I saw this meme on Facebook and thought it perfect to use for the title of this post. Why? Because it expresses how I’ve felt for the past two months. It’s difficult to be shoved into turbulent waters just for making a decision someone else didn’t approve of. It’s even harder to keep your head above water while trying to find a way out. But it isn’t impossible. It can be done.
Two years ago, I was a budding new author who just finished my first book. Like many others who begin this long road without a map, I automatically took what I thought was the safest route. I signed with a small press publisher. Now, before I go any farther and some readers get their undies in a bunch, let me say that this is my story, my experiences, and they are in no way definitive. However, every day I hear from more and more writers who managed to get off at the intersection of Scam and Misrepresentation and have their own dark stories to tell. You may want to pay attention. Trust me, once you turn down the wrong road, it can take years before you find another byway. Think Twilight Zone.
I actually thought I was playing it safe. I spoke with writers who were/are signed with this publishing company and received nothing but praise and glowing recommendations. I spoke with the owner of the company at length and asked many questions. Everything seemed legit. This particular company was hailed as a rare gem among small press publishers. In hindsight, I should have remembered that it’s difficult to tell a diamond from a cubic zirconia with the naked eye. All that glitters…well, you know.
The first year, I drank the Kool-Aid and sang praises with everyone else. I published three books, recruited other authors to the compound – I mean company – and did my part to support and help in any way I could. Sure, there were problems. At times, I felt that my work wasn’t given much (any) attention, while praise and marketing was heaped upon others. When technical issues arose, my books seemed to take longer to sort out. However, when I voiced my concerns, I was given a Big Gulp-sized cup of that Kool-Aid and sometimes a snack (bull was often served), and everything would be A-OK again. All was right with the world.
By the second year, the Kool-Aid had turned sour. The bull was tough and difficult to chew – swallowing it was impossible. A close friend and author who was also a member of the cult – I mean company – left quite suddenly. She confided in me all the problems she’d encountered during her contract. I was shocked. We had shared some of our horror stories regarding the owner and how numerous problems always seemed to fall on the shoulders of a select few, but what she described went far beyond the lack of marketing or being treated unfairly.
In July of 2013, my fourth book was published. My other novels signed with the company had been put on a virtual shelf to collect dust. Meanwhile, the owner kept signing more authors, not caring that others, who had been with her longer and supported her, were neglected. Only a handful in her ranks received any attention.
Among other problems, my release date was pushed back three times with no notices. After three months, I still had no paperbacks to offer because the owner could not format a book cover that had more than one or two pictures on it. The results were two missed books signings and embarrassment for me. During this time, I was fed lie after lie while other authors were getting books pushed out like Stephen King and interactive programs on iPad. I couldn’t even get a paperback copy of my book. My one promo, which I set up and paid for myself, fell flat when the owner set the wrong dates for my book to be on sale.
On October 7th of 2013, I received a message from her stating (for the umpteenth time) that the problem with my cover art had been fixed and I would receive my books from CreateSpace in two weeks time. If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Money Pit, you can imagine what it felt like to keep hearing ‘two weeks.’ On October 24th, I received a check in the mail instead of my books. It was from the owner and dated on September 25th – fourteen days before her message to me on October 7th. On the memo line of the check were the words, “Refund for paperback books.” It was time for me to go. I had no idea that decision would cost me so much…
Stay tuned for Part Two of my post coming soon! In the meantime, feel free to read this blog post I wrote which gives a bit more detail, but not everything. No, there was worse to come.
Nicole Storey lives in Georgia with her wonderful husband, two prodigious kids, and a plethora of pets. When she isn’t traveling to magical realms with potty-mouthed pixies or fighting demons, she conspires with angels and keeps humanity safe from evil. She also enjoys reading, writing blog posts and reviewing books, gardening, cooking, and anything associated with Halloween. Nicole is an author of juvenile fantasy and YA paranormal. Her books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords in e-book and paperback. Learn more about Nickie from her Amazon author page or her blog.