August is supposed to be the slowest month, when we all lay in the sun on a beach in the South of France.

What happened?  It has been the busiest month I have had in years.  In spite of the juice fast–which still continues, don’t get me wrong, it takes more than a little work to get me to eat.  I am just splitting my time between the keyboard and the toilet.

It all started because I joined my little professional social site.  And all anyone there ever talks about is their electronic rights.  “Oh, I have reasserted my electronic rights!” posts one know-it-all in a thread of conversation that was otherwise sweetly discussing the plight of being a freelance writer in the time of the Great Recession.  In other words, we were all bitching, moaning and giving each other tips on how to cram 30 hours of leisure into a 24 hour day.  And suddenly, our whole thread was hijacked by the notion that we ought to be doing something–we ought to be reasserting our electronic rights, which, next to our right to vote and our right of free speech, is the most cherished right of all.

And so I went down down down into the basement and dug around in my old file cabinet and found my old contracts with my publishers.  Turned out that my most recent publisher had the rights to all four books I did with them.  I checked with Amazon and found that two of the four books were already ebooks, so I figured so far so good. It only took a phone call to get the ball rolling for the other two.

I checked another contract and found that, although my first publisher had had the e-rights for nearly a decade now, they had never asserted them.  I tried contacting them, but got lost in the loop and, in the end, had to ask my agent to intercede.  He did and my old editor was raised up from the dead and sent me an email and contracts soon followed.  The terms of the ebooks weren’t great, they were what seems to be the new corporate standard of just 25% (Why is this?  It’s not like the publisher has any outlay of  money associated with transforming the books into ebooks, right?  I want more.  I deserve more.  And yet, I signed away the rights in a time before they had any value, and if I want the books to be ebooks, I have to agree with the terms.  Ick.)

My third old publisher was the strangest of all–getting to sound like a bad romance movie and I am revisiting old boyfriends, not publishers–it turns out that this was the one company that had not bought the electronic rights, but they were also the one company that was actively selling the ebook version of my old book.  When I pointed this out to them they basically said, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”  When I pointed out that they had actually stolen something that did not belong to them, the phone went dead.  Ultimately, I got legal notification of the restoration of my electronic rights and a small check that is supposed to represent my half of all the profits from the ebooks sold.  (A new electronic edition of the book is planned for next year, which will be updated and improved and which will sell for less than the print version of the book,undercutting the publisher who did me wrong.)

And so, with all my e-ducks in a row, I began my next endeavor, a co-publishing venture with one of my old publishers.  In this case, they will take the print run, while I retain my e-rights and present the line of books as Amazon exclusives.  I have learned my lesson well.  My platform continues to grow.

 

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