Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hello World.

It is four weeks since my last posting.   I have been adrift in the ethers,  learning first-hand how deeply this digital  revolution affects  our lives,  right down to our DNA depths.  As an  author  struggling to survive in these recessionary times,   I made a decision eight months ago.  I joined the legions of writers who are now electronically self-publishing backlogs  of their writing.  I did this in innocence and exuberance, and a need for income.  And yes, I did it out of ignorance,  never  dreaming that the  reverberations of that decision  would  cost me my credibility  in whatever is left of  the world of  print publishing.  

In January, 2010,  I signed a contract with one of the Big 6 publishers in New York for my next novel.  I understood then that I,  like every writer in the business, was being coerced into giving up more than 75% of the profits from electronic sales of that novel, for the life of the novel.   But I was debt-ridden and needed upfront money that an advance would provide. The book was scheduled for hardback publication in August, 2012,  and paperback publication  a year later.  Recently that publisher discovered I had self-published two of my story collections as electronic books.  To coin the Fanboys,  they went ballistic.  The editor shouted at me repeatedly  on the phone.  I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of 'blatantly betraying them with Amazon,' their biggest and most intimidating  competitor.  I was not trustworthy.  I was sleeping with the enemy.

My lawyer  quickly pointed out that the  first collection, HOUSE OF SKIN, PRIZE-WINNING STORIES,  had been e-published  in December,  before I signed the contract with the publisher,  so they immediately targetted the second collection, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES, Volume II, published recently in July.

Most of the stories in both collections had  each been published several times before,  first in Story Magazine,  then again in The O'HENRY AWARDS  PRIZE STORIES anthologies,  the PUSHCART PRIZE stories anthologies,  and THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, 2000, anthology. And, over  several years  both collections had been submitted  to each of the Big 6 publishers in NY.  I still have their rejection letters,  including one from the house I was now under contract with.  So you might say these stories were, in a sense,  recycled,  sitting  in my files rejected.  Yet,  as published collections,  this Big 6  publisher  suddenly found them threatening.

So, here  is what the  publisher demanded.  That I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms.  Plus,  that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS.  Currently,  that's about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?)  Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback.  In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer,  in a state of  acquiescence and, consequently,  utter self-loathing.

The vice president and  publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and 'adopt the right spirit going forward.'  This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at  mind-control fascinated me.  It became  crystal-clear to me  that the issue wasn't a supposed  'breach of contract,'  on my part, but the publisher's fear and loathing of  the  profoundly threatening Goliath,  Amazon.  Since CANNIBAL NIGHTS in no way 'resembles' or would 'injure' sales  of the book I had sold them (an entirely different subject matter) I was not in breach of my contract.  I stood firm, and refused to capitulate.

Last week,  I received from their lawyers an official letter terminating my contract with them, "...for permitting Amazon to publish CANNIBAL NIGHTS, etc...." and demanding back the $20,000 they had paid me  as part of their advance.  Until then, this publishing giant is holding my novel as hostage,  a work that took me five years to write.  My agent assures me I am now an 'anathema' to them.  

  I  sit back and  view  this fiasco in two ways.  CANNIBAL NIGHTS is my best, best writing.  Perhaps  it's worth $20,000 to finally have it published and presented to the world.  For that, I thank Amazon. Or,  perhaps  it's worth $20,000 for a writer to discover who she's really in bed with.  Sleeping with the enemy?  Perhaps.  But now I know who the enemy is.

This is not a tale of woe.  Its a cautionary tale,  a warning to other writers.  I welcome your comments.



  1. Best of luck!
    I was told by a local publisher they didn't want me after I self-published because I had already made all the easy sales, family and friends. That is backwards thinking in my opinion.
    As self-published writers we are getting our names out there and reaching people.
    The only way the big six will survive is by keeping their current stable of super stars happy and oblivious to the money they are missing out on.

  2. It just shows how scared the big publishers are. All power to your elbow don't let them trample you.

  3. Kiana,

    This is terrible and truly a case of cutting off the nose to spite one's face. I'm sure the publisher realizes that sales of of Cannibal Nights, and the raised profile that comes with it, would only help sales of the novel you were under contract for. Too bad they chose to take such a bull-headed approach. Best of luck to you.

  4. Dear Kiana,
    There is nothing as frustrating as being abused by idiots.

  5. What a dilemma. You are caught in the web of these changing times in the world of publishing. What a callous response by the publisher. Hope you ultimately emerge victorious with the successful publication of your book.

  6. @jodi langston...dear Jodi, thanx for your response! I urge you to continue on your journey which you have obviously and successfully begun. I am hearing the most amazing stories similar to mine. Writers are coming out of the woodwork! I am unable to say more at this time becoz of legal restraints until this is solved. But again, press on with your dream. As we say in Hawaiian, Imua! (EE-Moo-A) Press on, with no hesitation!
    As the Chinese saying goes, "May you live in interesting times." We certainly do! If you never read WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES, BY Dr. Christina Pinkola Estez, (NYT bestseller for 3 years!) please read, it will enforce all your commitments to yourself! Alohas for now, Kiana

  7. @ Chris Longmuir...Dear Chris, thanks for your humor and support! I think humor is a major asset in this evolution we're experiencing. My Hawaiian aunty used to say, "There are two ways a woman can win an argument. Get a law degree. Or learn how to shoot straight!"

  8. @Karl and
    @Betty...Thanks, guys for your support and comments. I really blogged about this to alert other writers. Wish I could say more but just now am legally bound to be quiet until situation is solved.

  9. @SR Reynolds....thanks so much for your comments here and on Twitter! Yes, things in publishing are changing at time-warp speed. A good time for writers to support each other. Keep in touch, and I will keep you posted when I am able to say more. Meanwhile, I wish you all the success in the world! Imua! Press on! With my alohas, Kiana

  10. I saw a link to this post. Just wanted to send me all my best wishes and encouragement! Hope your sales will surge because this behaviour is pure blackmail!

    Dorte H,
    Free spirit & self-published writer from Denmark.

  11. @jskrimiblog...Dear Dorte...thanks so much for your comments and support. Will keep you posted. I'm now following your blog. Fabulous photos from Denmark, and your books look intriguing. Will look them up on Amazon. Alohas from Hawaii! KIana

  12. @ Dorte...forgot to ask, what was the link you saw to this post?? Stay free-spirited! And all the best. Kiana

  13. Hi! Read your story on Konrath's blog a while ago; went back today because I was looking for details for another ebook post on a forum; followed links to here. I read a lot of ebook & publishing blogs.

    If they're offering you bonuses (or they were), they're not sure of their legal footing. (Or, possibly, they're aware of how much money they have to lose if an author refuses to do their advertising work for them.)

    If they've sent you a letter from a lawyer, *get a lawyer.* Fast.

    I'd suggest reading through some of The Passive Guy's blog (he's a former IP lawyer who now blogs about publishing), starting with the post about Author Sues Publisher for Restraint of Trade, and several of his posts about publishing contracts. Even if none of them apply specifically to your situation, you'll be more aware of what *other* issues can arise, and better able to decide what or if you should fight.

    And good luck!

  14. Dear elf...thankx so much for your comments. I now have an attorney handling it, and your right on every point! Why offer bonuses if I capitulate unless not sure of their legal footing? Yes, termination letter was sent from their 'legal counsel," and I am responding in turn. And funny you mention it: I AM following the Passive Guy's blog!! Alas, I can no longer publicly respond or address the subject on blogs, until my situation is solved.

    I went as public as I could to warn other authors in the same situation. I hope it helped! Will update you when its solved. And thanks so much again for your suggestions! Imua! Press on! Kiana

  15. Wow! That is beyond scary! I hope everything works out OK for you, whatever you decide to do and thanks for sharing this.

    Good luck.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. (Sorry, put the wrong title in.) One would think that you having e-success would bolster your name and "brand" and thus help this publisher's sales of your book. It all sounds terribly unfair that they breeched your contract, and thus you get not only to keep the $20,000 but should be awarded more for this publisher trying to ruin your name and livelihood. I wish you luck (and many hugs) in fighting back, and hope the publicity helps your career (and book sales) enormously!

  18. Found about this on WG2E website. Commented that as it is a different genre to your trad published book, you shouldn't have had to deal with what you have. Good luck and hope you sort it all out to your satisfaction.

  19. I wonder if you can sue them, or if it would be worth it. The weird thing is that I've heard of indie authors being discovered from their self-pubbed books and getting deals with the a Big 6 publisher. Amanda Hocking is probably the most famous.

    I hope this publicity gets you many sales!

  20. This is just beyond horrible. If this doesn't show how scared the Big 6 are of these changing times, nothing does.
    Keep fighting and BEST of luck to you.

  21. I just learned about this on the WG2E site also. Horrible situation ... but you are clearly in the RIGHT.
    Big question: did you actually return the $20k? Or was that just a bluff on their part?

  22. Wow. That is crazy! I can't believe they would want to stifle your ability to make money like that. Sending out best wishes your way as you continue this fight. All the best to you!

  23. Completely unconscionable. Did the publisher offer to pay your living expenses for the two years they wanted to tie your hands? Publishers are going to make quick enemies of established authors if they don't change THEIR attitude. Ours is not the problem. And as now, we have the option to make much more money without them, you'd think they'd get a clue.

    I am truly sorry you're having to deal with this. I totally agree that it constitutes restraint of trade.

  24. This is an astonishing story. Their behavior is a sign of the purest panic. Your editor shouted at you? Instead of thinking that your e-pub success would be a big plus for them? And having the cojones to demand that work they rejected should be deleted?

    Absolutely amazing. Please keep us updated and may your lawyer beat the bleep out of their lawyer!

  25. If it helps, not all publishers are this nutso. My trad publisher has said nothing about my self-pubbed backlist titles, and is supportive of my planned YA short stories.

    Truthfully, this would have done nothing but increased the desirability of your contracted book, and been a win-win for both you and your publisher.

    May another of the Big 6 see this and make an offer to you for the book that your myopic publisher broke the contract for.

