Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Rape of The Genre (And What You Can Do To Stop It!)

We are in a time of great transition in our industry. The old publishing models are no longer working, largely because they were idiotic to begin with, but also because of the rise of the e-book and the decline in readers overall.

The old model of publishing a ton of books by old and new writers, promoting only the biggest names while leaving all the new authors to fend for themselves, warehousing all of these books until they are distributed, and then allowing bookstores to destroy and then return what they can't sell, has failed.

Really? That sounded like such a good plan? How did it ever fail?

Let's look at it one issue at a time. First, can you name another industry that spends the most advertising dollars on its most well-known products while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars creating new products that they don't market or promote? It is absurd. Why bring on any new authors if you don't intend to promote them? As a result, hundreds of authors a year publish their first novels with print runs of 5,000 to 10,000 that no one ever hears about and no one ever buys and the publishers scratch their heads, wondering what happened. It was always stupid and always doomed to fail.

The second idiotic practice was that of allowing bookstores to return books after ripping off the book covers. Name one other industry that allows retailers to return unsold product after destroying it so it can never be resold? Pure stupidity. This is even dumber in light of the fact that there is now such a technology as Print-On-Demand. Heard of it? POD publishing allows publishers to only print what they can sell. They no longer need to print 5,000 copies unless they actually have 5,000 bookstore orders. Would you be surprised to know that the major publishers have still not embraced this technology? Really? The same industry that wants you to destroy their product and return it to them for a refund?

In the midst of all this chaos, confusion, and stupidity, there's Leisure books. Leisure was, at one time, a powerhouse in the world of horror fiction. They published more horror than any other U.S. publisher. Their advances to their authors were woefully low, but they had pretty good distribution so there was the trade off. You took the small advance in the hopes that you'd see the money in royalties once the book hit the shelves. Well, that didn't happen to me. I kept getting emails telling me that they couldn't get the books into the stores, they were having problems with distribution and, as a result, the books weren't selling. I did my part. I did radio interviews to promote the book, I did the convention circuit, I did readings and signings at bookstores. I blogged about the book, sent emails, posted on message boards, told everyone within earshot to go to their local bookstores and demand that they stock my book. Leisure? Well, I was a new author and they followed that age-old business model in publishing, promote your top-sellers and fuck the rest. But why was Leisure, who had one of the better distribution networks, having such a hard time getting my books on the shelves?

Some of it was, undoubtedly due to the extreme content of the novel. Some of it was that I was a new and unknown author. And some of it was the "love-it-or-hate-it" reviews. But there was something else going on.

The Resurrectionist came out in 2009 and the problems got worse. No one would stock it. As a result, fans couldn't find it and new readers, new would-be-fans, never saw it and never knew it existed. Wrath was sad. I assumed the failing was mine. Then, through the grapevine, I discovered that Leisure was having a hard time getting distributors to take any books from any new authors and even some established authors. Why? Well, this is purely speculation, but the rumor was that Leisure hadn't been paying its bills. I ignored the rumors. I had seen other new Leisure books on the shelves so that couldn't have been the reason. Could it? But the rumors persisted. Then came the rumors that Leisure was in serious trouble and facing bankruptcy. Then they let go of Don D'Auria, one of the most trusted and respected editors in the genre, and all hell broke loose. Authors began coming forward, announcing that they hadn't received royalties in months. Some, were still waiting on advances for novels that were already in print. The rumors were true. Leisure was in trouble.

"Uh oh. What about my books?"

It seems a lot of authors were asking that same question and many began writing to Leisure to demand their rights back. The responses from Leisure were all over the place. Some, like Brian Keene, were given their rights back in exchange for absolving Leisure of past debt. Others, like me, were completely ignored. Now, apparently, many of the authors who supposedly received their rights back have seen their books pop up in e-book format from Leisure. Essentially, they are selling books they no longer have the rights to. What gives? Leisure's Facebook page has been flooded with messages from angry fans. Many (most) of these messages have been deleted. This goes beyond the unfortunate implosion of one of the most popular publishers in the genre. Leisure Books/ Dorchester Publishing is taking its authors down with it. Brian Keene is calling for a Leisure boycott:

"*If you follow them on Twitter, please unfollow them.
*If you like them on Facebook, please unlike them.
*If you receive their marketing emails, please remove yourself from their list.
*If you belong to one of their book clubs, please consider canceling your membership.
*If you are considering publishing with them, please reconsider.
*Most importantly, please don’t buy their books, regardless of whether it’s on their website, in the $1.99 dump bin at Wal-Mart, or available on the Kindle. If you aren’t sure how to identify a Dorchester book, check the spine. It should say Leisure Fiction or Dorchester Publishing."

I am in agreement. I am recently without a day job which means I now rely solely on my writing to pay the bills. Being able to republish The Resurrectionist and Succulent Prey as ebooks would go a long way toward putting food on the family table and keeping a roof over our heads. So, if you love me then leave 'em alone until they pay us starving authors what we are owed and return our rights. FIGHT THE POWER!


Anonymous said...

I'm with you 100% Wrath. You speak the thruth and as always you speak it from the heart. While I can't sell eBooks for you I will however continue to buy in whatever stock in whatever format you got going and get it out there.

As always your pal, Jack Staynes

LouiseBohmer said...

I won't touch any of their books. I'll wait until you get your rights back, and buy only from you. I am sick and tired of publishers treating their authors like crap. This is why I don't get it when small press start following the larger presses ridiculous model. Why repeat the insanity? Wishing you and your family much luck, Wrath.

