Home » Legal Stuff, Royalties » Please Help Me Pay My Wonderful Authors the Royalties Owed Them!

Please Help Me Pay My Wonderful Authors the Royalties Owed Them!

15 March 2014

From IndieGoGo:

I am Vera Nazarian, two-time Nebula Award Nominee author, award-winning artist, publisher of Norilana Books. In 2006 I singlehandedly started a small independent press Norilana Books, with about 300 paper print POD (Print-on-Demand) titles in print, mostly classics of world literature (about 90% of the complete catalog), and a few of my favorite contemporary genre authors.

. . . .

Things were going well the first few years, and I was promptly and happily paying royalties to all my wonderful authors, and releasing handsome paper print editions of their works in hardcover and trade paperback. And then the economy crashed, while at the same time, a series of personal misfortunes struck.

Within a very short period of time I was faced all at once with the cancer of my mother, death of my father, the loss of my home to foreclosure, bankruptcy, a cross-country move from California to Vermont, and having to start my life over on a severely reduced income, after having to undergo major life-saving surgery myself.

At the same time, the publishing industry started to change rapidly, with the advent of ebooks and ereaders, and paper print sales dropped considerably, so that my already inadequate income was reduced to about one third of what it had been.

. . . .

But this fundraiser is not about me…

It’s about the wonderful Norilana Books authors who need to be paid their long overdue royalties. As months went by and I was struggling just to survive, I was no longer able to pay my authors the royalties owed them.

My authors have understood my dire situation and have waited patiently throughout all this—are still waiting. All rights to their books are theirs, and some of them chose to exercise their reversion, while others are still with me and my tiny press because they prefer for their books to stay in print in their current editions.

Regardless, they all need to be paid as soon as possible—all the back royalties, down to a cent.

Link to the rest at IndieGoGo and thanks to Devin for the tip.

Allow PG to translate: “I spent all the money that I should have paid to authors and now I would like the nice people who come to IndieGoGo to give me more money so I can pay the authors (unless something else comes up in the meantime).”

PG strongly recommends that if you want to help any of the Norliana Book authors, you track the author down and send them a payment directly rather than trusting someone who has already stiffed the author to make that payment.

At least in the US, if a publisher runs into financial problems, authors stand at the end of the bankruptcy line with other unsecured creditors, likely receiving little, if any, of the royalties owed to them. To add insult to injury, the authors’ publishing contracts may be purchased for a pittance by some third party who may not be any better at paying royalties than the bankrupt publisher was.

The most common early danger signs are delayed royalty payments caused by “accounting problems” or “bank errors.”

Unfortunately, with the shakeout underway in traditional publishing, PG predicts more publisher collapses in the future. Small publishers are like other small businesses – some are very well managed and others are not. Large publishers are like other large businesses – some are very well managed and others are not.

Unfortunately, in the middle of a major technology disruption like ecommerce and ebooks, even well-managed businesses can be taken down.

Legal Stuff, Royalties

301 Comments to “Please Help Me Pay My Wonderful Authors the Royalties Owed Them!”

  1. Is this thing real? It looks like one of those Nigerian banker scams!

    • That question occurred to me, but, if she is really Vera Nazarian, she has an Amazon Author Page and several books.

    • “Is this thing real? It looks like one of those Nigerian banker scams!”

      Well, at least the grammar, syntax, and spelling are correct!

    • The basic story is, from what I can recall, true. Vera Nazarian did have some pretty serious personal issues and didn’t pay thousands of dollars in royalties when Norilana collapsed. It’s been so long, I don’t remember the details, including to what extent the personal problems actually contributed to the collapse. Since I was never published by this press, I only know what was reported at the time by some of the authors who weren’t getting paid. I haven’t given the situation a thought in a several years.

      As to whether the person behind this is really Vera Nazarian, who knows? I’ll not be contributing one way or the other.

  2. Sob. Cry. Whine…

    It’s not my fault. I’m a victim, too.

    Please help. :(

    PASS!

  3. Hmm. So is this person admitting to stealing from authors? It seems to me that if you have money coming in from book sales, a portion of it is already earmarked for the authors, so why weren’t they paid in the first place?

  4. This is all sorts of ballsy.

    She did state that all of the authors have retained the rights to their works, and some have exercised the reversion clause, so there’s that.

  5. Jesus. “I’m having personal financial difficulties” is NEVER an excuse for stealing somebody’s else money.

  6. It’s kind of surprising that it took her so long. The problems started in 2008? Six years later she is realizing that oops… I spent that money… gotta consider paying the people who wrote the books.

    More “grateful author syndrome,” settling for whatever they can get.

    • It took me “so long” because that’s how long I was under a barrage of misfortunes. One after another, after another, after another, after another…

      I am surprised I am not dead.

      • You’re a thief. You took money you owed to others and spent it on yourself. I’m sorry you were having troubles, but we don’t accept that excuse in court when someone breaks into another person’s house.

        Any writer that goes to you in the future is an idiot.

  7. Oh my god. This person was on KB all the time. She stole over 20 grand from her authors? Inexcusable. Anyone who contributes to this campaign is a fool. Never give an admitted fraud more money to defraud with. Geez.

    • That’s why I recognize the name! Wow. I feel bad for the authors, but not bad enough to make any kind of contribution. Who knows where it would go?

      • I’m guessing it will go to repair / replace the rickety car.

        • Michael E. Walston

          Oh, I’d wager she doesn’t *intend* that–but if the rickety car should happen to *die* right about now, well…

          The Universe can be perverse that way….

  8. I’m sympathetic to anyone who has a load of grief dumped on them (as long as it’s true). Yet I have to wonder how many of those authors also had hard times during that period who could’ve really used their royalties?

  9. A sensibly run press wouldn’t even think about dipping into authors’ royalties for anything. That money doesn’t even exist, except to be sent out to the authors on time.

    It sucks that she’s faced so many personal challenges, and I can imagine that going through several traumas might make somebody lose track of their senses and do something dumb out of desperation. But those authors should have been paid on time, regardless.

    I had a landlord who attempted to screw me out of a large sum of money on the excuse that she was a single mom and might lose her house if she didn’t steal from me. It didn’t change the fact that she was stealing from me. When I served her with papers to settle the matter in court, she promptly coughed up the money she’d taken. I’m with Amy on this one: after having been the victim of somebody who justified stealing from me by telling me, “Well, I’m having financial difficulties, so you should just be more understanding about the fact that I’m taking your money from you…” I’ve got limited sympathy for situations like these.

  10. Wow, it sounds like she’s had a really hard time, and I feel for that, who wouldn’t. But it does sound like, “I took the royalties and now could you help me pay them back.” That doesn’t seem ethical to me, IF that is what is happening here. I think she should encourage them all to self-publish and give the the artwork/cover files, formatting files, etc, so they can do it more easily.

    I’m all bummed for what she suffered, but, um, yeah, I’ve donated to various book/author funds, to help a family get a roof after a storm, etc, but in this case, authors need to move on and she should pay them bit by bit from her own earnings until she makes good, even if it takes 10 years.

    • Right. Take on a second job, maybe, work it off…

      • I’ve taken on all the work that I can.

        In addition, I currently have an 81-year-old cancer survivor mother living with me under my care.

        • Then surely you’ve given up cable TV and live only on generic brand bologna and beans. There’s is no excuse for stealing from those who worked for you. I cannot express enough what a scumsucking lowlife you are.

          And then you wonder why writers no longer trust traditional presses?

    • …and she should pay them bit by bit from her own earnings until she makes good, even if it takes 10 years.

      Yes, exactly. She should pay them back. I, too, am sympathetic to her woes. Sounds like she’s experienced a world of grief. But she needs to take responsibility for her theft and commit to making it right.

      • I would love to pay off everything on my own, and that has *always* been the plan.

        But making my authors wait another ten years?

        Is the principle of it more important the the practicality of paying them as soon as possible, through this crowdfunding effort?

        • But it wouldn’t be YOU paying them off. YOU would still owe them. Even if people donated a million dollars to the fund, it would not relieve you of your obligation. Unless people are supposed to donate to you, and hope you pass the money on.

          • Well, no, contributors will be getting ebooks as rewards.

            Or are you saying that ebooks are not worth anything?

            • “Or are you saying that ebooks are not worth anything?”

              You literally couldn’t pick a worse place to try that tactic.

