Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dorchester blues & book giveaway

The upheavals at Dorchester Publishing have been hogging the publishing news of late. I happen to have a vested interest in the clamour since they're the publishers of my debut novel, Café au Lait. I know that publishing houses exist to make money for themselves. I know that the bottom line rules, but even so the very public evisceration of the house hurts a bit. Being contrary by nature, I'm going to push back against all the negative karma out there by taking a look at what, historically, have been the positive aspects of the house.
  • Dorchester has managed to remain independent in a climate where the massive, monolithic houses have been gobbling up smaller houses and imprints in what seemed at times a feeding frenzy. Dorch deserves kudos for retaining its independence to the very end - if indeed the end is what we see looming.
  • Authors who have worked with Dorch have nothing but the highest regard for their editors. There are authors right now who, along with their dire concerns about their books, are riven with worry over the fate of their editors and other staff at the house. For this close bond to exist between the authors and the staff, Dorch must have been doing something right. It's telling that there are authors there who swear they will follow their editors to whichever house grabs them up.
  • Their art department rocks. Dorchester covers are usually well executed and I've heard author after author enthuse about them.
  • They sell good products. From what I've been able garner across the 'net, they publish great stories in the romance, horror and western genres. That's the simple magic behind their long-term success.
  • Finally, they routinely take risks on new authors. Many traditional houses don't, or at least not to the same degree. I've lost count of the well known, bestselling authors who are where they are today partly because when they were brand new in the business, Dorch read their stories, liked them and invested in them.
There's talk out there that Leisure (Dorchester) titles will soon become collector's items. This is your chance to win what might very well become such a prize some day soon. (Are you laughing? I'm serious! :)) I'm giving away a copy of Café au Lait and anyone who leaves a comment on this post or on the feed on Facebook will be entered in the draw. Even if you're not into romance novels I believe you'll enjoy the virtual Caribbean escape. Good luck, readers, and good luck, Dorch!


KeVin K. said...

Bought my copy of Cafe Ole years ago. Haven't reviewed it on my Live Journal because, like you, I'm a bit leery of reviewing books by friends.

Brava Dorchester for taking chances on new writers. Few houses do. And those that do run the risk of suffering fates similar to Dorch: Their top authors move on to houses that can afford to pay more money, their books do not get the same exposure and support from the big-box bookstores, etc.

The good news is there are always editors and publishers out there trying to make their own mark in the literary world and know discovering new writers is the best way to do that.

Lexy Harper said...

Hi Liane,

Please continue to stay positive. I sincerely hope that things turn out for the best. Debut novels are our babies. I can understand perfectly how you feel about Cáfe au Lait. My debut novel is so precious to me it may never see the publishing light of day because I couldn’t bear for anyone to criticize it. It would be like someone telling me my child was ugly, even if said child had a face that only a mother could love.

I intend to buy the Kindle version of Cáfe au Lait as soon as I've finished re-editing my novel, Soca Nights, which will be out at the end of the month—if I can stop messing around. It’s set in London and Barbados and I've hesitated to read your book before I’ve finished editing it. I suspect mine will pale in comparison; I follow your blogs and am in awe of your writing.

I will buy the eBook, so don’t enter me in the draw. I simply wanted to let you know that I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. Your grace in the face of upheaval is admirable.

Lexy xxxx

Jewel Amethyst said...

Like you Liane, both my debut novel and my novella were published by Dorchester. I am happy they took a chance on me and was surprised to see my books were distributed to all major book stores, even to Walmart and some supermarket book sections.

But the anxiety re the fate of the books still dwells, especially as I have just gotten bookstores in my home country St. Kitts to carry them.

I wish they would at least communicate with the authors to relieve some of the angst about the future of their books.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do not have a copy of this so would be happy to be entered into the drawing. It's a shame that a publisher who did take risks on newer authors isn't doing better. The whole mainstream publishing field seems to be retrenching. It's worrisome for us all.

Farrah Rochon said...

Liane, in the midst of all the bad, it is very important to remember the good. Thanks for reminding me. Dorchester has given so many authors a chance (myself included), and deserve kudos for continuing to survive. I do hope they can survive this, for both authors' and readers' sakes.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Great post, Liane. And very well said. :)

Unknown said...

I wish you the best, I truly do. My story is similar to yours. I signed with DP in April to publish my first thriller. I was promised half my advance upon signing, but was never paid as of early September. After several consultations with established DP authors, agents I know, and other folks in the know, I terminated my contract last week. (I loved my book cover, by the way.) It's every authors dream to get that first deal, and I got it. But it's with much regret that I walked away because I don't have faith in the company's ability to pay, and that is important. I hope to land somewhere else, but there are no guarantees. I'm certainly in a better position than I was before signing -- I've got three established authors praising the book, etc. But again, no guarantees. I do wish you the best with your book.

Lynn Emery said...

Enter me, Liane! I like your positive POV.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Great post, Liane! Like you, I try to think about the good side.

I already have - and loved - your book!

Liane Spicer said...

KeVin, yes, there will always be opportunities for new writers. I've seen several Dorch alumni say that being published there worked like an internship before they went on to the real thing.

Lexy Harper, thank you for your very kind words of encouragement. I hope you enjoy Cáfe, and I wish you all the best with Soca Nights. I'm looking forward to reading it; I would love to find more books that combine international and Caribbean settings!

Jewel, it was indeed exciting to see the great distribution at work for my first novel. One particular bookstore here in Trinidad has been very supportive and has ordered my book repeatedly, as well as marketed it to the libraries and ordered it on their behalf. Their last order was in June just before Dorch froze everything. I have no idea what will happen with future orders and that not knowing is tough.

Charles, thank you for entering the draw. The state of the industry is indeed worrisome. I was getting too caught up in the anxiety so I'm trying to focus on writing for its own sake again, and am succeeding to some extent.

Farrah, I too hope the house finds a way to transform itself and survive these challenging times.

Liane Spicer said...

Elizabeth, thank you. As a Dorch author yourself you understand how important it is not let the negativity get to you.

Matthew, thank you. My heart goes out to the debut authors whose books got blindsided by the Dorch fiasco. Many of them can't get out of their contracts and have no idea what is going to happen to their books. I think you did the right thing. I wish you all the best too, and I hope your thriller finds a new home soon!

Lynn, your name goes in the box! Thank you for entering.

Phyllis, we've got to believe in silver linings and new doors opening when others close. Glad you enjoyed CaL!

Shauna Roberts said...

You don't need to enter me in your drawing because I already have your book.

I've always been impressed with Dorchester's willingness to take on a good book even if it's not what is currently popular. Several of my favorite authors got their start at Dorchester, often with books that were too offbeat for other houses.

I'm still hoping that Dorchester can find a way out of this mess and become a paper publisher again soon.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I forgot...enter me in the drawiing. I would love a copy of your book.

Alexandra said...

I hope DP get over their troubles, because it is so good to see a publishing house taking chances on authors, even though it's such a big gamble for them.
I hope that they can co back to publishing paper again, as well as e-books. And that they find a way to communicate better with their authors.
All the best for you and your book :)

Liane Spicer said...

Shauna, we're all hoping Dorchester can find a way to come out of this even better than they were before.

Jewel, will do!

Alexandra, 'they' say paper books will go the way of the horse and buggy. I certainly hope this doesn't come to pass. You've put your finger right on the crux of the Dorchester issues.

Liane Spicer said...

And the winner of the giveaway is... Lynn Emery! Congratulations, Lynn! I'll e-mail you shortly. Enjoy the read!

To those of you who already have a copy of CaL, thank you! I don't have all of your books yet, but I'm getting there!