More WTFery from Dorchester

From Michelle L. on Twitter this evening comes a link to horror author Brian Keene’s blog, where he alerts authors that both Leah Hultenschmidt and Don D’Auria have been laid off and that “the entire editorial department is now Chris Keeslar.” Obviously, at nearly 10pm EDT I’m not reaching anyone at Dorchester to confirm this but if true, well, if there’s a death pool in publishing Dorchester’s step closer to the final flush, if Keene’s entry is to be taken verbatim.

Not only is Keene irate about the loss of D’Auria, but he has rather shocking tales to tell about availability of books, and his efforts to promote his upcoming paperbacks from Leisure at local bookstores:

At last weekend’s signings in York and Lebanon, PA, the store managers reported to me that they had trouble getting books in, and indeed, ended up with only about half of what they ordered. I’m told those shipments were fulfilled from their own warehouses, rather than via Leisure’s distributor.

Keene’s suspicion is that Dorchester is close to filing for bankruptcy, and says at the end of his entry, “What’s my advice to my fellow Leisure authors? Run. Get the fuck out and don’t look back. It is my opinion that we are well and screwed. At this point, you’re an absolute fool if you sign with them for anything else.”

Leah Hultenschmidt is one of the nicer editors I’ve encountered since I started knowing who editors were (as opposed to those mythical beings you don’t actually see or know about, like unicorns only with red pencils and full email boxes) and if Keene’s report is true, I’m so sorry to hear it. And even more sorry to hear that the continued difficulties are potentially getting worse.

ETA: I received an email from Leah this morning confirming the report. I echo the commenters – I hope she gets snapped up sooner than soonest. Good luck, Leah!



General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    Chris Keeslar?  We used to fantasize about what his slush pile must look like.  This does not bode well for Dorchester.

  2. 2
    EC Sheedy says:

    This makes me feel so sad. Everybody suffers when a business hits a rough spot, or worse. Just a bummer all around.

  3. 3
    Jane Holland says:

    Sad news indeed.

  4. 4

    I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Leah Hultenschmidt in person, but I’ve listened to the RWA recordings of Dorchester spotlights and I was always sucked in by the energy and enthusiasm she, along with Chris Keeslar, had for their books. Dorchester’s list and what I write never meshed enough to merit submission, but I always thought it would be nice to work with them.

    I hope Ms. Hultenschmidt is snapped up by another publishing house and I hope everybody affected by Dorchester’s fuckery weathers the storm and finds smooth professional waters ahead.

  5. 5
    Allison says:

    I had the pleasure of talking to Leah last year when she called to make me an offer on a ms that had won a contest. (Long story, but I didn’t end up taking it, I fact for which I’m terribly grateful for, atm.)  But I really wanted to work with her – I wish her nothing but the best and I hope she gets picked up someplace fab. I’ve heard nothing but brilliant things about her work as an editor.

    Very sad, all the way around.

  6. 6
    Anne Marsh says:

    Leah is a joy to work with—and, yes, she really helped me get over Fear of Editors. I’ve got my fingers crossed she lands on her feet.

  7. 7

    @Shannon Stacey – Thanks for the kind wishes, and right back at you.  I read EXCLUSIVELY YOURS on Sarah’s rec at RWA and absolutely loved it.  I’m hoping Kevin’s story is next. 

    @Allison – As disappointed as I was not to get your book, I was thrilled for you that it found such a good home, and I can’t wait for everyone else to have a chance to read it too.  The whole world you created is just fantastic.

  8. 8
    Isabel C. says:

    Well, that’ll wake me up on a Friday morning.

    Man, this is awful. Leah’s the one who bought my manuscript, which is/was due out in March. I’ve been working with her for a few months now, and she’s been great. Hoping things work out well for her.

    Also, selfishly, wondering WTF happens now, and what I do. Ulp!

  9. 9

    I made my very first face-to-face pitch to Leah Hultenschmidt at the RWA conference in Dallas. I was, of course, nervous as hell, and she was the soul of patience and kindness as I fumbled my way through trying to explain what my book was about (which wasn’t easy, because honestly, it was my first book, and I’m not even sure *I* knew). When I was done, she asked me to submit the full. I actually never ended up sending it (see “first book” above), but I will always appreciate that she neither laughed in the face nor gave me the rejection I so richly deserved.

    I hope she lands somewhere wonderful and soon. She is definitely a class act.

  10. 10
    JoAnnarama says:

    If you go to Dorchester site, you will find a thin explanation dated August 6 of this move, and a couple of comments that point up the issues left dangling. If Dorchester is indeed positioning for a “bold move” to online marketing/sales, it seems even more ridiculous to let go editors that are the workhorses of the industry – the ones who actually give us a product in finely finished form, rather than the Wallmartery of cheaply produced goods. Which tells you a lot about a commitment to quality.

    And then there is the family of authors now wondering whether they will be pecked to death in the royalty negotiations as well as the marketing support for their books. Since some of my favorite authors are published by Dorchester I’m feeling worried for their futures as well as my own reading pleasure, as I cannot afford an e reader and reading for fun at my desk is no fun.

    low44—seems too high a grade for Dorchester

  11. 11
    Jess Granger says:

    I was so dismayed to hear this news.  I’ve been a fan of Dorchester since I was about fourteen years old.  I greatly admire and respect Leah, and owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.  She is a wonderful person and editor, and I hope in the deepest place in my heart things work out well for both her and her husband.

    Good luck Leah and Don.  We’re all rooting for great opportunities for you in the very near future.

  12. 12
    Julie Leto says:

    Leah!  I’m so glad you’ve come on here…I just wanted to say that I know you’ll find something else and that any publisher would be lucky as hell to have you.

  13. 13
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    So sorry to read this, but am afraid that it won’t be the first to bite the dust.  When business models change quickly, surviving businesses are the ones that anticipated the future and are light on their feet.  The worst part is that real flesh-and-blood people get hurt.  Best wishes for the people caught up in this.

  14. 14
    Bankruptcy says:

    Well good luck and hope you come out this tricky situation very fast.

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