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Anaquana
09-11-2011, 11:36 PM
A friend linked to this on Twitter.

Kiana Davenport (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html) is claiming that her Big 6 publisher "went ballistic" when they found out that she had self-published a collection of short stories after she had signed a contract with them for a completely unrelated novel.


So, here is what the publisher demanded. That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms. Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS. Currently, that's about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?) Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback. In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer, in a state of acquiescence and, consequently, utter self-loathing.

Not knowing what exactly her contract says makes it difficult to say whether what the publisher demanded was correct or not. Anyone else care to share their insights?

BenPanced
09-11-2011, 11:43 PM
Yeah. Hard to say without knowing both sides.

Bubastes
09-11-2011, 11:44 PM
It depends on what her contract says.

Cyia
09-11-2011, 11:46 PM
If the publisher contracted for her debut novel, then she put out another before the contracted book hit the shelves, she's, in effect, diluted her own debut status. They're banking on her having a clean slate for sales, but if she puts out a self-pubbed book and it tanks, as most self-pubs do, then that clean slate is trashed.

Polenth
09-11-2011, 11:51 PM
If the publisher contracted for her debut novel, then she put out another before the contracted book hit the shelves, she's, in effect, diluted her own debut status. They're banking on her having a clean slate for sales, but if she puts out a self-pubbed book and it tanks, as most self-pubs do, then that clean slate is trashed.

She's not a debut author though. It'd be odd if the publisher didn't know that.

Parametric
09-12-2011, 12:32 AM
They want the advance back? :eek:

areteus
09-12-2011, 12:38 AM
Many people don't mention self pub credits in queries as they rarely help. Also, note that the story says that they released the self pub collection after the contract was signed so this would not be mentioned in any query letter before the offer was made.

To me it sounds like they would not have minded any self pubbed stuff before they signed the contract (legally there is nothing they can do about it) but I suspect this is about controlling the image and output of the author now that they are signed to them. No good if an author releases a badly formatted piece and therefore potentially besmirches their rep as a writer while the publishers are busy building up a publicity machine that hypes them as the next Jane Austen (or feel free to insert another appropriate author here...).

It would be interesting to see how this pans out... personally, in that situation, I would happily roll over and put the short story collection release on hold regardless of contractual agreements. The novel deal with the publisher is likely to be worth more than the self pubbed collection so no sense in queering that deal, plus there is nothing to say that the collection of shorts can't either be submitted to the same publisher for publication later or self pubbed in the future.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 12:52 AM
They want the advance back? :eek:

If they're canceling due to breach of contract, they have a right to ask for the advance back. And since advances aren't paid in single chunks, she isn't paying back $20,000--just whatever's already been sent to her.


Once you get through the dramatic and emotional language of the post, it sounds like she broke the Competitive Works clause (which will vary depending on the language), or the Right of First Refusal clause by publishing the second collection after signing. And since this is only one side of the story, we don't know exactly what happened.

Agents exist so these types of things don't happen, so I admit I'm curious where her agent was when she was self-publishing the second collection.

Bubastes
09-12-2011, 01:02 AM
She's not a debut author though. It'd be odd if the publisher didn't know that.

Correct. She's not a debut author. I did find this letter from her to JA Konrath from back in March, which might shed more light on things:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/depression-and-writers.html

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 01:30 AM
So here's what I picked up when reading through her whole post.

1. The stories in the collections had already been published in anthologies or zines:

Most of the stories in both collections had each been published several times before, first in Story Magazine, then again in The O'HENRY AWARDS PRIZE STORIES anthologies, the PUSHCART PRIZE stories anthologies, and THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, 2000, anthology.
Bolding mine. So it's not like her work had 'never seen the light of day' - most of those stories had already been published. Some of them more than once. This wasn't good enough, apparently, and she wanted an anthology of all her works.

Is it normal to consider a story that's been published several times as 'rejected' and 'in the backlog'? Because... you know... they've all been published. Some of them more than once. I'd count that as a success, personally. I dunno, maybe she didn't get paid for the other times they were published and that's why she wanted to get some money out of the anthology.

2.
In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer, in a state of acquiescence and, consequently, utter self-loathing.
I don't see how a ban on self-pubbing translates to "muzzling" - she's obviously had some success previously in getting her short stories published, and I doubt her publisher will prevent her from carrying on with that. Right? I mean, they can't stop her subbing shorts to other paying markets and nor are they trying. Or have I got this wrong? Does a novel-publisher usually frown upon their humble writers making pennies by subbing short stories to cent-per-word zines? Are they that mean and territorial?

3. She thinks that her self-pubbed work on Amazon won't injure sales of her pro-pubbed novel b/c the subject matter is different and doesn't resemble her novel.
Since CANNIBAL NIGHTS in no way 'resembles' or would 'injure' sales of the book I had sold them (an entirely different subject matter) ... although it would mean that anyone searching Amazon for her novel would also find her self-pubbed anthologies with their rather unprofessional looking (no offence) covers. Maybe the stories inside are good and would earn her a few fans who might wait for the novel. Or maybe they're not that good and would put people off. Or maybe they'd give people a completely wrong idea of what subject/genre her novel will be in, so that they expect one thing and then get put off when the novel is something completely different.

Regardless. It'll show up on an Amazon search for her name.

So I don't know what to make of this. But I do know that this author threw away a publishing deal with a major publisher for the sake of keeping an anthology of already-published short stories up on Amazon. I really can't fathom why anyone would do that. This author seems to think big pubs are the devil and epubs are the shiney new heroes of the writing world:

I understood then that I, like every writer in the business, was being coerced into giving up more than 75% of the profits from electronic sales of that novel, for the life of the novel. But I was debt-ridden and needed upfront money that an advance would provide.
I dunno. Traditional publishing is beneath her, maybe? I doubt she'll make $20,000 dollars on her self-pubbed anthology. But you lie in the bed you make, I suppose.

Cyia
09-12-2011, 01:38 AM
I doubt she'll make $20,000 dollars on her self-pubbed anthology. But you lie in the bed you make, I suppose.

Depends on how many lookie-loos she gets from people who have been tweeted her story. It wouldn't surprise me if Konrath doesn't mention it again on his blog, too, which could mean an uptick in sales to "show" her former publisher that they can't beat the deal she'll get with self-publishing.

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 01:47 AM
Depends on how many lookie-loos she gets from people who have been tweeted her story. It wouldn't surprise me if Konrath doesn't mention it again on his blog, too, which could mean an uptick in sales to "show" her former publisher that they can't beat the deal she'll get with self-publishing.
Well CANNIBAL NIGHTS is $3.45, so she needs to sell 5800 copies to make back the portion of the advance that was paid. Doable?

virtue_summer
09-12-2011, 02:00 AM
Yeah, I'm not feeling all that sorry for her. She talks about publishers and editors like they're evil incarnate, talks about how she thinks print is dead, and then complains because her print deal with a publisher is in trouble? In the letter to Konrath, especially, she says she signed this deal out of desperation, wanting the money, then got annoyed it would take a year before the book was published (shouldn't she have known that beforehand, since she'd been published before?) and that she wouldn't get all the money at once (again, shouldn't she have expected this?).

Anyway, she ends up pretty clear that she doesn't believe in print, thinks the "digital revolution" is where it's at, wants to publish her own books and basically just seems annoyed that the print publisher wants their money back when they think she's breached her contract. Personally, I'm not sure she hasn't, but I'd leave lawyers and, you know, people who've actually read it to figure that out. Either way she sounds like a nightmare to work with.

IceCreamEmpress
09-12-2011, 02:05 AM
Writer accused of breaching contract for doing something which may or may not be a breach of contract? Somehow, I find this not the shocking outrage she seems to want me to.

Seriously, checking with her agent and/or her attorney first would have been wise. Before you sign a contract, you should know what it permits and doesn't permit.

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 02:08 AM
Either way she sounds like a nightmare to work with.
I'm thinking the "nightmare to work with" aspect is probably what caused the publisher to cancel the contract. Whether or not she actually breached the contract, it sounds as if she threw her toys out of the proverbial pram a little bit there.

juniper
09-12-2011, 04:28 AM
If they're canceling due to breach of contract, they have a right to ask for the advance back. And since advances aren't paid in single chunks, she isn't paying back $20,000--just whatever's already been sent to her.


On her blog she says: "and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me as part of their advance."

So the 20k was just part of the advance, the part they'd already paid? The whole advance was more?

And Konrath, commenting on her letter to him, calls that shameful? "Kiana's latest advance for her upcoming novel is a shame. And though she says her self-pubbed ebook collection is selling well, her current rank is so-so."

Even if 20k was the whole advance, that doesn't sound so bad to me ... but I'm not a full-time, writing-only-writer. So relying on that to feed your family and pay your bills, yeah, I guess that would be tough.

Probably why most writers have other jobs, too, or some other means of support.

Cyia
09-12-2011, 04:30 AM
If she's being paid in quarters, as she says, and was paid $20K up-front, then her advance was $80K (unless it's a multi-book deal).

Al Stevens
09-12-2011, 04:40 AM
Last week, I received from their lawyers an official letter terminating my contract with them, "...for permitting Amazon to publish CANNIBAL NIGHTS, etc...." and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me as part of their advance. Until then, this publishing giant is holding my novel as hostage, a work that took me five years to write. My agent assures me I am now an 'anathema' to them.

I must have missed something. If the publisher terminated the contract in writing, how can they retain rights to the novel? Surely she didn't send them the only copy.

Since she does not identify the publisher, her agent, or the title of the work in question (which of course, she shouldn't), the cynic in me makes me wonder whether this is a fabricated grab for publicity to promote her e-books.

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 04:47 AM
Something does not smell right about this. I'd like to have a lot more information.

ghost
09-12-2011, 04:51 AM
I must have missed something. If the publisher terminated the contract in writing, how can they retain rights to the novel? Surely she didn't send them the only copy.

Since she does not identify the publisher, her agent, or the title of the work in question (which of course, she shouldn't), the cynic in me makes me wonder whether this is a fabricated grab for publicity to promote her e-books.

It's probably part of the termination clause. Until she returns the advance, the book still belongs to them. So if she keeps the money, they keep the book.

Diana_Rajchel
09-12-2011, 04:54 AM
I used to think that finding a publisher meant that the publisher would then have a right to all the books that I produced. I also was very naive back then, and digital wasn't even a concept at the time. Do publishers every ask for rights to other works, or demand control over release of other material? Is that something a professional writer would allow?

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 05:13 AM
Do publishers every ask for rights to other works, or demand control over release of other material? Is that something a professional writer would allow?

The answers would be no, no, and no.

Depending on the option clause, the publisher might have the right of first refusal on your next work but -- you should write that option as narrowly as possible if your agent can't get it removed entirely.

Thus, rather than "next work," the option should be "next young adult mystery set in Chicago featuring detective Robert Fintuckel." That protects the publisher in case your Fintuckel mysteries take off, so you can't jump to another publisher to continue the series after they've done all the work of promoting and marketing the brand, while at the same time protecting your ability to make a living by writing and selling other works.

I've just gotten done putting my entire backlist of short stories up in ebook form, without a peep from my Big-Six publisher(s), even though I have several books under contract and forthcoming with them. Something is distinctly odd in the story we're hearing.

Bubastes
09-12-2011, 05:18 AM
Since she does not identify the publisher, her agent, or the title of the work in question (which of course, she shouldn't), the cynic in me makes me wonder whether this is a fabricated grab for publicity to promote her e-books.

She is represented by Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, and it appears the book is The Last Tattoo (the title might have changed since then) to be published by Riverhead/Penguin:
http://www.zshliterary.com/?id=13
http://www.shewrites.com/profile/kianadavenport

Her three novels were published by three different houses. I don't know if that means anything.


Kiana Davenport is the author of three novels about Hawaii, House of Many Gods (Random House), Song of the Exile (Ballantine), and Shark Dialogues (Atheneum), and the recipient of several Pushcart and O'Henry prizes. She is currently working on her upcoming novel about the Civil War, The Last Tattoo.

Al Stevens
09-12-2011, 05:34 AM
Do publishers every ask for rights to other works, or demand control over release of other material?No demands. Everything is negotiable. My contracts had a first right of refusal on next book irrespective of subject, which I always X'd out. They didn't mind.

Alitriona
09-12-2011, 05:44 AM
Wow, I can find it in me as a struggling writer to feel sorry for someone who would claim to be 'coerced' in signing a contract for apparently 80 grand from a big six. Really? As a struggling writer, I would chomp a bite out of the editors hand for that.

I imagine the publisher wasn't happy about her berating their meager advance on Konrath's blog. At the end of the day even if the publisher isn't named now, when the book would have come out everyone would know who she is complaining about. It's not professional behaviour and in my opinion is deliberately or non deliberately damaging to the publishers reputation to suggest the deal they offered would be potential factor in her ending her life.

This lady's issues seem to extend a lot further than a cancelled contract and I honestly hope she gets the help she needs. I don't think this is a clear and simple case of a broken contract with a big meany publisher over a short story collection and I hardly think we have anything near the full picture.

Al Stevens
09-12-2011, 05:46 AM
It's probably part of the termination clause. Until she returns the advance, the book still belongs to them. So if she keeps the money, they keep the book.

Very interesting. My termination clauses never said that. I'd like to see that termination clause.

Suppose she keeps the advance and they "keep" the book. What do they do with it? The contract only grants a publishing license, not a copyright. They terminate the contract, so there is no contract, so there is no license. And she still has the copyright.

So, suppose the termination clause does not actually terminate the license one way or another. What do they do with it? Publish the book? With her name as author? What if it earns out its advance?

I'm not arguing with anyone here, or don't mean to be. I just wonder how it works.

Old Hack
09-12-2011, 10:28 AM
This story smells very wrong to me. There's a lot we're not being told here, I'll bet.

This is not how publishers work.

Al, if the contract is terminated then part of that would probably be conditional on the writer returning the advances paid so far. It's possible that the author concerned has already spent that advance, and so is going to struggle to pay it back promptly. Until then, that book will be in limbo: the publishers won't want it, but it won't be hers to resell.

DeadlyAccurate
09-12-2011, 10:33 AM
I would guess they shove it in the metaphorical drawer. "You can't publish it, and we're not going to."

gothicangel
09-12-2011, 10:55 AM
Wow, I can find it in me as a struggling writer to feel sorry for someone who would claim to be 'coerced' in signing a contract for apparently 80 grand from a big six. Really? As a struggling writer, I would chomp a bite out of the editors hand for that.



Never mind $80,000, if I was offered an advance of $20,000 I would be dancing around the kitchen! :)

areteus
09-12-2011, 12:48 PM
Me too... as I said above, take the money, let them publish the book and hold off on the self publishing for later. Maybe learn a lesson to be more careful about contract clauses next time.

If she thinks that self and ebook publishing are on the rise then she may be right, however this is not the time to risk all on them.

eqb
09-12-2011, 12:58 PM
This story smells very wrong to me. There's a lot we're not being told here, I'll bet.

I agree. I think we're only getting part of the story.

And for the record, I have contracts with two different Big Six publishers, and neither one complained when I self-published my collection. In fact, both editors thought it was just spiffy and made for good promotion.

shaldna
09-12-2011, 01:21 PM
A friend linked to this on Twitter.

Kiana Davenport (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html) is claiming that her Big 6 publisher "went ballistic" when they found out that she had self-published a collection of short stories after she had signed a contract with them for a completely unrelated novel.



Not knowing what exactly her contract says makes it difficult to say whether what the publisher demanded was correct or not. Anyone else care to share their insights?

Sounds like she has a 'non compete' clause in her contract which she broke.

Katrina S. Forest
09-12-2011, 03:13 PM
Maybe the author has been wronged in some way here, but if she has, I can't tell through all the hyperbole. Especially when she talks about signing a contract with a five-figure advance for her novel as if someone was torturing her.

When the Cooks Source story broke, Monica Gaudio simply repeated exactly what was exchanged between her and the magazine and that showed who was in the wrong right away. She didn't need to build it up, it spoke for itself.

I too would like to know all the facts in this situation.

