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Perils of E Publishing: Silk Vault’s Non Payment to Authors

tight-money.gifI received notice this week of an issue with Silk’s Vault, an epublisher, failing to make payments to its authors. I did email Silk Vault and received no response but given that I have two individual reports of royalty payment failures, I felt it was important to offer these incidents up for the community’s consumption.

Camille Anthony recently went public regarding the non payment of royalties for books she has contracted with epublisher, Silk’s Vault. Since the publication of her novels, she has never received her royalties on time. As of the writing of her blog post, she hadn’t received royalty payments at all for her sales in 2007. Her first quarter royalty statement sent to her (without the accompanying payment) does not include the first quarter sales of books sold at Fictionwise (506 copies). She has not received as second quarter royalty statement. When the owner was confronted by Ms. Anthony, Ms. Anthony was told that she would be paid when the owner was able. This is a contractual violation. Ms. Anthony’s contract requires payment of royalties no later than 45 days after the end of the quarter. The owner is in the Reserves and offered Reserve training as the excuse for the non payment of first quarter royalties.

In my research of the issue of Silk’s Vault, I came across another author who was brave enough to take a stand and warn other authors about the problems at Silk’s Vault. Frankie Belville is an author who reluctantly came forward to share her issue with me. She indicated that she was a bit anxious about sharing her experience because she didn’t want to be labeled a problem author. However, it is my belief that only those publishers who don’t have a good business plan and who are worried about meeting their contractual obligations would worry about authors speaking out against them. I find it disturbing that these authors, who experience these contractual breaches, would be fearful for their writing career. I am sure readers would be disturbed to hear about an author being blackballed for having the courage of speaking up.

Ms. Belville is grateful that Silk’s Vault took a chance on her work but shortly after her books were put for sale online, payment of royalties became an issue. Ms. Belville takes partial credit in the mixup. She states that while the owner said that the checks were in the mail, Belville failed to follow up soon enough to report those checks were not received. She has received one payment but has not been paid in full. She has had a good experience in every other aspect with Silk’s Vault. Her books were well edited, the staff was good to work with, the site is beautiful and easy to navigate. The promotions were decent and her covers were nice. Belville cannot emphasize enough that the people behind the company were fantastic to work with. Despite those positives, the failure to provide payment caused Belville to sever ties with Silk’s Vault.

Belville shared this with me:

Honesty like this may not make many friends with the publishers, but there are a lot of raw and untried writers out there, soon to be authors. Knowledge is power. As a prospective author, you must know all the details. You have to have confidence in the publishers you choose. The life of your work is literally in their hands. Make sure that before you sign up with a publisher, research them as carefully as possible. Talk to authors who have signed with this publisher. Read through the books they offer to see if their editing staff is really viable. Watch their promotions. Just having your name out there does not guarantee that you’ll sell books. You will have to promote yourself, but having the publisher help is wonderful. Writing your book is only half the battle, and, really, that’s the easy part. Finding the right publisher for your book is step one down the road of hard knocks. Selling it to a publisher you trust and to the public is the next step. Getting paid, I’ve found, is sometimes the trickiest.

It is my hope that Silk’s Vault will clear up the non-payment issue and soon. Truly, they are a fun publisher to work with and take great care in the manuscripts they publish. Once I hear that this issue is fixed, I would return to them…assuming they would have me.

In light of the Triskelion matter, I think it behooves authors to be careful with whom they place their intellectual property. While it is understandable that a person wants to get published, the author has to weigh whether getting their book out there with the first company that will take them is worth the risk of having non payment of royalties or worse, having the work tied up in bankruptcy court for months. There are such low barriers to epublishing these days. While it would take some time, the actual out of pocket cost for setting up an ecommerce site is low. I could probably run one for $20 per month, out of pocket. The fact is that today there are legitimate epublishers with proven track records and a good reputation.

I don’t want Sundays to become “epublisher warning day.” I guess my message is that we readers do care about the authors out there. We value you and you need to value your work too. Take care of yourselves so we can continue to buy your books and you can continue to write them.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

42 Comments

  1. Sarah McCarty
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 07:08:23

    It’s a case of, again, author beware. There is just no telling with a start up company how it’s going to be run and whether you are going to be paid. (In publishing, I’d personally label any company under 5 years old a startup)

    Fortunately, while this is not much consolation, with breach of contract it is much easier to get the rights back than when a company goes into bankruptcy.

    FWIW, I think authors worry too much about being labeled a “problem author”. They don’t negotiate contracts because of it and they don’t take action when required because of it. The bottom line is this is a business. It’s not about being liked and voted the most popular. It’s about knowing your rights, negotiating them at contract time, and if necessary, enforcing them as provided through the contract or through law.

    There’s a huge difference between addressing a company being in breach of contract to the point they are a year behind in royalties, and an author who has multiple hissy fits because the heroine on the cover of her books is wearing the wrong color shoes. Non payment of royalties is pretty black and white. Either the money was paid or it wasn’t.

