Tag Archives: publishers

Link Roundup

Lots of interesting things going on out there on the interwebs:

ChiZine Press is holding an unusual contest, where you enter to win a CZP e-book by reviewing one of their books on Amazon or Goodreads. Note that positive reviews are not required; all they ask for is “an honest assessment” of a book you’ve actually read.

Bitch magazine has irritated a lot of people by first listing and then de-listing three books–Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan–on their list of 100 feminist YA titles. Sarah at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books waxes eloquent on being a longtime Bitch supporter who’s upset by their decision. Authors requesting to have their books removed from the list in solidarity include Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, and Maureen Johnson; as of this writing, Bitch has not responded publicly to those requests.

Kirrily “Skud” Robert notes that a big recent discussion about book piracy has been overlooked by mainstream tech and book bloggers–perhaps because it’s mostly happening on the LiveJournal and Dreamwidth online journaling services, which are often considered “not real blogs”; perhaps because the discussion has a strong social justice slant; and perhaps because most of the participants are women. Her post includes data, a lovely graph, and links to the highlights of the discussion, all of which are very much worth your time.

Signal Boost for ChiZine

Sandra Kasturi of ChiZine Publications is asking for help spreading word of a computer disaster there:

Recently, our e-mail system crashed and deleted a number of messages, including submissions to ChiZine Publications. We are attempting to recover these messages, but in the event we are unable to, we ask authors to resubmit their work that may have been lost in the crash.

If you sent us a submission between March 1st, 2010 and November 24, 2010 and have not yet received a response, please resubmit to submissions (at) chizinepub (dot) com and indicate it is a second submission due to the email crash. If you did receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript, but have not heard further, please also resubmit.

We will be giving priority to resubmitting authors.

Please also note that ChiZine Publications will be closing to unsolicited, unagented manuscript submissions from January 1st, 2011, until June 30th, 2011.

Jo Fletcher Leaving Gollancz for Quercus

I’ve just received a press release announcing that Jo Fletcher, currently associate publisher of U.K. SF powerhouse Gollancz, is leaving to launch a brand new SF imprint at indie crime publisher Quercus. This is a pretty big shake-up for Gollancz; Fletcher’s been there for 16 of their 49 years and has a very impressive stable of authors, some of whom may well follow her over to her new home. A new SF imprint is always good news, though, and I hope they get good U.S. distribution so we can continue to enjoy Fletcher’s editorial acumen on this side of the Pond.

Hard Case Crime Teams Up with Titan

Via PW reviewer Adam Lipkin (thanks, Adam!), I’m thrilled to see a report on SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL that the Hard Case Crime line of pulp novels has dodged the collapse of Dorchester and found a new home:

We’ve got some big news to announce today: After a year’s hiatus, Hard Case Crime will be returning to bookstores with new titles in 2011, thanks to a deal we just signed with UK-based Titan Publishing.

Titan is a publisher both of fiction and of gorgeous art books focusing on pop culture such as movie poster art, pin-ups, newspaper comic strips, and Golden Age comic books, and has worked with filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, and George Lucas. Titan has been around for 30 years, has more than 200 employees, and in addition to publishing books also has a magazine division, a retail division (Titan owns the famous Forbidden Planet bookstore in London, and until recently co-owned the Murder One mystery bookstore with Maxim Jakubowski), and a merchandise division that produces items such as t-shirts, sculptures, and accessories. We look forward to exploring ways we might develop some cool Hard Case Crime products with them!

News about a pulp crime publisher may seem a little off-topic for Genreville, but Josh and I both love Hard Case’s Gabriel Hunt adventure books, which are just fantastical enough (gadgetry! sphinxes!) to sneak under the great big spec fic umbrella. I certainly hope the resurrection of the imprint will mean the continuation of that series and the introduction of many more.

