POINT OF VIEW: Dreamspinner

There’s a lot of stuff swirling around Dreamspinner Press these days. I don’t want to rehash the various issues here – if you’re connected to Dreamspinner in some way, you are probably aware of them already.

I also don’t intend to get into specific author complaints against the press. Each of us has our own experience with Dreamspinner, and it’s not my intent to either validate or invalidate them.

What I can speak to is my own experience with Dreamspinner Press and its employees.

I first became aware of Dreamspinner via my husband Mark, who is an avid gay fiction/mm romance reader. When I set my sights on getting published, they were one of the first presses I submitted to.

BG Thomas and Anne Regan chose one of my stories for A Taste of Honey, plucking me out of obscurity and starting me on the path to my current writing career.

I have always been impressed by their robust editing process, their cover artists, and the professionalism with which they conduct business.

I met Elizabeth and Lynn at the DSP retreat a year later, and Lynn promised to take a look at the first books in both my Oberon Cycle and Liminal Sky trilogies, and she has been a stalwart supporter of mine ever sense.

At each of the DSP retreats, Elizabeth gives her state of the DSP world talk, laying out the business plan for the next year. She’s one of the most savvy business folks I know – at each year’s event, she shares how she and her inner circle have been thinking not just one year ahead, but three, five or ten years. At last year’s event, they were already thinking about providing entertainment content for self driving car passengers. Seriously!

Last year, they embarked on an ambitious campaign to mainstream the press, pushing their authors into bookstores for the first time via a partnership with a book distributor. They have been working to speed up payments to authors, to increase author sales by doing more translations and audio editions, and a number of other initiatives aimed at improving the long-term health of the business.

And then they stumbled.

Mark and I run our own business. We’ve had our ups and downs, and the last few year have been some of the most challenging. This week marks the twentieth anniversary of our travel site, and we’re set to launch the latest version next month. And yet, these last three years in particular have been really hard, as market forces have aligned against us and we’ve been forced to strip down our business model and rework it from the ground up.

If you’re in business long enough, you will reach a defining moment, when everything seems to conspire against us and all seems lost. At moments like these, more will be demanded of you than you knew you had to give.

There are no guarantees in business. You work your ass off every day, and still it might all go south faster than you ever thought possible.

But if you are good at what you do and if you work hard enough, you can find a way to rise from the ashes. You just need to be clever enough and have a little bit of luck.

Dreamspinner is at one of those points now, and I don’t envy them for it.

But there are good signs that I haven’t seen in the past with presses that have failed:

Editing continues apace – I’ve confirmed this with a number of authors, which means the books are still coming out on a regular basis.

They are keeping up regular communication with authors about this fluid situation as it evolves and changes.

As I understand it, the company has basically secured SBA financing (I don’t know the exact state of this one), and transitioned to a new payment system that’s much better than Paypal.

And they are working with their authors as issues arise, and from what I hear, are working hard to resolve them.

I’ve believed for a long time that Dreamspinner was one of the best publishers in the queer romance business. I’ve recommended them to many f my fellow authors.

They’ve had a series of unfortunate events that have put them in jeopardy, but I sincerely believe they will make it through this difficult time.

I have no plans to withdraw my books from Dreamspinner, though I understand why some folks have. We all have to make our own decisions in this biz, so no judgment.

I’m in this with them for the long haul.

Business is hard. But in my experience, no one keeps Elizabeth (or Lynn) down for long.