service@lakeshoreliterary.com
+1 616 322 3673

Publishing

Lakeshore Literary, Inc. supports five different book-publishing approaches, each represented by a different imprint. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a form to pitch your query or proposal to us.

Lakeshore Literary’s publishing operations began September 1, 2020.

The Lakeshore Literary publishing family includes:

  • Lakeshore One — a traditional small press focused on literary and genre fiction as well as creative nonfiction
  • Lakeshore Verse — a traditional poetry imprint that releases full collections (40 or more pages) of poems from aspiring and academic poets
  • Lakeshore Technical — textbooks and other highly structured nonfiction books
  • Lakeshore Hybrid — a hybrid imprint that develops works of literary merit that might not otherwise flourish in the open market, through the financial contribution of the author
  • Lakeshore Classics — a collection of timeless texts, presented with elegance and accompanied by in-depth introductions (not open to public queries)

Beyond these five book-focused lines of business, we also publish The Lakeshore Review, a literary journal celebrating short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art. The inaugural issue debuts January 2021. This journal releases every January, May, and September.

Overview of Imprints

Our four open-to-pitches book imprints serve different business needs, as follows:

Lakeshore OneLakeshore VerseLakeshore Technical Lakeshore Hybrid
Publishing ModelTraditionalTraditionalTraditionalHybrid (see the Danger-Will-Robinson red box, below, for a definition and some caveats)
Publishing ModalitySoftcover print and epub standard; hardcover and audio optionalPrint (softcover only)Print (hardcover or softcover)Print (hardcover or softcover), epub optional
Cost to Authors$0$0$0$1,500 (flat) inclusive of two revision rounds, 20 initial books, and marketing coaching
Advance$50$25$50$0
Net Royalties25% print, 40% ebook, 10% audio25% print25% print80% print and ebook
Editorial FocusGenre and contemporary fiction, and creative nonfictionPoetry collections of 40 or more pagesTextbooks, reference booksNo defined focus
ConsiderationsBoth the book and the author must demonstrate viability through excellent storytelling, adequate author platform, and high levels of professionalism.We typically print poetry books at a 6-by-9 format, which leaves roughly 4 horizontal inches at 11-point text for your verses.Author must demonstrate verifiable expertise and support appropriate fact-checking; conspiracy hypotheses, ideological rants, and devotionals less likely to be contracted.The book must demonstrate considerable literary merit; despite the fee, we don’t publish “anything.” This imprint is best for authors with a great but hard-to-market idea, or authors with a solid book but no meaningful platform to support it.
Query ProcedureSubmit a cover letter and a traditional synopsis in addition to the full manuscript.Submit a cover letter and the manuscript. Include a statement indicating any particular theme for the collection.Submit a cover letter and a full book proposal. Submit a cover letter, traditional synopsis (if fiction), detailed outline (if nonfiction), and the full manuscript.
Acceptance CriteriaAlthough we welcome un-represented and emerging authors, we are unlikely to contract authors who haven’t established a website and mailing list and whose submission package shows clear signs that no one’s eyeballs but the author’s informed the final draft.Slight preference obtains to emerging poets of promise, particularly those from a Great Lakes-adjacent state or from Ontario. We are less likely to accept poetry that’s consistently short, highly structured, or which relies on visual gimmicks including typography changes. We favor verse that’s thought-provoking and elegant; we avoid verse that’s pedestrian, obscure, or ideological.The author’s expertise and platform must be adequate to sell at least 500 copies in the first year after release.The project must demonstrate baseline literary quality.

Lakeshore Literary does not close reading windows for our book business. We do not assess reading fees, but we do offer an optional $25 service to deliver a detailed critique of your submission package. This service does not influence accept-or-reject decisions; it’s a great bolt-on for authors who feel frustrated that they lack insight into why no one will pick up their manuscript. To take advantage of this critique, purchase the product in our shopping cart. It doesn’t matter whether you submit first or purchase first; as long as you used the same email address in the shopping cart and in our query form, our system will seamlessly match the two.

