What's Up With Chronicle Books?

This is just disgusting.

Read about this on the Absolute Write Bewares and Backgrounds forum and got my Irish (all right, Polish) up.

You can read Victoria Strauss' take on it here. The original article is here.

For those who don't feel like clicking on the links ;-), Chronicle Books, a commercial publisher, is teaming up with an outfit called Blurb (a self-publishing service). The bad thing for writers? Chronicle and Blurb have decided on what they call is a "mutual referral deal." Chronicle will funnel rejected writers to Blurb. If those writers purchase Blurb's services, Blurb pays Chronicle an undisclosed cut of the revenue.

Hunh? What's that you say? Conflict of interest? Yup. Even worse, this sounds like Kickback City to me. I mean, WTF is up with that?

Let's start with the conflict of interest part. When Chronicle is interested in a book, they'll offer a contract to said author; nothing wrong with that. Except Chronicle doesn't see any money until the book is on sale (after spending months on editing, marketing, etc.). What better thing to do than to reject an author, and push him or her over to something Chronicle has recommended? How can an author possibly trust a publisher like that? Victoria points out on the Writer Beware blog link above that the notorious Edit Ink pulled the same sort of crap.

Sorry, but this is just rotten. Writers get taken in by enough scam outfits like Publish America (that pretends to be a publisher) and places like Edit Ink (that pretended to be an editing outfit) without having to deal with more crap like this.

If Chronicle just came back to those they rejected and said, "You might want to try an editing service," without mentioning anybody, that I could accept (and I wouldn't expect Chronicle or any publisher to point me to anyone specific; that's what research is for).

As for the other? Well, Victoria said it quite succinctly on the Writer Beware blog:
Chronicle's referrals to Blurb will come with the weight and reputation of an established commercial publisher behind them. A reputable publisher won't tell you to do something that's not in your best interest, right? It's likely, therefore, that authors will take the recommendation seriously. This is bad enough for books that aren't publishable. But what about the books that don't fit Chronicle's list, but might be a good match for another reputable publisher? What if those books get sidelined into Blurb? Again, Chronicle will not be doing authors any favors.
Exactly. Chronicle should just stick to rejecting authors that don't fit their list. Period. If writers want to go the self publishing route...let them (the writers) do their own research and decide for themselves if they want to spend any dough.

Bad, very bad. Cross Chronicle Books off your list, unless they rescind this horrible idea.

~Nancy Beck


Angie said...

Saw her post on that [nod] and agree that it's completely out of line. :/ That kind of a set-up calls every aspect of their business dealings into question and in my opinion trashes their reputation completely. You really have to wonder what they were thinking.


~Nancy said...

Maybe their sales are down for the past year or something. But if that's true, why would they consider anything remotely like this? It just doesn't make any sense.

Joseph Ternes said...

The information in the Newsweek article was incorrect. Chronicle Books will not receive a referral fee for recommending Blurb.com to aspiring authors or artists.

Just as from time to time our editors refer authors or artists to other trade houses, Blurb.com presents another option if they consider it an appropriate choice. This option will not be part of our response to every author submissions. There are many self-publishing options in the marketplace, though far fewer for illustrated book authors and artists. As an independent illustrated book publisher in San Francisco, Chronicle Books felt an affinity for the locally based Blurb.com and the quality of the product it is offering the public.

Chronicle Books

~Nancy said...

Mr. Ternes,

Thanks for clearing that up.