Melrose Books – Reviewed Titles – 200+ Titles – 200+

Melrose Books is a division of Melrose Press, who, for many years, published biographical books through the International Biographical Centre. Melrose Books is their imprint for their system of partnership publishing between author and publisher.

“Melrose Books is a new venture from Melrose Press, the renowned international biographical publisher.

Melrose Press has been publishing biographical titles from in or around the University City of Cambridge since 1969.

Melrose Books works on a shared partnership between publisher and author and we value the input of the author at every stage of the publishing process to fulfil their aspirations.

If you have a manuscript that you would like to publish, our Commissioning Panel would be delighted to appraise it for possible publication.”

“From in or around the University City of Cambridge.” Now that is like me saying, ‘I’m a rock star, coz I live next door to Bono!’ The innuendo and implication about the University of Cambridge is deliberate and clear. I am not sure what bearing their location to the University of Cambridge or the city has to do with the business of publishing. We might understand it if they were called Cambridge Books, but then we already have a Cambridge Press. Is there some allusion being made to famous university presses in England? Bad, bad start Melrose Books and this on the company’s main website introduction page. State what you are and not what you would like people to think you are.

“We are proud to be a traditional publishing house where the emphasis is on personal contact with the author and attention to detail is paramount.

Melrose Books works on a shared partnership between publisher and author and we value the input of the author at every stage of the publishing process to fulfil their aspirations.”

There are a number of tradition UK publishers who also offer partnership publishing services. Normally publishers choose to have the self-publishing service set up as an entirely distinct imprint with a different name. Melrose has chosen to make their distinction of the two entities with the words ‘Press’ and ‘Books’.

Melrose has a separate trade site for the sale of their books to retailers and customers which goes under the name Melrose Books.

Their site is well laid out and bears an emblem, ‘35 years of publishing excellence’, though I suspect this badge is a self appointed badge and is not linked to any publishing body or organisation.

Authors are invited to submit to Melrose Books by sending their books to the Commissioning Panel who will individually appraise the quality of the manuscript.

“Headed by the Commissioning Editor, the task of the Commissioning Panel is to appraise manuscripts sent to Melrose Books for possible publication. The Panel considers the merits of each manuscript based on its subject matter, the quality of its content and its marketing potential. The Panel is comprised of publishers and editors with experience of both sides of the author-publisher relationship who are sympathetic to the requirements of authors. Those manuscripts with sufficient merit are recommended to the Commissioning Editor who will make an offer of publication to the author…

If the Author decides to publish…”

This is where things start to become murky. If an author sends their manuscript to Melrose Books, then surely they have already made that decision to publish their book if they can through Melrose. Noticeably, Melrose does not refer too often to self-publishing, and instead, throughout their site, refer to themselves as a traditional publisher. The suggestion here is that Melrose has a screening process for manuscripts and do not accept everything sent to them. In fact, the whole Commissioning Panel system says that the publisher makes a proposal for publication to the author based on quality of work. You know what—this is neither self-publishing with an author solution service, nor is it traditional publishing.

“Q: What is Commissioned Publishing?

A: Melrose Books is a pioneer of Commissioned Publishing. We work on the basis of a shared partnership between publisher and author. If we feel that a manuscript has sufficient merit and can be promoted successfully we will make an offer of publication.”

Ah, so this is commissioned publishing. This is a new one on me. A nice subtle turn on what happens in the traditional system of publishing, where a publisher commissions and pays an author to write a particular kind of book for them. Melrose Books, being a pioneer, have turned this on its head. The author commissions the publishers, Melrose Books, to, effectively, allow the author pay them for publishing his/her book. This is brilliant, absolute genius. This is also the greatest fete in commissioning gymnastics I have ever come across.

“Our authors receive 50% or more royalties on each book sale.”

This is in line with other publisher’s partnership deals. This figure is usually based on net sales, that is after retail and printer costs have been subtracted and not the full retail price.

“Q: What is Royalty Publishing?

A: Royalty Publishers include many big name companies such as Penguin and Random House. Royalty Publishers aquire[sic] rights to your manuscript and are responsible for all of the costs associated with publishing and marketing. They take all of the financial risk and as a result are extremely conservative in what they are willing to publish, only considering manuscripts with guaranteed commercial potential from proven authors in mainstream subjects.”

This ‘royalty publishing’ term is a complete misnomer. There is no such term in publishing. All publishers, reputable, whether they are an author solutions company, traditional publisher, or for that matter a partnership publishing company, pay royalties on the books they sell. There is a pattern developing here with Melrose Books.

“Q: What is On-Demand Publishing?

A: On-Demand Publishers print a copy of your book to fulfil each sale they make, and hold no stock of your book. This is done on equipment similar to office laser printers. The resulting books are of a correspondingly low quality and will not be stocked in bookshops or libraries. Typically they provide no editorial or design services and little or no marketing beyond availability on their website. On-Demand Publishers will typically publish any book regardless of content because they have no interest in its eventual success. On-Demand Publishing is not an option for authors serious about having their work professionally published.”

There is some fair and reasoned comment in the above statement from Melrose Books. However, it is also laced with inaccuracies which seem deliberate to play upon an author who knows little about the print methods used in the industry. Firstly, Cambridge University Press, a prestigious university press based not far from Melrose Books, have for several years used print on demand technology very successfully for books they may otherwise have been unable to publish a new edition by using off-set print methods. No, modern print on demand machines are not like the quaint old office laser printer. Pop along to the London Book Fair and take a look at Lightning Source’s stand and you will see a machine in operation. This is state of the art digital technology which in less than five years is going to completely replace offset print machines. Try buying one of these on your average office budget and see how far it gets you. To the average reader and author, there is virtually no difference in quality. The most prohibitive thing about print on demand technology is the unit cost. At the moment, it costs the same per unit for a print run of one or a thousand. But that will change.

“Q: What is Self-Publishing?

A: If you decide to self-publish you must be prepared to undertake every aspect of publishing your book yourself from writing, financing, editing, typesetting, layout, design, printing and binding, marketing, warehousing, copywriting, advertising, sales, distribution, accountancy and legal consulting.”

Yes, the above is beyond the expertise for many authors wanting to self-publish. But, thankfully, that is why we have printers and author solution companies. This is why we have companies like Bookmasters, Booksurge, Amazon’s self publishing program, Thor’s self-publishing program for distribution and print and fulfilment companies like Lightning Source.

Melrose Books partnership service says they will take an authors manuscript, fully edit it, and provide full marketing and promotion. If this is the case, then it is the first partnership program I have come across to offer so much…and all at ‘no extra cost.’

“All marketing and promotion work is provided at no extra cost.”

Melrose Books do present much material on their website about their publishing process. However, some of it is misleading, and at times, entirely inaccurate. I wish publishing was the way Melrose Books describe it. But it is not. Should you wish to look at them closer, and even consider using their partnership program, then you have much to learn about self-publishing and paying to be published. My two cents—keep your fists firmly dug into your pockets.

RATING: 02/10
(Old Style Vanity Press)

Leave a Reply