RWA Changes, Pt 2

Okay, there’s very little good in this post today. let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Some of your favorite publishers are now Vanity presses, according to RWA.

Here’s RWA’s new definition of vanity and subsidy presses:

The Board updated the definition of Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher to: “any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the cost of production or distribution in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution.” This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment of reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishers whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site; publishers whose list is comprised of 50% or more of its books written by authors who are principals in the publishing company; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates.

That’s right, dear readers. Thanks to that sneaky little clause (that most people probably skipped over because hey, we all know what a vanity/subsidy publisher is) houses like Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, LooseID, and other epublishers are all now considered vanity/subsidy presses. Why? Because their primary means of distribution is through their websites.

So all of us who thought this opened the door to epubbed authors finally getting their due, I’m sorry to report that as it stands now, the door has been once again firmly shut in your faces. The only way to get around this is for epublishers to not sell any of their books on their websites, but have everything link to FictionWise,, or other places.

This is stupid because: publishers have to pay those distributors, which means less money coming to the publishers. Less money coming to the publishers mean lowered royalty rates because they have to recoup their monies somehow. Or they’ll just sign less authors to contracts. Or they’ll just not give a rat’s patootie because they obviously aren’t hurting for submissions so not being able to take editor appointments at National will not faze them. It just means that the author is, once again, shut out–not being able to compete in the Ritas, not being able to be in PAN.

Oh, and some publishers whose owners are also authors might want to look at their author stable. If more than 50% of your books are from the owners, you are a vanity press.

I find it ironic that based on these definitions, EC, Samhain and LooseID are out, and Genesis Press is back in.

Of course, I could be wrong, and the RWA board didn’t mean for it to include legitimate epublishers. After all, they’ve told us again and again that they aren’t against epublishers or epubbed authors. I sincerely hope that the scuttlebutt from National is that this is just a misprint/miscommunication and will be corrected shortly. I also hope the houses impacted have already cornered board members and the Executive Director and asked for clarification.

For the curious, here’s how Science Fiction Writers of America defines vanity and subsidy publishers. Somehow they forgot to include that whole selling from a website thing.

One Reply to “RWA Changes, Pt 2”

  1. December/Stacia

    I find it ironic that based on these definitions, EC, Samhain and LooseID are out, and Genesis Press is back in.

    As if we need more proof that it’s not published authors the RWA really cares about.

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