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Solicitation Alert: The BookWalker

The BookWalker logo

Have you recently received a long, chatty, seemingly personal email from Lex Tallis or Sophia Arkin at The BookWalker? (Not to be confused with the game of the same name.)

You're not alone. This company is a prolific email solicitor, sending out waves of spam that differ in content but are all designed to convince writers that they've been selected for a special offer. Here's the lengthy preamble from a recent wave:

It goes on (and on) to tout the virtues of establishing a reader mailing list (no argument there), even offering a FREE guide to setting one up! Eventually, it gets to the point: money.

The Implosion of BBB Publishings: A Peek Into the Sometimes Dysfunctional World of Paid Anthology / Boxed Set Publishing

BBB Publishings logo

The world of paid anthology/boxed set publishing is a niche that I suspect many people aren't familiar with.

Paid anthology/boxed set publishers (it should be noted that there are boxed set publishers that don't require an author buy-in) specialize in collections of themed stories, novellas, and/or novels. Writers buy in to these collections for fees ranging from less than $100 to three or even four figures, depending on the publisher or set organizer. Often they must commit to pay for advertising and publicity as well. Promotion is important, as many collections are "list-aiming", with the goal of appearing on bestseller lists such as USA Today. A long pre-order period (as much as 12 months) allows the publisher's and authors' publicity efforts to bring in sales, so that the collection (hopefully) hits the list on the day it debuts. Collections stay in print for a limited period--three to six months--after which they're removed from publication and rights revert to the authors.

Publishers or organizers keep a management fee of anywhere from 10-40% of sales proceeds. To maximize income, some publishers issue as many as 40 or 50 collections a year. Remaining income is split between authors on a pro-rated basis. If the collection debuts high on bestseller lists and continues to sell, authors can make their investment back and then some.

Update: The Copyright Claims Board At the Three-Month Mark

Copyright Claims Board logo

As Writer Beware wrote about a couple of months ago, the US Congress has created a tribunal (the Copyright Claims Board – CCB) administered by the US Copyright Office for small claims-size copyright decisions. It began operations on June 16.

Its charter called for transparency of process and one of the fascinating things about it so far is that it is possible to see in almost real time the docket of cases that have been submitted to it. After 3 months, as of today, the 16th of September, there are 149 cases. They are a mixed bag, to be sure, but a few preliminary conclusions can be reached.

Of the cases that involve writers, only three may be of special interest to the readers of Writer Beware.

Scam Alert: Scammers Impersonating Acorn TV

Logo of the real Acorn TV

If you're a fan of British TV shows, you've probably heard of (or maybe even subscribed to) Acorn TV, a streaming service that offers a wide variety of commercial-free UK-made mysteries, dramas, comedies, and documentaries.

Scammers have heard of it too.

The scam begins with a DM on Twitter from someone describing themselves as a "headhunter" for Acorn TV. Here are some of their profiles:

Complaints and Changes at Parliament House Press

Parliament House Press Logo

Last week, authors logging into the Parliament House Press Facebook group found a surprise announcement: Parliament House had a new owner, and a host of other changes were in store.

In its current form, Parliament House Press will be dissolved due to a combination of personal and economic considerations from our founder, Shayne Leighton. Shayne has spearheaded the publisher since 2016 and has been a force in bringing this small indie press to a larger stage. Shayne will continue to work with our team in a design capacity. In her stead, Malorie Nilson will take over as the CEO of a reincorporated Parliament House Press. Business will continue uninterrupted, but several essential changes will transpire during this transition.

All existing author contracts will be dissolved and replaced with new contracts, as is required by law, but there will be no interruptions to the day-to-day functions of the house. Unfortunately, due to the increasingly competitive landscape of the industry, we will not be able to offer contracts to all existing authors. Many of our current projects were brought on under a different team and different leadership, forcing us to take stock of where we are and what we are able to accomplish. We want all our authors to be successful, including those who will no longer be with us. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to serve the entirety of our catalog, so we are forced to downsize to ensure that we can give every book the attention it deserves. If you are not offered a new contract, please know that it is not because we don't love your work, but rather that we do not have the capacity to give everyone the attention and care they deserve. We are working hard to bring more opportunities to our authors, which means narrowing our enterprise's scope.

We will continue our partnership with IPG for digital distribution, as well as our work with the Seymour Agency to sell subsidiary rights. Furthermore, we will be moving our entire print catalog to Ingram, which will give brick and mortar stores the ability to purchase books through Ingram's distribution program. Finally, we have revised our contracts to align with industry standards as we begin working more closely with literary agents for future acquisitions. As we invite authors back to the Parliament House Press, we will review the new contracts with you (which we have updated to reflect industry standard for royalties and terms) to ensure that each of you is comfortable moving forward. Of course, with the dissolution of the existing contracts, you are free to part ways with the Parliament House Press and seek other opportunities if you wish.

The abrupt announcement was a shock. But it didn't come entirely out of the blue.