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Thread: [Publisher] Simon & Schuster

  1. #1
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Requiescat In Pace Popeyesays's Avatar
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    [Publisher] Simon & Schuster

    This from Rob Preece's blogsite:
    "There's a lot of talk about Simon and Schuster's new book contract. Pretty much they're demanding the book for the full length of copyright. Until now, rights have normally reverted to the author after the book goes out of print. Of course the definition of 'out of print' has become a bit tricky and S&S apparently decided to push for their own definition. I don't have an easy answer for this since I am a true believer that ePublishing is publishing. What I do is make it easy for authors to reclaim their rights. That way, if they get a better offer (better than BooksForABuck.com???) they can sever our relatonship quickly and cheaply. I don't think S&S would agree to that kind of language. What do you guys think? Is there a 'right' answer here, or is this another one of those gray areas."

    Is it true that S&S is demanding the full term of the copyright now? Where do they get off? If it's true, I hope it puts them out of business.

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    Scott
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  2. #2
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Here's what the Authors Guild has:

    http://www.authorsguild.org/news/simon_schuster_ll.htm

    Text of e-mail to Guild Members, May 18, 2007:

    A quick update on Simon & Schuster's rights grab: S&S has fallen back some, now saying they'll negotiate regarding the reversion of rights clause "on a book-by-book basis." They also accuse us of an "overreaction." Their official statement follows.

    Agents are angered by Simon & Schuster's gambit, according to this piece in Publishers Weekly.

    Here are links to other stories that have run:

    1. AP (via Herald Tribune)
    2. New York Times
    3. Publishers Weekly (the other PW story on S&S)

    We'll keep you posted on further developments. Have a good weekend.

    Feel free to forward and post this message in its entirety. The Authors Guild (www.authorsguild.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of published book authors.

    ************************************************** ***********
    Simon & Schuster's official reaction, from Adam Rothberg, VP for Corporate Communications:

    We are surprised at the overreaction of the Authors Guild to Simon & Schuster’s contract. We believe that our contract appropriately addresses the improved technology, increased availability, and higher quality of print on demand books, and reflects the fact that print on demand titles may now be readily purchased by consumers at both online and brick and mortar stores. We are embracing print on demand technology as an unprecedented opportunity for authors and publishers to keep their books alive and available and selling in the marketplace in a way that may not have been previously possible for many authors, and are confident in the long term it that will be a benefit for all concerned. We would also like the author and agent community to know that, when necessary, we have always had good faith negotiations on the subject of reversions, and will continue to on a book-by-book basis.

  3. #3
    Requiescat In Pace Requiescat In Pace
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    SFWA Supports Authors Guild

    SFWA's President-Elect has told me that SFWA will officially be supporting the Author's Guild stand on S&S's refusal to revert publishing rights.

    -Ann C. Crispin

  4. #4
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post


    Simon & Schuster's official reaction: "...We believe that our contract appropriately addresses the improved technology, increased availability, and higher quality of print on demand books, and reflects the fact that print on demand titles may now be readily purchased by consumers at both online and brick and mortar stores. We are embracing print on demand technology..."
    This doesn't address the real issue, which is not the technology used for printing, but the minimum annual sales clause, which they've apparently deleted.

  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I posted about this yesterday at Writer Beware's blog, and also put up an Alert at the Writer Beware website.

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth View Post
    This doesn't address the real issue, which is not the technology used for printing, but the minimum annual sales clause, which they've apparently deleted.
    Minimum annual sales (or royalties) language is not standard in publishing contracts--it's not typically part of the boilerplate. However, publishers have been willing to add it in negotiation. As I understand it, what's changed isn't S&S's contract, but its negotiation tactics.

    - Victoria

  7. #7
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    Minimum annual sales (or royalties) language is not standard in publishing contracts--it's not typically part of the boilerplate. However, publishers have been willing to add it in negotiation. As I understand it, what's changed isn't S&S's contract, but its negotiation tactics.

    - Victoria

    What should a good out of print or minimum sales clause look like?

  8. #8
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    P&E likewise agrees with the Author's Guild.

  9. #9
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth View Post
    What should a good out of print or minimum sales clause look like?
    See my blog post link above--I quote the minimum sales clause from my own contract.

    - Victoria

  10. #10
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Jaws has both commentary and another example: http://scrivenerserror.blogspot.com/.../in-print.html
    ICAO
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW
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    S&S New Vanity Press - Archway Publishing

    I didn't see a thread started on this, my twitter feed is on fire.

