At last night’s meeting, one of our members brought it to our attention that Trestle Press is in trouble for using copyrighted images, without permission or payment, for their artwork.
Here’s my disclaimer: I’ve never worked with the owner of TP, though I had a couple of opportunities to meet Giovanni Gelati when he signed up as a host for two of my internet book tours (with Partners in Crime Book Tours). So, while I found him a fun person to chat with, I can’t really speak to the current scandal of images, editing, etc.
What I do want to talk about is the same thing we’ve been talking about for the past few days: what do authors do in this current environment where self-publishing is becoming the norm and publishers–if they’re not closing–are taking on less and less new authors. Let’s face it, anyone who is published with TP is probably wishing they’d just done it themselves, and screw the status of having submitted & been accepted.
I feel really bad for any of the authors of TP because no matter HOW great their sales were or the reviews, they’re now tainted by association (the debate continues on the Internet as to whether the copyright infringement was conscious or unintentional). And I feel really bad for authors who were hoping to be published by them because I don’t think that’ll happen.
We talk about how editors/publishers/agents are the watchers for standards, they ensure readers don’t get rubbish books. But what do authors do when the editor/publisher/agent may be underhanded or makes a big mistake? And it’s not just little publishers getting in trouble. For a while there, every time I heard about Harlequin it was because they’d done something that irritated the industry (Harlequin Horizons, the retroactive change in their contracts regarding royalties)…
And the truth is, if you’re trying to break into the industry, subbing to the new guy can be the smart thing. Kristen Nelson, owner of the Nelson Agency, once blogged that because she was new, she was willing to take more risks when it came to her authors. Now, she’s immensely successful and one of the gold stars when it comes to agents…
So, now what?
At the end of the day, it comes back to the author. This manuscript is YOURS. You worked for it, sweated and cried over it. When it comes time to selling it, DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
- Go to places like AbsoluteWriter, Preditors & Editors, Query Tracker, etc., and see who folks are talking about, (good or bad).
- Look at the P & E’s link on publishers/agents to make sure the person you’re subbing to has not been red-flagged.
- Talk to other writers who are published/represented by the person you’re looking at.
This may not completely prevent you from subbing to someone who doesn’t deserve your work (For example, I talked to a few people published by Trestle Press who were quite pleased with their experience, which was why I had posted the TP submission call out), but it’s better to do your research and wait a little longer to be published than to throw caution to the wind and end up in a storm.