So, as many of you may or may not know, there has been a little kerfuffle over Permuted Press and its decision to stop releasing the majority of its novels in POD (Print On Demand). So, I thought I’d chime in now that most of the drama has chilled out. Why chime in? Because I’m a Permuted author and there have been a ton of rumors, misinformation, and flat out lies said about what’s going on.
Now, originally I had a legal pad’s worth of notes I was going to address with responses to claims that a couple of authors have made. But, in the end, I decided not to give them my energy. Flame wars are useless.
Let me just say this, though: the blog post that started all of this is so riddled with falsehoods and flat out lies that even if there is some truth in there, you better believe you’ll need to dig through a pile of horse shit to find that truth. [Quick note: I couldn’t help myself and went back to said blog post. Guess what? Half of it is gone and edited out. So, I amend my statement above and say WAS filled with falsehoods. Interesting.] And the subsequent blog posts that came out, including an author’s declaration of his personal boycott against Permuted, are all based on the original post by an author that had an axe to grind based on employment issues well before the kerfuffle started. Employment issues, not publishing issues. Trust me when I say that that original blog post cannot be trusted in any way, shape, or form.
Speaking of trust (and truth), I made a statement on Twitter in response to something James Roy Daley (I link because I like!) tweeted. My statement was that some authors have flat out lied about their versions of paying to be released from their Permuted contracts. But, since I cannot say for 100% certain that they did lie, as I am not privy to their personal interactions with Permuted, I willingly retract my statement and apologize to Mr. Daley for misleading him. My bad. I also apologize to those authors for making any misstatements myself. This post is about clearing up misstatements, not perpetuating them. Again, my bad.
See? Being honest and admitting when you are wrong isn’t so hard. Others should try it.
Back to the kerfuffle!
Here’s the deal, Permuted Press announced that they are going to be publishing in primarily ebook format from here on out. Their reasoning being that 42% of labor was going into getting books ready for print whereas only 7% of sales were coming from print books. Now, be sure to read those numbers carefully. They are very telling because unlike so many reports, this wasn’t about not being able to afford the costs of POD, it was all about wasting 42% of labor (time) on 7% of sales. No respecting business would keep going in that direction and I sure as hell wouldn’t want them to.
But, regardless of the business aspect, the news was hard to swallow for many. There is the emotional aspect of holding a print book of your own, not to mention the ego boost of being able to point to it on a shelf and say, “That’s mine!”. Due to the emotional issue, many authors lost their shit over this. I am not exagerating. Some flat out freaked. Many of those authors were first timers and I can totally see why they’d freak. Without my experience in business and in the writing game, I’d have freaked too.
Full disclosure: Permuted’s decision does not affect me. I am part of their Permuted Platinum imprint which means my books (with the exception of one) are not POD, but offset print. That’s a whole other ball of wax. So, in all honesty, I had the luxury of standing back from all of this and analyzing as an inside outsider. It was surreal, to say the least.
Where was I? Oh, right, no more ebooks. But, wait! That isn’t 100% true. Here is Michael Wilson’s, CEO and President of Permuted Press, response to that:
“First, Permuted Press is NOT ceasing all print. The email was worded for, and sent specifically to, authors who had works releasing with us in the future. It leaked beyond those recipients and landed in the lap of people that are unaffected by our policy change. In fact, if you have a print title with us already, the news is even better. We’re shifting our printing away from Createspace and over to Lightning Source. This change, when fully implemented, will mean that anyone who currently has a printed book with Permuted Press will be able to go in to their local book store and ask them to stock that title. Lightning Source print on demand books are made available through the Ingram catalog, and retailers anywhere in North America can stock those titles. This isn’t the same as Permuted Platinum where a sales team works to get bulk buys and acquire shelf space for the books, but current print titles from Permuted Press will be available upon request to order at retail.”
That clarifies, but doesn’t help those that felt/feel betrayed by their novels not seeing print. Which then led to the major meltdown from many authors that wanted out of their contracts. While most quietly contacted Permuted, and were let go without hassle, some made a public display of their struggles and then began a smear campaign of misinformation and misdirection. I’m not here to defend Permuted. I’m Team Jake 100% of the time. So, let me have Michael speak again:
“Next, there has been some misinformation spreading about Permuted asking authors to buy back their titles. Let me clarify the reality of this accusation. Because we understand that many of our authors would not have signed with us as an electronic only publisher, and that our new e-first model would create some concern, we have very liberally been granting authors rescission of their agreements, including print rights as well as all other rights. The exception has been for a very small number of titles that Permuted Press has already made a financial investment in for artwork or editing. In cases where we have not yet paid an advance and we have not worked on art or edits for titles in question, we have freely and without hesitation allowed the author to have their rights back. In some cases we have borne the burden of artwork and editing and taken a loss in an attempt to absorb the sting of a thorny situation, but in no case have we held an author’s work for ransom.”
There’s that. Goes against a couple authors’ assertions they have been held for ransom. Maybe they have or maybe the authors were so offensive and aggressive that no one in their right mind would want to help make things easier for them. Speculation! I don’t know the answer to the specific accusations, I just know what I’ve witnessed so far: authors being let out of their contracts without a fight.
