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There’s been much talk lately about April Hamilton’s Publetariat Vault, a new service for indie publishers described on its website as

a searchable database of independent literary works for which the authors own all rights free and clear and are interested in selling those rights, with accompanying sales data and reader reviews, to take the guesswork out of determining commercial potential in the mass market.

When I first read about it–particularly what the naysayers were saying (see the string of responses after the Publetariat Vault feature in the Self-Publishing Review)–I, too, was skeptical. Too many websites offering to “help” indie writers are interested only in taking advantage of their desire to have their work noticed and count on being able to squeeze money out of them for it–and without offering much in return.

I joined the Publetariat Vault last month because I figured I’d get in early enough to snag a free trial membership (the first 300 listings were to be listed for free for 90 days, starting from the Vault’s opening date).

Within a week of joining, Vault creator April Hamilton had found a small publisher I’d originally discovered more than a year ago. At that time, the publisher expressed interest in my book and said they’d be in touch. Time passed. I followed up with them and was told they were mid-book, enjoying it, and they just needed more time. Like most publishers, they had a lot to read.

More time passed, and I let it go. One learns, yes, to simply let things go.

April, who found them (without my mentioning them) while searching for publishers who would be an appropriate fit for my book, contacted them and discovered the person who’d been reading the book had set it aside during a leave of absence from work for family reasons, but now that they were back, they’d be happy to look at it again. (They’re currently looking at it.)

April has also offered the names of other small to mid-sized publishers she plans to approach with the manuscript.

While I was lucky enough to get in early for the free trial (free is always good), I don’t think $10 a month is too much to pay for this brand of writer-publisher/purchaser liaison. In lieu of an agent, I can’t imagine a better advocate. As the writer, I’m not supposed to approach publishers directly. And if I don’t have an agent for a particular book, that means all of my publishing efforts are put toward trying to find an agent who will then try to find a publisher. But with the help of the Publetariat Vault, whose purpose is to bring writers and interested parties together, whether I’m writing agents for that particular manuscript or working on something else, for $10 they give me thirty days of trying to find a buyer for the book.

(Communication has been exceptional, as well. Updates are regular and there’s a lot of patience with me on their end.)

And the best part, of course, is that there’s no commitment from month to month. If I want one month of them trying to find a buyer, I give them ten bucks. If I like what they’re doing, I give them ten bucks again the next month. If I’m not happy, or if I find something on my own and don’t need them anymore, I DON’T give them ten bucks. Works for me.

Note: I just received the following email from April.

Peter Cox, the founder of Litopia and Redhammer Management, has just agreed to partner with the Vault, to provide his firm’s representation services to any authors who get contract offers and don’t already have representation, upon request. It’s ultimately up to each author to choose whether to use Redhammer, and going forward, I’m hoping to get some additional agencies on board. You may not have heard of Redhammer, but Peter’s firm reps some top authors; in fact, one of his authors (Michelle Paver) is appearing on the Today show this morning.

Peter Cox addresses the concerns of writers suspicious of Redhammer Management in a thread at Absolute Write.

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. So has the Vault officially launched, then? I haven’t heard any news about it for a few weeks, and visiting the website, it’s hard to tell.

    It’s interesting to hear how active April is in trying to hook up authors with publishers. I wonder, if the Vault is successful, whether it might someday morph into some kind of online literary agency for self-published work.

    Reply
  2. JM:
    Thanks for your questions.

    The Vault is only open to authors at this point, and will not open for searches until there are 300 published listings. This ensures that from the very first search, acquisitions people will not be disappointed. Based on the current rate at which authors are signing up and creating listings, I expect to open the Vault for searches toward the end of August.

    I don’t expect the Vault to morph into an online literary agency, first because I have no desire to form a literary agency, and second because neither I nor anyone else involved in the day-to-day operation of the site is qualified to act in that capacity. I may step in from time to time and give personal referrals for books I feel deserve more attention, but that’s not a standard part of the Vault service, it’s not something for which I charge authors any fees or percentages, and I won’t be involved in any contract negotiations.
    – A

    Reply
  3. My experience with PVault has also been very positive. I’ve had some bites from a small publisher as well. Time will tell if anything comes from it. Although I’m quite happy being independent, I believe in keep ALL of my options open.

    Interesting news about Redhammer…

    Reply
  4. Sounds like a valuable service, and the price is quite reasonable.

    Reply

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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