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  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 08:31:29

    She indicated that she was a bit anxious about sharing her experience because she didn't want to be labeled a problem author

    This is something I see and experience quite a bit in epublishing. I know an author who had a pretty negative experience and didn’t tell anyone. After becoming close friends with another author, she finally shared her troubles.
    But not publicly.
    The difficult thing for her was watching other author friends submitting and getting contracts with a place that she knew wasn’t on the up and up. But going public with it has its perils.
    The one thing I was told early on by epublished authors as I entered into this profession was “Step carefully”. I’ve made some missteps, but none of them have been a career killer. (Yet).
    The one thing I would say to a new aspiring author is to get to know other authors. Get to know them well.
    Then, when something happens, there’s a place to go to talk it over, discuss options and get professional suggestions.
    It makes a HUGE difference to have other authors that will listen. Because of the relationships I’ve had with other authors, I’ve managed to have a good experience with my epublishers.

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  3. Kristin
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 09:38:54

    I would tell anyone interested in epublishing to go to Piers Anthony’s site. He has very detailed info about a lot of these epublishers. Triskelion was labeled as ‘iffy’ over a year ago on his site. Although many authors chose to ride out what they felt was just a rough patch with a relatively green epub, it was proven that these small instances really should have been a warning sign.

    I think now that Triskelion has gone, it would behoove writers to check his site to see if any similar rumblings are going on with other epubs. It is now a proven place to find behind-the-scenes troubles, rather than just ‘rumors’ put out by ‘dissatisfied authors’…which is what Kristi Studts tried to portray some negative news about Triskelion as being.

    Now we know better. There are signs when a publisher is about to go belly up…the more info you are armed with, the safer your work will be.

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  4. Angela James
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 09:58:29

    There's a huge difference between addressing a company being in breach of contract to the point they are a year behind in royalties, and an author who has multiple hissy fits because the heroine on the cover of her books is wearing the wrong color shoes. Non payment of royalties is pretty black and white. Either the money was paid or it wasn't.

    Yes.

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  5. TeddyPig
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 10:15:38

    I was just gonna say Kristin,

    If anyone reads Piers Anthony’s list they would have seen serious issues with this company since October 2006.

    I say we should thank Mr. Anthony for such a timely resource.

    I read this thing before I go buying anything also. I want the writer to get their money. Like New Concepts Publishing seems to have had a rocky start but I am taking the chance and buying some but I am also keeping an eye on the updates.

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  6. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 11:32:54

    When I edited at Triskelion, the problem authors stood out a mile. A problem author isn’t one who argues back, who asks for her rights, but one who refuses to accept edits (any edits), or who keeps on contacting her editor with questions she could answer herself, or one who demands things that weren’t in her contract. In short, one who takes time away from other authors who are waiting patiently for their time with the editor. All these things can sometimes mark genuine grievances, and sometimes insecurities, but the number one problem author is arrogant and rude. Unprofessional behaviour is often used to describe an author who is downright abusive. I was really lucky, and only had one of those, and it is really deeply upsetting when it happens.
    So don’t worry about that. If you behave with politeness and respect, even when the people you are talking to don’t, you should be fine.

    The other thing is, that if a publisher is not doing well (and I’m not necessarily talking about Silk’s Vault here because I don’t know enough about it) it’s unlikely that other publishers will take any notice of anything they have to say about authors, for or against. Only if an editor has reasonable standing in the editing community will his or her word be taken.
    And editors do talk, with certain exceptions where the house they work for might prefer them not to. Not about anything that company would object to, but general editing problems, and occasionally names are exchanged. But usually only when the person is a standout abusive problem, and thankfully, they are extremely rare.

    My heart goes out to anyone having problems with their publisher. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit, sometimes there are real fundamental problems with the publisher. The only real defence an author has is to try to spread their work around, so the collapse of one house isn’t the end of their career. Merely a setback, and believe me I know what that feels like!

    What we’re seeing here is fallout. The epublishing market is maturing, which means larger entities are taking a more active interest, and smaller companies who don’t have a definite niche are taking a hammering. There will be more, if epublishing follows the typical pattern of new market development.

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  7. Ciar Cullen
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 12:02:26

    Actually, Lynne, that wasn’t quite my experience at Triskelion, but may have been by the time you became an editor there. My experience early on at that company (and I was a new writer willing to do anything an editor asked me, as my former editor would attest), was that it was really frowned upon to ask questions about the business, about the standards to get into print (which were always changing). When we asked questions on the loop, we were often reprimanded publicly, lectured endlessly about toughening up (you’re soft if you ask what the hell is going on?), and emailed privately to say (paraphrasing of course) that you needed to be a “good little girl” and shut up. I never bitched and moaned to an editor about anything. But that might have changed after I left. I think my current editors at EC, Samhain, and less recently LI, would attest that I am not rude to my editors. But at Triskelion I was labeled a trouble maker.

