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As the Liz William-Night Shade publishing debacle went online on 07/06/10, there were a couple of other blogs who had also run similar stories on that day namely John Ottinger's Grasping for the Wind and Rose Fox over at Publisher's Weekly blog. It turns out that not only was Liz Williams involved but also another author named Brendan Halpin who had published a book called "Mall of Cthulu" under the name of Seamus Cooper & his tale was a bit more horrific to read, for more details head over to his blog post over here
This situation was a bit freakier with terms to his book being sold by Night Shade, without having the actual book rights & with no royalties being sent to Brendan. Graeme at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review & Niall at The Speculative Scotsman have elucidated more about Brendan's situation over at their blogs. Elizabeth Moon was also another author who was having problems from her association with Night Shade and she spoke about it on Liz's Blog. Now with so many authors piling up their list of issues, Night Shade was truly in a spot of bother & they have issued a Press release regarding their glitches & basically they are accepting full responsibility for it & here's are a few crucial excerpts from their release:
"First and foremost, we at Night Shade Books would like to apologize for any problems we've caused any of our authors. The last three years have been brutal on us, although not in any way we could have expected. While we've faced the same difficulties every small and independent press has suffered in this age of sales downturns, higher-than-expected returns, and other challenges, what has caused us the most trouble have been our successes."
"This has led to some major miscommunication, and sometimes flat-out lack of communication, with our authors, sometimes, even amongst ourselves. We screwed up: Details were missed, one of us assumed another was handling a situation, or a reluctance to deliver bad news turned into an unprofessional excuse to procrastinate. The issues that have come up today, at their core, are really ones of communication. All this could have been avoided through simple phone calls and emails, through us letting people know what was happening. That said, this has been a wake-up call for us. We have been working hard to improve all areas of Night Shade Books."
"We have already addressed the issues currently at hand involving Elizabeth Moon, Brendan Halpin, and Liz Williams. We have also contacted SFWA, and will be working hand-in-hand with them to find out if any other authors have issues with us, but haven't come forward yet, and get those problems resolved. At this time, we would very much like any of our authors, past or present, who have or have had issues with our conduct or business practices, to step forward either to us or to SFWA, so that we can attempt to resolve any hardships we have may have caused."
You can read the entire release over here at Publishers Weekly blog and from the looks of it, it seems that they have accepted their mistakes and are looking to amend them & move on. Is this just a conciliatory gesture or genuine regret, we cannot say however we'll have to view their future actions and find out whether this wake-up call was heralded or not. For Night Shade's sake I sincerely hope that they get their bearings together and avoid such erroneous endeavors completely in the future as the authors [Williams, Halpin & Moon] hopefully will verify if these corrective actions in the press release have been initiated or not.
Update: Brendan Halpin chimes in with his thoughts about Night Shade’s formal apology over at his blog