Sep fee, revisited

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.

With Love,
Mistress Lexi

See what I did, there? I provided the entire post, not just snippets I thought would serve my purposes. That’s what we do, here. We tell the whole truth.

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.

“Who’s responsible?”

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.


24 thoughts on “Sep fee, revisited

  1. Look at how many people are looking at this blog today.

    People aren’t just learning the truth here and there in a couple piddlin’ little places. They’re seeing it EVERYWHERE.


    • That should scare the shit out of you really. Thats how many authors see you being that advocate you claim to be. A defamation suit in the waiting. Whats the matter Leppy had to post your own comments because no one else but Cindy or her brother want to play. Sorry its Cindy and oh yeah Cindy again using her brothers email. I heard this rumor going round that one of my minons was told about Sabrina stealing software downloads from Kinship charging a card of the owner or something another on Amazon. If Tabetha did that you would call her a fraud and a thief. So what does that make your Sweet Sabrina?

      • Well, YOU’RE here, aren’t you? And people from all around the world.

        The one that should be terrified is Tabetha. She’s finding fewer and fewer places to hide. an ever-shrinking pool of potential victims for her to scam. I’m delighted that she’s finding it harder and harder to blindside new victims. She’s stuck making most of them up. Not that she’s new to that.

        If you’re not Tabetha, you’re up her ass to your ankles, so we know there’s something wrong with you. But there’s this disorder that’s prevalent in all of you. There’s this absolute REFUSAL you people have to understand that it’s only defamation if it’s not true. Every accusation these authors make is true, and they can prove it. Just like those screen caps prove Thea’s claims of how Tab tried to keep from paying her back. She did pay, when her ass was over a barrel, paid back every dime she owed, and not one penny more.

        What you just said, though, THAT’S defamation. Unless you have proof of your claims, calling somebody a thief is all kinds of illegal.

        I hope you’ve got those court clothes handy, hon, in case Sabrina decides to take you up on it. That’s a show I’d pay to see.

      • Any time dear I have the proof and if the person that was given the proof backs out I have a 911 call I can use in court. Then at the end of the day we can have fun with a new post calling out all the liars in your court. And that dear I have proof of.
        Best of all you and each of your innocents will be ridumg shot gun with me rught along with you. Your the biggest defamation suit we will all have.make sure dear that you have proof that im a theif as you so greatly point out I stole pictures off the net. Dear I paid gor those I have proof receipts and a subscription that gets paid regular. So dear do you want to retract your accusation of that or shall I contact officials on your defamation of my character? Hum d ou dnt your mom ever tell you not to point your finger when it can be turned back towards you. After all we we would be all day over depositions of what you have done here on your blog against poor Leah. That hun, proof you have you’ll be needing that. So again I am saying this here fot all to see remove the lie you made about me stealing pictures for my blog and profile sweetheart. I wont play this game with you much longer show proof I stole it or remove it! I will give you 1 hr before I post my proof I boughy it! Then you hun dear will be in violation of defamation.
        You dear mistook me for a fool, sweetheart that I am not but nice try. The ball is in your court hun what are you going to do so many watching you here. Your reputation of an author-artist is on the line.

      • Oh she looks terrified. Amanda, Leah, Katrina has Tab really got your heads screwed on so sideways that you actually think an alt can sue somebody? The only thing that will happen if you try it is that you’ll prove she’s right when she says that your Ember. OMG are you so stupid you don’t know that? Well I guess you are. Look who’s ass you have your heads jammed up.

      • Shaking in my boots, I tell ya.

        I guess they aren’t thinking far enough ahead, to figure out how the fuck an alt is going to file a case and appear in court. They’d have to file using their own names. And if they do that, use their real names to file a lawsuit on behalf of an alt, I want to be there to record a video when the judge laughs them out of court and post it on Facebook. Right after I get a ruling on my counter suit.

      • Dear your mighty little laugh does not fase me. No matter who I am trust one thing your playing with fire. Every post you make is used against you. No matter sequences. Your delusion has been your down fall. Try as you might but according to my lawyer if I tradmark my alt then yes she will be seeing you in court. Then youll see me or mine in all our glory snickering as you try to get our suit against you SLAPPed. When you see my face you wont be so smug with no puppets to have your back or your alts of your own to banter with, well unless you wish to be a streight jacket super model lol.
        Seems people have said slander defamation and libel so much you wish to use it too. How sweet hun. I have more on you for things on this blog. You might be able to prove to a stature about Tabetha but me honey you went after Leah wrong move I figured as much as you toss Katrina’s name around it would be her. Ps I did ask her permission before I made that remark as to make it legal. But no the least expected path. Thats fine, injoy the ride. Piff you never did say the name of your business shall I assume your silence equals guilt that your a hypocrite? That your not legal nor pay taxes on your business. “Speculation” judge “I agree no further questions your honer… I rest my case!”

