From JA Konrath to Lee Goldberg, established authors are dipping their toes in the ebook stream in ever increasing numbers, seeing how the waters feel. Meanwhile, the news of the fall of Dorchester has been almost the equivalent of a sign of the End Times, accompanied with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And then I see Ed Gorman has picked up news about another person in the book business going ebook.

But I'm not convinced the end of the world - the book publishing world, that is - is near.

Now, if there are authors who have a good reason to be jaded right now, it's not the ones who've never landed a deal for their manuscripts, and it's not the ones who self published and failed to see their books sell to the point where they became the next John Grisham. It's the ones who've been caught up in the situation with Dorchester, who now have to fight to get rights back. I can imagine that some people finally thought their dream of being a published author was becoming a reality. They'd signed on the dotted line... Only to hear the rumors in the community first, before those of us published by Dorchester even got the news from what is apparently now their former editorial staff.

For the most part I've stayed out of this discussion, for a variety of reasons. One is that few actually know enough to offer any kind of enlightened evaluation, and the people like Brian Keene who already are offering critical analysis have been doing a better job than I ever could.

One of the other reasons is that I'm just not that surprised.

Look, businesses fold every single day. We watched the economy collapse two years ago, stumble in a way it hadn't since the 30s, and people are surprised it's affected publishing? Every time a bookstore or publisher falls it's a sign?


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Comment by I. J. Parker on August 25, 2010 at 8:10am
I'm glad to hear it. As for late payments, I haven't paid much attention. Things could get hung up at the agent's office, too. Still, you're probably right about that.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on August 25, 2010 at 6:38am
IJ, I will only say that Dorchester was late paying me, but they did pay me in full, and it most certainly was not a full year that they were late. Maybe other authors were having different problems, but that doesn't mean everyone was. My situation wasn't perfect, but it wasn't the worst, and I know other authors who told me they were always paid on time without issue.

The royalties for ebooks is substantially higher than the royalty amounts for the paperbacks. I'm not going to say it's perfect, but Dorchester certainly wasn't the only publisher - as you've indicated - that picked a standard percentage.

And if I were to list all the publishers I've heard complaints about for late/slow payments and they were all unlisted by MWA, there wouldn't be a lot of books eligible for the Edgars.
Comment by I. J. Parker on August 25, 2010 at 5:05am
I don't know. I gather from Brian's blog on this that Dorchester started to hold back checks a year ago and now owes quite a bit to its authors. That doesn't strike me as the practice of a reliable publisher. I'd move on to better things and not shed any tears over losing such a publisher. No one has answered my original question on this: how much of the electronic sales is Dorchester paying its authors? Many may be in the same miserable situation of getting only 12 1/2 - 15 % from each sale as I am on my old contracts. I hope there is a way to renegotiate.
Comment by John McFetridge on August 25, 2010 at 4:22am
Well, books do seem a little anachronistic these days so sometimes I'm not surprised that they're immune from the world. Sometimes I think books are like jazz music.

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