From Publisher’s Weekly: Tsaba House Press is considering legal action against the RWA after one of its authors was barred from entering the RITA because Tsaba House is not an RWA -approved publisher.
Tsaba House Press, a Christian publisher of fiction and nonfiction titles, is considering taking legal action against the Romance Writers of America for refusing to consider one of the small California press’s authors for a Rita Award, which honors inspirational romances. According to Pam Schwagerl, Tsaba House publisher, Molly Noble Bull was barred from submitting her latest release, Sanctuary, for a Rita Award, because Tsaba House is not an “RWA approvedâ€ publisher. RWA subsequently told Schwagerl that the organization considers Tsaba House to be a subsidy or vanity press, because its boilerplate contract contains such clauses as charging authors if manuscripts have to be retyped or if the press considers it necessary to add frontmatter and backmatter to the manuscript that the author didn’t provide.
Schwagerl was quoted in the article “‘I really feel that this is an affront to independent publishers to try and once again group us in the category of subsidy presses and try to take away the advances the small publishers have made in the industry,’ said Schwegerl. She founded Tsaba House in 2002 and uses a boilerplate contract she bought from self-publishing guru Dan Poynter’s Web site.”
According to the article, RWA president Allison Kelly responded that “if, in its boilerplate contract, a press can charge an author for anything, the organization considers that company to be a subsidy or vanity press, and will not consider its titles for RWA’s award program…. RWA ‘didn’t do anything but apply [our] standards. We limit what we do to non-subsidy, non-vanity’ publishers.”
The feedback to the article on the PW site is full of exclamation points, to say the least. Marion Gropen’s comment stated in part, “The RWA seems to be trying to thin out the field, so that they can handle the number of submissions. That makes sense. It looks like they are assuming that most submissions from vanity or subsidy presses will have very little chance of winning, and can safely be excluded. That makes sense. But what does NOT make sense is their failure to recognize standard language in boilerplate, and their failure to reverse themselves when the error was brought to their attention.”
So let me ask – because I actually don’t know – is it standard in a contract that fees are charged when a publisher faces retyping a manuscript or adding content? The RWA took a lot of heat for defining non-vanity/non-subsidy publishers, and in the wake of Triskelion’s folding – along with the folding of several other e-pubs, from Venus to Aphrodite’s Apples – it’s not difficult to see why those lines were drawn to begin with (especially after authors faced a long wait through legal and financial filings to find out if they could get their manuscripts back).
Graceful curtsey to Em for the link.
CORRECTIONS – UPDATES – ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – WHY IS MY WIRELESS ACTING UP NOW?!
Allison Kelley, RWA Executive Director, contacted me to set the record straight about a few pieces of misinformation in the PW article.
The article regarding Tsaba House and Romance Writers of America contained a factual error. The Tsaba House author referenced in the article was not trying to enter RWA’s RITA contest. She was interested in entering a contest sponsored by an RWA chapter. The rules governing RWA chapter contests are independently determined by each chapter. At no time did the author mention the RITA award when communicating with the RWA office. According to RWA records, the office was not contacted by the author or publisher until February 2008, several months after the RITA entry deadline, which was November 30, 2007.
Well, now that’s a whole other kettle of different! Holy misinformation, there, Batmonkey. What’s up with that?