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Dreamspinner Press

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

WriterInChains

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That is exactly my experience too. Nothing about the edited version being theirs in my contract, but in the revision letter it did indeed say that. But any edits I did were still MY words only, so no way they could ever enforce such silliness. (Especially since the original contract did not say anything like that)

Did anyone cite a specific clause in the contract to back this up? I checked mine but didn't find anything that would lead me to believe the edited version won't be reverted to me. But I was surprised about the basket accounting clause too. So much to learn, no matter how long you've been in this biz!
 

James D. Macdonald

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In general, basket accounting happens when you sell a publisher several titles in a single contract. In that case, no additional royalties are paid on that contract until the entire advance on that contract is paid back.

Do read your contracts carefully.

Also: the idea that the publisher owns the edits is abusive. If you find that in a contract, line it out. If they insist: walk.

The only agreement between an author and a publisher is the contract, signed by both.

A good agent now can save you heartache later.
 

S.C. Wynne

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In general, basket accounting happens when you sell a publisher several titles in a single contract. In that case, no additional royalties are paid on that contract until the entire advance on that contract is paid back.

Do read your contracts carefully.



Also: the idea that the publisher owns the edits is abusive. If you find that in a contract, line it out. If they insist: walk.

The only agreement between an author and a publisher is the contract, signed by both.



A good agent now can save you heartache later.

Each book had a separate contract. What annoys me about it is books that I didn't get an advance on would then be used to pay back advances. That is illogical to me.
 

CaoPaux

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FYI, I've received another report of DSP trying to retroactively change contract terms during the rights-reversion process. Just in case it needs to be said, it is not standard practice for a publisher to require an author to sign anything to get their rights back (after the initial request, of course). Should you receive any such document(s), proceed carefully.
 

TamMac

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Regarding the previous issue (ownership of edits) the RWA has taken legal advice on this very thing and here's a link to what they have to say.

In short, "Rights reverted to a novelist upon the exercise of an out-of-print, or reversion of rights, clause include editorial revisions, so long as those revisions are not independently copyrightable. …Although editors may make many useful revisions, unless both participants enter into the venture as joint authors, editorial contributions are not separately copyrightable."

I highly recommend people read the thing in its entirety.

- - - Updated - - -
 
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drowningmermaid

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I'm a little peeved by them just at present.

For eight years, they held a "daily dose" which is a short story anthology, printed once per day in June. So I wrote one per their guidelines (the theme this year was "storybook romance") but, rather than give me either an acceptance or a rejection, I got a notice saying "due to lack of author interest, we won't be reading any of the stories submitted. And we won't be doing edits/suggestions the way we usually do." [paraphrase mine] Le Sigh. I think they could at least have bothered to read the story and tell me if they were interested in a longer version, or not waited until they'd said acceptance/rejection letters were going to be received to tell me that they were quits.

But I know the industry is really putting a NASTY squeeze on a lot of publishers these days, and I can't say I entirely blame them. Perhaps this is my opportunity to know if self-publishing is the way to go for me.
 

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I just looked at the Dreamspinner submissions page and it says they're currently closed to "general" submissions (since March 31, it looks like).

Does anyone know what this is about? I've been trying to diversify over the past couple years so I haven't been paying much attention to DSP... have they closed to general submissions before? It looks like they're still taking manuscripts for their category lines, maybe?

Anyone heard anything?
 
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sjeller

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Kate, they recently closed to general submissions. They also laid off a lot of people in the process. They say it's because they want to "achieve greater success" for their authors.
 

Zombie Fraggle

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Kate, they recently closed to general submissions. They also laid off a lot of people in the process. They say it's because they want to "achieve greater success" for their authors.

That's vague, and I'm not sure if I find it promising or troubling. That the word "temporarily" isn't used on the submission closure announcement gives me pause.

Maybe it means they're going to back off the aggressive release schedule. I'm not sure how any given book receives adequate attention when they crank out several new releases almost every day. That wouldn't be the worst scenario. I hope it doesn't mean they're struggling.

