The End of a (Short) Era

I’ve wanted to talk about this for some time and just didn’t feel the time was right for many reasons, some of which I’ll highlight here. I’m leaving the name of the company out but anyone who’s dealt with them knows who I refer to. Sorry, the horse is dead (thank goodness!) and I have my rights back but dammit, I need to vent and this is my blog so here goes.

Around May of last year, a publisher I put my trust in closed its doors. How I wanted to lament this. However, I saw the changes and the warning signs. While other small publishers I dealt with dove into the print field, they held back. Then came the askance to do audio books. Of course, since it wasn’t in the original contracts, you had to express interest. I declined. Why? Because while the contract was five years, the audio was seven. So I could get back the rights for the digital–because heaven forbid we do print–but a version of my book would still be out there. I could do NOTHING with it. The company hired to do the audio, when I researched it, was something akin to a working out of your mom’s basement organization. The voices, for those who took on the venture, were awful! Plus, when the company folded, they had to fight to get their books pulled.

This is not my first rodeo in publishers closing their doors. This one, by far, has been the worst. While a pittance, I never received the rest of my owed royalties. I wonder if others did but alas, I stepped on some precious little snowflake toes as I flounced out with my fingers held high.

This is a publisher that claimed transparency yet used a private Facebook page to contact their authors–even though some of them didn’t use this platform. Oh, not everyone is on Facebook but hey, let’s make all announcements there because fuck email. When pointed questions were asked by some authors, not only were they not answered, the concerned party was asked to take it to a private message or email. Transparency in action folks! I’d seen posts in threads disappear. I’d witnessed the hair trigger in kicking perceived troublemakers out of the authors group.

20160112_181142.jpgThat’s transparency? Have I mentioned my editor–who we were instructed to send all new works to–was tossed out? I was never given another and when I asked who was taking over … silence. Well, well, well. I guess I just don’t chap my lips enough.

Let’s go over what I noticed since I signed my first contract in 2012. This wasn’t my first publication but it was my first jaunt into Young Adult. Yep, I truly do love writing a lot of things. This was my 2009 NaNo project that I had culled so many words from. The publisher had, at that time, sent out free crit sessions for your NaNo project. I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. They loved it an said they’d love to be considered as a publishing house.

The price? For 213 pages, you paid 6.99. A little salty in my opinion for an ebook. Plus, no print book. When they started–reluctantly if you ask me–to do print versions my request to have mine to print was ignored. I’ve seen smaller fledgling presses do print off the bat yet this one? Nope. To top it off, we were informed there was a clerical error on our royalties. For those who have tracked their books on Novelrank, you know that it’s not 100% accurate. Except, however, for small numbers. So imagine my shock when I saw the same amount Novelrank gave me flow in and right back out as an ‘error’. Smell that? I sure did and got no reasonable explanation. The person who did the bookkeeping? Tossed out of the group and unable to defend herself against the defamation of the owner of this transparent publisher. Niiiice.

Toward the bonfire ending, other authors who–I can only assume–had not branched out to other publishers were doing anything to try and keep it afloat. Like, for example, offering to pay for their covers and pass around the manuscripts for free editing among the authors. How professional. Sounds a little familiar? Vanity perhaps? The fire extinguisher was out of creamy foam and to get the fully edited versions of you book, you had to pay for them. Oh the editors weren’t going to get that money, by the way, as their contracts were null and void. Never mind that you, the author, did some of that work. The publisher owned that. Forget that your contract said nothing of the sort. Now the coverart I can see paying for. I didn’t own that but I’m also someone who is an artist so … don’t need the art.

So, after being dogpiled in the author’s loop, I left it. I felt no need to support those who refused to call someone on their bullshit. I refused to sign the reversal letter that said the owner of the publisher owned my manuscript in its final form. Nah, bro, my copyrighted manuscript not yours. All I needed to do was wait out that little clause in the contract that stated if my books were not out there for a certain period of time, the rights reverted back to me. That time has long past and trust me, those books will be back with a publisher that actually cares.