From the SWFA:
As many of you are aware, on December 10, 2010, the board of SFWA voted unanimously to place Dorchester Publishing Co, inc, on probation following an inquiry after we became aware of several instances in which Dorchester acted against the contractual and legal interest of authors, specifically by not paying royalties when contractually specified, or distributing books in a medium for which it had not legally secured rights.
Dorchester did not dispute these events. With cooperation from Dorchester, SFWA placed the publisher on a period of probation for one year.
. . . .
After SFWA performing a formal review of Dorchester’s progress on tasks above, based on the information currently available the board believes that while Dorchester made efforts on each of those points, they have not fulfilled their contractual obligations to our members.
Thus Dorchester Publishing has been removed from the list of qualifying Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America markets, effective from the start of the probation period December 10, 2010. No fiction contracted and paid for (by initial advance payment) before the term of probation began, December 10, 2010, will be affected by Dorchester’s status.
Link to the rest at SWFA
Yesterday, the last editor left Dorchester.
Dorchester author Brian Keene tells about what happens when a publisher starts to circle the drain:
Starting in late 2009, Dorchester – Leisure began making late payments to some of their authors. Indeed, some authors report never having received payments at all, nor royalty statements verifying what, if any, monies were owed. This continued throughout much of 2010. In mid-2010, with these payment issues still unresolved, Dorchester announced that they were switching to an all-digital format.
. . . .
During a late-August conference call with their creditors . . . they revealed that: The company saw a 60% decrease in book orders in mid-2009; payroll was down from 1 million to $600,000; the company had no cash flow, but also had no bank debt; the company owed six million dollars to various creditors, including $700,000 to active authors and $400,000 to inactive authors; ebooks accounted for 10% of their profit; their trade paperback plan was currently on hold; they didn’t think the sale of the company was possible; and that as of August 9th (2010), they considered themselves “in bankruptcy but are not actually filing for bankruptcy”.
. . . .
I was one of those authors. I had not been paid since late-2009. As a result, my marriage had fallen apart, my bills were piling up, and more than half of my annual income was perpetually “coming soon”. I decided to take a gamble. I negotiated a deal with Dorchester that allowed for: 1. The immediate reversion of all of my print rights, and 2. The reversion of all of my digital rights as of 11:59pm 12/31/10. In exchange for this, I absolved Dorchester of any further financial debts they owed me. In other words, I said, “Forget about the rest of the money you owe me. Just give me my rights back.” It was a risky gamble, and I sought the council of some of the biggest veteran authors in the genre, but it was a gamble that ultimately paid off, because it allowed me to place my back list with a more solvent publisher. We signed the deal. Dorchester went their way. I went mine. And that should have been the end of the story.
Except that it wasn’t, because since then, Dorchester has repeatedly violated that agreement. Since January of this year, unauthorized digital editions of my work have been sold via Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Sony. These digital editions were not made available for sale until well after the rights had reverted back to me. Dorchester’s response, in each case, has been to blame someone else and assure me that “they are looking into it” and that I would be “financially compensated” and that “it wouldn’t happen again”. Except that I haven’t been financially compensated and it keeps happening again.
. . . .
A few minutes ago, someone asked me why we (the authors) didn’t just seek legal means. Well, I can’t speak for any of the other authors involved, but I’ll tell you why I haven’t — because I’m broke. I’m broke because Dorchester didn’t pay me what was owed, and then I gambled to get my rights back, and then they continued to f*** me. And yes, I’ve got a nice new deal with Deadite and Ghoul starts filming next month, but I won’t see checks from either of those until a few months from now, and until then, I can barely pay the rent and eat anything more than Ramen noodles, let alone hire an attorney.
Link to the rest at Official Website of Author Brian Keene and thanks to Anthea for the tip.