Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Yaoi/Manga Publishing Issues: Iris Print and Tokyo Pop

I received two publisher alerts and want to share them with the community. One relates to a Yaoi publisher closing shop and the second is Tokyo Pop’s Manga Pilot draconian contract.

Iris Print:

Iris Print is a Yaoi publisher who apparently closed up shop and failed to tell its authors. Giapet.Net first reported this on May 17:

Something I didn’t mention in my Yaoi Press report was that Yamila Abraham, when asked about publishing yaoi novels as well as comics, said that it tends not to work very well, and pointed to Iris Print as an example- saying that the company has actually closed up shop.

Emails to the owner of Iris Print have seemingly gone unanswered. From an Iris Print author:

Well isn’t that swell? Iris Print closes up shop and doesn’t bother to tell the creators they have under contract. Nice. So what about our books? What about our titles? :/ I don’t know what to say about this, except that I’m truly disappointed. I’m beyond pissed; I wonder though, where is Amazon getting their re-stock if Iris is out of business? What about all those people who paid pre-orders for Queer Magic? It would’ve been nice to know if she was filing for bankruptcy.

Another author hasn’t had her first quarter 2008 sales report even though she’s written 3 times now.

I can’t get through to my publisher. I haven’t heard anything about my first quarter 2008 sales, so I’ve written 3 times now. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Not even a “I got your email, am working on it, please be patient.’ Not even bounce messages, so I can only assume my email is getting through and being ignored, or that something very awful has happened to my publisher. I can’t express how frustrating that is. Seriously, any response is better than silence. Even “eff off and die, you annoying author b***h’ would be an improvement. “Nuff said for now, but there may be more on this topic if things don’t improve. -Rebecca Day

Doesn’t sound good. A non responsive publisher is not a good sign.

Toyko Pop

Tokyo Pop has a Manga Pilot Program wherein an aspiring author or an established author can create a 24-to-36 “pilot” of a manga to convince Tokyo Pop that it is worth continuing into a full fledged manga. The contract for the program has the comic world up in arms over this. Some of the terms are draconian and some of them seem very standard to me (i.e., the indemnification clause). What is unusual is that you sign over your rights to the Manga Pilot for a flat fee (no royalties) and only get your rights back if TP rejects you.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

20 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    May 30, 2008 @ 23:02:26

    Kellie at Iris Print did this before, in January:
    http://www.boyslovebooks.com/blog/whatever-happened-iris-print

    And she received a lot of support and patience, even though she acted quite unprofessionally all around (and, warning, warning, she had her *husband* send out explanatory emails.) Apparently she had funded all her business expenses on her credit cards and was maxxed out, but couldn’t bring herself to talk to anyone, explain things, ask for help or any of it.

    I thought back then she had zip chance of making this work with her head in the sand attitude, and I guess I was right, though I’m very sorry to be. ‘A strong and sudden thaw’ by R W Day is one of the best m/m books I’ve ever read, and had Iris Print marketed it half way intelligently, as Blind Eye did with ‘Wicked Gentlemen’, it would have been a real winner for them.

    I just hope all the authors and artists get their rights back soon. I’m not hopeful though. Just such a damn shame.

  2. gia
    May 30, 2008 @ 23:12:47

    …you sign over your rights to the Manga Pilot for a flat fee…and only get your rights back if TP rejects you.

    That’s not entirely true. The rights revert back to the author after the 1-year exclusive period is up, except that TP does get to keep publishing your *pilot*. But you can continue using the characters and stuff and market elsewhere after that period, and you also can reject TP as easily as they can reject you after that year.

    Not that I’m defending the contract, mind…I wouldn’t sign it.

  3. (Jān)
    May 31, 2008 @ 00:38:00

    What gets me is the tone with which it’s written, and the style, obviously aimed at young kids who are eager to break into the manga publishing world and who probably don’t know much about contracts. They’re trying to foster an illusion of trust, like they’re trustworthy mentors, when it’s just a cut and dry business. This paragraph really annoys me:

    “MORAL RIGHTS” AND YOUR CREDIT
    “Moral rights” is a fancy term (the French thought it up) that basically has to do with having your name attached to your creation (your credit!) and the right to approve or disapprove certain changes to your creation. Of course, we want you to get credit for your creation, and we want to work with you in case there are changes, but we want to do so under the terms in this pact instead of under fancy French idea. So, in order for us to adapt the Manga Pilot for different media, and to determine how we should include your credit in tough situations, you agree to give up any “moral rights” you might have.

    French people should collectively tell TokyoPop to fuck off. And seriously, so should the kids interested in being published. I’ve not heard one author come forward with a positive experience writing for Tokyopop. (Guess I won’t be getting manga from them LOL).

  4. Janine
    May 31, 2008 @ 10:03:53

    ‘A strong and sudden thaw' by R W Day is one of the best m/m books I've ever read, and had Iris Print marketed it half way intelligently, as Blind Eye did with ‘Wicked Gentlemen', it would have been a real winner for them.

