Time to follow up to the Night Shade sale news, since changes in independent/small press genre publishing affects all of us as readers and writers.
According to Publishers Weekly, Skyhorse is offering new terms to all Night Shade authors, and has updated those terms to bring the contracts more in line with the SFWA’s preferred arrangements. I don’t know exactly what Night Shade’s original agreements looked like, but the new terms aren’t at all bad from what we’re seeing made public, and hey, anything that gets authors actually paid is a win, right?
However, in less-promising news, it looks like Night Shade hadn’t just fallen behind on paying author advances and royalties – they’re also a year or more in hock to freelancers and contractors like editors, artists, and designers. And none of that has been mentioned in the renegotiation discussions. Rose Fox over at Genreville brought the issue to light when prompted by a reader, and had a little bit of a rough time getting some answers. It looks as though Skyhorse is going to be treating the contractors as creditors, and settling their accounts at 50% or less of their value. Ouch.
Yet more reason, to my mind, why Candlemark & Gleam is justified in growing much more slowly than might be possible if we went into debt up to our ears. Treating all members of the publication team equitably and paying them as well as possible is important – creative work and top standards are what makes books special, engaging, and addictive, and creative people deserve to be paid for their work. I admit, a lot of us here at C&G are working for nothing at all, out of love for the stories, with the understanding that the instant there is money for something other than physical production and as much marketing as we can get from rubbing two pennies and a wish together, compensation gets bumped to appropriate levels. Other people are working on contract for industry-standard fees, on the low end of the standard – again, mostly professional cover artists who are really committed to the press, but still need to eat.
It’s amazing how people come together for the dream of putting out really inspiring, engaging, high-production-value stories, and how much we’re all willing to sacrifice to make that dream come true. And one reason I’m not taking the press into debt and jeopardizing everything here is because these people are willing to take a chance and work for a fraction of what they’re worth in service to a dream. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that – it’s one thing for me as the founder of the press to work for free, and another entirely to have someone else volunteer to do so out of passion for what we’re building here. It’s humbling, and it makes me that much more determined to win through, so that they can reap the benefits. Someday, with smart growth and careful management, we’ll be able to make sure all members of the creative process that births a book – from authors to editors, cover designers to interior designers, marketing to proofreaders – get lavished with folding money for their contributions, instead of getting pelted with quarters and praise.
Valuing creative work and valuing everyone who contributes to making a book all it can be: it’s a good thing.