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Monday, April 29, 2013

Authors Beware!!!!!!

I want to share something with you. This is the story and results of how I got abused by a publisher.

To everyone reading who is not an author, you may not realize how special and important a moment it is to be accepted. Not just accepted by a publishing house or a literary agent, but accepted by the literary community. To be accepted by a single reader who likes your work. To be accepted by other authors who delve into the same genre as you. We writers are solitary folk, and as such contact with the real world is limited. But, that does not mean that we don't want friends and family. We want fellowship, we want companionship, and we want to know that we are not alone.

The most anticipated and longed for acceptance is that of a publisher. For, being accepted by a publisher gives you a feel of legitimacy. All of your work has not been in vain, and you may just achieve a modicum of success that you have worked so diligently for. Not only general success, but specific success. You have worked for a long time, through many different levels, to create your masterpiece. It is your child, your baby, your product. No one else created it, no one else gave birth to it, it is as much a part of you as your own personality. When a publisher accepts that work and says they will produce it, you have achieved a great thing.

That all said, this is my story:

A number of years ago I began writing. Well, okay, I started writing in 4th grade but this is much later. I love to write Star Trek stories and other specific things that cannot be published without consent of the owners of the original storylines. I just liked to write. Then my mother asked me why I didn't write something completely mine and independent. I was afraid of branching out, but I had to try. So, I sat down on the deck of my house and just started typing. I wrote notes and crafted a story. I didn't know how it was going to turn out, but all I could do was fail. I had little to loose other than time. So I did it. With the help and constant encouragement of my mother I wrote, edited, and re-edited a fantasy novel. It took me a total of three months to write it, and another three to edit it. When the six months were done I had mom edit it through, as I couldn't afford a traditional editor and mom is pretty good. Come a year or so later I had a final product. I wrote The Jalan Chronicles: The Eyes of Amaterasu.

I knew it was still rough and could probably use some work, but I felt that a publisher would do that for me. So, I began to search the internet for a publisher. Understand that by this point in my life I had little to no understanding of the publishing world and was alone in this venture. I didn't know the pitfalls, and I certainly didn't know the wolves out there seeking to take advantage of new authors. I got turned down a half dozen times until I sent that letter to a publisher in Maryland.

PublishAmerica seemed so legit, so real, I sent that letter and my manuscript and they did something that I didn't think I would ever have done for me. They accepted and offered a contract. Knowing what I have written above about the need of acceptance, you might understand the thrill and blind happiness I had in my heart at that acceptance letter. I had done it.

At first it was going smoothly. They sent me an email telling me the process by which they work. I agreed and they sent the book to their editors. They read it and miraculously sent me another email telling me that my work was good enough to publish directly. WOW, I was thrilled beyond thrilled, especially considering how long they first told me editing would take if it wasn't good enough. I agreed to them speeding up the process, having faith that they knew the book was good and fit. Then the cover artist came to me and gave me some examples of what they were going to go with. I liked their cover, but I didn't like that they put a little kitten in the center of it. I asked to change that and they did, to a dragon. Let me state right here that the cover is still one of my favorite parts of this, I have never had a problem with it and still love it.

Then publication came. In less than two months, my book went from submission to being on the market. I was happy, I was in heaven. They told me the pretty stories of how they were the number one publisher selling to Barns and Noble, and that Amazon sold millions of their books. I had made it, the world would know my work. When was Hollywood going to call me?

Then reality sunk in. They had priced my book, a simple new author fantasy, at $25 which I knew no one would read. Then I got my first email about the book. Were they going to tell me about how well it was selling? No. Were they going to inform me of their desire for a sequel? No. The email was an ad......to me. They were selling me my own book, telling me that it was my job to market it and sell it. They would have nothing to do with that. When I asked them about that, wondering why a publisher wouldn't want to market their own products, they gave me a cock-and-bull story about how in the publishing world it is ENTIRELY on the heads of the authors to sell the books, that selling it to friends and family is the best route to go. Seriously?! I am responsible for every detail about marketing? The stink of this company was beginning to seep into my nose and I smelled a rotten skunk. I went to Barns and Noble to ask them about putting my book on their shelves and they gave me the funniest look. They informed me that my book was too expensive and they never, get this NEVER, put PublishAmerica on their shelves. I have been lied to, or really deliberately misled.

Not only that, but when my book was read by a few friends and family, they informed me of the glaring flaws in the grammar and sentences. The book needs serious work with a real editor. Again, they misled me so they could get to selling me my own book quicker. And to rub salt in the wound, a few months later, they sent out blanket emails to their authors offering editing services for an enormous fee.

Over time I  got emails about buying my own book, about paying them to edit it, about paying them to send copies to celebrities randomly (as if they would make it a Hollywood smash), about paying them to promote the book at book fairs around the world. They were in it to take me for every last dime. I felt like I was being held up by my ankles and someone was shaking for pennies.

When I looked at the contract I blindly signed, I saw that they have my book for six years. It is firm. When I ask about backing out because I refuse to sell the book and their non-existent marketing techniques are certainly not selling any books, they agree and then tell me I can for a huge sum of money.