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 03:22 PM
Wow, I can find it in me as a struggling writer to feel sorry for someone who would claim to be 'coerced' in signing a contract for apparently 80 grand from a big six. Really? As a struggling writer, I would chomp a bite out of the editors hand for that.
Yeah... this is what it is to me, too. I'm finding it really difficult to sympathise with this author because she's complaining about a pretty sweet deal, as far as I can see. I mean, $80,000 isn't exactly a fortune - but at least she has a publisher (a Big Six pub, no less) willing to publish and promote her novel, and a tidy little advance and an agent repping her works. Some writers struggle for years and never get any of these things. She had all of them, and she basically turned her nose up at the pro-publishing deal so she could keep self-epubbing anthologies of her previously already published short stories.

I mean, she's not even self-publishing anything new. If she believes in e-pubbing so much, why didn't she e-pub the novel instead of subbing it to pro-publishing houses?

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2011, 03:42 PM
I don't think she'll be holding any bake sales soon.

It sounds more like a hissy fit on her part than anything else. This isn't her first time on the bus, she's been under contract before.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Based on what I've read so far I'm not feeling too sorry for her.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 05:06 PM
Her three novels were published by three different houses. I don't know if that means anything.

It could mean quite a few things.

1. Her agent was incapable of negotiating multiple-book deals for his client. Or similarly, editors were unwilling to offer for multiple books.

2. The books didn't sell well enough for editors to justify exercising their option clause, so new books had to go elsewhere.

3. The author was too difficult to work with and they chose to not buy more of her books.

Or, you know, a lot of other reasons. But these were the first that jumped to mind. ;)

timewaster
09-12-2011, 05:15 PM
Well, I wouldn't self pub anything under my main pen name
unless:
it was a book which originally sold under that name and had reverted,
I did so with the full knowledge of the publisher who has sold my work under that name.
This is because:
Times are hard and you don't want to wreck a relationship with your publisher who will have invested in your name.( For well established authors who have always sold to a variety of publishers this is less of a problem.)
Works published under that name have been professionally edited, type set, illustrated, designed etc I don't want to dilute my own brand by putting out something less professional.
The great thing about self pub is you can publish books that don't fit with your usual output, why not take the opportunity to reinvent yourself?
I appreciate that mileage will vary but it does depend not just on the contract but on the relationship you have with your publisher. If they are putting out a book priced at £7.99 and you are selling one at £.99 - you can see why they might be irritated.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 05:45 PM
I've been scanning through some of the comments on the author's blog post, and she's said several times that she wrote her post to warn other authors about not protecting themselves in writing (although she used all caps). It sounds like she knows she was in the wrong and did, in fact, breach her contract (even if she did it without realizing).

Alas, in this country, when you sign your name to a legal document you make yourself responsible for the content, even if you don't read it in its entirety.

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 06:12 PM
Possibilities:

1) Author was having so much fun e-publishing her backlist that she blew her deadlines.

Or:

2) In two months we're going to hear that she's taken a matching advance--a better one!-- from Amazon to publish with them, just like Barry "Author Turns Down Half-Million Dollar Advance to Self-Publish" Eisler.

Old Hack
09-12-2011, 06:23 PM
The more I read about this, the more I realise how little the story holds together.

I might even blog about it. And yes, I think Jim might be right.

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2011, 06:27 PM
Possibilities:

1) Author was having so much fun e-publishing her backlist that she blew her deadlines.

Or:

2) In two months we're going to hear that she's taken a matching advance--a better one!-- from Amazon to publish with them, just like Barry "Author Turns Down Half-Million Dollar Advance to Self-Publish" Eisler.

I tend to be very suspicious of anyone blowing the big self-publishing horn these days.

I'm sure she'll be the poster girl for self-pubbing until the entire story comes out...
... and then she'll stay the poster girl because no one will believe the truth because Publishers Are Evil.

:(

Toothpaste
09-12-2011, 06:40 PM
2) In two months we're going to hear that she's taken a matching advance--a better one!-- from Amazon to publish with them, just like Barry "Author Turns Down Half-Million Dollar Advance to Self-Publish" Eisler.

Slight digression, but when this happened, why wasn't it a bigger deal? I remember being just stunned and also kind of smug that the poster boy for turning down a massive advance to self publish simply inked a new deal with a publisher instead for the same figure. After all of the dialogues they posted online on the evils of having a publisher (and posts entitled such lovely things as "Are You Dense", both he and Konrath signed deals with a publisher.

Was it because it was Amazon and so people felt it didn't count? Was it because people want to believe so badly that publishing is dead and self-publishing is the new king?

What happened that it was considered no big deal, and the hypocrisy was never truly discussed? And that further, they still remain the poster boys despite it all?

Terie
09-12-2011, 06:41 PM
I've been scanning through some of the comments on the author's blog post, and she's said several times that she wrote her post to warn other authors about not protecting themselves in writing (although she used all caps). It sounds like she knows she was in the wrong and did, in fact, breach her contract (even if she did it without realizing).

The thing is, in my (albeit few but in at least one case significant) brushes with contract law, things don't usually start at, 'You're in breach, your contract is cancelled; give us back what you've been paid to date.' They usually start at, 'You're in breach of your contract, stop what you're doing and let's sort this out.'

That's why I think there's lots more here we don't know about.


Alas, in this country, when you sign your name to a legal document you make yourself responsible for the content, even if you don't read it in its entirety.

Not sure 'alas' is the right sentiment. I think it's a good thing that folks must abide by their contracted agreements. I feel bad for people (such as PA's customers) who get stuck with a bad contract because they don't understand, but I would hate to have to deal with legal matters if it was easy to simply walk away from a contract when you changed your mind!

Cyia
09-12-2011, 06:42 PM
Was it because it was Amazon and so didn't count?

It was this exactly. I'm not sure about Eisler, but Konrath's gone into detail about why he doesn't consider Amazon among those he labels "legacy publishers".

Margarita Skies
09-12-2011, 06:46 PM
I've been rendered speechless.

Toothpaste
09-12-2011, 06:47 PM
Yes, I believe his reasoning is faster turnaround and the ability to self publish on the side.

Well aside from this strange thread, I know of no publisher that doesn't allow for the latter (so long, as we've discussed, there isn't a conflict of interest). And there are plenty of ebook publishers that have fast turnarounds. Or do those count too?

I think Konrath is brilliant at creating the rules and then saying, "No no, what I really meant was this . . ." It's his game. He will do whatever makes him look like the self publishing guru and gets him more sales. And I'm so friggin' tired of all these people admiring and uplifting him thinking that they too are playing the game, not realising they are just pieces in his.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 06:48 PM
The thing is, in my (albeit few but in at least one case significant) brushes with contract law, things don't usually start at, 'You're in breach, your contract is cancelled; give us back what you've been paid to date.' They usually start at, 'You're in breach of your contract, stop what you're doing and let's sort this out.'

That's why I think there's lots more here we don't know about.

From the post it sounds as if there was some amount of back and forth about fixing it (that whole remove all hits from Google portion). But I definitely agree that there is a lot we don't know and a lot that isn't being said in public about this situation. And I'm taking the author's version of events with a teaspoon of salt.




Not sure 'alas' is the right sentiment. I think it's a good thing that folks must abide by their contracted agreements. I feel bad for people (such as PA's customers) who get stuck with a bad contract because they don't understand, but I would hate to have to deal with legal matters if it was easy to simply walk away from a contract when you changed your mind!

Alas may have been the wrong word (and probably required an emoticon to express my internal eye-roll at the author, who seems to think she was given a raw deal, even though she signed on the dotted line without anyone holding a gun to her head).

But yes, it is a good thing contracts are enforced. Very much agreed.

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 06:53 PM
Amazon is willing to pay premium amounts to get exclusive-to-the-Kindle content.

They aren't doing it for the readers, and they aren't doing it for the authors. They're doing it to kill the competition, to drive the Nook and the iBook out of business, leaving them with a monopoly. That's worth a lot of money to them.

aruna
09-12-2011, 06:56 PM
. And I'm so friggin' tired of all these people admiring and uplifting him thinking that they too are playing the game, not realising they are just pieces in his.


Been skimming over the comments to his blog post; torrents of applaus. The first critical comment is at 10.21 AM.

Toothpaste
09-12-2011, 06:56 PM
Amazon is willing to pay premium amounts to get exclusive-to-the-Kindle content.

They aren't doing it for the readers, and they aren't doing it for the authors. They're doing it to kill the competition, to drive the Nook and the iBook out of business, leaving them with a monopoly. That's worth a lot of money to them.

Indeed.

Which is why I go further batty when the self-publishing mob get all uppity about the Big Six controlling everything. Aren't they aware that their worship of Amazon will invariably lead to a Big One? One is a wee bit worse than Six in my mind . . .

Anne Lyle
09-12-2011, 06:57 PM
I admit I found it more than a little bizarre - the publishers surely wouldn't have grounds to cancel her contract unless she'd actually done something wrong. I agree that the collections do look a bit amateurish - and why didn't she talk to her agent about her other projects? She's paying him/her to help manage her career, not just vet contracts and do some admin work on royalties. Except that if she's so hell-bent on self-pub, she probably doesn't think that way...

My own publishers put out many novel series, and one of their authors has just published a novella set between books 1 and 2 of his trilogy - with another publisher. Everyone seems to be fine with this, because his novel publishers don't do novellas - I assume that, as long as the finished product is of a professional standard, it's a win-win situation for everyone. The small press gets an author with a built-in audience, the bigger publisher has fans of the series being kept happy between novel releases.

Cyia
09-12-2011, 07:00 PM
Indeed.

Which is why I go further batty when the self-publishing mob get all uppity about the Big Six controlling everything. Aren't they aware that their worship of Amazon will invariably lead to a Big One? One is a wee bit worse than Six in my mind . . .

Exactly the point I've tried to make a few times. This is not a new business model, it's what created the mega-fortunes of just about anyone with "baron" attached to the end of their unofficial title from the early 20th century.

The path to monopoly is paved with low prices and high return - until the competition goes under. Once competition stops, then the prices go up and the return diminishes because at that point, there's no one left to turn to as an alternative. There's nothing saying that Amazon has to maintain their current 70% profit margin for authors.

Toothpaste
09-12-2011, 07:09 PM
Exactly.

Stacia Kane
09-12-2011, 07:10 PM
1. A huge, huge YES to those pointing out the whole Amazon/monopoly thing. I'm really not sure why the fact that Amazon is a corporation working for its own gain--and despite the 70% it's not like Amazon is/has always been the most author-friendly place in the world; geez, guys, remember how Amazon didn't used to let people buy used copies of books right there on the same page as the new copies?

2. Also dittoing thos who believe there's more to this than is being said. Personally, I wouldn't self-pub anything w/o checking at least with my agent first. I checked with him before I (well, before Uncle Jim) put together BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET for Lulu, and before I put it on Kindle/Creatspace et al.

I wrote a very short Downside story for Halloween last year and pubbed it for free on Smashwords as a gift for readers; I asked my agent and editor first. I sold two Downside shorts, one to the HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION anthology and one to HeroesandHeartbreakers.com; I checked with my agent and editor before I submitted either to them.* I had an idea to do a novella to self-pub; I asked my editor about it and she said actually, RH would like to publish that, so now they're going to. Why in the world would you not check with these people? It takes a minute to write an email, you know?

(*I also let them know when the stories sold and when they'd be released, because hey, that's more publicity for the series and that's something they should know about, right?)

I'm not saying the author is automatically in the wrong here, just that I agree with the others that something seems fishy indeed.

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 07:11 PM
From the post it sounds as if there was some amount of back and forth about fixing it (that whole remove all hits from Google portion).


That remove all hits from Google thing is insane. I don't think that any major publisher is that unaware of how Google works. And, incidentally, there aren't any 600,000 hits on her name + the book title. There are around 4,100 hits.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 07:14 PM
That remove all hits from Google thing is insane. I don't think that any major publisher is that unaware of how Google works. And, incidentally, there aren't any 600,000 hits on her name + the book title. There are around 4,100 hits.

Which is why it's hard to believe that's what the publisher actually asked for. Something so completely nuts makes me doubt the accuracy of a lot of the author's version of events.

Barbara R.
09-12-2011, 07:16 PM
I've just gotten done putting my entire backlist of short stories up in ebook form, without a peep from my Big-Six publisher(s), even though I have several books under contract and forthcoming with them. Something is distinctly odd in the story we're hearing.

I agree that there are missing elements to this story, and obviously it's very one-sided. But something else you said caught my eye. You've just done an ebook of shorts. I'm planning to do ebooks of some backlist titles whose rights have reverted to me, and at the moment I am drowning in information. There are so many new companies out there offering services for self-publishers. Would you be willing to share your conclusions, since I assume you went through what I'm going through? In my case, as a preliminary step I'd need the books scanned and converted to digital files, since I have no electronic copies of the edited books. Doable; there are companies that do that. But then what? Smashwords? iuniverse? DIY? Shoot myself in the head?

Thanks.

Al Stevens
09-12-2011, 07:26 PM
DIY for Kindle and Nook. Smashwords for the others. (Today, that is.)

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 07:31 PM
Would you be willing to share your conclusions, since I assume you went through what I'm going through?

Yes, but this isn't the thread to do it in.

I've written a bit about it elsewhere:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012985.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013069.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013149.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013136.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013176.html

Stacia Kane
09-12-2011, 07:37 PM
That remove all hits from Google thing is insane. I don't think that any major publisher is that unaware of how Google works. And, incidentally, there aren't any 600,000 hits on her name + the book title. There are around 4,100 hits.


Yeah, I wondered where "600,000 hits" came from.

Anne Lyle
09-12-2011, 07:43 PM
She probably just typed the first big number that came into her head...

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 07:49 PM
All we have now is speculation. I think we should sit back and wait to see what develops. The story will come out.

amergina
09-12-2011, 07:50 PM
Interestingly, in the "About the Author" section of the e-book that caused all the trouble (available via the "look inside" feature), she names the forthcoming book and the publisher.

So all this caginess about not revealing the publisher is kind of pointless.

Al Stevens
09-12-2011, 07:53 PM
It worked. We're into page 3. She's being talked about.

Snitchcat
09-12-2011, 08:09 PM
Just a question: are you going to buy her work to see if she's any good?

Since, if all this is generating is talk and no sales.... :)

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 08:33 PM
Just a question: are you going to buy her work to see if she's any good?

Since, if all this is generating is talk and no sales.... :)
I wouldn't buy her book now on principle - not after she trash-talked a publisher and threw her toys out of the pram. I have no time for silliness.

HapiSofi
09-12-2011, 08:47 PM
A friend linked to this on Twitter.

Kiana Davenport (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html) is claiming that her Big 6 publisher "went ballistic" when they found out that she had self-published a collection of short stories after she had signed a contract with them for a completely unrelated novel.



So, here is what the publisher demanded. That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms. Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS. Currently, that's about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?) Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback. In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer, in a state of acquiescence and, consequently, utter self-loathing.

Not knowing what exactly her contract says makes it difficult to say whether what the publisher demanded was correct or not. Anyone else care to share their insights?

Hoo boy.

Bottom line: This story stinks on ice. Kiana Davenport is not a reliable source. To quote two published authors and a publishing insider:


Something does not smell right about this. I'd like to have a lot more information.


I agree. I think we're only getting part of the story.

And for the record, I have contracts with two different Big Six publishers, and neither one complained when I self-published my collection. In fact, both editors thought it was just spiffy and made for good promotion.


This story smells very wrong to me. There's a lot we're not being told here, I'll bet.

This is not how publishers work.

Amen. The whole shape of the story is wrong. Here's a fuller version of it:

So, here is what the publisher demanded. That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms.They can't demand that unless they own the material, or unless publishing it violates their contract with her.
Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS. Currently, that's about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?)I doubt her publisher made a demand that's impossible on its face. Also, that "600,000 hits" comes out of nowhere. When I first heard about this story, her Google hit count stood at 4,170 hits.
Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback.Sounds like they have a "no competing works" clause. She and her agent should have negotiated that before signing the contract.
In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer, in a state of acquiescence and, consequently, utter self-loathing.How very dramatic. You know what? If failing to get her own way on the first round of negotiations is enough to throw her into "utter self-loathing," that's her problem. She or her agent could have kept arguing about what is and isn't a competing edition. They could have waited until after the publisher's edition had come out, and then tried again. Failing that, they could have waited out the contract. And if it takes her five years to write a book, two years of non-publication is nothing new for her.

