Dorchester Responds…And So Do We

Last week, myself, Bryan Smith, J.F. Gonzalez, and Craig Spector called for a boycott of Dorchester Publishing. Over 200 professional authors and an estimated 10,000 consumers also joined the boycott. The boycott garnered media attention, birthed a Twitter hash-tag, and spawned a Facebook page. Most importantly, it inspired dozens of other Dorchester authors to step forward and confirm our allegations. Today, Dorchester responded. You can read the entire response here. I’d like to address a few points. Quotes from the article are in bold.

“The remaking of Dorchester Publishing… had been going fairly well until earlier this month when author Brian Keene accused the company of selling e-books for which they no longer had the rights.”

Going well? Their landlord and several other creditors seemed to have a different take on things during last Thursday’s creditor steering committee phone conference. More importantly, it wasn’t just “Keene” accusing them. Dozens of authors raised similar allegations. (This is very important and we’ll come back to it in a moment).

“(CEO Bob) Anthony said the call for a boycott is “truly regrettable and not necessary to get our attention, since he has our attention.” According to Anthony, after being notified by Keene that some sites had been selling e-books for which Dorchester had reverted the rights back to Keene, Dorchester sent suppression notices to the vendors. After Keene reported that some sites were still selling the e-books, Anthony said they sent another suppression letter telling the vendors they expected the e-books to be removed from sale. “We expected the vendors to act accordingly,” Anthony said, adding that “we respect the right of reversion.”

The time-line: In late-December 2010, I was notified that suppression letters had been sent, and that “it might take a week or two” for the digital editions to disappear from various vendors’ websites. And they did. By the end of the first week of January 2011, no digital editions of my work remained available for sale in any format. Then, in late January, they were offered for sale again via Nook. I was told it was a glitch, and another suppression letter had been sent. In early February, digital editions were offered for sale again via Sony. Again, I was told it was a glitch and another suppression letter would be sent. In late February, digital editions were made available for sale again via the Kindle. Again “glitch” and “suppression”. Then, earlier this month, digital editions were made available via iBooks. If you guess “glitch” and “suppression” you win a prize.

Here’s the thing, Bob. This keeps happening repeatedly, despite your assurances of sending “suppression notices” and despite your expectations that your “vendors act accordingly.” For three months, I’ve been asking for an explanation of why it keeps happening. I’ve yet to receive one. So despite your claim, I don’t think I’ve had your attention. I don’t think any of your authors have. But we do now.

“…the publisher is committed to solving the problem with Keene and treating all authors fairly. Dorchester will pass along all money to Keene on e-books that were sold after rights reverted. “We’ll get him [Keene] everything that is owed to him” Keeslar said.”

What I want you to do is to stop selling digital editions of my work that you do not have the rights to. And I’ve repeatedly stated, this isn’t just about me. So while you are at it, here are some allegations from other authors that you can address:

1. Author Tim Waggoner: “Before Leisure’s implosion, I got all the rights to my three Leisure novels reverted to me. Imagine my surprise a couple months ago to discover that Leisure is selling e-editions of two of those novels. My agent’s on the case, and we’ll see what happens — though from what I’ve seen on other authors’ blogs/message boards , Leisure hasn’t been responding to agents when they call about such problems. My personal concern is simple: Leisure is profting from selling editions of my books that they don’t have the rights to.

2. Author Stacy Dittrich: “(I) never received one royalty check. The publisher claims… didn’t sell enough books, but Nielsen book scan says differently. In fact, one of (my) e-books hit 1,000 and…Wait a minute! The publisher doesn’t even OWN the rights to the e-books… agent kept requesting a contract but heard crickets. Digging a little deeper… the book, (that the publisher is illegally selling), is available for free. Yes, for free. I will fight this to the finish at all costs… I am using my contacts to secure an attorney who will happily file a class action suit against Dorchester publishing. I am also checking contacts at several law enforcement agencies to see if criminal charges are possible as well. Interested Dorchester authors contact me at info@stacydittrich.com so I can start compiling a list for the class action.

