Violation

copyright-violation
In a recent comment, a former victim reports that she continues to see her work in publications put out by  the various, assorted publishing company incarnations owned by Tabetha Jones.

A quick google of Amazon.com’s terms of service confirms that the publication of unauthorized written content constitutes an intellectual rights violation.

So, authors, if you find any of your content being published or sold by Tabetha Jones without your prior knowledge or consent, don’t bother asking her to remove it. She obviously doesn’t care. Instead, report the infringement to Amazon.com. Maybe they’ll yank her account. And the literary world can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

You’re welcome.

Advertisements

BD heads up

Just a quick heads up. Tab’s planning to re-release her Beautiful Disasters anthology.
upcomingreleasesBDremake
So if you’ve got work in the previous incarnation(s) of that (or any other MP, PF, DS, SF, SS) book, or if you’ve ever given her anything to read, keep a close eye on BD to make sure none of your work shows up in it on the sly. Just to be safe.

And if any of you know Aradia Wadjet, Norbert Gora or Natalie Moon, please let those poor people know what they’re getting into.

Tricky Nicky

Just when we thought we’d seen the end of him.

Nicky Pacione has managed to get himself thrown off of just about every social media and publishing site there is at some point. He’s pissed ’em off at Lulu, gotten himself booted off of Createspace, and even been put in time out with Facebook and Twitter. I think. There are likely many more, but I honestly don’t care enough to go searching for a more comprehensive list. He attacks admins with his homophobic, paranoid ravings, gets thrown off, and then goes on rants about what assholes they are for trying to keep the world from seeing his crap.

But he’s found himself a new publishing home. Until they get enough complaints about him or abuse from him, he’s publishing his drivel through Booktango.  And it looks like he’s been a busy boy, publishing all of his old crap along with a new anthology. November alone has seen a new batch of books (re)published by tricky Nicky. Booktango doesn’t keep author or title information, but you can see their name as his publisher attached to books on Amazon.com

Nicky Pacione delivers a library of unknown horrors, is a book largely comprised of classic stories that he swiped from the internet, by such luminaries as Hitchcock, Lovecraft, Poe, Jack London, Bram Stoker, and a bunch of others. There’s a (very) small spattering of newer stories, but they are few. Looks like Nicky wants to reel ’em in with those famous names and cash in.  Naughty, naughty.

There are horrors, all right. Starting with his liberal use of words like “faggot” and “retard” in the book’s prologue and continuing through disjointed run-on sentences that not only jump tenses mid-stream, but display a horrid lack of grammatical skills. Its a mess, and from the look of it, that’s indicative of his entire body of work.

Jenny’s got a scathing – and completely accurate – summation of Nicky’s waste of paper and bitrates over at HER PLACE from when it first came out. It’s highly amusing, and just as relevant today as it was then. I suggest it to anybody looking for a giggle about this guy. And, of course, The Rusty Nail always has the latest on this wing-nut. Whether he’s starting a new crowd-funding effort or getting himself thrown off of yet another social networking or publishing site, they’ll have the details for you to point and laugh at. I know I get a kick out of it. Brian Keene, a fine writer, also has some illuminating insights about Nicky’s tricky publishing habits. There’s stuff just about everywhere about this guy. One quick Google of his name should keep you amused through the next century or so.

If you decide to look Nicky’s ‘work’ up on Amazon.com, though, be sure to search just for his last name. He’s not going by Nickolaus A (or Albert) Pacione these days. He’s eliminated the A (or Albert). He’s got titles under both names up at Amazon, one with the middle bit, and the latest batch without. Sneaky monkey.

I didn’t think it was possible to find a publisher worse than Tabetha Jones and her multiple personality train wrecks, but I was wrong. This guy is worse. Not by much, all things considered. But if you’re a writer and these two were the only two publishing options left on the planet, you’d be best served by setting fire to your manuscript and roasting some weenies with it. At least that way you’d see a tangible result for all your hard work.

The Call

phone

Last night, I received a phone call from Dark Storm’s new(est) manager. She approached me in a polite and businesslike manner, at first, addressing concerns about her company, about how, now that she manages the company and is an author in it as wall, my blog affects HER, her reputation and her livelihood.

