… and unfortunately taking a lot of good writers with it.
Light Sword Publishing is the subject of the latest Writer Beware blog here – they’ve been busy in court trying to both declare bankruptcy and keep their assets, which is a heck of a feat. Hopefully they won’t be able to pull it off, but the interesting paragraph in Victoria Strauss’s post is here:
"Although bankruptcy clauses in publishing contracts guarantee the return of authors’ rights in the event of the publisher’s bankruptcy or liquidation, such clauses are rarely heeded by the courts, which tend to view publishing contracts as assets that can generate income to help pay off creditors. Contracts are generally held by the trustee until a decision is made to sell or abandon them. (See this post from the Dear Author blog, which provides a good summary of what happens when a publisher files for bankruptcy). "
What that means from this little old Canuck’s understanding is that even if your publishing contract includes a funky clause that states that if they go bankrupt all rights revert to you… it may not be so.
It’s already happened with other micropresses going under; the contracts being tied up in the courts as they are seen as assets – and I can’t disagree with the interpretation.
So what does this mean?
Well, aside from obviously NOT doing business with Light Sword Publishing, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your publisher or potential publisher and see exactly what their financial status is. If they start mumbling about going bankrupt don’t count on your contract to deliver your rights back to you – in the case above along with the DA posting there were a LOT of authors who got caught in the legal web and had their stories tied up for months.
Check, check, CHECK OUT your potential publishers before you submit to them. Get thee hence to Writer Beware or Absolute Write and ask about them. Don’t accept their glowing recommendations without doing the footwork.
Twice bitten, extremely shy. As Uncle Jim says – better to not be published at all than be published badly. And at this point, I can’t say that I disagree with him.