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Merriam Press Author Guidelines
 
"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."
—Joseph Pulitzer, (1847-1911) American journalist

Merriam Press provides its authors with a professional service, with years of experience in the field of publishing. Starting in 1968, the company has grown and developed over time. The owner of Merriam Press brings in-depth and expert knowledge of publishing and military history to each book project and its author. And it is precisely this unique and special quality that sets Merriam Press apart. A publisher who takes pride in his work, Merriam Press brings rare and valuable personal stories of our nation's unsung heroes to print, professionally and accurately. Every story is important and every story gets the personal attention and care it deserves; a sense of caring and commitment to each author which is often lacking when dealing with most larger commercial publishing houses.

Knowledge, experience, caring and commitment ... the package deal at Merriam Press. 

So you want to be an author?
 
The Merriam Press publishes original material on World War II and military history topics, including veterans memoirs, biographies, histories of battles, campaigns, units, aircraft, naval vessels, weapons, military vehicles, armored vehicles, uniforms, insignia, medals, awards, camouflage, etc.
 
I will consider some fiction or poetry that is military oriented. But be prepared for low sales as the majority of my customers are primarily interested in non-fiction military history.

Non-military history material will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
 
Of course, every author believes their work is the best thing ever written and will become a best seller, but the truth is that more than 80% of all books published will fail to sell well enough to make a profit for the publisher... let alone for the author.
 
Merriam Press is a one-man home-based business, now in its 51st year. Although the business today is far different from when it started, the core reason for it remains the same—publishing military (and primarily WWII) history.
 
In the 1980s the business switched from publishing a magazine to publishing small booklets, and eventually full-length books. To do that, "print on demand" (POD) methods were used, where copies were printed as needed to fill actual orders. Over the years the physical quality of the books improved, from photocopy/stapled booklets, to laser printer/perfect-bound books, all of which were printed and bound in-house by myself.
 
Due to some changes in my personal and business situations in 2005, Merriam Press switched to using an outside POD service, which produces high quality traditional paperback and hardcover/dust jacketed books.
 
The printer handles all the printing and binding of the books. Since Merriam Press nop longer sells direct to the public, the books are available through Amazon, B&N, and other large (as well as many smaller) online booksellers.
 
The printer also places the titles with distributors, such as Ingram, the country's largest book distributor, which helps get those titles listed on some, if not all, of the major online booksellers web sites and, theoretically, makes them available for sale through bookstores.
 
Over the years, I have published hundreds of titles that could be considered full-length books. Most are still in print and still selling.
 
With POD, a title can be sold indefinitely. The first title published, in 1979, while still publishing a magazine, sold out its 1,000 copy print run in 13 months. It was not reprinted, although there was evidence that another small print run might have also been successful at the time, but other developments prevented that from happening.

The next title released, in 1980, had a print run of 2,000 copies (of which 400 were rejected due to quality issues) and the last remaining copy was sold in 2012.
 
That was why the switch was made to POD. Sitting on hundreds of copies, for years, of even that one title was just not acceptable. The next title was produced using POD, and is still in print and continues to sell.
 
Making these works available is enjoyable, and while there is no financial drain involved as there would be if hundreds of copies of each title had to be printed, to then sit in a warehouse for months or even years, there is the aspect of the time it takes to produce a book. To go through that whole process, which can take up to a hundred hours or more per book, and then not make any profit for years, if ever, is not feasible.
 
So I switched to using a different method for publishing the books.

What Merriam Press Provides and What is Required of the Author

Your book will be made available in paperback. Most titles can also be made available in hardcover.

Memoirs are printed in 6x9 format, while certain technical books are done in 8.5x11 format, usually due to the need for a larger format to handle material like maps, illustrations and large tables.

While Merriam Press has no pre-determined limit on the length of the book nor on the amount of "additional materials," such as photographs, drawings, illustrations, maps, charts, tables, etc., the printers do have a limit of about 700 pages for B&W books.

Merriam Press does not edit or proofread books, but may do some minor editing of the material, including correcting spelling, and even occasionally grammar, when necessary. Merriam Press is not a substitute for a good editor. For editing services, see below.

