Unlike many start-up digital publishers—such as xlibris.com and iuniverse.com—that have been forced by a capital crunch to turn their marketing efforts away from attracting would-be writers, Time Warner Trade Publishing's iPublish has launched a $2-million ad campaign to attract those very same writers, according to the New York Times.
The campaign is initially running online at sites catering to writers, such as writerswrite.com and mysterynet.com, and will then appear in magazines like the American Journalism Review, Writer's Digest and the Romance Writer's Report.
The campaign pokes fun at the vagaries of the publishing business and refers to the "commercialization" of the editorial process in particular, implying, perhaps, that iPublish is more altruistic than the typical publisher. One ad cited by the Times depicts a manuscript of Melville's Moby-Dick with a rejection slip reading, "Dear Mr. Melville, Whale books don't sell. How about an alien? Or a dinosaur? Or an alien dinosaur?"
Ironically, the campaign comes in the wake of a blanket condemnation by the Authors Guild of the iPublish contract.
Claire Zion, editorial director of iPublish, said she was "disappointed that the Authors Guild chose to misrepresent iPublish's relationship with writers.... We firmly believe that our contract is fair and highly favorable for the unpublished writers we are committed to nurturing."
But the guild's criticism has been echoed by Writers Beware (www.sfwa.org/beware), a Web site sponsored by the Science Fiction Writers of America that monitors publishing contracts and practices. Victoria Strauss, writer and staff member of Writer Beware, told PW, "We agree with the Authors Guild on every point, particularly the lack of advance for e-books, the fact that simply submitting work binds authors to contract terms, and the broad control gained by Time Warner over the author's next work." Strauss was also critical of the contract's "risky" indemnity clause: "Bad indemnity clauses seem to be becoming more and more common in contracts from electronic and POD-based publishers."