Manuscript Submission FAQ
No, you do not.
Barking Rain Press is not interested in works that are little more than new versions of old stories. Creativity is not only desired, but required.
We seek books with solid plots, well-developed settings and characters that are fully three-dimensional. We want originality and professional-level storytelling. Historical facts should be well-researched, and totally fictional worlds in speculative fiction must be visualized clearly, with fantastic worlds and settings. Write your story in a unique, compassionate, and compelling style with characters who are both strong and vulnerable, and your book will catch our interest.
Barking Rain Press is NOT not interested in reading works that have extended, descriptive violence and/or raunchy sex (i.e., porn). Books that contain this kind of material have no appeal to our growing customer base. If you want to write this kind of fiction, there are other publishers you should pursue. Regarding sexuality, Barking Rain Press will not publish novels that are essentially a thin plot stringing sex scenes together, or characters whose motivations and personalities are shallow and stereotypical (i.e., erotica). Sexuality and sensuality are certainly part of life, so if your book includes sensual scenes, keep in mind that there has to be a reason for the sex, and that the amount of sex should be appropriate to the story arc.
Finally, keep in mind that a manuscript submission is like a job interview—regardless of where you are applying, you wouldn’t go to an interview wearing dirty jeans and a torn tee-shirt. Don’t send your “baby” out looking that way, either. We expect all submissions to be well beyond the first draft stage, and to be professionally prepared and as free of mechanical errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar as possible. Our Editors are here to help you polish your work, not to rewrite it for you—that is clearly your job as an author.
P.S. — Do NOT rely solely on your spell checker.
By definition, a trilogy contains three volumes, so in order for us to consider just the first volume of a planned trilogy, we will also need to see detailed story arcs for the second and third books along with the initial submission. Please note that if contract is offered for the first book, Barking Rain Press will include a “right of first option” clause for the other books in the trilogy as part of the initial contract.
Barking Rain Press publishes novels and novellas; we are not a publisher of short stories, short fiction, flash fiction or poetry. We do not publish single short stories, pieces of flash fiction, or poems.
However, we do publish anthologies of short stories from single authors that comprise a collection or are otherwise built around a central theme or concept. For an example, please see Curiously Twisted Tales, which is a single-author anthology of short stories and short fiction, respectively. The stories have a strong central theme that makes them more than simply a collection of short fiction by a single author, making them more akin to a novel than a simple anthology.
- Take on the much greater risk that comes with publishing books written by new or lesser-known authors
- Publish many more titles per year than we would if we paid advances the way large publishing houses do
- Offer much better royalty percentages to all of our authors, in both eBook and print formats
The IRS requires publishers to issue 1099s each year to anyone earning $10 or more in royalties, which must be issued before January 31st of each calendar year. Therefore, Barking Rain Press will issue 1099s to every author who earns more than $10 in royalties in any calendar year.
If you are a US citizen, you will be required to submit a W-9 form prior to receiving any royalty payments so that we can prepare your 1099 form. If you are not a US citizen, you will be required to submit a W-8BEN form prior to receiving any royalty payments, and can use the 1099 form we send to you for income-reporting purposes as required by your country.
If you submit a manuscript to Barking Rain Press and are offered a contract, your book will be released in print and eBook formats. It should be noted, however, that the print version usually hits the market first, because the eBook industry is still new and many of the biggest distributors require different formats and have separate submittal processes.
For example, Kindle books require a unique format for Amazon to accept the file; a growing block of distributors (Sony, Apple, B&N) are standardizing on ePub, while others still ask for other file types. So it usually takes a few weeks to get the various versions of an eBook file formatted, uploaded and accepted by our complete network of global eBook distributors.
Does Barking Rain Press use Ingram so my book is available to both chain and independent bookstores?
First-line indentation is not required for manuscript submission to Barking Rain Press, but can certainly be included if desired.
In general, the audience for Young Adult (YA) titles are “tweens” and/or teenagers, which would be 7th Grade through high school. If your main characters appeal to this age group, you are welcome to submit your manuscript to Barking Rain Press by following our submissions guidelines.
