STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND
Talented art enthusiast and fellow Canadian, Baylee Jay recently shared a video regarding her now bankrupt and notorious publisher, F+W Media. What the parent company of IMPACT Publishing blamed in their release as the reason they filed for bankruptcy was mismanagement, an ill-planned switch to more technology-based publishing, and, of course, the fact that they are now up to $500 million in debt. It’s unfortunate that the authors who are owed royalties land at the bottom of a long list of debtors.
F+W, “dedicated to enriching the lives of active enthusiasts” has suddenly gone inactive in their communication with the authors they had contracted. What will happen to the dozens of authors who have dedicated their time, money, resources, and souls into their work? The learning experience from it and those last few dusty issues on their shelves might be all they truly have left to take forward. Do they or will they ever even have rights to their work now that F+W has gone bankrupt?
How much background searching should an aspiring author actually do?From the outside still, both websites for IMPACT and F+W don’t mention a thing about bankruptcy, instead choosing the path of denial in order to continue to try and sell as many books as possible that they have left, including Baylee Jay’s. It’s tough to know from the outside, especially if it seems they’re doing fine and throwing huge numbers of readers at you, whether or not they’ll even still exist even a few years later. You would need to know quite a bit about the ins and outs of financial business management to even catch a clue.
Find someone who knows what you don’t and make sure you do more research than just looking at a website and social presence. In the United States, many companies that are publicly owned, are subject to detailed disclosure laws about their financial condition, but companies that are privately owned are not required to do so. Private companies can keep this information away from public eyes, if they deem fit. Use this to your advantage, determine if a publisher is publicly or privately owned, and compare the offering and status to their competition - and make a smart decision.
"In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you."
What more authors should be negotiating OUT of their contracts before signing?
It was clever to see Baylee mention that, when offered her first contract, she did negotiate a little but not A LOT. Not knowing exactly how she felt, but as an aspiring author myself, if I were to finally be offered a publishing deal, I would probably agree with everything they threw at me - even despite the fact that I now work in a legal profession. You can’t help but try and wiggle a bit more, but fear that if you ask for too much freedom, the canoe will tip over and take it’s publishing deal with it.
Books have been around for centuries, and contracts have been around far longer than that - and they have and always will tilt more in favor of one party over another. In the case of book publishing, more authors should search for specific clauses in the contract they’re offered and not take no for an answer. One of which, those contract clauses that define time limits, are the first that should be negotiated. Most book deals include a 35-year minimum termination window. Ask for 5 or 10 years instead, with the opportunity for the window to be renewed if the books are selling well.
Always, always, always, ask to include a clause of what will happen if the company goes bankrupt. We have proof that it does happen. Read the contract as if you’re expecting the unexpected to happen and you’ll get more clarity about what changes you may want to make.
Some publishers, the wrong ones, will try and make you feel uneducated in the world of publishing and that they know all about how the process works. This might be true, however, many will use this to their advantage and make you feel like you really don’t have a say in how your book is going to be published. Believe me, you do. If they reached out to you, you know they are aware that there’s money to be made in your talent. You don’t need to sell your skills and experience for a tiny piece of the pie.
I’ve seen Baylee’s and many other artist/authors’ works and know that exceptional talent won’t go unnoticed for long. There’s an amazing future for so many aspiring out there - and by using technology, resources, marketing, and networks the right way, it’s easier than it ever has been to reach a large audience as quickly as possible. You no longer need to depend on the large publishing companies approval in order to be put into print.
Interested in learning more about Baylee Jae? Check out her Youtube Channel, or if you seek to learn more about publishing, how publishers work, and want to be knowledgable about the industry? Here is a list of eight great books to start from:
Kimberley, aka Lupsandtnks, spends her days dreaming about her favourite stories, drinking coffee with as many shots of espresso as Starbucks will allow, and writing about anything and everything. She’s a grammar dork and a lifetime nerd who lives more in the fiction world than she does the real one. . .
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