The blog update restructured the post order, and the oft referenced Very Bad Publishers saga is now at the very back of the queue.
Since I don’t know how to fix that, here it all is in order.
My first shock came the day I found out that even though you are with a publisher that has retail trade distribution, those retail trade distributors are not necessarily going to order your book. At the time, the direct trade market distributors like Diamond carried almost everything, and that was what I was accustomed to.
After being told by my publisher my work would be in major bookstores like Waldenbooks (a major chain at the time) I found the retail distributors weren’t even ordering most of the GN’s the publisher was producing – or anyone’s GN’s for that matter. I do not believe they made any orders on my first GN created by The Woman for this publisher at all, and when the combined orders for both the direct market and the retail trade came in, the book had only moved just over 3,000 copies.
Far from content to print 5,000 books when they got orders for 3,000, it was not unknown for them to publish 10,000-12,000 books when they got orders for 3,000.
On one book, they gambled so big I simply could not believe it.
When The Woman was unhappy with the coloring on the first print run of the GN I had illustrated for her, she ordered the entire print run be redone from scratch. The first print run was 12,000 copies against an initial order of 3,000 copies…ludicrous.
However, cross collatoralization virtually assured that I would not see any of those expected and needed royalties. For the duration of my contract (which was going to take years to complete) I was being consigned to a life of rock bottom poverty, and even the possibility that I would have to work for two years or more with no income at all.
So, when I found out that my publisher (the one who had, within a week, gone from telling me to get out of publishing to telling me I was like a daughter to him) had sold my reprint edition rights to A Distant Soil to another publisher, a move that would, yet again, cut my non-existent royalties in HALF, the shit really hit the fan…
Since my new book was a $12.95 trade. I’d be getting a whopping 16 cents a copy on all sales in the direct market. So, if my book actually sold 30,000 copies there (NOT) I’d gross all of $4,856 – about enough to pay the colorist, but not enough to pay the letterer, or any other costs…including me. In order to earn out my meagre advance within a two year period, I would have to move something like 50,000 copies, assuming at least half of those were sold in the retail trade where I’d get a bigger royalty. Worse yet, even if I did earn out the advance, the take would be eaten up by the cost on the NEXT volume of the book, and the deficit on The Woman’s book.
But all was not lost! No sirree! They were going to give me a goodie to compensate for cutting my pay!
Can you guess?
Can you guess what the goodie was?
Oh, I bet you cannot guess!
OK, I will not keep you in suspense any longer.
The publisher was going to print my name in the book.
This man who had just spent a half hour claiming he was my good buddy, who had just sold himself as my first publisher, who had sold himself as the creator of the graphic novel, as the publisher of my first graphic novel, as Mr. Gladhand the Artist’s Friend, the man who was a partner in the company that had helped consign me to grueling poverty, this book to which I had dedicated so many years of my life for which he was trying to take credit while never having paid decent money for it, that sonofabitch couldn’t even remember the damned book’s name.
I do not approach my clients with the intent of forming familial relationships, especially when those clients are conducting their accounting in such a way as to assure I’m treated like a red-headed stepchild.
Never sign a confidentiality agreement with Teh Crazy. In Crazy Land, they will expect you to fulfill the terms of every agreement (especially the confidentiality clause) no matter how much Teh Crazy lies, cheats, or steals, even if the US Supreme Court informs them that slavery is dead, and copyright squatting does not make them a creator. That said, my lawyer advises me to take the high road with them, and that is easy enough, for they are so low.
There are plenty of other posts about some other Very Bad Publishers, so click the tab. I hope you find the posts educational.
Marvel at the kahunas on this dude who thinks you should be thrilled to work on spec! Don’t miss the epic jolly in the comments thread. Comedy gold.
Never a dull moment when dealing with Very Bad Publishers!