I get emails all of the time from writers asking how much it costs to publish a book. The answer is nothing. In traditional publishing, the publisher pays all of the costs; you will receive royalties on sales, normally 10%.
Most writers start out wanting a traditional publishing deal with a reputable publisher. Some, over time, accept that their book does not have mass appeal and if they want to get it published they will have to self-publish it: pay for the publishing of their own book.
Either of these options is fine when the business involved is up-front about everything. The problem comes when a self-publishing company attempts to appear as a strictly traditional publisher. This is the case with Olympia Publishing UK.
If a new writer visits Olympia Publishing’s website (http://olympiapublishers.com/) it appears quite impressive. There are lots of bright book covers; they have offices in central London. It looks very much like a traditional publisher’s website. If you look around a bit you start to see things are not as clear cut as they appear. First you find this on the page for “about”:
Initially all manuscripts submitted to us are considered under non-contributory publishing contracts. This is where no costs are incurred by the author and the whole outlay is taken on by Olympia Publishers.
Should we be unable to offer the non-contributory contract for those manuscripts that would fit in with our high standards and genre criteria, an alternative means of being published is considered. This would be under a slightly different form of contract which is contribution-based. We would like to point out that the promotion and marketing of all our books is carried to the same depth regardless of the type of contract that is offered.
So what they’re saying is, everyone can submit their manuscripts, and, according to them, they will be assessed. The ones that pass their gatekeepers will be published with all expenses paid by Olympia Publishing, a traditional publishing contract. The other manuscripts will be published as well, but the author will have to pay. And pay they do— anywhere from 2500-3500 UK pounds.
According to online writer forums where Olympia has been discussed, everyone who submits gets this letter:
Thank you for sending us samples of your work. I am pleased to inform you that after careful consideration Olympia’s editorial
Alternatively, you can send your manuscript to us in hardcopy, and preferably also on disk in Microsoft Word format. However, should you wish, you are welcome to send your work as a CD or USB without a hardcopy or as hardcopy without a CD or USB.
If you are going to submit by post please include an SAE should you wish your work to be returned to you at any stage. Thank you for your patience during this process. We look forward to hearing from you in due course.
After this, you send your manuscript and you are asked to send the money so that the deal can be concluded, even before a contract is offered. This letter gives the impression that the manuscript has been assessed, but it appears from online comments that everyone gets the above letter. A cursory google search shows that Olympia Publishing is “Not recommended” by Predators and Editors (the best place to start when investigating a publisher).
The reason: “Vanity terms not disclosed until after submission”. Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) have listed Olympia Publishing under “Thumbs-Down Publishers”. These are publishers that charge fees, have conflicts of interest, have deliberately misleading advertising, poor or inadequate editing, have no gatekeepers, or repeatedly breach their contracts.
There are hybrid publishers; publishers that publish books traditionally but also have another imprint that is exclusively for self-publishing, where the author must contribute. This is absolutely ethical.
The problem, in this case, is the author is deceived. The website should have two publishing imprints: a traditional one and a self-publishing one.
The author should be able to choose where they want their manuscript submitted so that they know up-front what to expect. I suspect many new writers have been confused by this and that is very unfortunate.