    I have A Strong and Sudden Thaw TBR. I ordered it after we discussed M/M books in the commments for my review of Wicked Gentlemen. The book was sent to me pretty promptly and I also saw here on their site (which I found through Ginn Hale’s website) that Iris Books has an anthology coming out at the end of June called Queer Magic. Queer Magic has a Ginn Hale story, and since I loved Wicked Gentlemen so much, I was thinking of ordering it.

    Now I’m not sure if I should order it, and I’m also not sure if I should review A Strong and Sudden Thaw. I haven’t read it yet, but if it turns out to be great this will be a real dilemma. On the one hand, I hate for readers to miss out on a great book, and I also hate to penalize the author, but on the other hand, well, I don’t want to reward a publisher that isn’t paying its authors or even communicating with them with extra sales. What to do, what to do?

  5. (Jān)
    May 31, 2008 @ 10:11:50

    I have A Strong and Sudden Thaw on my TBR too Janine. I think it’s worth reviewing, if only because it lets people know of a strong (I’m assuming, since all my friends recommend it) new author out there. The review can always mention the dilemma and let the readers decide for themselves.

  6. Janine
    May 31, 2008 @ 16:32:30

    I have A Strong and Sudden Thaw on my TBR too Janine. I think it's worth reviewing, if only because it lets people know of a strong (I'm assuming, since all my friends recommend it) new author out there. The review can always mention the dilemma and let the readers decide for themselves.

    Good points. I probably will review it when I get to reading it (which could be a while, given the rate at which the TBR pile mushrooms).

  7. DS
    May 31, 2008 @ 19:13:55

    A Strong and Sudden Thaw is available in a Kindle edition. I have the sample and was thinking about ordering the download but now I’m not sure because I don’t want the author to lose the royalty.

  8. Becky Day
    May 31, 2008 @ 22:29:12

    I appreciate the impulse not to review – I was considering asking people not to buy Thaw until I’d heard from the publisher, but last week I did receive an email from Kellie, have now got a royalty statement with promise of a check to follow. I think I’m likely to get it, so those of you who are thinking about reviewing, please do!

    As to what Kellie said about the future of Iris – she’s planning to shut down and will be making an official announcement, supposedly this week. Obviously, I have a lot of questions I asked her if she wanted me to keep quiet about it and she didn’t answer, so I’m assuming it’s okay for me to tell you all.

  9. Ann Somerville
    May 31, 2008 @ 22:39:08

    Becky, I sincerely hope you get out with your rights and royalties. As I’ve told you before, ‘Thaw’ is an extraordinary book, and it deserves a much bigger audience. You’re incredibly talented, so I hope you’ll move onto to a publisher with a more secure financial position, and reissue. I’m so sorry you were caught in this mess.

  10. Tina Anderson
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 09:15:11

    @Becky My rep still has heard nothing from her, and she’s sent three emails. There’s no excuse for this when it comes to me–back in January she expressed disappointment in having to deal with my contentious nature as a creator and said this was partly why she didn’t contact me until the last minute. After that I secured a representative to deal exclusively with Ms. Lynch so that she wouldn’t have to pull this silent nonsense again, and she would have no excuse in not being punctual with my statements. Now here she is–giving my rep the silent treatment and my rep has been nothing but polite to her in every email. I’m very angry over all this because I feel like I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t; and anything I say here in regard to this nonsense is going to be considered inflammatory and will reflect poorly on me as a creator. :(

    Pushing that aside, I do have something to say on ‘the notion’ I see reflected in some comments here, that somehow Iris Print was doomed from the start. That’s a very invalid statement.

    GloBL [Global BL] is profitable, just because you may not like ‘western yaoi art styles’ doesn’t mean there’s no money in it: Yaoi Press is doing fine and before Dramaqueen had investor issues with their Japanese releases, their GloBL RUSH anthology was a financial success. :)

    I guess it’s easy to harp in as an armchair observer and say that Iris suffered from poor publication choices, but how can someone make that assessment if they’ve never read the books? I’ve seen a touch of that going around lately–those quick to criticize Iris for releasing ‘sh*t-manga’, while willfully ignoring the fact that Iris has some of the best reviewed manga in GloBL [not ego on my part, the proof is in the reviews online and off]. I think only the anthology When Worlds Collide, was Iris Prints weakest title, but you can’t judge a publishers catalogue solely on one book. :)

    Anyway, thank you Dear Author for bringing awareness to this, and Beck I’m glad things are resolved for you.

  11. Janine
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 09:49:51

    I appreciate the impulse not to review – I was considering asking people not to buy Thaw until I'd heard from the publisher, but last week I did receive an email from Kellie, have now got a royalty statement with promise of a check to follow. I think I'm likely to get it, so those of you who are thinking about reviewing, please do!

    Will do, though as I said, it may take a while.

  12. Emmy
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 11:21:33

    I enjoyed A Strong and Sudden Thaw. I was looking forward to Queer Magic until Iris authors started complaining that it was edited by an underage high school student. How weird is that?