    • And once again, we hear all about Tabby’s “proof” — and once again, none is forthcoming. For all these people (if one is to believe that it’s more than one person) has their heads so far up Tab’s snatch that it must be made of gold — and that is as close to getting paid as any of them will ever get!

      • She has no proof, and isn’t interested in the truth whatsoever. All she cares about is keeping our attention over here while she does something sneaky. Like, oh, say, quietly putting old titles back up for sale on Amazon. While we’re all busy laughing and how wound up she can get Ember, she’s hoping we won’t notice what she’s up to. We know her a little too wall for that, though, don’t we?

  2. Okay, just for fun… which turned out to be rather masochistic, I read about as much of this parody of the “publishing” world as I could, before I had the urge to render myself unconscious with my son’s smelly gym shoe. (My extensive vocabulary fails me as my brain tires to comprehend the madness!)

    Put the crack pipes down, people!

    Do you know anything about publishing?

    Anybody… yes, ANYBODY foolish to enough to tie themselves to any publishing house without a reputable agent is generally going to get a quick and painful education. As far as I can tell, you got off cheap.

    Are you a dedicated writer, who aspires to earn the title of, author?

    Well then, you should KNOW this.

    First, you apply blood, sweat and copious tears to the page. You accept that your first draft is garbage. So is the second, the third, and so on. You painfully flog and shred your own words, until you cannot stand the pain anymore. Then, you take a short break, and continue.

    You examine your intended audience and familiarize yourself with anything genre specific. You work your best to balance the story you want to tell, the expectations of the genre, marketability, and your unique style.

    Eventually, you have a finalized beta-reader draft.

    Then, you present your works to other writers (maybe some skilled readers), welcoming more flogging and shredding. You release all sense of pride and join in ugly mayhem, until your words are beaten to a pulp and refined.

    Then… you edit it at least one more time. When you are absolutely certain it’s flawless (it isn’t) but at least it’s ready for the painful query process. This process alone can take a year or more and valuable feedback can help you make more refinements.

    A small percentage will eventually secure the services of an agent. This will cost absolutely nothing, with the exception of additional time, pain and swallowing of pride. The agent will make a percentage only if the book sells. You now have a partner in risk. The agent will guide further genre specific and publisher specific tweaks. They will shop your manuscript.

    A small percentage will eventually find a publisher. A tiny percentage will score a major publishing house. An editor at the publishing house will specify tweaks to prepare it for final publication. After some back and forth volleys, it will be deemed ready. Congratulations, you have now earned the title of, author. If everyone did their job correctly, you won’t end up on the two-for-a-buck table.

    With continued hard work, some people might eventually recognize your name.

    If this isn’t the publishing process as you recognize it, I suggest you start educating yourself.

    • We agree on this, at least. You’re right, that’s how it should work. I’m with you 100%. Sadly, not all new authors are familiar with the industry. That’s who this blog is for, because these are the people Tabetha Jones preys on. Yes, they need to educate themselves, but we are here to offer assistance. We’d rather they learned without being scammed.

      Everything you’ve just said about publishing has been posted by Lepp on this blog at some point. I hope that reassures you as to Lepp’s motivation.

      Aside, there are plenty of small publishing companies that operate a legitimate business without using lit agents. I wouldn’t sign with them, but I do know reputable, successful authors who have. Even so, these are established companies, not fledgling businesses with a revolving door staff turnover.

      • Pixewrites you find no real author advocacy here on this blog unless you agree with Lepp and her freinds.
        This blog was made to get paid back for her daughters choice in publishing services. Right or wrong. Thus far it has become personal vendetta against not just Tabetha Jones but any and all authors, business people who come in contact with her on public forum or FB pages. They call her daughter a dwarf whore or that one day soon she will have her daughter walk the pier to make money for gravy train she killed off. This child they deface is only 7.
        Lepp stalks authors giving them the warning. Leave or face her wrath as Leah has. She is not the first one no there have been many. Her freinds here do the same the authors can’t write they cant even breathe when she places them her on her blog for her friends to see. They ruin them with harrasing fb messages contacting them on twitter asking them inappropriate questions for all social media to see. The authors stop writing and fold into themselves some have thought and tried to kill themselves. With Lepp you have no say how your story your life turns out. Shes the one writing it as she goes. Her track record for defamation goes for ever. Yet you make one comment an she says “defamation” the same things the ones she does it to say to her. She does not care about anyone or thing unless they see it all the ways she wants you too. As you clearly see here with you and another.

      • The only thing wrong with my duaghter’s publishing choices was to trust a lying scamming piece of shit like Tabetha Jones.
        This blog exists to show authors that they don’t have to do the same. There’s a REAL publishing world out there that doesn’t work that way. People don’t have to settle for being scammed by a psychotic asshat who rants and raves about biker gangs and voodoo witches.

