Yes, risk taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking. ~Tim McMahon
I frequently receive questions from authors about various publishers. Via LASR, I have significant amounts of dealings with both publishers (and their reps), authors and then just input on quality of books from a ridiculous number of places.
Do I know everything there is to know? HA... no.
But, it has given me an interesting outlook (and a somewhat cynical one) on the ePublishing world. I absolutely know who I would and wouldn't want to publish with (and, no, I'm not putting it here) based on their professionalism, editing and story quality.
But... I was recently asked my feelings about a particular start-up ePub that will be releasing its first contracted stories this fall. Their site is professional in appearance (though run on a blog platform, which put me off a bit), it's owned by reputable people with previous experience in publishing, and they've posted their contract publically. These are all things I appreciate.
But they're still a start up and so I'm concerned. WHY start a new press right now? WHAT can they offer that no one else does? WHAT makes them special? HOW are they going to make themselves stand out? HOW are they going to compete with the biggies like Samhain Publishing, Ellora's Cave and others already well-established in the ePublishing world?
My first contract was with a start-up. When I contracted "Now That We've Found You" with The Wild Rose Press, they had only just released their first batch of stories. I was young and foolish and just wanted to get something published. I was also very lucky: Rhonda and RJ are fantastic, honest and professional people. BUT, would I do that again, knowing what I know now? Nope. I would have waited a while to see what happened with them. What do their contracted authors have to say about them? How are they handling marketing? And so on.
So, let me ask you: would you publish with a start-up company if they appeared professional and headed by people well familiar with the publishing world who are open enough to publish their contract for the world to see? Understand, there are no releases yet, and nothing else to judge them by.