Distribution. Lakeshore Literary includes a general-access distribution arm — rare for publishing companies — partnering with bricks-and-mortar indie booksellers. Any book we publish incorporates into our catalog, orderable through partner retailers. The Lakeshore Hybrid titles insert into the Self-Published Authors section of that catalog; all other imprints insert into the Small Press section. At a minimum, all our books distribute through us and through Ingram (and through Ingram, to Amazon and partnering retailers). Depending on the title and imprint, we may elect to place your book in one or more additional distributors’ catalogs if that distributor enjoys a niche retail reach that aligns to the book’s target market—e.g., a children’s book through Edelweiss, audio books through Audible, ebooks through Overdrive, etc. As with any small press, however, we cannot guarantee placement of a book in any specific bookstore.

Printing. Our decision about initial print runs aligns to our profit-and-loss estimates. Books with modest sales expectations generally print on-demand to limit our warehousing costs. We always print at least a small run to satisfy our own distribution-and-fulfillment projections, however.

Traditional Publishing

Our Lakeshore One and Lakeshore Technical imprints, despite being open to unrepresented and emerging writers, are best aligned to authors who demonstrate professionalism, generate works of literary merit, and enjoy adequate exposure to support early sales.

  • Professionalism: We expect to see appropriate attention to detail in the query package and a willingness to follow our editorial processes, which includes the use of an online project-management system. Books take as long to release as they take — as short as six months to as long as three years, depending on the project. Authors eager for fast releases, self-designed covers, and “priority customer service” are not likely to work well in this environment.
  • Literary Merit: The book must be syntactically clean and well-aligned to genre norms, hewing carefully to established archetypes and driven by meaningful/plausible conflict. Manuscripts improved through independent book editors or through high-performing critique groups are almost always substantially better than purely self-edited books.
  • Adequate Exposure: Generally, platform. For very large presses, dedicated sales teams ensure nationwide marketing. For small presses, however, the draw for a book is the author, not a publisher-led marketing initiative. No small press enjoys the resources to turn a book into a bestseller. For that reason, we rely on authors coming to the table with an actual, quantifiable fan base (not a theoretical “I’ll build one later” fan base) or sales strategy that at least helps Lakeshore Literary to break even over the first year after the book’s release.

The exception? Poetry. The market for poetry is small enough, and the costs of the books are modest enough, that wide exposure is less of a consideration. Thus, although we’re interested in sales for Lakeshore Verse titles, we’re less insistent about platform requirements and sales strategies.

Hybrid Publishing

The term hybrid publishing is still relatively undefined in the market and is often abused by “assisted self-publishing” services that engage in sometimes predatory business practices. For a set of well-defined use cases, it’s a viable publishing channel. We use this term in a specific way, as outlined in this section.

At Lakeshore Literary, we’re always interested in literary viability. But financial viability matters, too; no publisher can afford to mass-produce books that never break even. Hybrid publishing, through the author’s up-front payment, removes the publisher’s risk that a given book will not perform well, sales wise, to justify publication. As such, hybrid publishing supports books of literary merit that may not enjoy a sound financial projection.

Lakeshore Hybrid practices ordinary editorial gatekeeping. Apart from the subsidy, we treat hybrid books (covers, interior design, order management, distribution management, marketing, sales reporting) identically to a traditionally published book in terms of the services and procedures we follow. Significantly, hybrid publishing isn’t Burger King publishing; hybrid authors don’t enjoy the same kind of editorial control they exercise over self-published books. For Lakeshore Hybrid, the experience is the same as any other publishing contract but for our protection against financial loss related to a weak P&L associated with an otherwise good book.

We never re-direct/cross-sell queries for Lakeshore One toward Lakeshore Hybrid; hybrid publishing is not a consolation prize for an unsuccessful traditional query, and a query rejected for Lakeshore One for literary-quality reasons is never a candidate for publication by Lakeshore Hybrid.

