Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month (except last month, but anyway), so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets (if there are any -- none this month) are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple antho guidelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.


5 May 2013 -- Ominous Realities -- ed. Jacob Sanders; Grey Matter Press

We are looking for your Speculative Horror Fiction. As long as it is dark and dreadful.

For our upcoming anthology Ominous Realities, we’re looking for the darkest voices working in the areas of Science Fiction, Science Fantasy and Speculative Horror Fiction. Whether your vision includes alien intervention, biblical apocalypse, dystopian existences or simply fantastical and frightening concepts of life current or past, we want to see what you’ve got up your sleeve.

We do not want to limit the creativity or our authors, preferring instead to let each writer’s words speak to them from the place that is most comfortable. We’re looking to include the best and brightest new voices writing in Speculative Fiction today, and Ominous Realities is intended to celebrate that creativity, without limitations.

Please review our Submissions Guidelines below, and feel free to contact us here on the site with any questions. or send a message to

But, keep in mind we have a VERY short deadline!

Ominous Realities is a working title. Grey Matter Press reserves the right to change the title as necessary.

Word Count: 3,000 – 10,000 words
Deadline: May 5, 2013
Payment: $100 flat rate per each manuscript accepted into the collection
Formats: *.doc, *.docx, *.txt, *.rtf
Contact Address:

Acceptable File Formats: Grey Matter Press wants to make your submission process easy and painless. We accept manuscripts that are *.doc, *.docx, .txt or .rtf file formats. If you have any questions about the formatting of your manuscript, feel free to contact us directly at

Digital Submissions: Unfortunately, we cannot accept manuscripts of previously published pieces. Only previously unpublished work will be accepted. We will accept your submission via email at Subject lines should contain name of Anthology and the title of the story being submitted. (ex: OMINOUS REALITIES – ‘Title of Story.’

Font Usage and General Formatting: We request that all files be submitted double-spaced, using either Arial or Times New Roman 12 point font. Page margins should be no less than .5 inch on all borders.

Distribution: Upon acceptance into our anthologies, Grey Matter Press will hold all exclusive publishing rights for the period defined within author contract (generally 12-24 months). At the end of that term, intellectual property rights will revert to the original author, with Grey Matter Press retaining distribution rights for the format(s) originally contracted.

Contributor Copies: All contributors whose work is accepted and published in the anthology will, in the case of digital publishing, receive a digital copy of the complete anthology, and in the case of paperback publishing, will receive up to two copies of the anthology.

[Click through for some clarifications in the comments.]


11 May 2013 -- Sword and Sorceress -- ed. Elizabeth Waters

Stories should be the type generally referred to as "sword and sorcery" and must have a strong female protagonist whom the reader will care about. See Sword & Sorceress 22, Sword & Sorceress 23, Sword & Sorceress 24, Sword & Sorceress 25, Sword & Sorceress 26, and Sword & Sorceress 27 (or S&S 1-20) for examples. We do not want stories with explicit sex, gratuitous violence, or profanity. We are NOT a market for poetry. We are willing to consider stories set in modern times (urban fantasy), but we won't buy more than one or two of those for the anthology. We always want something short and funny for the last story.

No reprints. No simultaneous submissions.

With regard to multiple submissions, do not submit more than one story at a time. If we've rejected your first one, you may send one more, as long as it's before the deadline. We have occasionally bought someone's second sumbmission. We have never bought a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth submission. If you send us two stories, and we don't hold either of them, wait until next year to try again. Please do not re-submit stories we have already rejected (including stories rejected in previous years).

If you have not previously sold to Sword & Sorceress, please read "What is a Short Story?" and "Why Did my Story Get Rejected?" before submitting to us.

Please do not explain or describe your story in the e-mail (cover letter). If your story can't stand on its own, fix the story.

Reading period: Saturday, April 13 to Saturday, May 11, 2013.

Response time is expected to follow MZB's traditional standards: you should hear within a week if we're holding your story for the final line-up or rejecting it.

Deadline: May 11, 2013.

Length: up to 9,000 words, with preference given to shorter stories. The longer a story is, the better it has to be. Long stories should be submitted early in the reading period.

Formatting and Submission:

Format with one-inch margins on all four sides of page.