I hope her fiction is more believable than her rants, because her rants simply aren't credible. What I can imagine happening in the real world is that her publisher threatened to cancel her current contract if she insisted on pursuing some course of action which, in their opinion, jeopardized their ability to publish her work. She insisted on doing things her way, so they've cancelled the contract and asked for their money back. This scenario covers many of the things she's said, if not the way she's said them. To quote Old Hack:


if the contract is terminated then part of that would probably be conditional on the writer returning the advances paid so far. It's possible that the author concerned has already spent that advance, and so is going to struggle to pay it back promptly. Until then, that book will be in limbo: the publishers won't want it, but it won't be hers to resell.
That's not hard to understand.

Among the things Ms. Davenport objects to is her publisher's alleged claim that she's committed a breach of contract, her collection resembles the book they have under contract, and that publishing it will injure their sales. If true, that's not hard to understand either.

IMO, they may also be concerned about her sales record. I don't believe Ms. Davenport's assertion that her publisher demands that she "delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS," but its presence in her rant does suggest that they're concerned about having her name associated with the book. Short story collections don't sell well. Self-published ones sell a lot worse. When the publisher solicits advance orders on the book they have under contract, the chain buyers and bookstore owners will go to their online databases and pull up the sales figures on Ms. Davenport's most recent book. If that book is Cannibal Nights, they'll lowball their orders.

The existence of Cannibal Nights also damages the publisher's ability to position her as a premium-priced product. Go to her own website (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/) and compare it with her previous books, which all had handsome upscale packages. Cannibal Nights looks cheap and ugly even by self-publishing standards, and it has a $2.99 price point. For an author who's hitherto been positioned as upscale literary fare, the message it sends isn't "popular entertainment, popularly priced." It just makes her look desperate.

I'm guessing about a lot of this. I don't claim that my scenarios are accurate; just that they're plausible. But if you're wondering how it's possible for a conventional publisher to take exception to a self-published short story collection, rest assured that it's not that difficult.

Back to K. Davenport's version of the story:


The vice president and publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and 'adopt the right spirit going forward.'The vice president and publisher had better be the same person if I'm going to believe this. She's not a big-name author. One call to her agent from someone above the rank of editor is as much as I'll believe. And "capitulation" is the wrong word. That call will have been a last attempt to salvage the situation, because they liked the book, and they'd already invested a fair amount of work in it.
This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at mind-control fascinated me.Here's where the car sprouts wings and flies off to fantasyland.
It became crystal-clear to me that the issue wasn't a supposed 'breach of contract,' on my part, but the publisher's fear and loathing of the profoundly threatening Goliath, Amazon. Since CANNIBAL NIGHTS in no way 'resembles' or would 'injure' sales of the book I had sold them (an entirely different subject matter) I was not in breach of my contract. I stood firm, and refused to capitulate.Let us sadly recite once again: "When they put on the Captain Lemming costume and head for the roof, there's not a lot you can do for them."


Last week, I received from their lawyers an official letter terminating my contract with them, "...for permitting Amazon to publish CANNIBAL NIGHTS, etc...." and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me as part of their advance. Until then, this publishing giant is holding my novel as hostage, a work that took me five years to write.Yup. They won't release the rights until she repays the amount she's received on the advance. She doesn't like that? She should have thought about it before she dynamited her relationship with them.

As
Bubastes (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6536392&postcount=23) has already noted, her previous three books were published by three different houses. I'll bet it hasn't occurred to her that her agent is going to have to repay his share of the advance. Maybe she thinks he likes working for free.
My agent assures me I am now an 'anathema' to them.Is this woman actually surprised that they dislike her now? What universe does she live in? I'll be surprised if she keeps her agent after this.

kaitie
09-12-2011, 08:48 PM
I wouldn't buy her book now on principle - not after she trash-talked a publisher and threw her toys out of the pram. I have no time for silliness.

Ditto.

escritora
09-12-2011, 08:51 PM
Just a question: are you going to buy her work to see if she's any good?

I won't search out her work, but if I came across a book she wrote and the topic interests me I'd buy it.

Perks
09-12-2011, 08:55 PM
It's funny that she said
So, here is what the publisher demanded. That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms.I'm gonna guess it's a typo because she's angry. She can't be quoting their demands. There's no iNook. Nook is B&N's e-reader, so someone theoretically could have an issue with her e-pubbing to Kindle, Nook, iPad and all other e-platforms, but why didn't she just quote what they actually asked of her?

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 08:57 PM
but why didn't she just quote what they actually asked of her?

Because it's a lot more dramatic after being filtered through her perception of events, than what was probably actually asked of her. ;)

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2011, 08:58 PM
Just a question: are you going to buy her work to see if she's any good?

Since, if all this is generating is talk and no sales.... :)

Not a chance.

I'm sure there'll be a boost in her sales from supporters buying the "I'm hated because I'm self-pubbed!" story but it won't come from me.

She does weave a nice bit o'fiction, though...

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 09:03 PM
Among the things Ms. Davenport objects to is her publisher's alleged claim that she's committed a breach of contract, her collection resembles the book they have under contract, and that publishing it will injure their sales. If true, that's not hard to understand either.

IMO, they may also be concerned about her sales record. I don't believe Ms. Davenport's assertion that her publisher demands that she "delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS," but its presence in her rant does suggest that they're concerned about having her name associated with the book. Short story collections don't sell well. Self-published ones sell a lot worse. When the publisher solicits advance orders on the book they have under contract, the chain buyers and bookstore owners will go to their online databases and pull up the sales figures on Ms. Davenport's most recent book. If that book is Cannibal Nights, they'll lowball their orders.

The existence of Cannibal Nights also damages the publisher's ability to position her as a premium-priced product. Go to her own website (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/) and compare it with her previous books, which all had handsome upscale packages. Cannibal Nights looks cheap and ugly even by self-publishing standards, and it has a $2.99 price point. For an author who's hitherto been positioned as upscale literary fare, the message it sends isn't "popular entertainment, popularly priced." It just makes her look desperate.


*takes notes* I'm learning a lot in this thread...

It's also worth noting that according to her version of events, she didn't even tell the publisher about the self-pubbed collection - they 'found out'. No wonder they were annoyed.

Kasey Mackenzie
09-12-2011, 09:03 PM
The vice president and publisher had better be the same person if I'm going to believe this. She's not a big-name author. One call to her agent from someone above the rank of editor is as much as I'll believe. And "capitulation" is the wrong word. That call will have been a last attempt to salvage the situation, because they liked the book, and they'd already invested a fair amount of work in it.

I don't really have much to add because you've so eloquently stated things (plus I already posted my general thoughts on my blog (http://kaseymack.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/monday-state-of-the-publishing-union/#more-847)), but since I believe the book in question is with my publisher, I can say that they probably are the same person. P3nguin often has presidents/vice presidents who also have the title "publisher". I met L3slie G3lbman at a cocktail party hosted by P3nguin/B3rkley at RWA last year and that's how she was introduced to me after the fact. (We'll pretend I knew just who she was when I met her with some of my fellow P3nguin authors!)

Perks
09-12-2011, 09:12 PM
Because it's a lot more dramatic after being filtered through her perception of events, than what was probably actually asked of her. ;)That's what I'm thinking.

But I am learning a lot from this thread! Thanks all you expert-type people.

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 09:27 PM
IMO, they may also be concerned about her sales record. I don't believe Ms. Davenport's assertion that her publisher demands that she "delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS," but its presence in her rant does suggest that they're concerned about having her name associated with the book. Short story collections don't sell well. Self-published ones sell a lot worse. When the publisher solicits advance orders on the book they have under contract, the chain buyers and bookstore owners will go to their online databases and pull up the sales figures on Ms. Davenport's most recent book. If that book is Cannibal Nights, they'll lowball their orders.
On this subject, a little digging reveals that her last pro-pubbed novel, House of Many Gods came out in 2006 and was reportedly a bestseller (according to Wikipedia). Her previous pro-pubbed novels also sold well. I'm sure her new publisher would like to have those titles and sales numbers pop up, rather than the ones for her self-pubbed collections.

Could this be a contributing factor?

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 09:53 PM
I'm certain she's a dandy writer: O. Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes aren't gimmes.

Bubastes
09-12-2011, 09:56 PM
I'm certain she's a dandy writer: O. Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes aren't gimmes.

Oh, I have no doubt about that. But she's another example of how great writers can have zero business sense. Shame.

Barbara R.
09-12-2011, 10:07 PM
Yes, but this isn't the thread to do it in.

I've written a bit about it elsewhere:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012985.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013069.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013149.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013136.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013176.html

Thanks. A lot of its too technical for me, but I did see you used Smashwords, which is one of the ones I was looking at. You're right, though, this isn't the place.

Barbara

Polenth
09-12-2011, 10:19 PM
Just a question: are you going to buy her work to see if she's any good?

Since, if all this is generating is talk and no sales.... :)

So far, out of all the thread we've had here on authors behaving badly, publishers behaving badly, and whatever else... I've brought a grand total of zero books.

These threads get long because we like chatting to each other. If this wasn't the case, we could have read the original blog post and kept our thoughts to ourselves. I think this gets missed with the "people are talking about it" thing. We enjoy taking part in this forum. Chances are we will be interested in the books by some of the people we talk to. It doesn't equal interest in the book/author being discussed (not the sort of interest where we're going to spend money anyway).

dawinsor
09-12-2011, 10:32 PM
It sounds like the writer felt pressed for money. I used to say "get a job" when people were in that situation, but in the current economy, that advice is cruel. The letter to Konrath also says she was seriously suicidal, so she may not be in her happiest frame of mind. I suspect the publisher has a story to tell too, but I kind of feel for this person. Life's a bitch sometimes.

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2011, 10:35 PM
It sounds like the writer felt pressed for money. I used to say "get a job" when people were in that situation, but in the current economy, that advice is cruel. The letter to Konrath also says she was seriously suicidal, so she may not be in her happiest frame of mind. I suspect the publisher has a story to tell too, but I kind of feel for this person. Life's a bitch sometimes.

Well, she felt strong enough to toss away a 20K advance. I suspect the legal beagles will dictate she return it.

dawinsor
09-12-2011, 10:36 PM
Well, she felt strong enough to toss away a 20K advance. I suspect the legal beagles will dictate she return it.

Point taken.

ETA: I'm not saying she's being logical. I suspect logic has little to do with how she's acting right now. For which reason, I'm uncomfortable about piling on.

Psychomacologist
09-12-2011, 10:38 PM
Well, she felt strong enough to toss away a 20K advance. I suspect the legal beagles will dictate she return it.
Yeah... if I was strapped for cash and someone offered me a $20k advance, I'd go out of my way to make sure I could keep it. Sticking to your principles is all very well, but I tend to be of the opinion that eating and sleeping with a roof over your head are rather more important.

James D. Macdonald
09-12-2011, 10:56 PM
When the publisher solicits advance orders on the book they have under contract, the chain buyers and bookstore owners will go to their online databases and pull up the sales figures on Ms. Davenport's most recent book. If that book is Cannibal Nights, they'll lowball their orders.



Should I worry that my publishers didn't object to my reprinting my backlist?

Old Hack
09-12-2011, 11:02 PM
As others have already summarised, publishers don't point their legal teams at a potential breach of contract until that thing we call "talking things over" has been tried several times, and has failed.

Surely Kiana Davenportwasn't foolish enough to sign a contract she hadn't read, or didn't understand? Because if she did read and understand her contract, and by self-publishing those collections she put herself into breach of contract, that means that she did so knowingly. Which is a bit of a worry for her right now, I'd guess.

On her blog post today (http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html) Kiana Davenport wrote,


In January, 2010, I signed a contract with one of the Big 6 publishers in New York for my next novel.

<snippetty-snip>

Last week, I received from their lawyers an official letter terminating my contract with them, "...for permitting Amazon to publish CANNIBAL NIGHTS, etc...." and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me as part of their advance.

From that we can work out that her advance was divided into portions, and that she's been paid $20k so far with more due under her contract.

In her letter to JA Konrath, which someone linked to earlier, Ms Davenport wrote (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/depression-and-writers.html) that her advance was


to be paid out in fourths through 2013!

So, her advance was going to be paid in quarters. So this $20k is a quarter of her total advance due, which means that the total advance due under this deal was $80,000.

$80,000.

Phew. That's a significant amount of money. I wouldn't say no to that. But what else did she write about that advance on JAK's blog?


It took me four years to write the most recent novel for which a NY publisher offered me less than HALF my previous advance. A depressing figure

Now let me tell you: I do not find $80,000 depressing. But then I am a notorious tightwad.

More importantly, this tells us that her previous advance was more than $160,000. Wowsers.

Moving on, the book involved in this dispute seems to be her fourth novel. Her first was published by Random House in 1995; her second and third by Ballantine in 2000 and 2007 respectively. Now she has a fourth due from Penguin in 2012. I think we can safely assume that the two Ballantine books were published as part of a two-book deal, and signed up at the same time.

Remember how she mentioned on JAK's blog that her latest advance, at $80k, was less than half the amount of her previous advance? If a publisher paid her a nice fat advance for a two-book deal, then they were confident that her books were going to sell a good number of copies.

If that publisher then didn't want her next book, chances are that her two existing books with them didn't sell that much; and/or that she was a right royal pain to work with.

So, to summarise: what we have here is a writer who has written four books in sixteen years. She has three publishers under her belt, a history of falling advances (which might or might not indicate sales to match), and is now broadcasting her contract squabble around the internet.

Oh, and she's recently self-published a couple of short story collections. Which it appears are now being bought by the readers of her own blog and Mr Konrath's at a rate of knots. I wonder how many she'll have to sell to recoup the loss of an $80k advance and the legal fees she's currently incurring?

I am certain that we've not been told the full story here; and I suspect that things are going to get far messier than Ms Davenport expected when she wrote that blog post. I do hope I'm wrong.

Anne Lyle
09-12-2011, 11:13 PM
$80k isn't that much if each one takes her around 4 years to write - I couldn't live on it in my present circumstances - but only mega-bestsellers like George R R Martin can get away with that kind of slow productivity and still make a good living.

Anaquana
09-12-2011, 11:13 PM
Wow, so much great commentary from everyone. I knew her story sounded fishy when I first read it and that post on Konrath's blog and what everyone here has said pretty much cements my feeling that she's hyping up the drama for whatever reason.

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 11:18 PM
$80k isn't that much if each one takes her around 4 years to write - I couldn't live on it in my present circumstances - but only mega-bestsellers like George R R Martin can get away with that kind of slow productivity and still make a good living.

You're right. But an average 400-page book and a 1600-page doorstopper aren't quite on the same playing field in terms of the sheer amount of book being produced.

Publishers aren't paying her an hourly wage, they're paying her a flat sum. They don't care* if takes an author four years or four months to write the novel they just bought. They're buying a product, not the author's time. Four years between novels is no one's fault but the author.




*Nor should they, until it comes time to meeting the deadline on another contracted work.

Anne Lyle
09-12-2011, 11:49 PM
Publishers aren't paying her an hourly wage, they're paying her a flat sum. They don't care* if takes an author four years or four months to write the novel they just bought. They're buying a product, not the author's time. Four years between novels is no one's fault but the author.

Absolutely. I'm getting maybe a year tops between books, and nothing anywhere near $80k each! My point was that, even with an advance that is - for these straitened times - very generous*, it's still not a living wage unless you're a lot more productive and/or getting plenty of royalties as well.

* And if she doesn't realise that she's getting a pretty sweet deal, given the current state of the publishing industry, she needs to get her head out the sand PDQ

ChaosTitan
09-12-2011, 11:51 PM
Absolutely. I'm getting maybe a year tops between books, and nothing anywhere near $80k each! My point was that, even with an advance that is - for these straitened times - very generous*, it's still not a living wage unless you're a lot more productive and/or getting plenty of royalties as well.

* And if she doesn't realise that she's getting a pretty sweet deal, given the current state of the publishing industry, she needs to get her head out the sand PDQ

Totally agree.

DeadlyAccurate
09-13-2011, 12:30 AM
I'll bet it hasn't occurred to her that her agent is going to have to repay his share of the advance.

My contract with my last agent stated that if I was found in breach because of something I did, I was responsible for the full amount. So I would've had to pay the amount I received, plus the amount she received. Not sure how common that is, but it's possible she'll end up being out more than she even got.