            • The authors would be due additional royalties on those ebooks wouldn’t they? I’d be annoyed if my books were being given away to pay a debt that was owed to me. I’d be better off just selling the books myself.

        • For what it’s worth, I think your point is accurate. The people judging you for past failings (whatever your level of responsibility in them) are in no way helping the authors who need the money.

          I think that my only concern is that you are framing this in such a way as to create solvency for your company, which seems to have already failed. Even if you intend to continue in publishing, it may be time to close that chapter.

        • You’re should give your authors the rights to their books back immediately.

  11. I can confirm that the troubles Vera claims are all real. I am not going to comment on anything else, other than to say:

    I’ve seen well-intentioned small publishers go down again and again, especially with paper publishing. It’s a risky, high-cost business, and tends to attract people who are doing it for the love — like restaurants. And the success rate is similar, with the one difference being that publishers tend to hang on longer than they should.

    This is why, even before indie ebook publishing came along, I never considered publishing books with a small press. It always seemed to me that the risk was lower publishing yourself.

    I know too many brilliant books which will only see the light of day on pirate sites because the rights got swallowed up in the downfall of a small press.

  12. I frankly don’t care if the troubles are real. No one has the right to spend someone else’s money without permission. And if that’s what she did, I have no sympathy whatsoever.

  13. If you search online, you will find that she has a history of poor financial management that includes two bankruptcies and borrowing tens of thousands of dollars from another author. I believe that loan was not repaid before he died. I also believe she has run other crowd-funding campaigns. Please don’t take my word alone; confirm it for yourself.

    • Hmmm. Looks like people bailed her out in 2008 to the tune of $19,000. Authors, fans rally around sci-fi publisher.

      And then there’s this, which is pretty damning.
      Something else needs to be said about Vera Nazarian

      • Much of this has been twisted, misinterpreted, and is simply not true.

        The person posting this has a long-standing personal problem with me. I kindly ask everyone not to jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.

        • They seem to have sourced their numbers. And helped run a fundraiser for you that netted $30K. Which of those have been twisted?

          • The interpretation is entirely untrue.

            The fundraiser that raised $30K? Yes, she did run it, absolutely, together with another individual — for which I was and still am very grateful — and then she blamed me for having PayPal tax related problems related to handling the funds. How is that my fault?

            The $30K raised was distributed thusly — $13,000 to rebuild the flooding sewer main line and back yard flood, $2,000 for my personal living expenses (food, shelter, bills), and all the rest to Bank of America which promptly took everything and still did not modify my mortgage loan.

  14. I must comment here because the situation described here is so far from the real facts of the matter.

    I have always been been sterling-honest and forthright in all my author dealings, going above and beyond in always paying my authors who incidentally are my friends (I have never been open to general public submissions, nor have I ever had any interest in anything more than helping my friends get their books out in the world when there were few to none other options for them — the bulk of my titles is public domain classics). Please ask any one of my authors how they feel. Nothing has ever been “stolen” as you claim and everything has been in the open.

    When misfortunes stuck, I did the best I could and the payment of the royalties was delayed. All parties were aware of the situation.

    Since I am still not recovered enough to start paying which I would like to do more than anything in the world, but I have no means (hence the fundraiser). Meanwhile, all the rights have been reverted, and quite a number of my authors chose to stay with me and my tiny press.

    Sincerely,

    Vera Nazarian

    • If nothing was ever stolen, where did the royalties go? That money should have been kept in separate accounts for the sole purpose of paying the authors.

      Actually, I’ll walk it back a bit. Did the authors give you permission to use their royalities for your own purposes? In that case, theft would be too strong a word. But (if that was the case) why should anyone else foot the bill for money they gave you?

    • Though I feel bad for what you have gone through, author royalties should NEVER EVER be contingent on your personal problems, Vera.

      • Agreed. And they weren’t.

        But when the world is figuratively falling around you, it is humanly impossible to handle normal contingencies.

        • You’re personal issues should not matter when it comes to your business. You STOLE $20k from people. Health and personal money woes or not, you STOLE your authors hard earned money.

          Anyone who donates to the indigogo fund is a fool to think it’s actually going to the authors. You’ve had SIX YEARS to pay back all these authors. They’re never going to see a dime.

          • What I had was SIX YEARS of ongoing hell that only quieted down recently.

            • How many in jail right now had similarly difficult circumstances? Hell, for that matter, how many on this board have difficult circumstances yet didn’t steal when times got tough?

              If they’re still your friends, then they’re saps. No one who stole from me would continue to be my friend. I wonder why none of them sued you.

    • You haven’t been honest – you’ve been stealing that which wasn’t yours due to circumstance. What a ballsy way to justify thievery.

  15. It’s nothing personal, it’s business. If you received money in payment for books sold, or promised advances, it’s simple–pay the money you owe. Less is not sterling-honest.
    Where’s the money?

  16. A large e-rom epublisher, one of the largest I would say, just skipped a month of royalty payments to authors, due “a new accounting system” that they inexplicably put into effect at the end of the year. When authors finally received their one-month-late payments in early February, the checks were dated for the previous December and those royalty payments were reflected on authors’ 1099s as 2013 payments (although authors did not receive the payments until February.)

    In addition to this wonky and suspect bookkeeping, apparently several staff members have left or been fired in the last month. No explanation has been given for any of these events except for “accounting problems.” Hmm. I don’t want to say who it is since they still have two of my books but I’m assuming I’m about to lose those books to bankruptcy limbo.

  17. Why not give the authors their rights back?

  18. I am one of Vera Nazarian’s authors. When I asked her to revert my rights, she did it that day, and offered any other help she could give. Whether or not people want to donate is up to them, but I felt I ought to speak up about the personal insinuations being raised.

    She used to live on the other side of L.A County from me, and I watched without being able to do anything as Bank of America sucked in everything she had (like the results from the fund raiser of 2009) and then foreclosed anyway, the way they were doing all over the country during the recession. This while she was dealing with her father’s death, and catastrophic illness in her mother and herself.

    I don’t pretend to understand anything about accounting and business, or good business practice, but I do believe in her honesty and good intentions. As a one woman publisher, she probably could have used a good business partner, but she did her best.

    • If you wanted to give her the right to withhold from you in her troubled times, that would’ve been generous and nice, but it would’ve been your decision. Nothing grants her the right to take money rightfully owed without permission, no matter the reason.

      As for understanding accounting or business, it’s real simple – pay me what I’m owed, and don’t spend my money on yourself.

    • I see… it was the evil bank that put her in this situation. She has no responsibility whatsoever.

  19. Let me explain further. For Norilana Books, I receive money from Lightning Source/Ingram as a single direct deposit. That’s it.

    At the height of my crisis, I was unable to stop and figure out what tiny portion of it was author royalties, because I spent most of my waking time sitting in hospital rooms at the bedsides of my parents, one then the other, fighting Bank of America and filling out reams of their paperwork over and over for months to forestall foreclosure, at the same time dealing with a flooding sewer, and fighting the City of Los Angeles and their engineers that wanted to expand a bridge adjacent to the property, dealing with an auto accident, and basically trying to stay alive through my severe anemia.

    The money coming in was miniscule, barely enough to pay bills. I was bleeding to death from pre-cancerous fibroids, and still working round the clock.

    It was not humanly possible to stop and figure royalties on top of everything else.

    Here is a relevant thought — in case of an airline in-flight emergency, put on the air mask over your own face first, then over that of your child.

    Attempting to pay royalties would have be similar to trying to save the child when you yourself are falling.

    • Sounds more like you put the oxygen mask on yourself, and then took a bunch more that were meant for other passengers.

      • Why do you assume this? Why on earth would I want to do that to my friends? You do not know me.

        • I don’t need to know you to know that you took money that belonged to your “friends.” You’ve already admitted it. And now you’re attempting to both justify it and have others pay the money that you should be paying.

          And borrowed $100,000 from a now-dead guy.

          I’m not going to engage you anymore. Anyone who gives you money to ostensibly give to others would be better served just setting it on fire.

          • Dan,

            I did not “take” anything. Nor am I justifying the fact that I owe money. I am trying the best I can right now to pay my authors sooner than later.

            Over the years I’ve tried all venues imaginable.

            What do you suggest I do? I am all open to everyone’s suggestions.

            Vera

            • I have several suggestions, but none of them are fit for TPV.

              • Why the hostility?

                I ask a serious question.