A Note for Publicists Who Handle Media Tie-in Books

As we hope most of you know, PW does not review media tie in books.  At least not in the F/SF category.  Genreville, however, can cover those books as we see fit.  Though I can’t promise to cover everything sent our way, I have read a number of the Star Wars books, and especially enjoyed the X-Wing novels by Allston and Stackpole.  I’ve also enjoyed media tie in books from Star Trek, the X-Files, Dungeons and Dragons, and other properties.  So I’d be happy to give some love to the neglected media tie-in novel from my little corner of PW. Send queries to josh@genreville.com.

Is the Bell Tolling for Dorchester?

Brian Keene reports that, according to unnamed sources, Don D’Auria and Leah Hultenschmidt are gone from Dorchester, leaving Chris Keeslar as the sole remaining editor. If this is true, it effectively puts paid to the Leisure Books horror line. Keene pays moving tribute to D’Auria and then gives Dorchester management a scathing dressing-down:

Now keep in mind, this is my opinion only, and should not be taken as fact, but I give the company six months. Maybe a year, but I think six months is more likely…. Just days before the announcement that they were switching to digital format, the publisher was still signing authors to  contracts for multiple books without telling the authors of the digital plans.

Worse, from what I’ve been told, the company is apparently not filling orders to vendors, bookstores or authors.

[...]

It is my opinion that neither myself or my fellow authors will see many more royalty checks (checks which, as I mentioned last week, are already woefully late)…. What’s my advice to my fellow Leisure authors? Run. Get the fuck out and don’t look back. It is my opinion that we are well and screwed. At this point, you’re an absolute fool if you sign with them for anything else.

My question is, where do those authors have to run to? It’s not like there’s a whole lot of mass market horror originals being published by anyone other than Dorchester these days.

(Thanks to @SmartBitches for passing along the sad news.)

EDIT: PW‘s Jim Milliot has obtained official comments from Dorchester: “President John Prebich said the departures of the two were part of Dorchester adusting staff to its new operating plan. He said that the product in the pipeline for 2011 will be published and that Dorchester will continue to acquire books…. He told PW this morning Dorchester will take whatever steps are necessary to remain a viable publisher.”

Cheap, DRM-free Genre E-books from Weightless Books

The fabulous Gwenda Bond just linked to Weightless Books, an e-book store that stocks a wide range of titles from two of my favorite indies: Small Beer Press and Blind Eye Books. All the books are DRM-free PDFs and priced to sell. Looks like a very cool little venture, and it’s heartening to see publishers collaborating on an e-book store given the recent news about Samhain.

Baen and Mark Van Name Team up to Help Child Soldiers in the Congo

Laura Haywood-Cory of Baen Books informs us that author Mark Van Name is donating 100% of his proceeds from the hardcover sales of his new novel, Children No More, to a charity working towards rebuilding the lives of child soldiers in the Congo region of Africa. Children No More is due out today.

Baen has a history of sending books to support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other charity projects.  They’ve been an integral part of the genre community, and have supported some of its brightest lights, such as Lois McMaster Bujold, Spider Robinson, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Robert Heinlein.  Despite the occasional jokes I make about the lurid covers they sometimes have, I’m a fan of Baen, and appreciate the efforts they make to make the world a better place while making some truly great books.

It’s a Magazine AND an Anthology Series!

When I arrived at the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading on Wednesday, Matt Kressel, who co-hosts the reading series and also runs Senses Five Press, handed me a copy of Sybil’s Garage #7. I started to protest that I don’t like reading fiction in magazine format. Then I realized he had given me a POD trade paperback. Suddenly I was a lot more interested.

At a young and formative age, I acquired a couple of Terry Carr YBs from the 1980s and became a devotee of SF and fantasy anthologies. It’s still my dream to edit one. (Someday, someday…) As I began collecting anthologies–which now occupy an entire bookcase, floor to ceiling, in my library–I found a special love for unthemed series, like Damon Knight’s Orbit and Carr’s Universe. Sybil’s Garage, a quietly upstart zine for its first six issues, seems to have turned into just such a series with its switch to trade paperback format. Matt confirms that he plans to put out one “issue” a year.