    And may your short story collections give you support and reaffirmation while this situation resolves itself.

    As always -- write the next book!

  26. This is terrible, Kiana, and we're all rooting for you! And incredible: did they really think they could tie your hands and cut the grass under your feet for a 20k advance?? As everyone has said here, it just goes to show how scared they are of Amazon!

    Please keep us posted: we all hope it will work out for the best and that you'll be a BIG success on Amazon (and other digital platforms) and that you'll NEVER need them again!

  27. I am so sorry for you, but like you said, maybe it's better to know how the publisher is now than a couple of books in with them.... I am really troubled by the "can't publish anything until we publish your book" attitude/clause in a few contracts. I mentioned this on the Passive Guy's blog, but it flies in the face of what the IRS considers an employee vs. contractor. Someone needs a lawyer to look into this because the IRS has cracked down on a number of large companies, UPS for one, that liked to call people they were treating like employees (which is what they are doing when you can't publish anywhere else) contractors to avoid benefits and other costs.

    I have 0 desire to traditionally publish, and since buying my Nook last month (I read ebooks on my netbook) I cringe buying physical books. Ugh the clutter! :)

    Good luck to you and I hope your lawyer creams them!

  28. I echo everything Ruth Harris said (she's a former Big Six editor, BTW) This is insanity. The Big Six seem to think they're the Mafia. Maybe they are? Wow. I just turned down an agent offer in favor of a smaller publisher with a non-exclusive contract and I guess I dodged a bullet. I'm spreading the word about this!

  29. Yikes! Thank you for posting this, Kiana - it's a sobering story. After a lot of reading I decided to scrap my plans to go the traditional route and self-publish at least the first four books in my series, but if things haven't shifted by the time I get to book five, I'll probably stay indie.

  30. I really can't wait until you can legally say which house this is. I'm about to self-publish my first book that went out on submission twice with no bites. My agent agreed I should do it myself. I'm still pursuing traditional publishing though, with another ms. I wouldn't want to align myself with your house.

    Thanks for sharing your story. So sorry to hear this rotten news.

  31. Amazingly short-sighted of them! My editor had no problems when I mentioned my plan to self-pub a ms they didn't want.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  32. I assume your agent verified your option clause covers the same type of book as your recent self-pubbed book? Next time, tighten that clause to include only the title they're buying and it's descendants. I understand NYC publishing is running scared, and Amazon is a behemoth I'd rather not encourage, but muzzling authors is not the answer.

    But when one door closes, a window opens elsewhere--and I have to assume there are much smarter publishers than this one out there! Good luck.

  33. Sadly, your story has been repeated with varying differences as the major publishers try to hang on to the bulk of the profits from a book and "keep the writer in her place." I wish they would just stop for a second and realize that what you, and other authors are doing, can only help sales of the books you have with them. I have one book indie pubbed, and the attention it gets has boosted sales of all my books. One of my publishers recently wrote me and said, "I don't know what you are doing, but keep it up." I wasn't even aggressively promoting that book, but it was pulled along on the tail of that other one.

  34. I keep saying how the publishing world reminds me of contract recruiters and how they've mistreated me over the years... I remember when you could get freelance work without going through a recruiter. Guess the good news is, you can publish yourself. What's so ridiculous is these publishers are going after self-pubbed people once they see the numbers - there's something not quite right with that - they step in only when it looks like a sure thing.

  35. Kiana: Thank you so much for sharing your story, as painful as it was. I'm an intellectual property attorney, now poorer (temporarily, I hope) but happier as an indie writer and brand new e-publisher. I guess I got the law degree to win the argument!

    Big Hawaii fan too (cousins there) and a short story writer and aficionado. Stay strong.

    I'm going to go buy your collection right now!


  36. I feel your pain, girl! After collecting increasingly higher quality rejection letters, the latest insisting that although my writing, characters, plot, etc. were good enough, they just didn't 'fit' their line...I also self-published. I wish you fabulous luck on your writing and may you make loads of money through out the rest of your writing career.
    Lori Leger

  37. Hang in there and thank you for fighting back. "The times, they are changing." Bob Dylan.

  38. I'm very sorry for what's happening to you - its atrocious.

    But its also opposite to what I'm finding. Many publishers are thrilled that authors are doing these and growing their fan bases - which the publishers can then cash in on.

    I would suggest every author talk to their agent first.

  39. My friend, it is a story like yours that makes me realize I made the right decision to launch my own publishing company. Tyler Perry said it best, when he said "ownership" is my ONLY option. Thank you for your cautionary advice. And you WILL make it. Blessings to you.

  40. Aloha Kiana,

    So sorry to hear what's happening to you.

    On the other hand, if your novel was going to be published, you probably have pretty fair folio ready to go.

    How much money do you think you'll make off of it in the next 11 months, before you would have even begun to bank royalties against the advance?

    Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!

    In other words, Frack the bastards! You're better off without them!

    TK Kenyon

  41. Thank you for sharing your cautionary tale! I gather your attorney has told you not to share further details, but I hope you and s/he are working on your e-publishing the novel in question.

    I am an Indiana attorney with some time on my hands. I am not an IP specialist (I usually handle various types of civil appeals), and am not licensed outside Indiana (except as an inactive attorney in CA), but if your attorney needs some research help and thinks I can properly provide it, just let me know!

  42. Hang in there, Kiana. You're right, they're wrong. All throughout my writing career I've heard whispered horror stories about publishers abusing writers. Not for any good reason, but just because they can. No more whispers. Maybe you can't discuss this further, but others can. I hope every writer who reads this post then spreads it far and wide.

  43. Youch! (Just found out about this thanks to Passive Guy.)

    I’m honestly unsurprised by this. I figured it was a matter of time, particularly with all the contradictory information out there from industry professionals. (Self-publish first; you’ll demonstrate that there’s a market to the agent/publisher! Don’t self-publish; you’ll ruin all your chances of landing an agent/publisher!)

    I hope this gets resolved quickly for you! :)

  44. Kiana,

    I've read your stuff and it is really great. To think that a writer like you should be treated badly, should even be debt-ridden, is more than a shame. I think we should all buy everything you've got on Kindle to help you through this crisis.

    Jon Olson
    The Petoskey Stone
    The Ride Home

  45. Kiana,

    First off, I'm jealous of you for living in Hawai'i. I've been twice (for a total of nearly a month) and love it there. If I have one, Hawai'i is my spiritual home.

    Now, on to the topic at hand.

    I am a brand-new self-published author, and I'm also a publisher/small press. I've got five other authors ready to sign contracts as soon as they're drawn up, and we're all very excited about the new author-centric vision I have for my company.

    So when I read your post, I too saw the situation from two viewpoints. And from both, my initial reaction was the same: WTF? How could they do that?

    I simply cannot fathom a company that would choose to run itself in that fashion. Of course, I can't understand the publishing industry in general, hence my complete side-stepping of it. I've never sent a single query letter, and in just over 100 days I've sold nearly 1,300 copies of my 400+ page, $4 novel.

    So much for "friends and family" easy sales, as Jodi mentioned.

    Congratulations on joining the world of the independently published. I think your situation (being both indie and trad published) will be more and more commonplace as authors realize the benefits of both situations.

    That said, and sorry to be blunt, but screw 'em. If they're going to treat you like that, do you really want to be involved with them, anyway?

    The money's nice (believe me, I know about debt), but at some point, everyone has their own line they won't cross: "This far, and no further!"

    Again, welcome, and best of luck to you! Hang on, it's going to be a wild ride!

    Jason Aydelotte
    Managing Editor, Grey Gecko Press

  46. Kiana, I'm so sorry to hear about this. Clearly the publisher is at fault here, not you. I wish you the best of luck self-publishing your other stories!

  47. Dear Kiana,

    First a confession/apology. I read Joe Konrath's piece on you some time back and intended to buy your book. I got distracted and never did.

    I was incensed when I heard about this latest situation on The Passive Voice, but I was slow to make the connection with Konrath's earlier story. Anyway, long story short, I checked out Cannibal Nights on Amazon and read a bit -- and couldn't stop reading. I bought it and it's now on my Kindle.

    So all you good folks out there that want to support a damn good writer and strike a bit of a blow for indie rights at the same time, BUY THE BOOK. It's terrific!

    And Kiana. As far as your (former)publisher goes, I fear I must revert to the vernacular of the waterfront.

    Fuck 'em!


    Author - Deadly Straits

  48. This is just spite, plain and simple. And how much has canceling your contract hurt their arch enemy, Amazon? What has this publisher accomplished? They just cost themselves a potentially lucrative contract. There is no reasonable explanation for this. What they did doesn't benefit them in any way, just as what you did didn't harm them in any way.

  49. Dear Kiana,

    I found this story from David Vandagriff's site by way of Haley Whitehall's. This story is truly stunning in how well it displays the Big Publisher's fear of independent/alternative methods of publication.

    Granted that what I do -not- know about legal matters fills entire libraries, I still suspect you have grounds to bring suit for this. If Cannibal Diaries is utterly unrelated subject matter to the proposed novel, AND you had already submitted CD to the same publisher and been rejected, I suspect you can find a sympathetic lawyer if you want to go that route.

    In any event, stand strong. Don't allow yourself to be bullied. And thank you very much for posting this account of what happened, I am sure that other aspiring indie writers such myself will benefit from your cautionary tale!

    Mike Lyons

  50. This publisher is childish and cutting its own throat. I'm watching your story explode in writing circles, and I'm happy to see it. I'm all for traditional publishing...and self-publishing...and I think writers can entertain each such that they benefit each other. Like MJRose, I've seen publishers actually not mind of an author self-publishes other works, particularly if those pieces sell. Chin up. The writing community has really stood its ground on your behalf, so feel good about that. This book will sell whoever handles it now.