                • Then I’ll give you a serious answer.

                  Because you’re a f****** thief. You took advanatge of so-called “friends” of yours. You took their money and made excuses for it, without any consideration for their circumstances. You apparently didn’t pay a woman with cancer three years’ worth of royalties. You borrowed $50,000 … TWICE … from a guy who died before the money came back to him, and now you’re pretending that his family is ever going to see that money. You’re now expecting other people to bail you out AND GIVE YOU MORE MONEY. And all you’ve done is talk about how circumstances forced your hand, instead of just saying, “I was selfish. I betrayed trust. I SCREWED UP.”

                  You are an amazing piece of work.

                  • So, now that you’ve gotten the vitriol out, seriously what do you suggest I do to make things right?

                    Because that’s the whole point, isn’t it, to make things right?

                    I am listening.

                  • Dan, you are right. No sugar is often what it takes to get straight with self-accountability. Even though the layers of self-excusing are within reach inside all of us.

                    Yet, many of us have taken care of both our parents in crises at the same time [weakly waving hand], had life-threatening diagnosis of health crisis of our own [waving heart], RAISED CHILDREN, paid back student loans [waving both ears], had the bill collector at the door and phone day and night [waving what's left of hair on head], had bank screw us over with cascading ‘fees’ that are a king’s ransom then owed with no recourse [waving broken Bic pen in air], been turned out of opportunity to earn a living, and STILL had to take care as a DEBT of HONOR, one’s employees, family members old and young and try to take care of self too somehow. [Waving everything I've got left.]

                    However, just this then to add to your ‘come to Jesus’ straight talk [which I endorse Dan, mainly because it says crucial truths to getting straight and moving forward in good ways in honesty, conscience and accountability… the only hope I know for having taken care of X but sh–ting in one’s mess kit with P, Q and R… is to vacate excuse making. It’s hard to say [pride/.ego] ‘I did not pay people their valid earnings; it was wrong. This is HOW I got into doing that; it’s all on me, not on life circumstances. I had cr– judgement, etc.’ But that kind of ‘stand nekkid with oneself’ seems it has to come first and foremost, otherwise all other avenues of reparation are hollow ‘gonna do it, trying to do it, hope to do it’, instead of new page under one’s own power, re I am daily doing this in spades, not in hope or fantasy or soliciting. I am making reparation each day in $.

                    I’m sorry the woman had troubles, and I’m sorry people she had legal contracts with were kept from their monies. I hope she repays all, in full. But the personal troubles listed are not rare; they are usual in many a person’s life. Being under seige left right and center, is not rare. Come with me to my work in the barrios or in the va hospitals, and one might be happy to have the personal small hell they have, instead of the relentless hell others face daily.

                    From one who has walked through hells beyond hell, and I am definitely understating my life pst and present, lol, I know sitting in hospital with loved ones is good, but it is all the more reason to have delegated to a trusted person the banal figuring out of royalties and paying them on time to the authors. There are many ways to proceed before the fact, even when up to one eyebrows in alligators. Especially if there are alligators.

                    The issue still remains however, that the authors were not paid, not during, not after, and that the money belonging to the authors was taken elsewhere. That’s the fulcrum of all else.

                    • Say I work in a consignment store. A friend comes in with an heirloom brooch to sell. I’ll get a 10% commission if I sell it. And I do. Someone pays me $1,000 for it. My cut is $100.

                      But my rent is also due that day and I’ve had a run of bad luck, so I take all the money and apply it toward my rent. I then do this twenty more times until I’ve taken almost 20 grand that belongs to other people.

                      I cannot then say oops, I had some trouble. Work with me people. Hey, can other friends now give me $20,000 to pay off the money that I walked off with that didn’t belong to me?

                      The money never belonged to you. Therefore, what you did was theft.

                    • MW,

                      It’s not just “a run of bad luck.”

                      And your example does not equate at all.

            • Hi, Vera. I want to say I’m really sorry you’ve had to go through so much. I remember the phase in my life where it seemed there was only sickness and dying and depression. Bad times.

              I really think the best thing you can do is let your authors run with those rights. Don’t hang on to the press (I imagine being a small press in this era will only get harder.) Just be honest with the authors that it’s time to move on. And promise to pay them their royalties in time to the best of your ability. Just move on.

              I hope you find health and calm. Personally, I do have issues with asking for donations to pay authors, when the debt is yours, not the “folks out there.” I know you want to see them paid their dues, but this debt is yours to pay back. Or theirs to forgive. It can work either way. Maybe simply ask them to forgive the debt and move on.

              Well, whatever. I hope this gets sorted. And I do not wish you ill at all. There just seems to be a need to end to asking others to take on this burden, to fully accept it as yours. Go bankrupt and clear it, or promise to pay over time in small increments, or ask for forgiveness of the debt from each individually. But take the responsibility for it. That would be my suggestion. Asking for donations just seems to perpetuate the debt. Now you owe all those out there.

              Maybe there’s a way you can help the authors independently publish these, facilitate that, so they can make money on their own with it.

              I kinda feel sad now.

              • Thank you for your kind comments, Mir.

                To reiterate, Norilana Books has never been primarily about publishing living writers, but public domain classics. The only reason I have “authors” is because I wanted to help my friends publish their wonderful books, at the best of my ability as a tiny one-person press, at a time when there were none or few other venues. An example — I revived the Sword and Sorceress classic anthology series for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. I gladly took on Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix anthology series when he needed a venue and there were no other options. I provided several new anthology markets for writers, even though anthologies don’t sell, and this was not going to make me money.

                The rights have always been theirs for the taking, and I have always tried to persuade my authors first to do what was best for their books, such as go with a major publisher if the deal happened. And I always encouraged everyone to self-publish and do ebooks on their own — in fact I do not publish other people’s ebook editions because I firmly believe that they should do it themselves.

                As far as not paying back the royalties owed them? How can I live with myself? You may not know me or believe me (or choose to believe the person trying to tar my reputation) but I always repay my debts, no matter how long it takes. And if I see a means to expedite the process and pay them now via the crowdfunding, it is the least I can do.

                Also, note that the Indiegogo campaign is not exactly a donation, as was pointed out below, since for every $5 you get an ebook.

                Thanks again for commenting.

                Vera

                • Vera,

                  If you filed bankruptcy (as you have at least once if not more) then no, you do not “always repay my debts”.

              • Thank you for your kind comments, Mir.

                To reiterate, Norilana Books has never been primarily about publishing living writers, but public domain classics. The only reason I have “authors” is because I wanted to help my friends publish their wonderful books, at the best of my ability as a tiny one-person press, at a time when there were none or few other venues. An example — I revived the Sword and Sorceress classic anthology series for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. I gladly took on Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix anthology series when he needed a venue and there were no other options. I provided several new anthology markets for writers, even though anthologies don’t sell, and this was not going to make me money.

                The rights have always been theirs for the taking, and I have always tried to persuade my authors first to do what was best for their books, such as go with a major publisher if the deal happened. And I always encouraged everyone to self-publish and do ebooks on their own — in fact I do not publish other people’s ebook editions because I firmly believe that they should do it themselves.

                As far as not paying back the royalties owed them? How can I live with myself? You may not know me or believe me (or choose to believe the person trying to tar my reputation) but I always repay my debts, no matter how long it takes. And if I see a means to expedite the process and pay them now via the crowdfunding, it is the least I can do.

                Also, note that the Indiegogo campaign is not exactly a donation, as was pointed out below, since for every $5 you get an ebook.

                Thanks again for commenting.

                Vera

          • The $100,000 money borrowed from my now deceased friend will be paid back in full to his heirs, and was in fact *retained voluntarily* by me as a debt instead of having it be dismissed through the bankruptcy.

            His family is fully aware of the situation, we have an agreement, and everything is above board.

            The person who has posted this originally with their own spin on it, seems to have a personal interest to do me harm.

            As for not engaging me further in this conversation — why? I am here willing to answer all questions and set the record straight.

            • The $100,000 money borrowed from my now deceased friend will be paid back in full to his heirs, and was in fact *retained voluntarily* by me as a debt instead of having it be dismissed through the bankruptcy.

              It seems to list $109,000+ owed to Kevin O’Donnell on your bankruptcy.

              • The $9,000 was compounded interest that I voluntarily added on.

                • Okay, but it’s listed on your Chapter 7 filing as a part of the $158,000+ discharged under your Chapter 7 filing. You said it wasn’t discharged.

