Frequently Asked Questions

 

SUBMITTING

How do I submit to Signal 8 Press?
Our submissions page will tell you everything you need to know.

What are you interested in publishing?
Our submissions page will tell you that too.

What if my story is longer/shorter than your stated length requirements?
Length matters; it’s not just about the motion of the ocean. If your story is longer or shorter, please query us. Exceptions can be made but they will be rare.

If I don’t have an agent, can I still submit?
Of course.

Can I submit my manuscript if it’s not finished?
Please wait until you feel it’s finished and ready.

If there are illustrations and/or photos in my manuscript, will you consider it?
If there are only a few images or graphics, yes. More than that, probably not. These tend to make for ginormous e-book files, which are slow to download and quite troublesome to produce.

Do you allow simultaneous and/or multiple submissions?
Simultaneous submissions, yes. The process takes ages. We get that. It is absolutely your right to query multiple publishers and agents about your work. Multiple submissions, no. Send us your best work, one piece at a time.

When will you let me know whether you’re going to publish it?
That depends on how busy we are. In addition to our involvement with the press, we have full-time jobs and personal lives, and there are only so many hours in the day. We’ll confirm we’ve received your manuscript, of course. After that, we hope it’ll be within a few months of submission, although it might take a bit longer. In general, we’re opposed to leaving authors hanging.

If I haven’t heard from you, may I email you to check in?
If you want to query us about a submission, please wait at least three months before contacting us. In general, we have a pet peeve about emails containing any variation on the words “just checking” and prefer not to receive them.

Do you give feedback on manuscripts that you don’t accept?
Unfortunately, no. While we would like to support writers as much as possible, there are limitations on what is possible and reasonable.

If you reject my manuscript, may I discuss it with you?
If we pass on your book, then we are not able to enter into a discussion about your work. Nor do we welcome attempts to negotiate rejections. (Yes, this has happened before.)

AFTER ACCEPTANCE

What happens if you accept my book for publication?
We will explain everything in detail either at the time of acceptance or shortly thereafter, and will keep you posted along the way. Generally speaking, we will give you a very brief overview of any editorial changes we feel are necessary, but we will not provide detailed feedback until the contract has been signed. We’ll also let you know what the deadlines and the projected publication date are. You will have a set length of time in which to make the specified changes (or negotiate them), and after that, we will prepare a final production version. We will also have our designer(s) prepare a treatment for the cover art and will tweak it until we are all reasonably satisfied. In the meantime, you will need to work on getting blurbs (author comments) for the book. We’ll also need to finalize the cover synopsis, get an author photo, develop a marketing plan, sort out where we’ll solicit reviews, and a whole lot of other things. But the main thing you should know is that we will keep you informed every step of the way.

What is your contract like?
Our contract is a modified version of a boilerplate indie-press one used by a number of North American small presses, only with tweaks to make it more author-friendly while also protecting our interests. It asks for world rights and a share of subsidiary (film, TV, audiobook, translation, etc.) rights. It spells out royalties (see below), author copies, and the author discount. It establishes a time limit, after which we can extend or terminate the contract. We have no interest in holding your intellectual-property rights hostage forever and ever. There are a few points that we consider non-negotiables (advances, price based on net versus RRP, sub rights), but overall, it’s pretty standard and benign.

Can I keep all my subsidiary rights?
Nope. In the great majority of cases, book publication will lead to a sub-rights sale, not the other way around. In other words, that opportunity exists because we published the book. It isn’t fair or reasonable to exclude the original publisher from that benefit.

When will the book come out?
In general, it takes about a year and a half and sometimes two years between acceptance and publication. We only publish about four books a year, roughly on a quarterly schedule, and we have to work around the aforementioned day jobs and personal lives. In most cases, the book will be done three or four months ahead of the official pub date, which allows us to do a better job with soliciting reviews, interviews, and so forth.

Can I email you if I have questions?
Of course. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Please allow a few days for a reply. Please do not email us the next day to see if we got your email. Please.

Can I provide my own cover art?
Possibly. We welcome ideas and concepts for cover images, but we need to have the final say in terms of what the book will look like.

What if I want to make changes to the manuscript?
During the editing process, we think this is a reasonable thing to request or suggest. Please communicate your ideas with your editor before implementing them, though. Also, remember that there will be a point of no return, after which we cannot alter the manuscript. We want every book to be the best that it can be, of course, but we also have other books to deal with at the same time, which is why we need for the process to keep moving.

ETIQUETTE

Is there anything I should keep in mind when I email you?
Why, yes there is, and thank you for asking. For the love of all that is holy, please do not ever send us a message with (as stated above) any variation on “just checking.” The only time this becomes okay is if months have passed and we got busy and lost track of you (this rarely happens), if an email never arrived (this happens now and then), or if an order seems to have gone missing. Please also keep your emails short and to the point, and if it’s not too much to ask, reread previous correspondence if you’re not clear on things like the timeline, the steps in the process, and so on. As much as we want to be helpful, we’re usually a bit pressed for time and would rather not have to read a wall of text that is essentially a rehash of something we have already discussed.

