Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Panic

Three blog posts for one day, all linked together. 
Night Shade Night Shade Night Shade... I'll get to it. Don't Panic. 
Here are three things each worthy of their own blog post.


Before I get into the Nightshade/Skyhorse thing, I want to mention that I am sporadically releasing old short stories to the Kindle store, and maybe other places as I have time and see fit. WAR BEETLES, from the Journal of Unlikely Entomology #3 is currently up on the Kindle store for the price of some bargain breath mints, with wonderful cover art from Linda Saboe. Refresh brains, not breath!

Now... Onto today's long post about what's going down for me specifically, because I have been asked about this in private e-mail by readers, and I want to make sure everything's clear.


As far as publishers go, I seem to have killed two out of three of my publishers. Last Dragon went down with Discoveries. Now Dogsland will be impacted in some, unknowable fashion by this pending thing, but it does look like no matter what happens, Night Shade is not going to survive this. 

Apex is the winner, then. They stand upon the crushed skulls and corpses of other companies that have fallen, while attempting to carry my words into the world.

Apex wins the prize. Go Apex! Gold star!

#3: Night Shade is a Hot Mess... Don't Panic


Let's talk about this hypothetical Skyhorse/Night Shade thing, fair reader. I won't really go into the details of the deal thus far here, because others have gone into the details, perhaps with more emotion than necessary, and it is easy to find such things with a quick google search. Here's Tobias Buckell's super-summary round-up post. I think, thus far, there's been a lot of noise and not a little signal, and the blog-o-sphere is always such a hot place to have any rational discourse. But, here's what it means for you, fair reader. (Yes, you!)

Dogsland is impacted by this. 

So, the first two novels are currently "published" by Nightshade. I say "published" loosely. The second book was so poorly published, it was as if they wanted it to tank on purpose, slated during a crossover period of their distribution partners from one to another, with no publisher support that I could tell, and no placement in stores I could find, and little to no marketing efforts that I could notice. Was it even in their bloody catalog? I doubt it. I often wondered when it would appear at all in the iBookstore, where it just never seemed to show up for sale, and that's kind of a big, important eBook store. The first book, as well, had some front-end issues that I thought were insane for any rational, professional publisher to have, but those front-end issues pale in comparison to the launch issues with the second. Really, I came to the conclusion that Night Shade was trying to destroy my career forever. I wanted out if I could find a way that got me out without impacting the needs of my readers.

My agent and I wrote to them earlier this year and said we wouldn't be doing the third Dogsland book with them. I had only even considered them for #3 as long as I did, because I wanted what was best for my readers, and I needed an alternative that was actually better for my readers first. I found that alternative. I expect to see the rough cover next week, and I'm waiting the first round of editorial notes from my new publisher on #3.

This is a new publishing house, and one that doesn't have a public face, right this second. I don't think they're ready to go public, at this time, but it's a great match for the book, and part of the deal is that it keeps the team that did produce a beautiful book together - same cover artist (Julian Alday) and editor (Ross Lockhart) and author (because words). The things that worked, are still on board with #3, and it's slated for release in September 2013! Hooray!

Now, there's these strange and obtuse things from Skyhorse I could sign, but I have no strong reason to at this time, particularly with the deal they offered. The same new, nameless, non-public-facing publisher is ready to step in and take on Books 1 and 2, if we can secure a reversion of rights. Frankly, this new team would do an amazing job on them, too. Rights reversion wouldn't be difficult with all the issues we had that placed Night Shade in breach of contract, as long as bankruptcy judges don't get involved in the whole ordeal. I know a few lawyers, and I bet Nightshade authors wouldn't mind going in together on one in a pinch, if we had to. It's a mess, but a salvageable one for you, fair reader. 

It does mean that it is time to strip the DRM from all your Night Shade eBooks, because no one knows what will happen to them if the deal goes through or if the deal doesn't. GO STRIP THAT DRM IMMEDIATELY. Here's a link

As for me, I'm not against Skyhorse/Start, if they can come up with something resembling a reasonable contract. If Skyhorse wants to buy the first two books of the Dogsland trilogy, they're really going to have to do better than the contract I, and many others, got in our inboxes the other day. Skyhorse won't get to have #3, either. That's already gone to a new home, and will be out in September 2013.

So, fair reader, in case my ambivalence isn't clear: I'm owed no money. I have an alternative offer already for the whole trilogy, from the people who are already doing #3. I just don't have a strong reason to sign with Skyhorse/Start. They're going to need to give me a reason to sign with them that doesn't look like a scare tactic, frankly. Give me reasons about how good the terms are, and how much better you'll do, not about how much worse it's going to get if I don't surrender immediately and hand over all the IP right away before the bankruptcy thermal detonator explodes. (Or freezes it in carbonite? This metaphor doesn't work. Nevermind.) 

If I was a giving-up sort, I'd still be an administrative clerk, working and going to sleep and dreaming of nothing.

I've seen publishers fold before, and I've been involved in the mess, and the weird thing is, it doesn't destroy anyone's career if everyone keeps writing.

Dogsland #3 is not part of this mess, and will be out in September. We will find a way to get it out to you period, fair reader, even if the clumsy bankruptcy courts say I can't sell it. I'll do it under the table, if I have to, walking from town to town with POD copies in my rucksack, trading books for water and radish seeds and rides.  

For you, fair readers, my only other advice in this mess is for eBook readers to purchase eBooks from the Baen webstore where they are DRM-free, or find a way to strip the DRM from your current files. That's the whole total of the impact you will face during these interesting times. The rest is just the annoying business stuff that really ought not to be such a bother for you. Ultimately, you're the one, fair reader, we all wish to serve as painlessly and precisely as possible. Sorry about this mess spilling over into the public areas.

If you have Night Shade eBooks, by any author, go and strip the DRM now, while you still can!

All I have to do is keep writing.

My career is chugging along nicely in other ways. MAZE is coming in 2014 from Apex Books! I just sold a short story to 3-Lobed Burning Eye! I have another novel entirely out on submission to excellent publishers that is a steampunk novel not like any steampunk novel out there in the world! 

And, again: Now is the time to strip the DRM from your eBook files. GO! Again, a link explaining how.


Unknown said...

"The second book was so poorly published, it was as if they wanted it to tank on purpose, slated during a crossover period of their distribution partners from one to another, with no publisher support that I could tell, and no placement in stores I could find, and little to no marketing efforts that I could notice.... Really, I came to the conclusion that Night Shade was trying to destroy my career forever."

Yes. This.

Thanks for the advice on the DRM. Will follow that link.

Brett said...

I'm going to give it a stab, too. I downloaded Calibre once before, but I ended up deleting it because I wasn't using it - I mostly read my e-books either on a tablet or on the Kindle Cloud Reader.

J m mcdermott said...

I will only add one thing, here in the comments: I agree with Andrew Zack's assessment that 98% of the problems initially were psychological.