Now that things have calmed down a bit, I wanted to talk a bit about the business dealings that, ultimately, guaranteed that The Daedalus Incident would finally set sail.
I say “guaranteed” because even going back to last fall, I had my doubts. It took several months for me to even get my standard, boiler-plate contract, and I assumed (correctly, as it turned out) that this was due to issues on the business side.
It took until February, just as copyedits on Daedalus had been wrapped up, to finally get my contract. That allowed me to join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, which I was very happy to do. For one, I simply wanted to be part of an organization that included real SF/F authors; it was an achievement. But more importantly, I figured that if things continued to be…iffy…on the business end of things, I wanted as many folks in my corner as I could muster.
Let’s be clear: Jason Williams and Jeremy Lassen published a whole heap of great books, and their creative and editorial talents are spot on. I will always be grateful that they took a chance on Daedalus.
That said, I’ve been involved in business journalism and communications for more than a decade, and I’ve found that no matter how good your products are, you need a strong business sense to succeed in any market. I recognize and appreciate that Jeremy and Jason invested a ton of time and money into Night Shade. I’m not going to pick them apart on here. Simply put, the business side just wasn’t working.
So when Night Shade announced that it was selling its assets to Skyhorse Publishing and Start Media, I was pretty relieved. I figured that established buyers like Skyhorse and Start would infuse the company with some needed business oversight. Not everyone shared my rosy opinion, however, and many authors — with a longer history of frustration with Night Shade — reacted strongly and negatively to the news.
And that began the period of the Great Uncertainty.
Without a critical mass of authors agreeing to the contracts, the deal would’ve collapsed, and Night Shade would then head to bankruptcy court. And if that happened, Daedalus and other authors’ works would be tied up in litigation for months, possibly years.
Furthermore, the initial contracts from Skyhorse/Start weren’t as generous as Night Shade’s, to be fair. There was a lot of anger at this. I really did worry that bankruptcy would happen, and that my book and so many others wouldn’t see the light of day.
A lot of literary agents — including my agent, the amazing Sara Megibow — worked overtime on the contract terms, however, and they were ultimately amended. Most authors ended up signing on to the deal. And that meant Daedalus, delayed from its initial May 7 release date, would finally get onto shelves. Many thanks to Tony Lyons at Skyhorse and Jarred Weisfeld at Start for all their hard work, and for listening to authors.
I give SFWA a whole lot of credit for helping make this deal happen. Mary Robinette Kowal, in particular, worked closely with Night Shade ever since its probation, and she helped advocate for authors well before the deal was announced. After the announcement, she worked with Night Shade, Skyhorse, Start, individual agents and really anxious authors, bringing folks together when needed, giving them an ear when they just wanted to rant. She burned through cell phone minutes like they were napkins at a barbecue joint.
I firmly believe this deal would not have happened without SFWA and Mary. The organization did exactly what it’s mandated to do — to defend and advocate for its membership. Yes, there have been stumbles of late, and the organization has been dinged for a few things, and rightly so. But I’ve found that SFWA is generally run by good people trying their best to do right by members. And in this case, they succeeded admirably. So thank you, Mary, and thank you, SFWA.
Today, I’m officially a Skyhorse/Night Shade author. As it happens, The Daedalus Incident will be first out of the gate for the new imprint, which is a great honor. I’m happy to be bringing them a book that’s gotten some great reviews, and the Skyhorse folks are enthusiastic about getting it into people’s hands.
And that’s about it. Next stop…The Daedalus Incident! Hope you guys enjoy it!