                  • It was *not* discharged. It was retained. I *specifically* asked for it.

                    Please ask the court and my lawyer — not the person posting the details of my case with their negative spin on it.

                  • I assume you are being sarcastic, but if that were possible I would be happy to do an Indiegogo for the “dead guy’s estate.”

                    • Why not get a job? Being an author and or publisher isn’t a solvent line of work for everybody. Panhandling to pay off debts from the author community is even more of an issue. Who’s to say that these donated monies will go to the authors and not to fix your sewer?

                    • Reply to stillborn:

                      I already mentioned I cannot take on any more work nor can presently I work outside the home — I have an 81 year old invalid mother living with me under my care.

                      We now live in the woods of Vermont with no postal delivery. I have an ancient rickety car that I am afraid to drive farther than the post office and the grocery store. Every time I have to drive Mom to the doctor in town, I am terrified we will stall on the road. even if I could leave her alone and unsupervised, driving to a remote job every day is close to impossible.

    • It was not humanly possible to stop and figure royalties on top of everything else.

      It’s called “asking for help”.

      The even the smallest presses I’ve worked with have had backup people who could figure that out if the primary person had emergencies that result in such a situation as you describe.

      I have chronic health issues, myself—odd ones, to the point that some people assume it's made up or at least psychosomatic. (Right. Because I like feeling ill, exhausted, and overwhelmed for two days after grocery day. That’s perfectly normal response to the mild exercise of walking through the store and carrying shopping bags. Yep.)

      I’ve also spent the last few months on a cycle of issues with my e-mail, Internet, and computer…that I’m still working on, actually, but should be reaching the end of the line on.

      When those issues have caused issues of their own? I figure out what, if anything, I could’ve done differently…and even if I can’t, I still apologize and seek to fix things right in any way I can.

      My dream is to someday run a pro-paying magazine (print & e-format, maybe even audio), or at least anthology series. But I’m not even going to think about trying that sort of thing until I have a better median health, better computer situation, and procedures in place for when I relapse.

      From what you yourself describe, Vera, you were irresponsible. Sure, you had an emergency. Chances are, so did people whose money you stole. I’m willing to believe that you didn’t set out to steal from them, but you did. Your insistence on blaming the situation for your actions is only making you look bad.

      There’s a difference between explaining “Here’s what happened” and insisting “It’s not my fault!”

      • I *had* asked for help, and people helped the best they could, but in the overwhelming and rather boggling misfortunes coming one after another, it was never enough.

        The situation and series of misfortunes is so long and complex that I am not surprised it is hard to fathom.

        • I’m very bad with math. I discovered there are people called accountants. They do math for a living. They can even set up bank accounts to pay your bills so you don’t have to be bothered.

        • The situation and series of misfortunes is so long and complex that I am not surprised it is hard to fathom.

          Long, complex misfortunes are part and parcel of life. I can fathom how you feel (and felt) just fine. Been there (and am focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel). Know plenty of people who are there, right now.

          In fact, I’m sure at least some of the people who you owe money were or are suffering “long, complex misfortunes” right now. That’s how common they are.

          • And that’s exactly why I am trying to raise funds to pay these people back.

            • But do you understand why there are folks who don’t think you should be trusted with these funds? This part, you get it , right? This is not a slam. It just seems you don’t understand that it is not logical to expect folks to trust you with large funds when you’ve misused monies entrusted to you. People might be justified assuming the indiegogo will somehow find its way to paying a personal need, not the authors.

              • Of course I understand that, and it’s exactly why I am not blaming anyone here for being suspicious.

                However this needs to get done, FOR THE SAKE OF MY AUTHORS and I know of no other way to do it.

                As I mentioned already, I would love to get a third party to handle the disbursement of funds.

                • I don’t understand the difficulty in finding a third party. An accountant or a lawyer can handle the disbursement for you. The account should be set up so that only they can access the funds.

                  • An accountant or lawyer costs money that I don’t have.

                    Should I raise even more funds to pay for their services on this fundraiser?

                    • “Should I raise even more funds to pay for their services on this fundraiser?”

                      Why the heck not? You’ve done fundraisers to launch books (while authors went unpaid, no less), used donated money to travel, and now you’re fundraising to pay those back royalties. Why balk at the idea of fundraising a few hundred more for it to be done right? What’s a little extra to pay a third party to disburse funds, especially when that would remove the skepticism that authors will ever see the money and probably help your campaign?

                      Have you even made calls to see what this service would cost you from a lawyer or accounting firm? You said you’ve looked for a third party for months, but in what way? Even if you find a private individual willing to handle the money for you for free, which I guess you think is the only option, you’re still going to have to pay a lawyer. There needs to be a legally-binding contract outlining that person’s access and responsibilities to protect that person, you and the funds.

                      Checking into these things is free, and takes only a little time. Have you done that? Are you going to?

                  • Why the heck not, you ask?

                    For the reason that life is too short and there is only one of me and I am stretched too thin as it is.

                    • I’m sure you had enough time just today, in the time you spent instead defending yourself and shifting blame here, to make a few phone calls and at least see how expensive or inexpensive getting a legal third party would be.

                      I’ve been down and out, Vera. I get it. You’ve had a terrible time, and I feel for you. But not once have you taken responsibility for the decision to steal royalties to keep your head above water. You call it other things, and you make excuses, but you don’t appear genuinely sorry or in any way appear that you’re actually taking responsibility for what you’ve done. Not once have I seen you say “I was wrong” without qualifying that it wasn’t really your fault.

                      Some home truth: it was your fault. The circumstances you found yourself in weren’t, and those sucked, but your choice to take money that did not belong to you was entirely your fault, period. You seem incapable of accepting that.

                      And if you can’t even take a few minutes to make some phone calls to even gather information about a third party, I’m firmly convinced it’s because you don’t want to.

                      I hope there’s an accounting when the fundraiser is over and statements from the authors that every cent of the raised money went to them. You’re giving no one confidence that it will in so many ways that it’s sad you can’t see it.

                      And please, take the addition at the top of your Indiegogo page down. That was a sarcastic response someone wrote to address your excuses and blame shifting. How carefully did you read it, because it’s all shade and needs to come down.

                      Best of luck.

    • At the height of my crisis, I was unable to stop and figure out what tiny portion of it was author royalties,

      That’s what I thought. You STOLE from them. I’m sorry you had to deal with so many problems, but that doesn’t excuse the stealing. It just doesn’t.

      If you couldn’t stop to figure out what money was owed to the authors, then you shouldn’t have touched ANY of the Norilana Books money. The authors should have been paid first, NOT YOU.

      • It’s not “Norilana Books money.”

        It’s just a single direct deposit from Lighting Source that pays all my bills, including author royalties that I have to sit down and manually figure out. And lately it’s been barely close to $800, which means that the basic life-sustaining bills eat it up.

        I already explained that there was no time to do anything but engage in triage.

        • It’s not “Norilana Books money.”

          It’s just a single direct deposit from Lighting Source that pays all my bills, including author royalties that I have to sit down and manually figure out

          Now, I’m not an accountant, but even I can see that statement is a probable self-contradiction. The lump sum paid to you included Norliana Brooks’s money (and the money of the other authors); only a % of it was yours. That’s how money flow works, unless your contracts with the authors were remarkably creative.

          (Mandatory disclaimer: I’m not an accountant or a lawyer, so this isn’t professional advice.)

          And yes, I understand triage. The problem is that, from what you yourself have described of events, you didn’t prioritize things the way you should’ve.

          • Carradee,

            This is why I put quotations around “Norilana Books money” — because the original poster made it sound like I was dipping into an account or somehow skimming off the moneys specifically allocated to my authors.

            My whole point is, I get a single lump payment (one from LSI US, one from LSI UK), and I have to sit down and figure out what part of it is what.

            There was simply no means to do it when you are in the middle of multiple emergencies, and are doing all you can just to stay alive.

            • So you’re still getting this lump sum “$800″ and using it for “life-sustaining” bills? So money is still be diverted from this payment to you for your own necessities????

              “It’s just a single direct deposit from Lighting Source that pays all my bills, including author royalties that I have to sit down and manually figure out. And lately it’s been barely close to $800, which means that the basic life-sustaining bills eat it up.”

              At this point you shouldn’t be using 1$ of author royalties to pay for your living expences/ overhead etc. etc.

