To explain why what I'm about to post is a big deal, let me explain what the SFWA are.
The Science Fiction Writers of America is kind of like a guild. You have to have professional sales to qualify for membership (so self pubbers are out) but once you do, there are a LOT of benefits.
However, a service they offer to EVERY writer is they keep track of shady publishers, nasty agents, and general publishing nonsense that writers need to know about and stay away from. Victoria Strauss and Writer Beware (which you have bookmarked now, RIGHT?) are affiliates, and I believe Ms. Strauss herself is a member. If you are a writer of speculative fiction and you get a qualifying sale of a book or short story? JOIN SFWA. IT IS WORTH IT.
Okay? Got it?
SFWA HAVE RULED THAT RANDOM HOUSE'S HYDRA AND ALIBI IMPRINTS ARE NOT QUALIFYING MARKETS.
This is a big deal.
In effect, they've just said that Hydra is dishonest, is exploiting their authors. Furthermore, the discussion thread over on Absolute Write is focusing not on the Life-of-copyright rights grab that got me so riled up, but on how Hydra's terms make you pay for their operating expenses by docking your royalties until they decide those expenses are paid.
Folks, that doesn't just mean they can charge you for editing, artwork, and paper and ink costs should you qualify for that. That means they can charge you for their electricity bill. They can charge you for their paperclips. The computers they do the editing on. The carpet they happen to be walking on. This is called "Hollywood accounting" and it is how the writer of Forrest Gump never saw a penny of the movie money. If they are paying royalties on net after their expenses they can raise up those expenses and drop down the net until you don't see a dime.
Now, a reasonable person could say that Random House and Hydra won't do that. That they are an outstanding and honest company with a long history of treating authors relatively fair (I suspect anybody with half decent google-fu can refute that in two seconds, so I won't bother) and that they SURELY wouldn't dock authors for every single little penny they can.
Random House is owned by Penguin.
Penguin also owns Author Solutions.
Author Solutions have a long history of being scumbags.
I would recommend having NO FAITH AT ALL in a company that has contracts this shitty that also owns a company that can't even do business under its own fucking name.
Don't submit to Hydra.
Don't submit to Alibi
And in the interests of CYA? Don't submit to Flirt or any other e-book only imprint attached to the Random Penguin. If they stop being dicks and/or show a willingness to negotiate on the nasty contract terms I may revise. But to play it safe? Avoid until SFWA revise their statements.
NEW SALES PLATFORM! That OMG I think I like the best out of all of them so far.
Deviantart.com has begun allowing artists to sell "premium content" via their DA pages. And the method lets me do these awesome little packages that are actually something I've wanted to do for a while.
Sadly, sales on DA won't help me with sales ranking and street cred (because nobody's watching DA for things) BUT it allows me to reach an audience that I normally wouldn't have, and I think that is very cool.
For now, all I've got is Blue Ghosts (because everything else I'd start with is tied up by F***ing KDP Select. I hate amazon right now) but I'll probably put Silver Bullet and Starbleached up there as well.
ALSO: PRINT BOOKS!
Thanks to a WONDERFUL Anon on this post, I now have ideas about binding all the smaller books at home. It's not financially viable to do the omnibus that way (Not to mention I DO NOT WANT TO FUCK WITH IT) but the smaller ones, it'd work. Also, it'd give me practice for putting the omnibus and any future books together. Selling self-printed and self distributed books wouldn't help in terms of online book sales (or verifying to anybody with real money that I know what I'm doing) but I could definitely do homemade copies, of, say, Starbleached and Silver Bullet and Blue Ghosts et al. And sell them to ya'll, of course, and also at cons and things as long as I can keep the prices sane.
WHICH WOULD BE AWESOME.
So if any of you wonderful folks with good google-fu wish to help me further persue this (and I am googling the crap out of the 'net right now, I assure you) the ONLY part of this I cannot logic my way into is how to bind the damn things. The video Wonder-Anon showed me had a guy using a glue gun (this is good) and a thermal binding system (THE CHEAPEST MODEL IS A HUNDRED BUCKS. Sorry. It's just...it's a heater. It's a goddamned heater with braces on it. WHY SHOULD THE STICKER SHOCK BE SO HIGH?).
And the internet has failed me because nobody has DIYed the heater part. The thermal strips? Yeah, they've done that (gauze and a hot glue gun) but not the rest of it. So here is my question, my wonderful, wonderful blog readers:
-a way to melt hot glue that is between two pieces of paper without damaging said paper?
-Air drying uber-glue that can hold paper together forever?
This is a brainstorming session, folks. And your reward would be books.