The Flush Pile – An Author’s Perspective

30 September 2014

From author Carolyn Jewel at Writer’s Diary:

I am an author who was with a publishing company that was heading toward bankruptcy. (Dorchester Publishing) This post is about what the experience was like for me. My situation ended up with a silver lining, but the outcome I had was never certain, just as it is not certain for any of the EC authors who are wondering if they’ll ever get paid or if they are going to lose their books.

If you have books with a publisher in the Flush Pile, here’s what’s quite likely:
1. No, you are never going to be paid money owed to you.
2. Yes, you could well lose your books. Gone.

Every publishing contract I’ve ever signed has had a bankruptcy clause. The clause means nothing. Zero. Zlich. It might as well not be there. If your publisher declares bankruptcy, your book is an asset of the company to be liquidated and turned into cash to pay to creditors. Authors are dead last on the list of creditors.

At Dorchester, authors talked amongst themselves. Advances and royalties due to authors were paid slowly. Some of use waited months for advances to be paid. More and more often, authors just weren’t paid. Foreign rights got sold and authors were never told. Those monies never appeared on royalty statements. I was surprised, for example, to find that one of my books had a Dutch translation. Toward the end, I also learned about other translations I was never told about and never paid for. One of them did not even have a signed contract despite being on sale. As royalties continued to be paid in haphazard fashion, there were consolidations and reductions in books, imprints and staff, and sales of rights to backlist titles of prominent authors to other publishers.

. . . .

Dorchester had not filed for bankruptcy, but there was wide speculation that they could not recover from their difficulties and a filing was felt by some to be inevitable. I was advised that it was possible that rights reversions made within the year prior to a bankruptcy filing could be deemed fraudulent and any reversions negated. I was horrified to learn there was case law to that effect.

Even before the non-payment issue was a severe problem, it was clear to me that at long last, there was a good reason (ie, self-publishing) for an author to vigorously pursue reversions for all books that met the criteria of the out of print clauses. I’d read all those clauses and had begun that process with all my titles well before this. And by the way, I was roundly ignored everywhere except for Harper-Collins, who noted the request and put it on their schedule for a decision 6 months later. Literally. The meeting was in 6 months. Let that sink in.

My reversions from Dorchester came through at the end of 2010. Other publishers were an even harder nut to crack. St. Martin’s Press was spectacularly uncooperative. Hachette — I don’t even have words. And I have loads of hind-sight advice about what reversion clauses should say.

. . . .

My advice is going to sound harsh. But, assume you will never be paid. The risk of waiting to see if your publisher rights their ship is the complete loss of your rights in your books. This is your career and you must not fail to take steps to protect your back list and front list.

Link to the rest at Writer’s Diary and thanks to C.R. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Carolyn Jewel’s books

The motivation of the publisher-bashing commentariat is what I cannot figure out

30 September 2014

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Once again this morning we wake up to a piece by David Streitfeld in The New York Times about Authors United and their ongoing effort to discredit Amazon. The message coming loud and clear from the legacy publishing establishment is that Amazon doesn’t appreciate, and perhaps doesn’t understand, the value that agents, publishers, and chain and independent bookstores bring to authors and readers and, by extension, to society as a whole.

. . . .

Indeed, many authors at legacy houses are not enamored of their publishing experience, but the ones who are defending the publishers are also defending something of their own.

What is equally loud and clear from Amazon’s own statements and those of their supporters (including many authors who would be less well known and less well off today if Amazon hadn’t built the tools and market share they have over the past several years), is that the legacy industry doesn’t appreciate, and perhaps doesn’t understand, that commercial publishing was built on an ecosystem which is rapidly being dismantled and will ultimately be irrelevant. And they point out that what is replacing what came before delivers much lower-priced ebooks (print is another matter) to consumers and a substantially larger portion of the revenue to the authors than published contract splits would give them. (The fact is that those splits are irrelevant more than 80 percent of the time for the most commercial books because big agents get big authors advances larger than what they “earn”, but that’s another story.) The authors that work in the new paradigm also gain unprecedented control of their professional lives: publishing when they want to, pricing and changing prices as they want to, and playing with marketing opportunities (bundling print-and-digital, entering subscription services) or not, as they and they alone decide.

. . . .