Barking Rain Press cannot give you a set time frame for publication, as each author and work is unique. Some work may require more editing than others, or there may be “glitches” in the process beyond our control. However, as part of the author contract, Barking Rain Press creates a list of edits that needs to be made prior to publication, and we ask the editor and the author to review the list and provide an estimated completion date. This date can be changed as needed, because we want to publish a quality product.
Once a manuscript is fully edited, our author contract requires that Barking Rain Press publish the work within six (6) months of receiving the final, edited manuscript. Otherwise, all rights revert to the author.
Currently, PayPal charges a 30¢ transaction fee, plus 2.9% of the total amount, for business or premier accounts. Please refer to the PayPal website for the most current information.
Please note that PayPal does not impose fees to people receiving money through their “personal” PayPal account. That is, every person can have a business/premier account, plus a personal account. We ask authors to tell us which email to use for PayPal payments, so if you have a personal PayPal account, you can provide us with that account information.
Keep in mind, however, that Barking Rain Press is a business, and we have a business PayPal account. That means we must pay fees on sales processed directly thorugh PayPal account. So when someone buys a book on our website, for example, we are charged a 30¢ transaction fee, plus 2.9% of the total transaction. In calculating royalties, we deduct those fees from the gross sale total per the terms of our contract with you.
Most readers aren’t interested in hearing from a publisher as much as they are interested in hearing from an author. Readers will Google your name, your book(s), your characters, etc., but they don’t typically Google for the publisher name.
That’s why as an author, you should understand that your own marketing efforts will be the main driving factor in sales of your book. As your publisher, Barking Rain Press will make your book available for purchase in print and eBook form, but as the author, the task of helping prospective readers become aware of your book will fall largely on your shoulders.
Marketing “money” vs. Marketing “time”
Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly wrote an excellent article on this topic entitled When Authors Aren’t Willing to Market Their Books. Here is a small excerpt that sums it up:
“Nothing beats an author connecting one-on-one with potential book buyers, online or off. It’s like comparing a press release to a personal email from the author… There is no comparison and sales results will certainly show for it. Marketing money spent can never equal marketing time spent when it comes to a book’s success. If you’re not willing to spend several hours per week personally promoting your book, it’s not going to succeed. It’s that simple.”
Marketing services you receive
Because many Barking Rain Press authors have never been published before, we strive to do more for our authors than is typical of most small press publishers. If you are offered a Barking Rain Press contract, here is the minimum that you can expect from us to assist you with promoting your book (and yes, there is no charge for any of these services):
- Press Release Services — Barking Rain Press will write and distribute an acquisition press release and a publication press release for your book. These will be posted on our website, included in our newsletter, and distributed through our network of domestic and international wire services. You will receive a PDF copy of these releases for use as part of your own marketing efforts. Other press releases may be provided if desired and/or warranted.
- Informational Flyer — Barking Rain Press will prepare and design an informational flyer about you and your book that you can use as part of your marketing efforts (click here for an example). We will provide you with a print-quality PDF that you can post on your website or blog, send out in an email or print out on your printer as needed (you can also go to a copy shop or Kinkos to get copies printed).
- Email list — Barking Rain Press will set up an “information email list” for your title so that interested readers can receive information about your book, read the free sample chapters, receive discounts and promotional offers, get a nudge to post a review, etc. Readers can join the list by simply sending an email to a particular email address (usually your-book(at)virtualtales.com) or through a sign-up form. You can provide the email address (or request code to set up a form on your website or blog) to visitors to your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. After your book is published, if you have other information to share with readers about signings, appearances, new books, etc., we can continue to send this information out to your list subscribers.
- Staff Forum Board — Success begets success, and to that end Barking Rain Press maintains an exclusive “BRP Staff” forum board. As a member, you will have on-going access to our amazingly talented authors, editors and artists. It’s where we all go to ask questions, share tips, and ask for help with book signings, promotion strategies, tagging book(s) on Amazon.com, etc. We are big in helping each other up, and you will find a world of great ideas and encouragement here!
- Website Publishing Access — All Barking Rain Press staff members are given “publisher” access to our website so that they can directly post news, articles and reviews for their work, including link-backs to your own blog, website, Facebook page, etc. Any information that is posted to these areas of the website are automatically included in our newsletter.
- Author Interview — Barking Rain Presss will develop an author interview feature with your assistance, which will then be posted on the Barking Rain Press website, included in our newsletter and available for you to post on your own website, or use in your own marketing efforts.