Bubastes
09-13-2011, 12:34 AM
My contract with my last agent stated that if I was found in breach because of something I did, I was responsible for the full amount. So I would've had to pay the amount I received, plus the amount she received. Not sure how common that is, but it's possible she'll end up being out more than she even got.

Painful, but understandable. The agent shouldn't lose money on a deal they put together simply because the author was stupid.

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 12:48 AM
Painful, but understandable. The agent shouldn't lose money on a deal they put together simply because the author was stupid.
Is that really lost money? It's money the publisher paid the agent to deliver a nonstupid client, which the agent failed to do. I guess it depends on who you ask.

ChaosTitan
09-13-2011, 12:54 AM
Is that really lost money? It's money the publisher paid the agent to deliver a nonstupid client, which the agent failed to do. I guess it depends on who you ask.

No, it's money the author paid the agent. Agents work for authors, not for publishers.

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 01:03 AM
No, it's money the author paid the agent. Agents work for authors, not for publishers.
I have never had an agent, but it has been my understanding that the publisher pays the advance to the agent who takes her cut and sends the balance to the author. Whichever way it goes, my question stands.

James D. Macdonald
09-13-2011, 01:06 AM
I have never had an agent, but it has been my understanding that the publisher pays the advance to the agent who takes her cut and sends the balance to the author. Whichever way it goes, my question stands.


The agent is acting as the author's (wait for it!) agent. A payment to the agent is a payment to the author. The agent takes a cut of the advance, but it's still the author's advance.

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2011, 01:12 AM
I have never had an agent, but it has been my understanding that the publisher pays the advance to the agent who takes her cut and sends the balance to the author. Whichever way it goes, my question stands.

It's like selling a house; the compensation is the author's, and the commission is the agent's.

I would love to win an O. Henry Award. If I did, I would be sure not to refer to it as an O'Henry Award!

Ari Meermans
09-13-2011, 01:13 AM
The agent is acting as the author's (wait for it!) agent. A payment to the agent is a payment to the author. The agent takes a cut of the advance, but it's still the author's advance.

and, delivering "a nonstupid client" is not part of the deal. The deal is to deliver a salable product (book). If a client refuses to take good advice, the agent should not have to pay for that deficiency.

ETA: It probably bears mentioning that there are two separate contract/agreements involved: 1.) the agency agreement between the author and the agent; and, 2.) the publishing contract between the author and the publisher.

ChaosTitan
09-13-2011, 01:21 AM
The agent is acting as the author's (wait for it!) agent. A payment to the agent is a payment to the author. The agent takes a cut of the advance, but it's still the author's advance.


It's like selling a house; the compensation is the author's, and the commission is the agent's.


What they said. I've heard of a few cases where the payment goes directly to the author, and then they send their agent their earned cut. However, that's pretty rare. But it doesn't matter who gets the first check; it's the author's money. If the advance payment is $20,000, then the author is responsible for the total amount, whether or not they paid 15% of that to their agent.

Anne Lyle
09-13-2011, 02:46 AM
But it doesn't matter who gets the first check; it's the author's money. If the advance payment is $20,000, then the author is responsible for the total amount, whether or not they paid 15% of that to their agent.

Quite. The agent doesn't have to give their 15% commission back to the author, any more than, say, the travel agency has to give back the $2000 the author spent on a holiday to celebrate, or whatever. The author owes the full amount, hence is bound to be out-of-pocket as a result.

Not a clever thing to do, breaking a contract on a whim to self-publish...

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 03:13 AM
I'm sorry, I seem to have deflected this conversation into who pays who. The original point was, should the agent have to refund her slice of the advance (irrespective of who pays her).

Anne Lyle
09-13-2011, 03:16 AM
I thought we'd already covered this. The agent provides a service to the author, for which she is paid. Just like the people who supply the author's business cards, take the author's photos, or provide other business services. The author owes the whole sum to the publisher, full stop.

Perks
09-13-2011, 03:17 AM
I'm sorry, I seem to have deflected this conversation into who pays who. The original point was, should the agent have to refund her slice of the advance (irrespective of who pays her).It's hard to know if the agent counseled her dealings with her publisher, but if the agent was out of the loop, I would think he'd have cause to tell her to pay his portion back on her own.

He got paid to secure and negotiate a contract. If he did that, then he's earned his fee. The author got paid to deliver a product and execute her end of the contract. If she didn't she's liable for the money.

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 03:30 AM
I wonder who the publisher thinks is liable for the advance refund. Probably depends on the wording in the contract. However it goes, I see the breakup of a ménage à trois and an author commiting professional kamikaze. (It's mixed metaphor week.)

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2011, 03:31 AM
I wonder who the publisher thinks is liable for the advance refund.

The author, unless this is unlike every Big Six contract I have ever seen.

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 03:39 AM
The author, unless this is unlike every Big Six contract I have ever seen.Me too, but they don't involve agents, so your take on it is good enough for me.

Stacia Kane
09-13-2011, 04:12 AM
The author, unless this is unlike every Big Six contract I have ever seen.


Me too, but they don't involve agents, so your take on it is good enough for me.


No, the majority of Big Six contracts do indeed involve agents, and the author is responsible for paying back the advance. Period.

Whether or not the agent has to refund his/her commission to the author (because the author paid that commission) has nothing, really, to do with who's responsible for paying it back to the publisher.

The advance is paid to the author, through the agent. (The publisher has nothing to do with the agent's commission, really.) The author in this case must pay ti back to the publisher.


ETA: My editors, like eqb's, were all pleased re my self-pub and anthology sales; they also saw/see it as more publicity for the series.

Cyia
09-13-2011, 04:24 AM
You have to think of the author's agreement with the publisher and the author's agreement with the agent as two separate contracts (which is, of course, what they are)

The publishing contract states Company A pays $XXX for Book.

The agency contract states Author pays AgentX 15% of $XXX for representing their interests.

AgentX represents Author's interests, so AgentX has fulfilled his/part of the agency contract. He/she gets paid for that work. Author screws up, assumed attempts to fix things don't work out, so Company A cancels the contract for Book. Author must repay $XXX because of the contract Author has with Company A. Author doesn't fulfill her end of the contract, so Author is responsible.

AlishaS
09-13-2011, 04:36 AM
Wow what a thread.

I feel the agent wouldn't have to give back their part of the advance, their job is done, they represented the author and got the novel sold, IMO anyways.

But, alas, I sure wouldn't through away money, at all, I'd have bitten my tongue, and just waited till the book was out to publish the other stuff. Or the more obvious thing I would have talked to my agent and editor, and this whole probably could have been solved.... if of course there isn't more to the matter that we are missing, which I kinda feel like there is.

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 06:54 AM
No, the majority of Big Six contracts do indeed involve agents, and the author is responsible for paying back the advance. Period.

I referred to my contracts and said nothing about a majority. All mine are without agents. Which is why I deferred to IceCreamEmpress on this matter. So I think we're agreeing. But I'm not sure. :)

Sorry for the misunderstanding. My fault.

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2011, 07:32 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Al! I see where your question was coming from now.

As Stacia Kane and others have said, the agent's fiscal role is more or less delineated as a pass-through in an agented Big Six contract; any financial obligations are clearly spelled out as the author's.

Similarly, in contracts with book packagers, it's clear that any repayments to the publisher that result from the author's breach of contract would come directly from the author, not the packager (at least in my experience).

Al Stevens
09-13-2011, 07:43 AM
I wish music agents worked that way.

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2011, 07:48 AM
I wish music agents worked that way.

They are sooooo different, aren't they? If we ever meet in person, I will buy you a coffee and tell you the story of my husband vs. BMI!

aruna
09-13-2011, 11:06 AM
AgentX represents Author's interests, so AgentX has fulfilled his/part of the agency contract. He/she gets paid for that work. Author screws up, assumed attempts to fix things don't work out, so Company A cancels the contract for Book. Author must repay $XXX because of the contract Author has with Company A. Author doesn't fulfill her end of the contract, so Author is responsible.


My understanding of this case is that she won't/can't pay back the advance anyway; so she's sacrificing the book rights plus the rest of the advance (60k) and any royalties she might have earned just so she can self-publish. Wow. That is one expensive book of short stories!

aruna
09-13-2011, 11:20 AM
I just read her letter to JK again, to get the timeline straight. She wrote that when she first received the "depressing" contract and realised she'd have to wait a year before she saw the next advance.

Surely the thing to do at this point was to start a new novel, write a synopsis, and sell it to Penguin? Maybe get a two-book deal? I know I got a two-book deal pretty soon after my first ms was accepted, on the basis of three chapters and synopsis alone. I don't know her whole story, of course, but I'm puzzled as to why that avenue was closed to her; surely a new contract for two or more books would have kept her above water financially?

Maybe I'm just unable to empathise, but I just can't see why death would have been preferable to getting new ideas for new book proposals. Publishers WANT their contracted authors to write more. They don't want one-trick ponies. There must be something I'm not getting here.

Polenth
09-13-2011, 12:27 PM
Maybe I'm just unable to empathise, but I just can't see why death would have been preferable to getting new ideas for new book proposals. Publishers WANT their contracted authors to write more. They don't want one-trick ponies. There must be something I'm not getting here.

I'd rather write another book than kill myself too, but I'm not surprised there are people who'd take suicide as the first option. If someone's suicidal, it's not really about the event. It can be as minor as having a bad day or their favourite band breaking up. They're not in the right frame of mind to accurately rate how bad the thing really is (or isn't) or look for other solutions.

Anne Lyle
09-13-2011, 12:30 PM
There must be something I'm not getting here.

There is. She writes a book every four years, and so far she's been paid well for it - her mistake is in thinking that this is going to continue indefinitely. To anyone who is a commercial author, committed to putting out at least one book a year, the leisurely pace adopted by some writers makes no sense. But clearly if you're being paid great wedges of cash to write at that pace, why go faster?

As I said when Steph Swainston's story hit the news last month, in this modern world you have to be either prolific or hugely popular in order to make a good living as a writer. Literary authors are seldom either, so they are going to be hit hard by falling advances in a recession.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 01:20 PM
I'll bet it hasn't occurred to her that her agent is going to have to repay his share of the advance. Maybe she thinks he likes working for free..

This is a really good point.

Although agents recieve the payment from the publisher, they are not paid by the publisher. They are paid by the author and so I wouldn't expect the agent to have to repay the advance, I would expect the author to have to suck it up.



It sounds like the writer felt pressed for money. I used to say "get a job" when people were in that situation, but in the current economy, that advice is cruel.

Even in this economy there is always a job for anyone who is really that desperate. Is she seriously saying that McD's aren't hiring? It's cruel to say, but there are jobs, just some of them are really really crap.

And given the point below, I have to say that she clearly wasn't that worried about her finances


Well, she felt strong enough to toss away a 20K advance. I suspect the legal beagles will dictate she return it.



There is. She writes a book every four years, and so far she's been paid well for it - her mistake is in thinking that this is going to continue indefinitely. To anyone who is a commercial author, committed to putting out at least one book a year, the leisurely pace adopted by some writers makes no sense. But clearly if you're being paid great wedges of cash to write at that pace, why go faster?

This had me thinking as well. For someone who complained about financial harship she didn't seem to work any harder to increase her earnings.

Terie
09-13-2011, 01:49 PM
Even in this economy there is always a job for anyone who is really that desperate. Is she seriously saying that McD's aren't hiring? It's cruel to say, but there are jobs, just some of them are really really crap.

Actually, in fairness, in the US right now, there are five applicants for every job opening -- across the board. Even getting a job at McD's has become difficult. IIRC, several months ago, McD's did a massive hiring spree of thousands (maybe tens of thousands, I can't remember) of people, and had over 1 million applicants.

This isn't to say she couldn't have got a job, just to clarify that while the official unemployment rate is over 9% -- which is pretty damn bad -- the effective unemployment rate is closer to 20%. (The US counts unemployment in a strange way that leaves out many unemployed people, but that's off-topic. :))

So 'just get a job' is actually not a particularly fair dismissal these days.

Psychomacologist
09-13-2011, 02:14 PM
So 'just get a job' is actually not a particularly fair dismissal these days.
What about writing jobs?

The thing is, she's clearly a very good author whose novels have always sold well in the past. She's won some big awards. If she could just write more novels, faster, she'd do much better financially and probably feel better about herself in general.

Alternatively, freelance as a copywriter for ad agencies or PR companies. Sell articles to newspapers or magazines. Sub short stories to paying markets on a regular basis. It's not great money but it's better than contemplating suicide because you can't pay the bills.

I don't know, maybe I've spent too much time around the hardballs of AW, but to my mind the solution is: write more stuff, and make sure it's good, and then sell it.

Terie
09-13-2011, 02:34 PM
What about writing jobs?

The thing is, she's clearly a very good author whose novels have always sold well in the past. She's won some big awards. If she could just write more novels, faster, she'd do much better financially and probably feel better about herself in general.

Alternatively, freelance as a copywriter for ad agencies or PR companies. Sell articles to newspapers or magazines. Sub short stories to paying markets on a regular basis. It's not great money but it's better than contemplating suicide because you can't pay the bills.

I don't know, maybe I've spent too much time around the hardballs of AW, but to my mind the solution is: write more stuff, and make sure it's good, and then sell it.

In point of fact, corporate writing jobs are extremely hard to come by right now, even for highly experienced corporate writers. Many companies have off-shored their writing jobs. It was almost two years before all the writers my company laid off (more than half the writing staff) found new jobs.

I agree that 'write more stuff' is the most sensible approach for an established, award-winning author. OTOH, there might be things going on in a person's life that interfere with their ability to write. Just because the totally awesome Jay Lake can be mind-bogglingly productive while dealing with multiple bouts of chemotherapy doesn't mean everyone can do the same when going through difficulties.

I think we can agree that the author in question has probably made some really bonehead decisions about this, but while I might roll my eyes, I'm not going to judge her too harshly, being as how I've made some pretty bonehead decisions of my own when in a weird state of mind.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 03:22 PM
The thing is, she's clearly a very good author whose novels have always sold well in the past. She's won some big awards. If she could just write more novels, faster, she'd do much better financially and probably feel better about herself in general.

But if the timeline to get paid writing novels is long, how is writing novels faster going to get her money faster? This is not making sense to me.


Alternatively, freelance as a copywriter for ad agencies or PR companies. Sell articles to newspapers or magazines. Sub short stories to paying markets on a regular basis. It's not great money but it's better than contemplating suicide because you can't pay the bills.

I'd agree with the short stories idea, but I thought (perhaps erroneously) that copywriting for ads agencies and PR firms and writing articles for newspapers (do people read paper papers any more? I know the local papers I used to read have been seriously hit and aren't what they used to be) and magazines a different writing skillset than fiction writing?


I don't know, maybe I've spent too much time around the hardballs of AW, but to my mind the solution is: write more stuff, and make sure it's good, and then sell it.

All you gotta do is...

shaldna
09-13-2011, 03:30 PM
Actually, in fairness, in the US right now, there are five applicants for every job opening -- across the board. Even getting a job at McD's has become difficult. IIRC, several months ago, McD's did a massive hiring spree of thousands (maybe tens of thousands, I can't remember) of people, and had over 1 million applicants.

This isn't to say she couldn't have got a job, just to clarify that while the official unemployment rate is over 9% -- which is pretty damn bad -- the effective unemployment rate is closer to 20%. (The US counts unemployment in a strange way that leaves out many unemployed people, but that's off-topic. :))

So 'just get a job' is actually not a particularly fair dismissal these days.

It's the same here. There are daily statistics about how many applicants per job, sometimes those figures are 2000 people per single vanancy, and Ireland is a tiny place.

So I totally empathise how hard it can be, I didn't mean it to come across as dismissive in anyway.

The point I was trying to make is that it took her 4 years to write one book, and she complains about financial hardship, bemoaning an 80k advance, and a previous 160k advance and amount that would keep most people for several years.

aruna
09-13-2011, 03:36 PM
But if the timeline to get paid writing novels is long, how is writing novels faster going to get her money faster? This is not making sense to me.



.

It does make sense. The faster you write your novel, the faster you get the signature advance, the delivery advance, the publication advance. The more novels you write, the faster these advances pour in. If, for instance, she could produce three chapters and synopsis of a new and publishable book, say within two weeks, she could possibly be looking at the first advance payment by the end of this year.