3. Author Mary SanGiovanni: “…I sent a formal letter to Leisure/Dorchester, asking for the rights to my two books back. They were in violation of contract, as I haven’t received royalty statements in over a year for either book. I’ve been told by Leisure that I can’t have the rights back to my books. They couched it all in nice-speak, but essentially, they’re using the e-book angle to keep our books in print…

4. Author Vicki Steifel: “Dorchester has done exactly the same thing to me – no royalties… no statements… and illegally publishing my books in On-Demaned and eBook format.

5. Author Craig Spector: “Authors under contract are NOT vendors; they are a separate and distinct class unto themselves. Our books and inventory are separate and distinct. They are NOT meant to be held hostage by creditors in the event of BK proceedings, as salvageable rights to be sold off to repaythe companies debts. That was nowhere in the contract I signed; indeed, the contract I signed is, in my and my attorney’s estimation, in breach, and hence null and void, and my rights — including e-rights — automatically revert back to me, the owner of the underlying rights. Both Dorchester’s counsel and the independent counsel representing the “loose, informal consortium” of creditors — their words — have been consistently evasive as to where “authors” fit in this mix… Dorchester is in material breach of dozens if not hundreds of author contracts.

6. Author Jana DeLeon: “who managed to get the e-book versions of her titles taken down last autumn because Dorchester didn’t own the digital rights, notes that her titles are back as mobile-phone apps—from Dorchester.

That’s six. Once you’ve taken care of them, I have several dozen more for you. And still more are on the way. If you are sincere, then immediately:

*Insure digital editions for which you DO NOT own the rights are suppressed, and the files are removed from your vendors’ systems. Send proof of this to the rights-holders.
*Honor the rights reversion requests you are receiving from authors and their agents.
*Send royalty statements. Some authors report not having received a royalty statement since 2009.
*Communicate with your authors. Last week’s steering committee was told Dorchester is “paying an average of $5,000 per week toward past-due royalties”, yet your authors — the people who are owed that money — were kept in the dark about this.

Until then? Fuck you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve had a very long day playing with my three-year old, helping my ex-wife haul topsoil, and talking J.F. Gonzalez down off the ledge. I’d like to shower, put on some pajamas, pour myself some bourbon, light a Partagas, and write something for which I’ll be paid.

PS: For a fantastic run down of the entire Dorchester saga, I highly recommend Jim Macdonald and Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s time line.

41 thoughts on “Dorchester Responds…And So Do We

  1. Matt R. Jones

    All I can really say at this point is…

    What a bunch of total, subhuman shit-bags. This whole situation is ridiculous beyond words, and the author-abuse is just disgusting. Makes me tremendously glad I never had dealings with those thieving parasites, ugh.

    Will definitely be reposting this on my blog — some of this shit is unbelievable.

    Enjoy your bourbon, and may you have one of those magical evenings where the story writes itself and you’re just along for the ride, Brian!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Brian Keene Responds To Dorchester’s Response… *** The Electric Wonderland -- The Official Hollywood Vampires Site

  3. Sara M. Harvey

    Brian, I have been where you are with my lousy-ass publisher here in Nashville who still hasn’t paid me five years later (although I DID get my rights back and will be reprinting the book in question this year- yay!).

    I recommend any authors not able to pay for legal help contact their local chapter of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts! (That includes you, too!)
    This list covers the US and Canada!
    http://www.law-arts.org/documents/NationalVLADirectory_000.pdf

    Keep fighting the good fight!!
    GOOD LUCK Y’ALL!

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Donald

    And to think once I wanted to be a Leisure author so badly, it was the pinnacle of horror for me… *shudder*

    Here’s my question. Once Leisure was at the very least the primary publisher of mass-market horror. Who has stepped up to take their place? What publisher is now the go-to house for good horror fiction? No one sane would touch Leisure with a ten-meter cattle prod now, so where can we turn for the level of publishing that we came to expect from them?