When I asked why he made the switch, he cited distribution concerns. Low-budget small-press zines get shoved to the very top or very bottom of magazine racks when they make it onto magazine racks at all. Low-budget small-press books, on the other hand, are just about as easy to produce and vastly easier to get into stores and in front of readers. Given that, I wonder whether other zines will follow suit. There have certainly been zine/book crossovers, like the Best of Strange Horizons Year One and Year Two anthologies and The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Still, seeing a zine wholly transform itself into an anthology series without any real change in content is fascinating, and perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

The reading was deeply awesome, by the way. The world is about to be very impressed by Cat Valente’s Deathless and M.K. Hobson’s The Native Star. Deathless is still in production and won’t be out for a while, but The Native Star is due out in September; keep an eye out for the review in PW‘s online review annex.

Aqueduct Press Hits a Milestone, PM Press Rolls Over its Odometer

Congratulations to Aqueduct Press on its 50th book.  Jeff VanderMeer has the scoop on the Omnivoracious blog at Amazon.com.  Aqueduct’s mission statement starts with these two sentences:

Aqueduct Press dedicates itself to publishing challenging, feminist science fiction. We promise to bring our readers work that will stretch the imagination and stimulate thought.

Given that Ursula K. LeGuin’s Cheek by Jowl won the Locus award for best Non-Fiction Book/Art Book, it appears that they’re continuing to succeed in that mission.

Also of note is PM Press publishing its 100th title.  Primarily a political press, PM has also published science fiction by such noted authors as  Kim Stanley Robinson, Eleanor Arnason, and Terry Bisson.

SFWA Has Put Night Shade on Probation

SFWA president John Scalzi isn’t wasting any time making use of the powers of his new office:

We are heartened that Night Shade has issued an apology and has pledged to correct its problems. These are needed first steps for a growing publisher that has published some memorable science fiction and fantasy in the last few years, including this year’s Nebula Award winner for Best Novel, The Windup Girl. Regardless of reasons given, such behavior by a publisher to its authors is unacceptable.

With these facts in mind, Night Shade Books is on probation as a qualified SFWA market for a period of one year, effective immediately.

Over the last couple of years, SFWA has really tried to act more as a writers’ union. I wonder whether this will encourage more people to join, and will encourage members who have problems with publishers to bring their complaints to SFWA’s attention.

I also can’t help but notice that they link to Genreville posts and, uh, no one else’s. And that this all happened after I wrote about it, even though Williams and Halpin had been on record with their complaints for weeks. I think I might have to stop thinking of this as my little news blog that nobody reads.

An Official Statement from Night Shade

Just got this press release in email, as I imagine others have:

First and foremost, we at Night Shade Books would like to apologize for any problems we’ve caused any of our authors. The last three years have been brutal on us, although not in any way we could have expected. While we’ve faced the same difficulties every small and independent press has suffered in this age of sales downturns, higher-than-expected returns, and other challenges, what has caused us the most trouble have been our successes. Night Shade has grown faster and more uncontrollably than we had any idea how to handle. What started as two guys shipping books out of a garage now consists of a full staff working out of an office in San Francisco. We’ve shuffled around a lot of our responsibilities, but in many ways, we’re still figuring this out as we go.

This has led to some major miscommunication, and sometimes flat-out lack of communication, with our authors, sometimes, even amongst ourselves. We screwed up: Details were missed, one of us assumed another was handling a situation, or a reluctance to deliver bad news turned into an unprofessional excuse to procrastinate. The issues that have come up today, at their core, are really ones of communication. All this could have been avoided through simple phone calls and emails, through us letting people know what was happening.

That said, this has been a wakeup call for us. We have been working hard to improve all areas of Night Shade Books. Perhaps not fast enough, nor in the places that needed the most work. Doing royalty statements by hand was fine when we were doing five books a year, but now, with over 150 books in print, it has become a cumbersome, time-consuming, painful process that too often has been put off until later. And, as evidenced by the two books we sold as ebooks without the proper permissions, clearly we need a better contract/rights management system.  We are already working on this: Last month we hired a new employee, whose primary responsibility will be managing our contracts and subrights, as well as developing and implementing a royalty system that won’t take two people a month to run royalties. We have already addressed the issues currently at hand involving Elizabeth Moon, Brendan Halpin, and Liz Williams.  We have also contacted SFWA, and will be working hand-in-hand with them to find out if any other authors have issues with us, but haven’t come forward yet, and get those problems resolved.