I appreciate that. But, if she’s so concerned about her reputation, her career and her livelihood, she certainly picked the wrong company to stake it all on. And I said as much. “I hate a liar,” she said at one point. I told her “Boy, are you working for the wrong company, then.”

During the course of the chat, she assured me (several times) that she’s about to graduate with a degree in business management. That’s great. I congratulated her. If she really can bring some professionalism to the company, all the better for the authors. I’m all for it. But if she’s just there to intimidate the authors, she’s nothing more than the literary equivalent of a loan shark’s leg-breaker, and that won’t fly.

She named her concerns one by one, starting with the live links I posted to those photo albums in my last post. They’re illegal, she insisted, and demanded that I remove them. I reminded her that, as a well educated person who assures me that she took law classes as part of her business degree, I’m sure she knows that posting live links does not infringe upon copyrights. She insisted again, that yes, it does. I invited her to forward me the statute. I also invited her to forward me emails that she and her boss claim they were sent PROVING that I contacted and harassed a magazine to force them to drop photos of Tab and another model. Not a screen cap, not copy and paste. FORWARD it to me. All of it. I’d LOVE to see all of that.

As of two minutes ago, I still haven’t received either of those. Funny how that works.

What is it called again when people accuse you of something you didn’t do… ?

She went on to express disdain at my comments that without Salena in those pictures, Tab looked like she was having a bad menstrual day. I said that she really had no room to complain when she’s rolling around covered in buckets of blood.
“It wasn’t blood!” she insisted, explaining that it’s corn syrup with dye in it.
“That looks like blood. So…”

She addressed other concerns, including the infamous “Dwarf whore” comments. I explained that those comments were in defense of that child, not to attack her. The new manager went on to say that because of my blog, that child is now having self-esteem issues, and mentioned something about anorexia and bulimia.
I said “Hang on. You’re telling me that because of my blog, that 7 year old child is an anorexic or bulimic?” She backpedalled quickly, saying no, but if she DOES become either of those, I would be liable for it.
I asked her to answer one question for me. How does that 7 year old child even know about my blog?
“Because you don’t have it blocked for under 18.” and because that child is old enough to get on the internet.
I said: “No, you’re not answering my question. How does that child even know my blog exists?” If her mother didn’t tell her about it, that child wouldn’t know the first thing about my blog. The new manager insists that Tab never told her daughter about the blog directly. Rather, the child overheard her mother talking about the blog to someone else.

I personally know that isn’t true. I’ve been on the phone and heard Tabetha RANTING about my blog with her daughter in the room. So have many others, both on the phone and in person. Tab doesn’t just talk about my blog, she foams at the mouth about it, in front of her daughter and anybody else that will listen. This manager claims to have known Tab for the last 5 years, yet says she’s never seen that happen. She also insists that she’s never seen Tab engage in other questionable behaviors that others have seen with their own eyes. So it’s pretty obvious that this new manager is just another hired sock puppet, spouting off Tab’s manifesto on cue. But she was polite, and it was fun shooting down each point she brought up, so I kept chatting.

There was the matter of the picture of that key that I posted. This new manager accused me of hacking Tabetha’s computer because there’s no other way I could have that picture. It was only sent in PRIVATE MESSAGE. So I must have hacked Tab’s computer to get it.
“Unless,” I instructed her “the person it was sent to gave it to me along with permission to post it.” Which is exactly what happened. That seemed to piss them both off — Yes, Tab was there, too, talking in the background, just like she was when she got Dee to call me and say many of the same things. But, like it or not, that’s the fact. No matter how many people she gets to call me to plead her case. Ir try to intimidate me. Or whatever.

This new manager touched upon the subject of people saying that Tab takes/took drugs, by insisting that If Tabetha went and took a piss test and came out clean, all those people that said she took pills would be liable for slander/defamation/etc, right? And maybe me, too, for allowing them to say it.
“Absolutely not,” I laughed. “That would mean that she’s not on drungs NOW. It wouldn’t mean that she wasn’t on drugs then.”
That didn’t go over very well. Drugs, she insisted, stay in a person’s body for a year, so if she tested clean now, that would vindicate her for ALL of those allegations. I could only laugh. But sure, let’s see that piss test. By all means. Who here thinks she’ll run straight to her PO and DEMAND to be tested, this very INSTANT!

