I see that “Mistress Lexi” got her fur all up about how perfectly logical it is for a publisher to hit departing authors up for an early separation fee. She called it an “Early Termination Fee” saying:
Over the weekend many rumors floated around. Seriously people? I wrote a story about a young lady getting screwed over by a publishing company. Being new, is not an excuse. Since Friday, I have heard the tales of how other authors left because of this or that. Something is to be said if authors are leaving in bunches; shady at best. What happens to that company is totally forthcoming. These rumors lead me to a hot topic and one that might surprise you. No, I am not bashing the company but giving an outlook on a topic I feel needs to be discussed.
A debate about Early Termination Fees (ETF) crossed my desk late last night. To be honest I have mixed emotions on this topic.
No one’s work should be held hostage for the incompetence of a publisher. Flip the coin and a publisher should not be taken advantage of either. I would love to take a stand but I am having difficulty agreeing to all that is before me at this time.
During my research, I have found several cases of authors getting hit with high fees when the publisher did wrong. What if that author just up and left the company? Should all the people working on that manuscript get screwed? I am positive the last question’s answer depends on the contract between publisher and associate.
With the rise of vanity presses; many of which cannot afford money upfront but are willing to help authors publish their manuscripts. These companies are willing to provide covers, print and e-book formats along with edits in order to seem like a big name publishing house. After asking several author friends of mine, I have been told it can get expensive. Sites charging $25 and up just for advertising. Edits, see my post before to get a feel on those costs. Cover artist charge from the low of $30 to the upwards of $1,000. Yes, it does depend on what the author wants.
I mentioned on the editing post an author left, so let’s make up a scenario:
An author leaves shortly after first rounds of edits. No evidence of contractual differences. Just leaves. The manuscripts has been edited to a point it would be better than it started out. Within hours the author can self-publish that manuscript. The publisher still must come up with money to pay the editor for job was done in a timely manner. In this case no early termination fee was present.
The publisher must eat the cost but why? A happy medium should be formed so all parties are protected. Editors have reached out and are willing to take a percentage of royalties so money up front does not have to be paid. Editors do make sure you have a clause in contract, if the person leaves you still get paid.
While cover art is provided and it needs to be paid for. Who is responsible? The owner still has to fork out that money.
When signing a contract in which an author gives the company a fixed amount of royalties, the author in the long run pays back the money the company uses to better the manuscript. Why when the author breaks the contract is it bad to have a clause in the contract for them to pay a fee?
Mind you, stupid excuses of why things cannot be completed drives me totally nuts. “I am in pain” to “my cat died.” You are a business person-one of these small things should not lead to a horrible disaster that causes an author not to get published.
Curiosity has me thinking about what the company is going through if authors left after many key areas of getting ready to be published have already taken place. Guess my soft side is showing through, don’t get the wrong idea I still believe Kinship is not the best place to go to get published.
Only a scam publisher or someone defending a scam publisher would ever write up such a ridiculous defense of ripping off authors as they try to leave a scam publisher. And only somebody covering for Tab, specifically, would try to turn a post that describes Tabetha’s company, Mystic Press, Phoenix Fire Publishing, Dark Storm Publishing to a T would try at the end to twist it around on a rival company. It’s so transparent it’s not even funny. SMH.
Most of all, I can’t get over thinking how much this post reminds me so much of when my duaghter tried to leave Mystic Press.
After being promised the moon by Tabetha, “Mystic press will do EVERYTHING!”
Thea paid $165 (or thereabouts) which, according to her contact was supposed to pay for accounts at Createspace and Lightningsource (which Tabetha sets up for free, btw, those fees were pure profit for her) and for cover art.
Once the money was paid, Tabetha told Thea that she wasn’t going to publish the book, trying to insist that Thea had breached the contract by not replying in a timely manner, which simply wasn’t true. And Thea can p rove it. That’s Tabetha backing out, not Thea breaching her contract, like Tabetha insists. So Thea asked for her money back.
The money was gone, Tab said. It had gone to pay the editors that had already invested their time in Thea’s book. They don’t work for free, Tab insisted. They got paid. No money left. Sorry.
The contract, TAB’S contract, didn’t say that the money was for editing. And we all know that she doesn’t pay her editors, anyway. She inbreeds substandard editing work from other authors that are neither qualified nor trained for the job and promises to pay them higher royalties. The joke’s on the editors/authors, though, because proper royalties didn’t get paid anyway. She knew going in that she was getting free work out of them. They’ve found that out and left her, just like the newer ones will.
Thea’s contract said that the money she paid was for a Createspace account, a Lightningsource account, and cover art. The book never went to print, so no Createspace or Lightningsource accounts were created for that project. And Tab’s artists at the time couldn’t produce the type of cover Thea wanted, so I made it. That’s right. ME. So not a single penny of what my daughter paid went toward what the contract called for.
Tab tried a couple of times to make her excuse about paying editors stick, tried to throw Cindy Carlo under the bus, saying that Thea should never have been accepted in the first place. She tried blaming Eric, she even tried to say that she paid $65 bucks for an ISBN, which is ridiculous because we all know that she uses Createspace’s free ISBN nubers. She tried blaming Thea’s “choppy” writing, tried everything she could think of, but Thea accepted none of that. She stuck to the contract, which said that the money was earmarked for online accounts and artwork, not editors.
When the editor bid didn’t fly, Tab tried to hit Thea up for that famous separation fee, only back then, I think it was as much as $300 bucks. Thea told her to stuff it.
Tab tried to hold Thea’s book hostage, asking for that sep fee. Thea told her to stuff it.
Tab then offered to “graciously” agree to release Thea from her contract and give her back her work, but only if Thea would sign a paper agreeing not to talk about Tab or any of their dealings. Thea told her to stuff it.
Tab huffed and puffed, bellowed and blustered, threatening Thea with everything in the book, including that Red Herring lawyer of hers. But Thea, bless her heart, stood her ground and told Tab to stuff it.
For your reading amusement, here are caps of the chat. Thea still has everything, just like the rest of Tab’s victims do. As ever, they can PROVE everything they claim. But this is the part relevant to the claims about not paying the money back because of the editors.
Eventually, with no other choice, Tab released Thea and her work. It took more than a year, but she paid Thea back, too, but only when her ass was over a barrel and she had no other choice. She calls that blackmail. I call it justice.
The point, here, is that this claim about how editors should be paid at the author’s expense is not a new one. Not by a long shot. It is, in fact, recycled from Tab’s business practices from years ago. Almost verbatim.
To answer Lexi’s question:
“Should all the people working on that manuscript get screwed?”
No. They should get paid for their work, but not by the author.
“The publisher must eat the cost but why?”
Because they’re the publisher. Duh.
The publisher, that’s who. Editing, formatting, artwork, promotion, marketing, physical manufacture of the books, these (and many more) are things that publishers DO. They do ALL of the work that goes into the production and promotion of a book, from the time a submission is accepted to the time the book goes out of print. That’s what entitles a publisher to keep a percentage of the money the book makes. THAT’S how a publisher makes money. Not by squeezing money out of the author up front or on their way out the door.
Money flows TO the author. Not FROM them. Real publishers know this going in. That, very simply, is the job.
If a publisher can’t do what it takes to get the job done, If they do such a horrible job that the authors feel the need to leave, then yes. The publisher eats it. If they can’t handle that, if they can’t do the job, they need to go back to pimping pizzas.
One last thing before I wrap it up. Remind me again, who has a habit of mashing the words “up” and “front” together into upfront…? It’s right on the tip of my tongue.