As I cruise through the newsletters I subscribe to, I’m reading an increasing number of negative stories about traditional publishers’ (it always seems to be the large houses) response to the rapidly growing world of self-published e-books. First, I want to say that, for me, this hasn’t been a problem so far, but could it be in the future? I had to stop and think after reading a fascinating, and somewhat disturbing blog by a writer named Kiana Davenport, who reports of a unsettling experience with her traditional publisher. Here’s what happened.
To earn some much needed income, and while waiting for her Big 6 publisher to publish her novel in August 2012, Davenport self-published two collections of short stories. Many of those stories had already appeared in magazines and have nothing to do with the topic of her upcoming novel. The first collection was published before she signed her contract, and the second was published afterward. When the big-6 publisher learned about the self-published books, well, let’s just say things didn’t go well. One of the publisher’s editors phoned her and apparently began yelling at her for breaching her contract, which she maintains she didn’t. The editor also basically accused her of colluding with the enemy, which is Amazon. The editor then demanded that she withdraw this second collection from ALL platforms and remove any reference to the book. She has 600,000 Google hits! As she says in her blog, how does one even do that? Additionally, she must guarantee that she not self-publish anything until her novel has been released in both hard back and paperback. Needless to say, Ms. Davenport has a lawyer handling the matter.
I don’t know the publisher’s side of the story, but what captures my attention is the growing uneasiness between writers and publishers. Not a lot of Big 6 publishers (and others, I imagine) are fond of Amazon, so if you’re doing business with either party, will you be trapped in the middle down the road? Clearly, it’s more important than ever that you understand exactly what the publisher expects from you regarding any e-book and self-publishing ventures. To read more of Ms. Davenport’s blog, go to http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/2011/08/sleeping-with-enemy-cautionary-tale.html