Why Varric's Publisher Is The Literal Worst (Or, Publishing Contracts 101)
Either Varric has the worst publisher in Kirkwall (and possibly in Thedas), or he picked the best of a bad lot and is trying to make the best of it now.
I am a writer myself. I know what publishing is like. And there are a couple things a publisher is supposed to do that Varric’s publisher just is not doing.
1) He’s not getting a proper editor.
We’ve all laughed at some of the howlers in Varric’s work, especially that ‘metaphor’ about the boat. (You know the one, it’s in one of the Hard in Hightown books.) But what that means is that he’s not getting professionally edited, at all. And I don’t think this is a case of Varric-is-too-famous-to-get-edited, he’s shown a pretty… mature? … grasp of what’s wrong with some of his books, and he doesn’t have Dorian’s ego. I think that they’re assuming they can cut corners by not editing his work, because wtf, even a crappy editor could have caught that one.
2) His publishersold his foreign rights without telling him.
Like, okay, I’m assuming the state of contract law in Thedas is not as good as it is in 21st-century America, I get it. But this is beyond unethical.
For reference, for those of you who don’t understand how writing contracts work: a writer’s work is their property. When a book gets published, the author is not selling their work; they’re selling a publisher the right to print their work, for a limited amount of time.
Most magazine contracts, for example, are for first-time publication in the country the magazine is based in, and you can resell your work or print it on your website after a certain amount of time has passed. Book contracts are for a longer amount of time, but are still limited, usually, to the country in which the book was first published.
If the book is going to be translated and/or published in a different country, the author gets to sell their right to do so, and can make a significantly greater amount of money from this. If, for example, an author lives, works, and publishes in Germany, and then is suddenly selling a highly popular book in the United States, they are going to be making a good deal more money than they were previously.
So Varric’s publisher selling his right to publish in Orlais out from under his nose- that’s theft. They’re stealing his intellectual property.
3) Having done that, his publisher did not give him any of the money they received from said sales.
I don’t think I need to tell you why this is bad, especially not in conjunction with #2. To steal his shit, and then to steal all the money they got from selling his shit? That’s refuge in fucking audacity, man. That’s a level of bullshit that’s so high even Varric is stunned by it. That’s ‘call in the Red Jennies, these people deserve bees in their trousers’ levels of bullshit.
So yeah, Varric’s publisher is the literal worst.