Writer Kiana Davenport blogs the cautionary tale of how her self-publishing collections of her short stories led to one of the Big Six publishers backing out of a contract to publish her first novel. She had self-published the collections of already-published short stories after submitting to and being rejected by various publishers, including the one who had been going to publish her novel.
The publisher demanded that she remove one of those collections, Cannibal Nights, from sale and guarantee that she would not self-publish any further works until her novel was published in both hardcover and paperback.
The vice president and publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and ‘adopt the right spirit going forward.’ This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at mind-control fascinated me. It became crystal-clear to me that the issue wasn’t a supposed ‘breach of contract,’ on my part, but the publisher’s fear and loathing of the profoundly threatening Goliath, Amazon. Since CANNIBAL NIGHTS in no way ‘resembles’ or would ‘injure’ sales of the book I had sold them (an entirely different subject matter) I was not in breach of my contract. I stood firm, and refused to capitulate.
So the publisher’s lawyers sent her a letter terminating her contract and demanding the return of the $20,000 advance.
Davenport is philosophical about this, feeling that it was perhaps worth giving up that $20,000 to have what she considers her best work in print at last, and to discover exactly what kind of organization she was going to do business with.
It’s an interesting reminder of why it may be best to think twice before getting into traditional publishing in this day and age.
(Found via Jeff Kirvin’s Google+ postings.)