              This has got to be a joke.

              • And once I am out on the street in the snow, with my old mother and two cats, without a roof over our head, how am I to pay anyone anything?

                Because it’s what will happen if I tried to pay out of what tiny amount I have now.

                Basic triage.

            • Astounded Small Press Owner

              LightningSource tells you how many books sold and what total you earned from them. It might be deposited as one sum, but they absolutely give you the figures for every book. Not sure why it takes you that much time to figure out what is what–just read what’s on the statement.

              • It took me *two weeks* to read what’s on each and every annual statement for all the authors, calculate their rates and come up with the amounts owed for all territories and all titles and all editions.

                That’s two weeks I did not have before this January.

                It’s a complicated and responsible accounting task.

                • Astounded Small Press Owner

                  Go to the column on the far right, the one under “total paid.” If you’re paying 50% royalties, multiply by .5. If you’re paying 40% royalties, multiply by .4.

                  If you’re still having trouble, call up someone at Lightning Source and have them talk you through it. It shouldn’t take you two weeks to read their reports. If it’s taking you so much time that you’re missing sleep, then you might be making it more complicated than it needs to be. Call them up and ask them to explain the reports to you. They’re really very nice there.

            • “My whole point is, I get a single lump payment (one from LSI US, one from LSI UK), and I have to sit down and figure out what part of it is what.”

              That’s how book vendors/POD printers pay. I get lump sums monthly or quarterly (depending on the vendor) from those my company distributes through – including LSI.

              Not only is it my job to make sure the amounts from those deposits are set aside to cover the royalty payments, it’s also my job (with help from my assistant) to figure out the royalty amounts for each author from those lump sums.

              LSI didn’t exactly put you in an awkward or unusual position. It’s not their job to figure individual royalty amounts for you. So, if you’re taking the full lump sum payment they give you for sales & using it for personal expenses, then yes, you’re skimming from monies owed to authors.

              I don’t know how you’re justifying that as anything else.

              • Notice you said you have an assistant.

                I have only my own overworked self, and before this year no time to allocate to anything beyond immediate handling of emergencies.

                I emerge from one task and dive into the other with no time for rest.

                I am working every moment of the day and night, with about 4 hours of sleep a night.

                • Yeah, the fact that I have an assistant actually has nothing to do with my point.

                  If you’re taking 100% of a deposit from your printer/vendor, a portion of which is rightfully owed to your authors, and putting it towards personal expenses, then you’re stealing from the author.

                  There’s nothing erroneous in the suggestion that you’re skimming from author money. That’s exactly what you are doing.

                  But yeah, focus on the assistant part. Easier than admitting to theft.

        • OH. MY. GOD.

          Are you saying the Lightning Source payments for Norilana Books goes to your PERSONAL ACCOUNT?!?!

          This should not have happened. When you have a business, you need to have a business account. If you didn’t have time for figuring out author royalties, then you shouldn’t have touched the business money at all.

          • There is nothing to explain, but it is tedious manual number crunching, and a lot of it. Even with the use of a spreadsheet.

            There is only one account.

            • There is only one account.

              *headdesk*

              Let this be a lesson to other authors. Never, ever sign with a publisher that doesn’t have an account specifically for the business. If you find out the money is going to a personal account, pull your book immediately.

              If things get tough for the person running the publisher, they will very likely steal your money, as Vera Nazarian did to her authors. This has happened several times with other small publishers.

              Theft through poor accounting is still theft. Vera has no business handling other people’s money.

              • What you are saying is incorrect.

                LSI pays me for all books sold, it does not care or discriminate between books earning royalties or not.

                They don’t DO separate accounts.

                • YOU should.

                  It’s not LSI’s job to manage the assignment of monies owed to your authors.

                  If you’re operating a business and are in a position to owe people money from that business, be it through royalties, contract work, etc, you should be conducting your business through a business account that is separate from your personal account. This should include deposits from vendors/printers.

                  It’s incredibly problematic that you were accepting payments for sales to a personal account.

                  • Let me repeat, I get PAID in ONE SUM into one account.

                    To separate out the royalties from my own funds requires calculation and time and work — time and resources which I did not have in the middle of multiple emergencies.

                    Would you be doing number crunching in the middle of a real life emergency?

                    • Get help from one of your “friends?” I’m sorry it was just too darn hard to run a business, but that doesn’t justify your theft.

                    • So do I. From multiple vendors. They all make deposits in lump sums to the BUSINESS account. I use the reports they give me to determine the royalties earned per title per author and pay accordingly every quarter.

                      That it’s a lump sum payment doesn’t excuse receiving the funds through a personal account and treating them as personal funds. Of course, that you view these payouts as “your own funds” vs royalties says a lot about how you view company funds in general.

                      And yes, I have done the accounting through emergencies (and a death in the family). I also managed to keep up with it for three years while I was working a second full-time job.

                    • You don’t get it. The lump sum should go to a BUSINESS ACCOUNT. If you don’t have time to figure out the royalties, then NONE of that money is touched. You don’t get any. That way, you aren’t “accidentally” stealing money that doesn’t belong to you.

                      I self-publish. It’s just me publishing my own books. And guess what? I HAVE A BUSINESS ACCOUNT. When Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc pay me, the money goes to that account. Not my personal account that I use to pay rent and groceries, the business account that I use to pay for editing and cover art. I don’t need to do that, but I wanted to treat my writing and publishing as a business.

                      You actually have a publishing business, and yet you don’t treat it like a business. I feel so bad for your authors.

                • Astounded Small Press Owner

                  But you can very easily run reports by ISBN or author. VERY easily. If you don’t know how to do that, call LS and ask them to show you how. You most certainly do not have to look at a lump sum and guess how much is credited to each book. It’s just not like that.

                  • That process takes me hours and days. Time I DID NOT have.

                    Time for each author.

                    Each title.

                    Each edition of the title.

                    Then, look up royalty rates for each, then multiply by royalty rate.

                    Add the sum totals of each.

                    It is bookkeeping.

                    For which there is NO TIME in an emergency.

            • In other words, it was just too hard. Got it.

    • Hi, person with fibroid history here. Fibroids are not cancerous or “pre-cancerous” by default. It is a sufficiently rare phenomenon that they are classified differently if they do appear to be cancerous, even potentially so. As for “bleeding to death”, the blood loss from specific types of fibroids can lead to severe anemia (thankfully not all forms of these benign, non-cancerous tumors lead to excessive bleeding or degraded quality of life for all women diagnosed with them), but mostly it is not described by fellow sufferers as dying.

      Bleeding fibroids are horrible and difficult to treat effectively, as the cheap treatments (painkillers, sometimes hormonal BC to manage the bleeding, maybe vitamin injections or supplements for the anemia) aren’t going to get rid of them and the expensive treatments (surgery and ultrasound and directed MRI) can be difficult to get coverage or cash upfront for.

      So I certainly sympathize, but I would object mildly to characterizing this ailment in the same breath as cancer. It is for the most part not a source of cancer in women.

      • Sorry to differ, but my surgeons called it “cancer” and “pre-cancer” after they examined the two huge removed masses, and yes, life threatening, and I was close to death and unable to lie down and breathe properly before they were removed. In addition my anemia was so severe that I was passing out, WITH iron supplements.

    • Then you shouldn’t have been in business. How many writers were also in difficult circumstances during that time? Why are yours so much more important?

  20. I hate to say it, but the whole deal sounds sleazy, from using moneys owed to begging for donations. If the publisher (and yes, beware of all those small publishers who offer to take over) owes the money, the publisher better take out a loan.

  21. I suppose it’s worth noting that, no matter how you feel about the campaign, it’s not as if you’d be getting nothing for your donations. It seems to be, effectively, an e-book sale at $5 per. Which isn’t a bad price for an e-book, I suppose. (Not sure whether you get the e-book now or at the end of the campaign.)

    • Thank you, Chris, for pointing this out.

    • It’s also worth noting that books being offered as rewards are only Vera Nazarian’s ebooks. The IndieGoGo page shows scans of a number of titles by other authors, but those books don’t appear to be available as rewards. As Chris points out, this is in effect an ebook sale. Just not of any other Norilana authors. (I understand the rights might not be available for those books. I’m posting this not as a criticism, but a point of information.)

      • Exactly.

        If I offer anyone else’s books, I would have to compensate them further.

        This way I am the only one at a loss.

