To the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America:
It has been brought to our attention, by several of our romance authors, that your organization no longer considers Medallion Press, Inc. a legitimate publisher according to your guidelines. We were surprised we did not receive official notification directly, but instead discovered it was posted on several RWA internet loops. Accordingly, we request this letter be published in its entirety in the RWR Report so all members may understand the nature of the process that eliminated Medallion as an RWA approved publisher. We will also send copies of this letter to all our own RWA member authors.
We are dismayed you declared Medallion Press no longer a legitimate publisher. In July of 2004 we met all of your qualifications without incident by showing sales of 5000+ copies of USA Today Bestselling author Nan Ryan's The Last Dance.
Several months prior to Book Expo America 2005, we received a call from your office alerting us to the fact that you would be sending out a letter asking us to re-qualify for RWA approval. We were also told at that time that we had done nothing to warrant the re-qualification, but that your organization was having trouble with a particular publisher and chose not to single them out. Therefore, we would have to go through the laborious process of re-qualifying.
We object strongly to this action for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the rules you use for qualification seem arbitrary. How does selling 5000 copies of a single title justify a publishing house's legitimacy? While in theory it may indicate the publisher has standing in the industry, showing orders and proof of payment means nothing at the end of the day when within a few months many or possibly all copies of said title could be returned to the publisher, meaning the author does not then receive royalties on those returns. The average return rate for fictionbooks is now at 40%.
Secondly, our small staff is devoted to running this company at top speed. We have come a long way in a relatively short time and we continue to keep our eye on the prize. It is extraordinarily time consuming to go through reams of orders to add up 5000 sold copies of a specific title; it is equally time consuming, and expensive, to have our accountants spend time locating copies of checks as proof of payment for those 5000 copies. We are an independent publisher and we do not sell 5000 copies of a single title to just one source, but to a wide variety of sources. We would not have to produce a single piece of paper, but mountains of it.
Instead of asking for confidential documentation showing 5000 mass marketbooks of a single title have been sold, you might be better off asking for proof that the publisher is a "vendor of record" at a traditional brick-and-mortar chain bookseller such as Barnes & Noble, Borders,Books-A-Million, or through national distributors such as Ingram or Baker &Taylor. This means far more to an author's career than selling 5000 books.
We are extremely proud of our authors and the books they have written. We have a diverse and dynamic talent pool at Medallion and we know every one of our authors, be they romance or horror writers, are well on their way to having successful writing careers. Their mass market novels can be found in bookstores across the country, and the world, and many of them are selling more than 5000 books prior to their book's date of publication.
To punish authors because of the way RWA views a publisher's legitimacy is an unfair practice. The burden of proof should be on the author, not the publisher. It is the author who receives the benefits of membership in RWA, not the publisher. Let the authors prove they were paid an advance. It should not matter how large or small the advance, and they should provideevidence of a contract that shows they will be paid royalties. At that point an author should be considered published. It should not matter that the publisher seeks membership with your organization or not.
In recent years publishing has exploded. There are many new publishers, small presses, e-book publishers, and independent publishers all holding their own. As long as they publish romance and do not charge their authorsto publish their books, it should be good enough for RWA.
Medallion Press will not re-apply for membership. However, we urge you to reconsider the penalties you impose on our authors simply because we choosenot to belong to ANY writers' organizations. RWA is an organization of itsmembers and we believe it is time to let your members determine how theyevaluate publishers. You know we are a legitimate publisher and know the lengths we go to for our authors. We respectfully request you evaluate your policies so they work for your membership and not against it.
Sincerely,Helen A. Rosburg - President/CEO & Editor-in-Chief
Leslie Burbank - Vice PresidentMedallion Press, Inc.
[any weirdo typos, spacing etc are my fault--kate]