    Reply
  5. Keevy Deloy

    Way to go Brian!!! Myself and Mark are behind you, along with all the authors out there willing to stand and fight for what is yours! This is total BS that they are getting the easy money when you, and all authors, worked soo hard to get.

    Reply
  6. Brian

    Thanks, folks. And Elizabeth, I recommend Deadite Press. They’re publishing many former Dorchester authors, including myself, Edward Lee, JF Gonzalez, Bryan Smith, Wrath James White, and Robert Devereaux.

    Reply
  7. JMS

    Jesus Christ, and here I was thinking that “Whoever smelt it, dealt it” had gone out as a conflict resolution strategy in third grade! Silly me, apparently it’s the business trend of the future.

    Reply
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  9. Justin Julian

    Hey Brian,

    I’m a long-term press guy. (Mostly as a journalist, but I’ve done some press release and marketing work.) I’m sure you know this, but I wanted to say it: that release is absolute 100% directed as an attack on YOU.

    The wording in that release is specifically designed to psychologically misdirect any bad feelings over this on you, personally. By making this one man’s crusade, by making this about you vs. them, they can deflect the overall criticism and attempt to take the wind out of the boycott.

    The language is VERY specific.

    The ‘remaking’ of Dorchester. Read: we aren’t failing, we aren’t in trouble, we’re remodeling! We’re slapping new paint on these walls, baby!

    Keene ‘accused’… Read: he’s probably full of it, but he did make accusations, and we all know accusations don’t mean much.

    ‘e-books for which they no longer had the rights’… Read: We had the rights! We had the rights to sell them all! There was just a problem with them or something, he’s being a prima donna.

    ‘Dorchester will pass along all money to Keene on e-books that were sold after rights reverted.’ Read: See, we’re going to pay him, so what’s the big deal over this ‘rights’ issue? The rights are reverted, they’re his, he’s bickering over a few payments due to mistakes.

    There’s more, but I could be here all night. The wording is VERY specific, man, very psychologically specific. They had a press wonk slaving over this release with a legal guy proofing everything. They could have just written something deferring blame, but instead they intentionally composed this as a hit piece. It would have been -easier- to just write a face-saving release making it sound like it’s all one big misunderstanding, but the wording is directed at your throat, man.

    My spidey-sense went off when Mary tweeted that she got a statement from them. That’ll be their move now: pay a number of authors (not many, they clearly don’t have the money) that have complained, to single you out. Make it look like you’re the only one having the trouble because (they’d suggest) you’re so difficult doing this ‘regrettable’ boycott.

    Don’t take any guff from these swine. I’m gonna talk to my editors at Dread Central to see if we can’t officially join up. (I think we’d be the biggest genre site to do so based on what I read you say in the recent past, for what it’s worth.)

    Reply
  10. rotgut

    Glad to see the screws are starting to take some effect on these dipshits. Get those fuckers, Brian :-)
    Hopefully everyone will get all they are due…..especially some RESPECT! You guys bust your creative asses for us and we love you guys for it.

    Reply
  11. Travis

    Dorchester can go fuck themselves. I support the boycott and will not purchase any future books by Dorchester. My hard earned money will go to Deadite press.

    Reply
  12. Zachary Tyler

    Brian, I was at walmart today and found one of you books(paperback) there. Never seen them at walmart before-anyways it was on sale for $2 bucks. I looked at the publisher and guess what? Yep Leisure books. It wasnt mixed in with everything else either. It was an the end of the isle where they put up new or hot stuff. Wanted to buy it but I didnt. I just read my first books by you a couple weeks ago. Since then I have been follow your web page etc. I support you 100%. Just want you to know about this.

    Reply
  13. Chris Hammond

    Keep up the fight Brian. Love your work and hope to catch your next novel soon. Take it easy brother.

    Reply
  14. Kevin

    The saying, ‘If it looks like shit and smells like shit, it’s gotta be shit’, comes to mind. That’s all that response posting from Dorchester meant to me. A bunch of shit…

    I’m not a writer, but I am a avid reader/consumer/collector and they will never get my business again.

