Sherrill’s SBPRA Info
I just answered a question from a reader about my experiences with SBPRA and thought I should include my answer here as well. I have been very happy with SBPRA, and will have my fifth book published by SBPRA to be released in 2013. Here is why: (By the way, I am not an employee of SBPRA, I am only one of their many successful authors. I am happy to post relevant comments from readers that will help other authors, but I will not post derogatory propaganda… there is way too much of that already!)
“After several years of sending occasional queries to various publishers who, if they responded at all, either informed me that they were “no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts” or recommended I find an agent, (who responded that they only chose to accept published authors), I made the most important decision of my literary life: I submitted Santa’s Birthday Gift to SBPRA (Eloquent Books and Strategic Books) which has ultimately resulted in my receiving twelve National Awards in 2011-12 for my four books, including also The Magic Word and Peter and the Whimper-Whineys and Gimme-Jimmy. SBPRA has been with me every step of the way: connecting me with my awesome illustrator (the Kalpart team), and then helping with marketing opportunities, offering progressively better contracts as each book was submitted and showed evidence of strong sales – as well as providing entries into the world of eBooks and iTune Apps and international expos. I have discovered that their philosophy of giving every qualified new author a chance – rather than have an over-worked editor in some large publishing house determine whether or not a book will be successful – has worked very well for me. I had faith in my books, and made a commitment to get them into print and let the children decide their worth…”
SBPRA has also provided me with two Fundraising Websites, enabling me to help others by offering to send 50% of the cost of the books to the participatingFundraiser organization. This is now available for the Women’s Economic Council Foundation (http://sbpra.com/wecf/) which provides programs and scholarships for women. My newest one is for CureJM (http://sbpra.com/curejm/) which is to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis – which affects 17,000 kids in the US alone. This photo is of 7-yr-old Addie, who suffers from this disease. I learned about her while preparing Gimme-Jimmy for publication, and put her name on the Acknowledgements page as one of my “Prayer Children” for whom I wrote the book. You can see she is happy about it! She and kids like her are the reason for my CureJM Fundraiser. SBPRA has been wonderful – setting up the websites and handling the administrative portion – and should be credited for also sharing their profits. Not many publishers I know will do that! Please check out these websites if you get a chance!
If anyone has any further questions, please let me know. I will be happy to help if I can…
Since this post, I have received several questions about how I feel about SBPRA, so I have decided to add a condensed version of my latest response to a potential author who has had his manuscript accepted by SBPRA. He had some reservations after reading some feedback he found online.
“I am sorry you have read some negative propaganda, although it is good that you are doing some research about something so important. I will try to answer your questions as best I can. First of all, let me say that I do not want to try to talk anyone into anything. I personally have been very happy with SBPRA – and go on record about that often. I can only speak for myself – although I know lots of other authors who are very happy with SBPRA as well. It seems that one can find a lot of griping and complaining on line, but not so much praise… There are also a few linked websites that seem to be on somewhat of a witch-hunt as far as I can see. I try to stay out of the fray as much as possible!
I am often asked about royalties, and I must stress that each contract is different, so I only know about mine. However, I have found that many authors don’t understand the allocation of royalties as determined by the amount of books sent to online stores by the printer. Amazon sales, for instance, does not immediately translate into royalties – because there’s always quite a lag, and difficult to track. Amazon will buy so many books, but the author and publisher get no payment until after the books are actually sold, so there is delay involved. Eventually it evens out…and I have never had a problem getting paid.
It also seems that many authors do not read or understand the contract offered to them. SBPRA is pretty clear about what they expect from you and what you can expect from them. They are not a Self-Publish Press which has authors buy a set amount of books upon publication. I refer to them as “Help-Publish” since they do a lot and we, the authors, have to do a lot too. They get your book to the marketplace, such as amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and lots of others, and then you have to help with social networking and responding to things like Google Alerts and looking for other marketing opportunities, to get your work recognized. Their philosophy seems to be that they will offer to publish books that they feel have potential, giving opportunity to many authors who otherwise might not find a publisher willing to even read their manuscript, and then provide extra support to the “break-out” authors. You have to be willing to help market your book, although you will be given a lot of advice on how to do that. If you wish to pay for extra help, that is also available – according to what you think you need. This year there were about twenty authors who reached 1000 sales, and they have been provided with a lot of free marketing. I was lucky enough to be one of them!!