While there is a symmetry to the two sides’ dismay about what is appreciated or understood, there is a massive asymmetry here that is hardly, if ever, mentioned. And that asymmetry makes the motivation of the legacy defenders very clear — they’re fighting for their lives — but actually suggests that the “side” fighting them (to the extent that it consists of indie authors) is at least sometimes simultaneously fighting against their own interests.

. . . .

Assuming that the publisher-bashing commentariat, who could also be characterized as the “pro-Amazon” advocates, has a healthy number of authors whose revenue is as largely dependent on Amazon as James Patterson’s is on Hachette, one can see the emotional motivations to fight for the home team could be similar. But the practical side of it is precisely opposite. It is obvious that Amazon getting stronger weakens Hachette’s (or HarperCollins’s or Bloomsbury’s or Cambridge University Press’s) ability to pay advances and publish more books, which directly affects various stakeholders and particularly steadily-working authors. But if Hachette “wins” — or if Amazon’s margins on transactions with publishers are not improved — how does this injure the self-publishing authors who are working successfully that way now? Simple logic says that Amazon will treat them best when the possibilities offered by publishers are the best.

. . . .

In other words, publisher-published authors definitely lose if Amazon gains strength in relation to them. But Amazon-published or KDP authors (and the publisher-bashing seems to come from both flavors) lose nothing if legacy publishing remains strong. They are, allegedly, fighting for the “good” of those authors who are signing “exploitive” publishing contracts, but their own interests are not served.

. . . .

The motivation of the authors who spend a great deal of time and energy bashing big publishers has puzzled me before. Because “price-shoppers” are a core audience for indie ebooks, indies actually got a shot in the arm when the publishers and Apple put in agency pricing, which in its original form prohibited even the retailer from taking a loss to bring branded ebook prices down.

There’s no way for an outsider to compile the data to prove this, but the chances are very good that indie author breakthroughs were easier to achieve during the years when the price gap between the majors and the indies was greatest.

. . . .

Howey is a true believer and a crusader who is sincerely convinced that the standard publisher terms for authors are unfair and need to change. He has occasionally expressed skepticism and concern about some of Amazon’s decisions and behavior, particularly around the complex compensation schemes for Kindle authors with their KOLL (lending library) and Kindle Unlimited (subscription) initiatives which buys him a certain amount of credibility. But I still can’t understand why he’s in KU but not Oyster and Scribd and 24Symbols, a set of decisions that strike me as being in Amazon’s commercial interest but not his own.

. . . .

Trying really hard to understand this and think imaginatively about it, I can only really come up with two “selfish motivations” that make sense. One — and I think this is the one that is claimed — is that the publisher-bashing is designed to improve life for the victimized authors who choose those deals. Indeed, the content of the anti-publisher rants often includes specific suggestions, or demands: raise the digital royalty, make shorter contracts, pay royalties more often, etc. that are, no doubt, author-friendly. But it does seem a bit weird for people committed to demonizing, weakening, and ridiculing the big publishers to be the ones to tell them what they could do to stay competitive. If publishers accepted the suggestions, of course, perhaps Amazon would be pushed to improve author terms too, but that seems a pretty indirect and distant reward to explain all the time and energy some people expend on this. (Or are they promising to sign with the big publishers if they follow these suggestions? I don’t think so!)

Another conceivable legitimate motivation, of course, is ego. These publisher-bashers have managed to “do it” without them, and continuing a high-profile running criticism of the establishment they outdid and outmaneuvered, particularly when you can get a lot of applause, might be alluring. But even that feels weak to me. If self-aggrandizement were what motivated these people, it would be even more impressive if their frame were “this is hard, but I managed to do it” whereas the message feels much more like “anybody can do this and you’re a bit of a dolt if you don’t.”

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files and thanks to A.K. for the tip.

Evidently, Mike has never met an author who was not happy with his/her publisher. He leads a sheltered life.

Do you know?

30 September 2014

“Do you know,” Peter asked “why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.”

James M. Barrie

UK Publishing Crowd Gathers in London to Discuss Self-Publishing

30 September 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Self-publishing — or independent publishing, or author publishing, call it what you will — is a partnership, says Orna Ross, Founder and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. “No writer is an island,” she told delegates at the London Book Fair’s latest Tech Tuesday session on ‘the rise and rise of self-publishing,’ chaired by LBF Director Jacks Thomas and held in fashionable Hoxton in east London. “We can’t do it by ourselves. Writers need support — editorial, production, promotion, design…Very few people can do all those things themselves. Writers need to take advice and need to invest, especially in editorial, typically £3,000 to £5,000.”

