’t use [developmental] editors, so the story needs to be polished and ready for print. If it’s not, L-Book will return it, explaining the reasons, and it can be resubmitted after it’s corrected.”
What do authors need to know about submitting their novel?
Take a look at L-Book’s submission guidelines.
- Does L-Book accept submissions from unpublished / first-time authors? Yes.
- Does L-Book accept unsolicited submissions? Yes. That means you can submit your manuscript even if L-Book didn’t ask for it.
- Does L-Book accept simultaneous submissions? Yes. This means you can submit the same manuscript to other publishers at the same time — provided, the other publisher allows simultaneous submission too.
- Does L-Book accept multiple submissions? Yes. This means you can send several different manuscripts to L-Book at the same time.
- What is the required manuscript length? L-Book doesn’t have any manuscript length requirements!
- Does L-Book allow e-mail submissions? Yes. That’s one of the things that make publishing a lot easier for international authors like me. No slow and expensive snail mail.
- What’s the turnaround time to accept or reject a manuscript? Usually within four to six weeks.
- What happens after I submit the manuscript? The L-Book Submission Board will review the story. It will either be accepted or rejected or accepted with a contingency (meaning you’ll have to rewrite the parts of the story that aren’t working).
What kind of contract does L-Book offer its authors?
- Who owns the copyright? The author, of course! You retain the rights to your book and your characters. You are giving L-Book the right to produce, market, and sell the story for a period of time. That’s all.
- For how long do contracts run? The contracts run for four years. After that, you have the option, but no obligation, to renew the contract. There’s no automatic renewal of contracts, which ensures that you as the author can choose with whom you publish.
- What royalty rate do authors get? It depends on the media and where the book is sold. For downloads (e-books, l-books), you get 35% of the sales price. For paperbacks or other physical media, it’s 20% if sold from the L-Book Web site and 10% through other Web sites, stores, and distributors.
- Are there any clauses in the contract that I need to be careful of? No. L-Book is remarkably fair. The contract only covers this particular novel. There’s no options clause (the “right of first refusal” requires writers to offer their next book to this publisher first). You are free to publish future books with L-Book or with any other publisher. Roxanne says, “If the author wants to submit their next book to L-Book it is because they want to, not because we have some clause in our contracts requiring it.”
- Because L-Book doesn’t have a “right of first refusal” clause in their contracts, they also don’t lock you into a “first-time” contract set of terms and then enforce that on subsequent books, as some publishers do — dooming authors to continue with the royalty rates and contract conditions to which they agreed many years ago.
What is L-Book’s approach to editing?
L-Book uses copy editors, not developmental/content editors. Copy editors check the manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. They also pay attention to continuity (e.g., accidental changes of names, hair color, etc.), sentence and paragraph structure, word choices, and readability (e.g., dialogue is confusing because it’s not clear who’s talking). For any bigger changes, the copy editors make suggestions and it’s up to you as the author to accept or reject the changes. The editor won’t rewrite the story without your permission. You get to do the changes in your own style and in your own voice. If you don’t agree with a change, you can always discuss it with the editor. The editors I worked with were always open and willing to talk and explain.
L-Book will cover the costs of the copy editing. I learned that some small publishers expect the author to pay for it.
It’s always amazing to me that after several rounds of checking and self-editing done by me, my beta reader, critique partner, and test readers, that the L-Book editor still found mistakes. These people have a lot of experience, and they really know what they are doing.
Usually, the L-Book editors do two rounds of editing. After that, the manuscript goes to the proofreader for a final check. The l-books (audio) undergo sound proofing to make sure that all names and words are pronounced correctly.
Who decides on the cover for the book?
You work with a graphic artist to create the cover for your book. L-Book works with Sheri, who created all my covers and does an outstanding job. As an author, you get a say in what you want or don’t want on the cover. Sheri is a very patient woman — and she needs to be. For Second Nature, we ended up with twenty versions of test covers until we finally had a winner. Roxanne normally doesn’t get involved in the process of choosing the cover.
How long does it take for the book to be published?
When everything is running on schedule, it takes around four months from signing the contract to the book being published. Roxanne says, “We are a real-time publisher, meaning we release when it is completed, so our release dates are by month and are not set. That is why our release dates are faster than most publishers.”
Does L-Book do print runs or is it print on demand?
The paperbacks are printed on demand (POD), which, as Roxanne says, “enables us to respond to readers quickly and without the expense of storage, volume, etc.”
I really like the quality of the paperbacks, including the bindings and font size.
Does the author get free copies?
Yes. Authors get free access to the e-book (all formats) and the l-book, plus they receive five free author copies of the paperback.
Where will the books be distributed?
L-Book sells all books, e-books, and l-books on the L-Book Web site. Retail stores, distributors, and large quantity customers for events can purchase the books at a 30% discount.
The books are distributed worldwide, not just within the United States.
L-Book sells the e-books in all the large online bookstores, such as Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), the Sony e-book store, Google Book Store, Mobipocket.com, Libri.de, eBook.nl, and many others. In the near future, they will also be sold in the iBook store by Apple.
The paperbacks can be ordered from brick-and-mortar bookstores or online bookstores, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository.
The paperback books are also available for printing from the Espresso Book Machine systems in retail stores and universities around the world.
What does L-Book do for marketing and promotion?
“Our marketing and promotion does change with each year. For 2010, we have a marketing firm that hands out L-Book Palm Advertising Cards at all the Gay Pride festivals across North America and the UK. That is eighteen festivals. We hope to start this at the college festivals as well. We also sponsor the L.A. Women’s Theater, GCLS, Casitas Laquita Resort, Women’s Art Festival, Dinah Shore Week, and Girls Gay Days. We advertise in magazines such as Lesbian News and Provincetown Women’s Week Magazine.”
“We are also one of the top entries in all browser web searches for lesbian e-books, lesbian books, and lesbian audio. We keep looking for new areas and ways to promote L-Book and/or the book itself to reach the new generation.”
L-Book nominates our books for literary awards such as the Golden Crown Literary Award. The cost of nomination is covered by L-Book, not the author. L-Book also provides the copies of the books for the judges.
L-Book participates in conventions and conferences, for example, we had a booth at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference and this year at the Dinah Shore weekend.
We have a monthly newsletter, which is posted to different mailing lists and yahoo! groups. Roxanne also encourages authors to participate in interviews.
Last year, Backwards to Oregon was part of Literature in Motion, a production that brought the novel to stage. The script was written by Dee Jae Cox (and no, that’s not another one of my pseudonyms) and performed by The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project. Since I couldn’t be there, Roxanne traveled all the way to Hollywood to represent L-Book.
What new books or new developments at L-Book can readers and writers look forward to in 2010?
“We will be re-designing our Web site and add some new features. The new design will include special author corners and reviews and will expand the support site.”
“We also have a mobile Web site scheduled for later in the year. Readers will be able to order books from your Smartphones, PDAs, and some dedicated readers with the Wi-Fi or 3G capability.”
“We will continue to add more Web stores.”
“We are going to add book merchandise for sale and for giveaways for personal readings and signings.”
“We will add live video readings and question-and-answer sessions with our authors. This will include some new technology to allow the authors to see and hear their audience.”
“We also hope to have an S-Book sample by the end of the year.”
If you have any other questions about L-Book, feel free to write a comment or send me an e-mail (jae_s1978 AT yahoo.de) and I’ll see to it that your questions get answered.