If they are in danger of closing, I hope they do it with the same efficiency, transparency, and aplomb with which they closed their retail business, the defunct RainbowEbooks dot com (which is oddly still online, albeit empty of product--also red-flagged as not secure by my antivirus software , so visit at your own peril).
 

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I can only speak for myself here, but if it helps, I contract edit with them and I'm still receiving editing work. I'm not as busy, but with subs being closed, that speaks for itself. I've honestly heard nothing about closure, but please note I wouldn't hear about closure etc, just that my service is no longer needed. I've not been told that they're not.
 

sjeller

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I don't believe they are closing, but they are definitely cutting back heavily.
 

amergina

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FYI, a little update. Apparently, there's been some delay in paying authors, and Dreamspinner put out a statement (in PDF form) here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/j2sf48i402jytqn/State of the Dreamspinner World May 2019.pdf

The opening paragraph:

Before rolling out this statement, we need to address one point immediately: Dreamspinner
Press is not in overall financial crisis or in any danger of closing. What we are is working through
a temporary crunch in month-to-month cash flow as we wait for more than two years of financial
investment and thousands of hours of effort to yield steady results. Dreamspinner’s balance sheet
is healthy; our assets outweigh any debts.

(I have no connection to the press, but they *are* one of the large m/m publishers out there.)
 

cool pop

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Sigh. I used to feel sorry for pubs but now I only feel sorry for the authors affected. Doesn't matter why they aren't getting paid on time, the point is they aren't. As someone who has been burned by many small presses, this doesn't look good. Especially with the fact that they've been lessening the amount of submissions they've been taken on for a few years. How many times have we heard this song and dance about nothing is wrong then the pub up and closes? I hope for the authors' sake that this turns out okay or if not they will be able to recover and move on without being hurt. It's just sad that this happens over and over and it's the authors getting hurt. PAY THEM. It's not their fault why you can't. They deserve to be paid. It's no different than your boss saying he won't pay. Authors have bills and things to take care of too yet these pubs act like you can keep their money and the authors understand???

Sorry, don't mean to rant but after years and years of hearing this over and over and seeing authors left in the dust, it's maddening.

Wishing the DS authors the best.
 

A.P.M.

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I recently got a contract for a book with series potential for DSP, and they've prepared a series summary with me. I'm a bit nervous now, but nothing I've seen in my dealings with them has led me to believe this hiccup will transform into a closing. My book released in 2017 did very well, so I'm hoping this next book will too.
 

Sonya Heaney

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FYI, a little update. Apparently, there's been some delay in paying authors, and Dreamspinner put out a statement (in PDF form) here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/j2sf48i402jytqn/State of the Dreamspinner World May 2019.pdf

Oh no. I don't write what they publish, so never submitted there, but they seem to have a great reputation.

I recently got a contract for a book with series potential for DSP, and they've prepared a series summary with me. I'm a bit nervous now, but nothing I've seen in my dealings with them has led me to believe this hiccup will transform into a closing. My book released in 2017 did very well, so I'm hoping this next book will too.

I hope it works out for you.
 

Earthling

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The announcement was posted at the beginning of May and some authors still haven't been paid. I was paid on time... but my royalties were tiny, as third-party sales haven't come through yet so all I'd earned was from direct sales on the DSP website. Authors who were due a lot more (one friend in four-figures) are still waiting.

Small data sample but if they're paying small amounts on time and not larger amounts... sounds less like an "accounting" problem and more like a cash flow problem.
 

Ellaroni

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I got my rights back a year ago, thinking they were on a downward spiral. I did not have any issues with them over payment or anything - they were nice, responsive and professional dealing with my three YA novels, and I got my rights back with no questions asked. I didn't think there was any future for their Harmony Ink YA imprint after they closed for submission and stopped promoting and actively participating in events.
It is so sad to see them do this :(
 

amergina

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*sigh* so I have close friends who are published with Dreamspinner/DSP. I've been occasionally tweeting their Tuesday updates:

https://twitter.com/amergina/status/1151308349520171008

https://twitter.com/amergina/status/1156568140190347264

https://twitter.com/amergina/status/1157323078877274112

If you read these, the main takeaway is that it seems that they've taken out a loan to cover outstanding and Q2 royalty payments. Which raises a lot of red flags.