        I’ve considered selling a kidney but don’t think that’s legal.

  22. Don’t paint all small publishers with the same brush as this woman. She clearly doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong. From what I see, she embezzled the money and feels that her grief over her mother’s cancer, as an excuse.
    The people who have already given her money have good hearts, but I’ll be surprised if any of it gets to her authors.

  23. I think I would try to take out a loan and pay the debt off. Surely the bank would help her out with payments that would fit whatever income she has? I don’t know nothing about banks in the states but here in Canada they will certainly try to work something out.
    Again I know your health system is different in the US but if homecare was available to her mother and her, take it to ease the burden.

    • This was one of my earliest things to try, but nope, banks said no.

    • Banks generally don’t lend you money when you’re in the position of really needing it. The risk that you won’t repay the loan is too high.

      And, in the US, when you’re unemployed, you often don’t have health insurance. And when you don’t have health insurance, you don’t have healthcare.

      • Nah, that’s not true. Much of my fibroid-related care was uninsured care. They charged what I could pay (standard, no special deals). America’s a big country with a massive population. Health care access for the uninsured varies from almost nonexistent to the same as what the insured get. Texas, for example, has state-based regulations requiring hospitals provide uninsured people access to quality care for free or on a sliding scale. So even though that state’s uninsured population is fairly high, access to health care is not difficult due to the favorable regulatory environment for the uninsured.

        Anyway, Canada lacks access to a lot of treatments for fibroids (although they did develop one that some find pain relief with) because it’s only a common ailment in the United States.

        And yes, I’d rather be off in the weeds of health care delivery than more directly comment on the sheer chutzpah of this lady in continuing to spend author royalties on herself, right now, while holding a fundraiser for said royalties.

        • Health care access for the uninsured varies from almost nonexistent to the same as what the insured get.

          But if you live in a state where healthcare access for the uninsured is almost nonexistent…?

          • Welcome to variable access? Access varies in countries with other kinds of health care delivery than the numerous government, private and nonprofit options America provides at the city, state, county, and federal levels.

      • And this justifies stealing in what way?

  24. This whole thing is disturbing. Apparently emebezzling, and then asking for fundraising to cover the “loss”?

    The only way anyone should participate in a campaign to help pay back the authors (since it might be the only way they ever see a red cent) is if someone other than Vera is in control of the money.

    • Believe me, I would LOVE for someone else to be in control of this money and have been looking for a third party to disburse the funds, for months.

      Passive Voice, want to do it?

      Anyone?

  25. I just realized that I wrote a short story about this sort of situation: the protag wrongs someone grievously. In the course of the story, he is transformed and repents of his ill deed, but when he returns to right the wrong, someone else has done so before him.

    Life is like that sometimes. Many of us want to earn our good fortune and atone for our wrongs. I continue to believe that it is important to do so. And yet, so many of us are born into circumstances we never earned (living in a country not torn by war, receiving an education, reared by loving parents – or not). And sometimes we haven’t the resources to atone for our faults.

    • I believe this. I’m even a disciple of a religion where we have a basic belief that we are all burdened with a debt which we cannot pay and transgressions for which we cannot atone, and someone else had to pay and to atone for us. :)

      However, confession is always in order, and it seems to me the IndieGogo is a bit mum on that. That would be: “I took money from others. It wasn’t mine to take, but I felt so burdened by my life situation that I stole. I am sorry. Really sorry. I cannot pay back what I stole. Therefore, please help these persons receive what is due them via your donations, since there isn’t any other way for them to get it. Don’t let them suffer because of my theft. In other words, help me pay back what I took without the right to take.”

      That would be honest. It’s humbling and hard, but would be honest.

      Instead, the indigogo appeal is more like “bad times at a small press.” (hell as of the mid 00s, a whole lotta of folks have had bad times, lost homes, lost jobs, pay cuts). What seems to be the reality is: “I had horrible things happen, and because of that I took other folks’ monies to make my life easier during my upheavals.” This wasn’t about bad times for publishing. This was about bad times for an individual, who then misappropriated revenues. Or this is what I am gathering from the revelations here by Vera and others.

      I think this is where folks are having issues. The fundraising being painted mostly as financial woes for a publisher in trying times–with the theft of royalties as something between the lines. But this was theft. And as much as one has to sympathize with a person undergoing trial after trial–and I do– that is not simply unethical: that is a crime.

      If she had contacted all the authors and said: “Is it okay if I keep your money to spend on my needs at this difficult time, and I’ll try to repay you later,” and the authors said fine, then that’s one thing. Lots of them might have let it slide, you know? If it was done without clear permission, it’s lawbreaking.

      I think going forward with a listing of the authors and what % of the funds raised would go to them would help, and a statement about where any excess monies would go if more than the debt is raised. Perhaps a statement declaring excesses would go to the O’Donnell heirs. Make it as clear and aboveboard as possible (and yes, a third party to distribute funds would be wise, and the indiegogo should not have been undertaken until that trustworthy third party was willing to spearhead it).

      I hope it works out. Doesn’t help squat to throw stones at this point, other than as a cautionary thing: “Get out of publishing. Stay out of publishing. It’s not your thing.”

      We all need mercy at some time.

      • youre a kind person Mir. And insightful without pulling punches. You’re right. Dont do what you’re clearly not good at, when time and again proven so. And also, my favorite part: all need mercy at ‘some time.’ Good.

      • If she had contacted all the authors and said: “Is it okay if I keep your money to spend on my needs at this difficult time, and I’ll try to repay you later,” and the authors said fine, then that’s one thing. Lots of them might have let it slide, you know? If it was done without clear permission, it’s lawbreaking.

        Yes, that is where I see the problem also.

        I do feel for Vera. She’s made a mistake. A serious mistake. It’s understandable how it came to pass. Most of us make mistakes under pressure at times. And need mercy after.

        But I think a lot of the folks posting here would like to see Vera say: “Yes, I did the wrong thing, and I know I did the wrong thing. I wish I had been stronger or clearer when I was in the storm and that I’d made different decisions.”

        Initially, I thought she was simply transferring her debt to the indiegogo contributors. But that’s not the case, since the contributors will receive a copy of her book for $5. Really, it seems a creative way to get her authors paid sooner.

        Of course, her previous record of not handling money honestly remains a problem. As well as the white washing on the indiegogo fundraiser.

        But I admire her for not simply giving up and running. A lot of people would. She’s trying to do the right thing. I hope she can take that extra step and own up to her wrongdoing as well.

        • A mistake is forgetting to carry the two over when multiplying. What she did is criminal.

          Also, as you, me, and others have pointed out, she has yet to even acknowledge that she made a conscious decision to rip off people who trusted her, take 100 large from a guy when she had neither the intention nor means to pay it back, etc. It’s all, “Well, s*** happened and then money didn’t show up where it was supposed to. I didn’t steal it, though.”

          • Dan,

            Why are you making all these negative assumptions?

            “she had neither the intention nor means to pay it back” — seriously?

            • But this wasn’t something that happened years ago. You are still taking it! You’re still taking every penny that Lightening Source sends you and applying it to your personal finances. That means you’re still using your authors incoming royalties to keep up with YOUR bills.

              Not only is it illegal I can’t believe people would give you money to pay off debts that are increasing with every book that is bought that is of your authors making.

              This is a scam. The owner of the press is STILL embezzling and now she’s asking for more money from the general public.

              That takes a whole lot of balls.

            • Let’s see:

              1) Borrowed fifty grand.
              2) Didn’t/couldn’t pay it back.
              3) Still didn’t dissuade you from borrowing another fifty grand from same sucker.

              So just stop.

              • Why don’t you tell it to my authors who have chosen to stay with me *to this day* after I offered them their rights back and offered to cancel their books?

                They know exactly what this is — not stealing but *delayed payment.*

                It is THEIR choice.

                Everyone else has had their books transferred to their own self-publishing accounts or cancelled and I am no longer selling their work.

                The ONLY royalty incurring work being sold at this moment is that of authors who have AGREED to this arrangement.

                This is completely above-board and has ALWAYS been.

                • Above board after the 20 grand in theft, you mean.

                  How anyone thinks these authors will ever see a dime is beyond me.

                • Oh, and I wasn’t actually referring to those authors re: “intention nor means.” I was referring specifically to the poor chump you took to the cleaners twice. You know, before you waited him out and he croaked.