  13. (Jān)
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 12:07:25

    Tina said:

    Pushing that aside, I do have something to say on ‘the notion' I see reflected in some comments here, that somehow Iris Print was doomed from the start. That's a very invalid statement.

    GloBL [Global BL] is profitable, just because you may not like ‘western yaoi art styles' doesn't mean there's no money in it: Yaoi Press is doing fine and before Dramaqueen had investor issues with their Japanese releases, their GloBL RUSH anthology was a financial success. :)

    Consider me confused. Tina, I don’t see anyone saying or even implying that Iris was doomed because it’s a global BL venture. All of us here like global BL. One person said Iris was doomed because of Kellie’s “head in the sand” attitude, and that seems to have turned out to be the truth.

    I’m pretty sure that all the commenters on this thread like Western written BL. I like both Western and Japanese. They’re so very different they satisfy different sides of me. (Japanese BL light novels are like pieces of candy. Western BL novels are like a meal.)

    But I don’t even see anyone even mentioning Western yaoi art styles or Iris’s manga (but hey to give it a mention, I bought RUSH and even subscribed, and hope to see more of it).

    Emmy said:

    …edited by an underage high school student.

    As far as I know it’s still not illegal for any minor to read textual sexual material unless the material is deemed obscene by a court in the jurisdiction where that minor lives, so underaged doesn’t really come into the problem for me.

    However, having a high school student edit a professionally published work is, well, completely unprofessional and I’m not sure I’d want to read the results.

  14. Tina Anderson
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 13:50:54

    Consider me confused. Tina, I don't see anyone saying or even implying that Iris was doomed because it's a global BL venture. All of us here like global BL. One person said Iris was doomed because of Kellie's “head in the sand” attitude, and that seems to have turned out to be the truth.

    Sorry for that, the comment about the ‘head in the sand’ came from someone who did take a prior slam at titles released by Iris Print, but not in this thread; my apologies. Backing out gracefully at this point, I’ve a plane to catch. :)

  15. Ann Somerville
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 14:41:16

    the comment about the ‘head in the sand' came from someone who did take a prior slam at titles released by Iris Print

    Well, Tina, that was because I was sent some of Iris Print’s manga items for review and they were just dreadful. I sent them to a reviewer who *adores* manga and she found them either boring, or in one case, stomach turning. Now that’s just one person, and tastes vary, but since this person spends a very large amount of money on manga and probably represents a typical consumer of this kind of thing, I think that’s worrying. Me, I don’t like manga because I can’t get into the story telling method but I don’t have a problem with its existence. But when someone summarises the story line of a Iris Print manga and says it literally made her retch, and I have a similar reaction to the summary, then you can’t blame me for not having a high opinion of the product.

    We were sent several items by Iris Print to review, and to be absolutely frank, only ‘Thaw’ was superior. A small press needs more than one superior product to be successful.

    Now, I’m sure you’ll snap back and tell me how popular etc those manga were, and I’m sure that’s the truth. But I can only speak from my own experience, and I was.

  16. Becky Day
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 19:57:22

    Ann and Emmy, thank you!

    Janine, I understand completely – my own ‘to be read’ pile is massive. If I had to write reviews in addition to just reading, it would take years.

    Tina, I wouldn’t say things are resolved – just that I’m reasonably confident that I’m eventually going to get some royalties from copies of Thaw that might sell as a consequence of any reviews. ‘Resolved’ implies that I know what’s happening with the unsold copies and most importantly, with my rights, and I don’t at this time. There’s no excuse for the way Kellie has treated you. It’s unprofessional and counterproductive in the sense that a poor author/publisher relationship does nothing to sell books. Her personal feelings towards you don’t excuse her from good business practices (and simple politeness).

    I don’t think Iris was doomed because of poor publication choices, but I suspect they weren’t adequately capitalized. Most new businesses aren’t, and I get the sense that when things started to go south, Kellie did that avoidance thing people do when the bill collectors start to call. That never works.

  17. Jane
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 20:22:47

    Becky Day – thanks for giving us an update and reassuring your readers. Hopefully you’ll get your rights back and be able to republish at another house.

  18. How to Survive as a Small Yaoi Publisher Part 2 | Yaoi 911
    Jun 10, 2008 @ 13:45:06

    [...] badly (the recent hullaballoos re: Tokyopop comes to mind, but we can certainly find bloggers expressing concern for the actions of yaoi publishers as well.) I notice that you recently went through heroic [...]

  19. Update on Iris Print: Now with Bounced Royalty Checks | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 13:29:31

    [...] blogged a couple of weeks ago about Iris Print and the speculations that it was closing its doors. One of the more prominent [...]

  20. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Creators call for Iris boycott
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 17:08:09

    [...] into serious financial difficulties earlier this year. For a while now, several creators have been complaining that owner Kellie Lynch was not only not paying them the royalties she owed them, she wasn’t [...]

%d bloggers like this: