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That’s from the gospel according to the NCP loonies.

I received this e-mail from one of their authors:

Hi, Karen. NCP just sent out a “marketing tips” letter to the internal author loop, this one explaining very seriously (and with absolutely no self-interest, of course) why it’s bad for authors’ careers to publish at multiple houses, and why authors should be publishing three or four books a year with NCP in order to develop the maximum possible fanbase.

Here’s an excerpt from the original post:

“In 2007, NCP sold around 150,000 ebooks. This year’s sales, contrary to the hopes and dreams of the truly evil, are up around 25%. Since we have, since our inception, pretty much doubled in sales every year, this is a low increase for us thus far this year, but we put this down to the choking economy—-not evil wishes. It’s difficult to get an exact figure on the customer base since many of our customers get a new customer number almost every time they visit, but with those sales figures it should be easy to see that we have a pretty respectable customer base.”

Totally selfless this lot, aren’t they?

Is it me, or do they seem to be getting more and more desperate?

You can pretty much guarantee that since they’ve given 25% as their annual increase, the numbers are probably a lot lower than that in reality.

Here’s hoping they go under soon.

23 Comments »


  • Emmy
    August 4
    1:33 pm

    If they’re doing so great, why take unfinished works and have another author finish them? A business that’s growing 25-50% a year surely wouldn’t need to steal half finished books?

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  • Rosemary Laurey
    August 4
    1:54 pm

    NCP may come outright and say it, but many publishers, large and small, try their best to ‘own’ their authors and restrict them from writing elsewhere.
    That’s what option clauses are all about

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  • I don’t know about ‘many’, possibly some. I am with 6-7 different epresses although I focus mostly on two of them, and have only every seen option clauses relating to stories in the same continuity (characters and world). That seems fair enough to me. A few of them don’t even have that.

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  • I like both competition and authors who write for other publishers, because both expand my reader base and promote awareness of epublishing, ebooks and an author’s backlist. I said so many times at RWA last week.

    However, I’m also not a fan of option clauses in epublishing (and have never made that a secret) because I believe the epublishing business model doesn’t justify the existence of option clauses in the contract. It’s actually one of the things I talk about in the workshop I give on epubbing.

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  • Angela, for the ignorant among us *raising hand* what exactly is an ‘option clause’? Are there different types of them?

    Like, as emily says, ‘publisher has first refusal for all works with the same characters/set in the same universe’ or ‘publisher ‘owns’ universe/characters in works published with it’ or some such? Or is it, “publisher has right of first refusal to any and every future work by author”?

    Or something in between?

    Or perhaps something altogether different?

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  • All three AztecLady ;) Does that make it as clear as ever. lol!

    There is also the ‘first option on your next work’ – which differs from the the ‘first option on any and every of your next works’

    So that makes 4 popular clauses I guess

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  • Yes, what Anne said. They can go from very specific to very vague. Generally, in NY, the publisher will option an author to the same genre and usually length of book that they’re contracting them for. Some will try to take more or make it more vague, but the author’s agent generally keeps limits on it.

    So some epublishers ask for right of first refusal on, say every erotic romance manuscript an author writes. That’s a broad and very binding option clause. Some epublishers option an author’s world and characters.

    I don’t believe in option clauses for epublishing because of the lack of advance and guaranteed money (and, sadly, stability within the industry at this point) for the author–I know, probably I should be thinking of this from the publisher POV but I’ve never been able to convince myself of that.

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  • Sam
    August 4
    3:58 pm

    Who or what is the ‘truly evil’ that works so hard to tackle and dismantle NCP? I know the professionalism of NCP is often less than stellar, but seems to me he/she/it is constantly blaming some vast external force for the company’s shortfalls. Or in this case saying ‘naanaa naa na na, we’re doing well in spite of you’.

    Sam

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  • Did no one tell you about the Satanist-Nazi Cabal for Destroying NCP (SNCDNCP)? I’ll forward the message; we’re having a potluck on Friday.

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  • I am bringing the beer of bitterness and the casserole of calamity.

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  • Every author should think about their long term career – and for *me* the idea of writing for only one publisher isn’t something I’d do. Each house has a different flavor and an author might keep her contemporaries in one place and her erotic paranormals in antoher, or whatever.

    As for options – If you want an option from me, I want some consideration for it like an advance. And I would NEVER sign a contract with an option for “any and all” new works. NEVER. That’s completely absurd. I don’t have any options with small publishers and my Berkley one is very specific (yay for agents!).