                • OK, so that’s key to me. They understood you were using their money for your own expenses, and the authors said “okay.” If they understood that the financial situation was bad and were willing to lend you money, then they need to take the loss. When someone gives a loan, there is always the chance of non-repayment. That’s the risks, as banks even know. So, if these authors okayed the loan to you of their royalties, then there should be no fundraiser. They need to just take the loss of a bad loan. They willingly took the risk. It didn’t pay off. Why should strangers pay for a person’s choice to loan money?

                  So, everyone who made loans that didn’t get repaind–they should crowdfund? Think about how weird that is, Vera.

                  Crowdfunding to pay back people for loans they willingly made knowing it might never get repaid…yes, I think that crosses into an iffy ethical place.

                  This, again, is why the indiegogo is a misrepresentation. It is fundraising with a not-altogether-true story. You’re not raising funds to pay royalties for a struggling publishing business to authors who are victims of a bad economy. You’re raising money to pay back loans from authors who willingly loaned you their royalties.

                  Huge difference.

                  • I wouldn’t assume that the authors agreed to not be paid from 2009 on. The ones who didn’t want their rights reverted and have chosen to remain with the press NOW, they’ve made that decision. But I’ve yet to see where authors since 2009 told her to keep their money until she could pay it back. I have a hard time believing that and certainly wouldn’t assume it from anything said here.

                    The authors that remain and won’t get future royalties have no reason to complain when the money owed from now until whenever isn’t forthcoming. The ones owed back royalties deserve to be paid, unless they had an agreement that states otherwise.

                • How would the bank react to my “delayed payment?”

        • J.M. Ney-Grimm,

          Thank you for keeping an open mind about my intentions.

          • I do think you mean well, Vera.

            But be careful about those intentions! We all know what road is paved with them.

            Meaning well is important, but actions speak loudest.

  26. Man, this was cathartic. It’s always enjoyable to find a villain to unload on.

    • I met someone like this once.
      When I was explaining the potential book project of it to a psychiatrist at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Group she said “Aren’t you noticing how manipulative this woman is?”

      It’s still a great story, but in a completely different way than the one I was brought on to tell.

    • I can see that. :-)

  27. Now that I think about this, all of the affected authors should get together and do a humble bundle thing. Those tend to do well, if publicized enough.

    • Dan I agree with your statement. If the authors that got shafted got together to do a fundraiser they would deserve the sympathy and the payout. If I conducted business this way I would be sued. Sorry, but no matter what’s going on in your personal life, you do not steal money from employees. And when they gave permission for you to sell their books they became employees.

      On a positive note, I now know without doubt to
      “NEVER” use any small press and stick with major online retailers. They don’t want to get sued so I expect them to keep my royalties coming.

  28. This makes me mad. I own a small business, which is (fortunately) doing very well. But on those occasions when money was tight, my employees got paid even if I didn’t.

    It’s too bad she had so many bad things happen all at once, but if you’re a businessperson, you make sure your outside obligations are met first. Sheesh.

    • I don’t have “employees.” I have a tiny micro-press that happened to publish other people’s books in addition to my main projects. And when my own income dried up, so did everything else.

      • I understand you don’t have employees. However, the situation is the same: people providing a service to your business who needed to be paid.

      • You have a micro-press that “happened to publish other people’s books?” That’s a rather strange way of putting it. You make it sound like an accident. Did you not intend to publish other people’s books, but somehow, while your back was turned, it just happened? ;)

        • Yes, EXACTLY!

          I never specifically intended to publish anyone else’s books.

          Friends came to me because they knew I could do it, and they needed their books to be out there.

          Before I knew it, I was a publisher!

          This was before the self-publishing revolution took off.

          • Astounded Small Press Owner

            Um … what? Are you … insane?

            You had their files. You uploaded them to Lightning Source. That *couldn’t* have been ‘accidental’. Of course you intended to do that, or it couldn’t have happened. You’re either deeply confused, or you’re lying.

            Lightning Source records are pretty darn easy to read. They show you which books earned how much money, and how many copies sold. Whatever percentage you promised your authors was THEIRS. You stole it because you were strapped for cash, and then you couldn’t pay it back. It’s like taking your neighbor’s money off the counter and gambling it away at the casino. And then asking other, completely innocent people to DONATE more money to pay it back! With no guarantee that it will go anywhere but your own pockets again.

            I guess I don’t understand how you’re not in jail. Perhaps that’s coming, I don’t know. I hope not. I feel for your authors. :(

            (I hope too that people understand that most small presses are NOT LIKE THIS AT ALL. This isn’t small press behavior; this is just criminal behavior.)

            Are you in debt counseling?

          • But as a publisher even accidental the money made from selling their work went to you…

            They trusted you with their pride and joy, their babies and you used the money from selling their “babies” and fixed your sewer.

            Nice.

            This should be a lesson for everyone whose wondering whether to self-publish or go through a small unproven press.

          • It looks like you bit off more than you could chew, Vera. Becoming an actual press is something you don’t just stumble into as a favor for your friends. I think ultimately you’re in this mess because you never properly prepared yourself for the responsibilities of operating on a professional business level.

    • Right on Kathlena of the beautiful name. Same here. Everyone else gets in the lifeboat first. As Captain on deck, we try to steer through everything on fire. That they are impacted the least, family, employees. There’s the ticket to ride. We’re on a really weird pay grade sometimes, but good on you and many others here who understand likewise, the ethics of running a shop.

    • I worked for a small, locally owned business many years ago. Money was often tight. At one point I was owed many thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Why did I stay? I liked the work and I believed in the people who were my employers.

      And they did, in fact, pay me back – with interest!

      Unfortunately, times grew tough again. Since I didn’t care to “lend” so much money again, I chose to go part time. I was glad I made that choice when they went into bankruptcy without paying their debts. Employees rarely receive owed wages in bankruptcy cases, and I didn’t. I was owed $3,000. And very glad I was not owed more.

      I wrote it off as a learning experience. After all, I’d chosen to stay, even as they missed month after month of paychecks.

      Some years later, however, I encountered another small business owner who made different choices. More like those of Kathlena. Things went bad rather suddenly when the owner of the mall where his shop was located raised the rent exponentially. He changed locations, but didn’t get the walk-in business that he had at the previous location.

      He used his credit card to make sure his employees were paid. And closed his business rather quickly to make sure he didn’t run up a lot of debt that he could not pay. Clearly, he recognized that there were real people on the other end of his transactions. He even arranged for another small business owner to offer employment to two of his now-out-of-a-job employees who he felt were most vulnerable.

      Compared to this business owner, my previous employers looked…rather uncaring. Their largest creditors got paid. The small guys got nothing. I admire the business owner who made sure that the small guys didn’t get screwed.

  29. Of course, there is also this outcome: no one gets paid. Lots of folks who are stolen from don’t get their stuff back. I had 2000 bucks stolen from me in 2004. The police never got my money back. So, I’m out. Done. I lost.

    The authors may simply have to accept it as a loss due to theft. End of story. No more crowdfunding. Move on.

    • It is simply not acceptable.

      I intend to pay my authors, one way or another.

      This way will make it happen in a couple of months, while the other can take years.

      Which way is better FOR THE AUTHORS?

      Because right now this is all about them.

      • No. This is all about you. You’re trying to save your neck by getting strangers to send you money. Forget that book of yours. Who needs it?

        • I.J.Parker,

          If this was all about me, then I would do nothing.

          So much simpler than this.

          • Astounded Small Press Owner

            Then why aren’t the authors organizing the crowd-funding campaign, with the money going directly to them? Why are you touching it at all?

            • Seriously?

              They’re welcome to it! I have so much other work I could be doing now instead of this.

              Ask them why they aren’t doing this themselves.

              Maybe because they *know* me and *trust* me, after working with me closely for many years and seeing me put in thousands of dollars out of pocket into loving editions of their books, and major promo (can you say PR Newswire to the tune of $1,000?) before the economy crashed.

            • really good questions “Astounded small press owner”. Excellent logic.

          • Maybe it’s about keeping people from taking you to court, which is what they should do.

  30. What I really need to know is how Mike Kozlowski feels about all of this.

  31. “What I really need to know is how Mike Kozlowski feels about all of this.”

    Dan always come through. This prompted an actual LOL on my end.

    To respond however; no, we will likely not hear from Mr. Kozlowski. This topic clearly cannot generate the biased, spiteful and incendiary anti-indie rhetoric which drives rampant traffic to his ad banner-migraine inducing site.