- Shelfari & Library Thing — We will make sure that your book is listed on both Shelfari and Library Thing, and will include a specific email to your information email list to post reviews at these websites, among others. Many of our authors have been able to pitch their books to various book groups on these websites and have received good reviews that way.
Additional marketing services
Optional marketing assistance that can be requested by any Barking Rain Press author, as desired. We will freely provide the artwork or arrangements listed, but you will need to arrange to have the actual print work done by your local or online printer, as applicable:
- Print-Ready Artwork — Barking Rain Press can design print-ready artwork for bookmarks, postcards, business cards, etc., You can take the artwork to a local printer, or use an online print service (for examples of online printers our staff has worked with, click here for the US or click here for the UK). We can also design posters, tee-shirts and other promotional items, which will then be available through CafePress.
- Bookstore Signings — If you are interested in doing signings at a local bookstore, we can work with you and the bookstore to make arrangements.
- Convention Appearances — If you are interested in appearing at specific ”cons,” Barking Rain Press can contact the organization(s) on your behalf to arrange for complimentary signing tables and/or readings, as available.
- Local Media Interviews — If you are interested in being interviewed by a local newspaper or magazine, Barking Rain Press can work with you to make arrangements and provide photos, excerpts, etc. as requested.
- Internet/Radio Interviews — If you are interested in doing an author “Virtual Blog Tour,” radio interview or other online interview, Barking Rain Press can work with you to make arrangements and provide photos, excerpts, etc.
- Membership in Writer’s Organizations — If you are interested in joining a particular writer’s organization, we will do what we can to assist you in your efforts (i.e., providing references, royalty payment information, etc.). We can also assist you with setting up an Amazon Author’s Page.
Because we are interested in helping our authors sell more books, we are very open to ideas and suggestions from our authors. As a contracted Barking Rain Press author, if there is something in particular you would like to try to promote your book that requires some assistance from the publisher, you can always ask us if something is possible. Many of the services listed above came about because our authors asked for them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
All of our eBooks are available for the Kindle, as well as for a long list of other portable reading devices, including the Nook, the Sony eReader, iPhone/iPad, mobile phones that can read PDFs and/or through mobile phone eBook reader apps. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find an electronic device or mainstream eBook distributor that does not carry Barking Rain Press titles.
Barking Rain Press is not a vanity press, nor do we charge our authors fees for submissions, editing, cover art, etc. We are non-profit publisher and our mission is to publish emerging and mid-career authors.
If you are offered a contract, we will assign your book to an editor for polishing and to one of our staff artists to create a cover. We will prepare the manuscript for print and eBook publication, secure the ISBNs and Library of Congress numbers, and publish the work through our network of print and eBook distributors.
If you wish to buy copies of the print version of your book, Barking Rain Press offers a generous fifty percent (50% ) discount off the cover price with no minimum or maximum quantities, but please know that you do not have to buy even a single copy. In addition to providing every author with five (5) complimentary copies of their book, we will also provide you with free copies of the eBook version of your work to use in your promotion efforts, getting reviews and interviews, etc.
Finally, authors will receive monthly royalty payments per the terms of our contract, as well as press releases, email promotion, and other marketing support.
Is the 20,000 word minimum hard and fast or is it okay to submit my novella that has about 18,000 words?
This is one case where less is not more. Barking Rain Press will not consider works that are less than 20,000 words in length, as we state in our submission requirements.
According to copyright law, the author is the owner of the copyright of his/her own work; therefore, our author contracts state that Barking Rain Press will include a Copyright Notice identifying the author as the owner of the copyright in the manner that complies with the regulations of the US Copyright Act and the Universal Copyright Convention. By signing an author contract with us, you are only licensing the right for Barking Rain Press to publish, print, sell, market, and distribute your book.
Since the author owns the copyright, if the author wishes to register the copyright with the US Copyright Office, the author is responsible for filing out the paperwork and filing the necessary documentation (including payment of any fees and the costs of preparing printed and/or electronic documentation of the work as required by the US Copyright office). However, keep in mind that copyright law was recently amended by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which strengthened copyright protections in many ways. These days, almost all things are copyrighted the moment they are written, even if a copyright notice is not specifically stated and/or a Copyright filing is made with the US Copyright Office.
