My last post about the awful publishing fail my book experienced at the hands of the publisher (it’s here if you missed it) went viral and I received SO many lovely emails and messages of support from complete strangers, that I have been spurred into action. Now, instead of the devastation and betrayal I’d been feeling over the loss of my book and my royalties; I’m feeling energised and excited. I've made some monumental decisions about the next stage of my publishing journey.
But before I tell you about those decisions, I want to say a few things to indie authors everywhere. Firstly, thank you to all those authors, publishers, and readers who emailed, messaged, commented, tweeted, and facebooked me in response to the post. I very much appreciated the support and encouragement. I love this industry. Writers are an awesome bunch of people. I’m sure it has to do with the sensitivity it takes to be a writer.
I was, however, just as upset to hear from others who had experienced similar issues with the same publisher. I would like to encourage authors who may be feeling isolated, blaming themselves for the treatment they are receiving at the hands of this publisher, or any other publisher for that matter, to seek advice and take control of the situation. Check the terms of your contract, if it is being breached take action to have the rights to your book returned to you. Contact the Australian Society of Authors (if you are not a member, JOIN NOW). Even if you are not ready to take action, please let them know what is going on so they can build a profile of these kinds of dodgy practices and inform other authors. Don’t stay silent about your experiences. That was my mistake. Writing that blog post was the best thing I could have done. Sure, it upset the publisher, but it also seemed to have paved the way for others to talk about what was going on, realise that it wasn’t about them, and find camaraderie. It also served as a warning to those authors about to pitch. That’s a good thing! No point letting anyone else fall in to the same trap if it can be avoided.
So, what happened when that post went viral? The publisher contacted me, made a small payment against the royalties owed and promised to withdraw the book from sale and continue with weekly payments until royalties were paid in full. I was relieved, but wary. I really wanted to believe him.
But actions speak louder than words (I know, terrible cliché, but oh so true!) so I decided I’d just wait. And I did. For three weeks. I received no further payments, and though the book was removed from the publisher’s site, it’s still for sale everywhere else. How do I know this? Well, this (see screenshot) popped up in my Facebook timeline as a Booktopia ad. It's not their fault, Booktopia lists their products in good faith.
Then another publisher informed me that it was still on the distributor’s site for sale, so I checked other online repositories as well, and yep, it was still out there. The eBook had been removed from Amazon, but the paperback was still there. The publisher is still selling my book - still making money not being shared by way of royalties. I was bitterly disappointed that he had not followed through. But not surprised.
It was then that I realised, I was never going to get Fake Profile back. I had to let it go.
But I believe in this book. I know it has a market in schools. I can feel it in my bones. It has some great reviews. I’ve received some fabulous emails from teachers who are using the Social Media Matters stage 4 teaching program that goes with it. I’ve even received some fan mail from kids who have read it. I don’t want to let Fake Profile go. I really don’t think it’s over for this book.
And, I’ve worked too hard for too long to let some dodgy publisher steal my dream. So Fake Profile is undergoing a revamp. How?
We, as authors, are writing and publishing in an exciting time in history. The industry has changed. Traditional publishers don’t need to be the gatekeepers anymore. Authors can get their work out there independently. They just need the tools, the drive, and the perseverance do it.
Regular readers of this blog will know I’m doing my PhD in Creative Writing (some people go to extreme lengths to make sure they keep writing, don't they?), and they’ll also know my area of interest is multimodal text. I had planned, at some stage in the future when the PhD was done, to use my research to inform, and start, my own publishing house focusing on publishing multimodal and transmedia books.
That time is now. I am going to rebrand Fake Profile. I’m going to revise the text – a few years is a long time in the world of teens and technology – rename the book, redesign the cover, and rerelease the book ready for the 2016 school year under the new publishing house’s banner. I’m also going to rewrite the teaching program to build on the multimodal activity focus and include a transmedia text adventure assignment.
The publishing house is called Typology Publishing. And I plan to launch it very soon. Stay tuned for more news about this exciting venture!
So, what about my former publisher? Many people still ask what I’m planning to do about them. The answer is: nothing. I don’t need to. They’re doing it all to themselves.