dean koontzI was reading my copy of the seasonal newsletter that Dean Koontz sends out to fans via snail mail. It’s called Useless News. It usually lets me know what new books Koontz has coming out.

This issue, however, had two articles in it that reinforced one of the benefits of being an independent publisher. Essentially, there are fewer people who can screw you over.

In the first instance, Koontz wrote about getting the rights back to his first novel, which was half an “Ace Double” back in 1968. Ace Doubles were paperbacks that had two novels in one. The usual advance for half of a double was $1,250. The editor apparently told the young Koontz that since his novel was shorter than usual, he could only pay him $1,000 because he would have to pay the other author to be included in the double $1,500 to write a longer novel.

When the book came out, Koontz didn’t notice any difference in the sizes of the two books. He actually even met the other author years later and that author told Koontz that the editor had told him the same story about his book.

So the authors had been shorted 25 percent of their royalty and the publisher had saved $500 by taking advantage of the authors.

The other story he told was in an article called “Threats in the Arts and The Art of Threats.” Early in Koontz’s career, he had an agent who threatened to sue him when Koontz wanted to fire him. He said that the contract he had with Koontz wouldn’t allow him to be fire (which turned out to be unenforceable in court). The agent also spread lies about Koontz, which he only found out about because one of the editors who was told the lies told Koontz.

When I read these articles, I was struck by the fact that as many headaches as I have sometimes as an indie author, at least I haven’t run into these problems.

I don’t consider myself a control freak, but I do like having control over my books. After all, who is going to love a book more than its author? I want to make sure it’s how I envision the final product. I’m willing to take the advice of other experts on different aspects, but in the end, the final say is mine.

As for Koontz’s experiences, I’m sorry he had to go through what he did, but I’m glad he didn’t let those experiences derail his career. He’s one of my favorite authors.

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