First, you’ve probably heard about the author behaving badly this past week. If not, you can read what I had to say about it here. Basically what happened is a review was posted that the author took exception to. Mind you, it wasn’t anywhere close to a scathing review. In fact, the only real negative the reviewer pointed out was that he had problems with the formatting and other technical issues — nothing with regard to the writing itself. The author decided to argue with the reviewer, accusing the reviewer of not downloading a new edition she told him to (okay, rule number one. Don’t tell the reviewer to download a new version. Send it to them.) Then she accused him of not understanding or not liking her writing because she’s British. HUH?!? When some of the blog readers started telling her she was not helping her cause, she went off the deep end and told them, multiple times, to f***k off. Yep, that’s right. She found the plank, put it over the side of the ship and took a long walk off of it.
Then there’s the ongoing Dorchester Publishing brouhaha. I first became aware of it when I read Brian Keene’s blog post requesting authors, reviewers, readers, booksellers, etc., boycott Dorchester. The basic facts, according to Keene, are that he negotiated with Dorchester for the reversion of his print and electronic rights, effective January, in return for releasing them from all financial claims he might have. Seems that he hadn’t received any royalty statements, much less royalties, in a very long time (you can see the specifics in his post). Then, to his surprise, after the reversion took place, Dorchester continued to digitally publish his titles, always blaming others when he contacted them.
It turns out that he’s not the only one this is happening to. If you follow the links in his post, you will find a number of other authors willing to share their horror stories as well.
As word of the boycott spread, fans started posting on the Dorchester facebook page about the situation. It didn’t take long for those posts to disappear. Not exactly the way to respond. Dorchester would be better served by simply answering the questions. Instead, they posted a question to their followers asking what titles the readers would like to see in digital format.
Now, being the overly suspicious sort and rarely finding a conspiracy theory I didn’t like, I don’t see this as an innocent question. This is, in my opinion, Dorchester’s way of seizing rights that have already reverted. And I’m not alone in wondering if this isn’t exactly what’s happening. That supposition is strengthened by the news that Dorchester even changed its Amazon listings from Dorchester to DP. Gee, one would think they are trying to hide who they are….hmmmm.
What we need to remember is that this isn’t a new state of affairs for Dorchester. Last year, the Mystery Writers of America delisted the publisher. From GalleyCat: eReads has a quote from the official memo from Richard Curtis: “[T]he publisher must not wrongfully withhold or delay royalty payments to authors. We have been hearing an unusually high number of reports from our members of unpaid advances and withheld royalties on their Dorchester books … The board made it clear to Dorchester that it is welcome to re-apply once these problems have been cleared up.”
After that happened, Dorchester went to strictly digital and POD. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think we are going to see more and more of it in the future. However, they have yet to put their house in order. In fact, comparing Keene’s and his fellow boycotters’ tales with this one from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, it looks like Dorchester is simply continuing the course that got them de-listed with MWA.
Horror Writers of America have also issued an open letter to Dorchester. It notes that Dorchester has been removed from the list of approved publishers. It goes on to list a number of grievances against the publisher. If, by the end of this month, Dorchester addresses these concerns, HWA will reconsider Dorchester’s status.
What are the answers? Well, one is quite simple. Amazon and other e-tailers need to hold these so-called major publishers to the same standards they hold small publishers and self-published authors to. When Naked Reader Press submits a title for publication that has already been published in one format or another, we have to present proof that the rights have reverted to the author and that the author has contracted with us for publication. It’s a headache, but one we are more than happy to bear to protect the rights of our authors.
While I am not asking you to boycott Dorchester, I am asking you to look over the list of authors who have joined Keene’s boycott and consider what they are losing through Dorchester’s actions. Someone asked on facebook yesterday how the authors would be paid if the publisher is boycotted. That might be a valid point if Dorchester had shown any indication it planned on paying these authors. Instead, its track record speaks for itself, imo. For me, I am going to have to think two and three times before buying anything from Dorchester right now.