Monday, August 27, 2007

A Sad State of Affairs

First of all this will be the first time I have publicly stated that I have resigned from Aphrodite's Apples and am no longer their Editor-in-Chief. There was absolutely no animosity in my decision. Being in law school full time, as well as trying to manage a writing career of my own and battling increasing health problems has prompted me to step down from the position and allow someone to take over who can dedicate more time and attention to the job than I am able to give right now. I do enjoy being busy 24 hours of every day, but there comes a point where one is forced to, as they say, slow down.

I am well aware of my reputation for being opinionated, outspoken, and perhaps even a bit bitchy. What you may not realize is that I have showed restraint on many issues over the last year, so as to avoid any negative associations with Aphrodite's Apples as a result of my opinions. Well, folks, the leash is off now. And you ain't seen nothin' yet.

My first target: the rather dismal state of the epublishing industry at the moment, in the wake of so many publishers closing up shop or simply...fading away. Given the relative ease with which a person can launch their own publishing company (and I'm not talking run it successfully, that's no cake walk, but just open one), it's to be expected that publishers will come and go with some amount of frequency. And perhaps in a way that's good, because it allows for the truly quality houses to stay open, and to shine.

But any time a house closes, it impacts at least a few authors - in the case of Triskelion, many more than that. And in some ways I'm inclined to say that's okay too. Publishers come and publishers go, just like hairstyles and boy bands. Don't misunderstand me, what the Trisk authors are going through right now is awful. I don't wish it on anyone. They have a right to be upset, and they have a right to get back what is theirs and what they are owed.

Yet another publisher seems to have hit the skids this month. No books have been released this month at all (which hey, shit happens), and apparently neither has the publisher made any contact with her authors to let them know what's going on. Word on the street - yes, those rumors all of you have heard and probably passed on - is that certified letters are being returned unopened, phone calls and emails are being ignored, and authors are generally confused, angry, and quite honestly, frightened. What is going on with their lovingly crafted work, they wonder? The books continue to be for sale through the publisher's website, and through third party distributors such as fictionwise. Will they ever see those royalties? Will they ever hear from their publisher again? Is the house closing? What is going on?

Camille Anthony recently went public with her troubles at another small press. Not only does my heart go out to her because she is an enormously talented author whose work I enjoy in my spare time, but I was proud of her for standing up. For broadcasting her cautionary tale to other authors so that they can better avoid falling into a similar trap. And I can't help but wonder, why don't more authors stand up and spread the word? Because let's face it, as long as there continue to be fresh-faced uninformed aspiring authors out there, and there always will be, these houses will continue to pull in contracts.

Yes, there are some very helpful resources out there, WriterBeware, Preditors and Editors, Piers Anthony's personal site, but the complaints lodged there are usually anonymous. And for every negative report Piers provides, there is almost always a positive one in rebuttal. Perhaps what these authors need is real faces and names to put with the experiences, to better give them credibility.

My challenge to you, then, is this: talk about your bad experiences. Don't let others fall into the same traps that you did. Will you gain some enemies from publicly speaking out against certain publishers? Yes, you probably will. I expect at least one or two new adversaries as a result of this post. I couldn't care less. Whisperings and hushed discussions don't change things. And this sad state of affairs definitely needs some changing.

-KJ

1 comment:

H.S. Kinn said...

Indeed, and it makes it harder for the good indie/ePubs to gain or keep credibility. It's a sad state of affairs.