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Flight of the Tarantula Hawk
by Michael Allan Scott

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Kindle Edition published 2014-02-10
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On the IndieReader Best Book list and featured on NBC's Daytime Show, the second book in the Lance Underphal Mystery series is part of a new breed of supernatural thrillers which can be read and enjoyed in any order. Dark, different, featuring a damaged psychic, this is one of those disturbing novels that keeps you guessing.

Download the sample or use the "Look inside" feature for a FREE E-book offer.

Supernatural Murder Mystery - Realtor Carla Simon has her first showing in nearly eighteen months. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she arrives at the bank-owned foreclosure well ahead of her prospect. When her buyer pins her against the wall, it turns out to be the last house she'll ever show.

Looking for a new breed of supernatural thrillers? Paranormal mysteries of murder and suspense? Perhaps a psychic detective series which can be read and enjoyed in any order? Or maybe one of t...

Author Topic: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan  (Read 9747 times)  

Offline MattHaggis

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #50 on: June 07, 2017, 01:04:25 PM »
Some of the responses in this thread are another example why some successful authors no longer post here.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #51 on: June 07, 2017, 01:44:11 PM »
Some of the responses in this thread are another example why some successful authors no longer post here.

I'm not sure this thread is a pure example of that dynamic, as the past situation with the failed press seems to have tainted both Robin's and Michael's reputations, in the minds of some.

More generally ... not referring to anything in this thread, but using it as a vehicle to say something that's been on my mind for a while ... I'm glad there are so many successful authors who are willing to endure arguing, ignoring, or upset from a few in order help a much larger number of people who are respectful and appreciative, and who really want and need the help. The fact is, one never gets a 100% homogeneous audience in a public setting, so those looking for a universally ideal response to their attempts to help will always be disappointed. If you want to help, you have to do it despite the inevitable irritations. I understand why many people choose to avoid all irritants -- time and emotional energy are precious, etc. -- but it's wonderful that quite a few successful authors are willing to work through the annoyances and continue to help others here. Y'all know who you are. Thank you.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #52 on: June 07, 2017, 06:41:51 PM »
S&S wanted to buy ebook and print rights from me. I told them it would be at least 2 mil up front.

Out of curiosity, how did you arrive at the $2m figure for print and ebooks? What royalties would you have been trying to wrangle after the initial lump sum?

And for the record, I think Michael did have some tonal inconsistencies that brought folks out of the woodwork to say that it was unprofessional, or ungrateful, or out of touch. Saying that it "hurts" to lose $200k out of a $400k deal makes it real difficult for 99 percenters to relate. I think he could've used his words better in places.

I'm still grateful to him for his transparency, both now and going back many years. He's been a real good egg for our community.

Offline Maia Sepp

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #53 on: June 07, 2017, 08:09:56 PM »
Yep. Helpful and transparent. I don't understand the purpose of dissing people like Michael who were among the first to share information and empower authors. I'll add that just because you earn good money, that doesn't mean you somehow don't "deserve" more because you have enough. That's not really a businesslike attitude. 

Agreed. That's the level he's at, and he's transparent enough to actually state the numbers he's dealing with. I don't know anyone who'd leave $200k on the table, regardless of their current income level.

If you don't go into negotiations with a publisher knowing what you are worth and what rights you are and are not willing to part with (and a price in mind for those rights), I think you are going in to get fleeced, sorry.  What Michael did is good business. He knew what his rights are worth, he knew what he was and wasn't willing to sell, and when the time came, he walked away rather than giving up more for less.

S&S wanted to buy ebook and print rights from me. I told them it would be at least 2 mil up front. We negotiated for the print rights after that, since they were far less valuable to me in terms of what I could earn over a 5-10 year period.  I probably could have sold the ebook rights also for money that people in this thread would die to see apparently, but I didn't... because it would have been bad business on my part.  I knew my number, based on previous sales and projected sales, and I stuck with it.  Michael is doing the same. He knows what his stuff is worth. The money amount doesn't matter... his audio is worth more to him than publishers are willing to pay for it and that's what matters. So he made the smart business decision that worked for him.  I'm glad he was willing to share the why and how of it with real numbers. That kind of information is golden for people who might find themselves in a similar position someday and wondering "is this worth it" etc.

Totally agree.

Offline Maia Sepp

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #54 on: June 07, 2017, 08:10:28 PM »
Some of the responses in this thread are another example why some successful authors no longer post here.

+1

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #55 on: June 07, 2017, 10:24:16 PM »
First off, I don't know the OP, but I wish him all the luck in the world and hope everything works out for the best.

Quote
The amount is NOT the issue...