So, if you have wondered why my book The Jalan Chronicles is attached to my name on Amazon and Goodreads and other places, yet I have not even been talking about it. There is a reason. I refuse to make PublishAmerica on red cent. They are crooks and currently are facing a class action suit started by some other authors they gypped. When my contract ends and I finally get my book back, I am going to put it through an editor, rework it to better standards, and make it worth reading. Then, I will publish it so that readers can finally see what I wanted them to see, not the crud that PA has left me with.

As a side note: To really rub acid in the wound, during this time I had an individual that began to bully me on the internet and followed me everywhere I went. They tried to get me kicked out of a CCG game I love to play, and he used this book to go all out to hurt me. He even tried to get other companies to sue me for plagiarism making false claims about me. He attacked my mother, he attacked my friends, it was an all out assault that left me scared to do anything. When I decided to move forward and write again, I finished a book and then spent a year fighting with myself about publishing it for fear of him finding me and starting it up again. I still have a deep seated fear in my belly each time I see a review pop up for one of my books, sure that he has found me. So, if you find The Jalan Chronicles and look at the reviews, know that most of them are him under different guises, bent on my destruction. Even writing this here has me sick to my stomach, but I really want you to know.

Thank you for reading. You continued support through comments and being friendly has helped me so much.

10 comments:

  1. Dan you are a wonderful author and a beautiful artist! I sincerely mean that. I can't wait for you to get the rights to your book back and show the world your book properly. Never let anyone scare you away. You are the stronger one because you are still here and still writing. You have more courage then you think you do my friend. Take care and remember you have friends out here who love and care about you! take care Dan~

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  2. Thank you for sharing this with us, Dan. It's a tough world, and with publishers like this one, it isn't easier. I am happy to have you as a friend and fellow author. Praying that things will work out smoothly and quickly for you. Best of luck.

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  3. Dan, thank you for sharing your story and being honest.
    These scams have existed for years, and will continue to exist as many new authors all seek that validation. I hope though that as we spread the word about this, that we can stop one author, just one from making that mistake. never doubt your talent and know.... even the literary classics had these pitfalls.
    My own father was scammed this way when I was a child.
    Blessings my new friend.

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  4. Oh Dan, I feel so bad that you had to go through all the garbage they did to you.
    When you get that book back let me know. I would love to read and review it for you. I love the stories you produce and hope this only makes you stronger.

    In a non romantic way I so love you and the work you do.

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  5. I can so relate as we have stories to share!!! Publish merica made my life hell and it is still nt really over. I know only too well what they are about. The thing is, I didn't see thenm as vanity press...they were covering the costs of the book...it wasn't until later that I was presented with things to purchade tha ti really lost faith. Also, like you my price was way out of hand. At first they set the price for a paerback ay $27.5 and the same for the ebook. Og =h yes, Dan I can relate only so well!!!

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  6. Dan thanks for the post. I'm sorry that you've had such a hard time. I too joined the publishing world without knowing what I was doing and used a vanity press (in my shame more than once) I didn't even know there was a difference. Needless to say one company went bust and has been taken over. I've yet to receive any money from the books. To have someone attacking you on top is so hard. Thinking of you and good luck once you get your book rights back.

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  7. Dan I have a few thoughts in regard to this: If you happen to have emails saved about them editing your book and they failed to do that and put it out on the market stating such, I would think that would be partial basis to sue them to get your rights back for your book. I honestly believe while you may have signed a contract with them, you should move forward with it being edited and put it out in the market with a new ISBN number and change the name. It doesn't matter if you do because, technically, it would not be the same work.

    As far as the stalker-I went through that in another profession. This person followed me on every internet site, blackened my name and reputation, told lies about me, and made my life a living hell. This got so bad, it carried over to real life where this person was actually coming to my home and sitting in the parking lot of my apartment building at the time. I moved 7 times in the course of 3 years because of this person. I ran and hid and went underground, so to speak, stopped doing any work related to the field, and became a bit of a recluse because of it. That was until I not only called them out on it, I wrote a blog with their name and outed them and their cronies. I was threatened with being sued, but unbeknownst to them, legally you cannot be sued for defamation of character or slander if what you are saying is the truth and you have evidence to prove it. One of the cronies resurfaced when I started doing my work again about 2 1/2 years ago, and I blocked them and went about life as if they were talking to thin air and eventually, they finally left me alone.

    Bullies exist because of the fear they create and give them power over you. Report them and get them for harassment which is exactly what they are doing, although I can tell you from experience, the authorities are no help usually in a case of internet harassment.Take the power back from them and make them see that you cannot be bullied and are no longer afraid-people know about this behavior and will support you through it.

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    1. Thank you. I actually have considered publishing the book with a different title and editing. Will probably begin working on the re-edit of it when I get done with my current project. It just sickens me that they still have it.

      About the bully. My stalker person wasn't as...illegal with his actions as yours. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Mine simply got tired of me not responded to his taunts. He is still out there and I have no doubt that he would do it again if he thought it would get a rise out of me. But, if I let that define me that I would live in constant fear. I do my best to ignore that fear in the back of my mind and move forward with my life.

      At this time, I have actually sent the emails and contract about my book to the lawyers dealing with the class action suit against PA. I technically cannot get in on it fully, as my book was published too long ago. But, my testimony will help build the case and I am more than willing to help.

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  8. Sympathy, I really feel for you, that's a tough story. Well done for starting to write and I hope you get your book back soon.

    Cheers

    MTM

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  9. I am so sorry that you are going through this. ((hugs))

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