That is, IF she had not burnt her bridges with Penguin. As it now stands, she'd have to look for a(nother) new publisher. Again. But with all this stuff now online and freely googleable, it's questionable if another publisher will have her.
She has outed herself as "difficult". She has dissed the publishing industry, in particular the Big Six, openly. She has taken an open stand for self-publshing, and more or less chosen her route.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 03:40 PM
The thing that is really sad about this is that Davenport is clearly an intelligent and talented woman, and yes, she made a mistake, but instead of sorting it out, she had a hissy fit, which just seems to have made everything worse.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 03:44 PM
It does make sense. The faster you write your novel, the faster you get the signature advance, the delivery advance, the publication advance. The more novels you write, the faster these advances pour in. If, for instance, she could produce three chapters and synopsis of a new and publishable book, say within two weeks, she could possibly be looking at the first advance payment by the end of this year.

Ah. Gotcha. I can see that. Guess I'm still caught in the rut of 'but I need to make rent next month' way of thinking. Coupled with the fact that for me, while it would be great if it happened for me in that time frame, the reality of the situation suggests not to bank on that. :)

If she could make it work? That'd be golden, except, as you noted:


That is, IF she had not burnt her bridges with Penguin. As it now stands, she'd have to look for a(nother) new publisher. Again. But with all this stuff now online and freely googleable, it's questionable if another publisher will have her.
She has outed herself as "difficult". She has dissed the publishing industry, in particular the Big Six, openly. She has taken an open stand for self-publshing, and more or less chosen her route.

Yeah. Not going to argue that this is a 'you made the bed' situation. I wish her well, though.

Psychomacologist
09-13-2011, 03:47 PM
But if the timeline to get paid writing novels is long, how is writing novels faster going to get her money faster? This is not making sense to me.
Hypothetical situation: I wrote one book, four years ago.

This year, I get a royalty check for the book I wrote four years ago (say, £10,000. meh. That's probably high, but let's say it's a best seller)

Total yearly income from books: £10,000

Situation two: I wrote a book a year for the last four years.

This year, I got:
A royalty check from the book I wrote four years ago (£10,000)
The final installment of the advance for the book I wrote three years ago, that's just been released (£20,000)
The middle installment of the book I wrote two years ago, that's just finished edits and rewrites and is about ready to go to press (£20,000)
The first installment of the advance for last year's book, which I've just finished and sold to a publisher (£20,000)

Total yearly income from books: £70,000

Or something like that.



I'd agree with the short stories idea, but I thought (perhaps erroneously) that copywriting for ads agencies and PR firms and writing articles for newspapers (do people read paper papers any more? I know the local papers I used to read have been seriously hit and aren't what they used to be) and magazines a different writing skillset than fiction writing?
Words is words. I think most people who are good with language and can write a decent sentence could probably bridge the gap from books to articles etc, or at least learn to be a chameleon out of necessity. I don't know this lady's situation, but it's at least a possibility if she doesn't want to look for a "real" job.

ETA: Aruna beat me to it. Goshdarnit.

Alitriona
09-13-2011, 03:56 PM
What I get from her posts is she doesn't want to do anything else. She wants to be a writer, a writer who gets paid massive amounts of money for doing little work. I haven't read her work but I'm presuming, based on awards, she is a very good writer. Perhaps there lies the problem. She seems to think she deserves more than the publisher is willing to pay. Maybe she's right, maybe she isn't but if she wasn't happy she could have walked away. She said she didn't have a choice, but she did. She had a choice between signing the contract and not signing it. She signed it, the agreement was made and she should have accepted it with dignity considering she is pretty damn lucky to be in a position to be offered a contract of that magnitude.

Now instead of 80,000 and the possibility of more if she earned out the advance. She has no manuscript and only received the 20,000 that is possibly already spent considering the financial problems she spoke about. It simply doesn't make sense to me that a person would put themselves in that position and throw their dummy out of the pram when offered a way to negotiate out of it.

aruna
09-13-2011, 03:59 PM
ETA: Aruna beat me to it. Goshdarnit.


Ah, but you gave a practical example; makes all the difference!

Old Hack
09-13-2011, 04:09 PM
The thing is, she's clearly a very good author whose novels have always sold well in the past. She's won some big awards.

No, she's not. She might be a good writer; but her books have not necessarily sold well in the past and judging from her comment that her latest advance was half that of her previous advance, I'd guess that her sales have not been good at all.


Alternatively, freelance as a copywriter for ad agencies or PR companies. Sell articles to newspapers or magazines. Sub short stories to paying markets on a regular basis. It's not great money but it's better than contemplating suicide because you can't pay the bills.



Words is words. I think most people who are good with language and can write a decent sentence could probably bridge the gap from books to articles etc, or at least learn to be a chameleon out of necessity. I don't know this lady's situation, but it's at least a possibility if she doesn't want to look for a "real" job.

Writing articles and so on requires a completely different skill-set to writing fiction. Many writers can do it, but many others can't.

If you turn it round, and suggest that someone who can write a decent article must therefore be able to learn to write a decent novel, then perhaps you'd see the problem here.

aruna
09-13-2011, 04:11 PM
It also seems that she is not earning royalties; possibly her previous books may have been critical successes but did not earn out their large advances; that might be the reason for the lower advance this time, and for the quick turnover of publishers.

I went through a similar predicament several years ago, when my publisher did not accept my (4th) option novel because the previous three books had not earned out their advances. And also because I was riding high on writing what I wanted to, and not what they wanted me to. It was a terrible time and I was also high and dry financially for a while. I know the sinking feeling of not having a new contract, and the pressure to write something commercially viable in a two-yearly tact. So I do sympathise. At the time, I thought I was taking a stand for "creative integrity", whatever that is, and thought I was taking the moral high road.

Well, I paid a heavy price. You make your bed, you lie on it. Now I can see that the publisher was only doing what it thought was rght for it at the time. I am much wiser with hindsight, and my warning to her would have been: put that second volume to sleep quick time!

bearilou
09-13-2011, 04:12 PM
It simply doesn't make sense to me that a person would put themselves in that position and throw their dummy out of the pram when offered a way to negotiate out of it.

I know that's how it looks to me. It was a misjudgment, a miscalculation, a boneheaded move...however you want to catagorize it. The publisher offered a solution that required eating a little crow perhaps, but it was salvageable.

For that kind of money in this tight economy? Think I'd be looking up crow recipes.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 04:19 PM
Now instead of 80,000 and the possibility of more if she earned out the advance. She has no manuscript and only received the 20,000 that is possibly already spent considering the financial problems she spoke about. It simply doesn't make sense to me that a person would put themselves in that position and throw their dummy out of the pram when offered a way to negotiate out of it.

She doesn't even have the 20k because she owes that to her publisher. And in the meantime she has no book either, because they are retaining that until she repays them.

James D. Macdonald
09-13-2011, 04:19 PM
But if the timeline to get paid writing novels is long, how is writing novels faster going to get her money faster? This is not making sense to me.


It's what Doyle and I call "feeding the anaconda."

Getting money out of novels is like watching the bulge that used to be a pig moving down through a snake. Eventually it'll turn into snake dung, but there's a mighty long wait. So ... you feed it a new pig on a regular basis. There are a bunch of lumps moving down the snake. A while down the road, you start getting snake dung on a regular basis.

Maybe the advance is broken up into $20K chunks. Get two $20K chunks a year, for two different books, and you're at 40K a year. Get three $20K chunks a year, and you're at $60K a year. Does it matter if the chunks are for a book you wrote two years ago, a book you're writing right now, and a book you've promised for next year? No, it doesn't.

The ability to write marketable prose is a rare one. If you have it: You can keep your name for the High Art books, you can write a few tie-ins and novelizations under a pseud, and you can ghostwrite some celebrity's autobiography under a serious non-disclosure agreement, and you can do pretty well. If it's your job, if it's your career, treat it as a job and a career. As William Faulkner said, "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at nine o'clock every morning."

Which still doesn't address this particular author's problem. And it still doesn't help make the situation as she's described it make any sense whatever.

aruna
09-13-2011, 04:23 PM
...and Uncle Jim explains it best of all! Love the snake analogy.

Sheryl Nantus
09-13-2011, 04:26 PM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."

Now I don't know if he's just giving her emotional support or actively advising her from a legal POV but this is a sticky wicket for all parties involved.

I do hope she's getting good legal advice from her agent and not depending on Konrath's advice as her sole source. Unless Konrath intends to be responsible for repaying the 20K plus any penalties along the way.

I hope.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 04:28 PM
It's what Doyle and I call "feeding the anaconda."

Getting money out of novels is like watching the bulge that used to be a pig moving down through a snake. Eventually it'll turn into snake dung, but there's a mighty long wait. So ... you feed it a new pig on a regular basis. There are a bunch of lumps moving down the snake. A while down the road, you start getting snake dung on a regular basis.

Maybe the advance is broken up into $20K chunks. Get two $20K chunks a year, for two different books, and you're at 40K a year. Get three $20K chunks a year, and you're at $60K a year. Does it matter if the chunks are for a book you wrote two years ago, a book you're writing right now, and a book you've promised for next year? No, it doesn't.

The ability to write marketable prose is a rare one. If you have it: You can keep your name for the High Art books, you can write a few tie-ins and novelizations under a pseud, and you can ghostwrite some celebrity's autobiography under a serious non-disclosure agreement, and you can do pretty well. If it's your job, if it's your career, treat it as a job and a career. As William Faulkner said, "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at nine o'clock every morning."

Which still doesn't address this particular author's problem. And it still doesn't help make the situation as she's described it make any sense whatever.

I suppose that's what I was ultimately getting at. All the reasons she fell apart aside, saying 'just write another book' in her present set of circumstances doesn't get her money now, which, from what I gather, is needed.

And I guess why I'm sort of chafing under the comments here. "She will just have to buckle down and get a job. She should just write another book." Easy to say in theory, harder for an individual to execute in real life when the wolf is at your door.

In the end, though, it simply gives weight to your advice. 'Finish a book, polish it till it shines, get it out there, and start the next book.'

aruna
09-13-2011, 04:31 PM
And I guess why I'm sort of chafing under the comments here. "She will just have to buckle down and get a job. She should just write another book." Easy to say in theory, harder for an individual to execute in real life when the wolf is at your door.

Well, I've had the wolf at my door for the last seven years, and I still managed to finish six books. (None of them sold -- yet.) Sometimes you just have to stop moaning and get on with it.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 04:33 PM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."

Now I don't know if he's just giving her emotional support or actively advising her from a legal POV but this is a sticky wicket for all parties involved.

I do hope she's getting good legal advice from her agent and not depending on Konrath's advice as her sole source. Unless Konrath intends to be responsible for repaying the 20K plus any penalties along the way.

I hope.

I just googled him and now see why he'd be advising her in this manner. I have a very bad feeling about this...

Barbara R.
09-13-2011, 04:34 PM
Painful, but understandable. The agent shouldn't lose money on a deal they put together simply because the author was stupid.

If the agent agreed to a stupid contract, he/she should. Most agents insist that contractually, advances that must be repaid are repaid out of "first receipts," meaning that until the book is resold, the author doesn't have to repay a dime. I also seriously doubt that the writer in this case got $80K in advance. Her publishing history doesn't seem to warrant that much, and these are hard times in the industry. There are more holes than story in the writer's story.

Old Hack
09-13-2011, 04:35 PM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."

Wow.

Namatu
09-13-2011, 04:46 PM
Wow.My thought exactly.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 04:49 PM
Originally Posted by Sheryl Nantus http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6540788#post6540788)
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."



Wow.


My thoughts exactly.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 04:50 PM
Well, I've had the wolf at my door for the last seven years, and I still managed to finish six books. (None of them sold -- yet.) Sometimes you just have to stop moaning and get on with it.

Not arguing that sitting and wringing hands is unproductive. I think where I'm missing in all this is it's still an easy pat answer to give someone that doesn't yield immediate results.

I'm not arguing that despite all this that she's going through that she shouldn't do this or that or that she should have done something else.

But if I have books written but not sold, how is that paying the bills now?

It's been said 'well, she just needs to get out and get a job!' Not saying that she shouldn't or that she won't need to. But it's not as simple as stepping out and getting a job first time out the door. Or in a year of searching. Or in three years of searching.

I'm balking at this 'all you gotta do is' attitude. It's not an 'all you gotta do is' situation. Not even in the best of times.

I need the money. Well, all I gotta do is write a book! Well, I still have to sell it. It still needs to get bought, the advance still has to come in and the royalties still have to get collected...all of those roadmarks down the road don't happen in three months, normally.

'You can't sell if you don't have a book' is not what I'm baffled by. I get that. I'm so onboard with that I'm a certified cheerleader for it.

I'm baffled by the implication that all you need is a book and the rest takes care of itself if you're persistent. In the long term, yes. But as a fix right now, no it doesn't. The armchair quarterbacking going on about her current money situation is really distressing if the practical 'tips' being offered are not very practical for the immediate timeframe.

The only 'all you gotta do is' advice I'd offer her is to not listen to someone whose obvious interest is in promoting his own agenda for epublishing and that is apparently hurting her in the short term and possibly long term.

aruna
09-13-2011, 04:57 PM
I didn't mean to be flippant about her financial situation. I didn't want to imply that it is easily solved.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 04:59 PM
I didn't mean to be flippant about her financial situation. I didn't want to imply that it is easily solved.

:Hug2:

I think the bigger problem she has now, financial problems aside, is taking advice from someone who has an obvious agenda in talking her into her decisions. That's a real mind boggler right there.

Bubastes
09-13-2011, 05:03 PM
:Hug2:

I think the bigger problem she has now, financial problems aside, is taking advice from someone who has an obvious agenda in talking her into her decisions. That's a real mind boggler right there.

I agree. What irks me even more is that the person giving the advice doesn't appear to truly care about her situation. Agenda-driven people rarely care about the individuals they claim to help.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 05:06 PM
I think the bigger problem she has now, financial problems aside, is taking advice from someone who has an obvious agenda in talking her into her decisions. That's a real mind boggler right there.

Quite.

Calla Lily
09-13-2011, 05:12 PM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."

Now I don't know if he's just giving her emotional support or actively advising her from a legal POV but this is a sticky wicket for all parties involved.

I do hope she's getting good legal advice from her agent and not depending on Konrath's advice as her sole source. Unless Konrath intends to be responsible for repaying the 20K plus any penalties along the way.

I hope.

And here's where I stop lurking and finally comment:

:Headbang: :rant: :Headbang:

shaldna
09-13-2011, 05:12 PM
I've been looking at this Konrath thing, and how Davenport is referred to constantly, even in his response to her letter that he posted on her blog, as an 'indie' writer.

Now, I might be missing something here, but Davenport was published by Penguin and Ballentine (part of Random House) and has recieved considerable (if she is to be believe the figures have been between 80 and up to 160k) advances for her work so that hardly makes her an 'indie' author, does it?

Psychomacologist
09-13-2011, 05:16 PM
No, she's not. She might be a good writer; but her books have not necessarily sold well in the past and judging from her comment that her latest advance was half that of her previous advance, I'd guess that her sales have not been good at all.
I said this because her last novel was described as a "bestseller", so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. If we could get hold of the actual sales figures for her past novels, that would be useful and illuminating. You may well be right about this.


Writing articles and so on requires a completely different skill-set to writing fiction. Many writers can do it, but many others can't.

If you turn it round, and suggest that someone who can write a decent article must therefore be able to learn to write a decent novel, then perhaps you'd see the problem here.
Good point. Maybe article writing wouldn't work for her.


She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."
Yikes. I suppose Konrath is going to help her repay her advance and cover her living costs now?



And I guess why I'm sort of chafing under the comments here. "She will just have to buckle down and get a job. She should just write another book." Easy to say in theory, harder for an individual to execute in real life when the wolf is at your door.
I can't speak for anyone else, but here's my take: when I look at this situation, I see an author who has three books pro-pubbed over the space of several years. So I'm thinking, in those fifteen-plus years, why did she never sit down and go "Okay, I'm going to need to write a book a year if I want a regular income." Did her agent never suggest this to her? Maybe she got such big advances that she thought "Hey, I can afford to be slow."

