Why InfinityBox Press?

by Kate Wilhelm

Open letter to word watchers:

I've been a writer since 1956 when I sold my first short story. My first novel came in 1962. In all that time I've never seen a book contract that was entirely acceptable with the exception of the model contract Damon Knight wrote, or the model contract provided by the Authors Guild. Unfortunately, book publishers never used those contracts in my case, or for any other writers I have known. As a beginning writer I had no bargaining strength, and changes in contracts were rare, and rarely significant. Incrementally, contracts got better in some instances with some clauses, only to have new unacceptable clauses show up on later pages. Incrementally means in this case that the contract finally signed was still heavily weighted toward the publisher, which is understandable. They had the legal staff to write contracts, I was a lone writer trying to shift the balance somewhat. As telling as that fact is, it isn't the most important one in the never-ending struggle for a fairer contract with a publisher.

The most important factor is simple: if fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, then writers gotta write. We write for publication in order to have readers, and the publishers were the only place to turn after we exhausted our family and friends. I was as gleeful and grateful as any new writer to have my work accepted. I signed contracts that made me wince, but I got published and read. I played their game because it was the only game in town, and I had to play. I've had marvelous editors over the years and I have no quarrel with any of them, but rather affection and appreciation. However, the editors do not set company policy and they do not write contracts.

In the fall of 2011 I was offered a contract that was so egregious that the publishing house that sent it should have been ashamed, and if I had signed it I would have been shamed. I proposed additional changes to those my agent had already managed to have incorporated and each suggested change was refused. I rejected the contract and withdrew the novel. At that point, I could have tried a different publisher but I knew it would have been a repeat performance, because the major publishers are tightening ranks and the contract I had rejected was more or less the new standard. It wasn't about the advance, I might add. It was about rights, especially electronic rights, not only those in existence today, but anything that might be developed in the future in any form: who owned them, duration of ownership, how they would be exploited, how and if they would ever revert, and so on. I refused to submit it to anyone else.

I mulled it over for a week or more, considering whether I should simply publish it myself online, well aware that many writers were doing just that, established professionals as well as newcomers, some of them with considerable success. However, also during that period I kept thinking of all the books I had written, most of them out of print, and never destined to be reprinted because that rarely is done with a writer's backlist unless that writer magically gets on the New York Times bestseller list. Another week or longer passed and I was still thinking things over. Then, tentatively, I consulted my son Richard, his wife Sue, and another son, Jonathan, and asked them if they would like to consider forming a publishing company with me. Their response was an enthusiastic yes. As a result we created InfinityBox Press, LLC.

We are excited about this, and I'm especially pleased because there is a paradigm shift taking place. The world of publishing is not what it was a few years ago. We are witnessing not just the wave of the future, but a virtual tsunami. The playing field has expanded exponentially and new players are changing the game rules. Writers will write, no matter what else, and readers will read but the distance between writers and readers is shrinking and there will be fewer middle and upper management barriers separating them.

Our plan is to make my entire backlist available as ebooks and print-on-demand books. There will also be two new novels, the first one a Charlie and Constance mystery, and the second one, the one I withdrew, a Barbara Holloway courtroom drama. After my backlist and the new work is up and running, we'll do Damon's backlist. This is a Herculean task that involves archaeological digs into past files-a different story for another time. As of now we have a website, infinityboxpress.com and a Facebook page for the press, as well as my own Facebook page. After our initial offerings are complete, we will open the doors to other writers. Wish us luck. And please drop in for a visit.

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