Since there is no limit on a book's size other than the maximum page length that the printer has, Merriam Press does not cut material simply to reduce the size of a book.

Proofing Your Book

A manuscript should be as error-free as possible before it is submitted for review. Using a professional editor is a definite plus, and should be considered a necessity for anyone who has never written a book before. This is the stage at which corrections and changes must be made.

It is highly recommended that the author print out the manuscript and proof it, because no matter how carefully it has been proofed, guaranteed that errors will show up in the printed proof. Oddly enough, seeing the material in an entirely new format (printed versus digital), additional errors that were missed by the author will be spotted and can be easily corrected at this stage.

The author will receive one printed and bound proof of their book. The author is required to proof their book and mark any corrections or changes on the printed pages and return the entire proof to Merriam Press. This method is the fastest and most accurate way for your changes to be made to your book.

Only one proof will be provided, so examine it very carefully to make sure every error has been noted and corrected. It is imperative that the proof copy be carefully examined and it is highly recommended that the proof be passed around to other people, especially those who know little or nothing about the subject of the book. Those are the types of people who will spot the simplest of problems that the author will typically not easily spot.

While an author has only one book they are working on, Merriam Press may have a dozen or more in production at any given time, thus having to do multiple proofs of a work slows down everyone's project.

If corrections are required by the author after a book has been released for sale, the author will be billed $25.00 for this extra work.

Once the author and publisher agree that it is ready for publication, the title will be released for sale by online booksellers and entered into the book distribution system.

For titles that may be produced in hardcover as well as paperback, because the same files are used for the hardcover book as the paperback, all corrections must be made to the paperback edition before the hardcover edition can be created.

A single hardcover copy will be provided to the author only after the paperback has been thoroughly checked, proofed and released for sale by the author.

Should any problems be found in the hardcover edition, that are not due to the fault of the publisher and/or printer, the author will be charged for any additional hardcover copies required after making changes.

Author Copies

Upon publication the author can purchase additional copies, for promotion or sales, of any quantity, at any time, at a discount off the retail price, typically 40%.

Purchase of copies by the author are made direct from the printer.

Sales

Merriam Press does not sell copies to the author, the public, or to dealers or bookstores. All copies must be purchased from online booksellers, the printer, or distributors.

The book will be sent to distributors who will list them in their catalog. Online booksellers will pick up new titles offered through distributors catalogs and list them on their web site.

After a book has been entered into the distribution system, any further changes may incur extra charges by the distributor and these will be billed to the author.

For print on demand books, distributors generally print their own editions, which may vary slightly in physical dimensions and materials used, due to the possibility that the distributor may use different equipment.

Distributors do not stock copies of a POD book. They will list it in their catalog and produce copies as needed to fill orders.

Most online booksellers will not stock a POD book, however they may stock a title if warranted by sales demand.

Pricing and discounts are determined by booksellers and Merriam Press has no influence over their policies.

Sales Reports

Reports of sales are made periodically, which may be as often as monthly but could be longer depending on quantity of sales. Reports are supplied as an Excel file sent as an email attachment.

Author Royalties

A new method of royalties and payment has been initiated.

The Merriam Press and the author each share equally (50-50) the amount paid by the printer (Lulu).

This payment method is for all editions: paperback, hardcover and eBook.

Merriam Press does not sell books directly. Sales of the books are through booksellers, distributors and the printer.

The sales made by booksellers and distributors are reported back to the printer. The booksellers and distributors keep a percentage of the sale price.

After payment for those sales is made to the printer, Lulu keeps a percentage of those payments.

Lulu then pays Merriam Press and the author their share of those payments, which is split, 50% going to Merriam Press and 50% going to the author.

Both are paid directly by the printer through PayPal or by check sent by postal mail.

Payments will be made monthly if the author selects payment through their PayPal account, providing the amount to be paid is at least $5.00.

For payment by check, payments will be made quarterly if the amount is at least $25.00.

Payments to authors can be made efficiently if the author has a PayPal account.

Having a PayPal account is a requirement for any author outside the United States.

While having a PayPal account is not a requirement for authors in the U.S., it is highly recommended. Without a PayPal account, payments will have to be made by check.