    Hope Clark

  51. @saffireadesforges
    @carol strickland
    @Julie Day
    @Edie Ramer
    @Jennifer Jakes
    I want to thank you all for your support. Mostly I want to caution you, get all permission in writing with print publishers! To readers of WG2P..please note, I am not a debut novelist, as posted. My novels have been bestsellers which makes this situation even more shocking. I wish I could say more but am legally bound by attorney to say nothing until its solved. Thanks again mahalo! will keep you posted. Alohas, Kiana

  52. @Jeff Salter. Yes, Jeff, they're demanding the $20K back, that's part of the litigation right now.
    @Jana de Leon
    @Ruth Harris
    I'm trying to thank each of you individually because if this happened to you it would mean so much to hear from so many writers. Who says writers are egotistical and selfish? You guys have been amazing! Ruth your point is excellent, and my argument exactly: the ebooks generated more readers for me. So where is the logic??????
    Imua, you guys! Press on! alohas, Kiana

  53. @Kelly McClymer...thanx so much for your input. Can you tell me the name of your print publisher who supports your indie ebooks? I'm gathering a list of such publishers for my argument. If you want to send it privately my contact no. is on my website. Thanks so much, Alohas. Kiana

  54. Dear Kiana,
    Aloha! I'm so sorry to hear how badly your publisher has treated you.
    Thank you for sharing your experience; it's a wake up call for indie writers. I hope the distraction won't keep you from continuing to write.
    C. Flynn

  55. @Claude Nougat...thanx so much for your support!
    @Elizbeth Ann West...thanx for your info, am showing it to my attorney!
    @AnneR Allen...Kudos for choosing smaller publisher! They stlll treat authors with dignity.
    @JennieCoughlin... Your instincts are right-on.You will find it empowering to be in total control of your work. I loved it from the start!
    @Elle Strauss...I'm sorry that I can't say more right now, but I am sure it is going to leak and slowly go viral. Editors and secretaries talk. Thanks!

  56. Good luck, and I hope this works out to your favor. Yes, the publishers are afraid of the Amazon Goliath, but they won't hesitate to use it or any other technology in their favor. Very recently I had a publisher re-issue in print via, I'm sure, on-demand printing, 3 of my out of print books. They did not own the rights-- they had reverted to me, and I have the publisher's letter to prove it. I caught them and now stand dumbfounded as they tell me "Oh, our mistake. We'll count the royalties on these sales toward the original contracts." Excuse me? Those contract expired years-- DECADES-- ago. Yes, we will be continuing this issue. I absolutely support the stand firm position, for all of us. If more of the writers did this, the big publishers might hesitate, just a bit, before stepping on us.

  57. All the best Kiana! Publisher's behavior never ceases to amaze me. I hope you pin them to the wall. Sounds like they deserve it.

  58. @Megan Kelly...thanks for your input, are you able to say the name of your print publisher sympathetic to indie publishing? I'm try to gather a list for my argument. You can reply c/o my contact no. on my website. thanks.
    @Patricia Rice...Your right! Contract clauses need to be tightened. I think contracts will be rewritten after this. Also, AGENTS need to TIGHTEN up too, and be more protective of their clients. Mine was not.
    @Maryann Miller.... Glad you are having better luck with print. Are you at liberty to name your print publisher who is sympathetic to your indie
    publishing? It will help my argument. So far there are four of you in these comments with sympathetic pubishers! If you can share this info there's a contact no. on my website. Http://
    Thanks so much!
    @Kathy Holmes... Print publishing has always been about numbers. That's why they're now courting self-pubbers like Amanda Hocking. But beware! Even then they try to take 75%of your erights! Good luck!
    @efitzgeraldpublishingdotcom...I'm not in pain as much as angry! But congrats on your career-change. Every writer today should have a law degree, so you are lucky! thanks so much for your support and hope you enjoy my collection. Alohas, Kiana

  59. @cajunflair...Lori, trust me, you made the right move! You will be empowered.
    @Lynne...thanks for your support. Writers have been treated like serfs long enough. It was time to say 'ENOUGH.'
    @MJRose...Yes, some publishers are smarter than others, but a word of caution. In a crisis, make sure your agent is on YOUR side. Mine was not.
    @ejsidney...I agree. Ownership IS our only option. I wish you success!
    @TKKenyon...Thanks for the advice. My sentiments indeed!
    @KAWylie...thank you so much. I will pass your generous offer along to my attorney. I wish I could say more at this time, but am not able.
    @JWManus...Thank you for that phrase! I am going to use it in a future
    blog about publishing when this all blows over. NO MORE WHISPERS!
    @Carradee...Your views are exactly on target. A need for drastic reforms
    in a flailing industry. And each crisis brings reforms! Thanks, Kiana

  60. Again, I am trying to respond to each of you because this is a crucial situation and I deeply appreciate your support.
    @Jon Olson...Thanks a mill for your generous words and I will read our work as soon as this blows over and I can catch my breath. Which of your books do you recommend first? Readers would like to know!
    @Grey Gecko Press...Jason, Congrats on being a self-publisher AND publishing five other writers at Grey Gecko Press! Be good to your authors, treat them with dignity, listen to their suggestions. And Congratulations on your own success - 1300 copies of your enovel sold in 100 days??!! PLEASE submit the title here. We need inspiration!
    @josephrobertlewis...thank you for your thoughts and your support.
    @RE McDermott....Yes, Bob, between Joe Konrath's blog on me in March, and now this mess, I feel like "Perils of Pauline," but now I'm really just angry. I wrote the blog above to WARN WRITERS TO GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING from now on. Thanks a mill for buying my book and I hope you enjoy it. My 'Pacific Noir' collection. Rather dark! As for the vernacular of the waterfront...that is exactly what I told them! I will check out DEADLY STRAITS, a great title. Much success to you and my alohas, Kiana

  61. @word are right on every single point, and they may be asking themselves those very questions now.
    @Babylon Mike...Yes, it is a stunning story. It stunned me when it happened. I wasn't sure about writing the blog, too legally risky, but I decided writers needed to know what can happen when you're not pro-tected IN WRITING. I'm glad it gave you and others insight and alerted you to the state of things. Stay tuned. And meanwhile, Mike, Keep Writing!
    @Hope Clark...thanks so much for your supportive words! I've been so in shock, was not aware my story is 'exploding in writing circles.' Can you direct me to any particular blogs? I'm happy to warn writers what they should do and should not do vis-a-vis a contract, but there are things I still can't discuss till this is solved. Also Hope, I find it hard to believe I'm the first writer this has happened to - being terminated for
    self-publishing. Surely there are others? Anyway, again thanks so much for your support. With alohas, Kiana

  62. Its Saturday evening in Hawaii. I want to thank you all for your comments and support. I tried to answer you all so far.

    Tomorrow is Sunday 9/11. I lost two friends at Ground Zero in NYC...I'm sure a lot of you did. So just now, I am going to put my little problems aside and thank god for what I have, what we all have. Health and loved ones, our future in front of us.

    God bless you all. I wish you joy. With alohas from Hawaii. Kiana

  63. Oh brother. I'm more confused than ever. Please, allow me to ask, was securing your agent the way to that big 6 publisher?

    For instance, when I began, self publishing certainly wasn't "it". Now that my script is ready, is my desire of a literary agent warranted?

    Thank you. Sheila Cull

  64. Perhaps there's an opportunity to make a big enough noise to attract another, more enlightened publisher? I'm not saying this is a blessing in disguise, but perhaps you could use this cautionary tale to your advantage. Writing mags, local news, local radio, etc - if you got what you wanted, it would be the best form of justice.

  65. Hello, Kiana...As someone who has wanted to be published as a novelist for some time, I understand that the deck is greatly stacked against me...So many of the major publishers require that you have an agent - I can only think of one, Tor Books, which is part of McMillan, that doesn't - and unless you have a big name, you'll be hard-pressed to get on anyone's radar. I understand why so many authors are going the self-publication/e-pub route, and I applaud them.

  66. WOW! So sorry. You mentioned they have your book hostage..... How is that? Don't you have a copy or two of your own book? If so can't you ebook or whatnot yourself? Just curious!

  67. Found this through a Re Tweet by Barry Eisler. Chin up, dude, and know that you have support from both writers and readers, my being the latter.
    Those crackers are headed down a short road to destruction, and they know it.

  68. Just to clarify, so your attorney can track me down more easily: my name is Karen A. Wyle, not Wylie. I'll be hoping to hear from your attorney!

  69. Gosh. This makes absolutely no sense to me and I am SO sorry this happened to you.

    I write for imprints of two of the big six (Penguin-Putnam and Hachette Book Group) and I have rights reversions of most of my backlist, which I have self-pubbed as you did with your stories. I've also self-pubbed some original short work, one of which is based in the world of one of the series I write. And none of that has been a problem for my publishers. In fact, it's not a problem for them that I write for other houses.

    My agent did have to remind one of my publishers that they do not have any control over my short work, even if it's based in the series I write for them, but that was a short conversation and, as noted, hasn't been a problem since. My other publisher is actively supportive of my self-pubbing and has only asked that I not put out anything at the same time that I have a new release from them.

    As you can see, I've had a VERY different experience from you and I'd urge you to not to give up on the other 5 just because your publisher is insanely stupid.

    Because, as any author with self-pubbed backlist will tell you, and as any publisher looking at sales numbers knows, those self-pub sales feed sales of their titles with that author. My short work sells my traditionally published novels. My backlist titles sell my still-in-print titles.

    Your editor is an idiot and your publishers is even worse to allow that editor to act as he/she has. You actually positioned yourself for MORE sales across the board and they screwed it up.

    Again, I'm so sorry this happpened but please don't think all publishers are quite as clueless.

    I wish you the very best in your publishing ventures.

  70. I think you should go public with the publisher's name and let them feel the blowback they will inevitably get from other writers. What they are doing is not right and that kind of behavior just encourages authors to self-publish and avoid that kind of strong-arm treatment from publishers all together.

  71. What a terrible situation to be in, I'm so sorry. It just shows you that the big 6 are indeed worried about the Indie revolution and Amazon's might, especially as they've just started publishing all the successful Indie authors out there.

    If I were in your shoes I'd drop Amazon an email! ;-)

  72. Sounds to me like it's time for a counter-suit. From what you've said here, I question whether they have a leg to stand on.

