I've been good. I've kept my mouth shut as was required by the non-disclosure agreement, or NDA that I signed. But today is the 1st of September and my NDA expired yesterday. I will be silent no longer. I hope that in speaking out I can help another author, either already established or just starting out avoid the pit I fell into.
Not all publishers are equal. And some can be hazards just waiting to ensnare you in their webs. Last year, much to my amazement and pleasure, my first ever story was contracted by an e-publisher. I was new and naive. I had no reason to wonder why this publisher would demand I sign an NDA stating I wouldn't speak out about anything that went on there. Big mistake.
First warning, if you are EVER asked to sign an NDA agreement, move on to another publisher. It means they are trying to hide something. Stupidly, I signed and learned all too quickly what they wanted to hide. The place had major problems. Staff member after staff member quit working for this publisher. Editors, cover artists, even the webmistress.
And authors were bailing out too. I thought in the beginning it was just sour grapes and people not being grateful for the opportunity. Boy did I learn. I guess I had to go through the living hell these people endured to understand the truth. And I am not being melodramatic when I say living hell. Let me outline my little adventure.
My first novel entitled Voice In The Night was slated to be released on March 18th of this year. That was a Thursday. That Tuesday I was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a kidney stone that was blocking my urinary tract. Not their fault and I don't blame for them that. But, time revealed that this would be an ongoing serious health issue due to an overactive parathyroid.
My publisher was made aware of this and that until the gland could be removed, which is still pending by the way, that I was not doing too well. Also, she was notified that I am severely epileptic and because of this, my mom has power of attorney over my medical issues and my finances. Now we need to backtrack a bit to October of 2009.
I submitted the first book in a series called Working Under Covers and was introduced to my editor for that. We began edits. I had NO contract and was constantly emailing them to ask for the paperwork. I couldn't even advertise this story that we were already doing edits on because I had no contract. It took the head of the ART department getting involved before I was ever sent a contract.
After that, I subbed several more stories in that series and a stand alone novel. I heard nothing. In January I actually called the publisher and asked her what was up and she said she had someone assessing it as we spoke. Months past. March came, I ended up in the hospital, and my first book came out. Okay, by this time I figured they weren't interested in my stand alone novel so I subbed it to a new house.
It got contracted by the new house the beginning of May, the 4th of May to be exact. Now mind you, I didn't have to sign an NDA with this new house. So I'm going along happily when I hear from my content editor letting me know as soon as my cover is finished Working Under Covers is going to release. Okay, we get the cover done and nothing happens so I have no idea when this book will release.
The following Wednesday at 10 at night, the publisher calls me and tells me it's coming out in 3 hours. That's all the notice I had. 3 hours. Now just a few weeks prior the website for the publisher had crashed. So even though I needed to quickly promo this book coming out the publisher kept me on the phone talking until 3 in the morning. The website was slowly being rebuilt and she wanted someone to gab with while she got all the new releases up.
She also wanted to bad mouth the new webmistress, the one who took over after the previous webmistress quit. She blamed the new webmistress for the website crash and said the new webmistress had hurt her deeply. She also wanted to bad mouth a new publishing house and its publisher. It just so happened to be the publisher I had contracted my new story with. I didn't want to play that game so I got off the phone.
Next day she found out, I guess by going into their website that I'd signed with this new house and she messaged me online demanding I deny that I'd gone to this house. When I couldn't do that I was subjected to more bad mouthing of this new house. She had me so stressed by the end of the session I had a violent seizure. My mother was less than pleased and wanted to deal with her then and there but I prevented it. I still wanted to avoid trouble with my publisher.
Now, over the next few weeks I get slammed with stuff. My pub wants me to send her all my subbed stories and paperwork. I'd sent this stuff to my editor but she said my editor couldn't be trusted. I did what she wanted. Then, in June, less than a full month from the time Working Under Covers came out I get an email from the cover artist saying that book two would release as soon as she finished the cover.
This threw me because I hadn't even finished edits on this story. Later that same day I got an email from the lines editor with my edits telling me to get them done quickly because it was releasing that week. Thankfully, the cover wasn't done quickly enough for it to release because I discovered after I'd sent the edits back that words were missing and it needed to be fixed. So I was able to get that fixed. Then I heard nothing more.
Then came the infamous day of Wednesday again. 5 hours before this time the publisher calls to tell me book 2 will be releasing. Again I have to scramble. Now I'm upset. Book one hasn't really had a chance to shine and they are already releasing book 2 again with no notice. I get my author copy and there's a Trojan virus attached to it that crashes my mom's computer. I emailed the publisher to let her know and to this day she's never responded about the virus. I complain to my editor.
My editor had also signed up to do edits for my new publishing house and that made her a target. She's getting the feeling she's going to be fired so she lets the publisher have the truth about how upset I am at the early release. To put it bluntly, the you know what hits the fan. I'm done. I officially email her that I am severing ties with her company.
Now remember, I have never heard from her regarding the virus, but she responded to this email like lightning. She removed all my books from the catalogue and pulled me off the author loop. She stripped away everything I had out and all my author rights. So, since she broke her own contract, I sent her an official notice via certified mail that I wanted the rights to all my work returned to me. I also discovered and included in the letter that she had released book 2 in my series called Heart Of The Queen without a contract.
I was shocked when I realized it, but she actually stole my manuscript from me. She never responded to my letter, so close to the deadline I gave her I emailed her to remind her that the cut-off date was coming up. She answered that by saying I owed them money for edits and covers and until I paid I would not get my rights back. Also, until they received a copy of my mom's power of attorney, which legally they do not require in spite of what they say, they couldn't actually send anything to me. They are holding my work hostage!
By her own contract, the moment she pulled everything off the catalogue SHE broke the contract. I was going to let my contract run out and just not sub anything new. I owe them nothing and I know for a fact neither my editor nor my cover artist for the first book was paid a dime. I'm not certain about the cover artist for my two books in the series but I doubt she'll be paid either.
Since leaving, I have learned I am not the only one she's done this too. There is a vast list of authors she has just run roughshod over. She doesn't pay them and she ignores their demands for the rights to their work. I wish I had known it sooner but this publisher is listed in Preditors and Editors as one of the worst to be avoided. This battle is ongoing. I am having to file charges on the illegal publication of Heart Of The Queen. My mom spoke to the police yesterday who informed us how to proceed.
This has been an absolute nightmare. I am not going to sugarcoat what this woman put me through. She published one of my stories with no contract and then went on to hold everything I submitted hostage. It sank me into a depression like you wouldn't believe. My mother feared for me that's how depressed I was.
It's thanks to my new publishing house that I pulled out of it. They have been beyond supportive and all the people are just amazing. I am truly blessed to be there. But now, for all you authors out there who are looking for a home for your work, I have one thing to say. Unless you want to endure what I and many others have gone through and continue to go through, do your homework. This issue is ongoing but I am done covering for them. The publishing house is Red Rose Publishing.
My advice, before you sub to any house, check preditors and editors, talk to some of the authors with that house. Ask questions. And, if you are ever asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, walk the other way as fast as you.