Please do not use a header or footer.

Your name, full mailing address, and email address must be in the upper left corner, single spaced.

Skip two lines, center the text, then put the title, with your name (or byline) on the next line. We're not going to be as rigid as MZB was about pen names, but we expect them to be reasonable, rather than cute.

The rest of the manuscript should be single-spaced, with the first line of each paragraph indented 1/2 inch.

If you need to indicate a break, put "#" on a line by itself, centered.

Do not underline; use italics instead. Do not use bold face. We prefer Courier New font, size 12.

Word count will be determined by our word processor; that way it will be the same for everyone.

Save your document as an .rtf file (rich text format or interchange format, depending on what your computer calls it). E-mail as it as an attachment to mzbworks at yahoo dot com. The subject line should be "SS28, your last name, story title" (e.g.: SS28, Bradley, Dark Intruder) -- we don't want submissions caught in the spam filter.

Rights purchased: first rights, non-exclusive eBook and audio book rights.

Payment: 5 cents per word as an advance against a pro rata share of royalties and foreign or other sales.


15 May 2013 -- Sword and Laser Anthology -- ed. Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt

Submissions will be accepted from March 1 – May 15, 2013. We expect to make our final selections by August 15, 2013.

We pay $200 (US) upon acceptance.

We recommend a length of 1,500 – 7,500 words. We may choose to print shorter or longer stories in some cases, but this should be your target word count.

If your submission is accepted we will buy the following rights:

= World anthology rights in English and translation
= Audio and ebook anthology rights

World anthology rights and audio/ebook anthology rights are specific to anthologies. These are non-exclusive licenses allowing us to use your story in an anthology only. Specifying “in translation” allows us to request that your work be included in any potential foreign editions as well.

You retain all other print rights. So you’re free to also sell your story to magazines, or websites, or podcasts, or as an individual short story (say, on Kindle), or in a collection of your own work, or even sell it to another anthology after our book has been out for a while. It’s your story, and you keep it, we just ask that we get to be first to print it.

Additionally, we expect to release a Creative Commons edition of the book. It’s not required but if you have strong feeling about it, please let us know upfront.

We only accept email submissions. You can either paste your story into the body of your email message or send an attachment. For attachments, please use Microsoft Word (DOC), Rich Text Format (RTF), or Plain Text (TXT) formats only. Any word processor should be able to save a file as at least one of those formats.

Send your story to anthology at swordandlaser dot com. Please use the following subject line when submitting…


So if your name is Nick Scalzi and if your story is called “YOUNG MAN’S FIGHT” then the subject line of your email should read…


Please follow this format, so your submission does not get overlooked!

Next, in the body of your email, please include the following:

= Title: The title of your story

= Pen name: How you want your name to appear in print

= Word count: The count of the words.

= Real name: This is the name that will go on the contract. So no pseudonyms or nicknames

= Email address

= Phone number

= Short biography: This is your chance to tell us A LITTLE about yourself and your writing experience.

All of this information is REQUIRED. You cannot omit any part of this information. You can keep the bio very short of course, that’s up for interpretation but every other piece of information has to be there or your submission will be rejected.

In return we promise not to share any of your personal information with ANYBODY, and we will only use your contact information to tell you whether your story was accepted, and then once to tell you when the book is finished. We will always try to contact you via email first. We will only use the phone number if we need to get in touch with you and email doesn’t work.

If your story is accepted we’ll ask you to confirm all your information, and we’ll also give you a chance to write a new short biography for publication in the book.

Finally, we ask that each writer limit themselves to 3 submissions. We also require only previously unpublished work, and no simultaneous submissions. That means when you submit to us, you haven’t submitted the story to anyone else.

[Click through for lengthy explanations of what they are and aren't looking for.]


30 May 2013 -- Glam Rock -- Storm Moon Press

Expected Release: September 27, 2013
Genres: Contemporary [Romance]
Pairings: Bisexual
HEA or HFN Ending Required? Yes

Glam rock was arguably the most visually outrageous and flamboyant embodiment of rock and pop fusion in history. From the latter half of the sixties to the early seventies, individuals were unafraid to paint bright designs on their faces, strive for sexual androgyny, and enhance their performances with unapologetic theatrics.