    But if it were me, I'd keep the $20k since they backed out of the deal, not me. Then I'd go ahead and publish the book myself. If they're calling the contract terminated, it's terminated. They've waived their right to publish it, so screw them, I'm doing what I want with my book.

    Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and I tend to leap to righteous indignation quite easily. So what I think doesn't really matter, and my knee-jerk course of action may not be the wisest way to go.

    But definitely need a lawyer for this.

    Best of luck. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed House of Skin.

    Here's hoping it works out for you.

    Michael Kingswood

  73. Kiana, my sympathies, but kudos to you for seeing the situation for what it is, a vicious act from an industry trying to hold onto the past by force. Traditional publishers (I run a micropress) have never been the authors' friend; it's an industry that deserves to die. I feel for anyone caught in the gears as the industry thrashes in the early stages of its death agony, but I believe the future is brighter for authors than it's been for a long time. Hang in there.


  74. The logic exhibited by the publisher in this case is, quite frankly, unfathomably short-sighted and stupid. You said that they'd already seen and rejected the books you self-published. How in Earth can they even begin to think that they have any say in how and where you publish something they didn't even want? Unless there's some sort of sneaky no-compete clause in the contract that no one noticed, I wouldn't think they had any room to maneuver.

    I hope your lawyer eats them alive for this.

  75. OMG! I will never, never, never sign with a publisher! NEVER!

  76. Sometimes you have to make a decision and take a stand. If traditional doesn't want you, go indie 100%. I make more in sales a day than Random House used to do in a year with eBooks. My agent basically told me it made no sense for me to traditionally publish any more. Mainly because their business model is out of date.

  77. OK, we know what their lawyers say, what does your lawyer say? Don't have one who knows their way around publishing? Talk to your writing friends and find one. If they're calling the big guns of the lawyers, you need to reply in the same manner--and be ready to bid this publishing house adieu and find a new one.

  78. Hi Kiana,
    I came here today via a twitter link and was going to forward it to Bob Mayer - and I see he's already here!

    Bob's been saying how terrified publishers are of digital - and this unfortunately proves his point.

    What are new writers told? Build a platform. I'd say you've been doing that. What else is a writer supposed to do but build their platform and their profile through short stories, articles, blogs and more novels in the future.

    I am so sorry you are caught up in this.

    Success is the best revenge. May you have the most fabulous success imaginable.

  79. Interestingly, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES isn't available in ebook format! LOL Go figure. I was about to go buy it! See what they are missing out on? Like I'd pay $19.95 for a print version? I dunno. It's shortsighted thinking that will ultimately always does.

  80. Kiana, You know how Mindy and I feel, and how we support what you're doing. Ho'omau. You're fighting for all of us! Much love, Don

  81. just want to add my own outrage to that of all the others here - what a incredulous situation - and one which we all hope is settled quickly and to your advantage - interestingly, just a few weeks ago my daughter and i were talking about this very situation - she had heard of this same thing happening to other writers - sadly, you are not alone it seems - but good for you for showing "them" up for who and what they really are - the enemy! here's to speaking up! brava!

  82. Stay strong and brave, Kiana. You have a huge and ever growing army of writers behind you. what has happened to you is truly horrifying - I hope your lawyer fights hard and wins.
    Kudos for speaking up. We all need to know this.

  83. Thanks for having the courage to publicise this. You can see - from the support you have here, now appalled we are. You are a brave woman. So hope you find the courage to go it alone, or a small publisher recognised your wonderful writing. Good luck.

  84. Considering that the publisher of record on Amazon is listed as "Telemachus Press" (which I'm assuming is a company you set up) and not Amazon, I'd write a letter back to them telling them they should stop letting Amazon publish their books if they have such a problem with them...and I also wouldn't return the advance under any circumstances. They're obviously in the wrong here, and use their own wording against them. They're desperate, and they'll try to push you around. When you refuse to let them, they'll likely back down.

  85. All I can do about this heinous behavior by your publisher is to buy one of your books of stories. :)

    That'll show 'em.

  86. Thank you for blogging about this. I'm sorry that happened to you but it certainly illustrates how scared the Big 6 are becoming of the digital revolution. Your "Shark Dialogues" is one of my all time favorite books. I read it several years ago and I still have mental images of some of the scenes in that book.

    With the story-telling powers you possess I have no doubt you'll find the audience you deserve whether you do it on your own or not. Best wishes and thanks for the warning.

  87. Kiana,

    Thank you for speaking out! This is a story about power, and how the powerful respond when we assert our independence. Its desperate, foolish and dangerous. I'm glad you have a lawyer and I hope its a good one.
    What is most astonishing to me is this: the publisher thinks Amazon is Goliath? What a crock. They are Goliath, having already taken the rock between the eyes.

    The market does not demand morality, but it does punish poor business practices. This publisher is already dead, and you are being struck by its death throws. I would not be surprised if your cautionary tale for writers becomes a cautionary tale for publishers.

    Thank you again for speaking out! Institutions like this publisher can only remain powerful if we allow them to push us around and stay in the shadows. I will pass this story on.

    P.S. I got here from a tweet by Sarah Weinman. I will send it on to my networks on Twitter and Facebook.

  88. I just bought both books of short stories in support -- and also because I know you're a fabulous writer.

  89. WTF? If anything, fans of your short story collections would be MORE likely to buy the trad published book, thus increasing sales for the Big 6er.

  90. PS I posted to linkedin, facebook and twitter. I love Hawaii and will need to check out your books. My wife and I are going to our place in Kona in November.

  91. This is truly a scary story, and I thank you for sharing it. I can't quite see what grounds the publisher has for cancelling the contract or holding the book hostage---you'd think a "first proceeds" clause would prevent the latter, but of course I don't know what was in your contract. But clearly you were caught in the crossfire of a war not of your making. As a traditionally published writer, this story would make me think twice about reissuing reverted books as ebooks, something I've been contemplating.

  92. Unbelievable. If the publisher is reacting this strongly toward your self-published works, then they know that Cannibal Nights is a gold mine. Once all of the legal stuff is over, you should take your gold mine and turn it into one where you get to keep 70% of the gold bars. That's when you'll find out if that $20,000 turns out to be nothing more than an insult. I'm just glad you found out about them now, rather than waiting until you're in bed with them and the lights are off.

    Best of luck to you and please continue to keep us informed.

  93. Doing my part to get you out from under the thumb of some businesspeople too stupid for their own good, I just bought all your books.

  94. I support your move, and have bought your ebooks from the big A. in the past and will continue to do so. I have read some really good books by self-pubs. and love the lower prices. I refuse to be held hostage paying higher prices for ebooks just because they think they can get away with it.

  95. Hi guys. Its Monday noon in Hawaii. I want to thank you all, each and every one for your comments. I never expected such a response. For reasons of space in this blog I am now going to try to answer your comments by email.

    ATTENTION YVONNE NAVARRO!... Your story is almost worst than mine! You must immediately contact the Authors Guild, they have attorneys who will help you! Also, someone on this blog generously offered the name of Electronic Frontier Foundation They are set up to help eauthors who are battling this very thing. They do the work pro bono, free.

    This is the Catch-22 where print publishers think they can screw us because we don't have the money to hire lawyers to take them to court.
    And that is usually true. But Author's Guild and EFF are set up to help.
    Yvonne, contact them ASAP, let me know the outcome. Good luck Kiana

    There's something important I forgot to say to all of you. It was Joe Konrath who ENCOURAGED me to duke it out with the publisher. To not give in. If any of you are not following Joe's blog, please do! He's been blogging for 6 years has a huge following and is rapier sharp and almost prophetic about where publishing is going. His blog: THE NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO EPUBLISHING. You will learn a lot, I promise. Kiana

  96. This is a supremely unfortunate development. My immediate reflex is sympathy; it's preposterous to be told your e-book short story collection, not covered under a contract, is against that contract because you owe them another book.

    I'd like clarification about one detail. You wrote "Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS." Was the misuse of "hits" their nomenclature? Because of course you can't delete a hit; it's simple indication of web traffic. It'd be even scarier if they made demands about things they didn't understand.

  97. Is anyone getting my emails to you? I've tried to respond but most of your comments say Pls. anyone ? let me know if they're getting through. Becoz some of you are asking important questions! That I would like to answer. Kiana

  98. O. M. G.

    One more reason to do what it takes to go it alone.

  99. So in today's climate I, say, have to do what it takes to go it alone.

    Laugh out loud, I'm alone enough with my butt in chair! (BIC)

    Although, seriously?

  100. Just to add a different data point...

    I have contracts with both Tor (Macmillan) and Viking (Penguin). Neither publisher had a problem with me self-publishing my collection. In fact, both said it was great promotion for my novels. I know several other authors, also published through "Big Six" publishers, who've had the same experience.

  101. Go, Kiana! I would think there is room for all, and can't imagine how your current success and beautiful writing doesn't help all your future projects. Good luck with all--take care!!

  102. I can quite easily understand how you might be in breach of contract here: if you self-publish a book that sells badly just before you publish a book with a publisher, the poor sales of book A will tend to hurt the sales of book B. It's a sad fact that, to a bookseller, you're only as good as your last book. It's also a sad fact that short story collections don't sell well and that self-published books sell even worse than that (in print, at least.)

    It's not just the subject matter, you see. You can injure sales of your contracted book with an entirely unrelated book if it comes out at the wrong time and does badly. It may also tend to injure your reputation as an author if you have three handsome traditionally published novels, and then a comparatively amateurish-looking self-published collection. As a consumer, that might put me off.

  103. Ahem: you can only be in breach of contract if the contract prohibits you from doing what you did, or requires you to do what you didn't. It doesn't sound as if the contract explicitly addressed this situation. In most jurisdictions, a contract drafted by one party is interpreted against that party in case of ambiguity. It seems likely that the publisher drafted most or all of this contract.

  104. @KAWyle, most publishing contracts include a variety of clauses intended to protect the publisher's interests, from non-compete clauses to morality clauses. Just going by Kianna's article, I'm assuming the publisher had a clause that said she would not publish anything that resembled, or would tend to injure sales of, her contracted book.