In essence, this is like a reverse advance, being paid to various freelancers — or a single company operating a platform — the difference being that the author begins earning back straightaway and most likely at a much higher rate than through a traditional house.

. . . .

Representing traditional publishers was David Shelley, Publisher of Little Brown, who had the difficult position of having to defend the status quo, having to point out that large houses have infrastructures and systems in place that may not sound sexy, but can be beneficial to authors.

. . . .

Floating somewhere between both was ghostwriter Andrew Crofts who has written for publishers large and very small. He took things right back to basics with a neat summary of the whole history of storytelling and the book industry. “We went from storytelling around the fire where the audience were the most important people, to a situation where storytellers forgot about audiences, forgot about readers and began to concentrate on pleasing publishers…”

This is where the rot set in, he believes (although he was overstating it, one feels, giving “good panel,” as it were), and eventually created the conditions for self-publishing to emerge, once the tools were there.

What self-publishing has done is to relight the campfire. The glow of the tablet, mobile or laptop screen may have replaced the flames, but the direct engagement with the reader that the storyteller had in the cave has come back in ways that no one would have imagined, thanks to social media.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Larry for the tip.

Ellora’s Cave v Dear Author Update

30 September 2014

From Dear Author:

Today there was a temporary injunction hearing.  During the hearing the judge did not grant the injunction, but did request that we come back for a more thorough hearing, where we would be able to provide evidence  in our defense.

Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

Therefore, If you are willing, I need help with the following:

Individual authors, editors, cover artists willing to testify, either in person, via telephone or in an affidavit to payments made/not made.

It would be best if you could testify in person, but a sworn written statement will be adequate.

Additionally, if you have any Screenshots of any public statements regarding Ellora’s Cave, those would be helpful too.

You can reach me at [email protected].

Link to the rest at Dear Author and thanks to SFR for the tip.

 

Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again

30 September 2014

From Slate:

The recent news of the opening of an independent bookstore on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was greeted with surprise and delight, since a neighborhood once flush with such stores had become a retail book desert. The opening coincides with the relocation of the Bank Street Bookstore near Columbia University, leading the New York Times to declare, “Print is not dead yet — at least not on the Upper West Side.”

Two stores don’t constitute a trend, but they do point to a quiet revival of independent bookselling in the United States. They also underscore the shifting sands of physical bookselling, where the biggest losers are not—as was once assumed—the independent booksellers, but rather the large book chains.
Only a few years ago, observers projected that the rise of chain stores and Amazon would lead to the vast shrinkage of independent bookstores.

. . . .

The short answer is that by listing their shares as public companies, both Borders and Barnes & Noble were drawn into a negative vortex that destroyed the former and has crippled the latter. Not only did they become public companies, but they positioned themselves as high-growth companies, focused on innovation and disruption. That forced them to compete with the growth company par excellence in their space: Amazon. It also forced them to pursue high sales volume at the expense of inventories. Those strategies, as it turned out, were precisely wrong for the actual business they were in: selling books to a selective audience. Which is precisely what independent bookstores are good at.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble opened more superstores as well, but it also decided to challenge Amazon by developing the Nook at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The results were disastrous. Barnes & Noble bled money; it just announced earnings with yet another quarter of losses and declining revenue. Amazon dominated because it could spend far more money on technology than the chains, and because its core competency was in the disruptive technologies of e-readers, distribution, and inventory management. Amazon was never seen primarily as a retailer, and hence it could carry massive inventories that were a drag on its earnings and then spend billions on research and development because investors accepted Amazon’s narrative that it was a disruptive technology company redefining how everything is sold, not just books.

. . . .

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

. . . .

Amazon’s sales have been strongest in mass-market fiction. No independent bookstore could thrive on mass-market softcover sales.  Instead, they do well with hardcovers, illustrated children’s books, cookbooks, and the like. And while indies cannot compete with Amazon’s inventory, Amazon evidently cannot supplant indies as shopping and social experiences.
The independent stores will never be more than a niche business of modest sales and very modest profitability. But the same is true for many small businesses, which makes them no less vital.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Larry for the tip.

Reinventing Publishing: PW Talks with Claire Cook

30 September 2014

From PW’s Book Life:

Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs, recently made the transition from traditional publishing to self-publishing, choosing to leave her big-five house and agent.

. . . .