Respectfully...the amount is the only issue.

It's business, so unless one is running a charity or philanthropic organization, it's always about the money, both now, and in the future. If the offer is "reasonable" based upon expected future earnings over a "reasonable" time frame, then the time value of money kicks in and says take the deal. Yes, you might make more in the long run, but you might make less. It's a gamble. You conduct a cost/benefit analysis and project likely, best and worse case scenarios. Furthermore, opportunity costs in the form of lost future synergies needs to be accounted for, not only for this product line, but for the overall brand in general, which includes future product lines and sales opportunities for all products (ebook, print, audio, foreign rights, film, etc), for the potential life of the contract.

The evaluation should be resolved by math and probabilities, not by emotions or stands on principle.

To that end, the OP appears to have omitted significant data from the discussion. On the face of things, considering the big picture, it looked like a reasonable deal if not optimal, especially since Audible only pays 40% and he turned down 50%. But, perhaps he earns more through direct retailing, I don't know. And, at the end of the day, that's our collective problem about analyzing the OP's post, we don't have enough information to make a positive/negative determination, mainly because we don't know what his actual goals are. So again, as far as the audio rights go, the amount of the deal is the only issue, unless the audio conundrum is an excuse to remedy a different contractual concern.

I think the take away from this is that each of us has to make a determination of what deal is best for us, not for the community at large or what any other writer would do. Go with what works best for you. For example, a [crap] deal might be great, if it's enough to quit your day job and get you writing full time. We all have short term and long term goals, and they have their own unique requirements, which, are not only going to be different for each of us, they're going to be different throughout our careers too.

Again, I have no idea whether or not this was a good or bad deal, but I do hope he has made the best choice for his current and future business goals.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #56 on: June 07, 2017, 11:33:19 PM »
Out of curiosity, how did you arrive at the $2m figure for print and ebooks? What royalties would you have been trying to wrangle after the initial lump sum?

And for the record, I think Michael did have some tonal inconsistencies that brought folks out of the woodwork to say that it was unprofessional, or ungrateful, or out of touch. Saying that it "hurts" to lose $200k out of a $400k deal makes it real difficult for 99 percenters to relate. I think he could've used his words better in places.

I'm still grateful to him for his transparency, both now and going back many years. He's been a real good egg for our community.

Royalties are pretty fixed in the trad world. I get 8% on my paperbacks and 10% on hard cover, if the advance ever earns out, which is likely won't (a lot of advances never earn out, one reason why it is important to get a good one since that might be all the money you ever see). Ebook royalties would have been about 17.5%.  I arrived at the 2 mil figure because those books have already earned me over 800k in less than 3 years, so giving up all the rights to them (especially the ebook rights, which are where most of that money comes from) for 10+ years most likely (since it's unlikely the rights would revert inside that time), the money up front to me would have to be worth the loss of potential earnings on my own.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2017, 03:14:08 AM »
If you don't go into negotiations with a publisher knowing what you are worth and what rights you are and are not willing to part with (and a price in mind for those rights), I think you are going in to get fleeced, sorry.  What Michael did is good business. He knew what his rights are worth, he knew what he was and wasn't willing to sell, and when the time came, he walked away rather than giving up more for less.

S&S wanted to buy ebook and print rights from me. I told them it would be at least 2 mil up front. We negotiated for the print rights after that, since they were far less valuable to me in terms of what I could earn over a 5-10 year period.  I probably could have sold the ebook rights also for money that people in this thread would die to see apparently, but I didn't... because it would have been bad business on my part.  I knew my number, based on previous sales and projected sales, and I stuck with it.  Michael is doing the same. He knows what his stuff is worth. The money amount doesn't matter... his audio is worth more to him than publishers are willing to pay for it and that's what matters. So he made the smart business decision that worked for him.  I'm glad he was willing to share the why and how of it with real numbers. That kind of information is golden for people who might find themselves in a similar position someday and wondering "is this worth it" etc.

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Offline MattHaggis

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2017, 03:56:32 AM »
To that end, the OP appears to have omitted significant data from the discussion. On the face of things, considering the big picture, it looked like a reasonable deal if not optimal, especially since Audible only pays 40% and he turned down 50%.

ACX pays 40%, Audible Studios pays 15% to authors who sign direct, I'm not sure what Audible pays to other audiobook producers. Michael did not turn down 50%, he turned down 50% of what his publisher would have received, after the audiobook producer they signed took their cut of what was given to them by retailers. That is the main issue he had: the publisher takes 50% for merely signing a contract with an audiobook producer.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #59 on: June 08, 2017, 04:20:19 AM »
Thanks for sharing, Annie!

