Pub Rants

Category: publishers

Don’t Have To Tell You What This Portends

STATUS: TGIF! I need it.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE CHAIN by Fleetwood Mac

Starting at 8 p.m. last night, rumors hit Twitterville that Leah Hultenschmidt (Editorial Director) and Don D’Auria (long-time editor) were let go from Dorchester at the close of yesterday’s business day.

For those of you who don’t know, Dorchester has always had a lean editorial staff. With the Departure of Alicia Condon several months ago and the news from yesterday, well, the editorial staff now consists of one person—Chris Kesslar.

This morning the rumor was confirmed by an email from Leah so I feel quite confident in posting this info. Not to mention last week Dorchester let go their digital director and yet they announced a digital initiative. Eyebrow raise.

I’m assuming I don’t need to tell you what this all signifies…

Publishers Behaving Badly–Again

STATUS: Okay, if I don’t blog in the morning, it looks like it’s not happening so more early morning blogging to come.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HER FIRST MISTAKE by Lyle Lovett

Several agent friends have confirmed that Macmillan sent a letter over the weekend asking authors to sign amendments that gave them electronic rights to backlist titles.

Oh Shades of Random House hegemony!

By the way, these letters went out to authors—not to the agents or agencies who represent them.

Tsk, tsk. I wag my finger at you Macmillan.

If you are an author and you received this letter, do not sign or return it without consulting with your agent or attorney first. If you haven’t got either, then pick up the phone and call the Authors Guild. I know the lawyers over there and they’d be happy to take a look at this amendment that has been sent out (if they haven’t seen it already).

Whatever you do, make sure you have a complete understanding of your rights and what you’d be granting if you signed the amendment and what other options exist if you don’t.

This has been a public service message from Agent Kristin… *grin*

Dorchester Goes Digital (Part II)

STATUS: I think my head might be spinning with all the stuff that cropped up today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE GUYS THAT SAYS GOODBYE TO YOU IS OUT OF HIS MIND by Griffin House

Today there is more on Dorchester’s move to all-digital in the Wall Street Journal.

Is this revolutionary and far-thinking? A move that many a small independent publisher will follow?

Well, it would be nice to think so.

Except I have one rather large problem with it. Via our evaluation of recent Dorchester royalty statements, this publisher has been having difficulty reporting monies owed to the author for electronic book sales—even when a quick search of the major eBook retail sites show that the books are clearly available in eFormat and have been available for several accounting periods.

When pushed regarding this issue, I’ve been given a couple of different responses—none of which have actually resolved the problem.

Yet. (Let’s hope.)

So if Dorchester plans to go all-digital, I’m worried for very practical reasons.

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.

Public Knowledge Now

STATUS: Mondays. I wish we could have Tuesdays without the Mondays.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PLEASE COME TO BOSTON BY Dave Loggins

For those of you who might not have seen the news, Romance Writers Of America (RWA) has declared that Dorchester cannot attend the 2010 RWA conference in Orlando next week because of past due contractual and financial obligations.

I won’t comment further except to say that I’m glad this is now “public” knowledge and that RWA has taken a stand on it.

Why You Can’t Buy An eBook In English Outside The U.S.

STATUS: Oh, I’ve got a lot to accomplish today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LIFE IN TECHNICOLOR by Coldplay

A couple of weeks ago we got an email from a rather upset reader in Denmark. He wanted to buy Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS as an eBook in English for his eReader. According to this fan, he is Danish but reads most of his novels in English. He could see that it was available in the US without a problem but why couldn’t he buy it?

I imagine this fan is not the only non-US resident with this question so I’m going to tell you why he can’t buy the US English eBook version in Denmark (or wherever outside of the US). And yes, we did send a letter to this person explaining why.

It’s a sticky situation folks. As eBooks have global capacity in the English language, the reason why it may or may not be available resides in the initial rights/territories granted to the publisher when the deal was made for the print edition.

I know, not exactly what you wanted to hear when you live in Timbuktu and you just want to buy the dang eBook. Doesn’t the author and the publisher get the money?

So let me see if I can explain more clearly because trust me, it’s causing headaches for agents, for authors, and for publishers, and there is no easy fix-it solution.