Out of all the hats you wear as an indie author, which do you find suit you best, and which takes you out of your comfort zone?

I enjoy all the hats, though I have to admit that wearing them all at once can sometimes get a bit unwieldy. I love writing. I love speaking to groups. I have awesome readers and interacting with them is pure joy. I’m fascinated by the publishing world, and I have always tried to soak up every bit of knowledge I could along the way. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. So I’m crazy busy, but also fully engaged and never bored.

. . . .

What has been the most rewarding part so far of going indie?

I had a wonderful run in traditional publishing for many years, and I’m forever grateful for that. But when things started getting bumpy, no matter how hard I worked, it felt like I couldn’t get close enough to my own career to get it moving again in the right direction. It was such a frustrating situation, and in the end I felt that I had two choices: whine or move on. So taking control of my own career has been rewarding. I’m learning so much, and if I make a mistake, I have the power to fix it. And I’ve never felt closer to my readers, which is the most rewarding part of all.

What has been the most surprising?

That the stigma of [self-]publishing is gone. My readers aren’t the least bit interested in who is publishing my work. They just want to read it. I’ve re-released five of my backlist books and published two new books via Marshbury Beach Books, which I named after the fictional town in my beachy novels. I’m getting plenty of media and blog coverage and speaking invitations for my newest release, Never Too Late, so I don’t think self-publishing has closed those doors either.

Link to the rest at Book Life and thanks to Alison for the tip.

Here’s a link to Claire Cook’s books

Local book industry concerned at proposed shake-up

30 September 2014

From Dynamic Business:

One of the more controversial proposals in the recent draft review of competition policy was its recommendation to lift parallel import restrictions on books, with the review warning this amounted to an implicit tax on Australian consumers.

The restriction prohibits the importation into Australia of a product by anyone other than the licensed Australian manufacturer or distributor, cutting off an important alternative source of supply.

Removing the restriction would see more books on offer for cheaper prices. The draft review, led by Professor Ian Harper, warned the continuance of parallel import restrictions would be similar to having a tariff in place because local industry remains shielded from international competition.

Australian consumers are also increasingly able to circumvent the restriction anyway. They can buy e-books or simply go online and have books shipped overseas from warehouses directly to their front door.

. . . .

He said the restrictions placed onerous limitations on the ability of bookstore owners to import products requested by customers. He said the restrictions also meant that the price of books was higher, forcing everyday Australians to pay more for their books.

“You could come into a bookshop, hold a book up and show it to them and say ‘I’d like a copy of this’. I would say, ‘I don’t have it. I’m not allowed to have it’,” Mr Strong said. “I don’t think the publishers understand it. I think they are just panicking. Embracing change helps business.”

“Lifting import restrictions is obviously better because you have access to more books and access to cheaper books.”

Link to the rest at Dynamic Business and thanks to Hugh for the tip.

Digital publisher Ellora’s Cave sues Dear Author blog for reporting on its financial troubles

30 September 2014

From Gigaom:

To those who follow the digital romance publishing world, it’s not exactly a secret that digital publisher Ellora’s Cave is struggling. But now the company is suing a leading romance blogger who wrote about the problems it was having.

Ellora’s Cave, launched in 2000, was a very early player in romance ebook sales and for a time was highly successful, selling romance and erotica titles that mainstream publishers had ignored to a passionate audience of female readers. Then things began falling apart, sales decreased and authors started going unpaid.

Dear Author, a romance blog that also covers a variety of digital publishing issues,reported thoroughly on Ellora’s Cave’s troubles earlier this month, citing tax violations by Tina Engler, the company’s founder, and reporting further on delayed or missing author payments. Dear Author also published an email that Ellora’s Cave sent to its authors in which it described a “quick, sharp decline of ebook sales via Amazon in recent months.”

. . . .

Litte, who is also a lawyer, plans to fight the lawsuit and tweeted Monday that she’s hired Marc Randazza, an attorney who specializes in the First Amendment and also played a key role in bringing down patent troll Righthaven.

Link to the rest at Gigaom

150,000 Comments

29 September 2014

The Passive Voice has passed an important milestone today. As of a few minutes ago, visitors to the blog have contributed 150,000 comments.

Passive Guy has often said that the comments are the best part of the blog and he thanks each and every person who has contributed a thought, a question, a bit of snark, etc.

Next Page »

Powered by Internet Marketing Tool WP SEO Manager