    I went to great pains to avoid going public with my concerns about that company, because I was very concerned about my reputation, as I was submitting to other companies. Sometimes complaints aren’t so black and white as “I didn’t get paid.” Sometimes it’s abuse, a bad place to be, and you’re not able to warn others, because there have not been contractual violations.

    I believed I have learned since of some subtle signs (poor communication, public reprimands, changing the deal, etc.) that indicate real trouble (broken contracts) may not be far off.

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  8. Jennifer McKenzie
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 12:17:42

    I went to great pains to avoid going public with my concerns about that company, because I was very concerned about my reputation, as I was submitting to other companies. Sometimes complaints aren't so black and white as “I didn't get paid.� Sometimes it's abuse, a bad place to be, and you're not able to warn others, because there have not been contractual violations.

    That’s the one thing I’ve noticed. Sometimes, the more subtle things are indications of problems down the pike.

    And although most editors won’t “discuss” authors unless they’re REALLY abusive, I have seen authors labeled “Drama Queens” by some editors and then those authors ARE treated differently. That’s one of those treatments that isn’t “black and white”. How do you prove that a epublisher will “drop the ball” on your promotion because they think you’re a “drama queen”?
    Thank God, this hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen it go down.
    And I’m sitting here right now considering deleting this. LOL.
    Honestly, most publishers don’t have TIME to be vindictive. But the ones that do stand out a mile IMHO.
    VERY humble opinion.
    I wonder if this happens in the big leagues?

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  9. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 12:24:10

    Perhaps I should amend that, then, to say that was how I dealt with the authors I edited. I had one who asked lots of questions, but she was a new author, and in any case her work was damned good, so she was well worth taking pains with.
    Maybe it was an indication of my editing style that I only had real trouble with one author, and that was because of her constant refusal to take any kind of editing.
    The editors weren’t particularly encouraged to keep in touch with each other, although we did, especially towards the end. We had no more idea what was happening than the authors, and most of us are still owed money we have no chance of seeing again. However, I was paid up until March, for both editing and writing, so my main concern is getting back the rights to the 5 books I still have tied up in the mess (Eternal Beauty, Eternal Darkness, Black Leather, White Lace, The Haunting, Rubies of Fire and Diamonds of Ice). I left them with Trisk when I asked for my rights back because Kristi asked me too, as a favour, to tide the company over.
    How stupid was that? (I’ll answer for you – very). But she could have refused to give me back the rights to any book so I should be glad to have some.
    Kristi was capricious and difficult to deal with sometimes, you could never tell what her latest whim was or what she thought, so I tended to stay away from her.
    I was always treated right, but I suspect that was more the work of my editor than of Kristi and Ron Studts. I’m sorry you weren’t, especially since it was one of your books that drew me to Triskelion in the first place (I read it, loved it and decided to submit).

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  10. Ciar Cullen
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 12:47:58

    That is very kind of you.

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  11. Bev Stephans
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 13:39:20

    I’m so sorry to hear of authors having a bad time with e-publishers. This is a shame because I have discovered so many authors, that I like, through e-books. I have tended to stay with the big 3 as I have named them: Samhain, Ellora’s Cave and Loose Id. I like Samhain the best as it offers a variety of genres. I do hope these issues can be resolved for the authors as it must be frustrating.

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  12. Karen Scott
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 13:52:23

    While it is understandable that a person wants to get published, the author has to weigh whether getting their book out there with the first company that will take them is worth the risk of having non payment of royalties or worse, having the work tied up in bankruptcy court for months.

    The problem is, some authors are so desperate to get published that they’ll go to anybody who’ll offer them a contract, and accept ridiculous contractual terms that they later come to regret.

    There are certain e-pubs I wont touch, as a reader, and I think aspiring writers ought to be as careful when it comes to choosing who they publish with.

    I keep up with Piers Anthony’s site, and there have been a few rumblings about Silk’s Vault’s treatment of their authors since last year, so this news doesn’t surprise me.

    Personally, I think their days in business are probably numbered. Any publisher who doesn’t take care to pay their authors on time, is a publisher to be avoided if you ask me. I bet there are lots of Trisk and Venus Press authors who’d wished they’d taken more notice of the rumblings, prior to their demise, rather than shaking the shitty stick at Trisk’s detractors.

    A lot of e-pubs think that P.A is the devil incarnate, but the fact is, he gets his information from somewhere, regardless of whether or not it’s from disgruntled authors. No smoke, and all that.

    On the other hand, Liquid Silver Publishing and Loose-Id always seem to get positive press, which is why I don’t mind buying from them. (Less so Loose-Id, but only because their stories don’t particularly grab me.)

