Or at least, it’s supposed to be.
Back in the days when I thought an MFA would help my career, I attended a talk by Bruce Coville, one of my absolute favorite writers of all time. In a talk full of gems (“If America valued children, teachers would be paid like ball players, and ball players would be paid like teachers,”) Coville said that one of the greatest tricks the “establishment” (my word, not his) had pulled off was convincing artists that they are not business people.
This stuck to me, and while I fall pray to moments of being an artiste when I’m writing, I’ve worked hard to always be a businessperson when it comes to the work of actually getting my stuff in print and out into the world. Because when I’m at home and writing, and it’s just me and my fountain pens, it’s all about whether or not *I* think the paper and the ink are worth it, but once I try to push those words outside of my house, there are business decisions to be made. I get that, and I try to be understanding when my artistic whims have to flex to other people’s business decisions.
Perhaps this is why I lose patience when publishers do not run their businesses like businesses, but instead like sledgehammers they can use to get their way.
When I signed with Ellora’s Cave this summer, I signed a three book contract, essentially. The first contract was for Sweet Mistake, and the second and third were “To Be Determined.” My editor and I discussed some ideas for what those other books might be, but nothing was firmed up, as I wanted to see how Sweet Mistake did. I ended up writing and sending them a longish Quickie to fill out the second contract, and am still waiting for a response from my editor for that.
Today, in light of all that’s happened, in light of the impossibility of promoting a book through Ellora’s Cave in light of the (correctly!) agitated atmosphere in the book blogging community, I sent notice to EC Contracts division that I would be unable to complete the third contract.
The response I got back had no salutation (Dear Ms. Croteau) and no sign-off. What was in the email didn’t even relate to my situation, as it specified that there was no contract language for rights reversion at this time.
I emailed back saying yes, I was aware, and that was what I was trying to tell them.
They informed me that they were not terminating *any* contracts at this time, and that I was contractually obligated to write that book for them, and that I could not write it for anyone else, or write it and self publish it.
Since the contract was for a TBD concept, that means they have claim on the next piece of erotica or erotic romance that I write. My choices are to write it for them, or to stop writing erotic romance entirely.
Because holding authors hostage is a totally valid business model.
I am beyond enraged, and anything I write from here on out is just going to be an angry rant, so I think I’ll just drop the mic here and walk out for today.