Monday, March 18, 2013

To be Fair...

Once again I point to John Scalzi's blog for a recap of what has happened at Random House as a result of the brouhaha over their new e-imprint line that contained what I personally considered an unethical contract. I want to say in all fairness that they seem to realize that they stumbled and stumbled badly, and now are addressing this stumble. Sclazi does a nice analysis of this new contract, and if you read further in his blog he comments on why he considers a no-advance contract problematic. Read further.

I can't speak for anyone else, but it's hard not to view this as a legitimate publisher who tried to cash in on their pretty damn respected legacy (I would be doing handsprings if I had a contract with them), using their name to establish a vanity press. And the masses have spoken and they have spoken back.

There were a couple of things that stood out for me during this, oh, let's call it an event. First of all, I do not have a contract with Random House, nor have I ever had any dealings with Random House. And yet when they announced their amended policies regarding the new e-imprint, I got an email from them announcing said amended policies. Interesting. Clearly someone did Google searches. Because let's face it. I'm obscure with a capital "O." How many people read this blog? Ten?

Second, although all the other major writing organizations in the country, Science Fiction Writers of America and Romance Writers of America to name two, commented publically in very strong language that this wasn't acceptable, I didn't see any comment from Mystery Writers of America. None.


Friday, March 8, 2013

And the Drama Continues

I must thank John Scalzi for his wonderful posts and links to the current drama that is roiling Random House and it's attempts to capitalize on the self-publishing juggernaut. Except. Hmmm. Plain and simple, what Random House is proposing is, basically, that old-fashioned model for a vanity press.

Anyway, in response to Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA)'s rejection of Random House's (RH) current publishing "model," Random House has actually answered Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) rejection of this model and SFWA has answered back. I certainly hope that MWA (Mystery Writers of America) has a similar point of view regarding RH's new imprint Alibi, because really, we need to stop this nonsense in its tracks.

I think that SFWA's letter states the crux of the issue quite nicely. I have NO problem with businesses that set themselves up as a self-publishing house. In this era, they are often the only portal for an author these days who twenty years would have been snapped up by a publisher without a second thought. But what RH is promoting isn't self-publishing. It's nothing short of being a vanity press and trading on its previously quite valued name as a publisher of note.

Way to tarnish your brand, dudes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Signal Boost on Publishing Fail

It seems that after viewing e-publishing with a disdainful, leery eye that the mainstream publishers are finally realizing that like amazon, they mean to tap into the self-publishing cash cow. Random House has recently come out with three new e-imprints. Hydra for their sf/f line, Alibi for their mystery line, and Flirt for their "new adult" line, which I assume mean soft-core porn with words.

There are two excellent articles written by others that should pretty much give you a head's up on why considering this imprint is a bad idea. John Scalzi rips apart the Alibi contract in his recent column A Contract with Alibi. This is essentially a mini-primer on contract language and is worth reading just to understand what all that legal gobbledygook means. Also worth reading is Victoria Strauss's blog in the Writer Beware blog on the same subject, Second-Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House's Hydra Imprint. Pass these links along to other writers because this seems fairly evil to me, and the more people know about it, the better.

Now that I've completely scotched any chance of having a Random House publishing deal any time soon, I'd like to just say that I really don't understand why they are going to such lengths to alienate writers. Yes, the market is horrible. Yes, people can't get contracts. Yes, self-publishing is a last resort. But it's also a really easy resort. Seriously? Anyone with marginal computer savvy can put together a book in like, oh, twenty minutes from any of the more reputable self-publishing book companies out there. Amazon has entered into this venture with a vengeance (when do they do anything half-assed?) with their CreateSpace arm, and both Lulu and BookBaby can also set you up nicely. I think that BookBaby seems to have better covers the last time I checked out their site, but all of them offer professional services in terms of design, marketing, etc., for a price. So why would you go with Random House that strips you of all of your rights versus something like Bookbaby where you retain all your rights?

I guess they think that people are that desperate.