What about ordering copies at my author discount?
Please be reasonably clear from the get-go on how many copies you want, where you want them sent, and if money is a concern, what your budget is. There have been instances where authors have changed the same order three or four times before paying us, plus another one or two times afterward, prior to us actually placing that order with Lightning Source and dispatching the books. People of sensitivity and intelligence might be able to guess how this kind of thing affects our emotional state.

Is there anything I should keep in mind for interviews and profiles?
Obviously you’re free to say whatever you want, but if you’re disappointed that you’re with a small press and not Random Penguin House, please bear in mind that there’s a good chance we will read that interview. It isn’t pleasant to invest a considerable amount of time and money in an author and his or her book, only to read how let down they were that we couldn’t fund a book tour or put a hundred copies in every store or enable them to quit their day job. Also, if you’re deeply ambivalent about the whole “being a writer” thing and feel you might soon want to abandon it in order to raise goats or do performance art (or do performance art about raising goats), please save us all some trouble and submit elsewhere.

SALES/TRADE

Where are the e-books sold?
The e-books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, and a lot of other places around the world.

Do you publish paper editions?
Yes, via Ingram’s POD offering, Lightning Source. POD stands for print on demand, which is a technology that enables just-in-time book production. In a nutshell, the books are printed at a massive facility when they are ordered, and dispatched right away, rather than being printed in large quantities and stored in a warehouse. Books from Lightning Source are of excellent quality, comparable to and often better than the ones produced by traditional offset printing technology. Because of the Ingram distribution connection, sales data about each book is automatically sent to online bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Booktopia, and… well, pretty much all of them, everywhere. They are also available via Ingram’s own distribution catalog, which means that bookstores can order them if they are interested in stocking physical copies.  We like this approach and think it is the way forward for publishing: although it’s not particularly new, it’s a lot less wasteful and more environmentally friendly than the previous way of doing things.

Will my book actually be available in bookstores?
If there is a paperback release, then the book will be available for bookstores to order. Whether they choose to do so is up to them, not us; we will do our best to publicize the book and generate interest, of course.

Wait a minute. I’m a bookseller (or I’m planning an event and will need to place an order). Are the books really not returnable?
That’s right, they are really not returnable.

What?
We mean it. We stopped taking returns a few years after we started up. What it boils down to is the fact that organizers at literary festivals and book-launch events were ordering more books than they could reasonably sell and then returning them. Our theory is that they do this to make the authors feel good, never mind the financial impact on the publisher. We decided to stop taking that particular hit. The vast majority of our sales are online (and now, pretty much 100% of them are, given that we don’t accept returns), which is fine with us. We would love to see our books in stores but we are more concerned about waste and fiscal sustainability.

But I am planning an event. What am I supposed to do?
Please talk to us about it. In most cases, we are able to negotiate a deal wherein the store orders a certain number of copies and the author buys unsold ones for their private stock.

MONEY

Do you pay advances?
No.

What is your royalty structure?
We pay 50% royalties for e-books and 15% on paperbacks. This is based on our net (which is to say, the money we actually receive per sale), not on the recommended retail price.


When and how do you pay?
We report and pay semi-annually. Sales reports are issued in January and July. Royalties tend to follow in February and August, give or take a few weeks. Sometimes we’re able to issue them simultaneously. Please note that there is a one-cycle delay in payment, so (for example) we’ll pay your Jan-June royalties after the following cycle, in February. This allows us to actually get paid before passing the money on as royalties. (Some of our overseas e-retail partners take a bit longer to pay us than the American ones do.)

If I don’t have PayPal, how will you pay me?
That depends on where you are and how much you value prompt payment. We’re very regular about that, but it’s not cost-effective for us to do, say, wire transfers or to write checks. Unless we expect your book to make millions, we’ll probably pass if you don’t have PayPal (and won’t set up an account with them) because it’s a hassle to use other means of payment. We very strongly recommend that you set up an account with PayPal if you don’t already have one and we are interested in your book.

CORPORATE

You’re based in Hong Kong. How will that affect my book?
For the most part, it won’t. We aren’t shipping physical copies from here, nor (usually) receiving shipments, so our location matters very little. The only time it seems to be an issue is in terms of what we can nominate for awards and where we can get books reviewed. Some literary prizes stipulate that the publisher be American, Australian, British, or whatever, and certain major reviewers have the same mandate.

What happened to Typhoon Media? I remember that name for some reason.
Typhoon Media Ltd was the actual corporation behind Signal 8 Press. That corporation no longer exists, and Signal 8 Press is an imprint of AD Media. Signal 8 Press was always the strongest brand, and the corporation was just there for business reasons.

So you’re actually incorporated and everything?
Yes. We’ve seen what happens to people who skip that step and try to run businesses with their own money, without the protection that incorporating offers. It generally doesn’t end well.