Friday, November 10, 2017

MacMillan

Things are clearly afoot at Big Fiver Macmillan.  Four days ago they announced the end of their self-publishing platform Pronoun.  And just today, their romance website Heroes and Heartbreakers was thrown under the bus.

"As the digital habits of readers and consumers evolve, our strategic direction for reaching them evolves as well. Macmillan will be saying goodbye to the Heroes and Heartbreakers website by the end of 2017 and going forward will focus on engaging romance fans via our e-newsletter - which has a robust, growing circulation - and on social media."

I am not the kind of romance reader who resonated with that site, but it had seemed to gain some decent traction with the readership as a whole (no?).Macmillan is the fifth of the Big 5 with a Harry Potter fueled Scholastic hot on their heels.  These latest changes may reflect a healthy refocusing on their core business, or a general failure of their attempts to embrace digital-age consumers.  You be the judge.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Smoke Signals: Pulse [closed]

Pulse LLC is a publisher with a romance imprint called Enrapture and an erotica imprint called Verge (CEO: Marcus Harris).  They are actively soliciting authors, but their current authors report them as unresponsive with a question mark over timely payment of royalties.

Edited to Add:  BBB reports this publisher as closed / not in business

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Playster Shenanigans

Authors recently began noticing their books with any sexual content were being blocked, without explanation, by the subscription-based e-tailer Playster.

An apparently official response from Playster gave a belated explanation: "We can assure you that Playster is in absolutely no way discriminating against LGBTQ+ content.  We've been receiving books with underage characters, and therefore put a temporary ban on all books labelled 'erotica' that are delivered from self-publishing platforms.  We acknowledge that this is a cautious approach, but we're working diligently towards a long-term resolution.  We're committed to providing authors with an alternative revenue stream but, as a small company, we don't yet have a QA team large enough to go through books at the rate we receive them. We're taking all of your comments into consideration, and we're investigating the possibility that some books have been mislabeled. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this."

Here's a wacky suggestion, Playster.  Howabouts actually keeping both authors and readers informed about what you are doing and (ostensibly) why. That would really cut down on the alarm and speculation.

It would also help if your explanation covered why authors publishing both gay and straight material are having only the gay material blocked, and the blocking of books not even in the erotica genre.  Playster's approach to the problem of non-compliant underage material seems, in effect, to discriminate against gay material--whether that was their intent or not.

Edited to Add: One plausible explanation for this is that the category GLBT was included as meaning "erotica". This matches authors saying their GLBT romance was blocked but not their straight romance, and that books with GLBT material but that were not placed in that category were not blocked.

Edited to Add #2: It turns out this explanation was correct, update from Playster below

"After careful investigation of each step of our content ingestion process for self-publishing platforms, we discovered that our restriction on the 'erotica' category had unintentionally affected other tags and genres, including LGBTQ+ fiction.  We are extremely sorry for our mistake and any hurt it may have caused - it was never our intention to block these titles.

What happens now?  The books that were wrongfully declined are currently being added to the Playster catalog where they will join our existing collection of LGBTQ+ titles previously delivered by our other major publishing partners.

Playster takes an extra cautious approach when it comes to self-published fiction because we do not have a large in-house team that is able to thoroughly read and review all titles that are submitted.  However, we accept that, in this case, our efforts to solve one problem inadvertently caused another.

We strongly encourage authors to contact us if they have any further problems submitting books to Playster or notice that any titles that should be present are missing.  They can do so by emailing us directly at support@playster.com."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

QBW SOS

Christina Garner has been seeking a partial refund from book promoter QBW Services throughout most of this year. This endeavor culminated in a suit against Rebecca Hamilton / QBW Services  alleging breach or agreement and defamation.  (Because it seems that Hamilton's favorite way to get out of a hole is to commence digging for China). The case took one step closer to litigation this month when Hamilton's efforts to quash legal action based in California failed (see defendant's reply here).

The underlying promotional activity appears to be the creation of large multi-author boxed sets on Amazon, a strategy that went from cool idea in late 2016 to dumpster fire of recriminations around March of this year. Which is the common sort of a life span for any method of list rank manipulation, no matter how well-intended and technically rule-compliant it may initially seem to be.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

JK Publishing owner charged with theft from authors

Publisher theft from authors is quite frequently alleged, but very rarely true.  More often the apparently "missing" money stems from an author misunderstanding their contract or having inflated earnings expectation.

And then there is JK Publishing.

The owner of the erotic romance publisher, Jana Koretko, has just been charged with money laundering, felony theft and tax evasion. There seems to be good reason to suspect she skimmed over $125,000 from royalty payments owed to authors--and that sales reports from vendors were falsified to conceal the shortfall.  One author claims to be owed over $90,000 in missing royalties, from over a period of less than two years.

JK Publishing remains open to submissions. And while the numbers above suggest their books sell pretty well, it also seems pretty obvious that this press is not recommended.*

Note: there is more than one "JK Publishing", this post specifically references JK/Jana Koretko publishing based in Johnstown.





Friday, May 05, 2017

Tender Wings of Desire

Harmless fun or lazy stereotype?  KFC has posted a presumably satirical romance novel to mark Mother's Day--traditionally their busiest day of the year. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017