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Rowing and Writing

Christopher Koehler's blog about rowing and writing and who knows what else.


Touching bases

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  Posted by Christoarpher , 29 April 2020 · 23 views

So we’re almost out of April and despite my best efforts, I’m not much closer to self-publishing anything. I’m reasonably I certain I updated you all, but in case I didn’t, best beloved, the short version is that Dreamspinner, my publisher since 2011, stopped generating royalties statements and stopped paying me. I have the email trail in which I had to ask to me paid money that belonged to me to prove it, too.
My contracts were quite specific about the exact days after the close of each fiscal quarter Dreamspinner would generate royalties statements and the exact days they would pay me. So what’s the big deal about royalties statements? It’s how writers keep track of how much they’re owed from which vendors for which titles, and for a publisher to stop tell a writer that is a huge red flag, particularly when it’s contractually obligated. Furthermore, Dreamspinner didn’t tell anyone they would be missing the date. The date of the royalties statement came and went with no communication. I had to contact my publisher after it missed the second contractually stipulated date of payment to ask about it.
The long and short of it was that as soon as Dreamspinner missed the first date—again, contractually stipulated—to generate and send me a royalties statement, it violated all of my contracts, rendering them null and void. Yet Dreamspinner didn’t start communicating this to its authors until late last fall. That doesn’t inspire trust, and so on Christmas Even 2019, I requested my rights back. That was proforma because in violating my contracts, I already had my rights back. But now I have it in writing.
Okay, that wasn’t a very short version, was it?
Since my backlist isn’t available to readers if it’s not published and it does me no good if it’s not available, I thought I’d self-publish.
Only I haven’t, and it’s the end of Aprl.
Some of it’s obvious–covid-19. I find myself distracted from time to time. Some days I’ll write two thousand words (that’s a lot for me) and other days I spend on Facebook with others in my reading and writing community simply trying to maintain human connections.
But a lot of it’s family stuff. My son had trouble at school beginning last fall, and it took me until early March to resolve it because it involved lawyers and banging my head against a wall when the school district would very much liked to have 1) pretended nothing was wrong; then 2) pretended it was my son’s fault; and then 3) pretended that it had no responsibility whatsoever to find an alternative placement for him. Both federal and state education law beg to differ and I retain (yes, present active indicative because this is an ongoing issue) a really good attorney who was more than willing to point that out to the district–over and over and over again.
We didn’t come to a resolution until the week before the school district closed for the corona virus shutdown. It’s a funny district, fantastic if you’re gifted but a bit dodgy if you’re in special ed like my son is due to severe ADHD. Anyway, on March 11 the district announced that it didn’t see the need to shut down. On March 13 I got a shrieking text that read COME GET YOUR KID EVERYBODY OUT MOVEITMOVEITMOVEIT. Like it was the last chopper out of Saigon or something.
Yet my dearest, darling husband wants to know why all of Dreamspinner titles haven’t been self-published yet.
I guess he forgot about the two short stories I published with MLR?
So the long and short of it is, I’m about five chapters into re-editing First Impressions and I’m wondering if finding a new publisher for my backlist might be the better idea so I can focus on writing new material. It has become clear that I cannot do both.
So how’re you folks handling shelter in place? That actually assumes you in live in a state that’s taking it seriously, if you’re American. If you’re not American there’s a very good chance your government’s doing a better job. It could hardly be doing a worse job, could it?
Anyway, how’re you keep yourself out of trouble? I listen to a lot of music. Much to the surprise of this 80s child, I’m listen to Orville Peck these days.

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