Frequently Asked Questions

What is an independent publisher, anyway?

An independent publisher is a publishing house that operates much like the large publishing houses, paying authors for the license to print or otherwise produce (as in audio, video, and ebook formats), distribute, and sell their books. While some independent publishers produce a percentage of their own manuscripts in-house, the difference between an independent publisher and a self-publisher is that an independent publisher publishes books through submissions by other authors and self-publishers only publish their own books.

Independent publishers are responsible for the financial commitment to get a book from manuscript to bookstore. They pay for editing, illustrations or other artwork, layout, design, printing, binding, and distribution. They decide when the book will be released, how or if it will be promoted by the publisher (the author is highly encouraged to do their own promotion as well), and how, where, and for how much it will be offered for sale.

Independent publishers pay their authors, not the other way around. Some independent publishers may also offer subsidy publishing where the author pays for some or all of the production costs, or where the author agrees to purchase a certain number of his or her books from the publisher to offset production costs. This is more common for books that have a very small audience and are therefore a much greater financial risk if they don’t sell well. However, a publishing house that requires all of its authors to pay for some or all of the production costs is a subsidy publisher, not an independent publisher.

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How is Yotzeret Publishing different from a larger publisher?

Yotzeret Publishing is modeled after the larger houses. We welcome solicited submissions (after you’ve sent us a query letter and we’ve asked to see your manuscript), we assume the financial responsibility, and we walk a book through editing, layout, design, cover art, pricing, printing, binding, and distribution. But those basics are about where the similarity ends. Here are the differences:

Agents: Large publishing houses, in particular the “Big 5” New York publishing houses, only accept manuscripts represented by a literary agent. Yotzeret Publishing accepts manuscripts from both agents and the authors themselves.

Manuscript review: Large publishing houses may not even read all of the manuscripts they receive, much less consider them for publication. Yotzeret Publishing takes the time to read every submission, whether it’s accepted or not. We figure that is the least we can do for the author who has gone to the time and effort of writing a book and querying us.

Author as person: Judging by their actions, large publishing houses seem to think that authors are getting in their way of publishing books. Yotzeret Publishing would not exist were it not for authors, and we are always aware of that fact. We try to include our authors as much as they want to be included in the production process and we’re available to answer questions.

Author input: Large publishing houses make all the design decisions: cover art, typeface, even book titles. While they may say they are open to author input, the reality is that they have too many books in production and too little time to negotiate art and design and titles with their authors. Yotzeret Publishing wants all of our authors to be pleased with their books. We believe it’s hard to promote your book if you can’t stand the title or the cover art, and as such, we want author input on those important decisions.

Promotion: Large publishing houses generally don’t promote their authors’ work. An industry saying is that large publishers spend 90% of their promotion resources on 10% of their authors. Those authors are the ones who bring in the biggest profits for the publisher, and it may have nothing to do with the quality of the book itself. Yotzeret Publishing succeeds only when our authors succeed, so we will do everything we can to help promote our authors’ books. Of course, we also expect that our authors will do everything they can to promote their own book as well.

In short, Yotzeret Publishing values our authors and makes the time to treat our authors as we would want to be treated.

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How are you different from a subsidy or vanity press?

Subsidy or vanity presses require that the author pay for all production costs, and too often—particularly with online “self-publishing companies”—authors get a badly designed, unedited book in return. Yotzeret Publishing, in the course of normal business, does not ask for any money from our authors at any time. In addition, we are committed to producing a high quality book that has been edited, designed, printed, and bound to our high standards.

In the rare case where a book fits into a very small niche market, we may offer a part or full subsidy contract, or ask for an author to purchase a certain number of books. These options, however, are not explored until the manuscript has been considered for publication with royalty payments (where we pay royalties to our authors) and the risk is found to be too high. In any event, the author is kept informed throughout the process and has the option to seek publication with another publisher before signing any contracts.

Should a subsidy contract be offered instead of a royalty contract, all costs and a detailed description of who pays what will be explicitly stated in the contract. The author will never be surprised by unexpected costs. And as with a royalty contract, the book published under a subsidy contract will receive the same quality editing, design, printing, and binding to our high standards.

At the present time, 100% of our contracts are royalty contracts.

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How do you decide what to publish?

The larger publishers make their decisions based on the marketability of any given book. They’re looking at the bottom line. Yotzeret Publishing values quality as much as marketability. That said, the decision of what to publish is, as with any other publisher, largely subjective. If the story is unique and moves us, we are more likely to offer a contract.

We do have some additional considerations. We specialize in Jewish books, predominantly by women authors, though under certain circumstances, we may consider manuscripts that don’t fit within our specialty.

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Will you consider non-Jewish books or men authors?

No to the first (non-Jewish), yes to the second (men). As stated in our submission guidelines, we require a query letter before we ask to see the manuscript. All of our books must be from a Jewish perspective (more on what that means here), and we ask all authors to state in their query letters why they think they’d be a good fit for Yotzeret Publishing. We’re certainly willing to entertain all good arguments for publication.

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Do you offer book prepress services separate from a publishing contract?

Yes. We will edit, design, and layout book text to our high standards for a fee, without requiring that you publish your book with us. Please e-mail us for details.

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How does the process work and how long does it take?

Typically, the shortest time from manuscript receipt to bookstore shelves is 12-18 months. This allows enough time to negotiate a book contract with the author, procure an illustrator and/or cover artist as needed, professionally edit the book with the author’s input, design the book’s interior layout, solicit “blurbs” for the book, and print bound galleys or ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) for book reviews that require a lead time of 4-6 months prior to the publication date.

Depending on how many books are already in production, the process can take longer. While there are independent publishers who can take a book through production in six months or less, we believe that a 12-18 months gives plenty of time to make sure the book is the highest quality possible and has plenty of time to be reviewed prior to publication.

The process generally works like this:

  • The manuscript is accepted and a book contract is offered
  • Author and publisher negotiate and sign the contract and a title is chosen
  • Publisher secures an illustrator and/or cover photograph(s)
  • The manuscript goes to a professional book editor, either in-house or freelance, who then works with the author to tighten writing, correct spelling and grammar, etc.
  • Publisher works with author to secure all necessary permissions for use of text and/or photographs
  • Publisher and author solicit “blurbs” for the book
  • The manuscript is laid out in book layout software, complete with chosen typeface(s) and any other design elements
  • Publisher assigns a price and an ISBN to the book and registers the book with Books in Print and other required institutions
  • Publisher applies for cataloging information from the Library of Congress
  • The book cover is designed with author input
  • Promotion begins; ARCs and other promotional materials may be printed and sent/given out
  • Publisher sends the book to a book printer for the first print run,then sends it to the distributor
  • Distributor lists the book with online retailers and takes orders from wholesalers and retail stores
  • The book is available for sale as of the on-sale date
  • Publisher registers the book with the U.S. Copyright office
  • Publisher submits the book for applicable awards

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Where are books available and how are they distributed?

As of December 2010, Yotzeret Publishing books are distributed to the book trade by Partners Publishers Group (PPG), who supply all major wholesalers including Baker & Taylor and Ingram Book Company, the two largest book wholesalers in the United States. PPG also distributes to major bookstore chains, independent bookstores, and Amazon.com. In addition, books are available through a variety of online book retailers, and at our website, www.yotzeretpublishing.com.

Do you have a question you’d like answered? Please e-mail us. If enough people ask the same question, we’ll add it here.

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