Yeah. I don’t see that happening, either.

There was so much more, a full hour’s worth of chatter, about everything from how legal she insists the company and the contracts are now, to the fact that I’m liable for this, that, and the other.
“Great,” I said. “Get me in front of a judge. There’s a whole lot of stuff I’d LOVE to show a judge, on behalf of a whole lot of people that have been wronged by Tab and her company, whatever name she called it at the time. Every author that’s made an allegation about that company can back it up with proof. Tab might wish they’d go away, but the fact of the matter is that they’re still there. They’re real people that have been really hurt, and they can back up their claims with real proof. You’ve seen a lot of it right here on this blog. No, they don’t go away just because Tab wishes they would. And, statute of limitations or not, the truth never stops being the truth.

At one point, this new manager claimed to know a current MP/PF/DS author very well, loves her like family and would do anything for her. This is an author that has decided to leave Tab’s company, in every sense of the word, and who has been getting nothing but grief for it. Threats, fake emails, texts, PMs, you name it.
I said that if this author is somebody the new manager “loves like family” it’s a shame that she’s sitting there defending the person that’s treating said author so shabbily. I think she deserves better. I think all the authors do.

As the conversation wound down, she said that she hopes not to see her name on my blog. I assured her that, as of this moment, I have no reason to name her on my blog. And it’s true. If I CHOSE to, I could. We had a lengthy conversation about Dark Storm (Mystic Press, Phoenix Fire), which is completely relevant to the subject. And, she called me. I could run screaming about how that’s harassment, but I’m not going to do that. In fact, I invited her to call me any time.

One thing that amuses me, though, is that TAb has insisted up, down and sideways that she doesn’t have my address or phone number. That’s why she had to put dear mom on Skype with me.

So… if Tab doesn’t have my number, where did her manager (who called me from Tab’s “office” get it?
Thoughts to ponder.

But, for now, I’m not putting her name on my blog. She has not done anything to directly harm an author or model in any way that I’m aware of. Yet. She works for Tab’s bullshit company, so I could lambaste her for that alone. But she assures me that her intentions are to better the company and make sure the authors are paid and treated fairly. I can appreciate that, and I told her that I wish her the best of luck. If, by some miracle, that company becomes legitimate (in word and deed) and learns how to operate like a proper publisher, the people that would benefit are the authors, and I’m all for that.

However, if I do become aware that she has direct participation in the mistreatment of any author in any manner, I have no problem whatsoever putting her name all OVER this blog. And, since she’s the manager and assures me that from now on, anybody that wants to contact Tabetha has to go through her, I’m sure it won’t take long before she earns herself a spot on the wall of shame.

Over all, I got the feeling that I was supposed to be intimidated by this new manager’s forceful, direct approach. I wasn’t. It takes more than a misinformed mouthpiece to send me running. If anything, I was amused that they thought sending in someone new with the same old arguments would make any difference.

But it occurs to me that authors might be intimidated. By bringing in this “new” hired gun, Dark Storm’s owner might be able to intimidate authors in a way that she is becoming less and less able to do herself as the truth comes out about her. Maybe a new bulldog with a big mouth and a degree in business management can give her company the appearance of legitimacy, and intimidate authors, artists and models into thinking that they’re bound to her and trapped by her contracts.

Don’t be intimidated.

Authors, artists, models and anybody else she might try to intimidate, don’t let any new employee, partner, executive of sock puppet push you around. If a company isn’t legal, the contracts aren’t legal. Period. And if that’s the case, YOU ARE NOT BOUND BY IT. No matter how loudly anyone screams it, no matter now many sock puppets she hires to try and force it down your throat. If a contract isn’t legal, you can wipe your ass with it, claim your work and walk away unscathed. Tab and her new mouthpiece might scream about legalities, backed up by this degree in business management, they’ll tell you. But don’t be intimidated. Everybody in the house could have a PhD in quantum physics, and it still wouldn’t make an illegal contract into a legal one.