    Kianna says: "Since CANNIBAL NIGHTS in no way 'resembles' or would 'injure' sales of the book I had sold them (an entirely different subject matter) I was not in breach of my contract." So it seems the publisher has alleged she is in breach of that clause and Kianna disagrees because CN does not 'resemble' her other book.

    However, what I was pointing out was that resemblance is only one way of violating that clause. Injury to sales can cover a lot of other things.

  105. (By the way, most publishing contracts are drafted by the publisher, unless you are with a big agency - some agencies have their own boilerplate. It's one of the many good reasons to have a proper agent and never to sign anything you don't fully understand.)

  106. Torgo -- thanks for clarifying what clause might be at issue. I'm aware that most publishers do the drafting of contracts. That's exactly why most publishing contracts would be interpreted in favor of the author, not the publisher. That would include the somewhat ambiguous clause about what would "injure" sales. Given the many publishers who seem to believe that e-publications will, in the current climate, help sales of printed books, the publisher does not have a very strong position here that publication of backlist story collections (some of them prize-winning, if I recall) is a clear breach of contract.

  107. I just checked this book on Amazon. The preview read is very compelling. It cannot help but further your career. And future sales. Too bad that publisher was so short sighted. Perhaps public opinion will help them see they were too hasty.

  108. I'm not sure why the party who drafts a contract would have any bearing on how it's interpreted...? But I am not a lawyer, of course and without seeing the actual wording of the clause at issue it's hard to say whether it's ambiguous or not.

    I'm not quite sure I follow your second point, but I would caution against getting riled up against publishing in general or even the specific house concerned without hearing both sides of the story. In my experience of publishing it takes a hell of a lot of bad feeling to cancel a contract, even more so to then allege breach of contract. (And such a big contract! $20K as, I'm guessing, a first tranche? This is serious money.)

    My guess? Something more going on than appears at first glance.

  109. Kiana,

    You are a terrific writer, and as someone who has enjoyed your stories, I am grateful you stood firm. Why should your readers have to wait years to read stories that the other publisher isn't even planning to publish? Their bullying behavior is outrageous.

    Faerie Tale (The Unfinished Song)

  110. I agree with whoever said it was very short sighted of them. Times are changing and they are running scared. They should have learned from the music industry that muzzling people only makes things worse. That's awful that they treated you so horribly. I wish you all the best and hope that you continue to stick to your guns. :)

  111. Torgo -- I am an attorney, though not an IP specialist, and licensed (on an active basis) only in Indiana. As a general rule, which may not apply in all circumstances or in all jurisdictions, an ambiguous contract provision is interpreted against the party that drafted it.

  112. Kiana,

    I'm outraged on your behalf. I will go buy your book to support you.

    This publisher isn't just short-sighted, but crazy. Many of my self-published friends are selling more of their traditional books because the new readers are buying them. One friend just posted that she had more sales from her publisher in the last quarter than in the whole previous year, mostly due to her very high self-published book sales.

    I'm also self-published. I've had over 20,000 sales of my two sweet Western Historical romances in less than 4 and a half months. Since you gave a commenter permission to give his book titles, I'll assume it's okay--Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky. Publishers had ten years to acquire these books, and now I'm SOOO glad for my stack of rejections! I've already made far more than I would have with a traditional publisher, plus avoid the kind of headaches you have with your crazy publisher.

    I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns and wish you the best of luck. Please keep up posted as much as you are allowed to.

  113. I WANT EVERYONE READING THIS SITE TO KNOW THAT THE MAN WHO IDENTIFIES HIMSELF AS 'Torgo' IS...AN EDITOR IN PRINT PUBLISHING. No wonder your comments are so supportive of print publishers! And so negative toward self-publishing.

    For your information...on 9/12 CANNIBAL NIGHTS was listed as #38 on KIndle's Top 100 Bestselling Story Collections. Also for FYI...I'm being represented by seasoned literary attorneys because they find what the publisher did, terminating my contract, has no grounds and is vindictive and insane.

    @ Torgo...I deeply resent your infiltrating this blog site. Your comments are fatuous, negative, and discouraging to all writers trying to make a living, especially writers who have been rejected by the Big 6. Go back to your cubbyhole. You are NOT welcome here.

  114. Yes, it sucks what happened to her and all, yes, it was a bit extreme... but she was already under binding legal contract with her publisher. She should have at the very least checked to cover her bases with them before going ahead and doing what she did. Can't say I'd fault the publisher too much for this one.

  115. When an industry is imploding, the players become less and less rational. Book publishing as we know it will cease to exist in over the next 5 -7 years. Those who fight it and fail to adapt will disappear. You made the right decision to go indie. You will be selling books long after your publisher ceases to exit. See:

  116. I'm not ready to jump on anyone's bandwagon, having only seen one side of the story. And in the interest of disclosure, I'm not an agent or employed by any publishing company; indeed, I am an aspiring independent author who is considering both commercial and self-publishing. But I always see red flags waving when the demonization of commercial publishing comes up, not to mention its impending demise (which has been predicted for decades, if not longer). I also have doubts raised when anyone who brings up the "other side" is reacted to in the way you did, Kiana. Is there really something wrong with hearing views other than rabid sympathy? Because if that's the mindset of most self-published authors, I may seriously rethink joining those ranks.

  117. @Ostarella...your are right. I'm over-reacting and I apologize. Right now I am raw and in shock. Please note that until this termination letter from my publisher I was extremely supportive of print publishing as well as indie epublishing. Please see an earlier blog of mine entitled PRINT PUBLISHING, OR EPUBLISHING: WORKING BOTH SIDES OF THE STREET. In it I encourage writers to try print publishing first for several reasons. (It might be helpful for you.) I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just trying to encourage authors to stand up for their rights. I sincerely wish you all the best in your writing!

  118. While I am sympathetic to an extent, my experience with publishers is that they will do all they can to NOT terminate a contract, especially when they have already spent time and money on it.

    In this instance, where a considerable advance has apparently been offered, and with an agent in tow to deal with the contractual side of things, I'm not really sure how this instance occurred.

    Without being disrespectful, I just don't see why a publisher would terminate a contract without due cause.

    Perhaps if you shared the terminology of your contract with regards to first option refusal and non-compete clause it would better help people to understand.

    Obviously without knowing the details of your specific contract all of this is just a one-sided rant on the evils of traditional publishing - traditional publishing that I see you have been quite successful at, with two of the Big 6 as your previous publishers and, by your own admission, a considerable amount of money and critical acclaim.

    You'll forgive me for thinking that this is a sudden about face and my desire to seek clarification and further details to better inform my own opinions.

  119. "Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS. Currently, that's about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?)"

    Actually, it's closer to 4,200 hits. Also, this is a very transparent lie.

  120. No need for things to get nasty. I just did a Google search for "Cannibal Nights Kiana" and got 1,100,000 hits. Putting "Cannibal Nights" in quotation marks yielded a number slightly under 4,000. It's easy for people to be talking at cross-purposes.

  121. OK: so, are you just deleting my comments now?

  122. Ms. Davenport, I applaud your standing up for yourself against a publishing tyrant, and for sharing this information. Keep doing your thing! The publishing industry is no longer gatekeeper. Amazon and the rise of successful self-publishers is creative-commerce liberation at its best.

  123. This seems to be a classic case of "Damned if you do and damned if you don't". Kudos for sharing and keep me posted about your progress, I'm very intrigued.

  124. This just emphasizes how crazed and desperate publishers are, not having prepared for this technology they've known existed for many years. I feel bad for traditionally published authors caught in the middle of this, but relieved that the publishers have no rights to my work and never will. I'm making a good living from my 2 recently published romantic comedies, thanks mostly to Amazon, and I can't imagine signing with the publishers now. I'm afraid the days of many of these houses are numbered.

  125. If you want some solid, well-considered advice on self-publishing, you can do worse than listen to Bob Mayer and Kristen Lamb:

    In fact their advice applies to all writers in the internet age, not just the self-published ones. We all have a lot more influence on the success - or failure - of our books than used to be the case 20 years ago.

  126. I'm sorry that I can no longer respond to your comments individually. I've been told by legal advisors to 'remain silent' till this case has reached a resolution. Thank you so much for your support. To those of you who don't agree with my views, I respect your opinions, too.

    For reasons of space, to those who have asked serious questions about writing, I am trying to answer you by email, but don't know if its going through. You can reach me by the contact no. on my website.

    I will continue reading your comments here. No one should be discouraged by what's happening in publishing. Its part of the evolution. The main thing is to KEEP WRITING. Write every day. Alohas, Kiana

  127. @KAWyle: That's a very cherrypicked search. Obviously, when you're going to search for a book and author together, you put the book title and author's name in quotation marks. So, "cannibal nights" "kiana davenport".

    Even with all the additional press this blog post has gotten the title, it's nowhere close to the number stated in the entry. Plus, nobody believes that a publisher is stupid enough to believe Davenport can "delete" Google links. I wonder why she hasn't posted the exact text of what her publisher said to her?

    Oh, how convenient. "Legal advisors" have told her to remain silent. I'm so sure.

  128. @yagyouidan While I have doubts about a lot of this story - I'm waiting to hear from the Publisher before I reserve judgement, if that should ever happen - I don't think it's unlikely that Miss Davenport has been given some legal advice, even if it's just from her agent. I can't imagine the people working in her best interests being too happy about this being all over the internet without going through them first.

  129. Heck, now I want to buy an e-copy of Cannibal Nights on Amazon just for spite. :)

  130. I understand why you're remaining silent, but I do hope the name of the publisher comes out in all this, especially if they don't make things right. Readers and writers should both know.

    As sad as I am to read your story, I'm glad to see someone else saying "I understood then that I, like every writer in the business, was being coerced into giving up more than 75% of the profits from electronic sales of that novel, for the life of the novel." And of course, "The life of the novel" so easily becomes "the life of the publisher" when we're talking about e-books.

    I would love to see this practice being labeled as a scam and "WRITERS BEWARE!" type websites warning against doing business with anyone who insists on such terms. Individual writers have little power to dictate terms, but organized action might prevail.

