Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alerts: Lobster Press and Dailey Swan Publishing

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

LOBSTER PRESS

For some time, there've been rumors of financial trouble at Canadian children's publisher Lobster Press. Those rumors were recently confirmed in articles from Publishers Weekly and Quill and Quire. From Quill and Quire:

Q and Q has learned of multiple instances of unpaid royalties stretching back to 2008. The company has also shed staff in recent months and disconnected its Montreal phone line. President and publisher Alison Fripp now intends to run the business from her home, according to one author who has been in direct contact with the company head...

Several authors who spoke to Q and Q on background described an organization in which royalty statements were consistently late and payments often had to be compelled, if they were forthcoming at all. Requests to have rights reverted for non-payment of royalties were ignored or rejected.

One author, who asked not to be named, said that, as of December 2009, she was owed $1,100, and has yet to receive full payment or an accurate accounting of royalties that have since accrued.
The problems outlined by PW and Quill and Quire echo recent complaints received by Writer Beware from Lobster Press authors. We also received very similar complaints in 2006, at which time the company reported that it was in creditor protection (according to PW and Q and Q, the company entered creditor protection in 2003 in order to re-structure; it's not clear to me whether it was still in creditor protection in 2006, or had emerged and then re-entered).

The Writers Union of Canada has filed a grievance against Lobster Press "pertaining to a clause in some author contracts that grants the publisher partial ownership of a work upon the reversion of rights to the author."

Lobster Press's website indicates that it is closed to submissions.

DAILEY SWAN PUBLISHING

Writer Beware began getting complaints about small press Dailey Swan Publishing about a year ago, from authors who reported payment problems, delayed publication dates, delayed reprinting dates, and refusal to revert rights despite non-availability of books. (I was already suspicious of this publisher due to its penchant for working with marginal and questionable agents, so the complaints weren't a complete surprise.)

Other signs of trouble included long shipping times (4-6 weeks to 2-6 months) on Amazon and inconsistent availability with online vendors, as well as a plea for funding at an entrepreneur-investor matching website.

On October 2, Dailey Swan authors received an email from the company's owner, Casey Swanson, informing them that due to unsold inventory and crushing debt, a bankruptcy filing was imminent. (It's actually quite rare for troubled small presses to file for bankruptcy; most simply close up shop and disappear.) No word about rights reversion or royalty payments due.

Then, on October 12, another email, and a surprise: Dailey Swan wasn't closing, it was transforming! Instead of "traditional" publishing, it would be "changing our publishing format to a coop type publishing venture." In other words, authors will now have to pay fees.

According to the typo-ridden contract addendum attached to the email (which authors can sign and send back if they want to participate, or refuse if they want return of their rights), authors who buy into this new business model will bear the expense of the "first print run" of 1,000 copies, at an average cost of $1.50 to $3.50 per copy (Dailey Swan will pay for any subsequent print runs), plus cover artwork at an average cost of $1,000 (optionally, authors can provide the artwork themselves).

Of the 1,000 copies, 100 will go to the author, 20 to the publisher, 350 to a program that sends books to independent booksellers for review, and 530 to general distribution. Beyond any questions about the wisdom of paying up to $4,500 for publication, this presents the traditional dilemma of the vanity-published author: how to know for sure that all the copies you paid for were actually printed.

But that's not all. To sweeten the deal, the addendum promises that "Each author would receive common shares of Dailey Swan publishing [sic], Inc stock at the rate of $2.00/share." Really? How many shares? Does "receive" mean free, or will authors have to buy them? $2.00 per share seems a bit high for a company that a week ago reported itself to be on the verge of banruptcy. More to the point--is Dailey Swan even registered to issue or sell company stock? I'm not an expert, but I couldn't find any evidence that it is.

To date, there's no sign of these upheavals, or of the changed business model, at the Dailey Swan website. The company still resembles a traditional publisher, and it is still open for submissions.

18 comments:

Danielle said...

At the point that you are being asked to pay up to $4500 for a publisher who has failed you in the past, you might as well self-publish online. :/

Anonymous said...

Dailey Swan has been nothing but a royal pain in the ass to deal with from start to finish. The man has lied to me so many times I take anything he says with a grain of salt. He claims he is a C Corp, which would mean he automatically has common stock to issue, but it is worthless unless he can turn a profit, which I doubt he will do. On top of it, he is letting some writers out of their contracts while others he keeps.

Hiroko said...

It's amazing how publishers think they can get away with money like this when they have none themselves.
What is often more amazing is that they do--and that some authors will still cling to the businesses despite.

Frances Grimble said...

While I'm not disputing anything you say about these companies, a long shipping time on Amazon does not indicate anything about the availability of the books. Amazon sets the shipping time. Small publishers have no influence over it. Complaining to Amazon about a long shipping time posted when the books are available for immediate shipping has no effect. There are even accusations floating around that micropublishers are punished with inordinately long shipping times listed, just because they don't work through one of Amazon's special programs (such as Advantage, Kindle, or Createspace). I don't know if these accusations are true. But many micropresses are finding it very frustrating to lose sales just because Amazon lists a long shipping time for books that are available immediately.