    Options in and of themselves aren’t that bad, it’s what they ask for and *who* is asking. Angie makes some excellent points about why an epublisher asking may not be a good thing.

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  • Sounds like NCP’s trying to bully gullible authors under the heels of their boots. Don’t publish with other houses?? course not… then authors may actually find out how well other publishers will treat them!!

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  • Rosemary Laurey
    August 4
    8:30 pm

    I’d second Lauren’s point that options in of themselves aren’t bad. In fact they can be a tenuous thread to job security in that they do guarantee you a serious consideration for your next work.

    BUT I agree with Angie that they don’t fit into e-publishing in the same way as they do with national publishers and what I’ve found interesting is the two small presses that tried to get me to agree to option clauses, were unwilling to negotiate or limit them, whereas my NY publisher will.

    To my mind it makes sense to limit the clause- as to specific sub genre, word length, author name etc.
    After all, what use would it serve anyone to send a horror novel to Brava, or a inspirational romance to Aphrodisa?

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  • *head desk* Will it never end?

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  • squid
    August 5
    12:57 am

    It seems suicidal for any author to stick with a single e-publisher. One of the first bits of advice I got was, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. And this came from a number of knowledgeable veterans.

    Of course, if you’re regularly earning buckets of money with one publisher and getting advances on each title and have a fair contract as well as a wonderful working relationship with your editor and company management. . .

    Oops, that’s right; we’re talking about e-publishers!

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  • I’m hung on a First-Refusal clause. My primary house gets first shot at anything over 20,000 words that fits their criteria.

    So, basically, they get first crack at most novellas and all novels, except that horror one with the conjoined lesbian twincest.

    On the next contract, my co-author and I are asking them to take that clause out, because we write faster than they edit. (we’re only allowed 3 pieces with our editor at any time)

    I have four publishers right now. I see it as spreading out some, alerting more people I’m out there.

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  • Well, Karen, I see you’re still giving the writing world hell.

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  • Well, Karen, I see you’re still giving the writing world hell.

    That’s what I live for. *g*

    Hey Emjai, long time no hear from! What’s happened with your writing?

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  • I think it’s a smart move, actually, to have your eggs in several baskets if you’re an author with a smaller press. Given the state of publishing these days, one never knows when things may take a turn for the worse. Even pubs that seem to be the most solid can and have taken dives in the past.

    To echo what Angela said, it also benefits the publisher, because when an author forms a readership, it draws those people to whatever press s/he might choose to associate with as well.

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  • “Hey Emjai, long time no hear! What’s happened with your writing?”

    Thanks for asking. Still trying to make that second sell. Been sending emails back and forth with a nice lady at Samhain.
    And yourself?

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  • I think it’s a smart move, actually, to have your eggs in several baskets if you’re an author with a smaller press.

    Actually, I’m rethinking this statement. In ePublishing especially your backlist is where the money comes from. I’ve come to the conclusion that when you spread that back list too far around, or spread it to the wrong places you are really risking your potential for increased sales.

    Some of my reasons:
    Readers won’t always shop the author, especially with eBooks, they also shop the publishing house. If they dislike the product at a certain publishing house enough(for any of a number of reasons – hate the cart, don’t have the right format, dislike the editing style), then it won’t matter about the author. And as far as I can see, yes, those reading eBooks DO shop the publisher, versus the b&m shop the writer experience. Until I started writing myself I didn’t give a crap WHO published the book, only the author who wrote it. My eBook buying does not run true to that same concept.

    If a reader likes a book they purchased at one house, where’s the first place they are going to look for more – that same house.

    I doubt I would see the royalties I do (and I’m not saying they are wonderful) if I was spread around 1/2 dozen houses. Now 1-3, that makes sense to me, esp when 2 of those are one of those considered a ‘major’ house. But spreading around more, esp when the more are even smaller sideline presses? The eggs in basket adage doesn’t ring true for me any longer.

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  • If they dislike the product at a certain publishing house enough(for any of a number of reasons – hate the cart, don’t have the right format, dislike the editing style), then it won’t matter about the author.

    Good point Anne. For instance, Changeling Press publish a couple of authors who I like, but I think the company sucks, so they wouldn’t get my money. The same with Phaze, and NCP.

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  • Looks like NCP would rather kill off the messengers than deal with their problem – oh and look, they’re abusing copyright law to do it:
    http://ellenashe.blogspot.com/2008/09/told-to-delete.html

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