Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Writing History and Permuted Press part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

    Permuted Press responded to the allegations against it well. As mentioned, they agreed to let anyone out of their contracts with "no harm, no foul." At least, those hadn't already had work done on their books. This didn't help all authors, though. More than a few series would never see a print release despite beginning in paperback form. Permuted Press wouldn't budge on releasing print rights back to authors either. It was all or nothing. Some authors suggested getting a third party for authors willing to pay for having their books formatted for POD release.

   Again, not happening.

   Permuted Press, eventually, came to an agreement with the HWA about modifying their contracts to better reflect what the latter felt were amicable to authors. Permuted Press was clear that previous contracts would remain binding and there would be no "update of terms." I didn't blame them for any of this but I could get a better deal elsewhere.

   Or could I?

   The biggest blow from Permuted Press' decision was not financial but to many first-time authors' pride. Permuted Press was (and still is) a fan favorite with many independent horror authors. For quite a few, the new terms felt like they weren't believed in anymore and that Permuted Press weren't sorry to see them go. The overstuffed release schedule even made some believe this was a way of doing some sort of Office Space-style plot to force unwanted authors to quit.

   Which is ridiculous.

   For these authors, quite a few panicked and believed they would never be able to find another publisher ever. Self-publishing, despite being more profitable for authors, was less prestigious. They felt strong-armed into either remaining with Permuted Press or never seeing print ever.

   I find such thoughts disingenuous to both authors and Permuted.

   You need to believe in your product if you're going to make it in this business. Never stick with a deal you're unhappy with. If you do, you're only going to end up hurting yourself as well as your publishers. For me, it was a business decision to end my professional relationship with Permuted and I intend to continue reviewing their books here on the UFoC. For others, it was a personal decision. Friendships were lost, professional associations ended beyond just publisher and author, while others still just became distant.

   It got ugly. Game of Thrones ugly.

    People were forced to choose between what they perceived as a Permuted Press family versus Ex-Permuted Press friends. My reaction to this was to consider this just the latest bump on the road to my professional writing success.

   I'm a professional.

    I don't have anything against Permuted Press. I might if I lost money on the deal but I benefited from my time with them. I learned about social media, I found a lot of great contacts, and read a lot of free horror novels I might not normally have been exposed to.

    If nothing else, my social media platform went up from non-existent to something which may someday qualify as the Glass Joe of the reviewing world. I'm an orc, not a kobold, and maybe someday I'll be a Troll if not dragon. My books will see print because Permuted Press, for better or worse, was willing to print them and that gives me the confidence to know people will want to read them.

   And I wish everyone on both sides of the issue nothing but the best.


  1. Charles, I haven't been reading many blog postings about the Kerfuffle, but I did decide to read yours. Throughout the hoopla, what little monitoring I was able to do within the Permuted Press author group, your comments were always constructive, at times encouraging, generally balanced, and well thought out. I have a short list of people who I felt like were really trying to maintain middle-ground while they learned the facts and had time to make an informed decision about whether to stay or to go. Because you were on this mental short-list of awesomeness that I carried around in my head, I decided to read your assessment. By and large, I found it as insightful and entertaining as the rest of your posts on the matter.

    A lot of "telephone game" has been played with the facts, and if I may, I'd like to clarify a couple of things if you don't mind.

    First of all, massive props for working in a "Glass Joe" reference. You had my respect already, but after that you have my adoration.

    Next, yours isn't the first reference I've seen to a Permuted Press open bar. If I showed up to an event on the promise of an open bar, and was greeted with the reality of 2 cases of beer from Wal-Mart in an Igloo cooler, I'd be a little disappointed. Not that it's all that relevant to the discussion, but for some reason I am compelled to dismiss the mental image of a tuxedoed "Lloyd the Bartender" from The Shining. I would have loved for the event to have been so frou-frou, but I'm from Texas, and in Texas, a cooler full of lukewarm Tecate and Dos Equis is pretty darned frou-frou in itself.

    On another note, I may need to go back and listen to the conference archive, but you seemed to get the impression that we were intent on driving nails in the coffin of print books. While it's true that 93% of our sales are digital, we aren't abandoning that seven-and-change percent print books. Of that 7% of sales, the top 5% to 10% of our bestsellers make up 5% of that 7%. So, in reality, what we're missing out on is more like 2% of sales revenue because we are still planning on doing print on demand books for our top sellers. We're saving about a third of our production time, and losing only about 2% in income. That's pretty clear from a dollars and cents standpoint. But, the point here is that print, particularly via our Platinum line, is still very much alive and will receive renewed focus in 2015. We're not predicting print's death. Quite the opposite. We're banking on its success.

    You rightly mention the difficulty of separating truth from hearsay where our change in promotional personnel is concerned. There's no comment I can make on that topic and remain professional, other than agreeing with you. It's difficult to separate the truth from hearsay. There's the telephone game again. There might be a nugget of truth that starts the discussion, but by the time it reaches our ears, we really don't know what to believe. That holds true on both ends of the line.

    I'll close on a sentimental note. You rightfully point out that some people have been made to feel like they must choose between those they perceive as Permuted Press family, and ex-Permuted Press friends. With the exception of a tiny minority of authors who went ballistic with over-the-top rage, pretty much every single author who chose to part ways with us is still someone I'd consider a friendly acquaintance and would look forward to having beers with if I had the chance. There is no "us vs. them", or at least there shouldn't be. We all share the same goal: make great books, and sell a ton of them. Whether you end up doing that on your own, with someone else, or maybe even with us at some point, I'll look forward to sharing Permuted's version of an "open bar" with you somewhere down the line, although hopefully next time it'll be a perfect 42 degrees. I hate warm beer.

    All the best, sir... All the best.

    1. Thanks,

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my demented ramblings on the subject. As for the open-bar issue, I suspected that wasn't the case but I thought it worked better for the story without being too-important a detail.


      As for the financial issue, I don't take issue with the choice Permuted Press had made. Saving money is what businesses do and cutting costs is what allows you to succeed. On my end, though, I felt I needed to get a bigger start off in my writing career after all the work I'd done. I might have been able to get into the Platinum division in time but I felt it better to get a contract where I'd start off with a bit more focus.

      Even if it's only my own.

      As for so many of my fellow Permuted friends, despite the fact I've chosen to end my professional relationship with Permuted Press for the existing contracts (I might reconsider for the revised contracts with future works), I intend to maintain my friendships with as many as possible.

      Those authors who chose to stay with Permuted don't have my animosity and I want to help them succeed (especially since the ones who still have POD are now moving to Lightning Source and have less competition for Permuted's attention).

      After all, either way, I'm still a reviewer of horror fiction.

      I do think the situation could have been handled better, though. A teleconference announcing it with an option for feedback would have been unpleasant but might have made it go over better. Likewise, a grace period for those close to immediate release would have made things better I think. I'm not going to tell you how to do your job, though.

      Good luck, Michael, lots of people's dreams are in your hands. *raises beer*