For more information, please read the excellent article on US Copyright law by Brad Templeton, 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained. This article answers common myths about copyright, including publication and use of works on the Internet.
Net royalities are derived from the portion of sales that Barking Rain Press actually receives (net) vs. the retail (gross) sale from our network of distributors.
For example, if the retail price of your book is $10, and Amazon keeps 40% of the gross retail price as their “cut,” then the net sale amount is $6, and your royalties would be based on the $6 net sales. Likewise, if a distributor in the UK sells ten copies of your book and sends us $60 via a wire transfer, and the bank charges a $5 currency conversion charge, then the net sales would be $55, and your royalties would be based on that figure.
Our standard contract pays royalties to authors according to the following schedule:
|Format||Number Sold||Royalties Earned|
|eBook||1-1,000||50% of Net Sales|
|eBook||1,001 & up||60% of Net Sales|
|1-1,000||50% of Net Sales|
|1,001 & up||60% of Net Sales|
We report sales and royalties to each author by the third Friday of each month, for the prior month’s activity. Authors receive payments for all monies received from Distributors and Direct Sales during the previous month within thirty (30) days of their royalty statement.
Careful reading of all submissions takes time, but Barking Rain Press will endeavor to respond to all submissions within four (4) weeks. If, after four weeks, you have not received a response, please make an inquiry using the Contact form.
Barking Rain Press requires an exclusive evaluation period; we do NOT accept submissions that have been submitted to other publishers during our evaluation period. Barking Rain Press strives to reply within four weeks to a query or submission, which is a common courtesy we extend to every author in recognition of their desire to secure a publishing contract.
It is a waste of our valuable time to read and evaluate a submission, only to hear, “Thank you, but I have already signed with another publisher.” Therefore, if this should happen, please understand that Barking Rain Press will be unable to consider any future manuscripts you may wish to submit.
While it is understandable that every author would prefer to receive a personalized response regarding their submissions, as a small publisher that only releases 10-12 books a year, Barking Rain Press simply does not have the time to respond personally to each and every submission — nor are we alone:
- Lack of Time — As noted in the article The Three Kinds of Rejection Letters and Why Can’t the Editor Give me Some Feedback? most publishers simply don’t have the time for personalized declines. Their time is best spent evaluating those very few manuscripts that manage to strike a chord with one or more of the editors.
- Lack of “Zing” — As author and former agent Nathan Bransford says in his article Why I Write Vague Rejection Letters:
“If I’m passing on a partial, chances are it’s because I’m just not feeling that zing that I feel whenever I’m reading something I’m going to want to take on. It’s just not for me. But I’m not always able to articulate precisely why exactly that is, and I haven’t read enough to be able to provide a particularly insightful critique. If I am just not feeling it and don’t know why, I’d rather be vague than say something just to say something. I’d hate for my just-to-say-something reason to cause the writer to try and revise based on faulty advice.”
- Supply & Demand — As noted in the article The Real Reason You’re Getting Rejections, there are hundreds of writers competing for each publishing slot, and while your query and your book may be just fine and plenty of people would enjoy it, there are so many other queries in the queue that publishers aren’t biting.
- Author Aversion to Criticism of Any Kind — As noted in the article Why You Get Form Rejections, some authors do not respond well to critique (even when they say they want feedback). They try to argue about the rejection and cannot let it pass, draining editors of time, energy — and any good intentions they may have harbored in taking the time to craft a personal response.
For all of these reasons, most publishers choose to simply send out form rejection notices. If you are looking for a critique of your work, there are many writing forums and editing services that can provide you with detailed feedback on your work.
Obviously, good reviews can help increase sales… but other than paying someone to write a favorable review, there is no way to ensure a good review for your book. Likewise, as a practical matter, major publications such as Publisher’s Weekly or the New York Times Book Review are not interested in publishing reviews for books from small press organizations to begin with — and they often require a 4-6 month lead time to even consider a title for review.
However, there are many other publications, blogs and websites that do review books from small press publishers. The Midwest Book Review, for example, specializes in small press and independent publishers, and some of our authors have been able to get reviews there. Local newspapers and magazines are also interested in writing about local authors, and some of our authors have had feature articles and book reviews published by their local media. There are a wide variety of Internet review sites and blogs that have provided reviews for most of our books at this point.
