Monday, November 19, 2012

Publishers Going Under...Again

I've been reading the commentary on Silver Publishing's (SP) troubles and waiting to post my thoughts. I don't write for SP or have any friends that do. I've seen their books, however, and am always curious about publishing houses I don't belong to. Apparently, SP has been having problems paying their authors. Some question as to the quality of their work has been raised, and the typical good author/bad author bandying has gone back and forth.

One of their editors speaks out.
An author happy with SP comments,
as does an author not so happy with them.

So read the links, then follow along here. I've for the most part been lucky to be with stellar publishing houses. I've also been with one that went under (RIP Venus Press), and one I can't believe is still in business. There's nothing quite so horrifying as poor communication, no pay, and crappy-to-no edits from a publisher, which results in a low quality book which results in unhappy readers. 

Now to see Silver Publishing and their authors going through the same problems so many others have faced, it's sad. I recall when one of my old publishers went--to use the vernacular--bat-shit crazy. The owner cussed out authors for not wanting to renew contracts. Authors' real names were outed on the company website. And in at least one case, the publisher wrote a book using an author's name it had no right to use, since the author didn't write the story. (Not mine, thank God.) Whoa, Nelly! All that spelled trouble. Yet a solid group of authors stood by the nutty place and threatened to blacklist authors who merely questioned nonsensical behavior. 

"We're a family." "Tough times come and go, we'll be okay." "It'll get better." These statements were made years ago by authors loyal to that nutty publishing house. And SP's loyal authors are saying the same things about SP today. 

Hey, authors are allowed to stand by whomever they want. If they prefer to work for no pay for their families, God love 'em and wish them well. But for anyone new to getting published, for anyone considering signing a contract and wondering what the smart, professional thing to do in this situation? Get out. Fast. Hurry. Run. Get your rights back and take off if you're lucky enough to have them returned. Things don't get better. You can't borrow from Peter to pay Paul. That kind of thinking perpetuates debt into bankruptcy.

I don't know the full details of SP's issues. I only know the hell I went through with the crazy house I was with. I never named names, and I don't poke a stick at a buzzing hive. (Yes, authors are STILL, currently, having issues with this publisher.) After continued letters, the threat of legal action, and certified notices, I finally got out from under that place. I know what it's like to want to stick by someone who liked your story enough to publish it. How it feels to want to be loyal and dwell in that family togetherness.

But let's call that what it is--utter bullshit. Because business isn't cozy, and it's not "family." That's a happy ideal, but it's not professional. You work, you get paid. Period. No questions.  When rights revert back to an author over time, it's not disloyal to move elsewhere. Writers often forget that that this is a business, probably because we put a lot of ourselves into our creations, so it feels personal. 

I feel really bad for the authors hurt by their publishing house folding. I sincerely wish them the best, but holding on and working for free for months, holding benefits, raising money to help out your publisher, who isn't paying you, makes no kind of fiscal sense I can fathom. Hey, I'm no accountant, but I can guaran-damn-tee you that if I don't pay my CPA, she's not going to sit by and work for nothing until I can pay her, borrowing off my current work to resolve past debt--yet all the while still not getting paid what's owed her.

The best thing the publisher of SP can do is take out a loan, pay all those owed, then circle the wagons and find out how the hell to fix the current mess without taking anyone else down with him. My two cents, for what it's worth. And if you're a smart person, don't submit to any publishing house having obvious financial troubles until they straighten out their messes...unless you want to work for free.

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