Recently, it seems as though a number of e-publishers are struggling. Sometimes the struggles are very public, such as with a certain company that has filed a lawsuit against a certain review site. Other times, the struggles are more subtle and are known only to the authors who are with that publisher, such as problems with advance review copies, or slow payment of royalties.
Because it can be relatively easy to start an e-publishing company, some people are setting off to do exactly that without fully understanding the business aspect and without knowing how to effectively market and promote their books and authors. When they realize they’re in over their heads, it can be a very negative situation for them and their authors. But even companies that are well-established, run by people who fully understand publishing as a business and an industry, with highly visible marketing can start to fail, and companies that are new and started by people who have never worked in publishing before can sometimes become quite successful.
As with the company that filed the lawsuit, oftentimes authors are aware of problems, or notice red flags, before things get really bad. But authors might be afraid to speak up about what they’re seeing. They don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker, or be blacklisted in the industry. Their books bring in money, and they worry about losing that income if they say something negative about their publisher.
Some authors don’t consider it their responsibility to caution others about problems with a publisher. They figure if someone doesn’t do their research about a given company, they get what they get.
But part of researching a publisher is finding out what that publisher’s authors are saying. If authors aren’t saying anything at all even when they know things are getting bad, new authors will sign contracts and get caught in the same mess. Authors who are already with that company and aren’t noticing the problems will stay, and then might be taken off guard when the publisher suddenly folds.
I wouldn’t tell anyone to risk their income and their career, but writing isn’t a competition. In a sense, in my opinion, authors are colleagues, even if they aren’t with the same publishers or even writing in the same genre. If you were working in an office and knew the company was going bankrupt, wouldn’t you want to let your coworkers know? And if someone else knew there was a big problem looming, wouldn’t you want them to tell you? If an author has information about a publisher that might affect other authors, I think they should try to make others aware. Your career and income aren’t the only one at stake.
Just my opinion.