An American publisher of LGBT fiction has been accused of not paying royalties to its authors, including a number of Australian authors.
Dozens of authors have complained about late royalty payments, poor communication and other issues with Dreamspinner Press, an independent publisher based in Florida specialising in gay romance.
Melbourne-based author Louisa Masters published her first novel with Dreamspinner Press in 2017. She told the Star Observer she first realised something wasn’t right when her royalty payments came late.
“There have been several authors complaining of late royalty payments for a few years, but mine were always on time so it was just hearsay for me,” Masters said.
“Even when my Q1 payment was late this year, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. But by late August, I was getting really concerned about the communication from [Dreamspinner Press].”
Since May, Dreamspinner Press have emailed weekly updates to their authors about the status of their royalty payments. Masters described the emails as “a mess of contradictions and manipulative language”.
She said she’s still owed all her royalties from the second and third financial quarters. In October, she requested a reversion of rights for all her books from Dreamspinner Press and said she plans to self-publish them over the next few months.
“Financially, I’m lucky that I don’t rely solely on income from writing. I’ve had to cut back some luxuries, but my bills can still be paid,” Masters said.
“Emotionally, it’s been a disaster. Before I finally pulled my rights, I was getting anxious just thinking about my books and publishing. I’ve had to make time and find money to republish, and it’s just something I didn’t want to deal with.”
Along with Masters, the Star Observer spoke to three authors who claimed Dreamspinner Press was withholding their royalties.
Australian Society of Authors spokesperson Emily Banyard told the Star Observer any authors who haven’t received their royalties should “look at their contracts to understand their options and rights”.
“They could potentially approach the Authors Guild, our sister organisation in the USA representing author interests, and we would be happy to try and help any of our members who are experiencing difficulty receiving timely royalty payments,” Banyard said.
“Frustratingly, non-payment of royalties can be a difficult issue to deal with, as the amounts of money involved can be relatively small in proportion to the costs of action, particularly with contracts that fall under the jurisdiction of a different country.”
Dreamspinner Press was contacted for comment but didn’t respond before deadline.