        You just keep trying to work that Dwarf Whore angle, don’t you? Too bad you’re getting that wrong, like everything else. That remark DEFENDED that innocent child against a mother who made her up to LOOK LIKE a dwarf whore. They didn’t call that kid a whore. They said her mom made her up to look like one. There’s a difference that mom’s (and yours, apparently) pea brain just can’t wrap around.

        If Tabetha cared about her sweet daughter, she would, she SHOULD be furious that her daughter’s name keeps getting thrown around with the term ‘dwarf whore” and demand that people stop using it. But she’s more interested in twisting the context around to attack the people she hates than she is with protecting her own daughter.

        Mother of the year, I tell ya.

        And, please. Show me screen caps of ANY time I’ve ever told someone to leave Tab or face my “wrath” the way Leah has, in your words.

        Screen caps, hon, or it’s defamation. That’s your thing, right? Proof? Let’s see yours.

      • “Ember?” is either Tabetha Jones or someone closely connected to her. We regulars know this because of the various tells she exhibits in her posts. If you’re not familiar with her style then I recommend you have a read over the blog and make up your own mind.

        I also agree with what you’ve posted above, Pixie.

      • Exactly. THAT’S what we’re here for. To show people how the publishing industry is supposed to work, not the bullshit scam that Tabetha and other “publishers” like her try to scan eager new authors with. I hope Pixie’s post has helped them open their eyes.

    • You make very valid points. Those are, indeed, steps to becoming an author. There are more that can be included, though. An aspiring author, after a few drafts, can and should approach an editor on his/her own. That’s not limited to publishing companies. And in this day and age, the option of self publishing is viable. It’s that much more work, to be sure, but it can be done.
      There are all sorts of options open to an author, including the steps you mentioned.
      Another option is NanoWrimo, a workshop where writers try to improve their craft. Not to become involved in a stranger’s drama. Pity they can’t be left alone to attend to their writing without being recruited to come participate in this sort of nonsensical behavior.

  3. I’m not saying the situation with this Tabitha person is legit. I’m not saying that. I’ve seen scam presses BUT many literary agents and publishers have specific termination clauses in their contracts that detail the rights and responsibilities of BOTH parties when breaking the contract before work is complete. There are legit, big name companies who have these fees in place for the reasons discussed in the article you provided above. A publisher has a lot of upfront costs when preparing a book for market and they recoup those costs when the book sells.
    No, a book should not be held ransom by a publisher.
    ALL fees should be detailed extensively in the contract and if they’re not in the contract the writer should not have to pay. And there should be clauses stating that if the publisher f***s up the writer doesn’t pay for those mistakes.
    ALL writers should read their contracts before signing. If you don’t like what you read don’t sign it and don’t do business with them. If there is no termination clause ASK. More knowledge is always better.

    • You are exactly right. The rights and responsibilities of both parties should be expressly detailed in the contract to protect the interests of all involved.

      The problem with Tab’s contracts is that it so heavily favors her. The way it’s worded, she can terminate the contract for any reason and hold the author liable for that fee. There’s nothing in it that protects the rights of the author if it’s the publisher that f*cks it up. That’s what we’re saying is the case here. And many authors have reported that she holds their work ransom if they don’t pay, citing computer problems or some other such nonsense.

      So, you are completely correct. Real and proper publishing companies have contracts and policies that protect the interests of all involved parties. She’s not one of them

      The problem with new authors reading and understanding the contract is that they have absolutely NO idea how publishing is supposed to work or what they could or should expect from a contract. They have what they believe to be a publisher telling them that this is a standard industry contract, so what’s the problem? They don’t want to feel stupid, or pass up the chance to have their work published, so they trust her word that it’s standard, and they sign it. And that’s when the nightmare begins.

      Yes, every author absolutely should thoroughly research a publisher before signing. They should ask questions about the contract. They should inform themselves as much as possible. That’s why we’re here. To encourage them to do that, and to show what can happen to them if they don’t.

  4. In theory that all sounds great, if these publishers PAID. Which it has been proven time and time again, Tabetha doesn’t pay squat. She weasels willing authors into doing edits, they make up false reviews, and tells them higher royalties or whatever. Then when you are no longer useful or you dare to question about said royalties you are a hater. Hell she won’t pay the authors for their OWN works what makes you think she will pay anyone else. There will always be an excuse. I know how many times it was asked of her by my sister, always a excuse. We have all seen or heard about them. Always the I made mistakes or it wasn’t my fault. The same line I have changed, fresh start. When will anyone see these changes?

  5. Update:

    As of June, 2016, Tabetha Jones has no publishing companies in operation that we know about, so our investigation of her has been halted. The point of examining her in the first place was to advocate for authors that reported no royalties and other related abuse from her. If she’s not involved with publishing anymore, that job’s done.

    The posts about her remain in public view in case she starts a new one in the future.

    If more publishing concerns about Tabetha Jones (Willis, Farmer Hoover, Saulters, etc) – AKA Zooey Sweete, Emerald Rai Fleurs, et al – arise in the future, we will post relevant updates. But for now, we’re focusing on happier topics.


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