I didn't post here because honestly, I didn't want to make too many waves. Cash flow issues are bad bad bad. But authors are still contracted and they're kind of stuck, you know? I was hoping they'd work out the financial stuff.

But then today happened.

Author Garrett Leigh posted a long post on Facebook, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighbooks/posts/1764174270392889

To any reader that preordered The Edge of the World from the original publisher:

This contract was terminated several months ago for widely known issues that dozens of other authors are dealing with at this current time. The slated release date of July 16th 2019, and the mass-market campaign were cancelled and the rights reverted to me with immediate effect.

All preorders were legally required to be cancelled and refunded. I was assured multiple times that this had been done with immediate effect.
HOWEVER, it has come to my attention in the last week that some preorders were fulfilled and The Edge of the World was illegally distributed to readers around the world.

She was in negotiations to have the novel published elsewhere, but those broke down since the book has now been published. Dreamspinner says they cannot tell her how many copies were sent out.

This is very very not good, and I would suggest that anyone thinking about publishing with Dreamspinner/DSP think very very hard about if you really want to do that.

There's no good explanation DSP could put forth for what happened. The kindest to DSP is that someone there was merely grossly incompetent. This does nothing to alleviate the damage done to this author or her book.
 

cool pop

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It's sad but I hate to admit I am not surprised. With these small presses it just seems a matter of asking "when" not "who?" Terrible that these places can't handle things with dignity instead of leaving the authors in a mess. That's why I warn authors against small presses. I used to love them but lately it seems like every one of them turns out to be the same in the end. If an author wants a publisher they need to try for the Big Five because it's too much of a risk to sign with a small press these days. The next thing you know they are closing and you're on the hook without your money or your rights.

Poor Garrett Leigh! Horrible situation.
 
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thethinker42

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If an author wants a publisher they need to try for the Big Five because it's too much of a risk to sign with a small press these days. The next thing you know they are closing and you're on the hook without your money or your rights.

Dreamspinner and many other small presses have clauses in their contracts that if they close, we get our rights back immediately. And they don't have life of copyright contracts, so at least when we see the ship is sinking, we have a better shot at getting our rights back and getting out before things get too bad. I've already pulled my two oldest titles from DSP (I'd pull the rest, but they're part of a group project and the other authors want to keep the series together). I haven't looked at my Big Five contract in a while, but I seem to recall being a little nervous at the time because it *didn't* have those "if we implode" failsafes.

So yes, I agree that small presses are imploding like crazy these days, but let's be real about the risk: signing with a Big Five publisher has plenty of its own very real risks (having your book go out of print and never see the light of day again, not being able to get your rights back when things go south, etc), while small presses at least have (usually) escape clauses.

I'm mostly self-publishing these days, but my agent is shopping some books around to the bigger presses. They're the only ones I'll sign with anymore because of their marketing and various other reasons, but I also know that I'm potentially signing away those books forever. I release enough books every year that I can risk a trilogy here or a standalone there. If I only wrote one or two books a year, I would be hesitant to sign with *any* publisher, big or small.
 

cool pop

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Dreamspinner and many other small presses have clauses in their contracts that if they close, we get our rights back immediately. And they don't have life of copyright contracts, so at least when we see the ship is sinking, we have a better shot at getting our rights back and getting out before things get too bad. I've already pulled my two oldest titles from DSP (I'd pull the rest, but they're part of a group project and the other authors want to keep the series together). I haven't looked at my Big Five contract in a while, but I seem to recall being a little nervous at the time because it *didn't* have those "if we implode" failsafes.

So yes, I agree that small presses are imploding like crazy these days, but let's be real about the risk: signing with a Big Five publisher has plenty of its own very real risks (having your book go out of print and never see the light of day again, not being able to get your rights back when things go south, etc), while small presses at least have (usually) escape clauses.

