Night Shade Books: What went wrong?

Last August I got an email from Jason Williams, publisher and majority owner of Night Shade Books. He said he’d been paying attention to Staffer’s Book Review and he wanted to pick my brain about the direction Night Shade was heading. My thoughts ranged from:

  1. Wow — someone in publishing cares what I think (to. . .)
  2. Why the hell does anyone in publishing care what I think?

Little did I know that the mere existence of this email was a sign that Night Shade Books was seriously dysfunctional. Williams and I went on to have a lengthy email exchange and several phone calls over the following week. These talks resulted in me doing a very slight amount of consulting for him. I’m not going to reveal too many details from these exchanges, but a few might dribble out here and there as some of them aid in the telling of a good story.

Let me rewind a minute and talk about why Night Shade is important and anyone cares whether they live or die. Bear with me; because I have to cover some basic publishing info. . .

Everyone knows about the Big Six: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster — soon to be the Big Five with the Penguin/Random merger. Although all the major New York houses publish some science fiction and or fantasy, the only true science fiction and fantasy publishers are Harper Voyager, Ballantine/Del Rey (part of Random House), and DAW and Ace (part of Penguin), Orbit (part of Hachette in the US and the Little, Brown group in the UK), and Tom Doherty Associates, LLC (Tor/Forge, part of Macmillan).

That may seem like a lot of places to be published, but the big houses’ needs for original science fiction and fantasy are limited, especially for new authors. Many of the slots on their lists are taken up by established bestselling authors and profitable tie-ins.

Below the big houses are: Baen (independent but distributed by Simon & Schuster) and smaller publishers (Pyr and Angry Robot) with relationships to larger independents. Then there are the pure independents with national distribution. Those actively publishing new titles in 2012 (numbers are approximate): Night Shade Books (37 new titles published in 2012, 33 of which were novels), Prime Books (21, only three of which were novels), ChiZine Publications (a Canadian publisher which receives some support from the Canada Council of Arts and/or the Ontario Arts Council; 18, 11 of which were novels), Small Beer Press (eight, two of which were novels), and Tachyon Publications (eight, three novels). There are, of course, also limited edition publishers (i.e. Subterranean Press) and print on demand publishers, but those are entirely different business models.

All that goes to show how important Night Shade has been to the marketplace, particularly for debut authors and edgier, more financially risky titles.

The obvious question becomes, how does Night Shade make that work as a business? How do they thread the needle that no one else seems to be able to thread? Unfortunately, the last few years revealed that they can’t and didn’t.

To get as far as they did, Night Shade had to have some bestselling books, which they did. Examples include Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl and John Joseph Adams’ collection The Living Dead. Usually that’s a good thing, but big success can result in cash flow difficulties. There have been times when Night Shade owed authors (or editors) six-figure royalty payments. Allegedly, legal action had to be threatened in order for those royalties to be paid. Good business practices, if applied, result in these problems being overcome and success begetting success—or at least stability. That did not happen. Instead there seemed to be mismanagement or, at least, questionable management choices, which I can speculate on, but would tread into rumors and innuendo rather quickly.

Long story short: Paying those big royalties led to shortfalls elsewhere, leading to delayed payments for less successful authors.

This failure to pay led the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) to put Night Shade on probation twice, with the last time under the mandate: Get your house in order or you’re done. To that end, news broke last night that SFWA officially delisted Night Shade as an approved publisher for SFWA membership. Night Shade owners Jeremy Lassen and Williams responses to these situations have always been less than conciliatory:

In fourteen years, we’ve never stiffed anyone. We’ve been late, sure. But we’ve never stiffed anyone. You get paid whether Borders goes bankrupt. You get paid whether the adorable little independent bookstores you hold so dear stiff us regularly on invoices, and then demand more books. You get paid when the wholesalers take eight months to cut a check, and three days before they cut that check, they return everything in inventory, deduct it from the check, and then reorder it after the check goes out. You get paid when B&N forgets to put out orders for books that were in the warehouse six weeks prior to ship date.

Of course, it’s everyone else, and never Night Shade. This might be true, what do I know? The reality is THAT’S THE BOOK BUSINESS. Williams has been in it since 1998 or so. He was certainly aware of how long it takes to get paid, the hassles of distribution, and that you have to constantly stay on top of things like books that don’t make it to the shelves. Borders went under — it was expected for several years and most publishers and distributors did what they could to plan for it and minimize the financial pain. Most importantly: Unsold books get returned and the publisher doesn’t get paid for them, and in a bad month it ends up being a net loss.