  131. Who's being 'coerced'? Who's holding a gun to the writer's head? If you don't want to sign a contract, don't. If you'd rather chance self-publishing, hoping to get noticed to the tune of that advance money, go ahead. This whole painting of commercial publishers as The Villain is sooo Drama Queen...

  132. I'm confused. If this Big 6 publisher doesn't own the rights on the material you published at Amazon what makes them think they have a right to tell you what you can and can not do with it?

    That would be the same as a publisher telling you "We'll buy this one book from you -and only this one- but you are never allowed to publish anything else you have ever written or ever will write with anyone other than us."

    Sorry, but that is worth a hell of a lot more than $20,000.

    By publishing your own work with other publishers you are increasing your platform and building an audience that will purchase the book the Big 6 publishers will be putting out in a couple of years. How can that possibly hurt their sales. Not to mention that they themselves will probably make your new book available at Amazon once it comes out.

    I understand the Big 6 is probably running scared. Even well established Big 6 authors are self publishing on Amazon with e-books. Bookstores are going under. And traditional book publishers may be obsolete in the not too distant future.

    These are tough times and in order to survive Publishers are going to have to be more willing to negotiate with their writers.

    Never surrender. Never give up. You are the author. All money should flow toward the author, most of the control should flow toward the author. If the big 6 want to survive they're going to have to accept that as the norm, not the exception for the future.

  133. How bogus. If they didn't contract for that book that is YOUR work to do what YOU want with it. Unless your contract says they own you and all your work before and since (and from what you say it doesn't sound like it) they are totally out of line.

    IMO, they can't make you give the advance back because you didn't breach anything. They can whistle for their money back. But then again, I'm sure your agent and/or lawyer will know better.

    Good luck!

  134. Ostarella:

    I certainly wouldn't take their deal, but publishers do everything in their power to make it seem like taking their loaded deals (which basically involve giving the e-rights away in perpetuity as a condition of getting into print) are the only game in town. And as this story shows, they are prepared to come down hard on anyone who challenges that illusion.

    Big presses are increasingly trying to survive in the brave new world by operating a scam worse than vanity publishers. A vanity press charges you money once. A big publisher charges you a percentage of your earnings for the life of the book, and they can use the electronic rights to keep that up forever.

    What do they give you in exchange for giving up the lion's share of your earnings forever? They provide a series of one-time services and even those services are increasingly paltry, as publishers expect authors do little more than rudimentary editing and expect authors to shoulder the burden of promoting the book.

    At this point, it really does make more sense to walk away, to arrange and pay for one's own editing and cover art, and self-publish. It's just a matter of start up capital. Authors don't have it, publishers don't need it.

    This is exactly why they'd react in a panic to a situation like what is described above. An author who signs a deal with them, takes their money, and then shows she's capable of and willing to forge her own path anyway is a dangerous thing. She played ball when she needed the money, but the danger is that once she's established she'll realize she doesn't need them at all.

    Instead of trying to establish her as a partner in a venture or as a loyal customer of their printing services, they got nasty. Where's the coercion? It's in sending a lawyer after someone saying "The deal we both agreed to is off. Give us back the $20,000 you earned. All this could have been avoided if you'd just done things our way." That's a message loud and clear to her and anybody else who has any bright ideas.

  135. Kiana, thanks for responding.

    If you're truly interested, pick up The Petoskey Stone.

    But your work is gift enough.

    Jon Olson

  136. If "Cannibal Nights" is available as an epub, I'd love to buy it. Your big 6 publisher is just scared, but I'm sorry for your ordeal. Thanks for the warning.

  137. Ms. Davenport, if you or the commentators in this thread haven't done so, please read mutli-genre award-winning writer Kris Rusch's Writing Business column starting in April when she exposed the seamy underbelly of this aspect of publishing business.

    Ms. Rusch is out to destroy the system but provide the tools for writers to survive the paradigmatic transformation publishing is presently undergoing.

    For the few naysayers here, it's not Ms. Davenport -- it *is* the publishing industry in upheaval victimizing her.

    As in the 80s, it is the bean-counters and the MBAs pursuing quarterly P&L statements that are at war with the writers.

    I am glad Kiana's engaged an attorney. In a later column, that's exactly what Kris advises.

    Either the writers stand up now [and many cannot afford to do so] or they face a long future of economic serfdom.

    Good hunting & God bless, Ms. Davenport!


  138. Ooops!

    That second paragraph should read, Ms. Rusch is NOT out to destroy the system..."



  139. I can't wait for 'the big 6' NY publishers to go out of business, like the big snobby bookstores are.

  140. Think of it as buying your freedom. I'm sure you'll make 10x that by selling your books via Amazon and others that actually have respect for the authors. I enjoyed "House of Skin" and have just bought "Cannibal Nights". Best of luck to you!

  141. More evidence that publishers continue to live in the publishing Stone Age. They don't seem to have a grasp of things, not even a little, and are using power to crush, rather than brains to outwit.

    I recently received a review on my second book that urged me to "get an agent and find a publisher, STAT." It was from a writer who apparently hasn't published any full-length novels.

    I wanted to pat her hand. But, aw. Thank you so much for thinking it was a compliment!

    Can you smell the desperation? Just dig yourself out of this and keep going. They can't shut you down!

  142. Kiana,

    Is the novel the one your agent sold in 2004, but it wasn't scheduled for release until 2011? Is the publisher that slow? That's crazy.

  143. alexandraerin

    I'm sorry, but this is just more of the same anti-commercial publisher rhetoric (mainly coming from certain circles). Vanity publishers do little if anything to help the writer be successful - commercial publishers do everything they can to make sure the writer is. Why? Because if the writer isn't successful, the publisher isn't! Why on God's green earth would they try to alienate them? Or take unfair advantage (so the writer then moves on to a different publisher)?

    Every claim against commercial publishers that I've heard (and again, coming from a certain circle) are claims that make absolutely no business sense. But then, they also tend to include the claims that commercial publishers are dinosaurs, going down the drain, are losing money, yada yada yada. All malarkey. Unfortunately, there are a lot of poor saps out there who believe these "gurus" and end up spending tons of money and earning little too none.

    My advice is if you hear someone talking about "Evil Big Six" and the 'freedom' and 'control' and 'the road to success' of self-publishing - run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. You don't need advice from someone with an agenda. Instead, do your research and listen to the people who have done both and will discuss both without the histrionics, vague numbers, and blatant bias - but who will tell you how much time it actually takes to self-promote (time you won't be spending writing the next book), how much money it takes to get the needed editing, cover design, etc.

    As I say, I'm considering both avenues - but I'll be researching them with eyes open, not via some snake-oil salesman.

  144. Never heard of you before. Never read your work. But if what you put out on Kindle is up at an affordable price, I'll buy it all. Good luck!

  145. Just wanted to add -- I've now purchased your two self-published books and I see that Ballantine wants $11.99 for the Kindle version of your novel. Those idiots! It's very clear that Kindle readers don't want to pay those prices. IMHO, what's really at the core of the push by the Big 6 for e-book pricing equal or higher to paperback prices is the desire for e-books to fail. Somehow they believe if they make the prices high enough this "fad" will blow over.

  146. Kiana, I am so sorry to hear about this mess you're in. And I don't get it. Publishers sell a huge amount of books via Amazon. Amazon is NOT their competitor, but should be viewed as a partner.

    As for publishing outside of them, your publisher is extremely narrow-minded and is not looking at this from the proper perspective. They should be embracing your self-pubs, at the very least acknowledging that ANYTHING you publish HELPS to advertise and promote the book they're going to publish.

    And why should you only be allowed to publish one book every 2 years? If you have completed works and they haven't offered you a contract for them, you should be able to publish them elsewhere. For far too long authors' incomes have been determined by publishers who make far more.

    The old method of publishing doesn't work anymore, and publishers need to realize this.

    I own a publishing company--Imajin Books. We're new. We operate in some ways like a traditional publishing company, but we recognize the changes that need to be made. With us, you receive higher royalties (50% for ebooks and 30% for print). And you're free to publish with anyone else or self-publish. Why? Because we recognize that if you make fans with another book, they will most likely buy the one we publish.

    If you're ever looking for another publisher, Kiana, I invite you to check us out. We don't yell at our writers. They are our partners and we have the same goal--to put out a great product you can be proud of and help you sell it.

    I am hoping your lawyer can find a way to get you out of this without you having to sacrifice your income. To writers who have been offered a contract, get an entertainment lawyer to look it over, ask the publisher questions like: can I publish other works elsewhere or self-publish? And stay away from publishers that overprice their ebooks.

    All our ebooks are priced at under $5, most under $4. That's what readers want. Publishers need to be tuned in to consumers. Selling an ebook for $11.99 isn't a smart move. I just went to buy one of my favorite authors' ebooks, only to find it's priced at $14.99. For an ebook. And the paperback was $9.99. Really??? I didn't buy either.

    When you're ready to look again, Kiana, please let us know. You can view our ebook contract online. Our print contract is basically the same.

    Cheryl Tardif
    Publisher, Imajin Books

  147. I'm trying to keep up with your comments and want to thank you for your support. When I am able to, I will respond. And to those of you who don't agree with me, I respect your opinions, too. I agree there are two sides to every story.

    To those of you who doubt that I have always been supportive of and made my living from print publishing, please see my blog of July 2, 2011. "PRINT OR EBOOKS: WORKING BOTH SIDES OF THE STREET."

    Mostly, I want to urge you all to KEEP WRITING. Words define a civilization. alohas, Kiana

  148. Just want to send you my full support and to thank you for a very informative article. xxx

  149. Thank you so much for posting this. Heard about it on SheWrites. I just put out an ebook (DEAD WEIGHT) and will be sure to run anything by an attorney re traditional publishers in the future.

  150. Kiana, I read House of Skin after seeing the article on Joe's blog, and I was blown away! Best short story collection I've ever read. Now I find this story after following a link in Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog.

    I am horrified. You an exceptional writer, and you don't deserve this. Stick to your guns. The publisher is the one who breached the contract, not you. What lunatics.

