Tate Publishing Review

A Special Note to current Tate Publishing Authors:

Thank you for writing.

Novelists, poets, historians, journalists, educators … storytellers – thank you.

As a publisher, decades on now, I am forever thankful for the storyteller. Connecting audiences with great stories is a pursuit that I and my colleagues have dedicated our talents and careers to. For that, we give thanks.

In that spirit, I wanted to reach out and offer our help to any storytellers in need. Today we learned that Tate Publishing is in a “transition period” amidst many reports of pending litigation, vendor disputes, etc. This is truly unfortunate news for the author.

If you or someone you know is in need of publishing solutions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our business model, print prices, and author agreements are all very different than Tate’s, but you’ll for sure find us to be Pro-Author and a trusted voice in the trade.

We at Dog Ear fully understand how difficult it is when a publishing company closes its doors, leaving authors without books or profits. Dog Ear has established several programs designed to help Tate Publishing authors affected by the closure of the company.

Ray Robinson

We can help:

  • get your book back into distribution via Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other sites
  • print and deliver books  to you for your use, at far more competitive prices
  • develop and re-release your ebooks

What We Will Need (In order of fastest-to-market to slowest):

Every Tate author's situation is completely different, and while we aren't able to work directly with Tate to get you files, we can often work with what you might have. Having press-ready files is the fastest most efficient way to get things done, but we can work with even a printed book. Here's the list of what we need to be able to bring your former Tate Publishing title back to life:

  • Your press ready files for the cover and interior - you'll need to get these from Tate Publishing, or
  • Your "Final Pass Proofs" PDF from Tate that had your COMPLETED changes included, again for both your cover and interior, or
  • A copy of a printed book - our scanning technology is actually so good that we can redo your book from a printed copy. Though, one downside, we can't build your ebooks from this

What It May Cost:

As above, each book is unique with what is required to get it back into the market. Usually Dog Ear Publishing can get your book back live in about 5 business days and generally for about $500.

Please call our hotline at 1-888-639-7709

Here is the ORIGINAL services comparison to one of Tate Publishing's 'packages' from before the company closed its doors:

Tate Publishing is an anomaly, not so much because they offer any unusual services (they provide most of the same things most self-publishing companies provide), but because Tate Publishing and the Tate Publishing web site is so devoid of any information about the costs (if any) of publishing with Tate.

Compare the Numbers
Publishing Control:

Tate Publishing: Unknown

Dog Ear: YES

Book Cost:

Tate Publishing: Unknown

Dog Ear: $4.28

Author Profit:

Tate Publishing: 15% NET

Dog Ear: 100% NET

Total Expenditure:

Tate Publishing: ~$4,000

Dog Ear: $1,527

How does Tate Publishing compare to Dog Ear Publishing?

If you've been to the Tate Publishing web site, you'll know what we mean. It’s missing any information that would help you make a decision about whether or not to use Tate Publishing to produce your book.

Try and get a sense of the cost of publishing with Tate - without actually having to submit your contact information so a salesman can call you. We’re always concerned when a company feels the need to 'hide' their costs from customers until a salesperson can call and 'explain' them...

One additional way to follow up on a company is to do a 'reality-check' on its reputation in the market. Often just a quick Google search will reveal volumes. While the World Wide Web is not a good place to get all your information, sometimes measuring the overall tone of the information on the web is helpful. We'd encourage any reader to perform their own search. Here are two widely respected sites in the publishing industry along with a link to the threads about Tate Publishing.

Tate Publishing information at AbsoluteWrite.com (we've linked to the most recent posts)

There is a section that outlines the ways that Tate produces books:

"Your manuscript will be reviewed for one of three possible contract options. First, it will be reviewed to see if the work merits a negotiated royalty advance. Second, it will be reviewed to determine if Tate Publishing will absorb all production and distribution costs with no investment by the author. Lastly, you may be offered a contract in which Tate Publishing absorbs the bulk of the production and distribution costs with a refundable author investment."

The first option is what is typically thought of as 'traditional' publishing. Option 2 is 'sort-of' a traditional publishing model. And, option 3 is typical of self publishing. While the site outlines how the books may be produced, I still am not aware of any author cost outlines. Item 3 - what we call a 'self-publishing' model - has the interesting wrinkle that publishing fees will be refunded at certain sales levels. Recent information from Tate indicated this was at 2,500 or 5,000 units.

