Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Night Shade Books in Trouble

This is amazing to me. Night Shade has been one of the models of small publisher success. I saw a few panels at WorldCon that featured their authors or owners. They’ve been the toast of the town. Now, they’re in deep trouble and in need of bailing out.

iO9 did an amazing write-up of the situation. The only thing I don’t get is the deal made about their royalty structure. The 8/10/12 of retail is fairly standard, unless the escalators were set quite low. That is, where a major publisher might have the 12% rate kick in at hundreds of thousands of books, maybe they set it to thousands, but I seriously doubt that.

The e-book royalties sound slightly more generous, but not extravagant. So why are they going under? Are all publishers this tenuous? It might explain why the terms for authors haven’t improved much; there might not be any room to improve them! Which means very-not-good-news for trad. authors and publishers going forward, because they’ll have to compete with the 70% of retail rates that self-pubbed authors enjoy.

My heart goes out to the authors and staff of Night Shade. Good people. Let’s hope this is resolved in the best manner possible.

3 replies to “Night Shade Books in Trouble”

Very interesting. As more and more publishers are challenged by a slower growing readership base (if it is growing at all), failures are bound to escalate. Can you imagine being a new author and watching your house burn down, than trying to sweep up the financial and legal mess for what’s owed you, or even republishing? .. never mind the momentum you will lose! Seems to me self publishing is the best way to go in this dangerous environment.

I’ve seen a number of their authors, like Kameron Hurley, complain more than once over the years (especially recently for her) about getting stiffed constantly on payments, having to hold manuscripts for ransom for back royalties, etc. that I can’t really consider them a model of a good indie publisher.

A good indie publisher makes sure it pays the people it publishes and doesn’t make them threaten legal action to get monies owed. They also have an active editing process and don’t just throw books out without almost any editing.

That said, Nightshade has had wonderful taste in books. It is just clear that they have no idea how to run an actual business.

It took me all day, but I finaly figured it out “Nightshade” is the name of one of the boys in Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.

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