Horrified Press Fiasco part 2: Electric Bugaloo

I better get all my Grinch out because Christmas is coming. I’m not really invested in the drama that surrounds Horrified Press, except for my love of seeing dumb people eat crow in public. I’m only writing this specifically about them because they were kind enough to mention me by name in their latest blog post. I’m not gonna clutch my pearls and pretend that I’m shocked they did that because lets face it, after Max Booth’s surprisingly even-handed criticism of their practices, there was bound to be some fallout. Horrified Press was criticized! This must not be!
Sane people respond to criticism with grace or at the very least, indifference. Sane people don’t claim they are being unfairly persecuted or that the reason they’re being criticized is because their competitors want to damage them. Essentially, there’s nothing for me to say regarding this debacle that isn’t already obvious. If you look at what Horrified Press is doing and think ”hey, these look like sane, professional individuals,” then more power to you. I’m sure you will never have anything to do with my own small press or me personally, since I’m part of the ”hate group” that exists to persecute poor old Horrified Press, who after all is doing this for the love and not for money. And that’s great! Best of luck to you and let me know how that works out.

I’ll take a moment here to point out that three or four months ago, Horrified Press wasn’t paying their authors anything. No royalties, no print copies, no digital copies. This is the publisher that has the gall to say today that they’re doing the best for their authors. Back then, their excuse was that first, they want to publish a lot of books and make a lot of money and become a huge publisher and then, out of the kindness of their heart, they would turn around and start paying their authors, old and new alike. After that flame war, they relented and claimed they were gonna start paying their authors royalties. Hidden somewhere in the fine print was ”after we’ve sold 150 copies of the book.”

Man, so many hurdles to pass in order to get paid! This is some Ulysses shit right here.

So, recently it was revealed that Horrified Press is not even providing digital contributor’s copies. If you have any kind of experience in this industry, you understand how crazy that sounds. It costs literally nothing to give your author a digital copy. You have to be a special kind of starry eyed idiot, not to publish with Horrified Press (we all make mistakes), but to actively support this decision. There’s exactly zero reasons this should happen. Nada. You are being used as a source of income. Like other, similar author mills, they’re banking on making their money out of you and your friends. If one of their anthologies has 15 authors in it and each one of them buys a print copy at even 10$, you have a tidy little sum right there and not only did you not spend any money, but your own authors paid you for the pleasure of being published.

What gets me about what Horrified Press is shilling, is their claim that the shit they choose to do is ”industry standard.” Almost as much as their claim that they’re ”doing it for the love.”

What the fuck do you think the rest of us are doing it for? Hookers and blow? We just have the decency to not rip off the people we’re supposed to be supporting. There is absolutely a way to pay your authors, give them copies of their work and generally not be an asshole. It’s called ”running a business.” You look at your costs, you look at your budget and you decide if and how you can make it happen. If you can’t, you don’t. The solution isn’t to let someone else shoulder the costs.

When I was planning the American Nightmare anthology, I was talking with Max about how many authors I was going to be including. Max said ”keep in mind you have to send out copies to the authors, that stuff adds up.” My mind was blown. I have to send them copies? All of a sudden, I was looking at another 100-150$ of costs for the anthology. You do the math again and you decide. I figured I could afford to do it, so I did. It really is as simple as that. To pretend that ”oh gosh, by golly, I wish I could give my authors copies” is some grade A bullshit.

I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, because industry professionals don’t need me to tell them what is and what isn’t a scam. They can smell them from a mile away. Two seconds into ”we don’t provide contributor copies because we want our authors to make more money,” their eyes aren’t just rolling, they’re doing backflips and handstands. They also don’t particularly care, because publishers like Horrified Press have always been around. New writers fall in their trap, but as long as they don’t go all Stockholm Syndrome, they usually get out of it right quick. All is as it should be.

Merry Christmas!



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