Pub Rants

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

We Won’t Leave The Light On For You

STATUS: Bologna Children’s Book Fair is almost upon us. Oi. Not ready yet.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MERCY by Duffy

On Thursday, I got word that the doors were locked, lights out, and the phones disconnected at Dorchester.

I know. Surprise. Here are links to my previous entries on Dorchester and its impending demise.

As a matter of course, I did touch base with my lawyer simply to see if there had been a bankruptcy filing. I’m actually not expecting to find one.

Now why do I say that?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I know a lot of blog readers have backgrounds in law so feel free to chime in via the comment section with your surmises.

More to come tomorrow.

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11 Responses

  1. Natalie Aguirre said:

    I hadn’t been following this. I do personal, not commercial bankruptcies. The secured creditors get paid first obviously. So sadly the unsecured creditors, which I am guessing are former clients, get paid really little whether there’s a bankruptcy or not..

    Too bad. Though anyone filing bankruptcy is in a sad, sad stage financially. I’ve seen many people who worked all their lives, made good money at times, and have nothing. Saddest when you see it with seniors.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Because publishing contracts state that the contract is terminated and rights revert automatically if the publisher files for bankruptcy?

    (not that a bankruptcy court would necessarily uphold that, as those rights are assets)

  3. Anonymous said:

    Does one have to send a termination notice in any case, to the official Dorchester address, in order for the author to move forward to their books elsewhere?

  4. Lynne Connolly said:

    I was one of the authors caught up in the Triskelion bankruptcy.
    At least with formal bankruptcy, it puts a formal end to the business and gives the authors their rights back, eventually. The bankruptcy clause in an author contract is worth nothing, because the bankruptcy people are federal, and the contracts are signed under state law. Federal trumps state. So contracts are counted as assets, and are treated accordingly.
    Kudos to Siren who bought our contracts at auction and immediately reverted the rights, otherwise we’d have found our contracts sold to the highest bidder.

    But when a company just disappears, it’s much harder, because the onus is on the writer to prove the company doesn’t exist any more. And that can take years. Management should do the honourable thing and give authors their rights back, free and clear.

    It’s such a shame. I can remember Dorchester being such an exciting company, one that launched the careers of people like Jade Lee and Christine Feehan, and now they are behaving so badly, it adds a black mark to everything they’ve done.

  5. Mark Murata said:

    Thanks for the warning, Kristin. I left a link to your post on my blog.

    I think you were the one who said that Dorchester’s romance line was undermined by e-books. A lot of women love reading romances, but don’t want to be caught dead with the trashy covers. They’re buying romance e-books from all sorts of publishers.

    So if you see a professionally-dressed woman in an airport or business lobby reading something on her data device, it might not be a spreadsheet.

  6. DebStover said:

    On April 2nd, I was told Dorchester no longer exists, and that the rights to my book that was still “in print” with them is now in the hands of the Bankruptcy Trustee. I have seen no documentation to corroborate that. However, I think we can all agree with the “Dorchester no longer exists” part. I understand the magazine side of the house has been sold.

    I’m quite angry that they continue to sell books, and that money is–presumably–going to a Trustee to pay their debts. Some authors are owed huge sums, while others are owed a little. The rights to our books is an “asset.” I’ve removed all the buy links from my site. I’m thoroughly disgusted.

  7. Owiredu said:

    Edwards: Yes, there are a lot of mermaid nolves floating/swimming around out there right now (har har – sorry), but if you’re story is different enough, as you say, then sure, I would be interested. I’ve certainly seen more YA love stories involving a mermaid/siren than I have middle grade adventures. So that alone is a distinction.@Hilary Pinsky: As tech savvy as teens are, adults have been a lot faster to adopt e-reader technology. I think that’s because teens want a device that they can use for more than just reading a book (like the iPad) and yet the price point on devices like the iPad is still a little high for the teen market. The New York Times just debuted a new ebook bestseller list because ebooks have become such a significant part of the adult market that they could no longer be ignored. And yet they didn’t add an ebook bestseller list for children’s book. I think that’s because the sales aren’t yet significant enough to warrant their own list. Young reader ebooks are behind adult ebooks in terms of market share. But that won’t be the case forever! And I think publishers are using this in-between period as a time for experimenting. Right now it really only makes financial sense for publishers to develop enhanced ebooks and apps for their bestselling books (like Razorbill did with their Vampire Academy series), or to develop experimental projects in-house (like, for example, Scholastic did with their 39 Clues series). So I think it’s great when authors have ideas for what could be developed in that realm, but unwise for them to approach the publication process with certain expectations. If you approach an agent or an editor with book that you believe should involve all sort of moving pieces across platforms and devices–well, it’s kind of like approaching them with a 5 book series–too ambitious. You still have to start with a great story. Once you have a great story, you can evaluate whether or not it would makes sense to develop something extra. Some books lend themselves well to transmedia and would benefit from the development of an interactive ebook; and for others, it probably wouldn’t be worth the additional expense at this time. It has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. That’s true now, and I think it will hold true in the future.Of course, there’s a difference between an ebook app and marketing app. Not every book needs an ebook with bells and whistles, but there’s always room for authors to market their books in creative ways across platforms and devices. Finding new ways of reaching your audience by offering them something that will pique their interest and prompt them to buy your book is becoming more important than ever.

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