This method of royalty payment simplies that payment, making it automatic whenever the amount due an author reaches the minimum required to initiate a payment. When the minimum is not met for that reporting period, the amount is rolled over to the next reporting period, until the minimum is reached and payment is then initiated.

Copyright

The author is responsible for copyrighting their work, in their country.

That gives them full rights to the material contained in the book.

Cancelling Contract

An author may seek another publisher at any time, and upon written notice of no less than 60 days can sign with another publisher.

Merriam Press may cancel a contract at any time and upon written notice of no less than 60 days.

Backup

Merriam Press maintains a backup of each book’s files.

The author will also receive a DVD data disk with all copies of their book's files that were used to create the printed edition of the book.

These are for safekeeping by the author and should, for any reason, the Merriam Press cease to exist, the author will have the capability to seek another publisher or even produce their own edition for sale.

Do’s and Don’ts for Authors

Merriam Press requires a plain text document with as little formatting as possible.

Do not use try to format your manuscript. It will just have to be undone before producing a publishable book can be started.

Formatting, styles, fonts, graphics, etc. added to your manuscript will only need to be changed or removed.

Just provide the basic manuscript text, as simple and straight-forward as possible. This will speed up production of your book.

Do use italics for emphasis, foreign words and phrases, names of naval vessels, etc.

Do not to use underlining at all.

Do not use bold. Merriam Press has its own rules for using bold.

Do not use ALL CAPS.

Do not use small caps or any font that uses small capital letter versions in place of lower case letters.

Footnotes are preferred to end notes.

Do use Word's footnote feature to add footnotes. Word's endnote feature can be problematic when formatting the book.

There is no need to double space any manuscript. If it is already double-spaced, it can be left that way.

Do provide manuscripts as digital files.

Hard copy manuscripts are not acceptable.

Merriam Press uses Microsoft Word, but can accept files in almost any recognized current (and some older) word processor formats. If you use Word, save it in that format. If you don’t have Word, but your word processor can save in a Word format, please do so.

If you are using a non-Windows computer, save the manuscript in a plain text format.

Submit the file as an email attachment. Most email programs will allow for attachments up to 10 MB. A plain text document file should be well under that limit.

Files can also be submitted by postal mail on a CD or DVD data disk or USB thumb drive.

Do not use a desktop publishing program to create your book. Merriam Press does not utilize such programs and cannot open files produced with DTP programs.

For photos and other illustrative material, the originals should be supplied, as it is preferable to scan the originals to better prepare them for the best reproduction in the book.

Illustrative materials do not need to be submitted with the manuscript. Photocopies or small scans can be included as separate files to help in reviewing the manuscript to determine its feasbility for publication by Merriam Press.

All originals will be returned after they have been scanned.

Alternatively, the author can provide high quality scans of photos and other materials, for the book’s creation and publication, providing they are scanned at 300dpi or higher. Full color material should be scanned in full color, while B&W material should be scanned in grayscale.

Merriam Press does not accept every work that comes along, unlike some POD "publishers" that are being severely criticized for publishing literally everything that comes their way, as they make their money from selling the author their services, which often run into hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Contract

To obtain a review sample of the Merriam Press standard contract send an e-mail with “Sample Contract” in the Subject line.

Donations

Donations of material are always welcome.

You can help preserve historical material for future generations and make it more readily available to everyone at a very reasonable price.

The Merriam Press will produce new editions of such works, acknowledging the generous donation of the contributor in the new edition.

The contributor will receive a copy of the new edition when published.

In particular, material such as old documents, manuals, booklets, books, etc., that are now out of print and difficult to obtain are sought for reprinting.

Promoting Your Book After Publication

First-time authors generally do not realize that they are responsible for promoting their book. A publisher, even a large commercial one such as Random House, can only do so much for an author's book when it comes to promoting (and the Merriam Press is certainly not Random House).

A publisher has dozens if not hundreds of titles they publish and even with the help of the authors, it can be difficult to generate sales for a title. But without the author's promotional efforts, a book is destined to fail.

All of the books that Merriam Press has published over the years did well because of the promotional efforts of the author. It doesn't take much to get some good promotion for your book.

Local newspapers may want to do an interview with a "new local author."

