Tag Archives: Hobbes

Writing: Bitter Writer?

Back in September I wrote the blog Writing: Things to Watch Out For https://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=445 On my other blog I received a letter titled “Bitter Writer Syndrome” a while back but didn’t get time to comment until now. Well, I pissed off Mr. Hobbes, and he was correct in that I presumed he was the head of Hobbes End Publishing, but at the time when I did research through the internet I didn’t find that information. Hobbes End website now mentions that Jairus Reddy is the publisher. http://hobbesendpublishing.com/index.html

So let’s look at Mr. Hobbes’ comments. (I have posted his full letter at the end so I can’t be accused of unfavorable editing.) “Being paid for one’s writing (rare in the industry) is not prostitution, but professionalism.” It is a matter of perspective and really we can all say we prostitute ourselves whenever we sell something for money, whether our services or our art. Of course what I meant was, selling oneself too cheaply. And yes, new writers do need to start somewhere and $100 is decent for 1,500 words but not for 30,000. Being paid for one’s writing is not rare in the industry. Book publishers, respectable book publishers, do it all the time. Just ask Random House, Bantam, Tor, Baen or any of the big name speculative publishers (or mainstream too).

Then he says: “The reason publishers ask for all rights is something that might be above your understanding.” It’s very well within my understanding and what Mr. Hobbes does not know is that in fact respectable publishers, as the ones named above do not take all rights. In fact, you can look at many smaller publishers such as Edge Publishing, Bundoran Press, Nightshade Books, etc. and none of them take all rights. I think it is he who is under the veil of misunderstanding.

Next he comments that the anthology he is editing “will also be highly publicized and promoted, which I can say most publishers don’t do. Many thousands of dollars will be spent doing so. Also, since you have not read our contract, you wouldn’t know what offers we are making towards secondary rights.” Any publisher who wants to stay in business promotes. But let’s look at Mr. Hobbes’ (along with authors Benoit and Palmer) first book Exiles in Time: The Contrived Senator. I did a google search of his name and the two titles for the book. I found the publisher’s website and of course the book listed on various online bookselling sites, such as Amazon. Granted that advertising also means ads in magazines, other print formats and local areas, I can’t know how much the publisher has put into this book. But of the four reviews on Amazon for the book, two were by the Reddys, owners of Hobbes End. I could find no review anywhere else and certainly not on any of the normal SF review sites. So uh, highly publicized? I also have to wonder what could possibly be their “secondary rights” after they’ve taken all of the rights. That’s a mystery that Mr. Hobbes didn’t elucidate.

“You mention, over and over again, magazines. However, this is not a magazine. This is for a novel.” That’s even sadder, taking all rights on a 30,000 word story as opposed to a 200 word article, not that one is better than the other. And I did, in my post, talk about publishers of magazines and books, who really don’t take all rights except for a few exceptions. He also says: “The financial risk is to the publisher—the opportunity is to the writer. Unlike a magazine, which is taken off the shelves monthly, this one will stay in publication indefinitely.” Except the writer also has a financial risk in trying to sell their work and get paid what they’re worth. And Mr. Hobbes is wrong. Books in chain stores also get taken off the shelves monthly or even after two weeks. Places like Chapters will keep a small smattering of some titles. Privately owned bookstores will keep books longer on the shelves and likewise for magazines that may not be monthly; some of them will keep these till they sell them all. It varies. The only guarantee is to have your book on Amazon, listed with thousands of others, whether self-published, small press published or major book published.

Mr. Hobbes added: “However, I have seven more [books] coming out next year, three of which are through major publishers.” I did a search and have found nothing listed but I no longer get the sneak previews into the upcoming  lists as I did when I was a book buyer. However, nothing is listed except the co-authored books on the Hobbes End site. I’ve found no other info. I have no idea what the quality of the writing is in these books or where else he’ll be published. Eventually, I’m sure we’ll see the lists and it’s up to each person what they think of a story. That is very prolific and Mr. Hobbes should be congratulated on completing three books plus the co-authoring of the others (which he didn’t mention they were co-authored).