In our Glam Rock anthology, we’re looking for short stories that depict at least one character who is a glam rock star, be it the lead singer or part of the band. They can be male or female, but we’re looking for the gender ambiguity, androgyny, and bisexuality aspects that were so indicative of this period in rock and pop. Bring on the costumes, the bright colors, and the droves of glitter-bedecked fans! We want to see your main characters lighting up the stage and weaving a tangled web in their personal lives.

If set in the historical period, we won’t dissuade writers from capitalizing on the unprotected sex, drugs, and glamor that defined the times. We are not looking for RPF (real person fiction), so no pulling real rock stars from history. Feel free to take inspiration from the real thing, but this is your chance to get original and knock our platforms off! Make your rock stars the epitome of the glam rock era: Beautiful, tragic, and all things in excess.

Authors will receive royalties as well as an initial payment of $50 for their story. This payment is not an advance and does not have to be earned out before royalties are paid. Royalties on individual e-book releases will be 50% of cover price on direct sales through Storm Moon Press' e-store, and 40% of cover price minus distribution costs for sales through third party vendors. In addition, authors will receive the same percentage royalty on sales of the anthology e-book divided equally among the authors, as well as 25% of cover price on direct sales of the print anthology through Storm Moon Press' e-store, and 20% of cover price minus distribution costs for sales through third party vendors, also divided equally among all authors. All royalties will be paid quarterly.


30 May 2013 -- Horror Without Victims -- ed. DF Lewis, Megazanthus Press

==Horror Stories, Weird Literature, Ghost Stories, Literary Fiction.
==Each story must either subtly or directly reflect the title of the anthology.
==Stories between 2000 and 10,000 words.
==One-off payment upon publication: 1p (£0.01) per word
==Start Date for Submissions: 1 November 2012
==End Date for Submissions: 30 May 2013

Submissions (not simultaneous or multiple) as a Word attachment to As with some earlier Megazanthus Press publications, you may submit by anonymous email and your story will be rejected or accepted before knowing who you are. Also, you may submit non-anonymously. The accepted stories will all be published with their correct by-line. [Please expect a simple acknowledgement within a few days of your submission. Otherwise please send it again.]

Stories must be previously unpublished in any form.

As with the ‘The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies’ and ‘The First Book of Classical Horror Stories’, DF Lewis will edit, publish, design, typeset and print (via Lulu) this book. It will be distributed under an ISBN system. Please at least read the reviews of previous Megazanthus Press publications to gauge the type of fiction favoured by the editor.

I may need to keep your story for the whole reading-period but may not be able eventually to accept it depending on the timing of other acceptable stories being submitted to me over the period.


31 May 2013 -- Fearful Symmetries -- ed. Ellen Datlow

[Note that these are minimal guidelines, just enough to get you started writing something. I checked for the "Submission instructions" before posting this, and there's nothing further up yet. Submissions don't open until 1 May, so I assume something more specific (like where to send subs) will be posted before that. Definitely check Ms. Datlow's journal for more specific instructions before trying to send her anything.

[ETA April Post: -- still nothing. She might be holding back details until 1 May when the book opens to subs. Definitely check yourself around then, since my May post will probably be within two weeks or so of the deadline.]

This is a non-theme, all original anthology of about 125,000 words of terror and supernatural horror. I’m looking for all kinds of horror, but if you’re going to use a well worn trope, try to do something fresh with it. If you’ve read any volumes of The Best Horror of the Year, you’ll know that my taste is pretty eclectic, that I like variety, and that while I don’t mind violence, I don’t think it should be the point of a story. I don’t want vignettes but fully formed stories that are about something. I want to be creeped out.

The pay rate is 7 cents a word up to 10,000 words, but as the anthology is only 125,000 words long, I would prefer stories up to 7500 words.

The open reading period will run from May 1-May 31 2013. Submissions instructions coming soon.


1 June 2013 -- Dying to Live -- Diabolic Publications LLC

We will be publishing an anthology of vampire fiction Dying to Live in October 2013. Submissions are being accepted until June 1, 2013, which is a change from our original date of August. We are looking for dark vampire stories; please do not send any stories about vampires that sparkle!