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  13. TeddyPig
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 13:55:34

    Right Bev,
    There are also other ePubs I buy from that do not seem to get the attention they deserve.
    Cobblestone Press, Amber Quill, Changeling Press (Despite my Poser allergy) even the new and interesting Drollerie Press seem to be doing well let’s hope these problems are not the rule.

    PS: Oh, and Liquid Silver like Karen said. That Sienna Black book rocked.

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  14. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 14:40:47

    Bev, I’ve signed to Loose ID, Samhain and Ellora’s Cave and I agree with you that they’re the best. For the foreseeable future, I intend to restrict my submissions to those companies. All have treated me very well and I’m delighted to be there.
    Although a new company may have the best of intentions, there’s a tendency to underestimate what is involved in producing a good e-book. Good cover art costs, so does the shopping cart, and editors etc. And standards are rising (and as a reader I’m glad about that!)

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  15. Ann Bruce
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 17:06:19

    Oh, wow! I checked out PA’s website and I had no idea there are so many epubs out there. Frankly, when I hear epub, the only ones on my radar are Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, Liquid Silver Books, and Loose-Id.

    I really need to surf the ‘Net more.

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  16. veinglory
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 17:46:15

    I would also encourage people to let me ( ERECsite.com ) know if erotic romance epublishers are behaving badly–just cc me what you send Piers ;)

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  17. Sandra
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 18:16:12

    I started my own company partially because of the way I was treated at Triskelion and Silk’s Vault. Ms. Tiller told me I wouldn’t last a year in the business because I didn’t understand it. What? I don’t understand ripping people off?

    I’m sorry. I have a conscience. I wouldn’t make a dime if it weren’t for the fine stories that are submitted to me at Aspen Mountain Press. I OWE them THEIR money.

    Two other points to consider: 1) You really can’t run a shopping cart basket properly for $20. a month. There are lots of fees. You need to pay for a security certificate for your website, hire a credit card verification company, etc. One of the rumblings that came out about Mardi Gras a couple months back was that the company planned on charging the author the fee for the credit card processing and passing on other costs that should have been considered the “cost of doing business”.

    2) Camille Anthony would not have been paid her Fictionwise royalties at the end of 1st quarter unless they were for the 4th quarter of 2006. Friday I just received royalties from Fictionwise for the end of 2nd quarter (April-June). Since I pay monthly, when I send out August royalties, 2nd quarter Fictionwise payments will be included. HOWEVER that does not excuse Ms. Tiller from refusing to pay her authors, her editors, her cover models or her cover artists.

    I’m a little fish in a big pond. I pride myself on treating my authors well. I request they come to me with comments and concerns. They know that I know I can’t be in business without them.

    As a side note, Samhain and Loose Id have been in business for 3 years or less (I think Loose Id celebrated their 3rd anniversary this past July).

    The unfortunate thing about Venus Press, Ocean Mist, Triskelion, NBI, Silk’s Vault, Mardi Gras and others is they give a black eye to the legitimate businesses trying to provide an outlet for new, up and coming authors and seasoned authors looking for a way to expand their audience and their income.

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  18. Treva Harte
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 18:37:03

    I’m always sorry to hear an epub get a bad rep. Not just because it makes people look sidewise at all the other epubs but because it hurts a lot of people who worked very hard to get published and want to believe in that publishing company. I have sort of half-jokingly said there are only two bottom line rules you need for an epublishing co. — 1) get the books out and 2) pay the authors on time. But maybe it’s not that funny. And apparently not everyone grasps those rules. I think some people who start epublishing companies really don’t grasp that it is a business. They think it will be easy. Nothing is easy and especially nothing related to writing

    Also thank you on behalf of LI for the kind words, folks.

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  19. Bobby Michaels
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 18:57:15

    I am extremely distressed at what was done to Camille because, truly she is not able to afford this kind of loss in her physical condition. I am equally grateful that thanks to my best friend, Kate Steele, I took my work to Loose Id which has been the most satisfying of professional relationships I’ve ever encountered. There is the Latin saying “Caveat Emptor”. I would add, “Caveat Writer”.

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  20. Nonny
    Aug 26, 2007 @ 22:55:39

    Ciar Cullen said: Sometimes it's abuse, a bad place to be, and you're not able to warn others, because there have not been contractual violations.

    Very, very true. It puts me in mind of an issue I had with an e-pub awhile ago. I was confused about an issue my editor brought up, and when I explained my perception to her, she wasn’t quite sure what to do either. So she got ahold of the senior editor, and we all talked about it together and came to a mutually agreeable resolution.

    I was contacted a few days later by the publisher, who wanted to speak to me about “the problem.” I was surprised, because in my mind, there was no problem. She elaborated to say that because my issue required valuable time taken away from the senior editor, it was a problem — and I was treated like a problem author from that point forward.

    Editing with this publisher was hell. I have been published with multiple e-pubs and never received that level of harassment and abuse. Yet, they are extremely prompt about royalty payments and keep within contract limitations. I am not the only person who has had such issues with this publisher, but the issues are such that we can’t talk about it openly without fear for our own careers.