If you’re an author, artist or model (or anything else) that wants to get away from Tabetha Jones, do it. Take whatever work belongs to you (not just what she SAYS you can take, but any work you did) and walk. If she or her mouthpiece threaten you with legal action, call their bluff. Invite them to sue you. DARE them to. And if they do, let us know. There are a lot of us that would LOVE to see Tabetha Jones in front of a judge. That might just be the show of the century, with all the evidence so many victims have saved.

She won’t sue you. She’ll huff, and she’ll puff, and she’ll kick up a fuss, but she won’t sue you. No judge in the world would uphold an unconscionable, illegal contract from an illegal company, and she knows it. Her only hope is to bully you into either staying or paying to get away from her. It can only work if you let it. She only gets you to agree if you do so willingly, and she only gets your money if you hand it over. Do neither of those things. Tell her to stuff it and walk.

Don’t let her keep your work, either. She doesn’t have the right to keep or use it. She never did. Not if that contract is illegal. YOU own your work. Especially if you signed with a previous company that no longer exists. Contracts don’t “carry over” just because she says so. I’m sure her new hired gun with the business degree can tell her that. It simply doesn’t work that way. The only contract she can wave at you is any you signed with the current company. And even that’s only useful as toilet paper if it’s unconscionable or if the company that got you to sign it is illegal. And, no, it doesn’t matter that you signed it. If the company or contract isn’t legal, you can sign it a hundred times in fifty different languages and it’s still not binding. Do not be manipulated or bullied into thinking that you’re bound by a contract if it simply isn’t legal. No matter who she throws at you to intimidate you.

And before either of them kick up a fuss about all of these slanderous lies, I’d like to point out that both Texas and Louisiana are one-party states. I recorded that conversation and have no problem whatsoever posting it to prove that I’ve told the truth.

In closing, let’s not forget that none of this changes the fact that neither Tabetha nor her new manager have addressed the points brought up on the previous two posts: THE PUBLISHER GETS PAID FOR THIRD PARTY SALES. But the authors have not been.

If this new manager wants to make this company legit, that might be a good place to start.

That tricky left hand

lefthandtrick
You know, the one that doesn’t want you to know what it’s up to while the right hand plucks a coin from behind your ear, or a rabbit from a hat. Or pointing fingers anywhere else that it doesn’t want you looking.

For example, a scam publisher who claims to have shut down not one, but two previous publishing companies in favor of opening a new one.

Yet somehow, books from either/both of those “closed” companies keep turning up for sale on the web.
Blood Vengeance The Draven Witch Series Book 2 Phoenix Fire (October 5, 2012)
Author, Zoey Sweete (Tabetha Jones).
Check out the price of that one, btw. $999.11? What a joke!

The Devil’s Pet Kitten, Phoenix Fire (November 3, 2012)
Author Beth Wright

Look for old MP/PF (even current DS) titles published by “CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform” as well.
Blood Games: A Blood Kisses Anthology, volume 2. (March 30, 2015)
Authors Amelia Birch, Andre Sanders, Charolete Ondac, Daniel Rose, Daniel Cotton, Deborah Drake, Grant Elliott Smith, James Pratt, Kate Monroe, Kim Stevens, Mark Slade, Mathias Jansson, Mike Casto, Jodie Pierce, Nikki Palomino, and Zoey Sweete (Tabetha Jones).
Interesting that the publication date is March 30, 2015, but there’s a review (penned by one of the authors) from Dec 9, 2014.

Bloody Kisses A Dark Anthology of Creatures of the Night, (March 20, 2015)
Authors Zoey Sweete (Tabetha Jones), Karrye Angello, Nikki Palomino, and Jodie Pierce.

Deviants After Dark is a new title, published March 20, 2015.
Authors Zoey Sweete, L.D. Hutchinson, Ruby Rose, Shaye Evans.

There’s also Wicked Enticements A Compilation of Guilty Pleasures, (March 30, 2015)
Authors Charolette Ondac, Emerald Rai Fleurs (Tabetha Jones), Mistress Thanatella, Huey Mussleman, Ivy Sinclair, Joy Fulcher, Kate Monroe, Kim Stevens, Lance Schonberg, Martin Smith, Zoey Sweete (TJ), T. Fox Dunham, Shaye Evans, and Thomas Folske.

