Kat's Blog

Kat's Blog

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The End Of Silence

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.


N.J.Walters said...

I'm so sorry for everything you've been through, Kat, and how it's affected your health. I truly hope you get all the rights back for your books and can find a new home for them.

The publishing business is like any other. There are great folks and not so great folks. I'm glad your new publishing company seems to be a good fit.

Hang in there.


Kat said...

N.J. thank you so much. You have no idea how grateful I am that you encouraged me to try. My first step into the pool was painful and continues to be, but I learned and also met some really great people. I owe that to you and value it more than you can imagine.

Lin said...

Kat, you forgot to tell your readers that the only contract for your series, and the first rapid release WORKING UNDER COVERS that came from the publisher came in MY NAME WRITING AS YOU. You NEVER received a VALID contract in YOUR name for your series from the publisher...and I have NEVER written as you. ALSO because your first story was released with a contract in YOUR CORRECT name, the publisher IS AWARE what your valid information is. So the editing for the first in the series was done without contract and when a contract finally DID show up TWO MONTHS after edits began despite your repeated requests that went without attention, it was invalid and remains so. That means TWO books NOT ONE were released without any proper contract. One without ANY contract at all and the other with an INVALID contract. And that ladies and gentlemen is COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND FRAUD.

Also the publisher was made aware of my having the Power of Attorney over your health and Social Securiy Disability issues as per the direction of the Social Security Directive back on December 28, 2009 when she called and could not talk to you because you were ill and spent the next several hours bending my ear about problems at the Publishing house, that I should not have been privy to, and harping about her search with her husband for a disgustingly colored jacket up and down the Eastern Seaboard for New Years. She knew on 12/28/09 LONG before the release of your first book in March 2010...and LONG before any subterfuge she claims for witholding your roylaties used in June and August 2010.

Natalie Dae said...

I won't name the company either, but I know exactly who you're talking about. I feel very sorry for all the authors, editors, and cover artists currently stuck in contracts with this company.

Kat said...

Yeah me too Natalie. It's a no win situation for them.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Very enlightening post, Kat. Good for you for speaking out. Authors need to know these things about publishers.

Ginger Simpson said...

I received a mysterious phone call some weeks back, basically accusing me of bad-mouthing said publishing house on your blog. I assured the publisher if I had anything bad to say, I'd tell her first. I've pretty much stayed off the loops to prevent her wrath and that of the previous webmistress who handled things like Hitler.

I'm so sorry you've had to endure such a horrible debut to your writing career. The "mystery" publisher posted a demeaning rant on the loop to her authors today, and thank Goodness for one who stood up and dished it right back at her. I couldn't believe she used the term "unprofessional" in a post that was the very essence of the meaning. I only have one novella there, but I learned early on that it isn't where I want my name bandied about. We all make mistakes, Kat...I've had my share, and it's for this very reason and my own experiences that I'm presenting a forum at The Muse Writer's On Line Conference about the "Pitfalls of Publishing."

Thanks for sharing. Like I said...you're my role model.

Lin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lin said...

For those of you who do not know me, I am dyslexic and sometimes, especially when I am tryping with all my cylinders firing as they are with this subject my letters as in how I put the words together, tend to get scrambled. That is why I have to delete and repost comments. It is only to make huge spelling errors...the content of the repost is exactly the same with the spelling errors corrected only...that said, here is what I had posted last that I had to delete and repost.

We also know the artists, editors, etc. were not, and to this date have not been paid. Where is the money going? During that long harrangue on December 28, 2009 I was blessed by hearing about how this publisher of which we are currently speaking had just bought her semi-adult son a high end luxury car according to her, with cash. So where is the money going? Hmmmm? Questions...so many questions.

Karen McGrath said...

Kat, so sad that this has happened. I wish you grace and boldness to get through this storm. I'm glad you are with a good publisher now!

Antonia said...

In regard to the NDA, all the publishers I've been with have one. So I wouldn't necessarily stay away from a publisher that didn't. But, well, we've had private words. You know where I stand, my dear. *hugs*

Liam Stalls said...

Kat, my heart goes out to you. It's truly heartbreaking when a new author lands with a publisher who has no concept that its THE AUTHORS who make up her or his house.

The name of the game is RESPECT and once it's offered it will be given back two-fold.

Kat said...

Wow Ginger I haven't done anything but thanks.

Karen you are part of what makes being at my new house great.

Antonia, thank you so much. You have helped me a lot just to get through this storm.

Lyam you are so right. Without the authors, the publishing houses wouldn't have a product to produce but some places forget that. My current house is amazing though. Everyone there from the top all the way down the line are the most wonderful and caring people I have ever had the honor of knowing.

Lin said...

That is so true about your current Publishing House Kat. Although it grates to give any positive feed to the other, and in truth the head of that company hasn't a clue about much of anything except it seems to me how to spend like money is rolling in like she's found a golden Niagra, the people that worked for her that you got to know and for the most part have since been fired or left because of just how bad it is there, were good to you, and through them, you and I both found our way to the publisher we are now with. To those people who actually showed integrity, honor, and were mistreated because of it too, I respectfully say thank you. You gave Kat and myself more than you will ever know. I know most of you have moved on and found happier grounds as well, and for that I am equally pleased, but oh how I ache for the poor people still there for that one to abuse and intimidate.

Annie Melton said...

Oh, BRAVO!! :-)

I'm so sorry to hear about your health. And dealing with this is a nightmare. My NDA's still in force, so... all I can say is your timing could NOT have been better following yesterday's amazing rant! *Thank you* Kat and Lin for saying what everyone who can't, wants to!

Annie Melton :-)

Lin said...

You are more than welcome Annie. Kat has suffered greatly since her work was hijacked by this publisher health wise. This kind of stress triggers violent seizures...and that means I have to try to keep her from further injury. Doing that means I get hurt. The damage such an unscrupulous person causes is not just measured in the effect they have on the literary world...and unlike Kat I was not bound by the NDA, but I was bound by something stronger, love for my daughter.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Kat, I found your story on the Writer Beware blog. As a newbie author who is just getting his feet wet in the publishing world, people like you are the first sources I turn to before I sign, agree to or turn my heart, soul and characters over to ANYONE. Thank you so much for telling your story, the message has not gone unheeded.

Kat said...

You have no idea how much I appreciate that. This publisher and several of her rah rah rah people have put me through the wringer. Knowing it actually made a difference is the greatest gift you could ever give me.