== All stories must be in doc. or docx, .rtf format.
== All stories must be anywhere from 2000 to 8000 words long.
== Please use 12 point font and double space your text.
== We are looking for dark Vampires, of the old fashioned kind! Erotica is acceptable as long as the vampires drink human blood, bite, kill and so forth. We are not looking for love story type vampires. Stories that will not be accepted are stories with child rape, molestation, or pedophilia.
== Allow at least 6 weeks before inquiring if your story will be included if you have not heard from us. You will receive an email if your story has been accepted.

Submissions should be sent electronically as an attachment to:

On the subject line of the email, include your name, the title of the work you are submitting, and the anthology you are submitting for "Dying to Live".

In the body of the email, include your contact information (Real Name or official pen name, not your online name), the word count of the work you are submitting, and a brief biography. Make certain to use an email address that you have access to all the time as correspondences from us come through email only!

We only accept electronic submissions at this time.

PAY: Made by Paypal only, if you don't have a paypal account please get one.

Fiction: US$.03/word, payable upon publication. Plus, one copy of the edition in which the work appears when edition is published as a paper copy.

Reprints: US$.01/word, payable upon publication. Plus, one copy of the edition in which the work appears when edition is published as a paper copy.

RIGHTS: Exclusive First World English Rights for print and First Electronic Rights for two years from date of print publication. Rights are then no longer exclusive and revert back to the author after the two year period.


10 June 2013 -- Looking Landward --

NewCon Press are proud to announce our first ever 'open submission' anthology: Looking Landwards.

The book is being produced in collaboration with the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, which celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year. To commemorate this event, we are looking for original science fiction stories that speculate on what the future might hold for agricultural engineering, farming and food production over the next century.

Ideally stories should be of 4,500 words or less, though this limit is flexible. Payment of 1p a word (or equivalent) up to a limit of £45.00 will be made for successful submissions.

The book will be published towards the end of 2013.

Stories should be presented in standard manuscript format, with italics used for italicised words (not underlining), and double inverted commas for speech. Please submit your story as an attachment (either doc or rtf) to the following email address:

Submissions close at midnight on June 10th 2013.


20 June 2013 -- Neverland's Library -- ed. Rebecca Lovatt and Roger Bellini

Neverland’s Library will be an anthology focusing on the rediscovery of the fantastic; magic, dragons, the supernatural, etc. We are looking for stories which highlight finding that which was once thought lost, incorporating fantastical and/or fictitious elements. We will not restrict how the story is told. All styles, settings, and tones are welcome.

We are looking for only unpublished stories. If the story has been made available for free or payment online then please do not submit it for consideration as it will be considered ineligible under our criteria. We ask that authors limit themselves to no more than 2 submissions, with no simultaneous submissions. That means when a story is submitted to us, it should not be submitted for publication consideration anywhere else.

If you have questions regarding the eligibility of your story, please send a query email before submitting the story in question and we will get back to you promptly in response to your concern.

Submission Period

(Subject to change) Submissions will be open from March 5th 2013, until June 20th, 2013. Exact dates may vary depending on volume of entries.

Payments and Rights

Upon successful completion of the Kickstarter funding campaign, authors will receive 3c/per word. If we fail to reach our goal, all submissions will remain the property of the author and Neverland’s Library will not own any rights to the stories submitted.

If the Kickstarter funding is a success and your story is selected for inclusion in the Neverland’s Library Anthology, we will email a digital copy of the contract for the authors examination. Upon agreement of terms the editor signed contract will be mailed to the story author to be signed. After the contract is returned to us and signed by all involved parties, payment will be promptly delivered via check or PayPal, at the submitters preference.

If your submission is accepted, we will be buying First Anthology Print and First Anthology eBook Rights. These are non-exclusive licenses allowing us to use your story in this anthology only. The author will retain all other print rights, allowing them to sell their story to magazines, websites, podcasts or as individual short stories, or in a collection of their own work, or even sell to another anthology, after six months have passed since the publication of Neverland’s Library.

By submitting a story, you acknowledge that you are in fact the writer and sole owner of the work in question.



We are looking for stories within 2,000 – 8,000 words. We may choose to print some shorter or longer pieces, however please try to keep within this targeted range.


