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

Friday Midday Links: Dorchester reportedly selling books it doesn’t own

Briane Keene wrote a blog post yesterday highlighting some disturbing news about Dorchester.   Brian Keene requested that his rights be reverted to him in exchange for a write off of the debt (royalties) that Dorchester owed him.

I negotiated a deal with Dorchester that allowed for: 1. The immediate reversion of all of my print rights, and 2. The reversion of all of my digital rights as of 11:59pm 12/31/10.

This means that only Brian, not Dorchester, would have the right to distribute and sell those books going forward.   However, Dorchester appears not to have been abiding by this agreement, but instead putting Keene’s books up for sale on digital retailing sites.

Except that it wasn't, because since then, Dorchester has repeatedly violated that agreement. Since January of this year, unauthorized digital editions of my work have been sold via Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Sony. These digital editions were not made available for sale until well after the rights had reverted back to me. Dorchester's response, in each case, has been to blame someone else and assure me that "they are looking into it" and that I would be "financially compensated" and that "it wouldn't happen again". Except that I haven't been financially compensated and it keeps happening again. In the most recent case (iBooks), Dorchester blamed their vendor, Libre Digital, but provided no documentation verifying this. An employee at Apple cast doubt on this explanation. In the case of Kindle, they blamed Amazon.com. Again, an employee at Amazon cast doubt on this. The ebooks were sold under the Dorchester brand. They were sold even though Dorchester does not have the rights to them. And it is Dorchester, rather than their vendors or booksellers, who are ultimately responsible. I have been patient. I have been understanding. The first time, I allowed that it could indeed be a mistake. Four times later? It is no longer a "mistake". It is theft, or at the very least, staggering incompetence. And as of this writing, I have not seen financial restitution for these unauthorized sales, nor have I received a valid explanation of how they occurred, nor have I heard what steps the company will take to prevent it from happening again.

Brian doesn’t have the means to sue Dorchester for this action and frankly even if he did, I doubt Dorchester would even pay the judgment.   Dorchester’s response to Brian has been evasive and then silent.   Dorchester’s response to fans has been to disable comments on their facebook page.   Brian is calling for a boycott of Dorchester books.

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Jessica Verday has a follow up to the debacle with Running Press and the editor of Wicked Pretty Things, Trisha Telep.   Even though Running Press invited Verday to resubmit her m/m short for inclusion in the anthology, Verday has declined because she doesn’t feel comfortable supporting any royalties going to Trisha Telep for this project.   Telep, if you recall, stated this in response to Verday’s going public about Telep’s request to make the m/m story into a m/f story.

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The good news is that Connie Brockway is finally going to be publishing Giles Strand’s romance story.   The bad news, for some readers, is that this will be digital only.   Brockway announced the news via the All About Romance blog that she was taking the self publishing route.   Brockway left the historical field to write a couple of contemporaries and then returned with at least one historical from Signet.   The current contractual terms offered made it easy for Brockway to decide to self publish.   Hopefully a return to her romance origins will revitalize the career of a favorite of many romance readers.

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Paul Biba from Teleread posted his notes from #pubtip (a mini conference) which was really just a conversation between Michael Healy (currently the registrar for the registry created by the now rejected google book settlement) and Carolyn Reidy, the CEO of Simon & Schuster.   I thought Reidy’s comments were interesting because she believes that the focus on publishers should be proving themselves to authors, not really developing relationships with consumers.

Biggest challenge is for publishers to prove they have a value to authors, not to become a B to C business. Have always been a B to C business – they always did this but now they are more directly involved.

Other notes include that S&S doesn’t sell to libraries because there they “haven't found a business model that they are happy with” and sales for books are half digital in the early selling periods.

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

15 Comments

  1. Gwen Hayes
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 12:02:00

    In regards to Reidy’s comment, I would argue that publishers are not really a B to C–they tend to be B to B. As in–their consumers are retailers not the end user.

    But I agree. With all of the changes happening, I think the publishers who expend effort to foster an author friendly atmosphere will be glad they did so.

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  2. Brian
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 12:33:08

    “The bad news, for some readers, is that this will be digital only.”

    Seems like a strange decision. I’m personally all digital all the time, but I’d think an author would want to reach as much of her audience as possible. Why not offer the book as a POD through Create Space or Lightning Source or someone. Especially since print is still the larger market and there would be no xxxx number of books print run investment.

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  3. Jia
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 12:37:01

    Lesley Livingston, Karen Mahoney and Lisa Mantchev have also pulled their stories from the Wicked Pretty Things anthology.

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  4. Karenmc
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 14:44:39

    Brian, you might go to Connie Brockway’s website and suggest POD. In her announcement she said the most recent contract offer convinced her to go the ebook route (take a read if you have a few minutes) and she also “will be part of collaboration from Avon out in 2012.” Simply put, the money wasn’t good, and the ebook terms weren’t either, so she’s going it alone. I’m thrilled that there are sequels on the way for some of her best historicals (which her publisher refused to consider), no matter the format.

