When I go to a publisher’s site I like to see books and publicity for those books, but with Tate Publishing, I wonder how much can be attributed to the publisher or the author’s own efforts and the professionals the author chooses to employ under their own steam. I see some of this publicity when I go to the main website page of Tate Publishing
. I get a single pane for a ‘featured book’ and video clips of author events and media exposure. I also get this:
Have you written a book? Are you looking for a publisher? Have you searched out and submitted your manuscript to dozens of publishing companies only to be turned away, time and time again? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, Tate Publishing could be your answer.
Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, is a Christian-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors.”
(A revision of the Tate site in late 2011 has included far more video clip information and appearances for their authors in the USA.)
Yes! I’ve written a book. Yes! I’m looking for a publisher. Yes, I’ve submitted to dozens and dozens of publishers and been turned away. Yahoo! I’ve obviously found my publisher by right of frustration and rejection.
“We do not require any money from any of our authors for any aspect of production. We are not a self-publisher in our approach, operation, or philosophy in any way. We receive tens of thousands of submissions and author inquiries each year, but we choose to accept only a small percentage of the authors who submit manuscripts to us. We will look at your work and respond within weeks with our observations.
Join the Tate Publishing family today and make your dream a reality!”
I’m always wary of publishers and author solutions services that engage in the ‘make your dream a reality’, but on balance, Tate has just about got the balance right on the main website page without engaging in gushing recommendations and citing a plethora of authors who historically paid or made financial contributions to be published.
So what is Tate Publishing?
Based in Oklahoma, Tate Publishing was founded ten years ago by Richard and Rita Tate in response to their own experience of publishing a book with a ‘mainline royalty publishing company.’ They decided to set up Tate Publishing in an effort to ‘redefine’ what a publisher should be. For them, that meant a publisher should allow their authors to retain all rights to their books and earn a fair share of royalties. Fundamentally, like Xulon Press
, Tate Publishing is a Christian-based company. However, unlike Xulon Press, it is a family-owned business with Ryan Tate as its CEO.
What impressed me most in the first instance about Tate is the disclosure of a full staff roster, from top to bottom, by department. All of them are identified by name, role and with contact email. This is not a small publishing organisation by any means, boasting 150+ staff from departments like editing, design, PR and marketing, distribution, print and shipping. Tate’s real strength is that the company has developed a strongly motivated team who are all passionate about what they do. This can be difficult to achieve in a company of Tate’s size, and as a mark of their work and mission philosophy, the company was ranked the no. 2 ‘Best Place to Work in Oklahoma, 2008’. The executive staff of Tate also avidly engage in networking
and the blogging community to engage with authors and wider writing and reading communities.
Tate publishing say that their mission is to discover unknown authors, and help them realise their potential in combination with Tate’s ‘unique approach to publishing’ by providing them with high quality books and an inclusive benefits package. I’ve looked at a lot of publishers in my time—big and small—and very few of them describe their approach to book publishing as ‘unique’, and even fewer have actually proved to be unique. For the most part, being good or successful is not about what you do, but how you go about doing it.
“At Tate Publishing & Enterprises, we believe your work is just that—your work. We believe that you should make the most money from your project. You will retain all rights to your manuscript, PLUS retain the highest royalties in the business from your sales. That’s the way it should be! And that’s the way we do business.”
I have no doubt in my mind that Tate Publishing and their staff are passionate about the books they publish and the authors they work with. I’ve two irks at this point. One, I mentioned above, about the lack of books on the main page of their website, and two—more importantly—it takes a little time for a prospective author to work through to the deduction that Tate Publishing operate a ‘unique’ approach to publishing—that is—one of partnership publishing. Tate’s philosophy is that modern publishing is about sharing the risk between author and publisher. I also wonder how many prospective authors submit to Tate regularly under the assumption that they will not have to stump up any financial contribution to their book’s publication. Tate really need to have this information at the front end of the website before an author decides to make a submission. The diehard anti-self-publishing/vanity publishing protagonists will argue the publisher should take 100% of the risk when taking on an author’s book. Co-founder of Tate Publishing and now Author & Acquisitions Manager, Richard Tate, takes a different view of modern publishing and Yog’s Law
. Recently on his blog, he wrote:
“A few years ago an individual created out of thin air a concept he called “Yog’s Law.” I have no idea who “Yog” is or what planet he may be from but just like Superman there is “kryptonite” in this concept and that “kryptonite” is the facts. His over-simplistic “Money always flows to the writer” is his central argument. The problem with that concept is that he makes it sound like a movie script. Write a book, ask mom how good she thinks it is, send it to a publisher, they take it and make you a millionaire while you sit at home and watch TV. Of course writers should make money for their work, but the premise that they will never have to spend money if they publish, promote or market their books is incredibly naïve.”