Tate is complex enough that we can't really get all the pieces on here. So, if you have questions that aren't answered here, please call us so that we may answer you directly.

Our belief is that authors should be able to get a very good idea about cost of publishing their book and services that will be rendered by the publisher without having to speak to a sales representative. Our site reflects this belief. Understanding costs and actual services from Tate Publishing requires that you contact a sales person at their company.

Please don't rely solely on our research; it is imperative that you also check out each publisher directly. And, calling Tate Publishing isn't a bad thing (they are a very professional company), but do your homework and don't assume that publishing with Tate won't cost you anything. If you are offered the ‘opportunity’ to publish with Tate and you’re asked to pay money up front, you really need to explore what will be rendered over the course of your relationship with them.

When you fully explore the true costs of producing a salable book with a realistic wholesale discount and decent profit margin, you may find that what you thought was a great deal, actually costs you more than you bargained for.

It appears Tate Publishing has different levels of publishing services - from a traditional model where they pay you, to a self publishing model where you pay them. Our comparison is only concerned with the Tate Publishing 'self publishing' model where an author pays a fee to be published.

We've dug through the Tate Publishing site to see if anything can be gleaned without having to call a sales person. Here are our notes.

  1. Bookstore availability - Most of the self publishing companies make their books available at the exact same places as Tate Publishing. The 'Why Choose Tate Publishing' page seems to lead readers to believe the books are physically on shelves in Barnes & Noble and Borders stores. This may be true for some of their books, as it is with any publisher. However, in 9-out-of-10 titles we checked, it was not true. Just like most self publishing companies, the books are available to special order. And, just like most self publishing companies, some books were available in stores, on shelves.

    Here is what we recommend you do - get a list of 'mature' Tate titles (meaning books released more than 90 days ago - anything more recent may not be fully represented in the market), get the ISBN and call your local stores. You can also check store inventory at both B&N and Borders Stores on their respective web sites.

    The process we followed was slightly different - working more from the 'best selling' titles side of things. We visited Amazon, looked up Tate Publishing under Advanced Search in Books, listed the titles by "Best selling", got the ISBN, and called our local stores. We also checked store inventory at both B&N and Borders Stores on the B&N and Borders web sites.

  2. "only 4 percent of manuscripts submitted make it through the acquisitions rigorous requirements" - We don't know if this means only 4 percent of all submitted manuscripts get published at all, or that only 4 percent of manuscripts submitted qualify for publication without the upfront cost of nearly $4000. It is certainly something you should discuss when you speak with your representative at Tate. We'll update this piece of information as we research the topic further.

  3. "The highest royalty earnings!" - Again, a direct quote from their site and it isn't true in the broader self publishing market. Dog Ear and many others pay much higher author profit rates. See below for more detail on this part. Tate employs a sliding-scale for royalties - you earn more as the numbers go up - but the base (and most likely) royalty scenarios are lower than many in the industry.

"...we pay the highest royalty in the industry (15%)..." - No, they don't. Many companies pay this rate, and Dog Ear Publishing pays far more. Tate does pay much more than a 15% NET royalty rate for direct sales of physical or digital product through the Tate site. We always recommend authors sell books via methods OTHER than traditional distribution, so this may be a win with Tate Publishing. However, their base direct sales profit still isn't the highest in the industry. Furthermore, authors should consider direct online sales through an author website with a unique domain of their choosing rather than expecting consumers to seek out a publisher to buy a book.

Since we can't get firm numbers from the site, we started the process with Tate Publishing (by submitting our own manuscript). We were stunned by the email we received in response (bold text is quoted from the "welcome" email we received).

"We are not a self-publisher in our approach, operation, or philosophy." Anyone you pay to publish your book is a self-publishing company. If Tate is NOT charging you any money for the publication of your book, then this comparison does not apply to your specific situation (and, ultimately wouldn't have any value to you). If you are paying any fee to Tate Publishing for the publication of your work (or promotion of it), then they are operating as a self publisher in their relationship with you. They are selling services (design, production, editorial, distribution, promotion) to authors - and since Tate Publishing is the 'publisher of record' for your book, they are a self-publishing company as commonly defined in our industry. They may be different from many of our competitors, but in situations where they charge fees for services, they are operating as a self-publishing company.

