Editing, Phoenix style

The question of editing at Phoenix Fire publishing has been brought up once or twice. Who does it? Is it any good?
I think we have our answer.

I give you Wolf Mate, book one in the I am Wolf series by Karrye Angello. Published by Phoenix Fire on May 17, 2013.
For the purpose of exposing questionable editorial and publishing practices, here are a few screen caps from her book on Kindle. In each, there are instances of editorial strike-throughs that were left in the book when it went to publication.
Be warned: There are graphic sexual references.
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Don’t take my word for it. You can visit the link above and glance at the “Look inside” feature to see some of them for yourself.

There are more I could add, but I think these speak pretty plainly.

This brings up some pretty important questions.
First, did the publisher (Tabetha) not even read this book before she pushed it through to publication? If she had, there’s at least some chance that she would have caught not only the corrections that were made, but also some of the many more that needed to be done. Nope. What it looks like is that she got the file back from the editor and put it straight on Createspace without any review at all. If the publisher isn’t even going to read the book, what’s the point of having one? An author can have a book edited and put it on Createspace themselves, if that’s all a publisher’s going to do.

Second, is that how editing is done at Phoenix Fire? Striking through errors and putting the new version next to it? I don’t know about the rest of the authors out there, but I’ve never seen it done that way professionally. Anybody else?

Third, is that what passes for editing at Phoenix Fire? Half a dozen corrections in the entire book? It was uncomfortable enough to read the content (generic smut is not my thing. Sorry), but even more painful was the screamingly obvious lack of proper editing. There are examples on every page where an editor worth his or her salt would have made corrections, including double-spacing between words, subject-verb agreement and run-on sentences, to name just a few.

I’m not doing this to rag on the author. She’s not responsible for the mistakes that make it to print. It’s her job to write the book and give it to the publisher. She did that.
And I’m not even ragging on the editor, as such. Unless they’re properly trained and educated for it, the other authors at Phoenix Fire are not qualified to edit books. They might have the best intentions, but they just aren’t professional editors. Using them to do the job might show poor judgement on their part for being a party to it, but more than that, it shows that Tabetha’s just looking for another way to get over. Using other authors to edit books and offering them higher royalties looks like Tabetha’s way of trying to get around withholding or paying taxes. It’s also a way for her to get cheap, if not free labor out of them, because those royalties probably aren’t being properly paid out anyway. If those authors being used for editing PF books are willing to believe that they’re getting a fair deal out of their Boss Lady, more power to ’em. But as it relates to a publishing company being properly run, it shows serious doubts about questionable business practices.

That book’s been on the market for almost a year, and nobody at the company has caught the errors that got published. Not the author, the editor, and not the one person that’s responsible for how the book is presented to the public: the publisher. Tabetha Jones.

The real question is why any author that’s serious about his or her craft would want to be involved with a publisher that isn’t upstanding on every level, straight across the board. Who wants even a hint of impropriety associated with their work, especially as it relates to finances and editing?  I know I wouldn’t, and neither would any serious author I know of.

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Jaimie

Jamie H is one of Tabetha’s current authors victims.

Jaimie was signed with another publishing company and had a very bad, painful experience. From the sound of it, that left her hurt and vulnerable. Along came Tabetha with sweet promises that Jaimie would be treated like “family” and never, ever be treated badly again. It’s not hard to imagine why someone in such a vulnerable state would fall for it hook, line and sinker.

Add to that how included and admired Jaimie would feel not only being so warmly and affectionately accepted into a company, but also promoted to an executive position within the business itself. Insert Sally Field’s acceptance speech. “You like me! You really, really like me!”

What a boost to the ego it must have seemed like to be named the company’s senior editor, or editor in chief, or whatever they’re calling it now. Such an important title with dear friends counting on her to do such an important job. As I understand it, Jaimie is the one that does the lion’s share of the editing work at PF. She might do most, if not all of the editing for PF now.

Question is, what time does that leave her to do her own writing?

More and more, it looks like Jaimie is being controlled. Jamie’s radio show, “This is how I roll” is no longer her own. As I hear it, Tabetha and Jacqueline are both named as co-hosts, possibly as co-owners, of an endeavor that existed long before they came along. Now it’s called “This is how WE roll.” Now, it looks like Jaimie can’t have anybody on the show that Tabetha doesn’t approve of. I’m told that Jaimie was going to invite me on the show, but Tabetha had such a fit that the plan was scrapped. Same thing with another author Tabetha’s on the outs with. Jaimie invited her on the show, but as I hear it, Tabetha threw such a fit that it never happened.

And, at any time, during any show, Jaimie runs the risk of having either Tabetha or Jacqueline pick up the phone and butt in. And what choice would Jamie have but to let them run riot?