Some considerations:

  • First, it’s expensive. You can self-publish for little or no cost, if you’re willing to learn the process. Many good books and websites walk authors through self-publishing tools and offer great success tips.
  • Second, any publishing model where the author writes a check can work to your long-term reputational disadvantage. Higher-tier publishers and agents often look to vanity or hybrid presses as a black mark against your professional credibility, given how many bad actors inhabit the pay-to-publish space. Self-publishing, however, does not incur similar stigma nowadays. If you aspire to be a famous novelist, think twice about any pay-to-publish program, no matter how honorable the publisher behaves.

This service often works best for projects like a consultant’s nonfiction book, or a church cookbook, or writers with just one book within them, or a specific text commissioned by a grantmaker. Hybrid publishing is generally good for people with more money than time (i.e., they’re happy to pay for an edit and book design) and little regard for traditional publishing opportunities; aspiring genre novelists are always welcome, but hybrid publishing may not be an ideal career move given the costs and the reputational hit. If you successfully pitch Lakeshore Hybrid, expect a frank conversation about the pros and cons of this method of publishing before we execute a contract.

At Lakeshore Hybrid, we assess a flat $1,500 fee (payable in advance, or in arranged installments) that’s all-inclusive of two rounds of revision, normal editorial services (covers, design, marketing), and placement in our catalogs. It also includes 20 copies. The royalty rate is much more favorable, given the risk subsidy. We do not assess any extra fees or offer bolt-on packages or upsells.

General Guidelines

Please note the following:

  • Basic Requirements — the work must be complete if you’re pitching fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction; you must own the copyright without any license encumbrance with other publishers
  • What We Accept — we welcome any content in any genre or style, provided it shines with superior literary quality and, except for Lakeshore Hybrid pitches, demonstrates a clear market value
  • What We Cannot Accept — any book with content that’s illegal in the United States or the states of Michigan or New York, or which could likely expose Lakeshore Literary to civil suit (e.g., defamation, invasion of privacy); books that have previously been published
  • Privileged Submissions — contributors located in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin receive a slight preference
  • How to Query — use the form, below, and select your specific pitch to reveal imprint-specific intake questions; no postal or email submissions accepted or acknowledged
  • Review Timelines — we turn around responses within a fortnight
  • Publishing Timelines — dependent on the author’s turnaround of edits; expect one year from contract to release at a minimum and two years at a maximum for Lakeshore One and Lakeshore Technical; Lakeshore Verse titles typically turn around in six or fewer months; Lakeshore Hybrid titles can turn around faster depending on the contracted specifics about developmental editing
  • Agents — agent inquiries welcome; unrepresented authors also welcome
  • Expectations from Authors — you’ll be expected to participate in marketing activities we coordinate and to use the project management tools we establish (at no cost to you) to complete the work
  • Children’s Books — we require the author to also acquire the art and to demonstrate clear license for us republish that art without independently contracting with the artist; for querying, we want to see the text only
  • Art Books — we welcome art books and graphic novels
  • Reading Fees — no reading fees, although we offer an optional service for $25 to obtain a critique of your submission (using this service does not influence accept/reject decisions)
  • Compensation — the compensation model outlined in the table in the previous section governs first-book net sales as accrued by Lakeshore Literary; we pay quarterly and without withholds
  • Advances — we pay a token advance to meet Michigan’s laws regarding offer-and-acceptance criteria for contract validity
  • Rights License — we request the minimum necessary license to produce and distribute the work in print/ebook/audio formats (as applicable), in English, in the countries were we maintain a distribution presence; this exclusive license is contractually time-limited to 36 months after release with an option to renew if both parties agree to an extension
  • Copyright — we never request assignment of copyright; we register the printed book with the US Copyright Office in the author’s name within 90 days of release
  • Work for Hire — we do not commission work for hire
  • Simultaneous Submissions — welcome, provided you withdraw as soon as the work is no longer available
  • Resubmissions — welcome from authors who chose our optional submission critique and revised it in light of our observations
  • Reprints — never accepted, and that includes reprinted online or self-published work

Query/Proposal Form

Please select the category Book Query/Proposal then select the relevant imprint to reveal query questions specific to that imprint.

preloader