Popular mid-list author Brian Keene has asked on his blog for a boycott of Dorchester Press (Leisure) for non-payment of royalties and publishing ebooks whose rights have reverted back to the authors. He is asking fans to:
*If you follow them on Twitter, please unfollow them.
*If you like them on Facebook, please unlike them.
*If you receive their marketing emails, please remove yourself from their list.
*If you belong to one of their book clubs, please consider canceling your membership.
*If you are considering publishing with them, please reconsider.
*Most importantly, please don’t buy their books, regardless of whether it’s on their website, in the $1.99 dump bin at Wal-Mart, or available on the Kindle.
When asked why he doesn’t hire a lawyer, he answers succinctly:
… someone asked me why we (the authors) didn’t just seek legal means. Well, I can’t speak for any of the other authors involved, but I’ll tell you why I haven’t — because I’m broke. I’m broke because Dorchester didn’t pay me what was owed, and then I gambled to get my rights back, and then they continued to fuck me. And yes, I’ve got a nice new deal with Deadite and Ghoul starts filming next month, but I won’t see checks from either of those until a few months from now, and until then, I can barely pay the rent and eat anything more than Ramen noodles, let alone hire an attorney.
Keene gives a list of authors supporting the boycott and links to a post by Robert Swartwood also asking for a boycott.
This situation is disturbing for several reasons. First, generally speaking, fans want to see authors to get paid. That’s part of the reason that indie authors do well in the ebook market. As of today, Keene has 224 comments on his blog post and I read message after message of support.
Secondly, this highlights a concern about ebooks and digital property. There have been issues before about people publishing content they don’t have rights for. Amazon will certainly assume that a publisher (especially a well-known one) has the right to distribute an ebook for an author.
Keene’s books happen to be on my TBR list; I don’t own them yet. And as a potential fan who wants to buy the books in an ebook format, it is extremely frustrating. I want to support the author but want to make sure that I don’t put money into the hands of a greedy publisher who would treat authors in this way.
Today Keene updated his blog with information from some other authors owed money by Dorchester.
This post composed while listening to the Ramones’ Greatest Hits.