The advice to write a book a year and keep doing it isn't an immediate fix - it's what I think she should've decided to do about ten years ago. That seems to me the professional approach to take, especially if you've got a novel deal with a publisher. Keep writing those books, keep sending them out. She didn't do this; now ten/fifteen years down the line she's struggling and it takes her five years to write a novel and she has no money.

I don't have a quick fix solution. Get a job? Well, good luck with that. Pen some freelance articles and sell them? If you can, it's worth a shot. Maybe. Money's tight for everyone and I can sympathise with this woman being in a tricky situation, because we all are. But here's the kicker: she had a way out. A pro-publisher offered her an advance for her new novel. Money! Financial (semi)security! Bills paid, food on table! She lost that advance due to her own behaviour. She had the opportunity to capitulate and play nice with the publisher and thereby keep her money. She decided 'duking it out' with EVUL Pubber was much more important, and now she's lost her advance.

I only have very limited sympathy for people who bring their problems upon themselves.

bearilou
09-13-2011, 05:28 PM
I can't speak for anyone else, but here's my take: when I look at this situation, I see an author who has three books pro-pubbed over the space of several years. So I'm thinking, in those fifteen-plus years, why did she never sit down and go "Okay, I'm going to need to write a book a year if I want a regular income." Did her agent never suggest this to her? Maybe she got such big advances that she thought "Hey, I can afford to be slow."

The advice to write a book a year and keep doing it isn't an immediate fix - it's what I think she should've decided to do about ten years ago. That seems to me the professional approach to take, especially if you've got a novel deal with a publisher. Keep writing those books, keep sending them out. She didn't do this; now ten/fifteen years down the line she's struggling and it takes her five years to write a novel and she has no money.

I know for myself, this is the biggest lesson I'm taking away from this tale. Keep writing. Keep putting out there. Keep trying to sell. Don't rest on past achievements. Prepare for contingencies.

And to examine the motivations of people around me who want to give me life/career changing advice! :eek:

James D. Macdonald
09-13-2011, 05:44 PM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."


Suddenly much becomes clear. More discussion of Konrath here (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6141830#post6141830).

Terie
09-13-2011, 05:47 PM
The advice to write a book a year and keep doing it isn't an immediate fix - it's what I think she should've decided to do about ten years ago.

Yeah. I don't think anyone here thinks there's an actual quick fix for this gal's problems. We aren't actually giving her advice.

I think what's going on here is that we're mostly coming from the 'cautionary tale' point of view. It's better to learn by watching someone else's mistakes than by making our own.

Mr Flibble
09-13-2011, 05:55 PM
But if I have books written but not sold, how is that paying the bills now?



It isn't - same as it isn't for the many people who have yet to sell a book for anything, or those who have sold their first but have yet to see much from it. Not many of those bite the hand that did once feed them and will feed them in the future if they aren't silly though...

Writing books is a long term thing, not a 'I need bucks right now, so hey I'll write a book!'. I'd expect that from someone who didn't know how publishing works, not from a writer who's had several books pubbed already and knows the timescale.

Sheryl Nantus
09-13-2011, 06:21 PM
I'd expect that from someone who didn't know how publishing works, not from a writer who's had several books pubbed already and knows the timescale.

This is what blows my mind - it's not like she was a newbie to the process, signed without an agent, etc etc etc.

She'd signed contracts before with established publishers. She had an agent. She'd been through the process and gotten a *lot* of money, which she freely admits she blew on silliness - as some of us would.

Now her claims of "I had no idea!" tends to ring hollow.

I'd still like to hear the publisher's side of things. They may be in the wrong and it's quite possible - but with Brother Joe at the helm this can only get messier and messier with the hyperbole rising to new levels.

:(

Toothpaste
09-13-2011, 06:50 PM
I've been looking at this Konrath thing, and how Davenport is referred to constantly, even in his response to her letter that he posted on her blog, as an 'indie' writer.

Now, I might be missing something here, but Davenport was published by Penguin and Ballentine (part of Random House) and has recieved considerable (if she is to be believe the figures have been between 80 and up to 160k) advances for her work so that hardly makes her an 'indie' author, does it?


Because Konrath is brilliant with words (I think, I've never actually read his books, but he is a marketing genius). He manipulates them, creates catch phrases and even invents new terms. Ever heard of "legacy publishers"? That term that everyone who worships at the feet of self publishing (and Konrath) uses to deride publishers as something old fashioned and on the verge of extinction? That's his baby. Oh sure the concept of "legacy" anything isn't his, but calling publishers that? His idea.

He is an absolutist in his views, he equivocates, he lies, he is mean and he changes the rules of the game whenever he feels like it to prove he is right in all things. And it works. He makes a living selling his words.

shaldna
09-13-2011, 07:01 PM
He is an absolutist in his views, he equivocates, he lies, he is mean and he changes the rules of the game whenever he feels like it to prove he is right in all things. And it works. He makes a living selling his words.

And he still doesn't explain how an author recieving an $80k advance and published by Big 6 publishers is still considered an 'indie' publisher in need of support.

Which is the way it was painted.

Anne Lyle
09-13-2011, 07:05 PM
In the distorted mirror of his reality, anyone who has self-pubbed anything is a fellow warrior in the Battle Against Ebil :)

iRock
09-13-2011, 07:33 PM
He is an absolutist in his views, he equivocates, he lies, he is mean and he changes the rules of the game whenever he feels like it to prove he is right in all things. And it works. He makes a living selling his words.

I couldn't agree more, and I'm glad someone has the balls to say it.

Konrath is a snake oil salesman. To listen to him, in my opinion, and do as he "advises" is utter folly. His best work of fiction so far is the numbers he spouts, those digits that fluctuate according to his marketing needs.

I'm happy to respect my fellow writers, but there's nothing in the rules about respecting the literary equivalent of a used car salesman who slaps pretty paint on wrecks and calls them good, then tries to foist them on to less experienced drivers. It's like PA on a lesser scale: You too can be a published, for-reals author! All you have to do is shun the mean ol' Big Boys and self-publish!

As far as Ms Davenport goes, who knows? Publishing is teamwork. It's the author, publisher, and agent. To leave one or more of them out of the loop to do your own thing, without consulting them seems foolish. But then there are a lot of authors who aren't brilliant business people. Look at Jude Devereaux. She gave 20 million to fortune tellers, for crying out loud.

Psychomacologist
09-13-2011, 07:42 PM
I know for myself, this is the biggest lesson I'm taking away from this tale. Keep writing. Keep putting out there. Keep trying to sell. Don't rest on past achievements. Prepare for contingencies.


Yeah. I don't think anyone here thinks there's an actual quick fix for this gal's problems. We aren't actually giving her advice.

I think what's going on here is that we're mostly coming from the 'cautionary tale' point of view. It's better to learn by watching someone else's mistakes than by making our own.
EXACTLY.

Unfortunately there's not a lot we can say to the author now except "Well... I hear MacDonalds might be hiring?" Or perhaps: "You might want to stop trusting that Konrath guy." But there's plenty of lessons here for other writers, like "Don't get too comfy resting there on your published-author laurels" and "Keep writing and subbing" and "Invest your money wisely as this is a fickle business and it could all dry up tomorrow."

A cautionary tale indeed.

Toothpaste
09-13-2011, 07:46 PM
I'm happy to respect my fellow writers, but there's nothing in the rules about respecting the literary equivalent of a used car salesman who slaps pretty paint on wrecks and calls them good, then tries to foist them on to less experienced writers. It's like PA on a lesser scale: You too can be a published, for-reals author! All you have to do is shun the mean ol' Big Boys and self-publish!


The saddest thing about all of it is there IS a real place for self-publishing, and it is definitely benefiting new and more experienced writers alike. But I have been watching closely, and I have noticed that the writers it benefits are the ones who go into the process with both feet on the ground. Who have a "this is hard work, and let's see what happens" attitude. Who appreciate that you won't sell books just because it's on the net, but because of your marketing strategy and good old fashioned hard work. Someone like the poster girl for self publishing, Amanda Hocking: http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2011/03/blog.html

I once had Konrath tell me that I didn't need to worry about marketing - my biggest concern should I ever self publish (something which I very much am considering). He told me, as an example, that he stopped marketing ages ago. My jaw hit the floor. He might have stopped saying to people "buy this book!", he might have stopped physically touring to bookstores etc, but his online presence is still marketing. His persona, his guru-ness (yup, I did just write guru-ness) is marketing. The reason he is the success he is is not because of his novels, but his online presence.

There's only two possible reasons that he would tell me I didn't need to market: either he is sincerely unaware that every single time he posts online he is marketing his brand, or he's lying. Either way, it concerns me.

Toothpaste
09-13-2011, 07:47 PM
Unfortunately there's not a lot we can say to the author now except "Well... I hear MacDonalds might be hiring?" Or perhaps: "You might want to stop trusting that Konrath guy." But there's plenty of lessons here for other writers, like "Don't get too comfy resting there on your published-author laurels" and "Keep writing and subbing" and "Invest your money wisely as this is a fickle business and it could all dry up tomorrow."

A cautionary tale indeed.

QFT.

iRock
09-13-2011, 08:00 PM
The saddest thing about all of it is there IS a real place for self-publishing, and is definitely benefiting new and more experienced writers alike. But I have been watching closely, and I have noticed that the writers it benefits are the ones who go into the process with both feet on the ground. Who have a "this is hard work, and let's see what happens" attitude. Who appreciate that you won't sell books just because it's on the net, but because of your marketing strategy and good old fashioned hard work.


I concur. There's definitely a place for the writer who knows and understands the business. But I have a real problem with new writers being pushed in that direction, like Big Publishers are some kind of bad guy who'll reject their work and crush their souls.

A bit of rejection is good for a writer. It teaches us that we need to improve and hone our craft in order to create a salable product. Being told, "You too can be published right now" isn't a positive. I think it creates a certain feeling that this should be easy, when publishing - whichever route you go - is anything but. As far as new writers go, I really believe it behooves them to learn as much as they can and consider all the options. There are a lot. And it takes time to understand how it all works. But that desire for instant gratification makes Konrath and his brand of Kool-Aid downright seductive.



There's only two possible reasons that he would tell me I didn't need to market: either he is sincerely unaware that every single time he posts online he is marketing his brand, or he's lying. Either way, it concerns me.Both. Fortunately, you've been around the publishing block a time or two. You're no dummy. But someone less experienced will read those words and think the world will flock to them if they just throw their novel out there.

In that it's just like PA.

eqb
09-13-2011, 08:22 PM
I left a comment with my own, rather different, experience, just to give a little balance to the discussion. I'm curious if she'll respond. (She's been responding to all the other comments.)

Cyia
09-13-2011, 08:56 PM
Just to point out the other side of this - no one knows what "encouragement" entails. That this person mentioned being so close to killing herself rather than face the alternatives says she may not be evaluating situations with a clear head. For all anyone here knows, Konrath's "encouragement" could have consisted of "Good for you!" and nothing more.

Old Hack
09-13-2011, 09:34 PM
I've been looking at this Konrath thing, and how Davenport is referred to constantly, even in his response to her letter that he posted on her blog, as an 'indie' writer.

Here's a nice concise definition of "indie writer" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6534992&postcount=53) from HapiSofi.

As for Mr Konrath not marketing any more: he's kidding, right?

His market now isn't The General Reader; it's The Aspiring Self-Publisher. If you think of how many writers submit and never get picked up: they're the ones who read his blog, and who are heartened by his stories of those nasty gatekeepers who are keeping all the really good writers off those outdated bookshop shelves. And what do they do when they read his blog and feel all fired up? They do two things: they put their own books on Kindle; and they buy his books.

His whole blog, and his stance as a self-publishing hero, is a marketing tool.

Whoever has advised Ms Davenport through this fiasco has advised her very badly indeed. It's a terrible shame, and she's going to pay very dearly for it, I'm afraid.

Old Hack
09-13-2011, 09:35 PM
Just to point out the other side of this - no one knows what "encouragement" entails. That this person mentioned being so close to killing herself rather than face the alternatives says she may not be evaluating situations with a clear head. For all anyone here knows, Konrath's "encouragement" could have consisted of "Good for you!" and nothing more.

Excellent point, Cyia. Thank you.

Alitriona
09-14-2011, 01:36 AM
She doesn't even have the 20k because she owes that to her publisher. And in the meantime she has no book either, because they are retaining that until she repays them.

That's what I meant, if she doesn't return the 20k like a few have been advising in her blog comments, she can't publish the book anywhere else. In all likelihood the 20 is gone already anyway so the book is now dead in the water for the time being. What a waste of four year work.

Anaquana
09-14-2011, 03:03 AM
Holy wow! Is this OUR Torgo she's talking about? http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html?showComment=1315938553291#c8778072297383 040473

I saw nothing "fatuous, negative, and discouraging" about what he was saying. He was merely trying to bring a different (knowledgeable) perspective to it. If this is how she reacts then I'm in no way surprised that she got dumped on her ass.

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 03:12 AM
I see it's not all one-sided "self-pub is the One True Way" in the comments apart from Torgo - it'll be interesting to see how she replies to the other ones questioning her side of the story.

veinglory
09-14-2011, 03:13 AM
And commenting on a blog is "infiltrating"? Sounds a little... lacking a sense of proportion.

dawinsor
09-14-2011, 03:23 AM
Oh dear. This is not going to end well.

Psychomacologist
09-14-2011, 03:31 AM
Oh dear. There's a definite "If you're not with us you're one of THEM" feel going on here. Along with the "publishers are EVIL!" vibe.

kaitie
09-14-2011, 03:38 AM
I just wanted to say I think it's a little unfair to dictate how fast we think she should write a book. People move at their own speeds, and yes five years seems excessive to most of us, but I don't know what else has gone on in her life, what other obligations she has, etc. She obviously hasn't locked herself into book a year contracts and she's working at her own speed.

To me it's the equivalent of telling a slow writer like me that I should start writing a book every three months instead of taking a year in order to have a decent career (an argument I've gotten). Some people can do that and do it well and others can't. It's easy for us, without any knowledge of her life or the challenges in it, to say "she should just write more books."

I do admit to thinking, however, that she shouldn't complain about not being allowed to put out a book for two years when it's taken her five to do it in general, though. Actually, I think she shouldn't be complaining about much of this, particularly not in such a public manner. She's making herself look bad not only to her current editor, but to other editors who might choose to work with her in the future. In a way, this is the equivalent of posting drunken pictures on Facebook with comments about hating your boss and then wondering why you can't find a job.

kaitie
09-14-2011, 03:38 AM
Oh dear. There's a definite "If you're not with us you're one of THEM" feel going on here. Along with the "publishers are EVIL!" vibe.

I've noticed this is often the vibe. It's tiring, really.

iRock
09-14-2011, 03:45 AM
Here's what I'm getting out of the comments on her blog:

KIANA: My publisher sucks! I haz a sad!

CHORUS: Publishers suck. They hates us, precious.

EVERYONE ELSE: There's more to this than we're hearing here. Clarify, please.

KIANA: How dare you! I haz a MAD.

KIANA: I change my mind now. I haz a saaaad.

CHORUS: Publishers suck!

At this point she's being melodramatic and unprofessional. If I were her agent I'd be strongly advising her to step back and stop commenting.

The whole thing just sounds iffy to me. I'd love to take a peek at her contract (I bet it's pretty standard) and hear the other side of this story. As others above me have said, publishers generally welcome anything that helps sell more books. They just want to be kept in the loop. That's not an unreasonable request when you're all in business together.

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 03:57 AM
Here's what I'm getting out of the comments on her blog:

KIANA: My publisher sucks! I haz a sad!

CHORUS: Publishers suck. They hates us, precious.

EVERYONE ELSE: There's more to this than we're hearing here. Clarify, please.

KIANA: How dare you! I haz a MAD.

KIANA: I change my mind now. I haz a saaaad.

CHORUS: Publishers suck!

Can we have this in lolcats, please?

Al Stevens
09-14-2011, 03:57 AM
She apologized for her reaction to Torgo. I think she must be in denial about her responsibility for this situation. It could be that she rode her previous success to a level of living that it would support then and won't now. Desperate times call for stupid measures.

Most of us have at one time or another choked on a big bite of foot. Usually the antidote is a small helping of crow. Too late this time.

