Pub Rants

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

Tagged Dorchester

USA Today Bestseller – 6 Years After Publication

Last week my author Jana DeLeon, who has been digitally self-publishing her backlist titles, hit the USA Today Bestseller list at #98 for the very first time and for the very first novel she ever published: Rumble On The Bayou (originally published in 2007). And the big question is: How did she do that?

It’s a great question. More and more digitally self-published titles are hitting the lists. I’m certainly not a liberty to reveal all the genius marketing ideas Jana has been pursuing but I can tell you one thing that is public knowledge. She’s not doing it alone.

Over two years ago, Jana and 9 other digitally self-publishing authors formed a marketing co-op where they pool ideas, platforms, and resources. Together this group creates aggressive strategies and they’ve seen remarkable results for every member of the co-op.

It gives a whole new meaning to “it takes a village.” I imagine most authors who are digitally publishing tend to go it alone. I’m seeing the real efficacy of marketing in numbers. And I also don’t think grabbing any old person will do. Each member of the group needs to be equally invested and savvy about what it takes to market digital titles.

On a side note, RUMBLE was originally published by the now defunct Dorchester back in the day. I had quite the battle to arm wrestle the rights back when they stopped paying royalties three years  ago. Obviously that was worth doing!

Rumble-#98_UsaToday-BSL


Now Dorchester Is Trying To Sell The Company

STATUS: Leaving for Bologna, Italy on Friday for the Book Fair. Ack!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SET FIRE TO THE RAIN by Adele

I also have some land 100 miles west of Ft Myers I’d like to sell you….

What would a week be without an update on Dorchester? I can’t imagine what company would be interested in buying an ailing organization with such a significant amount of debt. I don’t have updated numbers from the phone call last year but back then, debt owed was in the millions.

Maybe it’s good for the taxes.

But straight from the horse’s mouth, here is a letter from Dorchester’s president.


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


The Sky Tumbling Down

STATUS: Only 65 emails in the inbox to start the day!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE by Carole King

Wait! What is that I hear? I think it’s the wind whistling down Park Avenue and through the Dorchester non-existent office space.

In a world where information is found in a quick Google search, why try and dissemble?

Here is a link to a notice to Dorchester of foreclosure for the note and a sale of the assets that were pledged as security on a loan.

Back to my question. Why do I say that I don’t think I’ll see a bankruptcy filing soon? By the way, this is not a statement of fact. Simply a supposition on my part.

I don’t think Dorchester will file unless forced to. It’s costly to file and go through the process. Meanwhile, monies are coming in and not being paid out.

Last year when my lawyer and I sat in on the phone calls where Dorchester disclosed their financially precarious position, the list of creditors was part of that conversation. There are at least 6 companies that might find it worthwhile to force Dorchester into Bankruptcy to recover monies owed.

And I hope they do.

But to be blunt, those companies will crunch the numbers. If they come out ahead in what they will recover versus what it will cost, then my guess is they will do it. It certainly won’t be altruistic.


We Are so Dense About Technology That We Can’t Figure Out How To Forward Our Phones

STATUS: Typical Denver schizophrenic weather. I was wearing short sleeves and no jacket yesterday while taking Chutney for a walk in 70 degree weather. Today it’s going to snow. Yay spring!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MATILDA by Harry Belafonte

To a new office location.

Let’s see a show of hands. Who believes that Dorchester might simply be moving offices and the phones are currently being “switched over?” (see the added links in comments section of yesterday’s blog post.)

Hum… thought so.

So to my post of yesterday. I’m going to make my readers do a little work. I can’t hand over all the information on a silver platter. *grin*

I mentioned that Dorchester has disappeared and that I don’t think I’ll see a filing for bankruptcy any time soon. Now why do I say that?

Surely if a company is defunct they’ll file for bankruptcy, right?

Not necessarily….

So tell me why.

Meanwhile, all Dorchester eBooks are up and still for sale across all the electronic distribution venues. Where is the money going? We know for certain it’s not going to the authors.

Every night I sleep easy knowing that I fought tooth and nail to get rights reverted for each of my five authors who had backlist there when Dorchester first breached those contracts and weren’t paying owed royalties. Even for titles I didn’t represent on their behalf because it was before my time as their agent.

And I’m also happy to report that those authors are self-publishing those books and making a very nice income on backlist ebook sales. Want to support a former Dorchester author? Check out their offerings on the links connected to their names.

JANA DELEON
MARI MANCUSI
LESLIE LANGTRY
CAROLYN JEWEL

A happy ending for us but I feel for all those authors who couldn’t get their rights. I strongly recommend you reach out to the various agencies that support authors: Authors Guild, Romance Writers Of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America etc. I can’t list all of them here.

These organizations might be able or connect you with the right people who can advise you on next step if your rights are in question.


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.


Should Dorchester Remain on Probation? Yes.

STATUS: Was all set to potentially launch something cool on Friday and lo and behold, ice storm in Seattle. Trust me, this makes sense because we are based in Denver but our tech person, who manages all things digital, is in Seattle. She had no electricity or internet for 3 days. Shudders.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FREE by Graffiti6

Last week, the Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America reached out to SFWA members about Dorchester Publishing.

Dorchester’s probationary period is scheduled to end on January 31, 2012 and SFWA would like to evaluate their progress in meeting the benchmarks SFWA set for them.

By their request, members could contact them with any information that the Board should consider.

Well, let me tell you, I was happy to oblige. I wrote a letter clearly outlining my stance that that Dorchester should remain on probation or be delisted altogether based on not making any progress whatsoever on benchmark 1: That it fulfills its contractual and financial obligations to the authors it has already published, including full and accurate accounting of royalties per contract, with scheduled payment of any royalties outstanding.

Despite repeated requests for updated accountings and the thousands of dollars still owed in back royalties to NLA authors who used to be with Dorchester, we’ve received excuses, delays, and no good faith efforts to resolve their obligations.

And I have no problem making my sentiment on the situation public.


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.


Taking It Public—An Update

STATUS: I’m working at home again tonight. Ah, the glamorous life….

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE SOUND OF SUNSHINE by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Jana’s announcement from yesterday has produced a couple of positive results:

1. Kobo immediately removed Jana’s titles from their site and contacted Jana with the news. They also are willing to set up an agreement with her so she can directly sell her titles through their venue.

2. Dorchester informed me that they have submitted the requests to have the titles removed from the various ebook sites. Currently though, they are still available on some sites such as Amazon and BN.

3. RWA (Romance Writers of America) and SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America both sent out emails to members regarding this issue and asked that members contact them if they are facing similar from Dorchester. Both organizations are looking into it.

4. Many valuable discussions have unfolded on blogs and twitter regarding it.

In general, this avenue is not what would have been preferred, and I do think it could have been avoided altogether but one can’t deny the results.


Taking It Public

STATUS: Getting this entry in late as you can see.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NOT THE GIRL YOU THINK YOU ARE by Crowded House

Well, if you were plugged into the publishing world via the internet, you might have a little sense of how my day unfolded.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, you might want to take a moment to click on this link. My author Jana DeLeon, fed up with Dorchester and the fact that they were illegally selling copies of her ebooks long after her rights had reverted back to her, decided to take that news public.

I only have one thing to add. Despite no response to my previous calls demanding they cease and desist what they were doing, I still called Dorchester to warn them. I did not receive a return call—that is until today after the news broke.


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