And speaking of contracts, that is the next direction the kerfuffle went! One established horror author hopped on his soapbox, using the less than credible postings of a disgruntled author as his fuel, to attack Permuted’s boilerplate contract. Then the HWA got involved as well as Absolute Write.
Let me say that Permuted’s boilerplate contract is not author friendly. I knew that the second I read it. Which is why I negotiated changes and Permuted was happy to make those changes. End of story for me. Other authors did not read the contract or understand it or give it to a professional that would understand it. They signed it and then got slammed in the face with the Regret Hammer once the ebook announcement came out. BUT, and that but is big for a reason, if you read the statement above, Permuted is willingly letting authors out of their contracts! So whether it is a crap ass contract or not is moot. Permuted has been doing right by its authors and freeing them from contracts they are not happy with.
So let’s shut up about the contract, okay? It’s every authors’ responsibility to read and understand what they are signing. Shit, folks, it’s every AMERICANS’ responsibility to read and understand what they sign! [You foreigners can sign whatever you want. I don’t care. I’m looking at you, Kiwis. ‘Murica!] [[That’s a joke. I love Kiwis. They are all short and have hairy feet and eat second lunches and elevensies. Especially Paul Mannering. One day I’ll be able to hug that hobbit in person.]] [[[All jokes. Calm down. No, seriously, calm down. What are you doing with the axe? NOOOOOOO!!!]]] [[[[I’m playing here, folks. Paul has had a great take on all this. Click the link above.]]]]
Shit, where was I? Contracts. Right. Another thing on the Permuted contract: the brass knows it’s a shite contract and during a meeting I had with them in September, they said they were working on changing it so it was more author friendly and would give authors way more rights and freedoms with their work. This was weeks before the announcement. That’s why, for me, the contract issue is a red herring and has been used as a smear weapon against a publisher that is already in the thick of fixing it. They probably should have announced that, though.
So, if all of this is being addressed and authors are calming down (are they?), then why am I talking about it, you ask? Because, whether directly or indirectly, my reputation has been attacked because I am sticking with Permuted Press. Hear that? Yes, I am sticking with Permuted Press. Why? Because they have been nothing but professional to me from day one. They have kept every promise and have gone out of their way to be open and honest with me. Because that’s what people do when they are professionals.
Ah, yes, people! This is where it gets personal. This is where I really started to get pissed about the smear campaign. You see, a lot of authors and bloggers want to paint Permuted as some investor owned mega corporation that only cares about profits. That’s bullshit. These are really, really, really nice folks. And they are not a mega corporation, they are a team of six (maybe seven now) hard working, horror and genre loving fans that have been overworked and under appreciated. I got to meet all of them in Nashville and we had a blast sitting and eating tacos and talking about our love of True Lies and Con Air.
True Lies and Con Air, people! That’s not evil, that’s just awesome!
So, when you picture Permuted Press, don’t picture an ivory tower, picture several enthusiastic lovers of all things genre with sour cream and salsa on their chins. That’s how I picture them. Seriously.
Okay, what else? Right, how it all sucks.
It does. R. Thomas Riley posted about the ebook only move and while I corrected him about the Nashville meeting and how none of the authors present were ever told to lie, not ever, even though he makes it sound way more ominous and conspiratorial than it was even in my correction, I do agree that he and Roy C. Booth got screwed because they don’t have physical copies of their book for a book signing. That does blow. And I know there are others that got left in the lurch. That’s why I am leaving this part at the end of my post.
Permuted Press could have, and should have, handled this a little (a lot) better. Leaving some authors without print books they had planned on getting isn’t cool, contract or not. Not responding to all the misinformation and BS blogposts while the authors are being attacked left and right for staying with them isn’t cool. Keeping authors in the dark for a week when there were a billion questions isn’t cool. It does hurt the spirit of small press publishing.
That’s why I’ll give Michael the last word (almost!) on that subject:
“It’s been a week since I announced the changes going in to effect, and before I made any comments here in the author’s group, I was determined to give emotions a chance to calm a bit so that we could have a calm, civil discussion. I believe we’ve all seen in the past week the wisdom in that decision. I have been silent, but I haven’t been distant, disconnected, or lacking in concern.”
Like I said, almost the last word. I don’t think it was wise to stay quiet. Things got messy. But, in the end, I have to admit that I too stayed quiet (for the most part) for the exact same reasons- to give emotions a chance to calm a bit. I am hoping they have and they continue to. Sure, there are still those that are hurt and pissed and want to lash out, but I think they have had time to look at the reality of the business and see this is not the end of the world. As for the others that want their personal grievances and war to be every authors’ war, I have only this to say- grow up and fight your own battles especially when you use blatant lies and misdirection as your only ammunition. Just knock it off. Especially the guy that believes threats of violence are the way to get a point across. Grow up, dude. Really.
Now, that’s my statement on the matter. I’m done and have three novels to write/finish before the end of the year. Jake ain’t got time for this!
If you want to comment, please do. Just be respectful and honest. No rumors, no unsubstantiated anything. Be professional and be prepared to discuss, not fight. Cool?