Friday, December 9, 2011

Barbie's Bunkhouse: A Little Help From Our Friends

I believe that was a Beatle’s song, wasn’t it? I’m not a big Beatles fan, though. Sorry. But it’s really true, isn’t it? When you have great news to share, you tell your friends. You cheer, high-five, laugh and celebrate. And when things are tough and not going the way you want…your friends are there with shoulders to cry on, to pick you up and give you the strength to persevere.

WARNING: Serious Subject Ahead

I decided to take off my playful hat in order to share a serious subject I feel strongly about.It isn’t news to anyone involved in the writing world that things are changing quickly. As authors we do our best to adapt and grow right along with it. Publication is a dream we have worked toward for many years, and we will do whatever we have to in order to keep that dream alive. For those of us who have writing in our blood, quitting is NOT an option.

I have silently watched as a few of my fellow authors have had to deal lawsuits or potential lawsuits in regard to their books and/or contracts. I’m sure they never dreamed something like that could happen once they were under contract and published. In a perfect world, publishers would offer fair contracts, honor their promises, and protect their authors.

Yet recently, lawsuits against authors have been the topic on countless writer’s loops and blogs. First we heard about Kiana Davenport whose publisher threatened legal action because she self-published a collection of short stories that the publisher had previously rejected. Then there was Christy Craig (Click HERE) who is being sued by the Texas Department of Transportation for using their trademark slogan as a title of one of her books.

Now, a fellow Book Cents author is being sued by her publisher, Sourcebooks. Click here for the author’s countersuit. It doesn’t surprise me to hear this about Sourcebooks, especially after my own experience with them. I’m alarmed because this very well could have been me. You see, I walked away from a deal with Sourcebooks almost a year ago. I was offered a 2 book deal and was on top of the world. This is what I had wanted for so long. But then, as I anxiously awaited my first contract ever, red flags started popping up. I heard from multi-published authors, now published with Sourcebooks, who were experiencing various problems. They were finding it very hard to get published elsewhere and even harder to get out. Authors literally had to re-invent themselves because of their association with Sourcebooks.

In my own situation, first my agent was given 3 different cover ideas for my story, and then I was asked for my bio and other personal information for the Sourcebooks catalog, months after my original offer. Yet, my agent and I still hadn’t received a contract! Red Flags???? MOST definitely! Even being new to publishing, I began to question a company that did business like that. The hardest decision I ever had to make as a writer was to tell my agent to pull my submission. The disappointment goes beyond words, and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone. A year later, I can still feel the twinge – but I’d rather be unpublished or self-published than to give my blood, sweat and tears to someone like Sourcebooks. And I’m thankful every day that I’ve had my friends and fellow authors to lean on during this year of recovery and rediscovery. A little help from your friends goes a long way.

In today’s world when authors should be concentrating on plot, story arcs, and character development, we now have to worry about publishers turning on us. Let’s face it, contracts are already heavily slanted in their favor. Should we stand behind our fellow authors when they are in a fight we all might find ourselves in down the road? Absolutely. Now more than ever, we need a little help from our friends. Remember: UNITED we stand, DIVIDED we fall.

Are lawsuits now a trend we have to worry about? What do you think?

12 comments:

Liz Lipperman said...

Excellent post, Barbie. It gives me the shivers to even think about it all, but you are so right. If we don't stand behind our own, all will be lost.

Lindsay said...

What you said in the last line of this post is so right. Publishers like the one you and another author had problems with should be up to task to explain their actions not only to us authors but to the reading public.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great post, Barbie. It's a shame what's going on these days, and it's certainly not fair. Anita's countersuit is eye opening. I stand behind her one hundred percent.

petemorin said...

Hell hath no fury...

Marilyn Sue Shank said...

Barbie, I'm sending lots of good thoughts your way that you will soon be published. I'm glad you got out of the other situation when you did. Horrifying!

M

Casey Wyatt said...

I agree- authors need to stick together and be advocates for ourselves and each other. This whole situation has opened my eyes. And I think in the end is a big red flag to all of us. I fully support Anita!

Sylvia said...

Our world is changing so quickly and publishers are still stuck in the past where they controlled everything. Very, very scary. Excellent post!

julieduck said...

It was the right thing to do. Seems like Sourcebooks is a source of all-things-wrong in publishing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

These are things that need a spotlight shown on it. Truth is, no matter which publisher you're with, mistakes and negligence can happen.

Thanks for the spotlight, Barbie!

Anita, I know you can't comment on this, but know I'm in your corner and cheering you on.

Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

Claude Nougat said...

This is an important signal you're sending out, Barbie, thanks! Indeed, we - authors - need to stand together against the antics of such publishers! How depressing, though...

Elizabeth Aston said...

I cancelled a two-book contract with Sourcebooks because of delays of a similar kind: contractual and financial. I paid back the full advance, and was additionally out of pocket in that I reimbursed my then agent for her commission - money I'd never had, of course. As well, I had legal fees to make sure that everything was done correctly - difficult to do myself from the other side of the Atlantic.
I don't regret it, even though financially this came at a very tough time for me.
Keep up the good fight, Anita.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Good for you, for standing up to them, Barbie! And hooray for Christine, because I'm sure she gave you good guidance. Hang in there and stay strong.