    In cases of publishers breaking contracts in whatever manner — most commonly, not paying royalties in a timely fashion or at all — I don’t think authors will suffer for blowing the whistle. But in other cases when the issue is a matter of “simple” mistreatment — what then?

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  21. Teddy Pig
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 00:28:46

    a matter of “simpleâ€? mistreatment -’ what then?

    I think a big one is money issues.
    That is a big deal to me and one I take seriously when I read about it on Mr. Anthony’s site or hear about it here.

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  22. Mike Feury
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 02:49:03

    I think people need to look a little deeper to make a good decision up front.

    The “five years rule” comes from the 20th century bricks and mortar world, and is of limited value for Internet business. YouTube got bought by Google ~18 months after starting, and two good epubs–Loose-Id and Samhain–are well short of five years.

    Money problems are the end result. Revenue/income is a result of how your business is doing, not a cause. Run a business badly, and eventually the money crunch will come. That’s far too late to act as a warning sign.

    Sites like Piers Anthony and Editors and Preditors do good work as early warnings. But again, the slide has begun by then–not much help to the people who are already with a problem house, unless they heed the signs and move on.

    So what’s an author to do? These suggestions are based on a number of years I spent researching Internet companies professionally:

    1. Google the term “due diligence” (with the quotes) to get an idea of what you can research, how and where.

    2. Publishing is a business. Check out the owners’ previous business experience. If it’s their first business, they have a lot to prove.

    3. Check out the owners’ previous business(es). This is great info, past performance is far more informative than current promises. You’re not looking for failure–presumably if it succeeded, they wouldn’t be in this new business–but for how they did business while it lasted, and how they closed it.

    4. Put on a customer hat. Buy from them, ask a question, fake a problem (but don’t go overboard!), request a refund, etc. Would you do business with them again as a customer?

    Those are a few basic things you can do to get a picture of how likely an epub is to stay doing business well, and treating you well. You can do a lot more of course if you have an understanding of small business yourself, or access to restricted info, contacts etc.

    Be careful out there :)

    Mike, Atlantic Bridge Publishing and Liquid Silver Books.

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  23. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 05:19:50

    I did an entire series on researching publishers on my blog in June. The posts have their own link on my website, or they start here and keep going, every Friday. The comments to the posts are really helpful too.

    I don’t think this reflects badly on epubs per se, though. All small businesses have their share of incompetents.

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  24. Sarah McCarty
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 06:19:48

    I don’t think houses going under is a bad rep for the e pub business. A certain amount of attrition is normal. When the new local pizza joint goes under we don’t think , “Be careful of Pizza joints.” There’s really no difference.

    I do believe that most businesses start out with very good intentions. The reality, however, is that after the excitement of opening the doors there’s a business to run and not everyone is good at that and they soon find they’re over their head. That’s when the floundering starts which results in all the stress and bad feelings.

    I would suggest another thing for authors to look at when it comes to determining the business savvy of a new publisher. The contract. When they look at it, the author should look at how thoroughly the contract protects the House’s rights in all potential situations. The structure of the contract, how completely it handles the risks on their side of the business is a pretty good indication of the business sense of the people starting the company. I’m not talking a contract that rips an author off. That’s a bad sign too. But a fair contract that reflects the reality of the business to me is a must because my contract is not the only one the house will be signing. They will also sign with distributors, other authors, production companies, etc. In my search for a new e-house, I checked out a couple recent start ups and despite personal recommends for the people starting them up, after looking at the contracts I decided not to submit. While I absolutely hope these publishers succeed, I didn’t feel comfortable with the only thing I had which reflected their comprehension of their side of the business.

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  25. Sandra
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 11:23:20

    Let us agree to disagree Sarah :)

    I believe it is bad for e-publishing in general because we get lumped together. I wish it were like the pizza business…but e-publishing is just too new in the minds of potential authors and readers. Sales-wise we are still in the infancy stage of the game against print. There are a few exceptions like New Concepts and Ellora’s Cave which have been around for a longer period of time.

    I don’t believe it is mismanagement either. There is no excuse to not pay your authors when they get a % of the income. Even in your pizza analogy, what would happen to that business if it didn’t pay its vendors, didn’t pay the heat and light bills, didn’t pay its employees? Authors come first, owners come last, not the other way around.

    And given the bankruptcy proceedings of Triskelion, a lot of us are finding out the contract really doesn’t matter, which was a huge shock to us.

    What it all really comes down to is the personal integrity of the owners/publishers. There are only two ways to attempt to determine that, in my humble opinion: 1) chat with the owner/publisher if at all possible and 2) talk with as many of the current authors as possible (past ones too if you can locate them) and discern how they were treated by the company in regards to payment as promised, communication, and professionalism in the business.