Some small presses actually anticipate these losses, and still manage to pay their bills using a time honored tradition of not spending more money than you have. Something Night Shade has seemingly never been very good at.

Thankfully over the last fourteen years, Night Shade sold a lot of books. According to 2011 Bookscan numbers, they sold just over 75,000, which of course doesn’t take into account things like library sales, non-standard stores, and does not count digital sales at all. This is a publisher with million dollar gross revenues. This should be the story of an independent publisher finding success in a difficult market.

Instead, as someone who has followed Night Shade for years said, “In the end. I just don’t want people saying ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. For a great small press to go under like that due to evil distributors and Borders’ collapse—tsk, tsk.’  I want it recognized that they ran the business into the ground.”

I’ve talked to a dozen people who have done business with Night Shade, and this is not an uncommon perspective. How then did we get here?

The apparent truth is that Jason Williams and his partner, Jeremy Lassen, aren’t business people. They’re fans. Lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Lassen has a keen eye for talent and Williams is a stereotypical salesman. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything resembling a MBA or other real business experience between them. Nor does it appear that fifteen years in publishing brought much enlightenment.

Furthermore, things like deadlines and schedules haven’t been part of the Night Shade business plan for quite a while. In the summer of 2009, they got far behind schedule. [According to sources: When you schedule a book, your distributor then sells that book (based on your publication date) to bookstores. Delay the book and the initial order may be cut or cancelled altogether. Delay it again, and, well . . .] To their credit, Night Shade caught up — by publishing sixteen books in one month. For Tor/Forge that might be a ho-hum couple of weeks, but for Night Shade was akin to trying to flush an entire roll of toilet paper. If Barnes and Noble was the toilet, it overflowed and Night Shade was left wet and holding a lot of soggy paper.

Further demonstrating scheduling difficulties, I’ve learned that multiple 2012 titles went to press under less than ideal circumstances — meaning barely edited. At least one book, bought on speculation, required “triage editing for continuity” after advanced review copies shipped and reviewers flagged concerns. It was then copy edited by a fast freelancer at the eleventh hour. In some cases, editorial notes weren’t delivered to the authors until days hours before the book was to go to press. Amid all of this Night Shade was cancelling contracts, returning books to authors, and negotiating rights reversions.

Another mistimed choice involved switching distributors in 2012. Publishers do this for various reasons and nothing negative should be said about it. However, changing distributors results in at least some negative effect on cash flow usually for a matter of several months. It also impacts, at least briefly, retail orders. Perhaps this was a wise decision. Perhaps not. I don’t know. I do know that it must have added to the financial strain.

This brings me back to where this article began — an email from Jason Williams. During our conversations I learned about a lot of the problems I describe above, all of which I’ve confirmed from subsequent sources. Williams was extremely dissatisfied with how Night Shade was running and was looking for an outsider’s perspective. Given that I seemed to grok Night Shade’s editorial decisions, he thought I could provide some insight. The conversation was far-reaching and touched on editorial direction, publicity problems, and the general challenges of running a publishing house in this climate. Most of my feedback was in regards to publicity and how I believed Night Shade was consistently dropping the ball in engaging the online community with its books.

During this time I learned Night Shade, or at least its owner, had almost no knowledge of how to get books in people’s hands outside of traditional booksellers. He asked me for names of other people like me who might be interested in helping on a part time freelance basis with editorial comments, and, more forcefully, developing the kind of publicity network that Orbit, Angry Robot, and other progressive publishers have developed in the virtual space. Williams went on to contact some of those individuals, even tentatively offering an opportunity to one of them.

Meanwhile, he sent me two manuscripts, ostensibly asking me to help him provide some editorial oversight to an operation he felt was running out of control. I read both manuscripts and provided notes, confirming the quality of one of the novels and utterly condemning the other (I would note that one of the novels has been published, with the other slated to be published this spring). Shortly after this exchange, Williams went dark, dropping contact with me, and the individuals I’d suggested he reach out to.

I bring all this up for the same reason I’ve aired some of their laughable business practices. Night Shade, throughout its existence, consistently exhibited the kind of behavior that fundamentally precluded them from ever finding success. To my knowledge Williams never consulted people running other independent presses. Instead, he opted to seek my advice – a relatively new blogger whose most illustrative credentials were calling God’s War amazing and Pillars of Hercules a piece of shit. I have no experience in the publishing business, nor have I ever studied it.

