Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things I Haven't Commented on Yet

I had a very nice comment yesterday, asking my thoughts about the Night Shade firesale. (The best link round-up to date I've seen is from Publishers Weekly's blog.)

That reminded me that I also haven't said anything about the slate of Hugo Nominees -- I gather there is the usual ranting and rending of garments about them, though I've mostly just marked those posts to read later so far.

There's several other award things that I haven't weighed in on, either.

I may get to all of this stuff soon, but I have to admit, I've been really busy lately -- work and life and everything else, with a long Saturday trip into NYC with my sons last weekend that stole what would have been blogging time. (And, of course, when I have free time right now, what I really want to do is play some more Lego City Undercover.)

But, just in case I don't have time for a longer, more thoughtful post later, some quick takes on La Affaire de Nightshade:
  • I don't know Jeremy Lassen and Jason Williams well, but I do know them, from my SFBC days, and they're deeply passionate and devoted to what they do. What I've seen written about their very generous royalty rates matches what I know of them -- and, I suspect, they also paid advances somewhat higher than warranted even by their royalty rates. Those points have been often forgotten in the kerfuffle, but I'll be blunt: Night Shade probably went under because they were too generous to authors. (Or, to be more nuanced, because they've spent 10+ years trying to punch above their weight, and you get awfully battered doing that.)
  • I also know Tony Lyons from those same days -- my other hat in my last five years of bookclub duty was for Outdoorsman's Edge, which sold books on huntin' and fishin', and Tony ran Lyons Press before he founded Skyhorse. He can be a tough negotiator, but he's a great publisher with a strong sense of markets and an eye for a good business -- he's built that company very strongly through a recession, which is no small feat. (And I'm amazed at the implication that he did it entirely through dead-tree books.)
  • Actual bankruptcies, that go through courts, are horrible for authors. Really. It's been a while since we had one in the field, so you folks might have forgotten, but contract provisions mean nothing in a bankruptcy, and your contracts could be sold for pennies with no money coming to you for years, if ever. Avoiding that is a huge deal.
I do have to dig in more, though -- I've only seen the broad outlines so far. It's possible that authors are being utterly shafted, but that's always the standard narrative of any publishing story, so I tend to doubt it.

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