    Even then, its possible to make a mistake. Even more than one. I know because I did make those mistakes when I followed an editor rather than my instincts. It cost me four full length novels, two short stories and three works I edited.

    For everyone communication is key. Communication with the company, communication with the authors represented by that company, communication within your writing groups, communication with new authors. For newer authors the biggest problem is knowing where to turn to get that information. For too many of us, we learn the lesson late. But hopefully, we do learn the lesson.

    Happy writing to all of you. Keep scribbling your wonderful stories and looking for places of integrity to submit them to, whether they be electronic or print. That is the best any of us can do; live well and let your muse inspire you!

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  26. Sarah McCarty
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 12:27:22

    Sandra,

    The contract is only important when looking at a new business in terms of the degree of business acumen it demonstrates on the part of the people handing it to you. If the contract does not even cover their butts in the event of likely to come up business scenarios, then it’s very likely that they will be in the 95% of business that fail in their first five years because they didn’t even invest the time to understand the basics of the business they are getting into.

    While ideally it would be wonderful if business paid their authors first, just like in real life and in people’s homes, what gets paid first when money is tight is what’s the higher priority. Ie groceries over electric, electric over phone. In the publishing business the authors are the last to get paid because on the urgency scale, they are the least pressure.

    As far as understanding what an authors contract covers in what circumstances, an author has three options: self education, professional consultation, or ignorance. Understanding a contract and how clauses interact might seem like a lot, but authors and publishers are bound by the terms of the contract. Up to the exact wording. (Which is why sometimes vague wording can work for an author and other times sweating verbs and conjunctions is very important.) IOW, the contract matters HUGELY but it is up to the author to understand what is an enforceable clause, what clauses have time tables associated with them, what laws will override a clause in what circumstances etc.

    As for relying on integrity… *sigh* This may label me a cynic, but about the only way that I would believe a publisher would put my royalty check above saving their business, feeding their kids or meeting their house payment would be because the penalty clause in my contract made paying me first a bigger imperative.

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  27. Nora Roberts
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 16:43:59

    ~As far as understanding what an authors contract covers in what circumstances, an author has three options: self education, professional consultation, or ignorance. ~

    I agree. And I don’t think Sandra and Sarah disagree all that much.

    On the personal integrity front, this wouldn’t be a factor for me unless I knew the publisher (who is likely the OWNER) personally, and for a long time. Like we were childhood pals. And even then…..

    I think Karen has a point. Too many writers just want it too much and sign without really doing all they should to protect themselves and the work first.

    It’s often said–or I’ve often read–that e-publishers are not the same as NY paper publishers. I’d have to agree. Therefore, a writer shouldn’t jump to contract as they might with a paper publisher who is likely a big corporation and in business for decades. Even then you can run into trouble, but if a publisher is owned by an individual, or a small group of individuals, and has been in business a short time, it’s up to the writer to take all the steps he or she can to protect the work.

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  28. Sieries Kruger
    Aug 28, 2007 @ 03:12:47

    Since every one is having there little rant do to Camille’s rant. Question has any one checked strait to the source of the company and found out???? There is documentation to prove it all out there, to counter or prove Camille’s words.

    I know that Silk has problems and are working to make things better for their authors. Who protects Authors from poeple, who work for such companies, doing a job and just becasue they are having a bad day or are mad at the company decide to rip into unsuspecting authors who are trying to submit to such companies. Even I have bought a book at the book store and questioned after reading it how it got into print without more work, but ripping into the authors is not cool.

    Royalties might be late some times and real life gets in the way, computers crash with all the information needed to get those pretty little beauties out. If there is only one person running the purse strings in some companies, because trust is a big issue. If that persons computer or reserves service is called in….Wait what would happen if the owner got sent to Iraq?? Planning is needed for these things, but there is an authors only site, for Silk, that tries to do it’s best to keep the authors in the knowledge of what is going on.

    It is sad when bad things happen and they do. And as some one above mentioned, sites, that are still young, are going to have a roller coaster ride as they go around the world and fail or iron out the wrinkles and becoem better for it. As My hopes since I know several authors and editors of Silk I’m hoping for the later.

    Good or bad the jury is still out truthfully. And every one has a bad thing to say about this publisher and another publisher. On and on it goes. But then bad news sells newspapers and horror films. Personaly I don’t read papers or watch horror movies. I watch things with happily ever afters cause you know I like hearing the good.

    It would be realy nice to see a comaprision to how many have problems with this publisher and who doesn’t head to head. Somethign tells me it would either be even, or go either way. but then that is my idea an anominus poll with comments hey now there is an idea.

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  29. Karen Scott
    Aug 28, 2007 @ 03:25:00

    Since every one is having there little rant do to Camille’s rant. Question has any one checked strait to the source of the company and found out???? There is documentation to prove it all out there, to counter or prove Camille’s words.

    Erm…. evidently you didn’t read Jane’s post properly… like the bit where she says she’s tried contacting the publisher for their side of the story?

