Publishers Weekly Features Vanity Publisher Morgan James…Again

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware


Once again, Publishers Weekly's annual overview of fast-growing independent publishers features not only innovative indies, but a publisher whose business model is largely built on author fees: Morgan James Publishing.

Billing itself as "The Entrepreneurial Publisher", Morgan James requires its authors "to commit to purchasing, during the life of the agreement, up to 2,500 copies [of their book] at print cost plus $2." (Reports Writer Beware has received indicate that writers are asked for a "deposit" of up to $5,000 on contract signing; we've also had reports that additional fees may be due for editing and PR, with a potential for conflict of interest in MJP's "approved" PR firms, one of which, Media Connect, was founded by MJP's Publisher, Rick Frishman.)

To make this sizeable outlay of cash seem more palatable, MJP falsely claims on its "compare" page that "Many major houses require authors to purchase 5,000 copies, or more, of the book upon its release", and that even with self-publishing, "[the a]uthor is expected to purchase however many copies required to sell to the general public."

Despite all of the above, MJP declares--also on its "compare" page--that "No Publishing Fee [is] charged, hidden or otherwise."

MJP has made PW's fast-growing indie publisher list several times, including last year, 2013, and 2008 (when another pay-to-play publisher, Greenleaf Book Group, was also featured). At least this year, PW mentions MJP's purchase requirement, though it doesn't go into detail about amounts:
Morgan James has always specialized in publishing entrepreneurial authors, offering small advances and higher royalties, and having authors commit to buying a certain number of books at an author rate.
In previous lists, this outlay of cash got no mention at all.

There's no doubt that MJP has published some successful books. Clearly it puts marketing and distribution muscle behind certain of its titles. But of the 150 or so titles it releases each year, the majority don't appear to receive that kind of support (and at longer lengths, many of its print editions are uncompetitively priced, bespeaking MJP's reliance on print-on-demand). I suspect it's the exception, rather than the rule, for authors to recoup their "investment."

I think it's a shame that PW, once again, is helping an expensive pay-to-play publisher to present itself as an innovative independent press.

5 comments to Publishers Weekly Features Vanity Publisher Morgan James…Again

  • I have left Morgan James Publishing
    Also I have had nothing to do with Media
    Connect since 2008
    Just an FYI

  • [...] is Publishers Weekly doing this?! Publishers Weekly Features Vanity Publisher Morgan James…Again “Once again, Publishers Weekly’s annual overview of fast-growing independent publishers [...]

  • Victoria Strauss

    You can use the contact form here or email me at beware [at] sfwa [dot] org.

  • I want report being as wrenched around by BookLife and PW as one can possibly be but first I just have to say how sick I am that the world seems to revolve around NYC now. They truly think they are the center of the universe and maybe they are but it’s become intolerable. Don’t dignify them by sending them your book because they absolutely relish telling you they won’t review it especially if you are not from NYC or the northeast U.S. DO NOT give them this satisfaction. As they say in the old country f uck ‘em. I also think this is a way they force you to buy their review package for $149. DON’T DO IT.

    Here is my story. In 2014, I answered the “GET A FREE REVIEW” b.s. too. I sent them two books. I heard nothing for three months. Not even an acknowledgment they got the books. I inquired. They answered the books had been “lost in the warehouse” somewhere in, I think it was freaking Virginia? They said to send two more, so I did. THEY LOST THOSE!!!!!!!!!! Here it is, 2016, and up goes the banner ad again on their site: GET A FREE BOOK REVIEW so being the idiot I am, I sent them TWO MORE BOOKS, this time to NYC. You got it! They sent me an email they already had the books in their “database” and they had been refused a review in 2014. Really? I guess “refused a review” and “irresponsibly lost” is the same thing in their ‘book’, and yes, you got it-they asked me if I WOULD I LIKE TO HAVE THE ONES I (JUST) SENT TO THEM BACK???? (Did they all burst out laughing after this at what fools we are?). Is this professional? SIX FREAKING BOOKS they have been sent, FOUR OF THEM LOST FOREVER. Do you need any more convincing what a joke they are? AVOID!

  • barrie trevain

    HELLO VICTORIA,

    how do I email you without putting this on the public site?

    BARRIE.

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