In preparation for this piece I reached out to several Night Shade authors, most of whom preferred to remain anonymous. But Liz Williams, an outspoken author stated publicly:

“All I am going to say on the Night Shade buyout is that if you are in the industry and don’t know what I think about it already, you’ve been living on Mars. I did not like being poster girl for the ‘NS sucks’ vanguard, but given what they have done to so many fellow writers, I’ll live with that, despite a concomitant degree of abuse from my former publishers. I hope both of them are thinking of going into more suitable professions. As to what that might be, I think I’ll remain silent.”

Which brings us to recent events. On April 2, Jeremy Lassen tweeted:

My exciting news is that Night Shade is being bought by a larger publishing company! NS authors are recieving [sic] formal notification now.

First, it soon became obvious that Night Shade had not been sold; its assets were being tentatively acquired under very specific terms. Second, the company seeking to acquire the rights to Night Shade’s titles and potentially their brand is Skyhorse Publishing. Skyhorse is a mostly non-fiction publisher. According to Publishers Weekly in January of 2012:

Skyhorse Publishing has announced an unusual program under which it will pay cash to acquire the backlist of publishers with cash flow problems. Skyhorse sees the program as a way to help struggling publishers deal with cash flow issues while adding more titles t Skyhorse’s list. Price will be determined by a title’s average net sales for the current year and the prior three years. Interested publishers would be required to assign the original author contract for each individual title over to Skyhorse and would immediately receive payment.

So, there is a great deal of interest in exactly what is happening with Night Shade and to its authors. It’s not my place to comment on the deal being offered, nor does it have any bearing in the overall story of Night Shade—except to say that, sadly, it may be at last, a businesslike decision; the best Night Shade can do for itself under the circumstances. However, the following, from Williams’ letter to a Night Shade author, has been publicly posted:

As you probably know, Night Shade Books has had a difficult time after the demise of Borders. We have reached a point where our current liabilities exceed our assets, and it is clear that, with our current contracts, sales, and financial position, we cannot continue to operate as an independent publisher. If we filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or liquidation, the rights to your books could be entangled in the courts for years as could past or current unpaid royalties or advances. However, we have found an alternative, which will result in authors getting paid everything they are due as well as finding a future home for their books, subject to the terms and conditions stated in this letter.

Provided that a sufficient number of Night Shade authors agree to certain changes to their contracts with Night Shade, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. and Start Publishing, LLC have agreed to acquire all Night Shade Books assets. To be clear, this is an acquisition of assets, not a purchase of the company as a whole. The revenue received from the sale would go towards paying off the debts of the company. If you sign below, and a sufficient number of other Night Shade authors and other creditors also agree to these terms, you will receive full payment to bring all royalties and overdue advances current.

Neither solution presented seems to have the authors’ best interests at heart . . . sale to an unfamiliar publisher with no knowledge of the genre or the possibility of bankruptcy where the rights to their own books might languish for years. That’s too bad.

I’m going to speculate for a moment, if no one minds. In all the conversations I had leading up to this article I feel like I’ve gleaned a solid picture of things. Night Shade was composed from the very beginning of talented people with a passion for good fiction. Business, though, always seemed to be an afterthought. It seems to me that Night Shade was too often concerned with looking like a success without actually putting in the work to be successful.

The 2011 Debut Author program in hindsight, which I’ve so lauded, looks like a desperate attempt to find the next Paolo Bacigalupi. Riding the high of finding that next amazing voice in the field pushed out all other factors. I was excited by it too, and in my opinion they found several voices at least that good. But, they paid too much for them, with advances approaching $10,000 for a single book, rates at least in the ballpark of the major New York houses. For a small, independent publisher with a history of troublesome financial management, it was too much to bear.

As one former Night Shade author who preferred to remain anonymous said, “it seems to me that the debut author program was a good idea; they just took it too far. It may have been their death knell, but it didn’t have to be. They were publishing choice pieces of work from some well known authors and editors. If they had continued to mix that approach while folding in new authors in a more cautious manner, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Nevertheless, here we are. Over the last three years I’ve come to know a lot of Night Shade authors, particularly those that Lassen and Williams took a chance on by publishing their first novels. They are a committed, talented, and deserving group of men and women. I very much hope that not only will I see future works from them, but that their backlist titles and contracts for forthcoming books, currently in Night Shade’s shadow, are well published. They’re very much worth reading.

