You all remember The Mall of Cthulhu, right?
"Night Shade has stolen the eBook rights to The Mall of Cthulhu. They do not own them and are offering an electronic edition for sale through webscription.net, which is affiliated with Baen Books, a real publisher who should know better. Nine months ago, Night Shade made a verbal offer to pay me a small sum for the rights. I agreed. They've never paid me. They claimed their unauthorized edition was an oversight, and that was somewhat credible at the time. Nine months later, it's clear that this is not an oversight. It's a theft of my intellectual property."
"I was due a royalty statement from Night Shade Books on March 1. Some time in April, they sent an inaccurate royalty statement. It listed a smaller advance and a higher cover price than was accurate. My agent told them they had made errors in my favor, and they agreed to send a corrected statement. We're now staring down June, and I have no idea how many copies The Mall of Cthulhu has sold or if I'm owed any money. I would not be owed anything other than the revenue from the stolen eBook rights if the sales figures on the first royalty statement were accurate. But since none of the other numbers on that statement were accurate, I don't have any reason to trust the sales numbers.
"I was paid my advance for this book, but I have no confidence that I'll ever know if I'm owed more money. If I were to be owed money, I have no confidence that I'll ever be paid. Night Shade's business model appears to be disappearing for months at a time, offering elaborate apologies, and then disappearing again."
Not a side of a respected genre publisher you expect to see aired in public, is it? If true - and I've no reason to doubt Brendan's story here, and every reason to believe his complaints about their patented disappearing act - I don't understand why this scandal hasn't lit the blogosphere on fire. This is grounds for legal action. By all rights, his case should have its day in court...
Except that court is expensive, isn't it? And The Mall of Cthulhu is small potatoes in the grander scheme of things. Were Brendan to go to court, it'd be him against the corporation, Erin Brockovich all over again, and further, were he to win, whatever small sum he'd be awarded would be diminished into insignificance by the amount it'd have cost him to win the money that we are to understand is rightfully his.
Frankly, it sounds like Night Shade are banking on that fact. They might not be rolling it in - they're a small press after all, however (formerly) respected - but they can afford, I'm sure, to pay whatever pittance Brendan is due for the stolen electronic right of The Mall of Cthulhu eBook. Except that they've gotten away with it for this long, haven't they? The mindset has to be, well... why suddenly wear the honest trousers now?
Personally, I'm outraged. If I had the means, the reach, I'd organise some sort of campaign, take signatures and march to Night Shade's offices demanding that they give Brendan his rightful, lawful due. As is, I'm blogging about it, and asking that any of those amongst you who feel similarly miffed by this publisher's at best dismissive treatment of a fine and upstanding young author get in touch with Night Shade Books to express your dismay. The hope being that if enough of us email "info [at] nightshadebooks [dot] com" to voice our concerns about their integrity, they might see reason.
Here's bloody hoping.
So there. You have your homework. It'll cost you a few pennies and the time it takes to draft an email, but you'll make a good man's day - Brendan's, not mine (though you'll have my gratitude too) - and not only that, you'll get the first part of book that I'm sure anyone who's read The Mall of Cthulhu would agree deserves a chance.