Many of the large publishing houses offer advancements (although most of them require you to pay them back if sales don’t equal the advance you were given.) Small Presses, as far as I know, do not. I contributed a relatively small amount to the publication of my first book, Santa’s Birthday Gift, because I had faith in my book and a willingness to help get it out to the children and let them decide whether or not it would be worth buying. The book has won two awards, and was on the amazon best-seller children’s list in November & December. At this point, my book is over 2000 – and my other books are also doing very well.
As for editing, I don’t know. Children’s picture books require much less editing. I don’t know about novels, but I would think that it might be a good idea to invest in editing if you haven’t done so already. Books with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors are not going to get very far…and you can’t rely on spell-check which sees aisle, isle and I’ll as perfectly acceptable!!!
I have found the SBPRA client communication very profesional. They make books available to the authors at a reduced rate, and will allow you to get them for review purposes at about the wholesale rate. I do not try to sell my books, preferring to let them be purchased on-line or at the stores that carry them – although I do have several fund-raisers where schools or organizations can buy the books at a reduced cost to them, and then sell them for whatever they wish to their supporters. I usually go to those events to sign them and read to the children as well – because that is a lot of fun for me!!! I also have had quite a lot of Barnes & Noble book-signing events in my area, where they sell very well even if they are not on the shelves. (My printer does not put the title and author on the spine of picture books, so they tend to get lost on the shelves.) I set these up myself by going to the store and talking with the CRM (Community Relations Manager) and giving her a copy of my book. It sold itself.
My first book was published in Nov. 2009. SBPRA has provided opportunities to send my books to their international expos, they have offered me support and advice whenever I have asked – and I have been very happy there. I do not want to talk anyone into anything, but I will be happy to answer questions. My only other point is that you also need to take into consideration how long you want to wait to get feedback from other submissions you may have made to any of the big publishing houses. It’s really up to you!!!
2/15/12 – I just received a couple more emails with questions, so I will post my answers here… One of these days, maybe I will have answered them all! (not)
Pitch us now and if we like your pitch, there is no charge to publish your book. (from SBPRA information website) Does this happen often? – It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. They have all kinds of different contracts for different types of books – and it would depend on your ability as well as your marketability, and what they think will sell well. I know they used to have an offer that if you would guarantee a certain amount of books pre-publication, they would offer a contract along those lines.
What do they do to help the author (author help) personally from beginning to end publish a manuscript? Do you pay for each segment like the illustrator, editor, designer, printing, etc? – I really can’t comment except about children’s picture books. Yes there are illustration expenses if you don’t have your own illustrator – and that was the largest part of my investment because I fell in love with Kalpart’s illustrations and was willing to invest in their artwork to help sell my books. Their illustrations are awesome– and I can’t say enough about their covers. You know the “don’t judge a book by its cover” line? In the children’s picture book world, your cover helps sell the book!!! Anyway, once you are under contract they walk you through the rest, which is included in the initial charge. Their contract is very clear about what they will do, and what you will have to do to help market the books. I covered a lot of this in my Sherrill’s SBPRA Info link on my website.
Do you feel comfortable giving me some idea of the “author help” cost? – I am willing to tell you what my initial “help-publish” cost was in 2009: $399. The illustrations were a per/illustration cost, and I don’t feel comfortable quoting anything about that, since I have no idea what kind of book you are hoping to publish nor what kind of illustrations you need. That would be between you and the illustrator. I also have no idea what the initial costing is now – but the best way to find out would be to submit and find out what they offer! You don’t have to accept anything!
Hope this helps!