This post ran a few days ago--at the end please see the update:
The other day I ran across a reference to a book published by Tate Publishing. I'd never heard of them so I looked them up (this is not the U.K. arts publisher of the same name, this one is based in the U.S.).
Tate bills itself as a traditional royalty paying publisher, but the twist is that they market your book and--this is the interesting bit-- "We do expect any author who signs with us to have a full-time publicist. Authors do not have the access or the insight into the publishing world that publishers and book promoters possess. It is also very unprofessional for an author to promote themselves or their books to buyers, promoters, retail chains, etc. Having a publicist is essential in order to achieve the optimum success in this industry."
Who will this publicist be? Why, one of theirs. And who will pay for this full-time publicist? Why, you.
They also say they will do a 15-second commercial for your book on national television...and then they invite you to submit a request for information about the "author-investment contract."
I wonder at what times of day or night the 15-second spots run...in what kinds of TV stations. Is it too cynical to ask whether it's at 4am in a series of tiny TV stations? Certainly the sample they have on their site, presumably their best example, is underwhelming--extremely simple animation with a voice over for a children's book.
They do have quite a few testimonials that praise the attention the authors received, although none of them refer to the level of success they've had in actually selling their books. And the spelling mistakes in the testimonials raise some questions about the authors' skill level or the publisher's commitment to proofreading.
It's that "author investment" reference that really is a red flag. I turned to the excellent Writers Beware blog (my go-to source on anything like this) and, sure enough, Tate appears on their two big "thumbs down" list. Suspicions confirmed! They--and I--recommend you stay away from the kind of arrangement Tate demands.
Amanda Soderburgh added a comment--since comments are kind of out of view, I thought it more fair to add her comments here: "As an acquisition editor with Tate Publishing, I wanted to drop a quick note regarding the inaccurate information posted here. Dr. Tate, founder of Tate Publishing and Chairman of the Board, has been trying to contact Mr. Wolff to clarify these issues. If anyone has any questions regarding Tate Publishing, please feel free to contact us. Amanda Soderberg Tate Publishing 405-376-4900 www.tatepublishing.com"
Unforunately Ms Soderburgh doesn't say what is inaccurate. Dr Tate did reach me via email and I have been in touch with him and invited him to specify in writing what he feels is misleading and told him I will be happy to post his reply.
He answered me immediately, saying he's on the road at the moment but will respond shortly. He also generously invited me to go to his company's headquarters in Oklahoma, at their expense, to see the work they are doing. Until we have his answers, you can find many more interesting opinions about the company at the absolutewrite.com forum: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=992
(For guidance on writing your book, get my book, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and get the free writing tips on my blog, www.TimetoWrite.blogs.com and the site, www.TimetoWrite.com.)