    Simon & Schuster have launched a "self-publishing" imprint that charges outrageous amounts of money.
    http://www.archwaypublishing.com/Default.aspx

    A blog item on it from the NYT: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...shing-service/

    This is not good.
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  12. #12
    Just visiting Samsonet's Avatar
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    I'm a newbie here, but shouldn't this go in the Bewares and Background Checks forum?

  13. #13
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    *transporter f/x*

    Also, merged with general S&S thread. May break it back out at future point.
    ICAO
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW
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    Thanks for the direction! I haven't had personal dealings with them, obviously, so I didn't think of this section.
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    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZoeYork View Post
    I didn't see a thread started on this, my twitter feed is on fire.

    Simon & Schuster have launched a "self-publishing" imprint that charges outrageous amounts of money.
    http://www.archwaypublishing.com/Default.aspx

    A blog item on it from the NYT: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...shing-service/

    This is not good.
    Sheesh, Zoe's not kidding. These price ranges are really absurd.

    Weren't we discussing how this would become the wave of the future in 'pro' publishing not that long ago? I seem to recall it being part of the Harleho discussion...
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    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZoeYork View Post
    Simon & Schuster have launched a "self-publishing" imprint that charges outrageous amounts of money.
    http://www.archwaypublishing.com/Default.aspx

    A blog item on it from the NYT: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...shing-service/

    This is not good.
    S&S's new venture is outsourced to Author Solutions Inc. If it's anything like the other pay-to-play units ASI has set up for major publishers, it will be a separate division, run separately out of ASI's Indiana offices, with no overlap of functions or staff (despite the hype, which is designed to suggest that using these divisions will improve authors' chances of getting a traditional deal).

    Blogging about it tomorrow.

    - Victoria

  17. #17
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Oh, good. I await your blog with interest. When I stumbled across the PW entry I was first a little startled. But S&S, like many big publishers, has seen the light for self-publishing. This development was inevitable.

    It's like the California Gold Rush in the 19th Century: a few people got wealthy digging up gold, but many more people made substantial livings off the people digging up the gold.

    S&S can hold out the carrot of 'possible notice' for breakout hits, rake in fees from Author Solutions, and give itself a nice financial cushion through the apparently endless supply of new authors. Author Solutions gets money. A few authors will sell well, but most may probably never see more than 100 copies sold - and those, to friends and relatives.

    Oh, and we're the bad guys killing people's dreams.

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  18. #18
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    The fees are mind-boggling.

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  19. #19
    is Envy Augustine amrose's Avatar
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    Wow. Wow on those package prices.
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  20. #20
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    I don't have enough information to speculate about this, but if you held a gun to my head, I'd guess that the program was ASI's idea, but S&S had some input on the prices.

    I'm looking through the specific services offered. It's unbelievably ugly. This is from the fiction section on "Editorial Assessment":

    The Archway Publishing Editorial Assessment examines a portion of your work (typically the first chapter or about 1,700 words) and provides you with a specific sample edit. This edit includes changes you can make to improve your book as well as a general overview of your manuscript with constructive comments for improvement. To be clear, this is not a full manuscript edit and should not replace the rest of Archway Publishing’s editorial services.

    The typical time frame for the Editorial Assessment is two to three weeks. After that time, your editor will provide suggestions for areas of improvement and tell you about other Archway Publishing editorial services. It is up to you to decide if you would like to purchase those services from Archway Publishing. If you choose to work with Archway Publishing for the rest of your editorial needs, your manuscript will receive the utmost attention from one of our professional editors, who will address the issues raised in the assessment and help you make your book the best it can be.

    Catch that? Those already inflated costs don't include editing, copyediting, and proofreading, which are labor-intensive stages, and quite expensive to have done by freelancers.

    This next bit is from the Elite/Concierge option on exterior cover design for fiction:

    • You’ll have access to an expanded library of stock images
    • Your Archway Publishing cover designer will conduct creative research on genre-specific cover trends to determine which design will maximize your book's impact in the marketplace
    • Your designer will propose three front cover concepts that reflect the feel of your book
    • Once you choose your favorite concept, you and your designer will confirm the details about the design elements.

    OMG, they're using stock art on fiction.

    If you do "creative research on genre-specific cover trends," the main thing you're going to learn is that real publishers very rarely use unmodified stock art on fiction.

