January 31st, 2007

Malibu headshot

Bad week for the small press

So far 2007 has not been kind to the small press. I mentioned DNA's problems with the law in an earlier post.

Just today Dan Blackston announced that Pitch-Black LLC will cease all operations on February 1, and "all currently open projects including Lords of Swords 2, Lords of Justice, Magic and Mechanica, and pending novellas will be cancelled." Full announcement here:

http://forum.sfreader.com/default~f~22~m~31078.html

However, departing Pitch-Black CEO David Pitchford said that, "Mr. Blackston does not have the authority to cancel contracts already made between Pitch-Black LLC and others":

http://forum.sfreader.com/default~f~38~m~31158.html

Sounds like there's another shoe ready to fall on that one.

In another interesting small press story, the authors involved in the Shadow Regions anthology issued a public statement saying "we feel we have been robbed by Surreal Books (an imprint of Cavern Press)":

http://p082.ezboard.com/fshocklinesforumfrm2.showMessage?topicID=42845.topic

The publisher seems to have gone missing (literally) on that one.

And a smaller controversy here about Forgotten Worlds:

http://www.speculations.com/?t=81422

I don't want to make a lot of editorial comments here (other than that perhaps I should start spending less time on writing boards :-), as each situation is different, and I'm sure they're all complicated. But I do think I can offer some brief advice to anyone who thinks they might want to become a small press publisher:

1) It's unlikely you are going to make enough money to meet your publishing obligations, let alone making a profit. A lot of small press publishers run their businesses at a loss for the love of the work. If you think you'll be different, at least do some research and prepare a sound business plan.

2) Once you start collecting people's money and making contractual obligations with writers, it's a business, even if you are throwing in your own money and doing it "4theluv." You need to run your business according to professional standards--timely product delivery and prompt payment of writers.

It's just sad to see this same story, with slight variations, played out again and again.