What’s up with that? How is it being published by any publishing company when the “publisher” won’t even put the company’s name on the book? That’s not a publishing company. More likely, that book was published on somebody’s personal account. How can those authors expect to get any straight answers about what royalties they earned?

The first thing she’ll say is that it’s third parties that are selling those old books. Not her. So who’s responsible?

“It’s other people selling them!” she’ll cry. “I don’t get money from that!”

Oh, but she does. In order for some third party to RE-sell a book, that means that the book had to have been bought in the first place.

For example, if I buy a book by Stephen King, he gets paid royalties for that sale. Then he’s out of it. If I choose to sell that book as a used book, it has nothing to do with him. He already got paid his royalties. Whether I make a dollar from selling my used paperback or a million from a treasured early first edition, it involves him not in the least. When I first bought the book, he got paid his royalties in the beginning.

That’s what you need to remember when she cries “Third party!” The fact that for a third party to sell a used book, they had to buy it in the first place. Got that?

There’s no way Daily Deals or anybody else can sell a used book unless they bought it first. That means that SOMEBODY got paid for that original sale, and it sure as hell wasn’t the author.

“They bought it from Ingram’s catalog!” She’ll say, claiming that assorted booksellers can do an end-run around the publisher and buy books straight from the source, without going through her, the publisher. So, according to her, she owes the author nothing.

Sorry, buttercup, but it doesn’t work that way. Not in the industry, and not according to Ingram. They were happy to answer questions about this very sort of thing. And they made it very plain. Nobody can buy or sell a book from Ingram’s “catalog” except the publisher. NOBODY. Period.

By all means, don’t take my word for it. Call Ingram yourself and ask. 615-793-5000

So it’s one of two things going on, when it comes to these third party sales.
1) Some third party bought a book in the first place and the publisher didn’t pay the author.
2) The scam publisher is selling the book now with no intention of paying the author.
Either way, who is it that gets shafted? That’s right. The author.

So when you see those books by Mystic and Phoenix, or even new books published without the benefit of ANY publisher’s name on them, ask yourself one question. Who gets paid? I think we all know the answer to that.

You’re welcome.

Defunct?

It would be easy to craft a blog post proving that a certain scam publisher said she’d be offline for a while, yet trolled my blog every single day and concentrated her efforts on flinging unsubstantiated venom at me and her other former victims that are trying to move on after getting out from under her hefty reputation rather than focusing on family during a difficult loss. Very easy. In fact, I had one written up as a draft.

But then I thought. If she’s putting so much energy keeping the attention on me, what’s she keeping the focus OFF of? And I found it.

Tabetha Jones recently announced that Phoenix Fire publishing had been taken over by Dark Storm publications. All of the authors’ contracts had been bought out, she insisted. Here. I’ll remind you.
thebigannouncement1

That means that Phoenix Fire no longer exists, right?

So why are there all these books still for sale with Phoenix Fire still listed as the publisher?

It doesn’t matter that we all know that Tabetha Jones is Zoey Sweete. Phoenix Fire is supposed to be closed, according to her own announcement. The fact that there are any books still up for sale with PF listed as the publisher proves that she’s a liar and a crook.

It bears mentioning that it’s not just Tabetha’s books are still for sale. There are also anthologies still for sale, like Tattooed on my skin, Blood games/Bloody kisses, To my lover’s dismay, Deviants after dark, Beautifully broken and Primal Howls. I’ve bought, read, and returned a couple of them. And I’m pretty sure that when I did, there were different authors listed as having contributed.

I may be wrong, but I’d swear that at least one of the authors now listed on multiple anthologies as a contributing author didn’t come along (get fabricated by Tabetha out of thin air) until long after those books were published. Yet there are their names.

It also bears note that Beth Wright’s Devils Pet Kitten remains for sale through Phoenix Fire even though she left Mystic Press/Phoenix fire and never returned. Yet her book remains for sale with PF listed as the publisher. And I’m pretty sure Beth’s not seeing a dime of any sales, third party or otherwise. But I’ll bet the publisher does. Think about that.

