I’ll be honest. The draft of this blog, which originally was going to explain why I moved Dreamspinner Press to my own personal not recommended list, has been sitting in my drafts folder since March 18. And yet, upon checking the business mailbox this weekend, it got bumped to the top of the blogging list.
I had one story, A Man’s Sword, with DSP. It was part of an Advent Calendar probably at least five years ago, maybe longer. The rights reverted back to me in June 2017. Put a pin in that point, we’ll get back to it shortly.
This weekend, I pulled a check from DSP out of my mailbox. Nifty. I love getting checks, especially unexpected ones. My DSP checks have been under $1 each quarter for a long time now, hence why I pulled the book last year. The story had simply run it’s course for the purpose for which it had originally been published. Up until recently I’d had no problems recommending them to other authors, one of the few publishers which I could suggest with a clean conscience. But imagine my surprise when I saw this: (look really closely at the dates)
Look at those dates. The check is dated 4/30/18, which is perfectly on time for paying one month after the quarter ends. The postmark is 5/28/18. That’s a month later! Why would you hold onto a check, let alone a check for under $1, for a month?
Those who went through Ellora’s Cave implosion circa 2015/2016 know that these were the exact same tactics EC employed towards the end. Now, I’ve heard good things from other authors at DSP, though I’ll detail the original reason why I wouldn’t recommend them prior to the receipt of this check in a moment. As someone who has been in this business for 16 years, I take the loss of any long established publisher as a sad thing except if they are now holding and delaying checks, that can only mean one thing: financial problems. And in that case, it is better for the press to wind up before things get worse, and do so in an honorable way.
I’m speaking up because there may be others out there who are experiencing the same thing, or hadn’t thought to look.
Now, onto the second reason why I won’t recommend DSP. My book reverted in June 2017. They pay quarterly. So the check I have (still on my desk because I forgot to cash it, and I refuse to ask them to reissue something for under $0.50) appeared to be the last payment. Or rather, it should have been. No problems, right?
I received a fourth quarter statement showing sales directly from their website. Given that the rights reverted to me in June, there’s no way there should have been any on-site sales for the reporting period, Oct-Dec 2017. I replied. Was told “they’d look into it and get back to me”. I never heard back.
Imagine my surprise when I received a first quarter 2018 statement, again showing only website sales. I searched. My author name nor book title are on the website. So were are these sales coming from? And more importantly, why are they still withholding their percentage for a book which they contractually couldn’t sell after June 2017?
I emailed again asking for an explanation. As of this writing, I haven’t heard back.
In good faith, I cannot recommend a publisher to my fellow authors who holds checks and refuses to answer why books are being sold after the contract ends.
In a way, I sincerely hope it’s just me. And yeah, I’m ready for the onslaught of “but they pay me on time, so you’re just a bad apple” emails and tweets that will no doubt happen. I heard it in 2007 when I started reporting Ellora’s Cave’s late payments. Well, you know how that one ended, and I’m not sorry I spoke up.
I look forward to hearing the explanation both for the apparently held check and for the sales after rights reversion. But I won’t hold my breath. I’ll just see what next quarter brings.