    "Genre-specific cover trends" is ridiculously unspecific when you're packaging a book. Functional book packages are uniquely tailored to that book. ASI is going to crank out shallow genre cliches. That will be especially hard on quirky books that are hard to describe.

    Marketing books and designing book covers are not unrelated specialties, but hoo boy are they ever not the same specialty. Deciding what kind of cover? That's marketing. Turning that into an attractive and appropriate cover? That's cover design.

    I've known a few people who can do both. They're experienced industry pros. Maybe they're the kind of cover designers ASI is hiring. But I wouldn't bet the rent on it.

    I can't keep looking at this site. It makes me want to Hulk out and rant.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 11-28-2012 at 03:46 AM.
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  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    I don't have enough information to speculate about this, but if you held a gun to my head, I'd guess that the program was ASI's idea, but S&S had some input on the prices.
    I'd doubt S&S had a gun pointed to their head when it agreed to this deal with ASI, and I don't think Reidy considers S&S a victim, whatever about the unfortunate authors who plum for this bummer.

    ASI has been courting the big six for several years and they will see this as a very big feather in their cap following previous deals with Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House.

  22. #22
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Not for nothin', but it makes me shake my head to see so many people describing ASI-style publishing services as "vanity presses." Not that this isn't an accurate description. But not so long ago--back in the old PK (pre-Kindle) days, when ASI-style services were the only form of self-publishing--I can remember being pilloried by self-pub enthusiasts for describing them as vanity publishers.

    There's this whole hierarchical thing going on now in the self-pub community, where the free services (which encumber rights and make authors dependent on their hosts' Terms of Use just as much as the ASI-style services do) are "real" self-publishing, but if you pay it's vanity publishing. Go figure.

    - Victoria

  23. #23
    If you don't try, you can't fail AnneGlynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    There's this whole hierarchical thing going on now in the self-pub community, where the free services (which encumber rights and make authors dependent on their hosts' Terms of Use just as much as the ASI-style services do) are "real" self-publishing, but if you pay it's vanity publishing. Go figure.

    - Victoria
    My view is, if an author publishes their own work, it's self-publishing. "Real" self-publishing requires the author to act as their publisher and perform a publisher's duties in regards to their work.

    If an author pays another company to publish their work, this is not self-publishing. If the author pays inflated fees to this other company (S&S asks from $1,999 to $14,999), and this other company is willing to publish anyone, regardless of their marketability or writing talents, I'm comfortable calling this "vanity publishing".
    Anne

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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    There's this whole hierarchical thing going on now in the self-pub community, where the free services (which encumber rights and make authors dependent on their hosts' Terms of Use just as much as the ASI-style services do) are "real" self-publishing, but if you pay it's vanity publishing. Go figure.
    I've given up trying to make sense of the logic. Ironically, it seems to be about money now, whether you are a publisher or author. Publishers are happy to jump into bed with a publishing service provider so long as there is a revenue stream, and yet some authors want to self-publish for little or no investment.

    It's the same reason why HarperCollins are happy to promote CreateSpace on Authonomy, but will never jump into bed with them.

    ASI approach authors and publishers the same way - we have a ready made package out-of-the-box for you.
    Last edited by MickRooney; 11-28-2012 at 06:44 AM.

  25. #25
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneGlynn View Post
    My view is, if an author publishes their own work, it's self-publishing. "Real" self-publishing requires the author to act as their publisher and perform a publisher's duties in regards to their work.

    If an author pays another company to publish their work, this is not self-publishing. If the author pays inflated fees to this other company (S&S asks from $1,999 to $14,999), and this other company is willing to publish anyone, regardless of their marketability or writing talents, I'm comfortable calling this "vanity publishing".
    How would you class CreateSpace, Lulu, KDP, Smashwords, etc., which don't charge fees? These services too will publish anyone. And though the author isn't paying, s/he also isn't acting as his or her own publisher--s/he is using a service with defined Terms of Use and service limits, is dependent on the service provider's distribution network, and is absolutely subject to discretion of the service provider, which reserves the right to terminate his or her account at will.

    I struggle with all this terminology and with the definitions, and with how loaded some of these terms are.

    Maybe, these days, a "true" self-publisher is one who employs a variety of different strategies, and services, to reach different audiences--whether or not he or she chooses to pay.

    - Victoria

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