(Page in progress. I’m certain to have forgotten something)
Last update 22 Feb 2017
It’s a new venture for me and I’ve been trying to think up a reason for its existence. Other than ‘I have to do something with my life. This is something so I have to do it.’
Leg Iron Books will be a fairly easy outlet for writers struggling to get into print. At the moment it’s going to be anthologies of short stories. Send your best because this is your showcase.
‘Fairly’ easy does not mean I’ll accept anything at all. I can fix typos and edit stories into shape but don’t send me an outline or a long rambling first draft full of errors and empty of storyline. You have to give me something I can work with. I’ll edit and proofread but I’m not rewriting the whole thing.
There are also some subject areas I won’t touch.
- No porn. Erotica, or stories with sex in them are okay. If the sex is the story, it’s porn.
- No violent rape stories. That’s just nasty.
- No child abuse stories. I’ll consider revenge stories where the one taking revenge was abused in the past, but no details. I don’t want any books ending up on the shelves of Gary Glitter’s gang.
- No fan fiction. That’s where you write a story using characters from other books, films or TV. Those characters are copyrighted by other people and I can’t afford to get sued.
- True stories are okay as long as the people in them can’t be identified. I’m not Private Eye and I’m not looking for lawsuits. I prefer ‘based on a true story’ so fictionalise it to the max. Change every name and location and add a few embellishments.
- No glorification of antismoking, antidrinking, anti-any-lifestyle choice. I’m not putting out propaganda for that lot.
There might be more on the list. It depends what comes in.
Any. The first anthology was a real mixed bag but future ones will be themed. This year I’m going for Easter, Halloween and Christmas anthologies. I’ll look at any genre within the theme of the book.
Obviously I’m not going to put a children’s story in the same book as a steamy erotica story but really, children’s stories aren’t likely to appear in these books. They aren’t banned from the books, I just don’t really expect to get any. If there are some they would be better separated into a small book of their own.
Eventually I’ll probably settle into a few genres but I’ll see what stories I get. I’m not going to force it. Just going to let it develop on its own.
Copyright remains with the author. You are not selling me the story, you are selling me permission to put it in the book. Once. I will not have the right to republish in anything other than that one book.
The author can republish short stories anywhere they like after the book is out. I’d rather you wait until the book is out before doing that, but realistically I don’t have the time or resources to check. It’s on trust.
So I won’t own the stories I pay for, I’ll just own the book containing them. To reiterate, you are not selling me the story. That remains yours. You are selling me the right to put it in one anthology.
There will be author contracts so if I lose my marbles in the future and claim I can re-use the story elsewhere, you’ll have a piece of paper with my signature on it that proves I can’t.
Novel copyright also remains with the author but I’ll ask for an exclusive publishing deal for a period of five years. If, at the end of that time, you think the book will do better with another publisher, it’s still your book. You can sign up again at Leg Iron Books or move on.
This is a lot less complicated than it appears. There are different levels of author rights and publisher rights and the only ones that matter here are first or reprint rights:
- First rights. Also known as first publication rights. That’s where you send in a previously unpublished story that has never been published before. Its first ever appearance will be in an Underdog Anthology.
- Reprint rights. In this case, it’s a story that has been published before but you still have copyright and can sell it again. Putting on the internet counts as published, putting it through a critique group that is not accessible to non-members isn’t publication. It’s fine to get the likes of CritiqueCircle.com to look it over for you.
Those are really the only ones that matter here. Film and other rights are the author’s business, not mine. If someone wants to make a film out of a story they work directly with the author. I won’t be involved at all.
The anthology stories will be a flat rate of £10 per story or payment in copies of the books. I can’t keep up the original payment rate of I’ll go bust. I expect most people will want the books but if you’re trying to make a living at short stories, you might prefer the cash. Don’t really try to make a living with short stories. They only attract small one-off payments. You need to build up royalties.
In future I’ll devise some fiendishly complex scheme based on the length of the story and whether it’s a first publication or a reprint. I’ll get to that once the first one is out of the way.
Novels and single author collections are paid in royalties. It won’t be much per book because I need to keep the price as low as I can. Unknown author plus unknown publisher does not equal ‘top of the sales lists’. Not yet anyway. Currently the author gets half of the profit per book (every book will make a profit. I can’t work at a loss). I would hope to reduce my percentage of that 50/50 split in the future as the books build up and hopefully sales go up.
If I get to the point where I reduce my percentage then it goes across the whole catalogue. Existing authors will get an increased percentage, it’s not going to be some kind of ‘new customers only’ nonsense.
Novel payments will be at the end of February, May, August and November. Paypal is the best way for me to do this, especially if you’re outside the UK. I can send a cheque if you prefer but it might be for a small amount, it’ll be in UK currency and could be difficult to cash overseas. Really, it’s much better to get a PayPal account.
Plugging your other writing
This is absolutely encouraged. You only get a small one-off payment for the Leg Iron Books use of a short story. If you want to have an ‘About the Author’ page where you plug your other books, stories, website, blog, your eBay sideline in selling interestingly shaped rocks from Peru or anything at all, that would be fine and dandy with me. Try to keep it to one page, please. Don’t make it longer than the story!
I can even put in a photo if you like, but only in monochrome. Adding a single colour page into a book will put up the price of the book by silly amounts. I can turn colour pictures into monochrome and it doesn’t have to be a picture of your face.
Just keep it clean, okay?
Where is this idea going?
As with all my ideas, I have no clue where this is going to end up. I could one day be publishing entire collections by individual authors, although those would have to be treated as novels and then we get into quarterly royalties rather than one-off payments.
Maybe this will trickle along as an occasional anthology, maybe it will fail entirely, maybe it will end up as big as Random House or Penguin. If I don’t try, I’ll never know. So far it’s building up at a rapid pace. I hope I can keep up!
This page is an early draft. There will be updates and additions as I work out what the Hell I’m up to here. Eventually there will be a final page but the rules I have at the time you send the story are the ones that apply. This paragraph tells you I can’t change the rules once I have the story.
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.