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