Sorry too that I've been less than responsive in many cases to requests for my reminiscences, and contacts, concerning R.A. Lafferty. I've even been dragging my feet filling orders for my own publications, which I still have in stock, albeit in dwindling quantities. My plan is to try to bestir myself to work back through my tasks list for things I should have dealt with long before now. So don't be surprised if you do hear from me, even if you've given up hope.
Meanwhile, there is news to report on the Lafferty front. Yesterday I received an email from the Lafferty Literary Estate. I'll just go ahead and copy it here along with my response to it. Anyone who has been interested in publishing Lafferty themselves (there have been a few of you) -- now might be a good time to let the Estate know of your interest, probably through the Virginia Kidd Agency.
Sent: Thu, Mar 3, 2011 3:46 pm
Subject: Sale of R.A. Lafferty literary rights
I wanted you to be among the first to know that on May 1 the
Lafferty Estate state will sell the rights to the entire literary output
of the science fiction writer, R.A. Lafferty, to the Locus Science
Fiction Foundation for $70,000 plus 50% of any future profit from the
Lafferty rights in excess of $30,000 in any single year.
If you know of anyone who might be interested in purchasing the
Lafferty literary works on more favorable terms, please have them
contact me at LaffertyEstate or 919-286-9519 and I will
provide additional information to help them decide whether they would
like to make a better offer before May 1.
As you may know, R.A. Lafferty has received some of the highest
awards for science fiction writing, both in the U.S. (e.g. Hugo, World
Fantasy Lifetime Achievement) and overseas (e.g. the Japanese Seiun
Award), and he continues to have a devoted following.
This sale will include the rights to approximately 21 published
and 13 unpublished novels, approximately 297 published and 96
unpublished short works such as short stories, essays and poems,
approximately 8 published and 4 unpublished book-length collections of
short works and approximately 24 published trade paperbacks or booklets.
The complete description of the rights being offered for sale is
contained in my "Letter to Potential Bidders", which I will provide upon
Elizabeth Kennington, Executor
The Estate of R.A. Lafferty
1415 Pennsylvania Avenue
Durham, NC 27705
Sounds like a pretty good move. I don't know how it will impact my selling the booklets I still have on hand (in limited numbers), but I'm sure it will be good for getting Lafferty books back in print, plus maybe some of his never-published things finally seeing the light of day. I feel bad I didn't get my little agreement/contract thing written that I promised. I did a first draft and meant to knock it out, but I didn't get it done. Plus I had a royalty check all written, ready to include. So that's been collecting dust [not interest] in my checkbook register all this time. I could add that amount to whatever has accrued in the meantime and send another check out. Where should that go now?
I had been thinking about trying to carry on with the IN A GREEN TREE novels I started, but just couldn't seem to get back to it, much as I want it to be out there. Actually, I'd prefer a more conventional publisher to really do it. Locus will bring an expertise in publishing modes (eBook, on-line, print, POD, etc.) as well as a knowledge of the markets and the sci-fi world that should go a ways toward satisfying what I see as a pent-up demand for Lafferty works.
I've been getting a few inquiries about who and where to contact for reprint/publishing inquiries, and I was wanting to get that info updated before responding -- another thing I've been sitting on doing, and which I feel bad about.
Anyway, it looks like maybe things are taking a good turn for Lafferty readers and enthusiasts. Financially I have no idea if it's as good a deal as you could find -- but it looks to me like it should be a great thing for the Lafferty body of work.
Can I reprint your letter in my blog and forward it to people who might be interested in RAL publishing, as well as my reply here?
Really good to hear from you. I had a draft of an email written that I meant to send weeks/months ago -- but I just seem to put it off. At least now this is something.
Reply from the Estate lawyer (Ned Kennington) who forwarded the email to me from Betsy:
It's good to hear from you. Glad to hear that you seem to be doing O.K.
If you want to try to get your contract straightened out with the
Virginia Kidd Agency before the sale to Locus, we are willing to use
what influence we have with the Agency to get them to cut you a fair
deal. You might send me a copy of whatever you send the Agency, if you
want us to put in a good word for you. If you don't get around to doing
it until after the sale, if you can deal with Liza Trombi, she seems to
be a good person who would treat you fairly.
If you want to send royalties, they should go to Virginia Kidd
Agency until the sale (and maybe afterwards if Locus does not change
agents). Let me know if you need an address for them.
Please do let other people know about the sale, including publishing my letter in your blog, if you would like.
Whoever the rights are sold to, I hope that heightened attention to
Lafferty will benefit everyone publishing him.
And my response:
Dear Ned [and Betsy]:
Yeah, I do seem to be doing okay -- at least for a lazy old codger like myself. I will try to hunt down the people who have been wanting to get Lafferty info through me and let them know what's up.
Here's the address I have for Va. Kidd:
The Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc.
538 E Harford Street
P.O. Box 278
Milford PA 18337
I assume that's still correct. I'm not sure about the email, but I've made a printout of the agreement I've drafted to send them, so we'll have something in writing. Maybe, I hope.
FYI, here's what I came up with:
TO THE EXECUTORS OF THE R.A. LAFFERTY LITERARY ESTATE and ITS AGENTS:
This is to indicate that I would like to continue with the agreement I originally had with R.A. Lafferty when I published a number of his then-unpublished stories. According to this agreement, I keep track of sales and gave him 25% of gross wholesale sales (or 15% of retail). I still have a number of these booklets that I am still selling, albeit at a trickle pace. But I do still keep track of sales and I will continue paying royalties to the Lafferty Estate. I do not plan to reprint any of the booklets beyond their original print-runs (up to 1000 copies), but I have been keeping a couple titles nominally in print by photo-copy (FOUR STORIES, MY HEART LEAPS UP chapters 1&2, LAUGHING KELLY [the latter two, always a photo-copy production].)
I do not claim to own any reprint rights for any of these stories, and they can be republished as the rights owners see fit without any problems from me. However, if you want to photo-reprint using my (crude but accurate) typesetting, perhaps some recompense might be in order [perhaps in copies of the publication].
I had been undertaking to publish Lafferty’s tetralogy IN A GREEN TREE as a series of booklets, but on reaching one booklet into the second novel it seemed that the project would be better if undertaken by a more conventional publisher -- and one with better marketing and production skills than myself. So I would like to indicate here that I would like to see this project be accomplished, but by someone besides myself, and that I do not retain any claims to it.
Signed: (Chris Drumm)
Dear Virginia Kidd Agency:
Above is what I come up with in terms of an agreement for me to continue selling the Lafferty publications I still have in stock. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get that simple thing accomplished. Additionally, I had a royalty check ready to send with it when I was asked to write up the agreement. I’m not sure I still have the printout of the sales breakdown but I can probably find it somewhere on my computer, if you want it. I will include a printout of sales figures since that unsent check was written and add that amount to the previous amount. Sorry I’m so slipshod, but I do take care to tick off every sale when it occurs and enter it into my spreadsheet.
I hope you are okay with the proposed sale of the rights to Lafferty’s works to Locus Publications. I don’t know how they propose to proceed, but it would seem that it could only help in getting Ray’s great works back in print, and hopefully have some of his unpublished things finally see the light of day.
Let me know how I can be of any assistance, and I hope the continuation of my agreement with Ray as delineated above will be agreeable.
I probably can find a current email address and contact person at Virginia Kidd, but I'd have a ascertain that it is indeed current. Anyone interested, contact me and I'll try to get it for them. Meanwhile, if you want to try to beat out Locus's offer, write to LaffertyEstate. I will try to do a better job responding to people, and try to catch up on the responses I've been tardy with.