|The Dorchester Boycott
||[Mar. 24th, 2011|03:04 pm]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
Author Brian Keene lays out the reasons why he and so many other writers and readers are boycotting Dorchester Books. Do yourself a favor and read this, especially if you're an author. It's important stuff.
Of course, Dorchester was screwing over its authors long before their current problems, with laughably low advances, often below industry standard royalties, late payments, and suspect royalty reports. And let's not forget those awful covers in their Leisure horror line--or better yet, let's! The bad art was just one more way for them to cut corners. More often than not, the covers looked like the work of some unfortunate intern desperately trying to learn how to use a computer illustration program while the art director stands over them shouting, "More hands reaching toward the reader! MORE HANDS!" Exhibit A:
One good thing about Dorchester, though, was their killer distribution. Their books almost always wound up in the Power Towers at B&N and/or by the cash registers for impulse buys. They were in drug stores and Walmarts and airport bookstores; chains and indies alike. You'd think with that kind of distribution and store placement they would have had stronger sales, but here's where they routinely shot themselves in the foot. Between their refusal to do much advertising to call attention to their books and the rapidly dwindling quality of their output--the result of a three-books-and-you're-out scorched earth policy that burned many a Leisure horror author, coupled with their refusal to offer the kind of advances that attract and keep talent--their audience dwindled to what was at best a core base, basically turning them into a niche publisher in a commercial publisher's coat. Yes, mass market paperback sales are down across the board, but you don't see Pocket Books jettisoning their entire print line in favor of eBooks and a supposed trade paperback line that will likely never materialize. Hell, even Kensington isn't doing that. That should tell you something.
The word boycott gets thrown around a lot on the Internet, to the point where it's basically meaningless, but I've been warning authors away from Dorchester for years now, often with zero results. Now that Dorchester is actively selling books they don't own the rights to, and passing the buck when confronted about it, people are finally waking up to just how badly they treat their authors. It's about time.
I rarely bought their books to begin with, so it won't be much of a stretch for me to stop. But for those of you who read Dorchester titles more often, please take a moment to read what Brian wrote and consider sending them a message by spending your money elsewhere.