I hear that Jaimie is being ordered not to look at this blog anymore, with claims that those orders came from a lawyer. A whole team of ’em, maybe even all the way up to the DA’s office. How intimidating! And if Jaimie does visit here, she might get caught up in the legal tangle that Tabetha keeps threatening me with. It’s possible that Jamie’s being told that not coming here, to look or reply is “For her own good.” Wouldn’t want that team of attorneys that Tabetha says are putting together a case against me to think Jaimie’s on the wrong side and sue her too, would we?

And I can confirm that it’s working. Jaimie’s IP hasn’t shown up in a while. If she’s peeking, she’s using a proxy to do it.

Is that what family does? Tells you who you can talk to? Cut you off from anybody that might talk some sense into you? Bully and brainwash you? Not where I come from.

If a disillusioned, lonely kid gets invited and then warmly introduced to join some friends for coffee every day, they hug him when they meet up and even save him a spot every day, that guy’s going to feel like the luckiest guy in the world. They make him feel so good that he doesn’t mind if they ask him to give them a ride now and then. Hell, they’re such good friends and make him feel so loved that he puts their name on the title to his car right along with his. They’re all in it together anyway, and they’d never hurt him.

And then, one fine day, they get pulled over, and the cop says “You okay kid? You know these guys steal cars, don’t you kid?” No, the kid didn’t. They seemed so NICE.

But by then, it’s too late. Their names are on his title, and there’s no way to get them out of his car. All he can do is smile and say “These are my friends, officer. Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.” And keep right on driving. He might want to be rid of them, but not know what he can do about it.

Getting sucked into a group with a cult mentality can be very similar. Even within a work environment. They make you feel welcome and loved, make you feel important, and all the while, they’re isolating you, obligating you, and before you know it, you’re indoctrinated. By the time you realize that the people you’re hanging around with don’t have your better interests at heart at all, you might feel trapped. They might even threaten you. What do you do now?

You get out. You might have to wait for the right time and look for the right chance, and when it comes, go. Flag that officer down or just hit the road yourself. But you go.

Jaimie, if you’re reading this, I hope you realize that if you’re in a situation you’re not comfortable with, you can get out. If you want to get away from Tabetha Jones, you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY the hundreds of dollars that she demands when an author tries to leave her. You are not bound to her legally in any way. You can walk away. YOU own the rights to your books. Tabetha’s contracts are illegal hogwash. She doesn’t own your rights, so nobody should let her hold your work hostage. You can demand that she stop selling your work, and you can republish them yourself with absolutely no obligation to her whatsoever. You can take her name off your radio show and make it your own again. You can reclaim your identity, your work and your own personal power. If she gives you any grief, you can tell her to shove off or you’ll have her charged with harassment and extortion.

Just make sure that you have all your book files first. When people leave her, she has a tendency to conveniently lose their files. You’ve seen it happen. You know what I’m talking about.

Getting out from under the thieving, controlling thumb of a scam artist won’t leave you alone again, if you’re afraid of that. There are a lot of people out here that have traveled the same path. You are by no means alone. You’re free. There’s a huge difference.
If you’re being threatened with legal action, don’t let yourself be intimidated. She’s blustered and threatened just about everybody that’s walked away from her, all the way back to the Mystic Press days. How many people have you seen her sue? None. She can’t. She has no grounds. She’s only saying that to intimidate people that want to leave her so that they’ll pay her hundreds of dollars she’s not entitled to.
She threatened to sue just about everybody that’s blogged about her, but how many has she sought action against? None. I haven’t been served. She doesn’t have a team of lawyers working for her, putting a suit together. She’s bluffing. No lawyer worth his salt would initiate a case for someone like her. Lawyers take cases they can win. Not scam artists that are bluffing in order to bully people into thinking they have to pay her.

It’s simple. If you want out, get out.

I wish you the best of luck.

Contact Createspace

I’ve said it more than once: If you’re an author associated with Tabetha Jones, Mystic Press or Phoenix Fire publishing, you can contact Createspace to make sure you’re getting paid all of the royalties you’re due from sales of your book. You can find out all sorts of information about your book, how it sells, how it was published, all kinds of interesting little factoids.

Tabetha insists that:

Yes you can call createspace, but here’s the kicker you must know my full name, email, member id, and the person calling must be on the account as an active contact or user for the contact to receive and information.

Need back up on that have createspace give you a call or call them I’m sure they’d be happy to share their information.

That’s how the scam works. If she’s got you convinced that the only source of information you get about the sales of your book is through her, she can tell you anything she wants and pocket the difference.

So who’s right? The scam artist or the consumer advocate?

Let’s settle it right now.
Here’s an email recently received by an author that Tabetha scammed, providing information about a title in question. The author’s name and title information have been blurred out pending further action, but you can clearly see that customer support did provide information about a title that was handled swindled by Tabetha Jones.
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I repeat: If you are an author that wants information about your book that’s been (mis)handled by Tabetha Jones, you can contact Createspace. At first, they’ll tell you that you can’t get any information because you’re not on that account. Tabetha’s absolutely right about that. But then, if you tell them that you want to file a complaint about Tabetha Jones, they’ll talk you through the process and you can get whatever information you want. You CAN get information about your title. All you have to do is file a complaint. You don’t need her full name, account number, and you DO NOT have to be an active member on her account to get information about your book.