He ends with a good thrust: “It sounds as if you suffer from ‘Bitter Writer Syndrome’. It happens to the best of writers who don’t seem to understand the risks publishers take to make it in the industry. Blaming publishers for not paying them ‘what they are worth’ is curable. If you want to ‘make it’ in this industry, I suggest you research before you post such nonsense.”

 Bitter writer? Nah. I’ve published enough and work on my novel. I’m about where my energies have taken me. And I’m afraid I understand the industry much better than Mr. Hobbes does and I know that buying all rights is not the norm nor fair. Buying all rights in perpetuity for a hundred bucks is not something I would ever do, even if I was selling my first piece. And over the years of selling pieces I have been careful not to sell to such rights. It’s one reason I pulled my poem from Sotto Voce, because I could not agree to their selection of rights.

As I said before, each person must make their own decision on what to give away and what to sell, and for how much. I do apologize to Mr. Hobbes for saying he owned the company but I would also suggest that perhaps he was just a bit bitter himself about my comments. And in reality, it all boils down to taking all rights which I caution writers to think more than twice about before they do it. But I don’t think I’ll be submitting to Hobbes End, not that they’d buy anything from me now anyways. 🙂

Bitter Writer Syndrome?

In response to your blog, “Things to Watch out for”—

You begin by stating that $100.00 is not a fair price. Everyone who has submitted thus far has had no issue with making money for their writing. Few writers do, and the intent with this project is to help out first time authors. Being paid for one’s writing (rare in the industry) is not prostitution, but professionalism.

The ad is clear and any writer who has a problem with ‘all rights’ is welcome to not submit. The reason publishers ask for all rights is something that might be above your understanding. The financial burden taken on by publishers is insane. Editors, printing, distribution and promotions add up. A writer is always welcome to self-publish if he or she worries about such things.

Each of our writers for this anthology will receive credit for their work. They will also be highly publicized and promoted, which I can say most publishers don’t do. Many thousands of dollars will be spent doing so. Also, since you have not read our contract, you wouldn’t know what offers we are making towards secondary rights.

Hobbes End Publishing is not a new publishing company. And your comment about ‘pros not submitting’ is uncalled for, since the point of this project is not for the pros, but for new writers.

You mention, over and over again, magazines. However, this is not a magazine. This is for a novel. It will receive major distribution and advertising. This will not only give authors opportunity to break into the industry, but give them the chance that other publishers, and magazines, don’t allow. The financial risk is to the publisher—the opportunity is to the writer. Unlike a magazine, which is taken off the shelves monthly, this one will stay in publication indefinitely.

What you should be complaining about are the publishers who make writer’s pay for their work to be published.

I have had one novel published by Hobbes End Publishing, you are correct. However, I have seven more coming out next year, three of which are through major publishers.

Also, make sure to check your facts. I have no ties to Hobbes End Publishing, with the exception of writing for them. I am not an owner and in no way control their agreements amongst writers. Please check your facts before stating what you do not know about. The company was simply named after a story I wrote.

It sounds as if you suffer from ‘Bitter Writer Syndrome’. It happens to the best of writers who don’t seem to understand the risks publishers take to make it in the industry. Blaming publishers for not paying them ‘what they are worth’ is curable.

If you want to ‘make it’ in this industry, I suggest you research before you post such nonsense.

Sincerely,
Vincent Hobbes

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Writing: Things to Watch Out For

Below is listed an ad, which was reposted to a writer’s list I’m on. Markets like this disturb me for several reasons. Albeit many short story markets only pay about $100 these days (some pay more and some less), but to actually pay only $100 for a 30,000 word story amounts to highway robbery on the publisher’s part. One cent a word for that length would equal $300. You do the math on just how little you’re getting paid. Of course, if you write the low end 1,500 word story you’ll get about .07 a word.

Article writers get paid on average between .75 and $1.25 a word. SFWA says that professional rates for speculative fiction should be at least .05 a word. That would be $1,500. Now I’ve sometimes sent my stories to places that pay .03 cents or so. I’m still a fairly no name writer and there are many many writers out there. But there comes a point when you have to figure out what you’ll prostitute yourself for, and I won’t sell myself as cheap as below.