Only email submissions will be accepted. Please attach all submissions using Microsoft Word (DOC), Rich Text Format (RTF), Plain Text (TXT) or Open Office (ODT) formats only. Any word processor should be able to save a file as at least one of these formats.

Please have all submissions in size 12 Times New Roman font.

How to Submit (What to include)

Please send your story to, using the following subject line when submitting:

[NL] STORY TITLE – Your Name

In the body of your email, please include the following:

== Title
== Real name — This is the name that will go on the contract. No pseudonyms or nicknames.
== Pen name — How you want your name to appear in print. Don’t include if you would like to use your real name.
== Word count
== Email address
== Phone number
== Short Bio — This is your chance to tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing experience.

All aforementioned items are required, please do not omit any information. Biography lengths may vary, just let us know what you think we need to know.

We will not share any of your personal information with ANYONE. Contact information will only be used to tell you whether your story was accepted, and update with progress on the Kickstarter, and when (if) the book is finished. We will always attempt to contact you via email first. Phone number will only be used if we need to get in touch with you, and email doesn’t work.

If your story is accepted we will ask you to confirm all information, and you will be given the chance to write a new short biography for publication in the book.

Please send all submissions and questions to Roger and Rebecca at We will be happy to answer all questions.


30 June 2013 -- Strange Critters: Unusual Creatures of Appalachia -- ed. Frank Larnerd, Woodland Press

Format: Trade Paperback, ebook
Payment: five cents per word (upon publication) plus contributor copy.
No reprints
Story length: Up to 2500 words
No multiple or simultaneous subs
Deadline: 12:00am Saturday, June 30th, 2013
E-mail submissions to:
RTF, DOC, or DOCX attachments only.

I am looking for horror stories featuring legendary, mythical, or imaginary creatures of Appalachia. Stories based on established local lore are preferred, but exceptions may be made for exceptionally crafted creatures. I am NOT looking for stories with zombies, vampires or other popular monsters. Submitted stories can be set in any time period, but must take place in the Appalachian region.

Although the anthology is mainly targeted for adults, we DO NOT want stories containing language or content unsuitable for children. Submissions should also avoid unflattering Appalachian stereotypes.

Accepted Manuscript Formatting:
Use Times New Roman (12).
Italicize what you want italicized.
Single space after sentence-ending punctuation.
Be sure to include your name, address, and email on your manuscript.

[Click through and check the comments for some discussion of what the editor means by "Appalachia," geographically.]


30 June 2013 -- Lost Worlds -- Third Flatiron Anthologies

Give us dinosaurs, planets and pyramids, paranormal, space opera....

Third Flatiron Publishing is an e-publishing venture based in Boulder, Colorado. We are looking for submissions to our quarterly themed online anthologies. Our focus is on science fiction and fantasy and anthropological fiction. We’re looking for tightly plotted tales in out-of-the-ordinary scenarios.

Please send us short stories that revolve around age-old questions and have something illuminating to tell us as human beings. Fantastical situations and creatures, exciting dialog, irony, mild horror, and wry humor are all welcome. Stories should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words.

Role models for the type of fiction we want include Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Ken Kesey. We want to showcase some of the best new shorts available today.

Click through to the "Submissions" tab for preferred formats, etc.

For each issue, we will also accept a few very short humor pieces on the order of the "Shouts and Murmurs" feature in The New Yorker Magazine (600 words or so). These can be written from a first-person perspective or can be mini-essays that tell people what they ought to do, how to do something better, or explain why something is like it is, humorously. An SF/Fantasy bent is preferred.

Your story must be original work, with the digital rights unencumbered. Beginning with the Summer 2013 issue, accepted stories will be paid at the flat rate of 3 cents per word (U.S.), in return for the digital rights to the story. All other rights will remain with the author. We no longer offer royalties, as we're now into our second year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Make Your Own Keyboard

Okay, this is seriously cool. :) A guy named Jay Silver invented a computer interface called MaKey MaKey that you can hook up to just about anything with alligator clamps, and the thing(s) will act like a mouse or a keyboard. Bananas, playdoh, buckets of water -- it's wild. :) Some people are just fooling around with it for fun, but others are using it to create custom interfaces to work for someone with a disability. Check it out:

MaKey MaKey Video


Friday, April 5, 2013

Nightshade Books Unloading Contracts

Via a writers' mailing list I'm on, plus a bunch of blog posts, Nightshade books, a small SF/Fantasy press, has been having financial difficulties for a couple of years now. They've come up with a way to make enough money to pay their writers all the back royalties and late advance money they're due, which sounds like a good thing. Unfortunately, they're doing it by selling their fiction contracts to another small press called Skyhorse, and Skyhorse will require any writer who agrees to have their contract sold (the rights transferred) to sign a new contract, which gives them only 10% of net on paper book sales. Mike Stackpole explains why this is bad:

The agreement requires authors to accept a royalty rate of 10% of Net income. Net is defined as the amount of money the booksellers and distributors pay Skyhorse—usually 50% of cover price. For me this net amount is a 50% reduction in my royalty rate.

More importantly, net income is illusory. Let’s say that Skyhorse, in order to get more of my books into a store, offers a distributor or chain an extra 30% off, on the condition that they buy an extra dozen books. So, 36 copies of a $15 book pays Skyhorse $189, of which I make $18.90 as opposed to the $27 I’d make if all 36 had been sold at a normal price, or the $54 I’d make under the NSB contract. (Extra discounts for promotion happen all the time, and might even rope in my books to promote another author’s work.) Moreover, the accounting to make sure that all the right amounts were paid will be all but impossible without an audit.

Or as Phil Foglio, whose Girl Genius books are with Nighshade, says, "If I was a monkey, I’d be throwing this."

Skyhorse is also reducing e-book royalties from 50% to 25%. Someone in the comments to Mike's post pointed out that 25% of net is industry standard. My response is that 25% of net is a sucktastic standard that the big publishers have all colluded to offer their writers. 50% of net is on the high end of average for a small press. Nightshade's writers were getting a high-average royalty, and are now told they should be satisfied with half that, because after all, it's what the big New York publishers offer.

Just because my neighbor got ripped off by his car dealer doesn't mean I'd volunteer to double the payment I'm making to my own honest dealer.

Skyhorse also wants audio and second serial rights, which Nightshade didn't have, and they're not willing to pay anything in advance for them. That's right, they want two new sets of rights -- and audio in particular is picking up and has the potential to be very lucrative -- and they're not willing to advance a dime to the authors for these rights. Authors will have to wait for a 50/50 split on the back end.

Mike Stackpole again:

This can lead us to an interesting situation for which there is ample precedent in the publishing world. The publisher forms a sister corporation to handle audio book production and sales. They sell a property to the sister corporation for a tiny advance and pitiful royalty. The sister company makes the money actually selling the product, and yet the publisher can say that they’re following the letter of the contract because they’re splitting all income half and half. (Harlequin just had a lawsuit dismissed against them for doing a similar thing with ebooks.)

I’m not saying Skyhorse will do this, but someone who buys them out just might. And, it should be noted, that all digital publishing rights are already assigned, in the agreement, to a sister corporation called Start Publishing, LLC. (Start Publishing LLC is a subsidiary of Start Media, a privately held media company with interests in, among other things, feature film production.) Skyhorse and Smart are not buying books here, they’re buying Intellectual Properties, and at a bargain price.

[The Harlequin thing is a whole other issue, but yes, a court just ruled that subbing the rights to a related company for a pittance and then paying the author their percentage on that pittance, rather than on the cover price or what the actual vendor of the book pays, is perfectly legal, even if said subbing to a related company isn't mentioned in your contract anywhere. Check out whose contract you're signing, and be suspicious. As SF writer Charlie Stross said, "Contract law is essentially a defensive scorched-earth battleground where the constant question is, 'If my business partner was possessed by a brain-eating monster from beyond spacetime tomorrow, what is the worst thing they could do to me?'" Personally, I wouldn't touch Harlequin with a ten foot pole clutched in someone else's severed hand, for this and other attempts to mess over their writers going back decades.]

Read the rest of Stackpole's post. I don't always agree with him, but he explains in great detail why this deal is horrible, and I agree with him completely in this case.

And I see Stackpole just posted a follow-up, where he talks about the lack of numbers in what Nightshade has shared with their authors.

Contract lawyer Passive Guy comments on Mike Stackpole's posts:

Speaking generally, Michael’s essay describes a horror show of terrible contract provisions in publishing contracts.