    Also, you obviously didn’t read the part where Camille talks about her royalty statement from Silk’s and the fact that her Fictionwise sales weren’t included on them. That’s like working for five days, but only being paid for three of those days. I’d be pissed too.

    but ripping into the authors is not cool.

    Sorry, I obviously missed something, who’s ripping into authors here?

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  30. Sieries Kruger
    Aug 28, 2007 @ 21:14:10

    Excuse me I was not riping into Camile in the way you were implying. But If you want to know I was speaking of a submissions editor, out of respect I did not mention her name. And If she reads this she knows who I'm talking about. She ripped into at least two unsuspecting authors just because she felt the need to or because she was angry at the company she worked for or was havign a bad day. There is NEVER EVER a reason to rip into a author the way the person who I did not name did. Take the time to read what I said before you pull it out of context. Tearing into an author with claws and ripping out their confidance after she had several great reviews of the story before submission???

    Example sent to young author

    Dear Sir,
    As I see from this present submission, you have some difficulty following or understanding direction. As I also see from the beginning lines of your story, you seem to have a problem with women.

    At this time, we are not interested in obtaining your story. Might I suggest removing all the formatting symbols and, etc. and adhering to the submission guidelines when you submit to another publisher.

    And the response from author

    Hi,

    I visited your website by a fatal mistake and I ask you to remove all my personal data from your database. I wrote a letter to the editor, who appears to be very unprofessional in my eyes (see at the bottom) and I think that if anybody visits your website and asks a question, should be treated accordingly.
    In marketing strategies, managers are taught to treat their customers and employees well, as anybody may buy products; this is psychology of behavior and success.

    I have done nothing bad, I'm only look for a dark-fiction market like in a shop where I expect that the shopman does not hit me in the face because he doesn't like the book I want to buy.

    I think you have problem with writing submission guidelines and communication. No more information than this was included on your website: Your manuscript must be submitted in Times New Roman, 12 pt., Justified, RTF or .doc format, and 1 1/2 spaced. – Might I suggest removing all the formatting symbols – where is the information about formatting symbols on your website? –

    I did nothing; I only sent you a story, a fiction and if its content makes you believe that I have a problem with women, it is offending…

    Many websites use complicated wording and good submission guidelines are always understood well.
    A professional editor never offends his possible authors.

    My first story disappeared, so you shouldn't have written me that “Please correct this and resubmit. �

    Attachments may also disappear, so I sent it again, as I didn't know what you received.

    I hope you will have better days some day and I want to apologize for doing such a fatal mistake and visiting such a depressive source of information on the Internet and I'll delete all links to your website immediately.

    Now that that is out of the way maybe you will understand what I ment by ripping into unsuspecting authors. Next time read my words in the context they were written.

    I know that it even happens to poloticians because they are in a politican race, but last I checked this was a form to speak your mind and give your opionion I was not trying to attack Camille as you tried to make it appear. I just asked a question if there was documention to prove or disprove her statements? Just asking for facts like a logical person should before they jump the gun and jump on some one elses ban wagon.

    If Camille's statments are true and provable then more power to her. If they are not based on fact then why are we making such a big deal about it? Just the facts that's all I'm asking for.

    The only question and comments I made are there statual proof of what some one claims and who has the right to decide that one person's words should be taken as gold before all teh facts are proven. What if The owner oF Silk came on here and cut and pasted every letter, statment and cash stub Camille was ever given. Every letter, every piece of documentationed dated stamped and all that jazz. And let's just say Camille did the same thing. then we are dealing with facts.

    I also mentioned I would like to see an no name left list of pros and cons to any publishign company. If your intetions are to protect unsuspecting authors for Bad or good publishers.

    Pros
    Publisher does a good job on covers
    Publisher has several editors go over manuscripts

    Con
    publisher is late of payments
    Publisher doesn't do enough promitions

    Now that is a site I would like to see. That way it doesn't Have to be . This authors said this. Or I worry about being labled a problem Author. Their Identies are protected.

    As stated above, all we are caring about is the bad. Is there good or is it all bad? Personaly it sounds like hit or miss. Either you are mad and then really mad or you are happy but quiet.

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  31. Nora Roberts
    Aug 29, 2007 @ 09:54:13

    Realize my rant on the Mardi Gras article might have been better posted here.

    And no, to SK’s statement above, royalties are not supposed to be late sometimes. Real life does not get in the way of a legitimate publisher paying their authors as per the contract. Real life is their problem.

    Computers do crash. That’s why data is backed-up. Sent to Iraq? If that was a possibility, said publisher should have a solid contigency plan in place for the running of his/her company. None of that excuses non-payment to an author for work delivered as per contract.

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  32. Sarah McCarty
    Aug 29, 2007 @ 11:26:27

    Nora I loved your post over on the Mardi Gras! This one is good too, *G* but the one over on Mardis Gras really hits the nail on the head.