James D. Macdonald
09-14-2011, 04:50 AM
If you can only write one book every five years, and that's your natural pace, you need some other source of income. Family money, a day job, a spouse with a day job -- something. Because getting enough money per book to live for five years is pretty tough to do.

Though I do know one full-time writer who lives in a cabin he heats with wood, owns enough woodland to keep the stove going, and eats thanks to subsistence hunting. He uses his writing income to buy ammo, paper, and typewriter ribbons.

What he's going to do when they don't make typewriter ribbons any more, I don't know.

Still, he could probably live for a long, long time on a very modest advance.

Al Stevens
09-14-2011, 04:53 AM
"If you're going to take these gigs, you've got to save your money."
-- Jerry Cozzi, piano player (RIP)

IceCreamEmpress
09-14-2011, 04:58 AM
I do admit to thinking, however, that she shouldn't complain about not being allowed to put out a book for two years when it's taken her five to do it in general, though

I think that's more what people were taking issue with. It's going to take everyone however long it takes to write a book, and planning for that is part of being a professional writer.

Also, negotiating other alternatives with the publisher rather than just going ahead with whatever you want is the sound way to approach a potential conflict.

BenPanced
09-14-2011, 05:17 AM
She states in a current post - "There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in."

Now I don't know if he's just giving her emotional support or actively advising her from a legal POV but this is a sticky wicket for all parties involved.

I do hope she's getting good legal advice from her agent and not depending on Konrath's advice as her sole source. Unless Konrath intends to be responsible for repaying the 20K plus any penalties along the way.

I hope.
I read his first post on the topic and he's pretty much telling the flock to go forth and purchase her books because she's downtrodden and being beaten back BY THE MAN (and they are) (and it doesn't seem like people there have an understanding for how Amazon ranking can change and going from 134,555 to 182 doesn't mean you've sold that many copies). Let's hope that's the only advice and encouragement he's been giving.

amergina
09-14-2011, 05:27 AM
If she gets 70% of 2.99, then she's going to have to sell slightly less than 38,100 copies of her collection (either one) to equal her 80K advance.

That's a lot of copies. I wish her well.

Kasey Mackenzie
09-14-2011, 05:31 AM
I read his first post on the topic and he's pretty much telling the flock to go forth and purchase her books because she's downtrodden and being beaten back BY THE MAN (and they are) (and it doesn't seem like people there have an understanding for how Amazon ranking can change and going from 134,555 to 182 doesn't mean you've sold that many copies)...

No but man, it's almost enough to make me want to go and post some sort of online rant to get a lot of negative publicity and see if I can make my own rankings go up that high...

Almost, I said. :P

Carrie in PA
09-14-2011, 05:42 AM
Perhaps this is just me being picky, but when I read approximately a dozen instances of her posting "Your right," in reply to all the supportive posts, it doesn't entice me to take a look at any of her work. Seriously - one typo, who cares, especially online, two, eh, so what. Three, you're getting on my nerves. Four? Five? Six? My inner Grammar Nazi awakens. And he is not impressed.

Keyan
09-14-2011, 05:43 AM
So far, out of all the thread we've had here on authors behaving badly, publishers behaving badly, and whatever else... I've brought a grand total of zero books.

These threads get long because we like chatting to each other. If this wasn't the case, we could have read the original blog post and kept our thoughts to ourselves. I think this gets missed with the "people are talking about it" thing. We enjoy taking part in this forum. Chances are we will be interested in the books by some of the people we talk to. It doesn't equal interest in the book/author being discussed (not the sort of interest where we're going to spend money anyway).

Well "Cannibal Nights" + Davenport is up to 541K hits on Google...

James D. Macdonald
09-14-2011, 06:17 AM
Well "Cannibal Nights" + Davenport is up to 541K hits on Google...

No, it isn't. As of 20 seconds ago that exact search string had 3,980 hits.

Perks
09-14-2011, 06:35 AM
Though I do know one full-time writer who lives in a cabin he heats with wood, owns enough woodland to keep the stove going, and eats thanks to subsistence hunting. He uses his writing income to buy ammo, paper, and typewriter ribbons.

What he's going to do when they don't make typewriter ribbons any more, I don't know.

Still, he could probably live for a long, long time on a very modest advance.You're friends with Ted Kaczynski?

Polenth
09-14-2011, 06:46 AM
Well "Cannibal Nights" + Davenport is up to 541K hits on Google...

Google hits don't equal sales.

Al Stevens
09-14-2011, 07:06 AM
No, it isn't. As of 20 seconds ago that exact search string had 3,980 hits.The big number comes without the quotation marks, which hits on every page that has those three words somewhere.

Al Stevens
09-14-2011, 07:10 AM
What he's going to do when they don't make typewriter ribbons any more, I don't know.
He might get a Tandy 102 on ebay and a year's supply of AA batteries. I took that configuration on a bus road trip throughout England several years ago.

But it takes a long time to upload a manuscript at 300 baud.

aruna
09-14-2011, 11:00 AM
Katie:

I wasn’t implying that she should write faster – some people just ARE slow writers, and alll the better for it. But the consequence of that is a slow flow of advances, and it’s just silly to complain about that. As Uncle Jim says, in that case you need another source of income, and self-publishing could have been a great solution for her. But it needs to be done in a professional manner, and in accordance with the main contract. Throwing away the contract in a fit of pique doesn’t help anyone; it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Terie
09-14-2011, 11:27 AM
Holy wow! Is this OUR Torgo she's talking about? http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html?showComment=1315938553291#c8778072297383 040473.

Okay, when someone accuses someone else of 'infiltrating' a public blog, it's long past time for them to step away from the keyboard.

I mean, isn't that rather like accusing someone of 'infiltrating' Central Park?



Throwing away the contract in a fit of pique doesn’t help anyone; it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

This. I can't help but suspect that after this episode, she won't be able to secure another agent or publishing contract ever again. Even a pseudonym won't help because once you get to the contract stage, you have to use your real name. Who would want to work with someone who's proven herself -- in public, in front of God and everybody -- to be a major drama queen ready to bite the hand the feeds her?

If self-publishing doesn't earn her Konrath-like bucks, she's going to be in real financial trouble, even moreso than she claims to be in now.

Torgo
09-14-2011, 01:26 PM
Cor, you leave some mild and reasonable comments, you step away from the keyboard from the evening, and what happens?

Sheryl Nantus
09-14-2011, 02:03 PM
People are, at least, questioning her rant on the blog itself and in other places.

I think it's safe to say that she's really burned herself in the literary world - even if, perchance, the publisher were at fault I don't see anyone wanting to work with an author who has such public fits and emotional rantings...

pangalactic
09-14-2011, 02:10 PM
FWIW Torgo, I think everybody here knows how reasonable your comments were. This is becoming a farce. Somebody needs to have a quiet word with Ms. Davenport and tell her to let everything cool down before she opens her mouth again. Her agent should have done that already.

Terie
09-14-2011, 02:11 PM
Cor, you leave some mild and reasonable comments, you step away from the keyboard from the evening, and what happens?

Why, you get called an 'infiltrator', of course. Duh. What did you expect? ;)

shaldna
09-14-2011, 02:19 PM
Cor, you leave some mild and reasonable comments, you step away from the keyboard from the evening, and what happens?

I saw your comments last night and I thought they were very reasonable.

What made me laugh was Davenports reaction which was to USE ALL CAPS to tell everyone that you *shock horror* worked in publishing and therefore COULD NOT BE TRUSTED!!!111!!!

Torgo
09-14-2011, 02:23 PM
If anyone would like to see the post that just apparently got deleted three times in a row:


(Weirdly I just posted this, but it disappeared! Possibly some bug in the dialogue system?)

Goodness me.

Firstly, yes, I am an editor in print publishing. I am not a KGB spy, nor a lizard man, nor a fiendish member of the Illuminati, which I guess might have better merited the dramatic reveal.

I've edited books for more than ten years now, and I've seen a lot of contracts. You didn't give a lot of information on the exact nature of the dispute, but it appeared that you were focused on the 'similarity', or lack of it, between the two books. I wanted to point out that, depending on the exact circumstances, there are other legitimate complaints that a publisher might have about what you did.

I'm not sure how showing up on your public blog to make, very mildly, the point that there are two sides to every story, counts as some sort of nefarious infiltration.

What concerns me more than the name-calling, though, is the pervasive sense of us vs them. "No wonder his comments are so supportive of print publishing!" - I mentioned some common features of publishing contracts and the way that publishers in my experience tend to behave. "No wonder he's so negative about self-publishing!" - I said only, in passing, that self-published books IN PRINT tend not to sell well. These are not hype/slurs - these are verifiable facts.

Listen, if you want to self-publish, knock yourself out. I'm not sneaking around trying to discourage you. But I'm concerned that people are getting an odd impression of what we do all day. I don't get up in the morning, twirl my moustaches, and set about abusing and 'muzzling' my authors; if I did that I'd soon end up with unhappy authors and no books. We're not villains. We're here to take on the risk and the expense and most of the work of publishing for you, if we like each other enough - so that you can get on with writing. I'm happy to answer any and all questions about my business.

(If you press me, I'd recommend not self-publishing in print, because you won't be able to do it economically enough to make any money. That's why a lot of successful ebook authors sign print deals with publishers. It is, of course, possible to make a lot of money self-publishing ebooks, though I'd say that the explosion in ebook self-publishing implies a lot of competition in the marketplace - the signal to noise ratio is a problem.)

Theo81
09-14-2011, 02:26 PM
I don't get up in the morning, twirl my moustaches, and set about abusing and 'muzzling' my authors

You disappoint me, Torgo.

Keyan
09-14-2011, 02:41 PM
No, it isn't. As of 20 seconds ago that exact search string had 3,980 hits.

Huh. Oh, I did it without the quote-marks: cannibal nights davenport

Currently: About 529,000 results (0.18 seconds)

No doubt the current kerfuffle is boosting the numbers, too.

Sheryl Nantus
09-14-2011, 02:44 PM
If anyone would like to see the post that just apparently got deleted three times in a row:

Looks like she's trying hard not to let anyone see your posting...

Definitely a public meltdown of the first degree. Haven't seen one like this for a bit...

I wonder how long before she races over here and demands that all these nasty posts gets deleted!

:D

shaldna
09-14-2011, 02:57 PM
I wonder how long before she races over here and demands that all these nasty posts gets deleted!

:D


Nah. The way these things go is that she rants about us first and then we get the trolls and then the author states that they 'asked nicely' for the negative/factual posts to be removed but we were nasty unreasonable people and refused while they are just poor martyrs suffering at the hands of The Man.

Come on, you've been here long enough to know how author meltdowns go.

shaldna
09-14-2011, 02:58 PM
I did post a comment last night asking for clarification on some of the points - specifically about her non-compete and right of first refusal that would have been in her contract.

But that comment has disapeared too. how odd.

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 03:01 PM
Huh. Oh, I did it without the quote-marks: cannibal nights davenport

Currently: About 529,000 results (0.18 seconds)

No doubt the current kerfuffle is boosting the numbers, too.

Doing it without quotes gives you a lot of pages that mention the individual words "cannibal" and "nights" on the same page but not "cannibal nights" as a phrase. Hence most of those half-million are not hits on the book.

Calla Lily
09-14-2011, 03:33 PM
For a brief, shining moment, I had these delightful mental images of Torgo:

Waking up in the morning:
http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcScNUD3iFtSUmJ-_CrlvOjmd3Uv6qd7saXvj9Njzrhd4w6Ilpwc

Putting on work clothes:
http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQm4F6uzUH0iPAbMcU8qekgcFDopKFR6 HcX0QZgbJAqXIlIIQeB

:D

Perks
09-14-2011, 04:06 PM
You disappoint me, Torgo.

I know. Why oh why did you have to turn out to be a bad guy, Torgo? I've always thought well of you...

Sheryl Nantus
09-14-2011, 04:11 PM
Hmm... cannibal might be a good way to refer to her career after this...

:D

Dr.Gonzo
09-14-2011, 04:23 PM
I can't help being engrossed in stuff like this. Like that one who stomped all over her blog about bad reviews concerning typos and poor formatting in her ebook.

/popcorn

ChaosTitan
09-14-2011, 05:06 PM
I just wanted to say I think it's a little unfair to dictate how fast we think she should write a book.

No one has said that or is dictating anything, but I think Uncle Jim put it more succinctly than I can:


If you can only write one book every five years, and that's your natural pace, you need some other source of income. Family money, a day job, a spouse with a day job -- something. Because getting enough money per book to live for five years is pretty tough to do.


In the end, she listened to bad advice and now she's burning bridges left and write. It's pretty sad to see.

Torgo
09-14-2011, 05:06 PM
I know. Why oh why did you have to turn out to be a bad guy, Torgo? I've always thought well of you...

*pushes grapefruit half in Perks' face (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4R5wZs8cxI)*

Perks
09-14-2011, 05:08 PM
*pushes grapefruit half in Perks' face (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4R5wZs8cxI)*

Dats vewwy mean.

Calla Lily
09-14-2011, 05:10 PM
In the end, she listened to bad advice and now she's burning bridges left and write. It's pretty sad to see.

Freudian slip or clever play on words? :)

ChaosTitan
09-14-2011, 05:19 PM
Freudian slip or clever play on words? :)

:ROFL:

Oops.

:e2paperba

illiterwrite
09-14-2011, 05:31 PM
How are you so sure her advance was $80,000? It could have been $10,000 on signing, $10,000 on initial manuscript submission, another chunk on final completion of edits, and the final installment on publication. So at this point she would have received $20,000.

I would bet that growing disillusionment and disappointment with her publishing experience (declining sales & advances, less publicity/marketing) made her take this leap (probably against the advice of her agent). I am also willing to bet, given the immediate slap on the wrist, that she had already discussed self-publishing the collection with at least one person at the publishing house (or her agent) and was told she was in violation of her contract and should not think about doing it.

Ari Meermans
09-14-2011, 05:33 PM
I thought it was a play on words—and a clever one, at that. Now I feel so used.

gothicangel
09-14-2011, 05:36 PM
For a brief, shining moment, I had these delightful mental images of Torgo:

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQm4F6uzUH0iPAbMcU8qekgcFDopKFR6 HcX0QZgbJAqXIlIIQeB



When I start subbing my book next year, this is so how I am going to picture agents and publishers! :)

Barbara R.
09-14-2011, 06:37 PM
Because Konrath is brilliant with words (I think, I've never actually read his books, but he is a marketing genius). ...He is an absolutist in his views, he equivocates, he lies, he is mean and he changes the rules of the game whenever he feels like it to prove he is right in all things. And it works. He makes a living selling his words.

He makes a living, it seems to me, explaining to other writers how to get rich self-publishing. Goes to show how many hungry writers there are out there...as if we here on AW didn't know.

There's a lot of anger, too, and he's tapping into it. It's humiliating for a lot of writers to go hat in hand to agents and never receive so much as a "thanks, but no thanks." It's comforting for such writers to believe the game is fixed. Konrath seems like an enabler. "Indie publisher" sounds so much cooler than "Vanity publisher," while "legacy publisher" sounds quaint and irrelevant.

It's a good thing that the cost of self-publishing has gone way down, since most self-published writers will never recoup that cost. It's a good thing that writers who are really and truly shut out have a way to make their books available. It's also good that published writers can make backlist books readily available--that used to be true of only the very top-selling tier. But the lack of any filter or gatekeeping in the self-publishing world means that most mainstream reviewers will refuse to review self-published work, most bookstores will refuse to stock it, most libraries will refuse to buy copies. Take all that away, and all you have left are the self-published author's attempts at self-promotion and "brand creation."

kaitie
09-14-2011, 06:50 PM
Katie:

I wasn’t implying that she should write faster – some people just ARE slow writers, and alll the better for it. But the consequence of that is a slow flow of advances, and it’s just silly to complain about that. As Uncle Jim says, in that case you need another source of income, and self-publishing could have been a great solution for her. But it needs to be done in a professional manner, and in accordance with the main contract. Throwing away the contract in a fit of pique doesn’t help anyone; it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I agree. I think complaining about it as if it's other people's fault is definitely counterproductive.

kaitie
09-14-2011, 06:53 PM
If anyone would like to see the post that just apparently got deleted three times in a row:

You are brilliant. :D

ETA: I don't know the person in question, but the comment above about there being a lot of anger/resentment built up in publishing has me thinking how much of that applies to the author in question as well. I could see how doing well (and getting a 160k advance for a book is pretty great) and winning some major awards and what not could lead a person to expect and perhaps even feel that they deserve a certain level of success.

