Pulling the Plug

It’s as important to know when to walk away in publishing as it is in bad relationships. I’ve been writing professionally for almost eight years now. In that time I’ve worked with indie publishers, self-publishers, and even gotten featured on the professional level. (Yes one of my stories is in a book that you can buy at Barnes & Noble, and I have more to come)

Contracts are usually pretty standard. Writing gigs are tough. You have to trust yourself and rely on others. It’s a collective effort where collaborating minds can produce masterpieces. On the flip side there is a lot of uncertainty.

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This is why contracts, transparency, and professionalism matter.

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All three need to be present in all working relationships. Last year I nearly had to sue an editor to get paid for my work with a well-known, indie publisher. This year I signed on with an up-and-coming indie press anthology, against my better judgement. Yes, I’ve been posting and ranting and raving about Dark Dominions and WriterWriter because I’m all about good press and positivity.

Now I will never openly backtalk a former employer, but I will divulge some details to help others prevent themselves from making my mistakes. The founders of WriterWriter are well-meaning I am sure, but they lack the experience, transparency, and realism that good publishers maintain.

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I was originally asked to write a story for an anthology that will host equal amounts of male and female writing and pay everyone the same. It was set to be a nice paying gig. Then I was told it would be funded with a kickstarter. Talks of an $8,000 goal sounded promising. Then Stretch goals of $12,000 were discussed. After contracts were signed and the project, started the goal was listed as an all-or-nothing $29,000 campaign. For an indie book.

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Some of you who are new or less versed in the back-end of publishing may see nothing to scoff at, but my mouth is dry. The $100 hardcover, $33 paperback, and $20 ebook prices are supposed to drive these numbers, I guess.

No reason for these numbers has been disclosed, nor has a plan B for if (and very potentially when) this goal is not met. Within our group discussions I witnessed authors gallantly stating their oath to pledge. Something that rubbed me a bit rough. I did not sign on to pay to get paid to write.

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Kickstarters are not the magical fairy godmothers of publishing. They are for realistic goals that offer fun engaging rewards to backers.

Writers should never become internet hobos.

This is why some indie publishers remain indie. Call me skeptical, I’m growing to be quite the cynic the longer I work in this industry, but paying to publish your work is vanity publishing and never recommended for any author who wishes to be taken seriously (excluding well-educated self-publishers, of course).

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Add in the fact that they are using “gender equality” as a marketing scheme to try and guilt people into backing their book and I’m less than enthused. I believe in equal rights, not shaming people into buying an overpriced book full of lesser-known authors. That tarnishes the movement. It’s reducing something very serious to propaganda. Something I want nothing to do with.

Subtlety is the icing on the cake of publishing. Something they have yet to learn. I fear that if this is not backed they will turn around and try to blame inequality for the failure of this project as opposed to poor planning and price gouging.

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My story deserves better and so do the readers. I have pledged as a backer, but terminated my contract with this anthology.

9 thoughts on “Pulling the Plug

  1. Jacqui Murray says:

    There are so many dead ends. I’ve been lucky to find paying ezines that did what they promised. Not enough of course but a start. Good luck as you find a better deal, Jessica!

  2. foodinbooks says:

    Thank you very much for this information. I with considering doing some self publishing myself but I’m definitely going to do a lot more research after reading your post. I’m so sorry the anthologie didn’t work out for you but I’m very glad you followed your instincts and didn’t sign the contract.

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