Marian Perera said...

I wonder what Dailey Swan shares are trading for on the Stock Exchange.

casey swanson said...

This is from Dailey Swan Publishing.
We have had a strong follow-up from our authors regarding the coop idea and them becoming owners in the company. This idea actually came from several authors. Out of 24 pending times, only 9 are leaving.Our new authors will earn royalties, and when we start paying dividends, take part in those as well. However we still must chose your title. You can't just offer us money to print your book.
We have never failed to pay royalties on time.
This is a trying time in the publishing inustry, and new models are being tried. Rather than simply cancel authors who will probably be unprofitable, we came up this this model. This is a very old bsiness model for the publishing world.
We are a registered C corp in the ate of Washington, with 1 million shares listed. Not all have been issued, which is very common. For the question about the NY stock exchange, like 90+% of the corporations in the United States, we are a private corporation, not publically traded.
Authors who become investors in the company with this program are then issued from these unissued shares.
This idea is not for everybody, but I have been amazed by the positive feedback we have recieved from many. Those unpublished authors who chose not to take part had their rights restored.
Its amazing to me some of the comments from those who have never been in business.
And unfortunately there are always disgruntled authors who feel not enough is done for there books.
I'm sorry, but we take chances with authors many others won't touch. Their books I hope will sell some day. We publish based on being able to sell 1000 copies in 10 years. So far we are running about 50/50 with that. But these are not printed on demand, so we sometimes hava lot of unmoving inventory in our distrbutor chain.
As far as the Amazon issue, they do an intial stock of all my titles. About half of those end up being returned. That is expensive to us but a fact of life. But with them listing over 6 million titles, how many do you think that actually carry; very few. However, amazon receives weekly orders from us from our distributors.
By the way, we have full distribution of all of our books with the major and most of the minor distributors, including worldwide.

casey swanson said...

Pardon my misspellings, I am mildly dyslectic.
That’s why we need editors in the world

Victoria Strauss said...

While I'm not disputing anything you say about these companies, a long shipping time on Amazon does not indicate anything about the availability of the books.

It does suggest distributor problems, though.

Victoria Strauss said...

Casey, thanks for clarifying the stock issue. But I am still skeptical of its valuation, given the issues your company is facing--and to whom would authors sell it, in order to redeem any value it has?

I hope you'll soon update your website to reflect your new business model. As it is, many authors might submit to you in the belief that you were a traditional (non-fee-charging) publisher.

Anonymous said...

Lobster Press hasn't granted rights back to their authors as yet. But I hope that they do that soon. They were a respected press at one time and I think they'll deal with their demise respectfully. For their authors sake, I hope they do.

Marian Perera said...

What Victoria said. Is there a market for shares in Dailey Swan? If not, what value do these have?

Christine Tripp said...

Anon, they will sadly NOT deal with their demise respectfully (lobster that is) because their contract clause states they own 50% of all works no matter what ( other then bankruptcy) they will exist in a basement if they have to and will not go quietly into the deep dark night. One can only hope that the printers not paid and the office landlords can push them into giving up!

Christine Tripp said...

> I'm sorry, but we take chances with authors many others won't touch. Their books I hope will sell some day. <

Casey, I would be interested to know why a business would take a chance on people other businesses would " never tough" and what makes them untouchable. For me, I would only wish to be associated with a company that believed they would make money with my work.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Lobster Press is actually trying to demand that contracted writers continue to produce books for them despite the fact that they don't pay advances or royalties. Imagine, telling an author, "you are under contract to write as many books as we want, for as long as we want you to write them. If you don't we're going to sue you."

What a downward spiral this press has taken.

Stay tuned, there is talk amongst dozens of their authors to pursue a class action lawsuit against them to get years of past royalties.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend that anyone having difficulties getting out of their contracts with Dailey Swan Publishing contact Lawyers for the Creative Arts. They are an outstanding resource for writers and artists who have been cheated and deceived by scum like Casey Swanson.

http://www.law-arts.org/

Dailey Swan authors should realize that even though their contract states disputes should be resolved according to California law, it doesn't state that disputes need to be resolved in California. You can force Swanson to fly to your home state to resolve any arbitration or legal matters. Considering his current financial difficulties, I doubt he'd go to that much trouble to keep his authors in kind of creative indentured servitude. If you truly believe in your books, you are morally obligated to get them out of the hands of this incompetent bully.

Anonymous said...

You can say that again! Dailey Swan is NOT a legitimate publisher and in my opinion, Casey Swanson is nothing but a cheat and a swindler....a dumb one at that.

Anonymous said...

If this doesn't speak to Dailey Swan's incompetence and unprofessionalism, one of their own authors wrote a negative review of her own book.

http://tinyurl.com/7ramk7t

Like many other Dailey Swan authors she had issues with Casey's "mild dyslexia". And like many other Dailey Swan authors she had to take legal action against him.

Avoid Dailey Swan like the plague. Do not believe Casey's lies and excuses. He is the worst kind of predator and scam artist.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that according the Dailey Swan Publishing's very own web site, they have ceased operations as of September 1, 2013.