Uncle Jim has talked to us a lot about how it becomes harder to publish later books because of the way sales figures are added into the equation, and if that's something that an author doesn't fully understand, or even if it's understood but you've won major awards and feel that your work deserves more, that could definitely build up a degree of resentment and anger. The danger is that there comes a point where letting that emotion think for you causes problems, and that's what seems to go on with many of Konrath's followers.

I still find it utterly terrifying that anyone would make a career decision based on advice he gave, though. Taking it into consideration might be one thing, but doing something like this on his encouragement blows my mind.

Namatu
09-14-2011, 07:05 PM
I still find it utterly terrifying that anyone would make a career decision based on advice he gave, though. Taking it into consideration might be one thing, but doing something like this on his encouragement blows my mind.I haven't read all of the blog comments, but is her agent not even included in the advice column?

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 07:06 PM
It's a good thing that the cost of self-publishing has gone way down, since most self-published writers will never recoup that cost. It's a good thing that writers who are really and truly shut out have a way to make their books available.

Well said. The recent scrabblings by PublishAmerica to milk every last dollar from their authors is proof, to me, that self-publishing is competing directly with vanity presses - and it has the benefit of being a lot cheaper*.

* That is, you can get the same quality book by doing it yourself that you will get out of the typical bottom-feeder vanity press, for a fraction of the cost. You can still throw money away if you want, but it's no longer "necessary".

kaitie
09-14-2011, 07:11 PM
Well, the problems with something like PA is that authors don't realize they're being vanity published. I think that's true of a lot of these publishers. A lot of the authors don't go into it thinking, "I want to self-publish my book so I'll hire them to do the services," they don't understand how publishing actually works and believe paying for it is common, etc. For people who actually understand the difference and did the research, they'd probably come to that conclusion, but the problem is that many people getting involved don't know and haven't done the research.

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 07:17 PM
True - but with all the hype surround self-publishing, I suspect that internet-connected but otherwise naive writers are more likely to flock to Konrath than PA. Which means the latter are dealing with an ever-shrinking pool of customers.

James D. Macdonald
09-14-2011, 07:28 PM
I think that really-cheap self-publishing will drive a stake through vanity-publishing's heart, and good riddance to them.

I think that we're hearing the screams and howls of the vanity presses even now, in PA's ever-increasingly-bizarre email offers to their authors and the desperation of the scammers to disprove Yog's Law.

kaitie
09-14-2011, 07:30 PM
True - but with all the hype surround self-publishing, I suspect that internet-connected but otherwise naive writers are more likely to flock to Konrath than PA. Which means the latter are dealing with an ever-shrinking pool of customers.

Well that's a damn good thing at least. :)

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 07:33 PM
I think that really-cheap self-publishing will drive a stake through vanity-publishing's heart, and good riddance to them.

I think that we're hearing the screams and howls of the vanity presses even now, in PA's ever-increasingly-bizarre email offers to their authors and the desperation of the scammers to disprove Yog's Law.

Is there an echo in here? :D

BunnyMaz
09-14-2011, 07:35 PM
If anyone would like to see the post that just apparently got deleted three times in a row:

Do you blog Torgo? If Kiana's blog allows trackbacks you could blog your concerns and comments and trackback to her.

I wouldn't normally worry about it, but in this case Kiana isn't just shooting herself in the foot.

Aspiring writers reading her and Konrath's self-publishing advice are only getting one side of the story from her about this, since she does indeed seem to be deleting any comments that don't glow with praise for her actions. Effectively, anyone not already aware of the issues you're seeing is hearing a- that the big 6 are being mean and are doing this illegally and are bullies and self-publishers can and should do what Kiana did, and b- that everyone else agrees and no one sees anything wrong with Kiana's account of matters.

She's not just burning bridges in her own career by shutting down dissenting comments. She's encouraging others to do the same.

shaldna
09-14-2011, 07:55 PM
Aspiring writers reading her and Konrath's self-publishing advice are only getting one side of the story from her about this, since she does indeed seem to be deleting any comments that don't glow with praise for her actions. Effectively, anyone not already aware of the issues you're seeing is hearing a- that the big 6 are being mean and are doing this illegally and are bullies and self-publishers can and should do what Kiana did, and b- that everyone else agrees and no one sees anything wrong with Kiana's account of matters.

She's not just burning bridges in her own career by shutting down dissenting comments. She's encouraging others to do the same.

And this is my issue with a lot of SP advocates - like Konrath and the likes of Robin Sullivan and co. - they are in a position where people listen to them, but the amount of misinformation is damaging to people who aren't experienced enough to know better.

It's one thing to take a risk with your own career, but it's quite another to encourage someone else to do it.

I also don't understand this 'them and us' thing that a lot of people are so caught up on, I really don't see why you have to be absolutely in one of the camps - there are lots of people who traditionally publish and self publish, it doesn't have to be an either / or situation.

One thing I notice alot, and I noticed it in response to Davenports blog, but also on some of the comments on other blogs talking about it - there are a lot of people saying things like 'and this is why I'll never traditionally publish' etc, and I don't think that someone else's bad decisions should be the reason you make your own.

Perks
09-14-2011, 07:58 PM
One thing I notice alot, and I noticed it in response to Davenports blog, but also on some of the comments on other blogs talking about it - there are a lot of people saying things like 'and this is why I'll never traditionally publish' etc, and I don't think that someone else's bad decisions should be the reason you make your own.It's also a bit on the dramatic side. If Harper Collins asked nicely, I don't think they'd say no.

ETA - but not with Torgo's company. He's sinister and he has a mustache.

Cyia
09-14-2011, 08:25 PM
And this is my issue with a lot of SP advocates - like Konrath and the likes of Robin Sullivan and co. - they are in a position where people listen to them, but the amount of misinformation is damaging to people who aren't experienced enough to know better.

It's one thing to take a risk with your own career, but it's quite another to encourage someone else to do it.

I also don't understand this 'them and us' thing that a lot of people are so caught up on, I really don't see why you have to be absolutely in one of the camps - there are lots of people who traditionally publish and self publish, it doesn't have to be an either / or situation.

One thing I notice alot, and I noticed it in response to Davenports blog, but also on some of the comments on other blogs talking about it - there are a lot of people saying things like 'and this is why I'll never traditionally publish' etc, and I don't think that someone else's bad decisions should be the reason you make your own.

This is why I wish more of the people looking for an experienced, successful self-publisher would listen to someone like Amanda Hocking. She knows she beat the odds, and has no qualms about saying so or cautioning people not to expect the same sort of success she's had just because they upload a book or twelve.

Unfortunately, I've seen people take that attitude as reason to ignore everything she has to say. Especially now that she's "sold out" and gotten herself a commercial contract. (Which, FWIW, even Konrath made mention of, in context of "you can't beat the money they offered her".)

With all the evidence to the contrary, a huge pool of aspiring writers cling to the notion of writing as a get rich quick scheme, and anything that speaks otherwise is nothing but someone trying to keep them from their dream.

rainsmom
09-14-2011, 09:02 PM
Aspiring writers reading her and Konrath's self-publishing advice are only getting one side of the story from her about this, since she does indeed seem to be deleting any comments that don't glow with praise for her actions. Effectively, anyone not already aware of the issues you're seeing is hearing a- that the big 6 are being mean and are doing this illegally and are bullies and self-publishers can and should do what Kiana did, and b- that everyone else agrees and no one sees anything wrong with Kiana's account of matters.

Those here who blog might consider writing a post with their own take on this situation -- including the part that Kiana is deleting posts that disagree with her. I'm not suggesting a big conspiracy, nor suggesting what people should write. But it wouldn't hurt to get a variety of opinions on all sides, since Kiana is making it entirely one-sided.

I like the trackback idea, as well.

escritora
09-14-2011, 09:36 PM
Torgo's first few posts are still on her blog. He adds another perspective and educates writers on what "injure sales" encompasses. His posts are insightful and add balance to the discussion.

So maybe I'm missing something here. Has she deleted other dissenting posts? Or just Torgo's second to last post?

Bubastes
09-14-2011, 09:39 PM
This is why I wish more of the people looking for an experienced, successful self-publisher would listen to someone like Amanda Hocking. She knows she beat the odds, and has no qualms about saying so or cautioning people not to expect the same sort of success she's had just because they upload a book or twelve.

Unfortunately, I've seen people take that attitude as reason to ignore everything she has to say. Especially now that she's "sold out" and gotten herself a commercial contract. (Which, FWIW, even Konrath made mention of, in context of "you can't beat the money they offered her".)

With all the evidence to the contrary, a huge pool of aspiring writers cling to the notion of writing as a get rich quick scheme, and anything that speaks otherwise is nothing but someone trying to keep them from their dream.

I don't understand this AT ALL. They cling to writing as a way to get rich, yet ignore someone who's actually done it? The mind, it boggles.

virtue_summer
09-14-2011, 10:14 PM
I also don't understand this 'them and us' thing that a lot of people are so caught up on, I really don't see why you have to be absolutely in one of the camps - there are lots of people who traditionally publish and self publish, it doesn't have to be an either / or situation.

It does for people whose decision to self publish has nothing to do with the merits of self publishing and everything to do with being a reaction against publishers. I can wear both red and blue but not if my decision to wear red is based on the idea that I must not/cannot wear blue.

Terie
09-14-2011, 10:19 PM
It does for people whose decision to self publish has nothing to do with the merits of self publishing and everything to do with being a reaction against publishers. I can wear both red and blue but not if my decision to wear red is based on the idea that I must not/cannot wear blue.

Shaldna's point is that it doesn't have to be that way. These people make it a choice. There isn't anything forcing them into an either/or mindset other than their own choice.

Anne Lyle
09-14-2011, 10:40 PM
I just posted a link to Bob Mayer's blog in the comments. It's pro-selfpub, but in a much more measured and reasoned way than Konrath:

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-real-gatekeepers-in-publishing-now-authors/

I refrained from pointed out to her the importance of points #1, #2, #9 and #10 in his list :)

ios
09-14-2011, 10:47 PM
Something does not smell right about this. I'd like to have a lot more information.

I agree, I think there is more going on than we can see. And that is probably for a reason, too. A legal reason. From reading her blog post, however, it seems the publisher was acting unprofessionally toward her at times, whether provoked or not. Also, from just reading it, I wonder what was the inciting incident. One just doesn't normally go from a regular publisher-author relationship to ballistic like that. For some reason, something really upset the publishers beyond just awareness of her works. Wonder what it was.

Jodi

ios
09-14-2011, 11:01 PM
I wouldn't buy her book now on principle - not after she trash-talked a publisher and threw her toys out of the pram. I have no time for silliness.

But what happens if she turns out to be in the right, legally and morally?

Jodi

Phaeal
09-14-2011, 11:02 PM
Mods, may I ask why you haven't yet banned this pedophiliac, genocidal, serial killer, puppy squasher PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL Torgo????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!

Collaborators.

Cyia
09-14-2011, 11:09 PM
"Ballistic" is the term the author chose, and I doubt it's accurate. If anything, it was a quiet and efficient revocation of a contract due to the author's breech. Had the publisher "gone ballistic", the first anyone heard of it wouldn't have been the writer's temper tantrum.

The details aren't there because if she gave an accurate picture of what happened, she'd lose her sympathizers, but it's not difficult to infer that the writer needed money, believed the hype that self-pubbing an e-book would get her some, fast, and therefore she made a bad decision. Rather than acquiesce to her publisher's request to abide by her contract, she threw a fit, so they exercised their right not to work with someone who spits in their face.

Perks
09-14-2011, 11:11 PM
Mods, may I ask why you haven't yet banned this pedophiliac, genocidal, serial killer, puppy squasher PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL Torgo????????!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!

Collaborators.I know. He's bad. It's very disappointing.

Scribhneoir
09-14-2011, 11:16 PM
This is why I wish more of the people looking for an experienced, successful self-publisher would listen to someone like Amanda Hocking. She knows she beat the odds, and has no qualms about saying so or cautioning people not to expect the same sort of success she's had just because they upload a book or twelve.



Bolding mine.

As a writer, I have no interest in self-publishing my work and as a reader I have no interest in reading the self-published works of others, but for my own edification, I do follow the general purpose threads in the E-pub and Self-pub forums here. And one thing that seems to be a huge factor in achieving success as a self-pubber* is being prolific.

Kiana Davenport is not prolific. At the rate of one novel every five years, she is not going to make a successful self-pubber, no matter how courageous or independent she thinks she's being or how hard she markets herself.

I'd like to think she made the decision to thumb her nose at her Big 6 publisher for a better reason than being a pawn in Konrath's game, but I have my doubts.

I didn't think my opinion of Konrath could sink any lower than it already was, but I was wrong. He should come with a warning label -- "following this advice may be hazardous to your career."


*By success I mean success of the sort that is impressive to anyone, like Amanda Hocking's, and not just the self-pub cheerleaders.

ios
09-14-2011, 11:26 PM
"Ballistic" is the term the author chose, and I doubt it's accurate. If anything, it was a quiet and efficient revocation of a contract due to the author's breech. Had the publisher "gone ballistic", the first anyone heard of it wouldn't have been the writer's temper tantrum.

Do we have any evidence that the publisher acted in a totally professional and "quiet and efficient" matter, though? We have evidence that the author is being defensive and angry, justified or not. I think how the publisher reacted is key to her reaction and I think something happened on a more emotional level between the two, something that p****ed off the publisher, and it snowballed from there. Because after all, publishers are made up of humans too.

Jodi

Cyia
09-14-2011, 11:33 PM
Given her own version of her state of mind, any negative reaction from her publisher could have incited the fit. The woman was admittedly ready to kill herself rather than endure hard times:


Unemployment is staggering here, I couldn't find a job. I sold my good clothes and jewelry, made out a will leaving the land to my daughter. I felt I'd rather die than scrape and starve. (I'm a good swimmer, I'm half Hawaiian, I know how to swim to exhaustion, then unconsciousness.) If I couldn't make a living at what I love to do - publishers and bookstores folding left and right - I felt I'd rather pack it in. I was dead serious, I've never been afraid to die. Its a Hawaiian thing - we always have one foot in the other world.

At first friends thought I was kidding, but then they saw me making plans, they watched me begin to withdraw. Then one day a friend came to my house and said two words. "JOE KONRATH." That's what she said. "This man is going to save your life."

If she equated not getting the type of advances she wanted with a big enough crisis to end her life, and thought of Konrath as her only lifeline, then when the publisher didn't cave, it's not surprising she'd leap completely into the boat she thought was going to save her career.

Her problem, now, is that until she pays back the advance, she can't do anything with her novel, which means it can't earn her any money on Amazon. What she did manage to self-publish is, in essence, a reprint of a bunch of short stories. Short stories aren't mega-sellers, reprints even less so.

By her own words and actions, she's a lady of highly dramatic extremes.

absitinvidia
09-14-2011, 11:35 PM
If the agent agreed to a stupid contract, he/she should. Most agents insist that contractually, advances that must be repaid are repaid out of "first receipts," meaning that until the book is resold, the author doesn't have to repay a dime. I also seriously doubt that the writer in this case got $80K in advance. Her publishing history doesn't seem to warrant that much, and these are hard times in the industry. There are more holes than story in the writer's story.


I'm not sure how that "first receipts" applies to this situation. If the publisher alleges that she's in breach, that provision is no longer in effect and she has to pay back the advance. Is that not the case?

Jamiekswriter
09-14-2011, 11:37 PM
I've got a question, if she decided to change her self pubbed anthology so that it was written under a pseudonym would she still be in violation of her contract? (assuming the kerfluffle was about that and not the author being an asshat)

Would that have been a viable solution to this mess? The way I see it she could have the cash from the self pubbed book and still keep her advance.

Of course if she was banking on her "name recognition" to sell her books that could be a reason why she didn't.

However, I thought Mr. Konrath's stance was you don't need to be a name to make a buck in self pub. (See Amanda Hocking)

Cyia
09-14-2011, 11:43 PM
She was republishing works that had already been published. Putting them out under a new name could have led to accusations of plagiarism, which would have required her to own up, anyway.