Pub Rants

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

Their Failure is Not Mine – Guest Blogger Mari Mancusi

For some reason, Internet Explorer is not showing the blog so had to delete last post and redo. My apologies to anyone who commented.

Don’t worry, Fridays With Agent Kristin video rants will resume next Friday! This week seems to be all things Dorchester.
–Kristin

I still remember the day my dot.com company dragged us all into the conference room on Friday afternoon—pay day—and announced there would be no pay checks distributed at the end of the day. Not today—and not ever again. We were summarily dismissed and suddenly found ourselves unemployed–with no way to make up the money that was owed to us. It was devastating, to say the least. I felt powerless and weak and alone.

Fast forward 10 years and bring on the déjà vu when I opened my mailbox to find a royalty statement from my long time, traditional publisher, Dorchester. While the statement clearly stated I was owed money, there was no check inside. Dorchester was having financial difficulties, just like my dot.com and chose not to pay what it owed.

But this time, I wasn’t going to just lay down and die. Maybe I’d never see a dime from Dorchester, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t make a dollar on my own. And so, as Kristin worked tirelessly to get the rights back to my books (even the ones she didn’t represent the first time around!), I started researching how to publish these backlist titles on my own. For many reasons not detailed here, I decided to use Kristin’s digital liaison service to launch the books rather than self-publish them on my own. Together we began the process of working with cover artists, copyeditors, and converters to breathe new life into these old books. I even did some rewriting! One of the advantages to digital publishing—you can always update and tweak your product. (Though my husband likes to tease me and say I’m like George Lucas in that regard…)

Today we launched Tomorrow Land, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA romance previously published as Razor Girl in Dorchester’s crossover Shomi line. Best described as a post-apocalyptic pilgrimage to Disney World in a zombie infested wasteland, the story follows two teens who had fallen in love before the apocalypse and then separated, Casablanca style, only to be reunited four years later and forced to find a way to trust one another again. All the while trying to deal with those pesky, flesh eating zombies!

The artwork, by the way, was custom created for the book by artist/illustrator Tony Sahara. He’s amazing, isn’t he? He’s also did the artwork for Alterntiy, my next young adult dystopian release, coming May 1st.

I can’t tell you how awesome a feeling it was to wake up this morning and see Tomorrow Land up for sale on Amazon and know—without a shadow of a doubt—that I’ll get properly paid for each and every download. On a book that will never go out of print and costs half the cover price. So not only do I benefit—but readers do, too! Total bonus.

I know that I will never get that last check from my dot.com company. And there will never be a royalty check in the mail from Dorchester. But you know what? Their failure is not mine. I’m determined to make the best of this bad situation and come out on top in the end.

NOTE: My heart goes out to my fellow Dorchester authors who were not able to get their rights back. It sickens me that this company would not only steal earned money from its hardworking writers, but then steal their intellectual property as well. I hope you find a way to get your books back in the end.

Kristin’s NOTE : If you are a Dorchester author with rights in question and titles currently still available online for sale, you lose nothing by reaching out to the various electronic distribution venues and finding out exactly what you need to do to get those titles removed from sale. Will it be a lot of work? Probably but potentially worth it in the end. I, of course, also recommend you consult with an attorney. I would also reach out to other former Dorchester authors and see how you might be able to help each other.


About Tomorrow Land


Can true love survive the end of the world?

Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice–between her family–and Chris Parker, the boy she’d given her heart. And now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he’s the only thing on her mind.

All Chris “Chase” Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgment day and she never showed–breaking his heart without ever telling him why.

Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones of a group of orphan children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk…and feed. As they begin their pilgrimage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost–all the while attempting to save what’s left of the human race?

“A high-stakes, high-octane tour through a devastating and deftly imagined future. This is Mancusi at the top of her game.” –Diana Peterfreund, author of For Darkness Shows the Stars

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20 Responses

  1. Jaycee DeLorenzo said:

    Good for you!

    I have to say, I love this cover of the book better – I have the original book, but I may have to buy this one for the Kindle. Looking forward to Alternity.

  2. Kristin Laughtin said:

    There are lots of things in life you can’t control, no matter how much you plan. I’m glad you were able to make the best of the Dorchester situation, and hope other authors will be able to have the same success.

    And I’ll have to check out TOMORROW LAND! It sounds cool, like a zombified, romantic, road-trip version of DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM, which I loved.

  3. Mari Mancusi said:

    Kristin – I loved, loved, loved Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In fact, when I was originally writing this book, I emailed with Corey Doctorow to ask him about his experience using a futuristic Disney World in a book. He was really nice! As big a Disney fan as I am, I think, and that’s saying something. 🙂

    And I really, really do hope all the Dorchester authors end up with a happy ending. They’re wonderful, talented people who don’t deserve what happened to them.

    Jaycee- I love the new cover as well. That’s one of the best things about self-publishing in my opinion! It’s entirely up to you!! We went through a bunch of different versions until we all agreed we’d found the perfect fit! Tony is an amazing artist and I feel privileged to be able to work with him.

