Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The more things change...

Today, when I crawled out of bed, I was the author of several short stories and novellas in both print and electronic format published by small-but-growing presses that either didn't yet meet RWA's criteria for publisher recognition or had no interest in applying for said recognition. And I was okay with that. My sales were up, my royalty checks getting bigger each quarter, and I had a growing and supportive readership.

When I crawl back into bed tonight, some sixteen hours later, I will be a "vanity/subsidy pubbed," as per the new RWA defintion.

"3. The Board updated the definition of Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher to: any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the cost of production or distribution in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment of reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishers whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site; publishers whose list is comprised of 50% or more of its books written by authors who are principals in the publishing company; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates."

Note, please, the highlighted sections.

Now, let me be clear: I understand that after the Triskelion bloodbath, they had to do something. I'm even okay with the new "thousand dollar advance for a novel, five hundred dollar advance for a novella" requirement. It'll cut out a lot of small presses and epubs, but you know what? It's their organization -- no longer MINE, most assuredly -- and they can recognize who and whatever they want to recognize.

But where do they get off changing the definition of "subsidy/vanity publisher" to meet their own ends? Last time I checked, "vanity/subsidy publisher" meant publishers who require their authors to pay for some part of the publishing process. The Board of Directors, in one ugly little fit of "throw the baby out with the bathwater," have attempted to marginalize multiple small but legitimate companies and thereby have marginalized hundreds of their own members who are published with these companies.

And they wonder why the RWA is becoming less and less relevant with each passing year.

If I'd bothered to send my membership dues in April, I'd be sorely regretting it now. As it is, the RWA can bite my "vanity pubbed" ass. Both cheeks. Make a meal of it, why don'tcha? Not another penny of my money, not another second of my time.

It's almost enough to make you miss Tara Taylor Quinn.

Oh, shut up. I said "almost." - Romance of Dubious Virtue


Blogger Eva Gale said...

I just read that and even though I'm not a member, I tell ya, I'm pretty miffed over that one.

7/11/2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger Alessia Brio said...

Just makes me all the more determined to throw my support behind EPIC and help it grow. EPIC, at least, is a productive use of my time and money.

7/11/2007 6:55 PM  
Blogger Lynne Simpson said...

Hear, hear. I think it's a misuse of language to dump Internet-centric publishers into the vanity/subsidy bucket. The other criteria are fairly standard, but that part is just flat wrong.

7/11/2007 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Arin Rhys said...

I'm cool with them narrowing their membership criteria, but they ought to get some of their info right.

7/12/2007 1:07 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

I filled out my EPIC application this afternoon. I'm rather psyched about it. At least in part because I know the dress code at Epicon is WAY less rigorous than that of any RWA con I've ever attended.

I wore jeans to the last one. Nice jeans, but definitely jeans. And boy, did I ever get the stink-eye from one old bat...

7/12/2007 10:09 PM  

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