Authors, if you’re no longer with Tabetha Jones, Phoenix Fire or Dark Storm, and you contributed to any of the anthologies still for sale, it might be worth investing a buck to buy the Kindle version to find out if your work is still included – with a different name. And if you find that your work is still included even though you’ve severed all ties with that fraud, I strongly suggest that you file complaints with the FBI for piracy, her local District Attorney for theft, the Texas Rangers for fraud, and the Better Business Bureau for questionable business practices. Just remember to name the new place in your complaint. Dark Storm. They’re the ones that own the contracts now. The old place doesn’t exist anymore, remember? It’s the same people that run them both, anyway.

If you find that your work is being used without your knowledge or consent, you can certainly file a civil suit nailing her ass to the proverbial wall.

One little fact about publishing that the average indie author might not know is that if major changes are made to a publication, it needs to be issued a new ISBN number. A publisher can’t shuffle around the content of an anthology to fill in gaps after an author has left and republish it with the same ISBN. That’s illegal. Just saying.

Authors, this is everything you need to know. Tabetha Jones is, at best, shady. At worst, she’s a liar, scam artist and fraud. She announced that Phoenix Fire had been taken over. Sold. Whatever. It doesn’t exist. Yet there it is, still listed on books that are still for sale. Did you know? Are you being paid?

She did the same thing after Mystic Press “closed” down, continued to sell books until she was turned in and forced to knock it off.

If you published anything through Tabetha Jones and Phoenix Fire, it behooves you to Google yourself on every book site you can think of (Amazon, Ebay, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc) to make sure that your books aren’t still being sold by a publishing company that’s not supposed to still exist. Make sure your stories aren’t still being peddled in anthologies with different names on them. If they are, you need to find out where your royalties are going, and you need to make the thief doing it accountable for her actions.

Protect yourself from a fraud.

Still don’t think Tabetha Jones owns Dark Storm? Check out these screen caps that show Dark Storm transacting business with Tabetha’s name front and center.
darkstormistabethajones

Seeing the light yet?

If you’re an author that’s still currently signed with DS, I can only ask WHY? There’s PROOF, right in front of you that you’re dealing with a shifty character that’s lying right to your face. What makes you think that you’re any different from the authors that have come and gone before you? Because it’s, as she says “In the past?” Well, take a good look, my friends. This isn’t “in the past.” This is today. Right now. And if you don’t think she’ll do it to you, you’re sadly mistaken.

If you continue with that company, brace yourselves to get lied to and ripped off, the same way these other authors have been. And when you find out that we’re telling the truth (if the evidence in front of you isn’t enough to convince you) you can’t say you weren’t warned.

And don’t worry about any contract you might have signed. The same is true with Dark Storm as it was with Mystic Press and Phoenix Fire. If a company isn’t legal, its contracts aren’t legal. You can wipe your ass with that thing and walk. Take your work and leave. If she tries to tell you that you have to pay $125 bucks to get out from under her, tell her to stuff it up sideways. There’s room for it.

If she tries to say you have to pay $125 because it’s in the contract, remember that contract isn’t legal or binding. Tell her to shove it, take your work and split. You’ll do better self publishing on Create space than you would with her. That’s how she publishes you, anyway, using a free service and keeping your royalties. You can do that on your own and keep the royalties you earn.

And continue to protect your work from being sold out from under you. When you do publish yourself, make sure that you’re listed as the only person that can sell your work. That way, there are no mysterious “third party” sales going on behind your back that you’re not getting paid for.

And if she tries to tell you she’s going to sue you, tell her to go ahead. Tell her to send you her lawyer’s contact information so that you can talk to him yourself.

She won’t.

She can’t, and she knows it. First, she doesn’t have a lawyer. She talks a big game about having a lawyer do all her contracts, etc. So… if she had one, she could cough up his phone number, especially if she plans to sue you. Right. All you’ll get is some lame excuse about why she can’t put you in contact with him. She’s been saying for years that she’s got some lawyer doing her bidding (and for free, at that). She’s threatened to sue many authors that tried to leave her (and many a blogger that’s exposed the truth about her, too), but has yet to let a single person talk to him. She’s never filed a single suit.

