What have you learned from this?
Never pre-pay for a self published book that has not been printed yet or is not immediately available via ebook. Basically the author is asking you to support him/her while they are writing the book. And if you have pre-paid, when the deadline for shipping passes, start asking or demanding a refund. Right away. The best thing to do is simply wait until they have the book ready for sale before paying. Just because you self publish does not mean that you have to get the money ahead of time. There are so many self publishing companies online which will do it for you at a very reasonable price. This problem we have had with Dara Joy did not have to happen if they had used better business sense or had been ethical and honest.
What would you tell authors to learn from this?
First, meet your obligations on your contracts, even if you suspect the publisher is not meeting theirs. If you have done so, the case when it gets in litigation will be all about them and not be muddied by your actions.
Second, never try to simply ignore your contract and break it by going to another publisher. What Ms. Joy did with "Ritual of Proof" was, to me, very unethical. Also, she basically blackballed her career by doing so. As far a any publisher thinks, she is untouchable right now.
Third and finally, if you are thinking about self publishing, only do so if you have a good fan base already. I doubt seriously if you will make much of a profit without one. Ms. Joy actually had a almost blockbuster situation, but really has screwed this up with her actions. Have your book written, edited and ready to for sale before you start advertising it. Also, I came across a website on the net that is almost perfect for self publishing situations. Check out www.lulu.com.
How can other fans in need get help?
This page gives you the exact method that I and many other fans used to get their books. I can’t guarentee that they will ever get the book or a refund, but we will be making a lot of noise in the process and hopefully at the very least will stop this from happening ever again with this author.
Ms. Joy’s and her staff’s handling of this situation was simply atrocious. IMHO, an author couldn’t have behaved any worse than this one has with her fans. By simple passiveness, she has shown a complete lack of respect.
Update as of Wednesday, June 28:
5 people have received the book in the last few days.