Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dicking with Publishers

Sometimes publishers are such a joy to work with, they make me thank my lucky stars (at least I would if I had lucky stars -- but I doubt it). Sometimes they make me wonder, WTF are you people thinking? And then there are those other times . . .

I've been waiting for the release of a print collection from you-know-who. Or you should know if you visit this blog with any regularity. First the book was supposed to come out in July. Then late September/early October. Two months ago, my editor was "working on the galleys" (which I, of course, will never get to lay eyes on, since I'm only the author). Now I must try to find out what the hell is going on. I'm actually not too concerned about what's going on, except in principle. Print editions usually result in returns, and returns are deducted from e-book royalties, and that sucks. But I am concerned whenever it appears one of my publishers isn't trustworthy and excels more at making excuses than getting things done.

Then there's this cluster-screw: I'm trying to get an old book back. Its contract will be up next year, and the publisher has disappointed me pretty much from the get-go. The book isn't making either of us any money. However, I didn't know whom to contact. This company has no on-site contact information, just a rather stagnant authors' loop on Yahoo to which I don't belong. So I had to google my original editor -- yes, google the woman! And thank goodness I found her.

"Oh," said she, "I haven't done much there for the past year, but I'll forward your message. When I get back onboard, although not even Jesus Christ knows when that will be, we have all these plans for blah-blah-blah, which will make things ever so much better, and blah-blah-blah." (Dig this. She RUNS the imprint through which my book was published . . . and she hasn't done squat with it in a freakin' year. Huh?) Mm-hm, yup. You've really bolstered my confidence. Just answer my questions, lady. I'm totally fed up with this outfit.

These people haven't sent me a royalty statement in two years. How professional, eh? (Doesn't matter if a statement only contains a big, fat zero, it nevertheless should be sent.) They haven't coughed up any royalties, either, because they have a policy of not paying out unless and until the amount exceeds X-number of dollars. Worse yet, the publisher thinks I'm not owed any royalties, because he obviously hasn't done his homework and looked up all the old statements. And, finally, he doesn't believe a letter granting reversion of rights is necessary.

This is no tiny e-pub, mind you. An e-pub, yes, but a large one that's been around for years and also, I believe, puts out print editions. Their lack of professionalism just makes my brain implode.

I really want to retrieve this novel and rework it. There's a good reason for that. But before I resubmit it, I first need to make a clean and legal break from the first publisher and get my damned money, no matter how small the amount.

Gawd. How do some of these operations get and stay in business?
Oh for the fuck's sake, you wouldn't believe it . . .


Tam said...

Ai yi yi. What a nightmare. That should scare off potential authors out there. You sometimes wonder how these companies actually continue to exist if they are so disorganized. Mojo you can get some resolution to both issues soon.

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks, Tam. Yeah, it can get borderline maddening at times. I haven't had the dreadful experiences some other authors have had (knock wood), but a lot of this crap is just inexcusable.

Jenre said...

From reading this - and nightmare dealings that other authors have related, it seems to me that some e-pubs are only really interested in authors who make lots of money. The authors who don't are sidelined and generally forgotten about.

I can understand your frustration, KZ. Especially when all you want to do is take your book and your money and get the hell out. Surely it would be the work of an hour to draft up a severance letter and write a cheque for what they owe you.

K. Z. Snow said...

One would think so, Jen, but that would require a publisher to keep up with its bookkeeping and have different employees to deal diligently with different aspects of the business.

What you said about authors who aren't suck-ups and/or big moneymakers: I've seen that practice in operation in three big e-pubs so far.

Kris said...

Bastages! Unprofessional gits. No wonder this epub has such a bad rep. Crossing my fingers and toes for you, hun.

K. Z. Snow said...

Actually, Kris, the e-pub from which I'm getting my book back (and, I hope, my piddly royalties) may be one you haven't heard of. They aren't known for their romance/erotic romance.

My thus far unprinted print collection, however...yeah, you know which one is responsible for that.

Thanks for the good wishes.

Lea Sinclair said...

Sorry to hear about your publishing headaches. I recently bought all the ebooks listed on your blog including Hoochie Coochie Man. I had trouble finding it at first, because your title did'n't come up when I ran a title search. These publishers should know that when people buy a book, they expect the author to be compensated. When I really enjoy a book, I buy the print copy. There are some really terrific books on EC that have NEVER been printed. I wish that EC did print on-demand. I hope you get your book back. If you are like me, the things that I create are my babies. Take care. Lea

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks for your understanding, Lea.

The reason Hoochie Coochie Man didn't come up is because that's the book I'm in the process of getting back. I'm surprised you could get a copy at all. (Oy, now DDP will probably stiff me on the royalties for that copy. Trying to get what they owe me has been a royal pain!)

I'm supposed to have a softcover edition of my three related fantasies coming out from Ellora's Cave, but it appears that's been delayed. I have no idea what their excuse is going to be.

Yup, things can get pretty frustrating sometimes.