Shelfari and Library Thing book groups have also reviewed our titles, and most of our books have had write-ups by reviewers on Amazon.com. If you, as a Barking Rain Press author, have a particular review place or publication in mind for your book, we would be happy to do what we can to assist you in getting a review there. But keep in mind that it is “reviewer’s choice” — they select the titles they want to review. And even if they choose to review your book, you have absolutely no control over what they will say about your book, be it good, bad or indifferent.
In the end, good reviews for your book will come largely as a result of your own efforts to identify and persuade suitable reviewers to look at your book. For example, if you are writing a mystery novel, you would not want to query a SciFi reviewer to read your book (unless your mystery has SciFi content). Our authors have worked with a number of reviewers and publications over the years, and we will gladly share this information with you so that you can query them about reviewing your book.
Why is it better for YOU to make that query? Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly wrote an excellent article on this topic entitled Throwing Away Your Money on Review Copies? Here is a small excerpt that sums it up:
“The best way to get book reviews is to approach a potential reviewer up front, addressing them by name, via email, and asking them point-blank if you can send them a copy of your book. You should also ask them if they want to receive the print version or the eBook version.”
The reviewers want most to hear from YOU, the author. It’s that one-on-one contact with the creator of a work that makes writing book reviews exciting to the reviewer. They often expect and require direct access to the author — and the publisher can be seen as an unnecessary middleman in these kinds of queries.
But once you have secured a good review, we can re-post it to the Barking Rain Press website, newsletter and your email information list to continue to build word-of-mouth excitement for your novel. And if a reviewer does want to ask the publisher some questions, or needs to get copies of artwork or other information, of course we will provide them with whatever they need.
These days, book sales are driven directly by an author’s efforts to promote his or her own book, and any author who is serious about getting published should carefully consider what they are personally willing to do to generate awareness and promote sales of their own book.
Your thoughts, ideas and plans for marketing and promoting your book are your marketing plan. For purposes of your manuscript submission, your marketing plan should tell us about the genre(s) of your book and its target readership. How does it compare to (and differ from) what is already available in the marketplace (i.e., Competitive Analysis)? And what specifically are you willing to do to promote your book? Examples of specific actions could include:
- Setting up an author website
- Maintaining a blog or other social networking activities like Faceback, MySpace, etc.
- Sending out Twitter promotions
- Arranging for book signings
- Prospecting for radio, internet, blog and/or print interviews
- Setting up a fan email list to send out information about upcoming activities
- Contest ideas
Why do I need to submit a marketing plan? If I knew how to market my book then I wouldn’t need a publisher.
So the only thing you need a publisher for is marketing? What about:
- Professional editing of your manuscript—not just spell-checking, but help with proper grammar and sentence structure, as well as assistance to resolve POV and plot inconsistencies?
- Securing ISBNs for both the print and eBook versions, as well as a Library of Congress number?
- Cover artwork that can be used for both print and eBook versions, with enough size and resolution to be re-purposed as needed to promote your work?
- Professional manuscript layout for print (using InDesign), including preflight, prepress and proofing services, as well as working with the printer to ensure a quality product that looks good and meets all the printer requirements.
- eBook formatting in all the various eBook formats (remember, there is no “defacto” standard for eBooks yet).
- Distribution into physical and online stores, as well as eBook stores (including the iBookstore)?
While Barking Rain Press does provide some marketing assistance to all of our authors, a book will simply not be successful unless an author is actively engaged in their own promotional activities (please read Angela Hoy’s excellent article on this topic entitled When Authors Aren’t Willing to Market Their Books).
If you truly believe that the only thing keeping you from self-publishing is lack of marketing savvy, why not self-publish and simply hire a PR firm to handle the marketing? There are many good ones out there, and some self-publishing services will even sell you a marketing package of various promotional services. True, that costs money — but self-publishing costs money, too.
On the other hand, there are many good books, blogs and websites that provide information about marketing your book… even creating a marketing plan. If you are not interested in participating in the marketing of your book, then please do not submit it to us.
Simply put, we will not offer a contract to any author who has not taken the time to think about how they will help promote their own book.