Last year, the SFWA board of directors voted to place Night Shade Books on probation for a period of one year. Night Shade Books responded by agreeing to work with SFWA to address the issues that our members had with their business. During the past year, Night Shade Books has been cooperative and open with their communication to SFWA and the Board appreciates their efforts.
After a review of Night Shade Books and after requesting information from our members about the publisher’s activities during the period of probation, based on the information currently available, the board believes that Night Shade Books has met the following conditions for it to remain on the qualifying list after its probation period:
a. That it examined its catalogue to ensure it is no longer offering fiction in formats for which it has no rights, and makes whole those authors whose rights it has violated;
b. That it instituted procedures and hired sufficient staff to ensure accurate record keeping for contracts and payments, both for previously published and future authors;
c. That there are no instances of contractual violations on the part of Night Shade Books against authors signed to publishing deals after the start of the probationary period.
The remaining benchmark that the SFWA board of directors set for Night Shade Books requires more data to assess. The board asked that Night Shade Books fulfills its contractual and financial obligations to the authors it has already published, including full and accurate accounting of royalties per contract, with payment of any royalties outstanding.
The reports from our members indicate that Night Shade made great strides toward meeting that goal during the past year. However, through no fault of Night Shade Books, the initial probationary period ended before the publishing industry’s July royalty statements are due. This made it difficult to determine without doubt if Night Shade Books has met their commitments. The Board of Directors of SFWA discussed this with Night Shade and decided to grant the publisher an extension on their probationary period to give them time to send the July royalty statements.
The extension shall be until the statements have been sent to authors or for three months (October 8, 2011), whichever comes sooner. Until that time, Night Shade remains on probation.
After the term of probation for Night Shade is lifted, fiction contracted during that term will be viewed as acceptable for qualification for SFWA membership. As with the initial probationary period, no fiction contracted and paid for (by initial advance payment) before the term of probation will be affected by Night Shade’s probationary status.
During the probationary extension, and depending on member participation, SFWA will remain in contact with those members who have outstanding Night Shade contracts. If you have any questions, new information, or concerns, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through this entire process, Night Shade Books has been open and communicative with SFWA, responding swiftly to any concerns that were brought to their attention. We look forward to their continued cooperation and hope to see them restored to full qualifying status in the future.
Mary Robinette Kowal
Vice President, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America