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  5. Brian
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 14:53:31

    @Karenmc, I just had a look and it appears there is plenty of POD talk over there already. Whatever route she goes I hope it’s successful it just seems to me that the second option of POD (even though the books might/would be a bit expensive) would be a great option for readers with little risk on the authors part.

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  6. DS
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 15:24:06

    POD doesn’t look as bad with publishers pushing Trade Paperback.

    ReplyReply

  7. Brian
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 16:12:28

    True enough, and the POD books I have are of better quality than a lot of TPB’s I have.

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  8. Ceilidh
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 17:04:02

    On the Telep anthology front, the author pull out count is now 6 (Verday, Lesley Livingston, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, Brenna Yovanoff and Seannan Macguire) and Ann Aguirre has pulled out of a separate anthology edited by Telep. I can’t see this anthology going ahead any longer to be honest.

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  9. Deb Kinnard
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 19:44:22

    I read Verday’s blog post. My total reaction was “meh.” If we don’t like the constraints any publisher puts on what we write, how long the book is, what themes we can and cannot expect to put out there — so what? Move on and look for a publisher that meshes better with what you write. The comments were all “bravo for taking a stand.” I suspect some Political Correctness enters in here…how many authors have said “no” to publisher-requested changes of their work and received criticism for it, rather than praise? I write in a rather circumscribed market and to me, Verday’s kerfuffle doesn’t seem all that important.

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  10. Amy
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 01:56:39

    Could someone list a few of the oft discussed romance authors on DA who publishes via Dorchester?

    ReplyReply

  11. FiaQ
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 09:00:02

    The Telep/Verday thing – I really can see how Telep slipped up. All anthologies she edited so far are romance anthologies including The Mammoth of Vampire Romance, The Mammoth of Regency Romance, The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance, The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, etc. as well as Brave New Love: 13 Dystopian Tales of Desire, Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love, Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances, etc.

    As far as I can remember from reading these anthologies, none features a LGBT story. And as far as I can see, no author – including those whose stories were published in those anthologies (almost 200 authors so far), no reviewer or no reader has ever mentioned lack of LGBT stories. Nor did they complain about it.

    So it’s easy to imagine that Telep had assumed readers, authors and her publisher expected Wicked Pretty Things to be like previous anthologies as well.

    I’m rather sad to see that some still continue to “punish” her even after she took full responsibility, acknowledged she was in the wrong and that her comment was bigoted (according to what she says on her Twitter account). She was clearly willing to righten the situation by accepting Verday’s story, but authors are still pulling out. What point are they trying to prove now?

    While her first response was awkwardly flippant, it’s dead easy to see she was deeply embarrassed and remorseful. Her attempt at humour is pure David Brent. In spite of this, she did take full responsibility, she did acknowledge she cocked up, she did acknowledge it was bigoted, and she did acknowledge the fault lies with her and her alone.

    How many editors had done this? I have seen many editors, who made similar cock-ups, back-pedalled so fast that they ended up in Antarctica. This while blaming it on everyone but themselves.

    Self-righteousness isn’t the way to “teach” her and us all what’s the right way. It’d only make people less willing to try, in case a mob would attack some for not being that enlightened.

    I should disclose that Telep and I generally don’t get on, but in this case I feel she’s being used as a battering post for some to prove “See, I am totally against anti-gay discriminaaaaation! Bring on more m/m!” It’s not about her or LGBT (or rather, m/m) any more, but about improving their cred to the public.

    I feel that way because in ideal world, Telep wouldn’t view LGBT as “alternative sexuality” or that – I’m guessing – she thought it should be included in a LGBT-specific anthology, which led her to make that initial rejection.

    In reality, she isn’t the only one who thought Romance equals heterosexual love stories. RWA, anyone? How many of these authors who protested against this are still members of the RWA that still resists accepting and recognising LGBT romances under the Romance umbrella?

    I do applause both sides – yes, I’m including Telep by owning up to her mistake as well as articulating her understanding what she did wrong and that she did equal Romance with heterosexual love stories – but please apply it to those who *still refuse* to acknowledge what they are doing is wrong. It’d also be nice if they apply same energy and reaction to other forms of discrimination including racism, sexism and more.

    That’s my two cents overspent. Cheers.

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  12. jones
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 19:53:28

  13. Olklnply
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 23:18:07

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    ReplyReply

  14. Hyyancyy
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 22:58:37

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  15. Tasha
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 20:43:42

    I know this is an old thread, but I wasn’t sure when/if y’all are planning an update.

    Dorchester has lost Chris Keesler (I think he was their last editor), is apparently down to 5 staff, their trade paperback line is in serious trouble, and they’ve been removed from SWFA’s list of qualifying markets for membership. Definitely circling the drain.

    ReplyReply

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