I'm mostly self-publishing these days, but my agent is shopping some books around to the bigger presses. They're the only ones I'll sign with anymore because of their marketing and various other reasons, but I also know that I'm potentially signing away those books forever. I release enough books every year that I can risk a trilogy here or a standalone there. If I only wrote one or two books a year, I would be hesitant to sign with *any* publisher, big or small.

Lori, I agree. We're saying the same things. :) I'm not saying big pubs don't have a risk either. Honestly, I would tell anyone to self-publish off the bat! I don't feel any author needs a publisher this day and age if they are willing to learn how to self-publish and sell books. That's just my opinion. I realize many writers feel differently and some don't want to do anything but write but honestly even with a publisher you will be doing way more than writing.

I am an ex-trade author. Was with Simon and Schuster years ago and was with many small presses and each small press I was with (which were pretty decent back in the day) have closed. It all started the same. They would start having money issues and got to where payment was late or never came and by the time we'd ask, they informed us they were closed. Some I got rights back ASAP, others I had to fight for my rights including getting the Author's Guild involved when I was a member. Still had to wait months because of the pub being shady and just cutting off contact. These were all pubs that USED to be some of the best or at least reputable. All are gone now and all ended up treating authors like crap.

Let's make it clear. I am not defending big presses! LOL! I am pro-indie now all the way. But, I am saying if you have your heart on signing your work away, do it with a big press that can do things for you. Sure, they are not perfect either but you have less of a risk because most times a big house is not going to just close and leave you hanging. You at least know that most likely they will be here a few months down the line. A small press? Not so much. They can be gone tomorrow. Big houses at least have money to pay and you won't get dropped without warning or the CEO won't just disappear one day and you can't find her. There is more protection (especially if you have an agent) and a big house can at least do something a small press cannot. What makes small presses pointless in my view is most (with a few exceptions) don't do anything for you you can't do yourself. Many don't have decent editing and all they do is stick your work up on a retailer and think one tweet is promotion. A big house is not gonna do much promo for you either but they will do more than just sending a few tweets. They'll roll the red carpet out for you if they think you've written the next Eat, Pray, Love.

So that's what I was saying. For those who insist on a publisher (and that's their choice), I believe it's best overall to try and go for the big ones because being with a small press is far too risky these days and rarely worth the effort. The hundreds of threads for defunct small presses right here in the Bewares and Background section is proof of that.

I just hate seeing authors stuck out like this. I've gone through it many times with small presses and I have MANY friends who have as well and that's why I now feel the way I do about small presses. It's the same old story just a different day.
 
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cool pop

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Ooh, it's a mess. Authors are on FB talking about they're out thousands of dollars and some even claimed they were threatened and talked down to when they demanded their money.
 

thethinker42

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Yeah, things are not looking good. I've asked for my rights to be returned (4 of my 8 books have been reverted; the other 4 are in the works), and I know *a lot* of authors who've done the same.

It's a mess, and now they've taken to blaming readers as well as authors who are leaving:

"Second quarter royalties were due on Aug. 1 and are only partially paid, putting the payments 20 days overdue. Every dollar the company takes is goes out on the same day to authors. It is a sad reality that if Dreamspinner had sold an average number of books in May-July, everyone would be paid, but because people are scared and not buying, payments are becoming more overdue. Sometimes, unfortunately, opinion becomes reality."

They're literally saying they're still behind on Q2 royalties because they got lower than usual sales in Q3... without acknowledging that there will be a Q2-shaped hole in Q3 royalties. But no, let's blame the readers and the authors who've jumped ship.

If I hadn't been leaving already, that blog post would've sent me right out the door. Especially since we still don't have a clear answer about WHERE the missing royalties went. People rave about how DSP has been so transparent and has been communicating so regularly and clearly about what's going on, but every update leaves me more confused and with even more questions. Weekly word salad is not transparency or communication.

UGH.

Lori, jumping ship
 

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