It is not too often we have a company in our review section which can boast that it was first established in 1898. A. H. Stockwell can. They have survived two world wars and all the changes that have happened in the traditional publishing industry. Things have indeed changed considerably now. Their website strikes you as any traditional publisher would. They host their own bookstore and take direct orders externally, but do not indicate the presence of a distributor to high street stores. Probe and this long-surviving company very much reflect the times we are in.
“The firm of Arthur H Stockwell can look back with pride to over a century of book publishing. The business was established in 1898 and has remained a flourishing concern run by the same family.”
Stockwell give much pride of place to books in their catalogue on war, religion and general reference books. This is a publisher who has changed with the passing times. Within a few sentences of introduction on their website, they talk about books and provide links to books, rather than the necessary business of books. Their model of business may be subtle, but they are by no means misleading.
“In order to consider your work and submit our proposal we will require actual sight of the complete manuscript or disk, which will be read with a view to publication as an attractive independent book as a quality paperback or hardback edition. This service is completely free of charge and you are under no obligation as your manuscript will be returned to you should you so wish, on receipt of your remittance for return postage.”
Stockwell mean that their manuscript appraisal is a free service and that they deal with each submission on an individual basis.
“Once we have had the opportunity to consider your manuscript for publication, a fully detailed proposal will be sent to you with our suggestion for the style of production and all other relevant matters.
If you wish to proceed further at this stage a publication Agreement will be sent for your consideration.
Payment may be made in three instalments; one third on placing your book in our production schedule, one third when the proof is returned after your approval, and the balance when the copies have been printed and are ready to be bound.
Alternatively, payments may be made over a six month period at no extra cost, although production will proceed as and when payments are received.”
Stockwell on acceptance of an author’s manuscript and a signed agreement will commence the pre-publication process. This will include ISBN assignment and complete interior and cover design. However, authors may need to consider the depth of editing they need for their manuscript before submission to Stockwell. This does not come as part of the ‘proposal’ from the publisher.
“Our Editorial Department will revise your manuscript in respect of spelling and punctuation, taking into consideration any special wishes you may have. On request your manuscript will be returned to you after revision for your approval before we proceed further with production.”
Authors can provide their own cover artwork but Stockwell have their own in-house facilities from design, printing and bindery.
“We have our own artists who are able to provide suitable black and white or colour illustrations if required. It is important to mention that we also have our own printing and binding facilities and therefore will enjoy full liaison with you throughout the production process.”
Stockwell approach marketing in a local and centralised way. We are not dealing with HarperCollins here and as with any self-published book where the author is financing the production of their book—they will have to take on a significant amount of the promotion themselves. Stockwell do take on more than many of their self-publishing counterparts.
“The title of your book will be included in our catalogue, and we will submit copies of the book to the review editors of local publications issued in the centre or centres where you are well known. A copy of any review we may receive will be sent to you.
We will also invite orders from booksellers in such centres, and we will welcome your suggestions for this publicity when the book is ready. Your book will also be available to purchase from our on-line book store. The title and author name of your book will be posted to major Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo.”
Stockwell will also look after legal registration of an authors’ book.
Authors would do well to ascertain exact details of royalties and full contractual rights on anything they sign with this publisher. Stockwell are independent and a family owned firm. Some of their older catalogue is part of their traditional publishing business, and much will be in the proposal this company sends to each author. They are no Bloomsbury or Canongate, and authors need to be fully aware of this before entering into any kind of agreement or signed contract, but they do offer the tradition and experience many other author solution providers cannot provide for their authors.
UPDATE: Dec 2010:
If there is one single thing AH Stockwell need to address – it is the poor standard of cover design. It was as it was when I first did this review. and sadly it has not improved.