What is worse, Skyhorse, the would-be new publisher, didn’t make up a lot of new contract clauses, it just used provisions that are common in the publishing contracts of many publishers, including most large ones.

Again, the fact that a contract clause is common, or even industry standard, doesn't mean it's good, or even tolerable.

On io9, Jeremy Lassen, Nightshade's Editor in Chief made a statement about the situation:

In looking for a buyer, our first priority was to find someone who would make sure all of our authors got paid in full. That was my first priority. I have always promised that while we might be late, authors would eventually get all the money that was due to them. Our second priority was to find buyers who could do justice to the diverse and talented stable of writers that we have at Night Shade. And we wanted someone who would ensure that books under contract would come out and be sold and promoted well, and that books already out would continue to be sold and promoted.


Let me be clear. Under the terms of this deal, all current and back royalties will be paid at the originally contracted rate. All outstanding advances and sub-rights monies owed will be paid at the originally contracted rate.

Let me also be clear… the buyers need a certain amount of the authors to sign off on the deal, or the deal doesn’t happen. I can’t say exactly what will happen if the deal doesn’t go through, but if it doesn’t, there will long period of uncertainty, for Night Shade, and for our authors.


This deal is the last chance I have to keep my promise. This is the last chance I have to make sure that ALL OF MY AUTHORS GET PAID ALL OF THE MONEY THEY ARE OWED. Right now the deal is in the hands of the individual authors, and their agents. I am asking you. Please. Sign off on this deal. Help me make sure all my authors get paid.

Note that if enough authors don't sign off on the deal, Skyhorse will back off and the company -- and all its book contracts -- will most likely end up in bankruptcy court. That's not good for anyone; best case scenario is that the rights are tied up for months while the mess is sorted out. It could be years. It could be forever. And even if someone buys the contracts (or some subset of the contracts) there's no guarantee that the new publisher will be any good at the business, or will have any interest in treating the writers well.

I'm willing to give Lassen the benefit of the doubt and assume that he honestly believes this is best for everyone. His goal is to make sure that all the writers are paid the money they're currently owed, which also gets him and his company out of debt and lets him walk away knowing he did right by everyone. Okay, it's clear why he'd want that.

But for the writers, it's not that simple. All right, it's good that they'll get paid money they're currently owed. Even SFWA thinks this is a good thing -- they've recommended that their members who are caught up in this sign off on the deal. But as Stackpole points out, getting a stack of cash (of whatever size) right now is only part of the situation, and not necessarily the largest part. Is it worth it to get money you're owed now, if it means getting (best case) a fraction of what you expected to make on future sales of these books? Forever, because this new deal is a life-of-copyright contract with easily weaseled reversion language. (See Stackpole's analysis for a discussion of that.)

I suppose if a writer is owed a lot of money on a completed series or a bunch of stand-alone books, and is in dire financial trouble and needs that cash now, this looks like a good deal. And it might even be a good deal, for that writer. But if you're a writer like Stackpole or Foglio, who each has an in-progress series published through Nightshade, this deal could slash your income, or if things go really wrong, prevent you from continuing your series.

Foglio says, "So what’s going to happen? Don’t know. unlike many authors, I actually have an entertainment lawyer look over our contracts before we sign them, so I’m hoping we’re covered, but this is by no means a given."

For anyone who didn't have an entertainment lawyer look over their contract, or for anyone whose contract still has gotchas in it, no matter who went over it before signing, this is a coin toss. If enough writers balk at signing on and the deal falls through, everyone's contracts end up in bankruptcy court and that could be very bad for everyone. But there are writers whose best interests are definitely not served by signing. Unfortunately this means that the writers who shouldn't sign are going to be feeling some pressure not only from Lassen, but also from the other writers whose situations require that the deal go through. No one's told the writers how many of them have to sign on to satisfy Skyhorse, so everyone's guessing and no one knows how many might be enough.

Unless Darkhorse gets a White Knight offer like Triskelion did in 2007, this is pretty much guaranteed to be bad for at least some people, maybe a lot, and quite possibly everyone. And at this point, I doubt anyone's going to step in and make Darkhorse an offer anywhere near the one Triskelion got, since it hasn't happened yet in the years that they've been in trouble.