If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.

Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.

Now, if an agent and author has granted World English or World rights to the US publisher, then there is the possibility for the US publisher to sell its English version world-wide in print or eBook. I say “possibility” as the US publisher may still want to sublicense property to UK or do a deal internally with a sister-UK/ANZ company who will want its version exclusively in certain territories.

So, it’s not just a matter of the author or US publisher giving Amazon or Apple or BN or Whoever a thumbs-up to sell away the English language eBook from their distribution channels in other countries. It all depends on the contract.

And yes, we ALL understand that with the electronic book there is now a greater global market for the English language version that needs to be exploited but with all English-speaking territories wanting to protect their exclusive sales area for their version, it’s a bit of tangle with no easy solution.

And yes, I get that avid readers may simply pirate an eCopy when the legal/legitimate one is not readily available. We aren’t stupid but the industry is not shifting fast enough to implement a quick solution.

Wiley (cont.) And Tidbits

STATUS: Is it Wednesday already?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LONDON CALLING by Clash

Okay, my wifi at home has gone kaput. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to blog while still at the office so then I’ll pop online via the laptop at home. Kind of difficult when it’s not working. Hopefully that will get taken care of tomorrow.

So many little tidbits to share. Most of them funny and it’s not even Friday yet.

Authors Guild and Wiley continue… Lots of people didn’t agree with the AG stance on Google but I’m still quite glad they are out there being a watch dog for authors.

In the best headline I’ve seen recently:
Cops bust woman, 74, for pouring mayo in book drop

All I can say is there must not be a lot going on in Boise, Idaho. Still, I’m dying to know the motive for this condiment crime spree. (Never imagined those three words would appear in the same sentence together.)

And best for last. You know publishing has hit mainstream when The Onion jumps in the mix. I just laughed and laughed. (It’s TWILIGHT but with Minotaurs!).

Wiley Responds and Friday Funnies

STATUS: Where has the morning gone? Eek.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HEY GOOD LOOKIN’ by Hank Williams

Today Wiley issued a press release asserting the Authors Guild is in error.

Any Bloomberg authors want to weigh in anonymously and comment, feel free.

And to kick off the weekend, the Bronte Sisters Power Dolls (courtesy of my client Laurence)! Bless youtube. Where would I be without them? Enjoy!

Publishers Behaving Badly

STATUS: All my post-BEA stuff is done! Yes.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FOREVER YOUNG by Alphaville

After my blog tirade two years ago when Simon & Schuster didn’t play nice in the sandbox (by deleting the crucial last four lines of their Out of Print clause without telling anyone), you know how strongly I feel about publishers behaving badly.

Sounds like John Wiley & Sons might be doing similar if the Authors Guild strong warning is anything to judge by.

I do not have any authors impacted by the sale of Bloomberg Press to Wiley so I have not seen this letter. And for the record, I have no personal take or stake on the situation but for general purposes, I like to pass on warnings when they occur so they reach as many readers as possible.

If you’re impacted by this, you might want to touch base with the folks at the AG.

That Author Ecopy Comes With A Hefty Price Tag

STATUS: Man, I powered through my To Do list today. Gosh I love when that happens.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FREE FALLIN’ by John Mayer

One of things that we always do is make sure the author and our agency have a final copy of the finished novel in electronic form. For the author, it’s just nice to have an electronic copy of the book. I mean, we get the other editions. Why not this one? For the agency, we prefer to use the electronic copy to sell subsidiary rights when we hold those rights.

Usually, this is no big deal and the acquiring editor sends me the final page proof in PDF.

Well, just recently I made my standard request and I received a rather interesting email from the editor in return. (And let me just say right here I feel very sorry for the editor as I know she was simply citing some new company policy…) But basically the editor said that if we wanted an electronic copy in PDF, we’d have to pay a production copy fee of $250.00.

Uh… I rather stared at the email. Is the editor really suggesting that the author has to pay $250.00 for a copy of her already published book in electronic form? No, she can’t be serious.

Needless to say, I voiced my rather incredulous response in a return email.

I’m positive that the company implemented this fee policy for a good reason but in this instance, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.