[Additional note that's come to light after the report: It's come to my attention that there are actually two publishing companies involved in acquired the rights to Night Shade's titles. Start Publishing and Sky Horse, with Skyhorse taking print, and Start ePublishing taking the eBooks. Authors are facing having their rights split apart, and going to two different companies (who are working together, but who have no strong brand/history).]

Justin Landon

Justin Landon is the Overlord of Staffer's Book Review. When he's not writing things of dubious value to the world, he's at the gym or being a dad. You can follow him on a multitude of social media, which is strongly suggested lest you miss out on vital information that could someday save your life.

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Comments
  • Aidan from A Dribble of Ink April 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Interesting stuff, Justin.

  • Fred Kiesche April 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Fits in with what I was seeing and hearing. Excellent work.

  • Andrew Liptak April 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Interesting, especially regarding the editorial process. I noted this in one of the books that I reviewed last fall. Interesting premise, sloppy execution.

  • Bibliotropic April 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Definitely interesting to see some behind-the-scenes info here.

    Personally, I fell a little bit in love with Night Shade after I realized that they seemed to put out really good books and that they took chances on new authors. I started to look forward to just about every new release from them, because from my experience, I was bound to like it. They seemed to be on the rise, and I was more than happy to spread the good word about them.

    Then a lot of this stuff came to light and really stripped the shiny coating from their image. And it’s a damn shame, because they could have amounted to so much more. Instead they just seemed to devolve into controversy after controversy, and now this whole thing about Skyhorse… It seems that the ones who’ll suffer the most for the publisher’s screw-ups are the authors, and I really hope that they find better publishing houses elsewhere. It may only be a small silver lining to a very dark cloud, but at least Night Shade’s time in the spotlight may have helped some unknowns become well-knowns, and will give them a fighting chance with other publishers in the future.

    Damn, this leaves me so disappointed in them. :/

  • Jen April 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    This is both chilling and sad, because one of my favorite peeps, Kameron Hurley, is published by Night Shade. I hope she makes a safe landing elsewhere.

  • Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) April 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    The apparent truth is that Jason Williams and his partner, Jeremy Lassen, aren’t business people. They’re fans.

    I think this is the keystone sentence. Fans make good fans, but not so good business owners. This is the “original sin” that the others come from.

    Oh, and excellent work, Justin. Thank you

  • Nathan Barker April 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    In defence of the idea of selling assets to Skyhorse. While Skyhorse may not be SF&F publishers, neither is Osprey (Angry Robot’s parent company)

  • John Grace April 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    No one likes to see a publisher go away. I don’t have all their business laid out infront of me but they were fans trying to run a business and they had operational problems.

    Putting out books late killed their print sales and when I was buying audiobook rights made the audiobooks toxic because the late books made for late audiobook recordings which cause operational problems, higher costs, and lower sales.

    Operational problems caused sales problems, which likely backfed into operational problems. I do know they switched book distributors which took a lot of time, and likely money if I had to guess that may have been the thing that upset their business and keep backfeeding new problems.

  • Beverly April 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Interesting and sad. I’ve seen this in publishing and other markets in which passionate, talented people get into the business of their passion; but never really have the business sense to be as successful as they could be. It’s sad how far NS let this go; largely because it’s going to hurt a lot of authors, and they don’t seem to want to take responsibility for their actions (and lack thereof). I don’t know them personally at all, but I’ve been following this story as well.

  • Jared April 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Michael Stackpole goes into more detail about the terms offered to authors here:

    http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=3288

  • Mieneke April 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Excellent piece, Justin. And it’s sad to see that something that coukd have been so wonderful was ruined through mismanagement. I hope that the authors find good new homes!

  • Mark April 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Justin, several books were slated for publication in April 2013 by Nightshade. I guess it’s possible that the titles were printed or a certain quantity quite a few weeks ago. What will be the situation with these books? I mean, its not as though the company has gone bankrupt yet so one would assume that some form of business is being conducted? Any thoughts on this?

    • Justin April 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Some have been cancelled, some are in limbo. I really don’t know what will happen.

      • Mark April 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

        Your article is very informative but also makes sad reading. I hope a deal that is as fair as possible is achieved for all afected parties. I was hoping to buy Laird Barron’s new book. I hope it’s not a cancelled title. Hopefully it’ll see print if a deal is reached. Kind of you to reply, thank you.

        • Joel April 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

          I think his new book of short stories is out already.

          • Mark April 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

            Laird Barron’s book was slated for April 2nd but I think it’s cancelled or in limbo unfortunately. Night Shade produced beautiful hardcover books and Laird Barron’s were gorgeous and edited well. Ross Lockhart edited Laird’s novel, The Croning.

