I keep a fairly close eye on publishing news and the news over the past few weeks has been disturbing, especially from writers I know and have reviewed, like Brian Keene, but to find out that Brian is broke until his new projects are launched is stunning, even shocking news. It's not his fault. He isn't one to spend his hard earned money on drinking and drugs, but to his publishing contract with Dorchester (Leisure). Color me shocked. I missed that one and I shouldn't have.
It wasn't that much of a surprise when Dorchester dropped their mass market publishing and went directly into e-books and Print on Demand (POD), but what they did to their backlist writers was unconscionable. That news came directly from Publishers Weekly, a very reliable source; it also came directly from Brian Keene and he details the incidents in the blog on his web site. Until now, writers moving to publishing their own e-books and POD books was just the tip of the iceberg of discontent between authors and Big Publishing, but this goes beyond the pale. This is what happens when a company ties up all the rights to an author's works, mismanages the money and, when their company goes under, they grab the first support they can find to stay alive -- authors' rights and their backlist.
When Dorchester contacted their authors and told them the company was going into bankruptcy, most of the authors chose to take their rights and backlist in lieu of payment. What they didn't know what Dorchester planned next, to publish their backlists as ebooks. That's called "take the money and run" and Dorchster has been avoiding paying the writers or returning their rights to shore up their bottom line.
Brain Keene and at least one hundred other authors have banded together to boycott Dorchester. I have never published with Dorchester, but this could be a sign of things to come. Authors should stick together and this is one way I can support Brian Keene and his fellow writers. It's time to send a message to publishing that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
Sign up to boycott Dorchester, let authors considering signing with Dorchester know what's going on, show them how to tell a Dorchster (Leisure) book and spread the word. We have the words; it's time to use them.
There are things wrong with Big Publishing and they need to be fixed, but screwing over the authors is not the way to do it. Many self-published authors want to work with the publishing establishment because authors want the best possible backing for their work and the publishing establishment needs authors, not one-off celebrities whose books are ghostwritten, in order to stay in business. We need to find an equitable working relationship for all concerned so that authors and publishing can capitalize on their strengths and not just feed off each other. It's time for the mainstream publishers to take a good look at where they are and where they're going and realize that it's not a good idea to upset the people who make them necessary. Don't poke the lion in the cage; the door might not be locked.