That low payment could fall into acceptable but what really gets me is that this publisher is asking for all rights. I don’t know if this includes moral rights and I’ve talked about how that is the last right anyone should ever give up, but even so, they want all rights. For $100. Wow. That’s not just first anthology rights or first electronic print rights, or first North American rights. That’s all rights. Which means you can never sell your story again, never get more money to make up for the measly hundred bucks these guys gave you to steal all your rights. You pretty much don’t own your story anymore.

If you work for a company and write on their dime, they in essence own all rights. However you still have moral rights in that you are credited with the work, unless you sign those away. Considering the big grab that these guys are doing, I wouldn’t put it past them to take moral rights too. And all rights means that they could turn your piece into a film and you wouldn’t get a penny, or they could hack it up to read like drek and you’d have no say.

Now sometimes these things are worded badly because new publishers don’t understand which rights they should ask for. But I find that the statements about “if you’re a new writer” tell me they know pros will not submit to such a place. As well, they do warn you that if you aren’t happy with all rights being taken, then don’t submit. There are other huge media magazines that buy all rights. The Cricket (Carus publishing) and related childrens’ magazines are one. However, they tend to pay more and I don’t really submit to them either.

The problem with all of this is that you get magazines and publishers who often say, we can’t pay you anything. We do it for love and you have the privilege of getting your work published. However, the flip side is that they have the privilege of publishing your work and without writers they would have no magazine. If they find writing of worth, then they should pay what they think it’s worth. I think it’s okay for a new magazine to start small, not pay much but aspire to hoping to pay more for stories as they grow. I understand that people want to put out magazines and with the internet it’s much easier, but everyone who can should be paying for the work. I too want to start a magazine one day but I won’t do it until I know I can pay at least .03 a word to start. I don’t want to dishonor writers, of which I’m one.

Writers are always the last to be paid, the ones that are often stinted in how much they get as well. Opulence magazine for which I wrote some articles, did the same thing; ripping off their writers and not paying them for years while the fat cats at the helm got glossier cars and homes. I’ve written about Opulence elsewhere. Of course individual magazines have to either get grants or raise funds through subscriptions and advertising. Still, writers should not be the ones that get less because all the other costs are more.

Oh and Vincent Hobbes, the novelist? Well, it seems the only writing he has done has been published by Hobbes End (one book) and there is very little information on this publisher. So Vincent published his own work and made a company. That makes me doubly cautious. But each person has their own brain. It’s up to every writer just how little they think their work is worth. Of course, if I said each of my stories was worth a million bucks, and that’s all I’d accept, I’d still be waiting to publish my first piece.

Novelist Vincent Hobbes is seeking short stories for an upcoming project which will feature a compilation of strange and bizarre stories. His publisher is currently accepting submissions from any author interested in
having his or her work published in a novel.

Manuscripts being accepted will include anything from the following fiction genres:
Horror
Supernatural
Science-fiction
Fantasy
Psychological thriller
Mystery

Requirements: Word count may be anything from 1,500-30,000 words. We are seeking stories that are original and not previously published. Interesting storylines with a preferable twist at the end to captivate the reader is desired. Think Twilight Zone. All stories must be tasteful-not overly gory, no inappropriate sex scenes, or an over use of profanity.

All submissions must adhere to the following guidelines:
Single-spaced 12-point font, Times New Roman Cover sheet must be included with all proper contact information

Whether you are a new author seeking to promote yourself, or simply someone who wants your family and friends to read your story
in a published and widely distributed piece of literature, this is a rare opportunity to have your name and story published.

You may submit your story via mail or electronically. Details are as follows:

If mailed, send copy to:
Hobbes End Publishing, LLC

If sent electronically, send to:
publisher@hobbesendpublishing.com
Attn: Short Story Submission (subject line)

Deadline is October 1st, 2008

Terms: Full rights, both printing and media, will be purchased outright for $100.00 per story. Therefore, it will be un-publishable elsewhere without express permission from the publisher. Any author who does not agree to such terms, please do not submit your work for this project. Also, the best story will receive a bonus from the publisher.

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