Why I Love My Publisher, Jigsaw Press

The following is a recent post Jigsaw Press’s CEO (also my editor) made to a publisher’s listserv when the subject of contracts, bankruptcies, and authors losing their rights came up. You gotta love the rationale. I sure do.

To my way of thinking, these contracts between writers and publishers exist for a number of reasons, none of them very brilliant or inspiring when you really look at the issue. I’m going to be blunt here.

Contracts exist:
1. To protect the author from being screwed.
2. To protect the publisher from being screwed.
3. To enrich lawyers, beginning with that first one way back who saw an opportunity to capitalize on distrust between two parties and suggested they put their agreement on paper.
4. To give the bankruptcy court an “asset” to “grab” on behalf of creditors.
5. To ensure timely payment of royalties.
6. To keep an author from jumping ship.

There are more less than stellar reasons, I’m sure, but do any of you see one item in the above list that implies trust or engenders loyalty? I don’t. In fact, quite the opposite. The proliferation of contracts, their increasing complexity in hope of covering “all the bases” is simply more evidence of a society crumbling into ruin. We are only as good as our signatures on paper. Our word, our characters, mean nothing any more.

A dispute over a contract right out of the gate when I started my business forced me to give this issue some serious thought. I personally do not want to work with anyone who thinks that I, as a publisher, am going to screw them, nor do I want to work with people who aren’t good for their word. A person who demands a contract can just take it down the road as far as I and my business are concerned. Because of my personal belief that God, no matter who you think he (even she) is or isn’t, sees every single thing I do, I wouldn’t take a dime, nay, a penny not belonging to me. A billion dollars isn’t worth pissing off the Creator of the Cosmos. Not to me anyway.

Everything about my deal with an author is outlined in a virtual handshake of an email. My authors are absolutely free to take their books and leave, anytime they want. I don’t charge them a dime, for my work in editing and designing their books, nor do I charge them for print set-ups or copyright fees or any other thing. I also don’t pay advances. And do you know what is happening now that I decided to pursue this course? Loyalty is happening. Trust is happening. I do pick my authors carefully, generally based on how receptive they are to editing, and sure, I expect one or two to run off perhaps after all the work is done, but that hasn’t happened yet. And that will be the particular author’s karma, not mine, if it should.

Now, if I go belly-up and close my doors, the authors aren’t out because they haven’t signed away anything, there’s nothing for any unscrupulous lawyer or court to grab outside of my business checking account, and I have no intentions of selling out, so there you go.

To my way of thinking, the ideal contract is no contract at all. And if I should get sued on behalf of an author for plagiarism or outright libel, that’s my fault for not vetting the work properly to begin with. If that’s the case, I will stand up and take responsibility, not try to shift it to someone else because “it’s in the contract.”

Mari
editor-Jigsaw Press
http://www.jigsawpress.com

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