The PJ Tatler

A Challenge to the Science Fiction Writers of America

There has been much discussion of late of the Science Fiction Writer’s of America’s decision to redirect links for some of their authors away from Amazon, after contract negotiations between Independent Publisher’s Group and Amazon broke down.


When those discussions broke down Amazon pulled all the IPG books they had off the site, not so much as a negotiating tactic as has been alleged, or as a method of censorship — which has also been alleged and is patently absurd as Amazon is not a government — but because they no longer had a contractual right to sell them.

Let’s be clear, had Amazon continued to sell those books, they would have been liable for copyright infringement and could have been sued.

I’m not going to get deeply into the rights or wrongs of that here. But over at the secretary of SFWA Mary Robinette Kowal responded to a post by the blog owner Sarah A. Hoyt, by trying to say that SFWA made the move to protect authors.

Meanwhile, I’ve had several authors tell me they’re being screwed over badly on their royalty statements by their publishers and yet SFWA, which is the closest thing they have to a union (talk about herding cats) has done nothing to help them.

I’ve been trying to investigate this for some time with little success because most of the authors willing to talk to me privately are unwilling to do so on the record for fear of reprisals.

So I issue this challenge to the SFWA forthwith:


Will you help authors to demand audits of their royalty statements and further demand there be no reprisals by the so-called Big Six publishers who are associate members of your association?

Will you assist authors who would be willing to go on the record to contact me and get copies of their royalty statements and bookscan numbers to me?

Will you demand publishers remove ebooks to which they never purchased the rights from distribution channels and demand they pay back royalties?

Will you demand publishers stop using Bookscan numbers, which are a notoriously inaccurate estimate, to pay e-book royalties and instead demand actual sales counts be used, counts which are easy to obtain from any of the major e-book retailer?

Will you demand realistic royalties be paid on e-books, rather than the pittance authors currently receive from the so-called Big Six?

The ball is in your court, SFWA.

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