          • Joel April 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

            @Mark, it seems you are right. Too bad. I have been meaning to try The Croning, though horror isn’t really my thing. It has received such high praise everywhere.

  • Douglas Hulick April 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Nice summary.

    I remember first encountering Jeremy & Night Shade over a decade ago at WisCon. At the time, I was impressed and very hopeful for them. They seemed to be providing something the SFF field still desperately needs: a mid-sized publisher willing to take risks and put out quality books that get distributed on a national level. NS looked to be doing this at that point, and I can see why some agents and authors I know went with them at the time. I had hopes that NS could be the scrappy publisher who makes good; that they could fill that mid-sized gap.

    So much for that.

    But what angers me most is the piles (and in some instances, mountains) of shit and uncertainty and frustration I’ve seen NS authors having to go through over the last few years. This business is rough enough as it is; but to have to sit in limbo, not knowing if your book will get edited, let alone published, or if you’ll ever get paid? And now to have to scramble to decide if and how the buy-out will or won’t work for you? It’s a crap situation, and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    I know the folks at NS didn’t start out aiming for this, and I know they aren’t walking away with a pocket full of cash as a result of this sale, but still–it always seems to be the people who produce the art & delivered on their end of the bargain who are left in the lurch.

  • Bob @ Beauty in Ruins April 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    At the end of the day, it’s a damn shame that they couldn’t mesh that daringness and love for the genre with some good business sense. They put out some really good, really original work, and it’s a shame that we’re losing what was really a major outlet for genre work.

  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden April 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    A slight correction to your list of SF publishers that are part of the “Big Six.” To the best of my knowledge, DAW Books is 100% owned by Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert; they simply have a distribution relationship with Penguin, and rent space in their NYC offices.

  • Brad Beaulieu April 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Great writeup, Justin. Like Doug, I was really very excited about Night Shade and glad to be part of this scrappy young publisher that was putting out daring material.

    I said it in private, but I’ll say it here, too: I feel odd in saying this since I benefited directly from the program, but it seems to me that the debut author program was a good idea; they just took it too far. It may have been their death knell, but it didn’t have to be. They were publishing choice pieces of work from some long-established and well known authors and editors. If they had continued to mix that approach while folding in new authors in a more cautious manner, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  • Old battles, given up. April 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    “In fourteen years, we’ve never stiffed anyone. We’ve been late, sure. But we’ve never stiffed anyone”

    So far, they are six years late paying us for some work and ignored the first 8 letters requesting payment. Since they have never stiffed ANYONE, I guess we still have a chance!

  • Calibandar April 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Mark, I am also wondering what will come of the scheduled April releases by Night Shade, some stuff there. For now they are unavailable.

  • Calibandar April 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    And let me add, this was a very interesting article. I was aware of the mess that happened back in 2009 when they didn’t published a book for 3/4 th of the year. They seemed to get back on track, but seem is the operative word there I guess.

  • [...] Over at Staffer’s Book Review, there is an amazing and detailed piece of journalism that looks at the business practices of NSB, and how we ended up where we are today: [...]

  • Patrick April 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Great post!

  • [...] Re: Night Shade books being bought… Yeah, it’s not being bought…just a proposed sale of its assets to a relatively unknown external publisher. Sounds shady, but I guess this is the culmination of years of bad business practices. [...]

  • martyh April 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    And don’t forget that more than authors are owed in Night Shade’s mega screwup. There are those of us who did edit/copy edit work (in my case, making every single deadline for 10 years), and now months (and months) have gone by with no payment for our work. If enough authors sign their agreement and this deal with Skyhorse/Start goes through, then, as part of their signed agreement, the authors will be paid past due advances and royalties. There is no where in print that us production people will be paid at all.

    • Justin April 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks for that Marty. It’s an important point.

  • Ros Jackson April 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Skyhorse paid me promptly for a contribution I made to one of their titles published in 2010. Since then they seem to have been expanding considerably, so I hope that bodes well for Night Shade authors.

  • carmen webster buxton April 4, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    A great chef can run a restaurant into the ground even faster than a bad one, because he will think he’s a success when the place is full, even though he’s losing money on every customer.

    This is a very informative piece, and it doesn’t even touch on how little attention NSB paid to ebooks and proper formatting. It’s all very sad.

