Tag Archives: neil clarke

How Amazon continues to do its best to piss off its writers: The odyssey of establishing my rights to Looking Through Lace

I’m sitting here listening to a yellow jacket determined to commit suicide in one of my wall lamps, and wondering why Amazon seems so hell-bent on annoying its authors these days.

This weekend, August 5-6, Patty Jansen is hosting another big 99c promo with 100 books in various science fiction and fantasy genres. I entered my boxed set of Looking Through Lace, Books 1 & 2, and was accepted. Only now it looks like my book won’t be on sale — at least not on Amazon. And it’s anyone’s guess if I will have to take the book down or not entirely (on Amazon), for reasons no one has seen fit to provide me answers with.

But let us start at the beginning, shall we?

Early this week, I lowered the price of the Looking Through Lace boxed set everywhere it was available, just like I always do for a promotion. Price changes went through fine — except on Amazon. Instead, I got this:

Hello,

Thank you for publishing with Amazon. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has his or her books sold by anyone else. To publish your book, please respond with documentation confirming your publishing rights within four days:

Looking Through Lace Boxed Set: Books 1 and 2 by Nestvold, Ruth (AUTHOR) (ID:7106553)

Acceptable documentation can include:

– If you are the author and you are republishing your book after your publication rights have been reverted to you, a signed reversion letter from your former publisher
– If you are the author and you are publishing under a pseudonym, a copyright registration using the pseudonym
– If you are not the author, a signed contract between you and the author granting you the rights to publish the book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
– If you are not the author, an e-mail from the address listed on the author’s (or their agent’s) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
– If you are a literary agent, a signed contract between you and the author or an email from the address listed on the author’s official website granting you the right to act on the author’s behalf with respect to the book

Documentation we cannot accept includes:

– A statement by you that you have the publishing rights without verification by the author/copyright holder
– A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed

If you publish books for which you do not hold the publishing rights, your account may be terminated.

Thank you,

Amazon KDP

I wrote back, asking why they were requiring confirmation of publishing rights for a book that had been published with them for over a year and a half. I listed some of the publishing credits of Looking Through Lace and explained why I still had the rights to my own novella, which was originally published in Asimov’s in September 2003.

Instead of any answers, I got almost exactly the same email, with one small change at the beginning:

During a review of your KDP submission(s), we found that content in the below title(s) has been previously made available on Amazon. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has his or her books sold by anyone else. To publish your book, please respond with documentation confirming you have the necessary publishing rights within four days:

Looking Through Lace Boxed Set: Books 1 and 2 (ID: 7106553)

Please provide any documentation or other evidence that proves you have retained rights for the book(s) listed above.

This, of course made me even more frantic. I could hardly imagine that anyone was trying to steal my novella, since it wasn’t exactly selling like gangbusters. Most of the time it just sits there, selling a few copies a month, except when I do some kind of promo. But why would Amazon keep insisting I prove my rights to my own work if someone hadn’t tried to steal it? And why wouldn’t they respond to my questions and tell me what was the specific problem so that we could clear things up? None of what they required as “acceptable documentation” applied to Looking Through Lace or the boxed set.

Every time I tried to write them to try and find out what was going on, I got one of the above canned responses, about a half-a-dozen in all — and me becoming increasingly aggravated.

Finally it occurred to me (no help on Amazon’s part) that this weirdness regarding Looking Through Lace might have to do with the fact that it was recently reprinted in a new anthology, Galactic Empires. I sent them the PDF of the contract with Neil Clarke, and pointed out the clause indicating non-exclusive rights.

They haven’t sent me any more stupid canned emails since. But they also still have not gotten around to lowering the price of the boxed set for the promotion. I used to be a huge proponent of Amazon, but since the page flip controversy, I’ve changed my ways — more and more with each passing conflict.

I feel like I’m in a Kafka novel — which, incidentally, is not by me. 🙂

Advertisements

I’m at #55 in the Kindle Store! (Not alone, unfortunately *g*)

As of this writing, the awesome anthology Galactic Empires, edited by Neil Clarke and containing my novella “Looking Through Lace” — alongside such greats as Greg Egan, John Barnes, Robert Reed, and Ian McDonald — is #55 overall in the Kindle Store!

Galactic Empires

Here’s the description and the complete lineup:

Neil Clarke, publisher of the award-winning Clarkesworld magazine, presents a collection of thought-provoking and galaxy-spanning array of galactic short science fiction.

From E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman, to George Lucas’ Star Wars, the politics and process of Empire have been a major subject of science fiction’s galaxy-spanning fictions. The idiom of the Galactic Empire allows science fiction writers to ask (and answer) questions that are shorn of contemporary political ideologies and allegiances. This simple narrative slight of hand allows readers and writers to see questions and answers from new and different perspectives.

The stories in this book do just that. What social, political, and economic issues do the organizing structure of “empire” address? Often the size, shape, and fates of empires are determined not only by individuals, but by geography, natural forces, and technology. As the speed of travel and rates of effective communication increase, so too does the size and reach of an Imperial bureaucracy.Sic itur ad astra—“Thus one journeys to the stars.”

At the beginning of the twentieth century, writers such as Kipling and Twain were at the forefront of these kinds of narrative observations, but as the century drew to a close, it was writers like Iain M. Banks who helped make science fiction relevant. That tradition continues today, with award-winning writers like Ann Leckie, whose 2013 debut novel Ancillary Justice hinges upon questions of imperialism and empire.

Here then is a diverse collection of stories that asks the questions that science fiction asks best. Empire: How? Why? And to what effect?

Table of Contents:
– “Winning Peace” by Paul J. McAuley
– “Night’s Slow Poison” by Ann Leckie
– “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare
– “Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson
– “Riding the Crocodile” by Greg Egan
– “The Lost Princess Man” by John Barnes
– “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
– “Alien Archeology” by Neal Asher
– “The Muse of Empires Lost” by Paul Berger
– “Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee
– “A Cold Heart” by Tobias S. Buckell
– “The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg
– “The Impossibles” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
– “Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson
– “Section Seven” by John G. Hemry
– “The Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” by Ken Scholes
– “The Man with the Golden Balloon” by Robert Reed
– “Looking Through Lace” by Ruth Nestvold
– “A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem
– “The Wayfarer’s Advice” by Melinda M. Snodgrass
– “Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik
– “Verthandi’s Ring” by Ian McDonald

It is currently on sale for only $1.99, but since I’m not the one in charge here, I have absolutely no idea how long you can get it for that price.

I actually hadn’t even been aware that the book was already published — it was only the announcement by Bookbub that one of my books was on sale that clued me in. 🙂

In any case, looks to me like you can hardly go wrong if you like stories of far flung, future worlds.