Is Aulexic A ‘Real’ Publishing House?

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“Dear Rebecca,

I’m an author and I want to get my book published. I’ve been burnt by so-called publishing companies before. There are some shady characters out there who rave and cheer about how great the book is but then want thousands of dollars to ‘publish’ it.

I know that nothing can be set in concrete until you’ve had a chance to read my book but it would be great to have an idea of what to expect in the submission and publication process. What can I expect if I submit my manuscript to you?

Is Aulexic a ‘Real’ publishing house or do you offer author services at a cost?

Interested Author”

Dear Interested Author,

I’m sorry for not having already given greater clarity about what it is that Aulexic does. I often assume when authors use my submission email address they have already browsed the Aulexic website and have developed a sense of what we do. Of course, we’re still relatively new to the game so all the details might not be crystal clear. Hopefully this response will help.

What Aulexic Is And Isn’t

Aulexic is a small Western Australian publishing house that specialises in books for children with language and literacy difficulties. We publish children’s books for all young readers but ensure our books are particularly accessible to readers who have language or literacy difficulties such as those associated with dyslexia, autism, or specific language impairment. This requires some special attention during editing and production to ensure the finished books are dyslexia-friendly and high-interest for our young readers.

When we publish a book, we work through every stage of production to produce both electronic and print books in Australian English that are available around the whole world. We distribute those books within our growing channels, particularly to schools and libraries within Australia, but also a growing network of Australian bookshops and retailers. We also distribute to online ebook retailers around the world and can ship locally or internationally for orders placed within our own Aulexic ecommerce website.

Our authors earn royalties based on book sales but incur no costs for publication, just like any other true traditional publishing house. We cover the costs from cover design and editing, through layouts, print, even shipping and warehousing. We are NOT a vanity press and we do not offer paid author services or ask authors to pay for printing or production.

The Submission Process

The submissions process consists of three stages. When a submission first comes in through our “Submission Guidelines” it becomes part of the Slush pile. Because we’re still quite new and only recently open to submissions our Slush pile is relatively small so responses can be very quick. In fact, I recommend if you haven’t had a response to a submission within 7 days send a quick follow up email to check it’s status and make sure we received your submission. (Emails, particularly those with attachments, can get lost in cyberspace.)

When a submission arrives, I assess it’s general merits and the degree of work associated with getting the publication into shape to be an Aulexic title. Currently, I’m the first eyes to see our Slush pile submissions so sending a submission will automatically land on the publisher’s desk rather than being vetted or assessed by readers or editors before moving up the line as is common in the larger traditional publishing houses.

Many submissions are Rejected out of hand on that first contact. Often they’re not right for Aulexic’s list and would be better suited at other publishing houses. Sometimes they offend my moral sentiments (I swear some people are writing some scary stuff!). Sometimes the submission is not professionally presented, doesn’t follow our submission guidelines, would require a budget we can’t commit to, or is written to a quality that will need more time in edits than I’d be willing to commit to the project. These submissions get a short rejection email and are moved out of my project management system.

Sometimes the works come in well polished enough to move straight into my Active pile. I’ll make an acceptance at that point and start the ball rolling for contracting the book and signing the author. These are often works by established or experienced authors. Those manuscripts tend to come in quite clean and will only need the more minor editing and beta reading before being ready for publication. Those authors often also have a track record for being able to edit and polish a draft and deliver to deadline.

Finally, there are some submissions that come in and I can see the potential of the work and would love to publish with Aulexic but can’t quite feel confident enough in the manuscript at this point to sign a contract and commit to the project. Obviously, publishing a book is an expensive venture on my end so I don’t sign contacts until I’m absolutely certain a book will be right for Aulexic. In these cases, I’m willing to invest my time in the project and author, but not quite at the point where I can invest Aulexic’s production budget in the book. These submissions move out of Slush and into my Pending pile so that I continue communicating with the author to help develop the manuscript.

In these cases, I see the potential in the submission but I’m not yet confident enough to trust that it will be right for Aulexic. I’m willing to invest my professional editor/publisher time freely mentoring those authors with suggestions for how I feel the manuscript and their author brand could be improved to suit the target market (both from Aulexic’s point of view, but also generally for the wider market). Ultimately, this should help those authors make their books more marketable to any publisher and because they’re not under contract they could technically make changes and develop as an author based on my feedback and then submit the manuscript to a different publisher and sign with them. That’s a risk I take because I believe in their potential as an author and I hope that building a working relationship with that author will make them want to sign with me if/when the book reaches the point that I feel confident being willing to commit to production.

One On One; Working With Authors

Again, I want to confirm that Aulexic is NOT a vanity press or author services business; we are a true traditional publishing house in the sense that the entire production costs, including editing, design, printing, shipping, marketing, and distribution are done out of the publishing house’s budget not the author’s. This is what true traditional publishing houses have always done. And, just as with other traditional publishing houses, our contracted authors can expect a royalty share agreement (for the most part) rather than an outright sale; and while we try to ensure the author gets some kind of reasonable advance, in some cases a project may have little to no advance.

Because we’re a small press and only launched in May 2015, our budget is extremely limited. I’m still working out the finer points of how much risk I can take for the potential reward of a book that does well; In the publishing industry it’s actually common for 80-90% of books to run at a loss. The other 10-20% of books which do well hopefully cover the expense of those that don’t sell. And the children’s market can be more brutal than most. It’s a risky business.

Having said that, because we are a small press we work very closely with all of our authors. We like to help our authors build their author profile and establish themselves and their success in the industry. We can offer a close connection and out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to production, marketing, and distribution. We’re also growing very quickly and creating intimate connections with our customers and distributors. We work with authors to line up author talks and workshops because we work with schools and libraries to provide books, resources, and learning opportunities to our most favourite people, the kids who read our books.

I hope this clarifies where Aulexic stands in the publishing ranks. I do know there are some shady ‘publishers’ out there (I use inverted commas because while they sometimes call themselves publishers I don’t consider vanity press or author service businesses to be real publishers.) It’s good to clarify and get a better sense of what you can expect when considering signing with a publisher. In fact, it shows an excellent degree of professionalism to enquire and understand the terms and services provided as you go into a business relationship. After all, submitting your manuscript can sometimes be the start of a flourishing business relationship that can last many, many years.

All the best with your writing. I hope you’ll check out our submission guidelines and send something through to us!

Rebecca Laffar-Smith
Founder & Publisher
Aulexic: Specialising in books for children with language and literacy difficulties.