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Misplaced Loyalty

So, as I'm sure quite a few of you know, Triskelion Publishing is closing and filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy as of July 2.

All contracts with them are now frozen. Rights to contracted books and rights to published books are considered assets and are also frozen.

What this means is, a whole bunch of authors are fucked at this particular moment in time.

Blame is, of course, flying around the internet, as well as heartfelt sorrow.

I buy both, but they both piss me off too.

It pisses me off to see author blogs mentioning how sorry they are for their "sister authors". Some of those posting are the same ones who were so vehement in their defense of Triskelion over the last few months. The ones who showed up on other blogs to castigate and blame, to insist that anyone who had issues with Triskelion was merely "unable to accept editing".

Still more are the ones who refused to pass on "gossip". Who may have mentioned the company on their blogs, but only to mention how shameful the whole email scandal was, without saying a word about the lack of professionalism shown in the email itself, the allegations of the RWA, their disinvitation, the fact that authors had been having trouble being paid, having trouble getting firm release dates, that their print runs were cancelled, that the company admitted it had "bitten off more than it could chew" (or whatever the exact phrase was.)

Now they're all worried about their "sister authors". I didn't see them worrying too much last month, or any of the months before that, when rumbles and rumors were making their incredibly slow way through various author communities (and nobody wanted to pass them on, which meant they were practically impossible to find. I know a good number of former Trisk authors who tried to speak out only to be met with withering looks). Anyone who dared to suggest that signing a contract with Triskelion might not be a good move was "disgruntled" or "vengeful" or "sour grapes" or whatever you want to say. As if there could be no other motive than revenge, for wanting people not to end up in the same situation as someone else.

It's all well and good now to offer your support. But it would have been far more supportive if, whenever you first heard the rumors and learned there was some definite truth behind them, you'd passed them on. If you'd kept your mouth shut instead of leaping in to castigate those who were trying to get the word out and offer your undying support to a company that apparently thought being friends was more important than being professional. If instead of behaving as though anyone with doubts about the company or something to say had an axe to grind, and wasn't simply trying to help others.

From a blog that purports to be written by a literary agent (I have my doubts)(***interesting side note--since this morning when I found that blog, it has been deleted. I wish I'd saved the posts. The url was madamelitagent.blogspot.com, and I swear it didn't feel right to me; anyone else heard of it/read it?***)::
Now, let me say this. I have had a chance to meet with these editors and they are nice people. I think that much of what happened was a result of poor communication and a lot of upset people that screwed themselves over and tried to blame it on the publisher.

Oh, okay, so they're nice people. That automatically qualifies them to run a business, doesn't it? Gods I miss Miss Snark. I seriously doubt Miss S's take on something like this would be "But they were nice people, and the authors screwed them". Anyone have any thoughts on what she might say?

Much of what happened was the result of a company overextending itself, failing to behave in a professional manner as far as release dates, ARCs, promotions in general, proper publication of books (one author's print books were sent out missing the last 30 pages. She had no idea until a reader notified her), a difficult-to-navigate website with documented problems in downloads, etc. etc. etc. Make no mistake; a company that announced it was in financial trouble several months ago is not now going bankrupt because people were meeean. For all the authors out there sharing a negative experience there were some vehemently insisting they were all just a bunch of bitches, that they were liars, that they were just mad they didn't get treated like queens.

This post isn't about Triskelion, really it isn't. Triskelion's unfortunate demise is the impetus, yes, but really, this is about how the romance community seems so happy to fuck itself over. How they claim a sisterhood but there's really this nicey-nice Everybody-better-get-along-or-ELSE mentality that keeps so many people from really honestly looking at an issues. Instead of talking about professional standards, we want to talk about whether or not someone is NICE. Instead of demanding that RWA become a stronger advocate for its authors by toughening standards, we want everybody to feel special and get mad when objections are raised, or when it's implied that selling a story to some brand-new fly-by-night epub with two titles to their names isn't exactly as big an achievement, in hard professional terms, as selling to Simon & Schuster.

And now who's paying for that attitude? For the "nice beats professional" or "y'all are just mean" attitude?

Every author whose rights are now tied up indefinitely. Every one of us who expected a royalty check, no matter how small, at the end of this month (and yes, I know several copies of my trisk book sold before I got the rights back, so I'm one of them, although nowhere near as hard hit as some.)

And every author who went out of their way to bitch about those who were trying to make their voices heard and call them names, to blame people for sharing their experiences, is partially to blame. The issue with Triskelion was never about the quality of their authors; it was about their management's ability to run a company. That's an issue that shouldn't make authors defensive. How many Regan Books authors did you see out there blogging about Meanies when the OJ thing hit back in November?

Something to think about in future, everyone...protecting other authors only helps all of us.

And blind loyalty to a publisher, out of gratitude for your contract, is foolish. And Triskelion's unfortunate authors aren't the only ones who've learned that one...they're just the most recent.


( 4 people said — Say something )
Jun. 21st, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
This isn't a very PC opinion, but I can't help but wondering that if the romancelandia wasn't 99% female that such problems would crop up less often.
Jun. 21st, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree totally, 100%.
Jun. 21st, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
I totally agree. I was horrified by the treatment of authors who left--and I mentioned this on the Trisk loops and was conveniently ignored :) I have been ignored for several years on the Trisk loops :)

I didn't create a big stink because I don't believe that is behaving in a professional manner either and my decision to leave was based on my dislike as to how the company was run, rather than unpaid royalties.

On the other hand I have found many lovely and supportive authors there. Nice people don't always make the most noise.

Toni Anderson
Jun. 24th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
Hi Toni!

I'm sorry, for some reason this comment wasn't emailed to me, so I didn't see it until today.

I was ignored on the Trisk loops as well. :-) Although I did get to hear some of the things that were said about me while I was still there and after, which was interesting.

Not liking how the company was run, if you feel it was run unprofessionally, is reason to pass the word, IMO. I'm not saying you did the wrong thing, at all, but I do think the idea of "Never say anything bad about your publisher" goes too far at times, when it comes to genuine issues and not simply dislike of mgmt. Release dates delayed with no notice, edits not being in the final galley, refusal to fix problems, all of these are legitimate problems that should be addressed just as much as non-payment of royalties. An isolated incident is one thing; but if everyone were more open we might have a better picture all-around.

And no, they don't. :-)

Thanks for the comment!
( 4 people said — Say something )

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