Amanda said...

I've been telling everyone I know to not buy books put out by Dorchester/Leisure but it makes me upset. I want to read all these different books and I can't because I don't want to fuck over the author that wrote them and the author can't put them out in another format.

D/L has some pissed of writers but they've got some very pissed off customers too. They're totally screwing themselves over through their own poor practices.

Amy Grech said...

I'm with you, Wrath! Dorchester/Leisure is up to no good--they must be stopped at once!!

Lincoln Crisler said...

Too bad you couldn't get them to send a representative to meet you in the ring, with your rights on the line.

I remember how bad I wanted to read The Resurrectionist when it came out, along with The Thirteenth in December and Strange Magic in January '10. Wanted those books so freakin' bad. The PX (military store) in Qatar didn't have any of them on the shelves until March 2010. Got them all at the same time, if I remember right, despite each of the three books being released in a different month.

Now granted, this was the Middle East, but not where the fighting is happening, and for every month preceding the release of The Thirteenth, the PX was stocked to the rafters with new Dorchester every month, on time. Maybe October/November was when the distributors started getting antsy about their money?

author Scott Nicholson said...

Wrath, you should publish your own Kindle books immediately. What are they going to do? They've already violated their contracts and have zero legal ground.

You start getting paid in a few months and you don't have to wait around hoping someone remembers to mail the checks. Good luck.


Roy C. Booth said...

It's a bad overall practice that holds authors literally at gunpoint. Boycotting them we shall.

veronica said...

I've posted about the boycott on the Richard Laymon board as well. I want my money to go to you - not some thieving company. I'll be checking all my book purchases carefully now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you as well, Wrath! I cannot believe the audacity of this company and how they have let me down as a fan of horror fiction. I was so proud of my collection and looked forward every month to a new adventure in terror and fright, but no more. Now I can barely stand to look at the books I have from them. I plan to give them away to second hand book stores or trade them in for other books. I am so disappointed in Leisure Horror and Dorchester Publishing in general. Thank you for saying what we all feel, Wrath.

Your faithful follower of horror, Dayne Chester

Dennis Latham said...

I just received an email from Amazon this morning on the Resurrectionist, suggesting I buy the paperback from Leisure. Talk about screwing writers. I just put all six of my novels out on Kindle and Nook Books. You should do the same.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you man! No more Leisure or Dorchester for me, and I will tell my friends too. I think you're awesome and hate to hear about you (and others) getting shafted. I found out about you last year, have read The Resurrectionist twice and Succulent Prey three times! I love your work and am excited about Skinnz.

I want to get more of your stuff, maybe you could send me an email or post a list of where to get your works that would equal the most money in your pocket. I would gladly support that!

Todd - tntglobal (at)

Anonymous said...

As a fan i do support you and all the authors being fucked by big buiness. I also am supporting the boycott. I have been buying the deadite press editions of your and other fromer liesure/dorchester authors who have sighned with them. I wish all of you the best and continue to help you guys out.

Wrath said...

Thanks, to all of you for your support. You can get copies of some of my titles from Deadite Press. Currently they have The Book Of A Thousand Sins and Population Zero. They will also be publishing His Pain later this year. As for Succulent Prey and The Resurrectionist, Leisure has finally responded to me and promises to have a decision for me on my rights this week. Not holding my breath, but if I get those rights back, I'll be putting out ebook versions of both titles and Deadite will likely reissue them as trade paperbacks. Stay tuned! Thanks again for your support.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you'll get some good news as far as Succulent Prey & The Resurrectionist are concerned. I've been dying to read SP for months, but have held off because I've been following the DP meltdown & I actually want to see authors get paid for their work. If you're able to make SP available as an ebook, I will gladly snatch it up immediately.

Saranna DeWylde said...

Let me know when you re-release your books no matter the format. I'd be happy to have you for an interview over at Writers Gone Wild or whatever pimpage you'd like to do.

I've had several Leisure and LoveSpell authors make appearances.

We've got to support each other as best we can.

I wish you the very best.

Willow said...

After reading about this for the past few days (h/t Jemiah Jefferson), I think that if Leisure is going to blatantly ignore their contracts six ways from Sunday, especially when they publish e-books they don't own the rights to, that you (and the others) should e-publish your books yourself. What are they gonna do, sue you? Even if they did, you could easily show how they broke their contract with you first, and how they deprived you of your rightful income, and how you had no other choice but to take back control of the fruit of your keyboard so you could put food on the table.

Anonymous said...

This is fucked, Wrath. I've spent the last couple of hours reading about this cock-up and my mind is blown. All of my life I've wanted to be "legitimately" published, and for years I thought Leisure would be the perfect home for my work--now I'm sad to say I lucked out for that never happening. Chin up, dear Mr. White; you have a loyal fanbase that adores your unique and fantastic work. Whatever happens, you will always have people clambering to eat it up.

Ed Kurtz

Rob Davies said...

As soon as The Resurrectionist is available in a version other than D/L, I will snap it up. I've heard great things about it.

Lori said...

Wrath! I'm sorry that this BS with Leisure affected you too. I saw where Brian Keene had written about this on the Goodreads comm I'm a part of.

What they did/are doing is so low down.

C is the Big Dog said...

It sucks because they were a way that we could discover new authors. They were how I discovered you and your books. It is a shame that they are a bunch of parasites that would do this to the talent that had sustained them so long. They should be stopped and sued for all back royalties.