Pub Rants

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

Who’s Got Problems? Dorchester Has Problems

STATUS: I’m listening to Chill on XM. This station is new to me. Do I feel calmer? Hum…

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAMELESS by Yonderboi

Sadly, Dorchester Publishing has been in the news again recently. I’m sure most of you have already seen the headlines as it certainly is not a secret that Brian Keene called for a boycott of the publisher because unauthorized editions of Keene’s digital editions were being sold after the rights had reverted to him.

I can confirm that the same has happened to several NLA authors whose rights had also reverted.

In response, Dorchester vows to make it right.

Last Thursday, I was on a conference call that detailed Dorchester’s current financial situation where I also brought up this issue.

Currently they are paying royalties owed to what they call “currently active Dorchester authors” (ie. authors whose rights Dorchester currently has under contract and can exploit). I also received confirmation that those payments are happening on a weekly basis.

However, Dorchester owes a tidy sum of back royalties to what are called “non-current inactive authors” (ie. authors whose rights have reverted) and as of Thursday’s call, there is no plan in place to pay these past royalties owed.

I imagine that this is partly what CEO Bob Anthony is referring to when he mentions that they’ve needed to prioritize cash flow and in the end, one can hope that Anthony’s vow that “all authors will be paid in full” will come to pass.

Given past actions by the company, Mr. Keene and other authors remain skeptical.

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11 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I think Dorchester has many more issues then simply paying their authors royalties. I have purchased books directly from Dorchester which unfortunetly caused way much more of a headache then it should have. i.e. They didn’t send all the books and when trying to either get the books or your money back, being brushed off by some massively rude customer service people. I think the unfortunate thing is that Dorchester is going to end up going out of buisness. You can only mess up so much before people start suing you like crazy.

  2. JDuncan said:

    Exploit them? Kinda harsh don’t you think? Makes business sense though to get caught up with current authors first. They’re barely treading water, and I’d guess it won’t do them much good to lose more authors.

    I’d be frustrated and upset too, if I were in some of those author’s shoes. Not a good situation. That said, I don’t think that boycott thing is useful or productive. All that tells me is that you (meaning those who choose to boycott) want Dorchester to fail, because given their situation, they can’t afford to lose sales. That certainly won’t help them pay people off any quicker.

    More importantly, at least from my perspective as an author, is that it hurts Dorchester’s current authors. Basically, it’s making them suffer to make a point with the publisher. Which, in my opinion, justified or not, is not a very cool move. Mostly though, it makes me sad. I like Dorchester. They took risks on books that other pubs wouldn’t. I hope they can crawl back out of this hole they’re in. For their sake and their authors.

  3. Mark said:

    Thanks Kristin! As always, your blog is a wealth of information and an inspration to me. As an aspiring science fiction writer who is conflicted on what course to take to publish my work, you’re blog and website have proved invaluable to me.

  4. Veronica Blake said:

    I am a current author with Dorchester who had a book released in Oct. 2009 and an eBook released in Jan. 2011. I check the mail everyday to see if I’ve received a royalty check from my 2009 book and I’m hoping and praying that my latest eBook release will be successful so that I might make some money from that book. I work two jobs and my dream is to make a living as a writer…I realize this will probably never happen. But, if Dorchester is boycotted, so am I and all the other Dorchester authors, and I don’t think we deserve this. I signed with Dorchester 3 years ago believing I was making a positive move that would help me reach my ultimate goal. If there is any hope of any of the Dorchester authors receiving the money that is owed to us, that hope is completely ruined by a boycott.

  5. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I’m torn. A boycott won’t help Dorchester make the money so they could pay these authors, and in the end the authors would get double-slammed, losing potential sales on their current books with Dorchester if the company fails and losing the royalties they’re owed for past sales. Most I can do is cross my fingers and hope they get their act together, I guess.

  6. Nicole said:

    I haven’t purchased a Dorchester book that I’m aware of, so it’s not hard for me to boycott them.

    However, I support the boycott. Honestly, if authors haven’t been getting paid since 2009, I fail to see why a boycott would hurt the authors. They’re already hurting. Dorchester, until now, has had no true incentive to pay anybody.

    But suddenly Keene calls for a boycott, the news gets everywhere, and now Dorchester says, “Oh, we’ll make it right.” Why weren’t they trying to make it right two years ago?

    Hmm…

  7. Anonymous said:

    Dorchester has for years selectively paid its authors, choosing not to pay those they had no further plans to publish, those who had no agents, and those they just plain felt like they could get away with stiffing. They have blatantly ignored the very contracts they’ve signed and totally deserve to be put out of business. In fact, I’m wondering why the NY attorney general hasn’t done something about them before now.

    Wait, I know why. Authors, most of whom live outside of NY and nearly all of whom can’t afford to engage NY lawyers on the chance of reclaiming moneys that were never properly or honestly accounted, haven’t been fighting them in court. Dorchester counts on their inability to do so to allow them to continue their dishonest and dishonorable business tactics.

    As a “still current” Dorchester author (meaning that they still have my rights, not that I’d ever write for them again) I’ve collected more money than most, albeit often late and subject to amending after I caught them failing to pay me for any e-sales over several years, I’ve heard all kinds of excuses and promises they would straighten up their acts and fly right. But they’ve gotten away with murder so far. How can any author really imagine they’re going to willingly change their pattern of wantonly, repeatedly ignoring their contractual obligations?

    I’m sorry for all the authors (myself included!) who have been hurt, but this is one company that richly deserves to go under.

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