  151. I'm nearly finished with CANNIBAL NIGHTS, Kiana. Wonderful stuff, mesmerizing. A review will follow.

  152. Great post Kiana. Crazy behaviour from 'mainstream' (though perhaps soon to be known as dinosaur) publishers. It is to them that such a story as this should be considered a cautionary tale. Unless they radically adapt to the new world of publishing, they are heading for extinction.
    Good on you for sticking to your guns. Legend!

  153. Mark, thanks again for your comments. Hope your following Joe Konrath blogs, last couple postings relative and very interesting!

  154. I bought those two books for my Kindle. Not my usually genre, but they seem interesting. I came upon your site from Mur Laffertey's blog I Should Be Writing. It is terrible about what they are doing. Unless they paid for your backlog, they have no business encumbering it.

  155. I hope that joins your defense team (and any counter-suit that you make) and that you successfully sue the snot out of your traditional publisher.

    When your case is resolved and you can speak publicly again, I would love to see the contract you signed and the legal documents for this case so that I understand this better. Also, I'm very curious about what your agent had to say in defense of this heinous Big 6 publisher. It's truly a cautionary tale.

    Going to go buy your short story collection for Kindle TODAY. ;o)

    Fight the good fight!

  156. I am hoping your lawyer can find a way to get you out of this without you having to sacrifice your income. To writers who have been offered a contract, get an entertainment lawyer to look it over, ask the publisher questions like: can I publish other works elsewhere or self-publish? And stay away from publishers that overprice their ebooks.forklift-training/

  157. I just found out about your situation from a post on the Kindle Boards. Wow, this is so utterly shocking. Best of luck with your self-publishing ventures! Your writing looks amazing, so I published a book of your short stories. :)

  158. Ooooops, I meant I purchased a book of your short stories, not published it. I'm pretty tired right now. :)

  159. This may be silly, as I know absolutely nothing about publishing and such... but if the company "terminated your contract" than how do they still have rights to your book?

    Sounds like a bummer. My apologies

  160. Hey there.. the decision is clear, now that this story is out - pay them the 20k and self-publish, you will make MUCH more than that back. I personally will buy a copy, just to help stick it to the big 6. Many others will too. Ride this wave of shared anger.

  161. Sorry to hear what has happen. I used to work in the industry with the ABA. I know our terrible publishers can be.

    I will be honest, I haven't read any of your books, but I will help support you in this matter by picking up both of your short story eBooks for my Kindle.

    Good luck!

  162. Kiana,

    For better or worse, your story just hit the front page of /. so your days of being able to respond to every post may be radically numbered. Before the additional support (as well as vitriol and trolling) begins, I'd like to pipe up with two statements:
    1. I'm a constant reader and a big fan of all things bookish - save for publishers. I've long considered them a doomed monopoly. Dinosaurs, really. While Amazon's not without it's problems, at least they have a vision that matches the reality of the future, so I'll be voting with my money - $3 is a small price to pay to help out your cause. If a good book comes along for the ride, all the better

    2. I don't mind doing the hackery necessary to convert the Kindle edition of Cannibal Nights to my decidedly non-Kindle ereader, but I generally prefer to buy my books as epubs (usually from google ebooks, webscriptions, nookbooks or fictionwise). Any chance you'll push your back catalog in any of those directions, as well?

    I'M SORRY I CAN'T RESPOND INDIVIDUALLY. But every few days I come back and read every comment. For those who disagree with my position, I respect your opinion, too.

    This issue is no longer about an individual writer. Its about artistic freedom and the right to maintain one's dignity during an evolutionary period in publishing. For an update on writing/publishing/Amazon see todays New York Times article online. book publishing.

    Most of all, Keep writing! Create! Create! Alohas, Kiana

  164. I suspect that a lonely and increasingly isolated penguin is dying, inexorably choking on its own avarice, along with all the old boys of publishing. I love the way penguin tries to limit library circulation of paperbacks with the clause "this book can not be sold or lent out in any other cover except the one it was published in", or words to that effect. In other words, if the book wears out, you can not rebind it = buy another.

  165. Hi Kiana,
    I read about your story on slashdot. I hope things will work out for you. I have not read your writing before but since you claim that cannibal nights is your best writing, I will purchase it in e-book form and give it a go. I hope you continue your work with a courageous spirit. Writers who inspire and educate people's mind are forerver needed. Best wishes

  166. Dear Kiana,

    I have to admit I have no idea who you are and I never heard about you until a story about your publisher woes popped up on Slashdot.

    I just want to let you know that I have just bought your "Cannibal Nights" anthology from Amazon (actually installing their Kindle app in the process) without even knowing who you are simply because your story has incensed me that much. I sincerely hope this affair will get enough recognition that the Kindle sales will make up for the losses you are incurring through your bastard of a publisher. By making this disaster public, you are making a very important and valuable point and I salute you for it.

    Best Regards,

    Deacon Blues

  167. Dont give them back the money. It is yours, and THEY broke the contract, not you.

  168. Kiana,

    I have to admit that I have never heard of you before this (the same as appears of many of the people in these comments), but i wanted to throw my hat in the ring and let you know that I as well have purchased your book and wish you luck in your plight.

  169. Kiana:

    There are a lot of people who are tired of the book publisher's tricks. ("Why is this book only available in hardcover?" "Why does the e-book cost more than the paperback?") You should let people channel their rage by funding you!

    Go to Kickstarter and create a project for your next book. I'll bet you could easily raise 10-20 thousand dollars in a few months. (People funded a "Facebook alternative" for $200K.)

    People could send in $10 for the e-book, $20 for a printed copy (, $50 for a signed copy, etc. People will actually feel better giving money to you than 70% to a publisher who's just going to try and prevent writers from writing.

  170. Another /. voting with my wallet by buying your books from Amazon, look forward to reading it.

  171. That money should be yours. I think they totally overreacted to the situation. If anything your shorter works will help you build a following of readers that will flock to everything you write. I hope the publicity will help you in all future sales. Anyone with half a brain know you've done nothing wrong. I further hope your book will one day be released back to you so it can see the light of day it deserves.

  172. That's such a sad story. I don't know what to say so I will just go buy more of your books for my Kindle. That's how I do all my reading now anyway. It's really easy to give Kindle books for Christmas & I've made myself a post-it note by my computer to remind me to send your books as gifts. Phooey on that short sighted publisher.

  173. Kiana -
    If you are still hassling this, point the publisher to this page at

    And point out to them that David Weber GAVE AWAY all of the series for his Honor Harrington books as a CD sold with a new release, and saw sales of all those books increase.

    Baen's "free Library" has been giving away e-books for years and it hasn't affected their profits.

  174. I am not too familiar with your writing (I found this page through the post) but I went ahead and purchased your Amazon e-book as a show of support. What your publisher is doing is deplorable; the act of antiquated business more willing to intimidate than adopt. I am happy to do my part to show them and others like them the error of their ways, or show them the door.

  175. [via Nathan B.'s blog] Kiana (and Yvonne),
    A truly terrifying tale.
    Glad you refuse to be intimidated.
    Some big companies of any kind resort to bullying to get their way--especially (as someone observed) if they are secretly in financial trouble.
    This talk about terminating the contract is probably more threat than reality. Glad you are calling their bluff. Keep the money, unless a court orders otherwise.
    Keep on trucking, & God bless.

  176. Kiana,
    It's interesting how Penguin feels that just by distributing an indie book through Amazon, they become your de facto publisher. As a self-publisher with my own imprint, I have never claimed to be "published by Amazon."

    A more valid, but unrecognized, concern of publishers would be that an author under contract might release out-of-contract works where either the writing or the design diluted the marketing efforts behind the traditionally-published books.

    It is unfortunate that Penguin chose to handle things things this way. They need to wake up and smell the coffee and develop up-to-date contracts that consider publishing options that didn't exist a decade ago. You have fallen through a crack created by shifting continents of digital publishing. It's a genuine concern for publishers but not one they should stick you with the blame for.

    If they're smart, they'll reconcile with you, leverage the controversy that's brought you to the forefront of the publishing news, and get on with the business of selling your books for your mutual profit.

  177. Kiana, have just become aware of your situation -more power to your elbow from this little corner of Scotland! I think your publisher's reaction is symptomatic of the current 'headless chicken' syndrome which seems to be afflicting many conventional publishers. They seem to be in a state of denial about the options which have opened up for writers only recently. For years, as a struggling 'mid-list' writer, (as well as a playwright) I have argued that the relationship between writer and publisher was untenable - what should be a professional business partnership had become increasingly unbalanced, with the writer constantly cast in the role of supplicant.

    $20,000 dollars - while it may seem like a lot of money - and IS a lot of money to struggling writers who can make a little cash go a long long way - is not actually ENOUGH money for the publisher in question to veto your own exploitation of your backlist. It is surely utterly unreasonable. (And almost certainly counter-productive for them!)

    It is as though somebody buying a major piece of work from an artist expected that artist to put every other piece of work already created on hold. It wouldn't happen. How are you expected to live on $20,000 during the two years it usually takes them to publish your work - and then the next two years spent earning out the advance? Not to mention the years spent writing the novel.

    No,it simply won't do, and the relationship between author/publisher/agent has GOT to change into a productive, harmonious but essentially businesslike partnership. For too long, writers have refused to see themselves as being 'in business.' But we are. We are in the business of supplying creative content. I love my work, none more so, and when I'm immersed in the work, I forget about everything else. I'd always write, even if nobody ever paid me. I couldn't stop.

    But we have to learn to put on our business heads, when we are handling the business side of the work. Since Amazon and others have given us the opportunity to exploit our own inventories, (it's a road I've just started down myself, with a reissue of a novel and - like you - some previously published stories, as well as plays) we have to resist all attempts to force us back into humble little boxes. The sad sad thing is that they truly seem unable to see that all your own activities would actually help sales of the novel. And again - you get the feeling that just about any other business would acknowledge that and be delighted to let you get on with it.