Local book stores may be interested in having a book signing (some may require the author to supply the books—they are only supplying some space in the hopes that it will bring in customers who will also buy other books).

And if you have lived in more than one place, especially if you are not living in your hometown, the newspapers and bookstores in those places might be interested as well.

Obviously, family and friends are a logical source of sales. You might feel obligated to give away some copies to select people, but don't feel you need to give every distant cousin and their kin a copy of your book gratis (of course, you'll probably find most won't want to buy it and are expecting a free copy).

You might consider giving free copies to anyone who helped you with the book, even if it was just to read a draft and offer suggestions.

For veterans, promoting your book to your fellow veterans is another logical step.

If an author belongs to any veterans organizations, they may want to run a brief notice or even a full review of the book.

Some authors, especially veterans, have done readings at libraries and local clubs of various kinds (not just military- or veteran-related). Even veterans homes might be good for some local publicity.

If you subscribe to or read any magazines, journals or other publications or belong to any organizations that produce a publication that have run notices or reviews of similar books, contact them to see if they would be willing to do the same with your book.

Don't just send a free copy, contact them firs. With so many books being published, they might not be interested or be able to find the space to review your book.

Generally, those publications for whom your book has some relevance would be more logical—it wouldn't make sense to send a book on German Army uniforms to a publication that covers American warships.

Be creative, come up with other ways to promote your book, even if only in your local area. Several of Merriam Press authors have been successful at generating good publicity for their book locally, nationally and even internationally without spending a lot of time and money.

Merriam Press cannot provide free printed copies for review purposes. Instead, PDF or eBook versions are supplied to selected publications and other reviewing sources.

Author Assistance
 
Okay, so you've got a story and some materials for a good book—but maybe you'd like to have someone else polish it up. Here are some people that have contacted me and offer such services, usually for a fee or a piece of the action. Unless otherwise stated, the inclusion of a person or company in this section is not an endorsement of their work.
 
Terrific Reference Tools
  • OWL, the Online Writing Lab, gives you a way to look up the whys and wherefores of grammar.
  • Also check out this blog which has a list of writing resoruces and 32 other sites and tools authors might find helpful.
  • The Phrase Finder is a handy thesaurus for phrases.
  • Need a fact checker? Refdesk.com has all the facts--or links to them--you'll ever need.
  • Visiting LibrarySpot is like walking in to the local library and walking into the reference room.
  • Let's say you've got 15 barrels of oil and need to know how many gallons that is. Digital Dutch Unit Converter can tell you it's 630. The site covers just about everything anyone could need to convert... you've just got to see for yourself.
  • One thing that Digital Dutch doesn't handle, though, is money. You'll need to go to XE for your currency conversions.
Ghostwriters/Editors/Proofreaders
  • Brooke C. Stoddard, former Editor of Military Heritage Magazine, former writer/editor of Time-Life Books World War II Series, and editor of memoirs of Col. James W. Callahan, Jr. Will ghostwrite or edit military memoirs for a fee. 815 King Street, Suite 204, Alexandria, VA 22314.
  • Tom Houlihan is also an editor, in addition to his map creation skills (see below). Tom has edited several titles published by Merriam Press.
  • Rodelinde Albrecht is a professional proofreader and copy editor with many years of experience in a wide variety of subjects. Box 444, Lenox Dale MA 01242.
  • Raven Eckman, is a freelance editor and beta-reader. Raven has worked with a range of authors, both self-published and traditionally published, on short stories and novels from horror to contemporary in young adult and adult fiction. You can see current testimonies on Raven's website from previous clients.
  • Christy Phillippe, is a freelance writer and editor with over twenty years’ experience in the book publishing industry. Christy has been a managing editor, a senior editor, and an editorial director for various publishing houses, as well as having owned and managed her own editorial business, The Versatile Pen, since 2001. Christy has ghostwritten for such authors as Deborah Norville, Newt Gingrich, Mariel Hemingway, and Michael Gerson, former president George W. Bush’s speechwriter. She is committed to the production of works of the highest quality and excellence, and writes and edits for several academic publishing companies on a wide variety of topics. She possesses strong English and grammar skills, solid proficiency in CMS and other styles of writing, typesetting and design skills, as well as the ability to craft compelling marketing copy, research and write content on short notice, manage multiple projects, and meet tight deadlines.
Maps

