I have been following Austin & MacAuley
for the past three years. They offer ‘both Traditional Mainstream and Partnership Opportunities’ and are based in London. Unfortunately Austin & MacAuley were not always entirely transparent about the fact that their publishing model included ‘fees’ or as they also refer to them in some parlances—contributions from the author
. For a long time Austin & MacAuley persisted with a policy of not disclosing the possibility of requiring a ‘contribution’ until an author had submitted a manuscript for appraisal. Authors unfamiliar with Partnership Publishing
models may still be unaware that a fee is involved and I still believe Austin & MacAuley could do more to clarify this point. This was the fundamental reason we previously declined to review them.
“In the world of publishing it is becoming desirable for new authors to get on the publishing ladder and attain success with their books. The current economic climate has opened many avenues in publishing which has allowed us to take on a large number of new writers through both Traditional Mainstream and Partnership Opportunities, which includes a full editorial, production and marketing plan. We understand new writers can become disheartened when rejected by publishers. Our view is, and always has been, that as one door closes another opens.”
Actually, in early 2009, their website FAQ’s hinted at self-publishing by listing ‘famous authors’ who had travelled the self-publishing path over the last century. Needless to say, some of the cited authors did indeed self-publish, but many others did not—certainly not in the manner Austin & MacAuley presented the cited authors. The FAQ’s on their website in 2009 hinting at Austin & MacAuley’s fees for publishing a book disappeared by 2010. Let us just say if D. H. Lawrence, Beatrix Potter and James Joyce were doing the rounds of publishers today, it is unlikely they would be calling to the doors of their Canary Wharf offices in London along with the morning postman.
“We are an independent trade publisher based in the heart of Canary Wharf along side other world famous media and publishing groups. We publish quality literature which will form the new platform from which twenty first century writers will be discovered. We are therefore searching for authors with excellent writing skills which accord with our high standards. Our lists contain a wide range of subjects both fiction and non fiction, and we produce a variety of interesting and readable books for all ages and tastes.”
And, from the above—the open invitation to new authors comes with no qualification that they may have to contribute financially to the publication of their book.
“Our view is, and always has been, that as one door closes another opens. Some of the most successful writers were once in the exactly same position as you are in now so there is always hope for new writers. Please view our submission guidelines page on how to submit and which genres are most commonly accepted to our editors.”
Actually, if the truth be known, I do like the Austin & MacAuley website. It screams books and trade publisher in the way any publisher’s site should. They advertise books from the word go, and they have an updated news feed on current author events and releases. The cover artwork on their books is pretty good and is up there with many UK trade publishers. One glaring error that did catch my eye on the scrolling book adverts on the header of their website does bring cause for reflection and the presence of attention to detail. Norma Lloyd Nesling’s, The Regis Connection is an author who caught my eye because she previously published through Troubador Publishing. Her book is listed in the scrolling header and it would help if Austin & MacAuley spelt the name of one of their own authors correctly in the advert—Lloyd is misspelt ‘Llyod’ in the graphic. It is details like this that raise a red flag for me.
Austin & MacAuley describe themselves as an independent trade publisher, but unlike many of the other trade publishers located in London and anywhere else for that matter, we are not told who their editors or senior personnel are (nor their background or experience), nor how much publishing skills they bring with them—and more to the point—what history and experience Austin & MacAuley actually has as a publisher.
[Addendum: after much effort and through the links (here
), we have ascertained that Annette Longman was listed as Chief Editor and James Carter as Assistant editor.]
“Book Shops, Please apply to us, via the contact form, for information regarding orders.”
This is certainly not the way a trade publisher should deal with book orders from the retail trade and it begs the question why Austin & MacAuley do not have a direct link on their website to a sales distributor. Of course, they may have their own in-house sales team, but ‘send us an email’ is no way for a trade publisher to take orders.
Submission guidelines are standard with enquiries taken by email and manuscripts and SAE accepted by post. In the first instance authors are requested to send three sample chapters, a synopsis and covering letter.
Austin & MacAuley list their marketing and promotional plans for books here
. Much of it appears to involve their own direct marketing efforts through press releases, advance information and offering review copies on request from retail buyer departments and bookstores. Interestingly, I could not find a direct link to this on the Austin & MacAuley website and I only came across the page while doing an online search.
Overall, on first impressions, Austin & MacAuley hit the early marks with strong cover artwork, a slick website and some marketable titles out of the 100+ listed books over the past four years, but scratch much below the surface, and it becomes a struggle to join the dots up here. Their website has a number of grammatical errors and lacks real detail and substance regarding the kind of publishing they offer and their ability to distribute books to the trade.
I also want to believe Austin & MacAuley demonstrate a strong editorial hand and are selective about what they take on, but the information available through the links and correspondence with authors does not belie this (sources here, here and here). Their lack of transparency on providing specific details on their Partnership Opportunity program until the author has submitted their book for consideration is still troubling.
I am not convinced Austin & MacAuley are offering anything more (at best) than the better author solutions services, and that is giving the benefit of the doubt to an ‘independent trade publisher’ willing to ask perspective authors to ‘contribute’ a four-figure amount to the publication of their book. Austin & MacAuley are attempting to operate Partnership Publishing like Pen Press (PPS 233.13)
, Epic Press (EPS 186.09)
, Derwent Press (DWP 194.02)
, Book Guild Publishing (BGP 218.05)
and Matador (MAT 256.20)
. As publishing develops new models to move forward, this model of publishing is coming more to the forefront, and I actually believe UK publishers are ahead of their US cousins on this. But when Partnership Publishing is on the table as an option, the author must at least know from the outset that this is potentially one of the models on offer to them and more importantly that it will come at a cost. It must never be introduced to the author/publisher partnership after submission. When a publisher does this, and suggests a financial contribution is required, it renders the idea of a partnership between author and publisher as the poor cousin of publishing, rather than a reasonable and viable alternative for a book.
If there is one single thing Austin & MacAuley could take on board; it is you cannot ride on two coattails. Most publishers who adopt Partnership Publishing models, and actually make them work, do so by defining a distinct identity between their trade imprint and their partnership imprint.