  178. I couldn't agree more with Catherine. It is the idea to "own" artists that makes book or music publishers look like slavers. The damage they do to themselves is much bigger than the money involved - they ruin their good name. The brand "Penguin", for me as an avid reader, had had a positive ring up until now. I am sure that from now on I will avoid buying books from them.

  179. tripping around the web this morning, I ran across a link to your blog and story of self publishing woes on:

    ...and am totally disgusted by the publisher's behavior and lack of vision on this...I wish you luck, and having just downloaded Cannibal Nights, will enjoy reading it...

    Much luck on your endeavors... :D

  180. You're not in violation of your contract unless your lawyer (and a judge) agrees with any such assertion by the publisher.

    The contemptuous way you've been treated belies the publisher's fear far more than any wrongdoing on your part. Rather it discloses the low esteem they always had for you. How dare that slave dare leave the plantation!

    There are 20k reasons to lament the cancellation of your contract for your next novel. However, this tale is gonna sell a lot of books to David fans who want to stick it to a Goliath. I hope you'll make this story part of your marketing strategy for that work.

  181. Please do this. Go to Kickstarter and start a project to raise 20k + some extra to publish your book. Once you raise it, pay off the advance and self publish it, giving a copy to everybody contributing on Kickstarter certain amount. Then collect the rest of the money from all the fans buing it directly from you.

  182. Like everyone else, I think it's absurd to demand the return of $20,000 from a writer. That's like asking a homeless person for change, not that you're homeless, but you get my meaning. Anyway, I understand Penguin's fury. You were generating sales without them, whether it was in your contract or not, which got their ire up and their lawyers off the golf course. None of this puts them in a good light, but with the numerous opportunities to publish, you will eventually fair as the winner. Penguin doesn't have numerous opportunities. They know this, which probably caused them to put the squeeze on you. I'm an avid reader and novice writer and it's been awhile since I've picked up a book with a recognizable publisher. In fact, these days I'm surprised when I do recognize the publisher. These are tough times for everybody--authors and publishers. I find comfort in knowing that The Big Six are still out there and that because of them I will have a book I can hold and, well, smell. I don't think we should be too hard on Penguin. And even though their tactics with you were poor and even bully-like, they're simply trying to survive in a troubled market.

    I apologize for the long silence but I have been 'muzzled' for two months by legal counsel becoz of the mess with Penguin. No blogging, no interviews. They were afraid I would shoot my self in the foot again by venting online! But now its 2012, and soon there will be closure with this whole situation. And it is against my nature to be muzzled.

    So, I want to thank all of you and EACH of you for your support! Not only in generously purchasing my books, but in your reactions and suggestions in your comments, some of which were not only extremely helpful, but brilliant! And some were hilarious, thank god because I needed the relief of laughter.

    We Americans forget that, for better or worse, we are still considered the gold standard for Democracy. Writers all over the world still look to the U.S. as the champion of artistic freedom. Thus, I received emails from all over the globe - Finland, Sweden, Russia, China, India, Africa, England, Scotland (hello Catherine Czerkawska!) - expressing shock and disbelief at my termination by my publisher. The general fear was that if it can happen in America, then writers everywhere are suddenly at risk.

    It is true I, and by extension ALL WRITERS have gotten caught in the cracks of this massive tectonic shift from the world of print to electronics. We are in an evolution that our civilization hasn't witnessed since the advent of the Industrial Age. It's scary and exciting. And right now there are no rules. Policies keep changing overnight.

    So I urge each of you to be fastidious and aware in every step you take as a published writer, whether self-pubbed, e-pubbed, or print-pubbed by the Big 6. Be wary and agressive, and remember that Artistic Freedom is now something you have to fight for and defend because, again, right now the rules keep bending and changing.

    Protect yourselves, use professionals - lawyers, legal interns, agents to read and fine-tune your contracts. If you're self-pubbing especially electronically, READ THE FINE PRINT before you upload your work. Even there, the rules are changing every day.

    Lastly, I want to tell heartnsoul who just posted a comment today that I agree with you totally. I still love the smell and feel of 'real' books. I mourn the death of bookstores. I sympathize with the Big 6 publishers who are floundering and trying to keep up with ebooks. With the 'demise' of print books I feel a sense of loss. And I still respect the editor I will not be working with because Penguin terminated my contract.

    BUT LET'S ALL OF US REMEMBER THIS: Books, going all the way back to the Gutenberg Bible, books in any way shape or form, (even ebooks) were and
    always will be nothing more than a DELIVERY SYSTEM. (Joe Konrath said it first) The heart and the gall and the pancreas and liver of a book is its CONTENT. The TALE WITHIN that records, re-imagines, and even advances our human progress on this planet.

    So for this Brand New Year let's resolve to concentrate again on CONTENT. Our thoughts, our dreams, the wild pyrotechnics of our fierce imaginings. We
    are a telling-story species, and history has proven the world will always need storytellers. So write! Write your hearts out! The Bible says "Let there be Light!" I say, "Let There Be Content."

    A glorious New Year to you. I thank and love you all for your support. Kiana

  184. I just put out an ebook (DEAD WEIGHT) and will be sure to run anything by an attorney re traditional publishers in the future.


  185. @James. All the very best with DEAD WEIGHT! And don't forget to read the small print of each distributor even when you publish electronically! The smart ones are accommodating authors and accordingly upgrading their policies. alohas! Kiana

  186. Thank you, Kiana.

    While I'm sorry this happened to you, it reaffirms that I did the right thing in that I decided to make a clean break when I abandoned my quest for traditional publication and decided to indie publish my work.

    You're right that the time spent pursuing traditional publication isn't wasted. It's time spent studying the market and honing the craft. It's time spent learning all you can about publishing, so if and when you do decide to go it alone, you go into it with open eyes. But this makes it clear that there can be no turning back. Once you go indie, it's up to the publishers to pursue you, not the other way around.

    I've already indie published two novels (Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey and Toren the Teller's Tale), and I have five more I plan to publish, three of them this year. (Ride of Your Life and Why My Love Life Sucks: The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer are next.) I could have continued to bang my head on the publishers' doors, but to what purpose? I've already spend nine years of my life banging away at doors that just won't open. Do I really need to waste a second more?

    Here's wishing you the best of luck with all your books, including those you have yet to publish. I know there will be many more to come. Oh, and you should probably read this, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Book":

  187. Dear Shevi, thanks so much for your comments. You are quite right to go forward and if traditional publishers want you, they can come after you... and offer better royalties than they currently offer! Meanwhile press on!

    To read up on this subject you should read Joe Konrath's most recent couple of blogs on his site THE NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING. He's the godfather for all indie authors.
    Wishing you great success with your new books! alohas and imua! (press on) Kiana

  188. I think the big book publishers have had their say for too long--too picky. Electronic publishing is here to stay and it's not about to go away. I've had so many rejection letters from publishers--they must use the same form letter by the way--it's a shame. They no longer read the story they're too busy looking for a typo so they can trash it. They should have asked if your story was out there before giving the contract in the first place....
    Thanks for listening, and for standing your ground.
    Hank LeGrand lll
    Author at Authors Den.
    PS My stories did get published and several children's stories are in the Amazon Kindle book loaning program.

  189. I've been on the fence for a long time about epublishing, and still am to some extent, but I've also abandoned the Big 6. Small presses and indie presses -- that's where my future lies, I think. But I still love the hands-on nature of epublishing and would love to dabble in it at some point, so thank you so much for this cautionary tale! I still harbor the romantic delusion that writers are artists, not someone else's product to be bought, sold or shelved at whim, but since I have a lot of books both large and small floating around the market right now, I will absolutely keep this story in mind before I sign anything.

    Also, thanks for all your replies to all these comments! That's just flat heroic of you to keep up with these! You're a model for us all.

  190. Dear HL LeGrand and Sam Snoek-Brown, thanks for your comments and for your determination to press on no matter what. The world needs writers!

    I WANT TO ALERT ANYONE STILL READING THIS POSTING THAT IN ANSWER TO ALL YOUR QUESTIONS, DID I PAY BACK THE $20,000 TO PENGUIN? DID I GET MY NOVEL BACK? AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NOVEL? I have answered all your questions in my new blog posted today. It is also about the current Publishing Wars and how it Affects Writers. I hope it will help some of you in your writing decisions.

    "MARRIED TO THE HIT MAN." 3//12/12

    Please see:

  191. Aloha Kiana,

    I work a an independent bookstore in Hilo where we sell your books. I want to wish you luck with this situation and I hope you come out victorious!

  192. Hi Cassie, The situation was solved. I found a new publisher, paid back the $20,000 partial advance to Penguin, and my novel will be published in August, 2012. THE SPY LOVER, from Thomas & Mercer. (Amazon imprint) What is the name of your store? I'm sure I've shopped there when in Hilo!! Thanks so much for your support and for selling my books. I'm not sure if your store will be stocking THE SPY LOVER as there is controversy now about Amazon imprints. But it will available online as well. Mahalo again and keep in touch! And I wish your store much success as there are so few of you left now. A tragedy! A hui hou! Kiana

  193. Hi Kiana,

    I have followed you for years after reading a story in Best American Short Stories from Shark Dialogues. You were my inspiration as a writer all those years past, and I'm sorry to hear of your struggles, but pleased that you have overcome them. I'm happy to see you have a novel coming out.

  194. Dear Jill...thanks so much for your support! I didn't dream so many people would respond, but then I realized my situation really was a cautionary tale to other writers. A brilliant lawyer, Jan Constantine, of the Author's Guild,came to my aid, so I was able to extricate myself from the Penguin mess with dignity. If you want to see the followup, please see my blog, MARRIED TO THE HIT MAN, it tells all in detail. That novel will finally be published end of August as THE SPY LOVER.

    ALSO, you might want to see my recent blog on how online reader-reviews are usurping the old-line print book reviewers and revolutionizing book marketing. 'CALL ME HUN.'

    Thanks so much for reading my books, Jill and I hope your are pressing on with your own writing. Be brave. Don't forget to take chances! Leap! And the net will appear!
    With my alohas from Hawaii...Kiana

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