Whatever happens, I hope as many writers as possible come out of it in decent shape and with their book rights and their on-going income intact. For the rest of us, we can be damn careful whom we sign with, do our due diligence before we sign, and keep in mind Stross's comment about contract law.


ETA: Comments closed because of ridiculous amounts of spam.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

There's Always One Joker

In with all the other April Fool's posts that went up a couple of days ago, one of the web site staffers over at the Locus website decided to write an incredibly unfunny joke stirring a stack of feces that'd long since gone cold and crusted over -- the incident from 2010 when WisCon, an SF convention founded specifically on principles of social justice, dis-invited one of its guests of honor for publicly posting an anti-Moslem screed on her LiveJournal. The basic message of the post was diametrically opposed to the foundations principles of WisCon, and continuing to honor this person would've been a travesty, so she was dis-invited. There was some kerfuffling, but then it died down. The person who wrote the non-funny April Fool's post for the Locus site decided it needed to be stirred up again, and saw nothing wrong with saying nasty things about Moslems, women, feminists and fat people in order to get his "point" across. Or maybe he saw that as a bonus?

The Locus magazine staff, being decent people, pulled the post as soon as they saw it that morning, and posted an apology. We know they're decent people because it's a real apology, not the usual "We're sorry you're so overly sensitive, and we had no idea you'd be so unreasonable as to be offended" kind of non-apology these incidents usually produce, so kudos to the Locus folks.

The guy who wrote the offensive post decided a little more stirring was necessary, so he posted to his personal blog, making it clear that yes, he had intended to be offensive, and yes he had meant to be taking a shot at WisCon over this 2.5-year-old incident, and that he was outraged -- outraged, I say! -- at the craven censorship to which his superiors were forced by the politically correct harpies of WisCon. Because clearly it's impossible that anyone not associated with WisCon could have been at all upset by what he'd said.

[If anyone cares, I don't work on WisCon, and have never even attended.]

I'm not linking to Mr. Shit Stirrer because I don't want to reward him for his behavior by giving him any traffic, or his blog any incoming links. I'm not naming him for similar reasons. If you click through to the page with Locus's apology, though, there's a link in the comments to his post, if you really want to read it. It's the usual self-righteous garbage bigots spew when they're called on their shit.

Jim Hines posted a commentary on his own blog, and as usual made some excellent points and worded them beautifully. One of my favorite parts:

I was a skinny, overly bright, socially inept, fashion challenged kid with glasses and a speech defect. My teenage years were utter hell. Looking back at any of those incidents of name-calling, having my books knocked out of my hands, being shoved in the hallway, tripped on the steps outside the school, having my belongings destroyed, and so on, very few of them in isolation were such a big deal. Real physical injury was relatively rare. But when those small jabs continue day after day, they add up. They whittle away at your strength and your hope, and it never, ever lets up, never stops, until you’re sitting alone in the bathroom with a syringe full of your father’s insulin, searching for a single good reason not to jab the plunger down and hopefully put an end to it all.

The backlash against the Locus article isn’t about someone taking cheap shots at Muslims and women. It’s about yet another person taking those shots, lining up to bully those who are already a popular target for abuse. And it’s about everyone else who stands around, encouraging and enabling that bullying.

The whole thing's worth reading.

And he's absolutely right -- it's not just about this incident, or some older incident, or another one that'll happen next week. It's about all the incidents taken together. If every day, someone pokes you -- never the same person twice, but someone new every day -- it might seem ridiculous to charge any of them with assault. But let it go on for weeks and months, let alone years or decades, and your body would be one huge bruise, and each new poke would be agonizing on top of the damage left by all the others. And if you complained, people would say, "Why are you making such a fuss? He just poked you! Sure, it's kind of rude, but you don't have to make a federal case out of it! Mellow out!" Those same people would glare with indignation while the person who "overreacted" dragged their purple, crippled body away.

A constant stream of offenses which are individually minor is just as harmful as one huge offense. This slam against Moslems, women, feminists and fat people was just one more in a long, long stream of offenses that members of every one of those groups has to put up with regularly, often daily. It's not minor, it's not funny, and the Locus staff acted appropriately, as any decent people would.