     If you need maps for a book or article you are writing, then look no further than Tom Houlihan’s web site, Maps at War, here.
     Everything you need to know about what Tom needs to do maps for your project are on that page. Tom is looking to turn this into a profitable part-time (maybe eventually full-time) business. He has done some maps for four other published books from the Aberjona Press. His pricing is based on an estimate of time, effort, and cost for the project. But if you want some quality maps for your project, then contact Tom. Superb quality, very professional, and highly recommended.
     Tom has also done maps for several books published by the Merriam Press.

Photo Retouching/Restoration
  • Don Drew originally started photo retouching while working as a photographer back in the 1970s and 80s when retouching/restoration could entail long hours over a magnifier with a tiny brush. He never considered making a separate business of it simply because very few people were willing to pay enough to make it worth his while. Now, with technology, full restoration service is possible at a much more affordable price. For more detaiils visit his web site here.
Foreign Language Translations
 
     One customer wanted to know if one of the books Merriam Press publishes (in this particular case a reprint) was available in Dutch. None of the books that were first published by the Merriam Press have been translated into any foreign language (and if they are, they have been done illegally).
     As far as is known none of the reprints published by the Merriam Press of older books are available in any foreign language.
    Authors are free to approach foreign publishers to produce an edition in that publisher’s language.
 
Indexers
Information and Resources for Authors and Publishers
 
     Some of the following items are taken from an email newsletter, Dan Poynter's "Publishing Poynter's Newsletter." And some of the information will surprise you. A subscription is free, you can unsubscribe anytime, and he doesn't market his subscription list to anyone nor bombard you with additional unwanted emails. Go to Dan's web site here.
     All authors should heed the advice given here as much as possible. No one can sell your book the way you can, because you know it better than anyone else.

Military Writers Society of America (MWSA)

     They are an association of more than eight hundred authors, poets, and artists, drawn together by the common bond of military service. Most of their members are active duty military, retirees, or military veterans. A few are lifelong civilians who have chosen to honor the military through their writings or their art. Their only core principle is a love of the men and women who defend this nation, and a deeply personal understanding of their sacrifice and dedication. Go to their home page here. They have many useful features for member authors available on their web site, including a book store where you can list your book (or movie or CD), and they also will review books. They also have their own resources for writers.
 
Word of Mouth is Top Seller of Books
 
     According to The Independent, "Publishers can spend a fortune promoting their hottest literary discoveries. Bookshops can deploy all their marketing ingenuity to produce imaginative displays. But when the book-buying public comes to choose a new read, it is word of mouth that counts." Next comes author loyalty.
 
If You Haven't Heard About PRWEB...
 
you should check it out on the net. You can write a publicity release and have it sent out without charge, or you can increase the distribution by making small donations. It is a great service and very effective. See:
 
Reading Groups
 
     With their growing popularity, Reading Groups (or Book Groups) are a great tool for building word of mouth—possibly the most powerful and influential marketing tool around. Reading groups range from casual get-togethers in a member's home to virtual reading groups via internet chat rooms. Whatever the venue, the readers are avid and hungry for new titles to read and discuss. Many publishers have established their own reading group source websites highlighting featured selections and offering excerpts, author interviews, and suggested discussion points. Check out www.bookmovement.com, a site devoted to fostering the growth of book clubs.
 
List Your Book on the Para Publishing Web Site...
 
     along with your URL here. There is no charge.
 
Writing, Publishing and the Law
 
     For articles, see: http://www.ivanhoffman.com/helpful.html
 
Marketing, Promoting and Distributing Your Books

     Magazines, newsletters and other places to send review copies and news releases and more can be found here.
 
Recommended Book Writing and Publishing Suppliers
 
     See Dan Poynter's Supplier List. Find editors, proofreaders, ghostwriters, book promoters and much more here.
 
What Not to Say to An Agent or Publisher
  • Never say that your book is unique, that there is no other book like yours.
  • Never say "I am writing a memoir."
  • Never say "Everyone should read my book."