    I know some of the other comments got deleted when Kristin reloaded the blog cause of a problem with Internet Explorer capability, but I did read them before they were deleted! Thanks!!

  4. cinnamon_twist said:

    How come Razor Girl (mass market) from Shomi is still available for purchase from Amazon? Does Mari get the royalties from those sales?

  5. Mari Mancusi said:

    Hallie- we’re actually in the process of determining that – whether we’ll widen distribution or stay on Amazon exclusively. More soon! Hopefully eventually we’ll be able to offer a print version.

    Thank you Mia! Out of the ashes indeed!!!

    Cinnamon – I will NOT see any royalties from the mass market book sales of Razor Girl. (I haven’t seen any royalties owed to me by Dorch for years.) That’s one of the reasons we retitled the book – to make it clear which is the authorized version where I actually get paid for my work. Unfortunately since the mass market books are sold by third party sellers (booksellers and such who probably got a cut rate to buy off Dorch’s old stock) there’s nothing I can do about them being offered for sale…

  6. Martha Ramirez said:

    Oh wow! First of all congrats on your releases! The covers are amazing and they sound awesome!

    This makes me so happy that you were able to get your rights back. Kristin rocks!!

    It breaks my heart that this not only happened once but twice. I’m so very sorry. And it breaks my heart that all your fellow authors never received their rights reverted back. That’s horrible.

    Wishing you much success and happiness.

  7. L. G. Kelso said:

    I have to be completely honest and say that I am not a zombie fan…But I actually want to read your book Marci!

    That sounds like a complete mess and a major headache for you and Kristen. I hope that this new release of the book will help make up for some of what you lost!

    L.G.

  8. Kyle M. said:

    Wow. I’ve been reading so much about the downfall of Dorchester and it has been a really awful thing to watch unfold. I’m glad you’re being so proactive about it though.

    I’d like to second all the comments about your book sounding interesting. Have you considered releasing an audio version of them? I love audiobooks and would look for this one in audio. If you have those rights, you might look into Audible’s ACX service to get them up on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. I’d love to know about it if you release them in audio!

    Best of luck and good on you for being so proactive!

  9. bettielee said:

    First of all, I’m sorry you got screwed on your royalties! But I am intrigued, and have added Tomorrow Land to my “Wish” list! How ironic… did you yell at the screen when they went to the Amusement park in Zombieland and made out like it was a whole new take on zombies? 🙂 best of luck with the re-releases!

  10. J.W. Dumas said:

    It’s sad to see so many authors losing rights, but companies such as Dorchester are NOT the only offenders, as I’ve seen complete sections of manuscripts that I’ve sent to literary agents appear in some of their other clients works.
    Because many authors are having this issue, it is a small wonder that so many are going the ‘self-publishing’ route, and corrupt literary agents share the blame for what will be the eventual fall of the ‘traditional’ means of getting published.
    Unfortunatly, most agents and agencies ‘turn a blind eye’ toward the shady practices of their brethren, somehow believing that they must protect one another.
    That attitude must stop, or the title of ‘literary agent’ will be just a memory as we advance further into the ‘do it yourself’ age.

  11. Farrah Rochon said:

    Mari, it is wonderful to see you getting your previous Dorchester titles up (and with such great covers!) I wish you nothing but the best! Unfortunately, Dorchester still has a couple of my titles, but I’m not giving up the fight, and am very happy for those I was able to get back. I hope all former Dorchester authors are able to rise from the ashes.

  12. Mari Mancusi said:

    Thanks all! I really appreciate your encouragement and support as I embark on this new adventure! Bettielee – YES I totally freaked when I first saw the Zombieland trailer. Like, did they read my book? 🙂 Now I fully expect a bunch of people to say I ripped off Zombieland, haha. Oh well – we will know the truth! 🙂

    Farrah – I’m so sorry that Dorchester still has some of your titles. Grr. I hope you keep fighting for them!!

    Kyle – I’ve heard other self-pubbed authors have success with audiobooks. Definitely something I’m open to down the road.

    Thanks again everyone – for letting me share!

  13. Joseph L. Selby said:

    I have resisted commenting because I know it’s not the point of the post, but For some reason, Internet Explorer is not GAH!

    “Internet Explorer is not” is a statement in itself. You don’t have to say what it is not doing because it is not doing anything. At least it is not doing anything well.

    Chrome, Firefox, Safari. I don’t care which browser you pick, but ANY AND ALL of them are superior to Internet Explorer. Yes, you may be comfortable with what you know, but it’s slow, clunky, doesn’t understand half the things it should, and frequently makes beautiful things on the net look ugly.

    You can export/import your bookmarks from IE into any other browser. As you start to be more technologically involved, you’re going to need a browser that can handle your involvement. It’s time to upgrade.

  14. Jessica Peter said:

    I’m happy to hear your story of success in getting your stories back – and the new cover looks great! I’ll add it to my wishlist for a potential time when it’s not just on Kindle. 🙂

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