She won’t. She can’t. She knows that what she’s doing is illegal. The last thing she wants to see is the inside of a courtroom. If she threatens to sue you, call her bluff. It’s just a lot of hot air, one last bid to get money out of you as you walk out the door. Tell her to sit and spin.

It’s your reputation on the line. Protect it from a known thief and scam artist.

It’s your money, keep it in your own pocket.

You’re welcome.

Yog

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Cardinal rule of publishing. It is, in fact, the only rule. Originally coined by James D Macdonald, Yog’s law simply states:

Money flows TOWARD the writer

That’s it.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?
All too often, you see examples of an author getting scammed by publishers in glaring ways. But there are also more subtle ways that an unscrupulous predator can scam an author. They’re called: FEES. Some smaller publishers charge authors for services going in, before there’s a single sale of any book. It’s normal, they say. Everybody does it, they’ll tell you while adding up what you’re supposed to pay up front.
No, everybody doesn’t do it.

Writers don’t pay agents.
Writers don’t pay editors.
Writers don’t pay cover artists.
Writers don’t pay publishers. Period.

Money flows TOWARD the writer.

I’m not talking about self-published authors. If you’re going it on your own, there are going to be costs, of course. Not many in this day and age of free accounts on Lightning Source and Createspace. It’s always a good idea to hire a real editor, and maybe a cover artist, if you’re not artistically inclined. Those things will cost a few bucks, sure. Those are called business investments. And when a book is bought by a customer, you keep %100 of the profits. You make your money back, without some flim-flam artist picking your pocket.

No. We’re talking about publishers, here. You know, the people that are supposed to produce your book for you after you’ve written it. They’re supposed to foot the bill for that, and everything it involves. That’s why they get to keep a percentage afterward. They pay for the editors, artists, and everything else. Not you.

If you’ve paid a publisher any fee up front, you’re actually paying them TWICE. Think about it. Not only did you pay them up front, but they’re also keeping a percentage of your profits. Does that sound right to you? When you get your car fixed, to you pay twice? When you replace a water heater or get your roof repaired, do you pay for it twice? Of course not. Why would you pay your publisher twice? Traditional publishers DO NOT CHARGE. Period.
The fact of the matter is that publishers and agents get paid ONCE, out of a percentage of your book sales, after the production process is done and the book is on the market. That’s the reason they need to bust their butts to make you successful. Because the more you earn, the more they earn.

Money flows TOWARD the writer.

Do not ever pay a publisher any fees, whether it’s for editing, artwork, swag or anything else up front. Period. If they want to get paid, let ’em take it out of your book sales. And, while we’re on the subject, make your publisher PROVE those sales to you. Don’t believe it for a second if a publisher says something like “All your titles got returned.” or “You didn’t sell very many, so you’re only getting a few bucks. Sorry.” Make them show you an itemized sales report. If they say they can’t, it’s because there’s something wrong with the way their account is set up. A REAL publisher can show you whatever figures you want to see, any time of the day or night. At the very least, you should get quarterly statements directly from your publisher’s account. If you don’t get those figures, or if what you see is altered in any way, chances are that your publisher’s a scam. Get out as fast as you can.

Money flows TOWARD the writer.

Before you decide on a publisher, there are questions you need to ask and answer:
Does the publisher charge any fees?
Is this publisher on Writer Beware?
Is this publisher on Predators and Editors?
Is this publisher on Absolute Write: Water Cooler?
Is there a blog warning you against this publisher?
Are there several blogs warning you?
Do any red flags pop up when you Google search this publisher?
Does this publisher have a low (or no) rating with the Better Business Bureau?
Does this publisher have complaints on the BBB?
Will this publisher pay you quarterly, even though the publishing service they use pays them monthly?

If you answer YES to any of the above, don’t sign with that publisher.

Will this publisher provide you with accurate sales reports on request?
Is this publisher accredited with the BBB?

If the answer is NO to either of these questions, it’s probably a good idea not to chose them.

Money flows TOWARD the writer.

Follow the law of Yog, my friends. Your reputation, your career, and your bank account will thank you.