    Brian, I hate that you guys are going through this mess. The only thing I can do is to continue to support small press like Deadite. If you continue to write, I’ll continue to buy. All you have to do is keep posting the links I need to follow to make my purchases… ;-)

    Good luck to all of you guys with this.

    Reply
  15. db

    I’m suddenly glad I haven’t been aggressive in publishing anything. They’re not holding my “children” hostage! Think I’ll just continue to write for me and my friends, and keep my day job…

    Reply
  16. Thomas A. Erb

    Ah…its the old stand by response technique: DENY, DEFLECT, DENY!!!
    And here I was thinking this only happen to little folks like me and piss-ant mircro presses.

    Inexcusable as ALL levels.
    Keep up the fight Brian.

    Reply
  17. Gef

    I was wondering when DP would actually make a statement. They lived up to expectations with the rhetoric, too. Wonder if they’re taking publicity tips from Iraq’s former Information Minister.

    Reply
  18. Txjack

    Reminds me of my exwife. She would hurt people beyond belief and then attack THEM with righteous indignation when they pointed their fingers at her.

    I saw this company reaction coming when I saw one of the DP facebook responses to one of their subscribers asking if the allegations were true. Do they honestly think they can get away with hurting so many people and it not come back to bite them? One disgruntled author, no problem. Dozens? It’s gonna be a slaughter!

    Reply
  19. Brian

    “I love reading the trials and tribulations of small press authors. Quite entertaining.”

    Except that this has nothing to do with the small press.

    Reply
  20. Adrian Thompson

    There was once a time that I specifically sought out Leisure books. That will likely never happen again. Until Dorkchester settles up with every wronged author, they will not receive another penny from me. What a bunch of asshats.

    I wish you and the other authors good luck!

    Reply
  21. JMS

    I predict that the next communication Mr. Keene will be receiving will look something like this:

    HAMILTON BURGER, ATTORNEY AT LAW
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

    Dear Mr. Keene:

    My clients, Dorchester/Leisure Publishing, have instructed me to inform you that you are rubber and they are glue, and that whatever you say bounces off them and sticks to you.

    Sincerely yours,

    Hamilton Burger
    Attorney at Law

    HB/nds

    Reply
  22. Bill

    It sounds like “had been going fairly well” meant “booksellers are paying us money, and we haven’t had to get around to the ‘paying authors their royalties’ part yet, so things are going fairly well!”

    Reply
  23. tim lebbon

    Using ebooks to keep books contractually in print — make sure you check contracts. Just cos there’s an ebook available, doesn’t necessarily mean your book is in print. In my contract it states that an ebook should have made $200 in income in previous accounting period for it to be classed as in print (words to that effect). So just cos an ebook is for sale on Kindle, that DOESN’T mean that it’s contractually still theirs.

    Check contracts, guys.

    Reply
  24. Tim Waggoner

    And just as a data point to add to Tim’s post, my contracts state that an ebook should have made $400 in the previous accounting period for it to be classifed as in print. (My agent got Dorchester to agree to this change in my three contracts with them.)

    Reply
  25. Floppy_Colon

    i love the “the remaking had been going well until Brian Keene accused them of” blah blah blah. 1) it isnt an accusation if it’s true and 2) trying to blame you for somehow hindering their “remaking”. ridiculous!

    Reply
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  30. Rorey Sisson

    I am the author of Gunmen Never Forget published twice (first by Tower Books in 1979)
    I was told I would be given $1,000.00 as an advance against royalties. I was told I would recieve $500.00 when the book was published in 1980. Eventually I recieved my first check.
    I had to beg for weeks to get my other $500.00 check, after the book was published. Then somewhere along that time line, Tower books was bought out by Dorchester.
    They published my book in 1986. I asked for any royalties coming to me. I was told there was none.
    How is it that a book is published twice and the author has no money coming to him?
    If someone can help me,…..I can be contacted at SHatzidog@hotmail.com

    Reply

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