I finished my first novel almost eight years ago, and went through the process of contacting agents (before self-publishing was a reality) to represent me. After I carefully researched them, followed all their rules and made sure my query letter was up to their standards, most didn’t bother to respond. The few that did often sent slips of torn paper to “Dear Athor” (no joke, they didn’t even bother to spell check their xerox response), explaining in two lines that they weren’t accepting new clients, or my work didn’t fit their list. The agents who wrote me directly gave me advice on how to make the novel work for them, i.e. take it out of first person, and/or multiple voices, and then resubmit.
I spent a year rewriting the novel to their specifications. When I resubmitted, they didn’t bother to get back to me, or sent me a xerox slip of paper.
I then submitted to publishers, hoping they’d be a better bet than arrogant agents leeching off of authors. Self-publishing was still years off. I went through lists of many publishers before one of the last on my lists wrote me back with an offer. No advance. No marketing. Author’s cut was 20% for hardcover, 50% for an ebook. Publisher promised one editing cycle, to put on a cover of her choice, and hold the rights to my work from the time I signed the contract until two years after the publication date, at which time the rights would go back to me.
I researched her publishing firm and got nothing, positive or negative. I contacted some of her authors (emails she gave me), who all said she didn’t do much, but assured me most publishers don’t. A bestselling author friend published through a major house told me the same about his publisher. I contacted “Author’s Beware,” and asked them if they’d heard of any problems with this publisher. They hadn’t, but told me their information was not kept current for the most part.
Three years after I signed her contract, my indie-publisher emailed me to begin the editing cycle. It lasted about a week, where, through Google Docs for two hours a day she went through the novel and “edited” it with me online. She suggested a few minor changes, took out sections I felt important to the story regardless of my protests, and missed most of the spelling errors. When she sent me the proof version she was to publish, she left out chapters so the novel didn’t make any sense. She balked when I protested the cover “design,” done by her niece who was not a professional, but looking to change her career from a book store clerk to graphic designer. She refused to change the cover when I supplied her a new one done by a pro. She released the novel six months later without notice to anyone but me.
In the two years the novel was for sale through Zumaya Publications, the CEO never showed me sales records after multiple requests. She never paid me. Anything. Ever. But the worse part—this corrupt indie-publisher continues to sell my novel even though our contract has expired over seven months ago and she no longer has the rights to my work. I have a termination contract, as well as the original contract that states our association was over on December 31st, 2012. There is no clause in our contract that allows her to continue selling my work after our contract is terminated. She is breaking the law, and Amazon and other online resellers are not only helping her, but profiting from this illegal activity…