"We will actually place our resources in a first-time author's work." - This is important and valuable. Many self-publishing companies don't do any editorial, design or marketing work for your book; they are simply a printing resource for whatever you create. You know these companies as Lulu.com or Wordclay.com. Tate Publishing uses real editors and provides real design for your project - it's just too expensive.

"...and still participate with our investment in your book of anywhere from $15,700.00-$19,700.00 of our resources for the production and nationwide marketing of the work. With a new author we expect an author participation of only $3,985.50." - This is an interesting number... and an extraordinary claim.

Moving on, we'll provide you with a framework around which to phrase some very direct questions to your author representative. Here’s what we believe is important in choosing a company to self-publish your book. (Note these are standard for ANY self-publishing company you call...)

  1. CONTRACT: Do you keep all your rights and can you terminate your agreement at any time without penalty? The author contract should be short and easy to understand. Is it?

  2. RETAIL PRICE: Can you set your own retail? Does the publisher force you into ridiculously high retail prices? (see our page on setting your Retail Pricing here) Remember, to sell in retail outlets you need to set your book's retail price at about 2.5 X your cost... Chains, big retail outlets, and wholesalers want at least a 50% discount (though Dog Ear allows discounts as low as 20%). So, if your book costs $4 to print, you need to be able to sell it at $9.95 to pretty much break even. Now, that doesn't mean we can't offer a different discount structure. As a matter of fact, we can offer your book to the wholesale channel with as low of discount as you'd like - many books (usually textbooks or business books) offer only a 20% discount.

  3. BOOK PRINTING COSTS: Your Retail is almost always a function of your cost to print the book. If your book costs more to print, you need to push your retail price higher just to break even.

  4. AUTHOR PROFIT: Some call it ROYALTY. We call it a NET SALES PAYMENT. Whatever it's called, it's the amount you receive from each book sale. Don't let the rep get away with talking 'percentages' - you don't pay the light bill with a percent. Make them give you an example, based on page count and retail price, of how much you'll make in DOLLARS for each sale through Amazon.com (where 90% of your first year sales will occur).

    Be careful of any company that gives a huge royalty but forces unreasonable retail prices on your book. It makes no sense to get a "50%" royalty on a book that will never sell. Also watch for royalties that are increased by REDUCING your WHOLESALE DISCOUNT. Again, if no store will buy it, what's the point of a royalty?

  5. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Tate Publishing appears to excel at this. Staff seems incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Can you actually speak with someone who actually knows something about the book industry? Do you have access to "decision makers" that can make things happen for your book?

  6. BUSINESS MODEL: What is their business model? Everyone is in business to make money, and that's an honorable thing, but watch for WHERE they make their money. Look for hidden charges, or charges that show up to actually create an effective and salable book for you.

All of the companies we review here will be very different in "personality", but for the most part, they share the exact same business model: bring authors in with an unrealistic price and heavy direct marketing campaigns - then up sell each author to create a book that is actually viable. The most important thing they have in common? Their entire business is based on moving authors through the system as quickly as possible, and with as little human interaction and as few real options as possible. It's all about "cookie cutter" services and book building. Imagine if McDonalds produced books.

Here are some numbers to let you get more in-depth with Tate Publishing. Ask your rep to provide a comparison amount for each item. Write 'em down, add 'em up, and see what comes out.

The specs are pretty typical of the books produced in the trade category at any self publishing house. Information and self publishing costs are derived from the Tate Publishing web site and contract.

  • 6X9 trim size, 150 pages, one color interior, 4 color cover, 5 interior images
  • Paperback or hardcover
    - ISBN, bar code and Library of Congress Control number
  • Custom cover and interior design– no template designs
  • a PDF or laser proof delivered to author
  • Available at Amazon and most major online retailers
  • Available through major distributors like Ingram and Baker and Taylor
  • Available for order at over 25,000 retail bookstores
  • Inclusion in the Google Book Search Program
  • Availability as a Google Editions eBook
  • Author wanting to purchase 100 additional paperbacks

(Dog Ear’s total cost for this package and options is $1,527, our per unit book printing price is $4.28, and you get 5 free author copies of your book.)

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