On the Rising Scourge of Self-Publishing
Kiana Davenport is an author who will have the dubious honor of forever being known as the first author to be dropped simply because she self-pubbed an unrelated short story collection. She posted her saga a couple weeks ago on her blog, and it’s a little scary.
The whole thing started when her publisher noticed that after she’d signed a contract for a book, she also released a short story collection in the Kindle Store. (Actually the whole thing started with her publisher having the business ethics of a psychotic dictator, but I digress.) She got a threatening phone call from the publisher:
The editor shouted at me repeatedly on the phone. I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of 'blatantly betraying them with Amazon,' their biggest and most intimidating competitor. I was not trustworthy. I was sleeping with the enemy.
It went downhill from there. The publisher demanded that she unpublish the collection from everywhere and that she delete all references to it from Google searches (how the hell do you do that?). They also demanded that she publish nothing until after the book she had sold to them was released in paperback. (Do you see why I say they have the the business ethics of a psychotic dictator?) Given that her book wasn’t scheduled to hit paperback until fall 2013, I’m sure you’ll agree that their demands are more than a little unreasonable.
She declined, of course, so they cancelled the contract and demanded the advance back.
Do you know the really interesting detail? This same publishing house had declined the collection, and so had all the other Big 6 publishers. Even though it wasn’t good enough for them they didn’t want Amazon to have it either.
I don’t know what’s happened in the 2 weeks since this broke, but I suspect that not much has occurred. I, for one, am looking forward to when the publisher sue to get the advance back. Kiana didn’t mention their name, so their inevitable public humiliation isn’t going to happen until after they file suit.
The anger they displayed towards this author was (at its core) inspired by their fear. While they knew that authors could do without them; they were afraid that the authors might reach that same conclusion, hence their panicked and heavy-handed reaction.
The moral of the story is that this publisher knew that they were extraneous to the publishing process. Great. I’m thrilled to see at least one publisher who clearly know that they are no longer the gatekeeper
P.S. I think the publisher’s reaction would make a great Downfall parody video. Does anyone want to make it? (I don’t know how.)
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