Publisher Settles Concerns of Flashing Swords #6 Writers

Last week editor Robert Price set off a rebellion among the contributors to his revival of a classic fantasy anthology series, Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords #6, when they got a look at the political diatribe in his Introduction. Several writers pulled their stories from the book and Pulp Hero Press told them it was being delisted.

When one of the contributors, Cliff Biggers, received a copy of the book he thought it had been released anyway, and aired his grievances on Facebook, including that the authors never signed a contract and have not been paid.

But Pulp Hero Press publisher Bob McLain and the writers continued talking and they have reached an agreement. Cliff Biggers told Facebook readers:

I am very pleased to report that Pulp Hero Press publisher Bob McClain continued to discuss the Flashing Swords #6 situation with all of us in hopes of finding a solution. This morning, he approached the authors with a proposed resolution that has been accepted. Bob has confirmed that we hold the copyrights, he has confirmed cancellation of the book (even if Amazon somehow resists it, they have no copies or files to ship), and he has offered the writers a “kill fee” for the stories while allowing them to take the story to any publisher immediately. This is the best possible resolution to a situation that was as unpleasant and unexpected for Bob McClain as it was for all of us, and I appreciate his willingness to bring this to a close.

Some of the stories will appear in a new anthology from publisher Bob McLain.

Author Joe Bonadonna secured permission to post McLain’s email with all the details.

Bob McLain
9:54 AM (1 hour ago)

I’m sure you’re all sick of FLASHING SWORDS by now – as am I – but this email is essential to provide closure to the matter, and stands as my last statement about it.

Let me get another “excuse” out of the way first.

FLASHING SWORDS was my first anthology. Robert Price was respected in the field and had many, many anthologies under his belt. He provided to me a “ready-to-publish” manuscript, and I assumed in good faith that he had secured rights from the contributors. I was to pay him a royalty on sales.

The copyright notice in the book identifies Price as the copyright holder. It has been quite a few years since I sat in an intellectual property class in law school, but I can assure you – guarantee you – that the rights to your stories remain with you, and not with Price. He has *no* copyright to anything in the book except for his introduction, the vile catalyst for all these problems. His claim to your stories, in regard to including them in an anthology, was extinguished when they were, in fact, included in an anthology. He didn’t pay you for anything, and as I’m now being told, he didn’t even offer you contracts to sign.

I can also assure you that Price has no copies of the book himself. After telling him a couple of days ago that I would have nothing more to do with him (to which he replied “Nice knowing you”), he had the gall
last night to send me an email asking that I send him a few comp copies. Even if I had copies myself, which I don’t, the only place they belong is in the trash.

I never should have published that book. More to the point, I should have been more engaged in the process and not have *assumed* that Price had done all the editorial and legal legwork. The book is no longer available on Amazon, not even from third-party sellers like The Book Depository, and I took steps to remove all of your names from Amazon’s book description. The book should also no longer appear on your Amazon author pages.

Some of you have re-submitted your stories to me for inclusion in a new anthology. I’ve already paid for a couple of them. Some of you want nothing to do with a new anthology. Regardless, I’m going to take one of your suggestions and offer a kill fee to everyone whose story was included in FLASHING SWORDS! #6, regardless of whether that story is slated for further publication, regardless of whether it has already been paid for, and regardless of its length. The kill fee is $50. If you’d like to claim the kill fee, please give me either your PayPal address or your mailing address. By paying the kill fee I do not request, nor will I acquire, any rights to your story, in particular the right to include it in a future anthology (unless, of course, we’ve already made a separate agreement about that). In *all* cases, *you* are the copyright holder.

This closes the book, so to speak, for me on FLASHING SWORDS. I’ll have nothing more to say about it. My lesson learned, for future anthologies, is to circulate a final proof of the *entire* book to all of the
contributors prior to publication for review and approval. Had I taken this obvious, in hindsight, step prior to publishing FLASHING SWORDS #6, the fixable problems in the book would have been fixed, and we’d likely all be friends right now.

— Bob McLain

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9 thoughts on “Publisher Settles Concerns of Flashing Swords #6 Writers

  1. Now that was a genuine letter of apology. I hope that there are other people watching and taking notes.

    Well done to McClain for making the best possible resolution to a bad situation.

  2. Worth clicking through to Cliff’s facebook post, though, as the publisher had some more “nothing to do with me” before he came to this apology. The apology letter as it finally came out is great, but it’s the one he should’ve come to sooner. If he’d just done his homework, or understand his job, he’d not be sitting with egg on his face.

  3. Kudos to McLain for doing it right. So refreshing in this era of bluster, denial, and doubling down.

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