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  33. Sieries Kruger
    Aug 29, 2007 @ 20:44:32

    I do agree with you Nora. And I do know that Silk is trying to correct this issue, but it appears too late for Camille. I do hope her health gets better and wish her all the best of luck in her endevers.

    And for the sake of all the authors and editors I know at Silk I hope this gets resolved before there are anymore problems.

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  34. Karen Scott
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 02:01:15

    My advice to any Silk’s authors out there is PULL YOUR BOOKS ASAP. There’s evidence of dishonesty already, so this ship is probably getting ready to sink. The warnings are loud and clear, and any author who stays with them out of fear, will only have themselves to blame when things go tits up, and the owner starts going batshit crazy. Mardi Gras Publishing anybody?

    As Nora has said time and time again, publishing is a professional undertaking, not an effing Girls Club. Get over the loyalty issues already, and do what’s best for you.

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  35. Charlotte Boyett~Compo
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 13:40:41

    As an author who has had more than my share of bad luck with former publishers, I understand how the authors who have been hurt by Mardi Gras, Trisk, Silk’s Vault, and Venus Press feel.

    I was with Romance Foretold from the beginning of that venture when there were three imprints…including the one for which I wrote, Dark Star Publications. Then RF became RFI West and that was when the real problems started. It was the same old/same old with books sold and not accounted for, royalty checks not sent on time or never sent at all, money owed the cover artist…the whole shebang. When several of us at RFI West had had enough, we went out and started Amber Quill Press. Because we knew what it was to be cheated, we had no intention of allowing the authors who took a chance on us to ever know the same problems we’d had. We also tried to warn those authors who steadfastly refused to leave RFI West. They wouldn’t listen.

    And therein lies the biggest problem here: writers who refuse to listen.

    You don’t want to believe you’ve been had. That’s just human nature. When you realize you have been screwed, it’s usually too late. The bewilderment becomes hurt which becomes anger…not only at the publisher but at yourself for being a fool…and then comes the desire to get even. Some do it on a blog. Some do it via email to Yahoo groups. Some do it with the law.

    Report what you know to Piers Anthony. Report it to Preditors and Editors. Several thieving publishers have been brought down via the web and they will continue to be brought down only if writers do what they do best: write. Put your experience out there for others to see. Go on groups and tell your tale. Let other people know what’s going on. In this instance, ignorance is definitely not bliss.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: authors owe something back to their struggling peers for the privilege of being published. What better way than to help protect them from the unscrupulous? Don’t be afraid to speak out. Don’t be afraid to step on toes.

    And be very careful about these new startup publishing outfits. They are going to come out of the woodwork now. Some will make it; most won’t. Most will have good intentions; some won’t. Do your homework.

    Charlee

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  36. Nora Roberts
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 14:41:54

    ~authors owe something back to their struggling peers for the privilege of being published. ~

    I can’t agree. Being published isn’t a privilege, and it’s not a matter of owing. I don’t feel I owe new or aspiring writers anything because I’m published.

    I choose to give my opinion, and would certainly not stay silent if I knew of violations or underhanded practices in the business. But this isn’t because I’ve been privileged or because I owe anyone. It’s because I believe there’s right and there’s wrong.

    Being published isn’t a privilege or a right. It’s a job. It’s work. It’s a profession.

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  37. Charlotte Boyett~Compo
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 15:41:34

    To me it’s a privilege and I am grateful to every reader who buys my work. I owe them and I owe my fellow authors for encouraging me. Yes, it’s a job. It’s work. It’s a profession but I believe in giving back a portion of the good things given to me.

    We’re all entitled to see life as we see it.

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  38. Nora Roberts
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 18:58:28

    I’m grateful to readers, too–and owe them the best book I can write. I owe my fellow authors respect. I see privilege as meaning something given or granted to me. I wasn’t given or granted my career. I earned it.

    I have no problem giving my advice, opinion or the benefits of my experience to other authors. But I don’t owe it to them. It’s choice.

    I’m only saying if we have the mind set that we’re privileged to be published, and that we owe it to other writers to give something back (how it is back anyway when it’s ours and was never theirs?) we’re sliding down a road that can devalue what we do, what we’ve accomplished.

    ReplyReply

  39. Charlotte Boyett-Compo
    Aug 30, 2007 @ 23:29:41

    ReplyReply

  40. Letting the Truth Be Told
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 14:36:31

  41. Головомозгий дешифратор
    Sep 27, 2008 @ 12:02:10

    Спасибо за Ваш труд!!

    ReplyReply

  42. Silks vaut | Zubufood
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 04:11:13

    [...] Perils of E Publishing: Silk Vault’s Non Payment to AuthorsAug 26, 2007 … I received notice this week of an issue with Silk’s Vault, … I did email Silk Vault and received no response but given that I have two individual … [...]

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