The Kerfuffle is the big thing in the news with Permuted Press lately. There's the initial post from Gabrielle Faust (here), a follow-up post by Brian Keene (here), a rather explicit post by Sean Hoade (here), and some well-written works by Paul Mannering (here). The Lovecraft Ezine did its own discussion of the subject (here).
But if you DON'T want to spend hours discussing this, here's the rundown: Permuted Press took note of the fact that 93% of their income came from ebooks and 7% of their income came from Print on Demand (POD) volumes.
Furthermore, roughly 42% of their income was spent on preparing the print copies of their book for Print On Demand services. For those of you who aren't writers, that's books which get printed per order versus the big "bulk orders" which end up in stores like Barnes and Noble (i.e. the Platinum line).
Michael L. Wilson looked at those figures and decided that it would probably be a good idea to discontinue POD books for their titles which weren't selling. In layman's' terms, that means that the majority of Permuted Press books (esp. the under-performers) would be losing their print runs. This would be a massive savings for Permuted Press and have, literally, no downside in terms of dollars and cents.
Except, of course, for the author.
You see the dollars and cents above is very much a no-brainer from Permuted's end but the author gets hit hard. While 7% of Permuted Press' profit is a small sacrifice for Permuted Press if they save 42%, that 7% is entirely profit from the side of the author as they don't pay for any of the 42% cost which goes into formatting their book for POD.
In short, the choice to discontinue POD would consist of an almost 10% pay cut for all authors who weren't part of the Platinum series or who had their books already formatted (and would be keeping them in print).
Imagine telling the workers at a factory they'd be taking such a hit.
It gets worse.
Authors (particularly in the horror scene) are very big on having physical copies of their books. Amongst other things, there's a thriving convention scene where it's hard to sell ebooks. For many, the physical act of holding a book was one of the "stretch goals" to writer success.
The sudden loss of it was like a gut shot.
The issue was compounded by the fact the release schedule would be frozen until 2015 and the release schedule would be subject to delays. This was so Permuted Press could avoid the market saturation and focus on making sure every book got the attention it deserved both in marketing as well as editing/proofing/etcetera. There were other changes as well, which included that Permuted Press would not longer be giving authors final say in their covers as well. A lot of changes there.
All effective immediately.
Most of this didn't effect me too much. I don't go to cons. My first release date was in September of 2015. Which might as well have been a lifetime away for my enthusiasm. I trusted them with my covers too. The lack of a print copy was troubling, though. So was the pay loss from a PoD market.
A lot of my family don't "e-read" and it was troubling enough to get them to take my author profession seriously. Hell, my parents don't even have the internet. It was enough to start making me reconsider my deal with Permuted Press. Overall, though, I was fairly neutral to mildly unhappy about the whole thing.
I, it turned out, would be the odd man out.
In part 5 we'll discuss those affected worst by the change and what the general reaction was.