In late 2007 I came across a thread on AbsoluteWrite mentioning a UK publisher called Olympia Publishers. At the outset, it should be stressed that this publisher has nothing to do with the distinguished Paris-based literary and erotica press founded by Maurice Giordias during the early 1950s. Giordias’ avant-garde esoteric publishing house introduced us to classics by Burroughs, Beckett, Bataille and Nabokov. Giordias also ran the erotica imprint Ophelia Press which published one of literature’s most famous and enigmatic publishing mysteries in the form of Pauline Reage’s The Story of O. Every time I come across the Olympia Press during research, I keep telling myself I should do an historical publishing piece on this publisher. But that one is for another day.
A quick Google of Olympia Publishers will quickly reveal a whole plethora of publishers over the years that have traded under derivatives of the Olympia name. I can understand a ‘Ted Jones’ from Melbourne, Australia trading under Jones Construction if this is his line of business, but frankly, in today’s age of global communication, the Internet and company records readily available to the general public, I can’t understand any publishing house trading under the name of a similar and previously existing publisher or press unless the confusion is deliberate. It was the first bane of frustration for the authors posting on the above cited AbsoluteWrite thread above.
Olympia Publishers UK
, part of Ashwell Publishing, began sometime around late 2007. The publisher lists its address at 60 Cannon Street, smack in the heart of the City of London. That’s a pretty nice piece of office real estate to lease and operate out of, but when you’re a publisher with 250 listed titles (on Amazon UK), a catalogue filled mainly with new or unknown authors, something doesn’t quite ring true. I’m a pretty frequent traveller now, and I’ve learned from experience when I’ve decided to ‘call around’ to the offices of publishers or companies offering self-publishing services, I’ve discovered vacant rooms above laundrettes, fast food shops, residential homes, derelict or abandoned buildings with no more sign of a thriving publishing house than rusting galvanised shutters and a overstuffed ‘mailbox’ and a builder with a steaming-hot Pot Noodle
clutched to his bosom. I’ve had experiences like this with several UK self-publishing services – are you taking note Mr Miller from BookForce/UnDiscovered/discovered Authors/Callio Press? Olympia Publishers actually operate out of a less attractive piece of real estate in a business industrial estate in Cambridge
I may or may not be calling to a publisher/self-publishing service near you soon! Fortunately, I’ve also had many good experiences with companies only too open to me paying a visit. Not surprisingly, most of these companies tend to be the better service providers to authors.
From the Olympia Publisher website:
“We continue to publish books by well-known writers and have also given writers at the dawn of their careers the necessary opportunities to have their books published successfully. Therefore, we can now pride ourselves on achieving fame for previously unknown writers. We have been able to achieve this by proven methods of internet marketing and by well-established and traditional forms of promotion. To achieve this we have developed very useful and beneficial links with the Media, and this has escalated world-wide; consequently more and more of our books are reaching the potential that they deserve.”
Hmmm, ‘pride ourselves on achieving fame for previously unknown writers.’ Is that what unknown writers seek or what Olympia think they are seeking?
I actually do like the layout and presentation of the publisher’s website. It has what a publisher’s website should have; plenty of books on display and plenty of author event news. A look at the book covers throughout the online bookshop reveals a pretty mixed bag. The site provides ample information on upcoming author events and links to short biographies of its published authors. However, I’d like a great deal more about this company on the main page and about page, primarily why Olympia Publishers is different to other publishers and what their staff experience is. There is also a dramatic lack of trade information suggesting to me that this publisher does not have the trade and media links it claims to have. The publisher does support an online bookstore, but returns for customers and groups are not accepted. My concern here is that this is transferred to trade accounts as well.
Let’s get to the nub of Olympia Publishers in this overview, because that’s all it can be. Even a commercial publisher provides more detail than this publisher – trade order details; details of editors and staff experience; and a full overview of the company history. In essence, Olympia on the surface look like a standard publisher, but this belies the experience of authors submitting to them in the AbsoluteWrite thread cited above, and the more recent threads here
“Initially all manuscripts submitted to us are considered under non-contributory publishing contracts. This is where no costs are incurred by the author and the whole outlay is taken on by Olympia Publishers.
Should we be unable to offer the non-contributory contract for those manuscripts that would fit in with our high standards and genre criteria, an alternative means of being published is considered. This would be under a slightly different form of contract which is contribution-based. We would like to point out that the promotion and marketing of all our books is carried to the same depth regardless of the type of contract that is offered.
As always, we dedicate a great deal of our resources to researching new methods by which we can move forward, in keeping with modern innovations. Some of our future plans include the provision of e-books as these are currently gaining impetus; now it appears that e-books are beginning to pose an important addition to normal publishing. We plan to encompass all our future and existing titles to be sold as e-books as well as in paperback format. “
Olympia reminds me a great deal of Austin & McAuley, who until about two years ago did not inform authors about fees connected with publishing as part of their programs. I’ve no problem with a publisher adopting a hybrid approach to publishing. But traditional and self-publishing imprints must be kept separate, and all financial details as part of a paid service must be disclosed before an author submits to the publishers – and that includes costs (absolute or by example) as well as royalties. In short, you can’t play the game as a publisher but operate in whole as an author solutions provider.
It should be noted that fees cited from the above links by authors, after they submitted to Olympia, ranged on average from £2500 – £3500. Publishing should be a democracy – open to everyone – but you simply cannot operate an imprint that claims to publish one author for free, and another for £3500, and give both the same marketing and promotion.