  • Night Shade Books in Trouble April 5, 2013 at 3:22 am

    [...] Justin Landon at staffersbookreview.com has a long and detailed post that makes things sound very bad for Night Shade while author Michael Stackpole shares his opinion on why the proposed deal is not great for the authors. I’ll certainly be paying close attention to the Night Shade Books issues — I’m a fan of some of their books, including the fantastic The Windup Girl* and Pump Six and Other Stories* by Paolo Bacigalupi — and am hoping that everything works out well for the authors and that the Night Shade Books company continues in some form. [...]

  • Nic April 5, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Fascinating piece, Justin; thanks for writing it.

  • [...] Justin at Staffer’s Book Review with an interesting analysis of what went wrong. [...]

  • Todd Lockwood April 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Not only authors were harmed by their business practices.

    I love Jeremy Lassen and really wanted Nightshade to succeed. I have a soft place in my head for underdogs. I cut my rates in order to paint covers for them. It took over a year and a half to be paid for one. Another dribbled in in bits, the last check bounced, and I have never received full payment. I understand that other cover artists were never paid at all. I would be surprised if Skyhorse & al felt any need to make those repairs, but I’d love to know what, if any, plans were made in that regard…?

  • [...] Some insight into Nightshade’s business practices. [...]

  • [...] Nightshade Books: What Went Wrong [...]

  • Joseph April 6, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I hope that there’s an attempt to resolve or crowdfund the amount necessary for the writers to get back their rights, rather than settling for what looks like a very bad option.

    • Justin April 6, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Those solutions (if they exist) will have to wait til April 15, I suspect.

      • Mark April 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

        Is April 15th a decision day for what proceedings will take place in relation to the potential Skyhorse deal? I wish Night Shade would announce what is happening with the slated April book releases in fairness to the authors and readers. Night Shade must be carrying out some business as they are not in liquidation yet and possibly won’t be if the deal goes ahead.

  • pabkins April 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    That is crazy! Well I hope it works out and the authors don’t get the shaft. But it sounds like they are going to still try to keep their business and just sell of their current titles – so what Night Shade is still going to try to continue publishing going forward?

  • martyh April 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    This is for Todd Lockwood and other “production” freelancers, like myself, who worked for Night Shade over the past few years and are owed money. At least they are aware of us: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/2013/04/09/night-shades-final-chapter/

    • Justin April 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Really important, Marty. I’m glad Rose covered it.

  • Dan Berger April 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I was just interviewing Jeff Salyards in anticipation of his follow-up to “Scourge of the Betrayer” when all of this madness started going down at the beginning of the month. Talk about a radical change in direction for the questions. Thanks for the overview of what happened at Night Shade. What a mess.

  • Dan Berger April 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Great overview, Justin. I was in the middle of interviewing Jeff Salyards about his follow-up to “Scourge of the Betrayer” when I heard about Night Shade going under. Talk about a radical change in direction for an interview. It seems like writers spend most of their lives in Limbo, first wondering if they’ll ever finish something, then wondering if they’ll ever find an agent, a book deal, another book deal, and on and on. To navigate all of those quagmires, only to discover that the legal existence of your work and a portion of your livelihood are in serious doubt…why exactly do we want o be writers again?

  • [...] a really interesting take on Night Shade’s woes, I’d point you to Justin Landon’s excellent piece over on Staffer’s Book Review.) Skyhorse and Start Media came in to buy the assets so Night Shade’s owners could avoid [...]

  • [...] the subject.  Here’s Jason Sanford, Michael Stackpole, Tobias Buckell, agent Joshua Bilmes, Justin Landon of Staffer’s Book Review and Girl Genius creators Phil and Kaja Foglio with more on the whole [...]

  • [...] and more publishing-savvy people than me have already talked at length about the details, so I’m not going to touch on any of that. There was even enough backlash [...]

  • [...] I have to give Justin a great deal of thanks for his support of Daedalus over the past year. As he described a few months ago, Night Shade Books asked him to provide feedback of a couple of titles in their pipeline…one [...]

  • [...] in itself. The Daedalus Incident was originally scheduled to be released a while back, but then the whole Night Shade Books situation happened, putting the novel’s future in limbo. Much has been written about this, but for the [...]

  • […] I’m gonna take him at his word. (Justin Landon has an excellent, impartial take on Night Shade here, as well.) They tried, and they lost a lot of their own money trying – I respect them for having […]

  • Things To Come | bundoransf December 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    […] and strategies change. People overreach and companies collapse. We’ve seen this several times already. Now a new danger lurks. Mega-publishers will be on a constant hunt for the next big thing – if […]

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