Dreamspinner Press Advocacy Update
August 11, 2020
To our members:
Since October 1, 2019, Dreamspinner Press has been on probation as an RWA Qualifying Market for missing author payments, as reported in the press, by Dreamspinner itself, and by authors who have shared their royalty statements with RWA.
On July 20, 2020, RWA sent the following correspondence to Dreamspinner Press, in which we listed five demands, including that Dreamspinner pay the authors owed monies and provide a thorough and transparent detailing of their current status on payments. This communication was followed up with a second one that contained information on payments owed to specific authors who reached out to us to ask for our advocacy.
A reply was requested by August 6, but to date, RWA has not received any substantive response from Dreamspinner, and multiple authors who reached out to us remain unpaid.
This is unacceptable.
RWA is an advocate for the fair treatment of authors, and failure to pay authors in a timely manner is a violation of RWA's Industry Code of Conduct. To that end, we have made the decision to turn Dreamspinner Press’s probation into a ban from our Qualifying Markets list, and Dreamspinner will lose privileges to participate in RWA events and publications for at least three years.
Pursuant to RWA Policy, Dreamspinner may reapply for inclusion on the Qualifying Markets list after three years, provided that the prior Industry Code of Conduct violation and any Code of Ethics violation(s) have been dealt with to RWA’s satisfaction and that no other violations have occurred. Dreamspinner was informed of this status on August 10, 2020.
As we acknowledge in our communication below, RWA’s initial advocacy on this issue was unacceptably lacking.
Our authors deserve better, the romance community deserves better, and we are committed to delivering better. As part of this commitment, we will be doing the following:
- Conducting a review of our Industry Code of Conduct policies and related procedures to ensure that our advocacy efforts will be strong and effective;
- Providing clear and easy information on how RWA can advocate for authors and how authors can access this advocacy;
- Creating a primer about best practices in relation to contracts that will be available to all members;
- Setting up a member resource center on our site that provides information about what to do when problems arise with a publisher, agent, or vendor; and
- Regularly reviewing these resources, policies, and procedures so that our members know they can count on RWA to work on their behalf.
If you are a romance author in need of advocacy, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
so we can help. We are committed to strongly advocating on authors’ behalf and demanding that publishers, agents, and other industry professionals meet the standards outlined in our Industry Code of Conduct
Please know that RWA cannot and does not encourage its members to not do business with any particular publishers, agents, or others in the romance writing industry. You should always make your own independent business decisions.
The RWA Board of Directors
Initial Letter from RWA to Dreamspinner Press
July 20, 2020
To Elizabeth North and the Dreamspinner Press Team:
It has been more than a year since Dreamspinner Press publicly acknowledged its inability to keep up to date with royalty payments for all of its authors, and more than six months since Dreamspinner was placed on probation from RWA for violating our Industry Code of Conduct. According to the public statement that Dreamspinner issued on June 25, 2020 and several authors who reached out to us about monies they are owed by Dreamspinner, these issues have not been resolved. This is unacceptable.
To date, RWA’s advocacy on this issue has been soft. We feared that an aggressive stance from us would prevent your turnaround. In hindsight, this was the wrong approach. Not only did it leave our members unsupported and harm their faith in us, but it also clearly has not resulted in significant progress from Dreamspinner.
Therefore, RWA is writing on behalf of our members and members of the romance-writing community to demand the following:
- Dreamspinner must repay the authors currently owed money. Full stop.
- Furthermore, it is RWA’s opinion that hosting open calls for submissions and signing new authors while current and former authors are still owed money is not only irresponsible but is insulting to the authors owed money and misleading to the new authors being signed.
- Dreamspinner must commit to frequent, transparent, and substantive communication—proactive updates that are realistic and straightforward. While weekly updates were the norm in 2019, 2020 has seen only three updates, released months apart, only one of which has been posted to the dedicated site for these updates. Some questions that should be answered in future communications:
- How many authors (current and former) are still owed money?
- What is your current payment schedule and how are you determining which authors receive monies when payments are made?
- What is your firm timeline to become current on all of your payments?
- Is Dreamspinner’s ability to become current on payments completely dependent on receiving an SBA loan and is there a contingency plan in place should the loan not come through?
- Dreamspinner should provide its authors (former and current) with a clear and concise explanation of what lead up to this situation that acknowledges its own behavior which put Dreamspinner and its authors in this regrettable position. To further this, Dreamspinner should open its books to any author (current and former) that requests this information, even if the request goes beyond the author’s specific royalties (with measures to protect other authors’ identities, of course).
- Finally, one of the biggest lessons RWA learned from our crisis this year was to offer genuine apologies to those we hurt for what we did wrong, without excuses and without obfuscation, and to change our offending behavior. Those affected by Dreamspinner’s issues deserve no less. Dreamspinner must offer a sincere apology followed by serious actions to pay those owed royalties and an honest accounting of Dreamspinner’s current financial situation and expectations at ever being able to pay the royalties they are owed.
We will be discussing with our attorney further options available to us to assist authors who have not been paid by Dreamspinner. We also will be reviewing our Industry Code of Conduct and related procedures to ensure that, in the future, we will be stronger in our advocacy in these situations.
We will be making a public statement regarding the contents of this communication and any received in response.
Please expect subsequent, private communications with information on payments owed to specific authors who reached out and asked for our advocacy on their behalf.
While these issues are unresolved, Dreamspinner remains on indefinite probation from being included on RWA’s Qualifying Markets list, participating in RWA events, and appearing in RWA publications. At its next meeting, August 8-9, 2020, the Board will discuss whether or not the probation should turn into a permanent ban. For it to be considered in this discussion, please respond to this communication by August 6, 2020 with an update on progress made toward resolving these issues.
RWA and Dreamspinner have enjoyed a good relationship for years, and Dreamspinner has been one of the most influential publishers when it comes to celebrating LGBTQ+ love stories. While this situation is not one in which RWA wishes to see any publisher, the only acceptable resolution is for Dreamspinner to right the wrongs it has perpetrated on its authors (former and current) as you work toward a full recovery. Dreamspinner signed contracts with authors which demand fulfillment, as is the authors’ legal right. Pay the authors.
Romance Writers of America