Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don't Get Primed: A Primer on Prime Books for the Novice Novelist

a) I think I remember what money looks like ...

The Traitor appeared the better part of a year ago, and your reporter has not seen dime one from it. The novel wasn't even listed on my last royalty statement. Eagle-eyed vigilance in following the Amazon sales rank, especially following selection by VanderMeer for the top 10 fantasy books, and a glowing review from Nick Mamatas, gives me reason to believe at least 500 books have been sold just at that venue.

I am not alone. Every Prime author I have spoken to - and in the interests of full disclosure I must say this runs to no higher a number than four, not including myself - has complained of long, inexplicable, and unannounced delays in payment. One author is still waiting, lo these five years, for money she is owed on original cover art!

b) Oh, uh ... yeah um ... what was the question?

Prime counters allegations of misconduct with handwaving and/or dithering (hereafter "hanthering"). This can be accounted for in one of two ways. It could reflect a sinister scheme of data dispersal designed to insure a strict separation of authors and useful information, so that nothing can be known of your payment status or release date until a series of secret maneuvers is performed under shadowy circumstances. The answer goes round and round, then comes out here. Does it make sense? Were you informed? Who can say?

Or all the hanthering may simply be a sign that no one there knows what's going on. Either way, it's less than refreshing to have to deal with and plan around.

c) No means (mumble)

"I'd like five ARC's available to hand out at ReaderCon," an associate of mine asked Prime.
"Affirmative," Prime chirped (simulation).
ReaderCon comes along. No ARCs. What does the affirmation of this plan mean?

Let's release The Traitor at such and such a date, so as to give momentum a little time to build, then debut it at the Con, your reporter suggested.
"Sounds good," is the reply.
Subsequent experience indicated that these cryptic words are best translated: "Go away."

So take any positive statement from Prime as a - oh I don't know - an impressionistic extravagance. Why be so tied down to the bourgeois gridiron of times and places and checks? I mean, it's all about the art, right?

d) What was it you published again?

Prime's idea of publicity is sticking your book under a rock and informing the wind. You will have to do absolutely everything yourself. Blurbs, getting your text to reviewers, everything. Prime takes authors they believe are already being talked about precisely to as to avoid having to do publicity. I firmly believe Prime's neglect helped to scuttle my last TWO novels.

How many novels do you have to burn?

Prime is an attractive publisher for a variety of reasons, and I would advise any new writer to consider submitting material thereto, but do so forewarned and forearmed. You will not be told what is going on, your requests for information will be met with stalling, ignorance real or feigned, or - most often - silence. All the real legwork will be left to you. Payment will involve unnecessary headaches and a whole lot of waiting - if not outright defrauding (which has yet to be seen).

Good luck - and try elsewhere! Don't the same mistakes I did!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Your reporter will be attending Readercon 19.