Confirming this news has taken some time: The rights to Tales from Rugosa Coven have formally reverted to me. Yes, that’s the one that won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.
The small press that published it, Dark Quest Books, is in a state of flux. I don’t know what their current status and plans are, so I don’t want to speak for them. At times it has looked like they were closing up shop, or changing direction, or shrinking the business to fit around the publisher’s day job. Whatever the case is, my contract expired at the two-year mark. All I had to do to get the rights reverted is notify Neal Levin in writing that I would not be renewing the contract, and thirty days later the matter would be resolved. And so it now is. I’ve been holding my breath, and my blog posts, until I knew it to be so.
To make the press’s transition — whatever it ends up being — a little easier on Neal, I’m accepting author copies in lieu of royalties owed. So I’ll have enough stock to keep my commitments to my Kickstarter backers, a few copies to hoard for my kids, and maybe some extras to sell. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, Amazon and the other online booksellers still have a few copies in stock. If you’ve been meaning to buy a copy, it would be a great kindness to me to help them clear their shelves. The more obvious it is that nobody has a claim on the rights but me, the easier it’ll be to find a new publisher.
For me, this is actually a good development. Dark Quest Books was not in a position to help me put the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award to work to bring the book to a larger audience. It’s one thing to end a contract with a press that shows every sign of having reached the end of its run, and another to ditch a publisher the minute your book wins an award and before the publisher has a chance to benefit with you. The latter ranges somewhere between tacky and unethical, depending on whom you ask; the former can be a mercy and a kindness.
Tales from Rugosa Coven is a single-author collection of novellas by a writer who, until August 3rd of 2015, had not yet proven herself. No big publisher would have taken such a book. For a major imprint, that would have been an insane business decision. The book only got into the position of outliving its press because there was a publisher who took a chance on it in the first place. I’ll always be grateful to Neal Levin. Whatever happens with Dark Quest, it’s the publisher of record on the Mythopoeic Society’s award pages. I’m really happy about that.
Now that the Rugosa book has its award, some larger press will want it.
Not every imprint will have a slot in its line-up that makes sense for a reprint single-author collection of contemporary fantasy novellas. Even presses and imprints that would have such a spot might not have one in a time frame that makes sense for me.
Here’s the thing, though: a spot in a publisher’s line-up is a little like a spot in a parking lot. You don’t need the whole lot to be empty. It’s nice when you have a choice of good spaces, but ultimately, your one book can only take up one spot at a time. So, as long as the contract terms are fair and appropriate, you only need one.
The book is far, far from saturating its market. If my information’s current, Rugosa only ever sold something on the order of 300 copies, including ebooks. Dark Quest started contracting before I’d even won the award. And considering how many people have begged me to tell them there will be more Rugosa Coven stories, it probably helps that I’m actively working on a sequel.
I’m optimistic — and, now that things are official enough for me to make this announcement, immensely relieved.