At this time, we would very much like any of our authors, past or present, who have or have had issues with our conduct or business practices, to step forward either to us or to SFWA, so that we can attempt to resolve any hardships we have may have caused.

I admire their willingness to say “We screwed up” (and to acknowledge contract breaches in public, which could be interesting if any of this ever leads to legal action). I hope they make good on their promises of improvement; only time will tell on that front. And I especially hope to see happy relieved “everything’s settled” posts from Williams, Halpin, and Moon in short order.

Authors Criticize Night Shade Books

Liz Williams has made her complaints about Night Shade Books very public: “I’ve been told by Night Shade that they are unlikely to be publishing any more of my novels. I don’t know whether this includes Iron Khan, or whether they’ll be pulling it from publication. The reason why I do not know is that my publishers have not communicated with me directly for some considerable time, despite repeated phone calls from both my agent and myself, and numerous emails asking for clarification on current and future books, and royalty statements. My agent eventually got a response by calling from an unlisted number and has confirmed that this silence appears to have been a tactic of deliberate avoidance. I have had emails from readers, and a couple of meetings with fans at E’con, who say they have tried to buy my books directly from my publishers – one guy paid about a year ago for a pre-order – and have had no reply.”

Now Brendan Halpin, a.k.a. Seamus Cooper, is doing the same: “Night Shade has stolen the eBook rights to The Mall of Cthulhu. They do not own them and are offering an electronic edition for sale through webscription.net, which is affiliated with Baen Books, a real publisher who should know better. Nine months ago, Night Shade made a verbal offer to pay me a small sum for the rights. I agreed. They’ve never paid me. …I was due a royalty statement from Night Shade Books on March 1.  Some time in April, they sent an inaccurate royalty statement. It listed a smaller advance and a higher cover price than was accurate.  My agent told them they had made errors in my favor, and they agreed to send a corrected statement.  We’re now staring down June, and I have no idea how many copies The Mall of Cthulhu has sold or if I’m owed any money.”

(Many thanks to J. at Me and My Red Stapler for bringing Halpin’s post to my attention.)

Both say they know other authors who feel similarly about how they’ve been treated by Night Shade but aren’t willing to speak up for fear of damaging their careers. This is causing a lot of shock among people who have long seen Night Shade as an exemplary small genre press.

I am of course reminded of Michael Cisco‘s complaints about Prime Books, echoed by Ben Peek and others commenting on his blog. When that blew up, I heard a lot about authors who had similar concerns about Prime but didn’t feel safe airing them in public. On the other hand, Prime was below the radar for a lot of people. Night Shade gets more attention and has (or had) a better rep.

So–assuming the complaints are legitimate, which I think is likely given their similarity, and Williams and Halpin aren’t the only ones affected, which is possible but currently unknown–will more people speak up this time, or fewer? And will there be as many authors declaring that they have never sold books to Night Shade and now have no interest in doing so? I’ll be keeping my ears open for follow-ups; if you see any, send them my way.

EDIT: Elizabeth Moon chimes in on Liz Williams’s blog: “We’ve had trouble with [Night Shade] not responding to my agent, not paying royalties, and they did the same thing with e-books to me, when they didn’t have e-rights. My agent suggested dealing with Baen as I have other books in Webscription, and when they realized that NightShade hadn’t had the e-rights, they started sending the royalties my way. But they’re way overdue on royalties again, and my agent has BookScan evidence that the book is selling (not wildly, but enough that there should be royalties again this year.) …It’s really sad, as they were a good small press and I was so happy to have that collection coming out from them.”

Really sad, indeed.