Sunday, February 24, 2008

Going Down With the Ship...sans Captain

Aphrodite's Apples has closed its doors, but not for financial reasons. Bless the owners and publisher over there for sending releases to all authors for their books AND current payments.

Wouldn't it be nice if it was that way with every publishing company that tanked?

I was in a unique situation when Mardi Gras went under. My contracted stories with them had not been edited or released. But my heart goes out to those people who are still waiting to be paid, and not really expecting anything, if truth be told.

But being there during the grand sinking, I can see in 20/20 hindsight all the signs of a troubled publisher. And from what I've gathered after talking with authors from the now-defunct OMP, Venus, and Triskelion, the signs are pretty consistant.

I'm not going to post the entire list of items I originally wrote that other authors have reposted on other blogs and loops. But I will re-state the Top Five Signs to look for:

1. Evasiveness
Emails are either not answered, or if they are, your questions are either ignored, or answered in such a way as to not answer them. Politicians also have this skill. (And they can also say, "But I DID answer your question!")

2. Non-payment
(Or a very late payment.) There's always an excuse, always a "legitimate" reason. Or no reason at all. I especially love the emails where I'm told to "check my contract". Uhh, we did, and that's why we have questions.

3. Redirecting Blame
Oh, I love this one! Authors write their stories, then advertise the hell out of them everywhere they can, any way and any time they can, but then it's OUR fault the books don't sell? It's the authors' fault the pub is going under? I'm still scratching my head over this one.

4. Incompetence
The majority of authors do not know how to run a publishing company, true. But when a publisher suddenly says there's no money to pay, then there has to be an accounting of where the monies went. FictionWise and ARe pay on a regular basis. The money went into the publisher's pocket. So where was it spent, preventing the authors from getting their portion?

and 5. Distancing
Okay, you wrote a great story and got it contracted. NOW how does your publisher treat you? With respect or disdain? Does s/he basically tell you, "Tuff. We own your book for the next 3 years, so grow up!" when you voice a concern or problem? Or do they actually try to work out a solution or compromise?

Yes, authors working en masse can make or break a publisher, but it's how the publisher treats its authors that will determine whether it succeeds.

Yeah, this poor dead horse has been beaten into dog food. But it's my blog, and I can finally have my say about these things. :)


Miss Mae said...

Good stuff here, Linda. Thanks for giving the warning signs...

Miss Mae

Diana Castilleja said...

All of this is TOTALLY true. There are a ton more signs but the basics are covered here.

I've been on this same ship and was lucky enough to gather my trunks and jump for it.

I really feel for those who have lost or gone down and never recovered. Publishers and authors alike.