And then it all went “Boom”!
Since writing my blog post two weeks ago, I have been astonished at how quickly things escalated and then blew the hell up at the press in question. Those of you that follow or are friends with any of their authors will know by now that I was talking about Permuted Press.
How things went so badly, so quickly was not even among the reasons that I listed in my last post. Not directly at least. However the reasons for the atrocious contracts, vanishing advances and production delays are very likely share the same root cause as their decision to arbitrarily cease production of print on demand paperbacks this week. Money and Greed being primary factors.
Now, pretty much every author that I know who signed with Permuted did it for one reason, and one reason alone. Permuted had a track record of being able to get books into physical book stores, in the US at least. Many of us will have seen or picked up copies of their best selling titles – the “John Dies at the End” series by David Wong and the “Ex Heroes” series by Peter Cline. I know I have, and loved both books to the point where I grab new entries in the series as soon as they come out. Authors saw this as their golden ticket. After all, even though Amazon and the eBook trade makes up a significant portion of the market, there is nothing like being able to go into a chain book store and see your title gracing the shelves alongside the likes of Stephen King. Apparently 😉
It is, therefore quite understandable that these authors are fairly pissed off at the fact that Permuted are now not even offering their books as Createspace Print on Demand paperbacks, let alone mass market “Platinum” titles unless they manage to achieve bestseller status as an ebook. They feel that Print on Demand titles are “too expensive”.
Now – Createspace are not an expensive platform to utilise. I use Lightning Source for my own books, which has a £50 ish set up fee because I feel the quality of the product is better and they have better global distribution. Createspace don’t charge a penny to set up the title as far as I know.
So – what are the costs that they are talking about? Well, the cost of an ISBN is one factor, but its negligible really. If you buy big blocks of them they are no more than a couple of pounds each. And the formatting? Well, depending on how weirdly formatted the source manuscript is, it can take between four and eight hours to properly format and check a paperback. Time consuming, yes, but not exactly onerous.
But then, Permuted were not just putting out a few books a year. Or even a month. Since the start of this year they have published more than 100 books. Or, as some sources have stated – 5 – 7 books a week. Base that on even the four hours worth of paperback formatting and you are starting to get close to a full weeks worth of work for someone. And what a horrendous, mind-numbing week that would be. Of course, I have it on good authority that they don’t have to spend anywhere near as much time on their ebooks. Given the way they react when you try to use the text to speech feature of a Kindle, it very much looks like they just lob a word document at an autoconversion utility. Fast. Easy. Shite.
Release dates, even on the ebooks were being pushed back. In some instances, one poor author who was due to have their book come out this week as told that it had now been pushed back to next year.
So, yeah. It looks very much like they over reached themselves, grew too fast, too soon. Maybe the money started drying up. Perhaps they were just not able to give those 5-7 books a week the sort of publicity and attention they needed to rise above the sea of other books that are released each week. And because their investors didn’t see the sort of immediate return they were expecting, costs started being cut. Because, lets face it, even people who are fans of a particular publisher are going to struggle to buy 30 books a month, let along read them. You take a look at the sales ranks of the books they have put out there, and they are not exactly stellar. Most are, infact languishing. No money was being spent on launch publicity. No advertising They relied on social media and word of mouth, and then deluged their target market to the extent that the books fell through the cracks and were lost.
Which is a real shame, because now that they are no longer in a position to exploit anything other than the ebook rights, the fuckers are still grasping hold of every piece of intellectual property associated with a title like Gollum holding on to his ring.
I hear reports that they are releasing some authors from their contracts, but with caveats. Chief among these seems to be that they are intending to recoup editing costs. Remember that blog post I did two weeks ago? Where I mentioned that they were paying some editors a percentage of sales instead of actual money? Yeah. That’s the first thing that I thought as well. And apparently there is a gagging clause in the release as well, so that people can’t talk about how badly they have been treated.
If you are unfortunate to have a book contract with this press, I honestly urge you to get the hell out of it as quickly as you can. This is spreading like wildfire through the community – and lets face it, the horror writing world is not exactly a big pond. Before very much longer the brand is very likely to become toxic, and I suspect that things will start getting really nasty at that point.
That faint, two day old corpse stink from a couple of weeks ago has burst forth into a full grown, maggot infested stench. My advice would be put a handkerchief over your nose and run in the opposite direction as fast as you possibly can.
I had some more thoughts and linked to some other peoples post on this after posting this blog. You can read it HERE