Question: Are you closing down Harmony Ink Press? That is absolutely awful if you are. LGBT teens need to have representation in the book world, which means Libraries and Schools need to feel like they know who to shop with. Dreamspinner is not it. How can you merge an erotica/romance book site with Teen fiction?
Elizabeth: We are not closing Harmony Ink Press. Harmony Ink exists to provide teens a change to see themselves inside a book and not have to turn to adult fiction to do so.
What we are doing is consolidating our e-commerce accounts to one site. It is simply too expensive to maintain a separate site when our statistics show that more then 95% of the shoppers on the Harmony Ink site make their purchase from Kobo, iTunes or Amazon. Recent notifications are to let people who have shopped in the past know that their downloads will still be archived on the Dreamspinner site. Their bookshelf can be accessed directly without having to browse through the store.
The Harmony Ink site will look much as it does now, but instead of seeing one option to add a book to your cart, you will see multiple options to purchase the book at Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, B&N or the Dreamspinner store for the crossover customers.
Not having to maintain the cost of a store that processes very few sales directly, will allow us to funnel that money into more outreach for libraries and the production of audiobooks which is where we are really connecting with teens.
Question: If an author removes the rights to their books from Dreamspinner, does it mean the book I purchased will no longer be available on my bookself?
Elizabeth: Definitely not. When you buy a digital book, it is placed on your bookself. It is yours exactly as it would be if you had purchased a paperback and put it on your home shelf. With the exception of being able to loan it to your best friend and not having to dust it.
Question: I buy directly from you in order for you guys and the authors to get the most money possible (and because Amazon is evil) but it is hard to change consumer habits. I really don’t want to see you guys go under and you probably aren’t in that situation yet but it worries me that if you aren’t able to pay your authors, then maybe you should stop accepting submissions for a while or figure out your finances somehow. I want to preorder titles that come out this fall but I can’t tell what is going on and my faith is wavering. You guys rescued JL Langley’s titles which had me so excited and I love some of the authors who have upcoming works but this uncertainty and silence is causing a lot of anxiety. 🙁
Sincerely a loyal customer
Elizabeth: Thank you for starting with the positive and supporting us and our authors through the years, and I hope for years to come. We have some really spectacular authors.
Dreamspinner is experiencing a hard time that has several causes, including some bad business predictions on my part. If you are interested in the ins and out of the communication we’ve been sharing with our authors, staff, and contractors, you can find an archive of it here. https://dreamspinner.press/ You can even put your address in to receive emails when it updates.
I have actually added a section for reader updates because your email makes it very obvious that I have been overly focused on communicating with our authors, and our readers are just as scared in these uncertain times. I have been answering questions as they come in to the Dreamspinner Press and Dreamreaders pages, but with Facebook filtering what people see, most of our readers probably never see the posts. I’ll start pulling the questions and archiving them on the above site under reader updates. If it is okay, I’ll start with some yours. I will keep it completely anonymous.
The silence on social media or the lack of engagement with the authors choosing to accuse is because our business relationship with our authors is confidential. Anything I could say to objectively counter arguments would include dates of payment, information about contracts and reversions. Minus the ability to quote facts, it would be a they said/they said argument which would only inflame the situation. I am not going to argue with authors that I’ve spent years building up and and supporting. Most importantly I don’t believe that business should be done on social media. I can say that with the exception of one author, the authors shouting the loudest on social media have never emailed me with a question or comment, even once. Many of the authors have never published a book with us. As you will see if you look at the archive above, every communication has ended with multiple points of contact and the encouragement to talk with us. In addition, we’ve offered anyone that doesn’t share our vision for the future their rights backs with no conditions.
To address your comment of paying our authors, all of first quarter royalties have been paid. Second quarter royalties were due on Aug. 1 and are only partially paid, putting the payments 20 days overdue. Every dollar the company takes is goes out on the same day to authors. It is a sad reality that if Dreamspinner had sold an average number of books in May-July, everyone would be paid, but because people are scared and not buying, payments are becoming more overdue. Sometimes, unfortunately, opinion becomes reality.
We are continuing to pay staff and editors because we intend to stay in business – though many key staff including myself haven’t taken a salary since April and won’t until all our payments are caught up. If we stopped all forward motion, we would simply crash in 9 months when we no longer had any books complete to release. It is sort of like a house addition. You knock down the south side of your house to expand and something happens that the money you had set aside for the expansion is gone. If you completely quit working on it, the entire house is destroyed by the weather.
Small publishers are more susceptible to business changes. Let me give you one of the examples. In May Baker and Taylor (the largest distributor of books in North America) closed its retail division. They kept the library division. No warning and no change in orders or spending up to the very day before they made the announcement. They announced on May 1. To give you an example of how this affects small publishers.
- $60,000 worth of books are ordered
- We had orders, so we paid to print and ship the books.
- Store or dsitributor closes and all those books were returned,
- We weren’t paid for the books or had to return the money, but we had already paid for the printing and shipping and now have to pay for the warehousing of an inventory we didn’t expect to possess.
This is probably way more information than you wanted, but you took the time to reach out and ask, and I wanted you to have a complete answer.
I am always here. Feel free to email me any time.