Why I’m Signing the New Night Shade/Skyhorse agreement
As has been bruited about all over the ‘Net, Skyhorse heavily amended its letter of agreement to authors earlier this week. I’ve finally been sent a copy, got a chance to review it, and have decided I’ll sign.
The agreement isn’t perfect. I still have my royalties cut, but not nearly as drastically as before. The ebooks royalty clause actually includes an escalator—as more books sell, my percentage goes up—which is a good precedent to have set in that realm. Other clauses have been modified or added that make the sort of nightmare scenarios I outlined in last week’s posts unlikely. The audio book and second serial rights clause was changed to include a sunset provision and the pass-through wording I wanted.
While I do have to make some concessions to allow the deal to go through, I’m okay with that. It saves me the time of dealing with a bankruptcy court. It makes sure that authors get paid. Both of those are positive things. And the fact is that in the changing landscape of publishing, even these concessions might not have been enough to make the Skyhorse model function in fiction marketplace. We’ll have to wait and see. As publishers feel themselves getting squeezed, and they turn around and squeeze authors, authors are going to have to make decisions about how they’re approaching the future. Those decisions will doubtlessly accelerate any changes going forward.
By no means is the Night Shade saga over. If Night Shade sells off the assets, then declares bankruptcy, a court could come back in an invalidate the whole deal. Presumably Skyhorse, who has acquired other publishers under similar circumstances, knows how to deal with that possibility. Once the deal is finalized, Skyhorse will have to evaluate the inventory, hire staff, start scheduling production, and see what they really have purchased. That, too, will be an interesting journey.
I really do appreciate Skyhorse and Start for being willing to move to a more equitable solution for authors. I’d also like to thank folks who posted very thoughtful comments about my essays, either here on my site, or in their own blog posts. The fact that so many of the points I raised were addressed in the new letter of agreement means that your drawing attention to my analysis really gave the folks at Skyhorse something to consider. Authors getting together and protesting an unfair deal had an impact, and that’s a lesson that may stand us in good stead in the future.
So, very hopefully and with happiness, I’ll sign on and will let you know what’s next for An Ungrateful Rabble as things move forward.