Heeding the Warning Signals in ePublishing
In light of the recent occurrences at NCP in which the publisher took a partial from an author and inserted it into an anthology without her permission and allowed others to finish the story for her, again without her permission, I wondered what impact that had on readers.
Whenever I hear of a publishing fiasco, I am torn in two. Half of me feels terrible for the authors in the situation that they are in and the other half feels frustrated with the authors. Now, I think the situation that Somers finds herself in right now is fairly unique. Unless the contract specifies that a work is shall not to be used without the permission of the author unless it is for the specified contracted purpose (i.e., novella, inclusion in a specific anthology, or full length work), the contract term may be vague enough that NCP could do with it what they want. It might have taken alot of foresight to have avoided that nightmare.
I heard from one source that NCP sales have actually increased for some authors since news of its issues have come to the forefront. Is it possible that the increase could be attributed to positive coverage at Romantic Times where NCP followed a popular epublishing trend and brought cover models? Is it possible that the contretemps between the authors and the publishers have actually increased visibility in a positive way?
The NCP incidents as well as others, such as Chippewa/Lady Abell and even Ellora’s Cave to some extent, make me anxious about providing those companies with my credit card information. Generally speaking, I will not buy direct from any epublisher unless I have to other than Samhain and Loose ID. But I have purchased ebooks released by epublishers from places like Fictionwise and Books on Board and occassionally, Allromanceebooks.
I feel for authors who run into trouble with publishers, who have been taken in by them, who have lost out on royalties that are owed and so forth, but what responsibility, if any, do I have as a reader to not purchase from a particular publishing house? Alternatively, if I continue to buy books from a publishing I know doesn’t treat its authors well, aren’t I enabling those houses to continue to mistreat authors?
In struggling with this issue, I considered that it is not the responsibility of readers to police publishers. If there is a publisher whose actions offend a reader, she is perfectly within her right to not buy from that publisher and tell others about her decision in a pubic way. However, a reader should not feel guilty about a purchase she makes at a troubled publishing house. For me, it’s easy to say that I won’t buy another book from New Concepts Publishing but that’s because I haven’t bought a book from NCP in years. It would be much harder for me to make that cut from Loose ID who is putting out a much anticipated fourth book in the Adrien English series by Josh Lanyon. I just don’t know how long my principles would be able to withstand the temptation. (maybe all of a day).
But I also think part of my frustration with the epublishing industry is with the authors themselves. Blogs often publish warning signs about authors but frequently those warning posts will come with authors from that house chastising the blogger for spreading false and malicious rumors. Authors often ignore the warning signs, both before submitting and after. I was reading AbsoluteWrite Forum’s Bewares and Background Check the other day and I consistently marvel at the authors and wannabe authors who constantly oppose the good warnings that are doled out by those with experience.
Other authors, it seems, would give anything ANYTHING to say that they are a published author.
If you didn’t read the comments during the last NCP thread, there are attorneys out there in the US (even for those who live outside the US) who will read and review a contract for $250-$1000.00. This is a service that authors should use and if they don’t . . . I think you can fill in the rest of that sentence. I do feel badly for these authors who go to a publishing house and are treated badly and I am happy to provide a service here to alert others but I wish that authors would heed these warnings more so we would have less of them and I wouldn’t have to struggle about where and from whom I should buy my books.