GalleyCat had an interesting article regarding a contretemps involving author Michael Cisco and his publisher Prime Books. Prime Books is a small print publisher of science fiction,fantasy and horror fiction. Cisco complained that he hadn’t received any royalties from his last book. He determined from watching the traffic on Amazon that he must have sold at least 500 books through Amazon. He also spoke with other Prime authors and they, too, had received delays in payments and at least one author was waiting for money she was owed on original cover art. He asserted that Prime wasn’t following through on marketing commitments and promotion.
Prime executive editor, when contacted by GalleyCat, acknowledged that they need to improve communications with their authors but that his non payment of royalties was accurate. Galley Cat noted that Cisco’s estimate of books sold was “grossly inflated.”
GalleyCat noted that Cisco’s comments sounded “bitter rather than older-but-wiser.”
Given the debacles of epress and small print publishing that we have seen in the romance community, the failure to pay royalties, the lack of communication by a publisher, the failure to follow through on promises to promote and/or market a book are often warning signs. The article notes that Prime isn’t suffering anything different than any other small print publisher and that may very well be true, but it doesn’t mean that is how it should be or that authors should keep their mouths shut about it.
Warnings from authors like Cisco might lead another author to work harder at his or her craft than simply settle for a publisher who isn’t transparent, fails to communicate with its authors, and doesn’t fulfill its promises.