Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Dorchester Ceases MM Publication

STATUS: Today we made a debut author’s dream come true as we sold her first novel. Man, that’s the best feeling in the world.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DREAM CAFÉ by Greg Brown

What news to start my Friday. I’m not here 10 minutes when an agent friend sends me the news that Dorchester is ceasing mass market publishing and switching to electronic. It’s a testament to how linked in we are as the news didn’t officially hit until 2 hours later via PW’s daily news email blast.

I’m just shaking my head. We agents have known for the last year (at least) just how precarious Dorchester’s financial position has been but I must say I was not expecting this announcement.

We ceased submitting to them awhile ago. As an agency, we have three former Dorchester clients (that have moved on to other publishing houses) so for us, only our clients’ backlist titles will be impacted. I really feel for any author who might have signed a deal with them recently as this is not what they signed up for.

14 Responses

  1. Tasmanian Devil said:

    Kristin, what exactly does it mean for your authors’ backlist titles? Should agents sign an ‘in case of bankruptcy’ caveat with publishing houses?

  2. Angela M. said:

    I’m not sure switching to e-books completely is enough to save them, considering e-books haven’t quite attained a high percentage of the publishing market share, though the numbers are climbing.

    Soooooo many posts about changes in the publishing world, and they’re mostly doom and gloom. It makes me sad. I hope most of it ends up being just resistance to changes in modern technology and a sagging economy (to pick up at some later point). I admit I still haven’t purchased an e-reader of any kind. It’s hard for me to move away from the printed books.

  3. Anonymous said:

    I feel so bad for their authors, this may be legal but I don’t think it is ethical.

    To do well in the ebook market you need a big web presence. Looking at Dorchester’s website it needs a lot of work. The other thing is that so far the thing that sells well in ebook form is romance – erotic romance sells really well. The other genres? Not so much.

    Why are readers who’ve been shopping at Samhain, Elloras Cave and now Carina going to be buying stuff from Dorchester? What have they done to increase their web presence? Have they got any deals with big author blogs etc?

    This would be an exciting move but I think it is driven more by desperation than any serious business planning. So I think Dorchester probably won’t be here in a years time. Other publishers will pick up their authors, when they go to the wall.

  4. Anonymous said:

    For the former clients, isn’t having them be digital-only a good move? I was under the impression that digital backlists were big money-makers for e-pubbed authors.

  5. arbraun said:

    Wow! I happen to love Dorchester’s books, but am shocked they switched over so quickly. I’ve heard they don’t make a lot of money. Cashing in on the e-book craze is definitely the motive here.

  6. Susan Gourley/Kelley said:

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. A few months ago my small publisher called all their authors and gave us much the same news. They’re not doing MM anymore and I could ask for my rights back and receive the advance money owed to me or go ebook only.
    They also dropped many of their MM authors without offering them this deal. I think we’ll see more of this and MM will slowly die.
    I would feel better about my publisher doing this if they had better promotion going on. The distributer they use did just sign some kind of agreement with the ipad bookstore or whatever it’s called. I’m worried for all of us.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I would imagine the authors who signed prior will be going forward with e-books. So I’m not getting the impact. And now they will be getting their own Apps, and I would think a larger fan base. They just have to be really good to compete in the e-book market with all the books out there right now.

    But is this a surprise to me. Now way. I’m just surprsed they waited this long.

  8. Nicole Chardenet said:

    I know this really sucks for Dorchester’s authors, but seriously, I wonder if this is the first shot fired over the bow for the other publishers. Going to POD makes a lot of sense, at least theoretically, although it will be a long hard transition because the distribution model as it stands now isn’t really able to accommodate it. It makes so much more sense, though, in the long run, for publishers to go POD for dead-tree books.

    The current method of printing up x thousand copies & hoping you sell them all, and pulping them if you don’t, is costly and environmentally unfriendly (and destructive to a budding author’s career). At least with POD you’re only manufacturing a wanted product rather than a projected demand and crossing your fingers.

    Dorchester may very well fail at this venture but they won’t be the last to attempt it, either.

  9. Wendy Tyler Ryan said:

    I first heard about what was going on with Dorchester from your blog, Kristin. Your info came at just the right time for me. I literally had my address book open and had every intention of firing off a manuscript to them. Needless to say, I changed my mind and am exploring other avenues.


  10. Anonymous said:

    I know this isn’t related but I’m going to a conference next month and this is my first. I’m really nervous about it! What should I wear? I am as prepared as I can be in everything except my wardrobe. Business casual? Professional? Jeans? Help!

  11. M.J.A. Ware said:

    I think, a couple smaller presses have also gone this route. Could this be a trend we’ll see more of the major publishing houses follow?

    I hope any author who has recently signed with them, has terminology in their contract defining ‘in print’, as just that (i.e. on ink and paper).

    I also hope they really step up their ebook promotion. Dorchester hasn’t been real cutting edge with their web presence. Adult authors might do better self-publishing their e-books, rather than accept mediocre ebook commissions.

    And what happens if a publisher of children’s books goes this route? I haven’t seen many kids with ereaders.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I have a Romance Reader group and only one person has an E-reader. I can’t use one, as I can barely use the computer for more than a half-hour. So sorry for the authors here. I believe people will always want some books in printed form.


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