Most importantly, you do not have to take Tabetha’s word for anything when it comes to sales reports and other publishing information related to your title. You can find out exactly how many of your titles have sold, how much it’s earned in royalties, and how much you’re supposed to be getting paid.

It’s your book. It’s your work. It’s your money. Empower yourself.

CreateSpace

Phone: (843) 789-5000
Fax: (843) 760-0532
View Additional Phone Numbers
4900 Lacross Rd,
North Charleston, SC 29406
Send email to CreateSpace
www.createspace.com

Still wrong

How long ago was it that Tabetha insisted that her freelancers aren’t contracted because she thought that it distanced her from the responsibility of calling them employees? Not very.
Now that it’s been pointed out that a lack of contracts is what makes them employees rather than freelancers, she’s scrambled to try and fix it.
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It’s almost pitiable that she continues to get it so wrong.
I’m not going to point out how she’s still getting it wrong this time so that she can try to fix it again. She’ll just keep screwing it up anyway. Even with a freaking road map, she still can’t find the right way to get it done.
*shakes my head*

Keep ’em updated

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware invites all authors that have had problems with Phoenix Fire publishing to get in touch with her and tell her about what happened. WB is aware of problems with Tabetha Jones and Phoenix fire from when Mystic Press closed down and Phoenix Fire opened, and they’re interested in hearing about more recent problems too.

So, writers that have had any problems Phoenix fire within the last year or so, get in touch with her and tell her all about it.
If you’re a current author with questions, same thing. She assures that all information is confidential, so you don’t have to worry about any retaliation from Tabetha’s camp.

Hopefully, we can keep any new authors from getting scammed.

Email Victoria Strauss: beware@sfwa.org

In the past?

Author Anna Lynn has recently parted company with Tabetha Jones and Phoenix fire. She had, however, used Phoenix Rising’s “self-publishing” services, so she allowed Tabetha to post the listing for her on Amazon as the last thing she did on her way out the door, since all the work was already done, anyway.

Yesterday, Anna looked at the listing for her book on Amazon and discovered that Tabetha had listed herself as an author on Anna’s book. Likewise, she included Phoenix Rising as an author, too. Imagine Anna’s surprise to find out she’s not the only one that wrote her own book.

Anna asked Tabetha about it and got this reply:
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Anna showed Tabetha the screen cap, who then said this:
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Anna changed the listing, took off every name but her own, reported Tabetha to the Better Business Bureau and to Createspace, Needless to say, she’s furious. I don’t blame her. And I quote: “Tabetha is a bitch!” Tabetha had absolutely no right to insert herself into Anna’s work, especially now that she’s (wisely) chosen not to associate herself with Tabetha in the future. She had no right to begin with, as Anna had used the self-publishing services that Phoneix overcharges for. Without a contract.

I’m already hearing rumbles that Anna set this situation up herself in order to frame Tabetha. Tabetha’s got to cover her own ass, after all, and what better parting shot to discredit an author that came to her senses and left the fold. There are several reasons why I believe Anna over Tabetha:
1.  It’s Tabetha Jones. ‘Nuff said.
2.  The listing appears as Tabetha always posts them, with the editor, publisher, artist, and everybody else listed on the author line. Nobody else in the world lists books that way. Maybe she tells herself and her authors that she’s better than the rest of the world for giving the whole team credit where it’s due. But the fact is that nobody else does it that way because it’s unprofessional. One person and one person only deserves credit in the author line: the author. They wrote the book. It’s their baby. It’s their moment to shine. Not the time for Tabetha to get her name in lights for the work that somebody else did.
3.  Tabetha has a history of retaliating against authors that walk away from her. Just look at what she calls her former Mystic Press authors: Backstabbers and liars that scammed HER somehow. Personally, I’d love to know how her former authors scammed her, as royalty money flows from the publisher to the author, not the other way around. Well, that’s how it works with legitimate publishers, anyway.
There’s a good chance she’s doing the same here, trying to discredit new authors that got away from her. She might even be calling them spies or moles working for me. Heaven forbid that anybody that knows the truth about Tabetha Jones should have a mind of their own.
4.  Tabetha’s story changes. First “No it doesn’t! I’m looking right at it.” Then, when confronted with irrefutable proof, “It’s not my fault! I didn’t do it!” That’s signature Tabetha behavior, up down and sideways. Deny, deny, deny. And then, when there’s proof, blame it on somebody else.

Moral of the story, kids: watch your back. Tabetha likes to sing a sad song about how Mystic Press and all the authors associated with it are “in the past” and how she deserves a “second chance” like anybody else. But the truth is that she’s still pulling shady schemes right up to this very day. And you can rest assured that if you work with her on any level, she’s pulling them on you.