Last week I wrote about Neoglyphic Entertainment, which responded to criticism of the rules of its Neoverse writing competition by engaging in productive dialogue and ultimately making the rules more author-friendly.
Not everyone in the small press world is so open to change. In my experience, and that of the countless authors who’ve contacted me about their publisher troubles, small presses are at least as likely to react to critiques of their contracts or business practices with defensiveness and anger. Or even, sometimes, attempts at retaliation.
Case in point: Almond Press, whose short story competition I featured here last July. Essentially, the competition was a way for Almond to gather free material for an anthology–the competition winner received a cash prize but none of the other entrants received any payment other than “exposure.” (The anthology lineup can be seen here.) I wrote,
Even if Almond isn’t reaping a secret profit from free stories, though, this is yet another example of the increasingly prevalent writing culture that urges authors to work for exposure, rather than for fair monetary compensation. Sometimes, exposure may be indeed be worth it–if Tor were to run a similar competition (not that it would), it might be worth entering. But where exposure is the main or only compensation for publication, you really need to parse its meaning. Does publication in an anthology from an obscure small press with Amazon sales rankings in the hundred thousands constitute “exposure?” If so, is it an equitable tradeoff for being paid for the exploitation of your intellectual property?
Well, Almond Press was not happy with that assessment, which is understandable. But did they change the competition rules? Did they decide to compensate all their authors? Did they contact me to discuss my post or even to threaten me with legal action?
No. Nothing that mature.
Last week I was checking my books on Goodreads, which I do sometimes to see if there’ve been any new reviews (yes, yes. I know). I noticed a brand-new one-star rating on one of them, from…could it be? Almond Press!
That’s right. Almond Press had revenge-rated every single one of my books. Clearly, a small press staffed by grownups.
I contacted Goodreads, which told me that everyone is entitled to an opinion–which is certainly true, if it’s actually an opinion and not a childish attempt at retaliation. So it would appear that Almond’s revenge-ratings are there to stay. Not that big of a deal, really–unless, of course, you think that publishers should respond to criticism in a forthright and professional manner.
Hmm. Maybe I should check Amazon.