I will qualify the above by stating that the ‘individual’ cited above was US author and critic, James D. MacDonald, who coined the term Yog’s Law
, and it was quite a bit longer than ‘a few years ago’. The Tate model of business for book publishing is based on a contribution from their authors of $3985, with Tate contributing $15700 to $19700. The author’s contribution is only redeemable if the author’s book sells more than 5000 copies. That is a pretty steep number for any new author and it is hard to see any more than a fraction of Tate’s authors achieving a figure like that. In addition, Tate will also waive any fee on a subsequent book. For most authors signing with Tate the contribution fee is applicable, but in some circumstances, where an author has a proven sales record and/or a strong publicity machine already in place, the contribution may also be waived. Tate say that the author’s contribution goes toward the marketing and promotion of the book and not its production and distribution.
The Tate publishing deal includes:
Custom cover and interior design
Full Professional editing (includes conceptual and technical editing)
ISBN and Copyright Registration (ISBN is assigned to Tate)
Nationwide Distribution (Ingram, Spring Arbor and other small distributors)
Returns accepted by publisher and physical books stocked with Distributors
Online sales listing and availability
Professional Publicist & Marketing Representative (Author’s fee contribution)
Print edition of Book plus a choice of audio book, book trailer, website or networking site set-up
40% royalties on direct sales and 15% royalties on distribution sales
60% – 80% author book discount (dependent on qty ordered)
10 author copies
Inclusion in Tate Catalogue for booksellers
Book listed in Tate online Bookstore
Ebook set-up and online distribution through Amazon
Book Trailer ($299 separately)
Website Design & Hosting ($399 separately)
Audio Book ($999 separately)
Option for TV Advert (on acceptance of book)
Tate Publishing’s book retail prices are pretty competitive, on average $14 to $16 for 200 pages plus. I’d expect them to be competitive because Tate operates an in-house print facility and only outsource printers if the print run is above 5000 units. I always think this is a very strong point in favour of a publisher. The print books and design quality is high and Tate pretty much has everything in place you would expect from any publisher. I did feel that their website and in particular the online bookstore could be visually improved. Both lack a degree of styling and panache and just don’t do justice to the strengths of Tate Publishing.
Overall, submitting a book to Tate Publishing
does not guarantee publication. Tate claim to publish a single figure percentage of the 10,000 submissions sent to them per year. After ten years of book publishing, and with 6000+ titles, the figures do stack up and suggest Tate is very much committed to selling books to readers with a professional infrastructure in place.
Partnering with a publisher is not for the faint-hearted, but then, neither is self-publishing. While the contribution fee of $3950 may seem high, authors must reflect that they are getting a book designed by professionals and marketed by professionals, and that does not come cheap. Just like the acquisition editors at Tate, submitting authors must weigh up the risk of their investment and whether their book is strong enough commercially to balance out that risk.
The earlier provisional ranking given to Tate was based on my review at the time. Since Tate’s website revisions, I find a lot less transparency regarding the ‘publicity fee’, and though recently Tate has had great success, I’m now less convinced about Tate. In short, Tate want it both ways – to be considered a ‘traditional mainline publisher’, and also expectant that authors they sign should have a professional publicist. In the big bold world of publishing – that’s what a ‘mainline’ publisher is meant to provide for an author. For me, you are either a ‘traditional’ publisher, or a publisher seeking financial assistance from an author. In a nutshell, if an author signs to Tate with a professional publicist, then that author is already paying their publicist a fee or royalty cut, and thereby removing a significant financial onus and responsibility from Tate.
For me – Tate is an example of ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’
UPDATE: February 2017 – Tate Shutters Operations