ACX pays 40%, Audible Studios pays 15% to authors who sign direct, I'm not sure what Audible pays to other audiobook producers. Michael did not turn down 50%, he turned down 50% of what his publisher would have received, after the audiobook producer they signed took their cut of what was given to them by retailers. That is the main issue he had: the publisher takes 50% for merely signing a contract with an audiobook producer.

That was how I read it too. I can't fathom that he was getting 50% of the gross out of a publisher and came to view it as some kind of a raw deal.

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #60 on: June 08, 2017, 04:29:43 AM »
First off, I don't know the OP, but I wish him all the luck in the world and hope everything works out for the best.

Respectfully...the amount is the only issue.


Did you read my post? My comment is that the amount is not the issue that other people should focus on when calling him stupid, greedy, ______. That is no one's business. What someone receives for the product THEY produce that DIRECTLY produces all the income is never anyone's business. And if the 99% want to get their backs up and think someone is whatever for turning down a crap contract, then they might find themselves in the 99% forever.

If a publisher is making, let's just say, 5 mil off an author's book, how much should that author receive? 60k? Because that's reasonable and no one needs more than that? Again, the percentage of the profit that the author receives is the issue. I personally think the artist should always receive the most and if NY changed their business model, authors could.

Also, you don't know what Audible pays, but no one I know is getting 40%. It's less. And that 50% is 50% OF the 40% you think the publisher is getting. So much, much less.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 04:32:36 AM by Jana DeLeon »
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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #61 on: June 08, 2017, 04:34:57 AM »
Some of the responses in this thread are another example why some successful authors no longer post here.

You are exactly right. When people have worked their butts off to reach a certain level, people telling them they have no right to ask for the money they've earned are a huge reason successful people leave. I'm tired of hearing I don't need more. Everyone is supposed to be running a business and all business deal should maximize bottom line. Anything else is amateur hour.
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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #62 on: June 08, 2017, 07:17:34 AM »
That is not at all what those of us who objected said. I never said he didn't deserve the money. I was trying to say there is no "evil publisher" here and "white knight indie."

And yeah, long memory here, character matters. I hold 2 things to be irrevocable flaws:  plaigarizing someone or keeping money rightfully owed to authors.

The amount of money someone makes doesn't make me suddenly think they are amazing, wonderful, smart or clever. Are any of us lining up to take advice from (insert megasellling book here that collectively people think is crap)?. No. The idea of 'well that's a lot of money so it must be okay" gets us a ton of really shady business practices in our peers.

I am so tired of oh the big people don't post anymore... Plenty of talented and caring people still post on Kboards, and evey time that's whined about people are being rather rude to those still here. The reality is a lot of fortunes in this business are made by screwing others over or breaking rules or laws because someone doesn't get caught.

And yeah going back yesterday and rereading what happened with Rirdan press and Ann Crispin.... I am just galled people are sitting here acting like it was mean old kboads that made the Sullivans stop posting.


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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #63 on: June 08, 2017, 09:01:40 AM »
https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/6f1v96/why_del_rey_and_i_will_be_parting_ways/

Hey there, just learned right now that this reddit post was also being talked about here. I'd be glad to answer any questions, and I'll also be going through the existing posts and commenting.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #64 on: June 08, 2017, 09:02:47 AM »
I wonder if they'll move on to insisting on foreign/translation rights at some point.

I do think that will be the next shoe to drop.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #65 on: June 08, 2017, 09:05:40 AM »
I'm glad that he's laying the groundwork to get the other books in the series out, one way or another.  His fans won't care if the novels are indie pubbed.

Today's self-publishing environment makes it impossible for traditional publishers to "kill the rest of the series" (which wasn't always the case in the past. I do think my readership will still want to read these books, and of course my income per book will be higher, so it may just be the best thing that could have happened.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #66 on: June 08, 2017, 09:08:33 AM »
I think other publishers are going to be falling in line and doing the same thing. They want the audio rights but they're not prepared to pay more for them. I'm sorry it didn't work out for him, but I think he made the right decision.

In my genre, scifi and fantasy, it may have already happened. I know Harper Voyager has had a "no audio no deal" policy for some time. Orbit (Hachette Book Group imprint) has always said audio was a "deal breaker" on my two contracts with them. I'm not sure if that was a "corporate" decision or merely an inability on the part of my agent to "shake it free." But I do think that if they aren't already, it won't be long before all five are locked down when it comes to audio rights.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #67 on: June 08, 2017, 09:10:04 AM »
The full reddit thread is well worth a read. Thanks for posting it. It's nice of Michael Sullivan to share his experiences.

