Dorrance Publishing Company

Dear Miss Snark,

A relative recently registered the copyright for her collection of children's stories. Today she got a letter from Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc., a subsidy publisher.

Is this a new trend? You register copyright for an unpublished work and the subsidy publishers move in for the kill? I suspect that people who know little about the world of publishing are likely to be caught by offers like these. And how exactly do the 'researchers' get details of manuscript registration, including people's mailing address, from the Library of Congress? Is that information public? I have not seen mention of this particular situation anywhere before.

Of course it's public. That's the whole point of registering a copyright: so people will know it's protected, and if a work is published who owns the rights and who needs to give permission for it to be used.

Subsidy publishing is a business like any other. You buy a car, you get a letter from Texas Hold Em Insurance Company offering a rate quote for cars with purple fins. Have a baby: get a call from a Burp and Spit life insurance company. Sign up for Gin of the Month Club and Versace Pail Pals is on your doorstep.

I have zero problem with Dorrance doing that. They are upfront about what they are and how they work. They don't say "get your book in bookstores" and they don't say "sell your work on Amazon". They say they publish books..and they do.

Subsidy publishing is not evil. It's not the same thing as general trade publishing. The subsidy publishers who try to get your business by telling you POD subsidy publishing is just like trade publishing only faster easier cheaper and sexier...those are the snake oil salespeople I revile.


CEP said...

One thing for sure: This isn't a "new" trend. It's something that some scam vanity presses have been doing since not later than 1994 (the earliest date for which I have documentation, not the earliest date I believe it happened).

I anticipate that it's going to become even more common sometime after November. The Copyright Office is planning on changing its registration forms to an entirely online system (it is testing the proposed system now, with certain nontextual works), which will make data mining for s/u/c/k/e/r/s/ authors registering their own unpublished, self-published, and vanity-published works that much easier.

I don't intend to discourage authors from registering their copyrights when appropriate, such as after self-publishing their books (and almost always after vanity-publishing their books, as almost no vanity publisher routinely registers for the author… without payment of a fee several times the registration fee). I'm merely noting that those who do so after the turn of the year can probably expect a little bit more junk mail… and, possibly, a little bit less opportunity to swill gin and s/t/a/l/k/ observe Mr Clooney in the divine company of Miss Snark.

lizzie26 said...

Yeah, they're above-board with what they say, only there are writers who think you HAVE to pay thousands of dollars to be published.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Miss Snark, for your response to my question. And to c.e. petit as well.

lizzie, that was my first thought. Writers who are new to the business of publishing won't know the difference. They'll see the offer from a publisher, get all excited and reach for their wallets.

That's why it is very important for a newbie to do lots and lots of research, so he can make informed decisions - rather than learning after the fact.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Keep in mind that one vanity publisher has established an imprint that isn't subsidy or vanity, but it appears that the imprint is used mostly to mine authors for information through their submissions to it in order to solicit them for the main company's subsidy operations.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from an author published through Dorrance who thought he was going through a traditional publisher, though. It seems he based this misconception on how the place had contacted him, and nobody bothered to correct him.

Anonymous said...

I registered ARTWORK (graphics) and received a note about publishing my book from them.

Who ever works there and goes through the new copyrights must not know the difference between the two. I wonder if they even send their lovely solicitation notes to musicians who register their music??

I heart Killer Yapp

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why anyone would pay the high fee to copyright unpublished works. If it's ever published THAT PUBLISHER pays for those fees in addition to paying the author. And by the way, not all subsidy publishers are POD and not all POD publishers are subsidy publishers. POD simply means, printed in batches as needed, instead of in huge batches.

Anonymous said...

I don't consider 30 bucks a 'high' fee, and obviously the people who copyright their unpublished creations don't think so either. It's not much to pay for peace of mind.

I would not dream of registering the copyright for my unpubbed genre romances, but I know someone who thought that her collection of luminous, film-friendly and easily plagiarized children's picture stories should be protected before she tried to market them. I respect her choice.

Dave Kuzminski said...

And please, writers, don't fall for a publishing scheme such as the one currently in Ann and Victoria's blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm very late on this topic, but I just wanted to drop a note of thanks. I just received an e-mail from Dorrance and googled the name--this site came up. I am a VERY NEW writer-never been published and currently trying to write a novel. At first, I was very excited to receive the e-mail, until I realized that I had never even heard of Dorrance. I was ready to jump right in. Thanks to all of you for posting to sites such as these. I'm so new, it doesn't take much for me to get "sucked" into some madness.

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys...I'm a very new Australian writer, slogging away, trying to get my book published. Phew! Man this process is a griller! Anyway, I was nabbed by the New York Literary Agency - luckily I was warned and didn't get sucked in...But I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with being contacted just the next day by these 'Dorrance Publishing Company' - Man! How does a decent writer ever survive in an ocean FULL of SHARKS???
Brisbane, Australia