I'mv very much a believer in "transparency" and if my own experiences can help other authors, then I'm glad to help.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #68 on: June 08, 2017, 09:11:23 AM »
He used to post here, back in the day. It's a shame about the audio rights stuff, the "big whatever" just want it all, and don't really want to pay for it. I think with his fan base, he'll do fine on his own and I wish him the best.

Thanks for the well-wishes. It has been a long time since I've been in and around kboards, and it's good to be back. I recommend this forum to so many authors I talk to - you guys have a great community here.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #69 on: June 08, 2017, 09:14:48 AM »
Publishers are in the business of acquiring and exploiting rights. They'd be fools to ignore money on the table.

Yes, and no. Acquiring a right and paying FMV for it is one thing. My books are VERY profitable, so many have wondered why they would walk way from such a thing. The answer is simple. By making a "blanket" rights grab they'll lose out with some authors (like me that they have to cut loose) but they will earn so much more by twisting the arms where people who don't have the same self-publishing savvy as me are forced to give over something for either (free) or far less than what others will pay.  Overall this "policy" hurts rather than helps authors and that is always a bad thing in my book.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #70 on: June 08, 2017, 09:16:10 AM »
The more writers that detail tradpub's lousy deals, the better informed writers will be to make decisions that are best for their business.

Exactly!  That's precisely why I made the post in the first place.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #71 on: June 08, 2017, 09:19:47 AM »
Yeah, he will.  He sold those audio rights for seven figures which made walking away from the print contract well worth it.

Yeah, that's a heck of a safety net.  It is unfortunate, though, as I like my team at Del Rey and I want to do more business with them. In some ways, I'd be willing to take a lower advance (which I would expect to earn out) for the print/ebook side of things - that would benefit them, but to not want any part of the books is being done merely because a "blanket" policy (without exceptions) will allow many other authors be in a position to take less for more rights transferred.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #72 on: June 08, 2017, 09:29:15 AM »
Is he the one who's wife ran a publishing company that didn't close very well because his books took off?

I don't think you have your facts right on this front. To be clear. My wife had a publishing company (a company by the way that paid the authors 80%-90% while Robin took only 10%-20%.  And yes, she decided to close it.  But she setup accounts for each of her authors at Amazon & B&N, uploaded copies of their books (allowing to keep the same covers), and then turned the accounts over to them so they continued to get 100% of the profit without any additional work. Yes, there was a period (directly after her father's death when she had to go across the country to deal with his final affairs) when some royalty payments were late, but every author was paid 100% of what was owed. Do they do as well on their own then when she was around to market them?  For most, no, but she wasn't able to lead any kind of life because she always concerned that any time "for herself...or my books" was doing a disservice to those other authors."

Regardless, I don't find the tone and content very professional. He's mad the publisher he works with wants to...stay in business?

I'm not the least bit mad. Disappointed, sure. But my post was made to tell other authors about a shift in the industry that they should be aware of. I WANT PRH to stay in business, I have no ill-will to them. I realize that we both want control over a very valuable asset. In this case I get to win that battle. Other authors, especially those that can't or won't self-publish might not be in such an advantageous position.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #73 on: June 08, 2017, 09:37:36 AM »
This is not a swindle; it's buyer's remorse. By his own admission, no one tricked him. He knowingly took the deal that included audio because, at the time, he wanted the Del Rey print deal more than he wanted to preserve his audio rights. Now that he's doing better, he wishes he hadn't. But would he be in the same place if he hadn't? Who knows? This sort of thinking leads only to resentment, which has never done anyone any good.

I never said it was a "swindle" nor do I have any "buyers remorse" with regards to my dealings with Del Rey. I'm merely talking about a "corporate change" that authors need to be aware of.  I'm not resentful...yes I wish I could have kept the audio rights for my two Hachette deals...and yes, I think them getting $200,000 for signing a pieces a piece of paper (a subsidiary deal that was put before them) is not a fair distribution of income to level of effort. It took me a decade to write the books, they spent a few weeks in editing and cover design. But, yes, I fully take responsibility for signing the original deals and don't regret them in the least. You are attributing some emotions to me that just simply don't exist.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #74 on: June 08, 2017, 09:39:19 AM »
I reread the reddit post. I don't think there's buyer's remorse here. It sounds like Michael and Robin sold the audio rights to some of the newer books before negotiating with Del Rey for the print rights, and made it clear to Del Rey that the audio rights aren't open to negotiation, but Del Rey refuses to waive that part of it. So even though Del Rey wants to do business with Michael for print rights on the new stuff, the dictates from on high in Del Rey means they can't.

Yes, you have it the right of it.
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