    Sadly.

  32. I have been helped by Vera on kboards more than once. I’ve found her to be one of the most helpful and friendly of the people I’ve met there. I think she is a good person who has gone through trauma.

    No one can truly know what going through extremely tough times are until they are going through the exact same thing. She is doing her best to rectify the situation. She isn’t running and hiding, or shirking her responsibility. She has come here to answer questions and that takes courage given the kinds of comments here. I’ve always believed in second chances and that people are entitled to make things right and rectify their mistakes.

    I’m on a small disability income, but when I have funds again next month, I’ll be donating.

  33. Just this re scamminy protocol…
    tell a lie that looks like the truth
    then tell a truth that looks like a lie
    come clean on the truth that looks like a lie, giving audience idea one is honest.

    One isnt honest, however. It’s a scam.

    Then ask others to overlook embezzlement, rico, racketeering, pyramid scheming, theft, cooking books, unwarranted financials, because one was having a hard time and one is really a good person who just had a hard time, and others who ‘forced them into various’ were unfair. Praise those who are sympathetic to one, dunn those who are ace-accurate about characterological issues and who insist that past illegalities are predictors of future behavior.

    Hope to snag a naive person into ‘contributing’ to the many tentacled mess the scammer has made for others, whilst claiming himself/herself as the real ‘victim.’

    In scams, the one who asks for money, most often says no one will help, no one is trustworthy, they cant rely on anyone. Except you.

    The scammers like Bernie M take on gloss… and are predators. Others take on victimhood as a fashion statement… and are predators.

    Just a two cents worth having nothing to do with the people or article here, just the general topic about people who often have reasons for suddenly asking for money years after the fact… in many instances it is to try to show those pressing forward or threatening a law suit, see, I’m doing something, I’m doing something. But people wont help me. What can I do. I tried, you surely can see, I tried.

    Right.

    Wrong.

    In prison ministry, one hears these tropes weekly from those who are not merely good people having a bad time. Some and sometimes many do not think as you and I think, about treating others humanely. Some think of others as ‘marks’ to be exploited. But, to exploit, one has to have a good story of doom, or near doom, or ‘about to happen’ doom… in order to make people respond without strict consult with logic and mind.

    It’s true really bad things happen to good people. War survivors are truly of that group, and for decades, often, afterward. But, the tone and timbre are often quite different. Again, just a .02, NOT about any person. Just about the very real issue of lack of conscience and scamming.

  34. Well, there’s a lot of harsh words flying around, so I won’t pile on. Like many of you, I’ve suffered some of life’s serious misfortunes myself and truly empathize with Ms. Nazarian. That said, and like many of you as well, I’ve also been on my a** and yet managed to repay all my debts with interest.

    The only thing I find a bit puzzling here is that if the royalties owed were so tiny and trivial, why is it necessary to have a fund raiser to repay them? If they’re insignificant, then surely the authors can wait a while longer until Ms. Nazarian can pay them back on her own. Conversely, if they ARE that big a financial issue, then it does seem that some of the representations made here are suspect.

    Logically, it can’t be argued both ways. I’ll close with that, as I don’t really like to debate issues when I’m clearly not in possession of all the facts.

    • The fact is, the authors *are* waiting and even trivial money makes a difference for many of them.

      Not later, but *NOW*.

      And thank you for being gracious and open-minded about this.

    • Tiny and trivial appears to add up to $20,927.

      • The actual amount is $19,198.36, while the rest is Indiegogo fees.

        And no, it is not tiny and trivial at all, but that was the word used by the previous poster.

        Also, don’t forget to divide the amount by the number people involved.

        • At the height of my crisis, I was unable to stop and figure out what tiny portion of it was author royalties…

          That was you, Vera.

          It’s hard, when responsibility lies partly with oneself and partly with outside circumstances, to claim one’s fair share. But it’s important to keep it straight.

          • Yes, of course. All of our actions are partly our own choices and partly circumstances.

            But it’s also kind of like saying, “why weren’t you on the opposite side of the street when the train car struck?”

        • Don’t forget to include the amount that comes in every month and increases that debt.

        • Vera,

          Regarding “And no, it is not tiny and trivial at all, but that was the word used by the previous poster.”

          Just to be accurate, it actually wasn’t the ‘previous poster’ (i.e. me) who minimized the amount in question, but you. Specifically:

          “I was unable to stop and figure out what tiny portion of it was author royalties…”

          and

          “The money coming in was miniscule…”

          As I said, I am to a degree sympathetic, but I suspect most of the rancor displayed has been generated by these rationalizations.

    • It’s over $19K, which Vera spent but wants other people to pay back.

  35. I looked around the internet to learn more. This is a problem that has taken over six years to reach this point. I feel that Ms. Nazarian did not face what she did when she cheated her authors. It does not seem that she is being honest with herself now. It makes me very uncomfortable about the money she raises. I think she means well, but will she be able to do well?

  36. I was attempting to boil this down into something sane and coherent, and I came up with the following thoughts:

    Yes, Vera has had an extremely bad run of bad circumstances and worse decisions. She screwed up. We can all admit that. Moving on.

    She’s now holding a fundraiser to raise money to pay restitution to her authors. Using her books, the only commodity she really has, she’s asking for money which will go to the authors. Will she/can she raise the $20k? I honestly have no idea.

    But here’s what has to happen if she wants to convince people she’s serious about this.

    Get a list of authors and moneys owed. And as the money comes in from Indiegogo, IMMEDIATELY start paying them. It could be alphabetically, it could be chronologically, it could be token/percentage-based payments, whatever. But she desperately needs people who can stand up and say “This is working. I’ve been paid.”

    No dilly-dallying around, no waiting for it all to be collected at the end, and no opportunity to need to divert it for other things. Pay the authors immediately as the money comes in, and build up goodwill one day at a time.

    That’s just my humble advice. Maybe it’ll help, maybe there are reasons why it can’t work. But it’s better than dogpiling on her over and over, every time a new group of people learn about her history of mistakes.

    • Michael,

      Thank you for your open-minded commentary, and I agree.

      The Indigogo lists all the authors in bold on the first paragraph. The specific amounts owed them I don’t feel should be listed because of their own privacy, but I can always ask their permission and see what they decide.

      The money is held by Indiegogo until the campaign is over — if paid by credit card. If paid via PayPal, it is sent over immediately.

      So far all the contributions have been via credit card, and I have no means to assess them until Indiegogo ends the campaign and collects their fees, then sits on it for about two weeks, and finally disburses the lump sum.

      The moment the money arrives in the account that I opened specifically for the authors, their payments go out.

    • This.^ Agree with Michael.

  37. Vera, Vera, Vera, don’t you see that you’re digging a deeper hole with every explanation you offer?

    • Actually no, I don’t.

      • Michael E. Walston

        “Actually no, I don’t.”

        This actually made me laugh. Although I do get that it’s a serious situation.

        Look, Vera:

        A lot of us see dishonesty here. Maybe not deliberate on your part, but you could stand to be more self-aware.

        You wording on the crowdfunding thingy is, to put it mildly, vague. Vague to the point of dishonesty, in my opinion.

        But I’d like to help, and I’m a writer myself, so I hereby donate to you the following block of truly honest text to use if you want to:

        “Hi, I’m Vera. I operate a small press imprint. I mostly publish public domain stuff, and my own books, but I have also published books my some of my friends.

        “Now, in recent years I have had a horrendous run of personal bad luck. So I used all the money the books generated for personal stuff, and I didn’t stop to figure out what percentage of the money should go to my author friends. I am, in fact, still using these monies as they come in because, well, otherwise I and my aging mother and my two cats will be out in the snow. That would not be good.

        “Anyway, at one point I finally did get around to figuring out how much money was due my authors, and holy smokes, it added up to more than $19,000!!!

        “So, here’s what I would like for people to do: donate some money. Your contributions will wind up in a special account that I just opened up. I truly promise, cross my heart, that I will finally send all my authors the money they are owed.

        “Sincerely yours, Vera.”

        • Michael,

          This is great! I like it! I will use it, thank you. :-)

          It is going right now into the top paragraph of the Indiegogo.

          Want me to credit you? I can even add a link if you like.

        • Michael,

          I have now updated the Indiegogo with your words! Go look, and thanks again! :-)

          Vera

          • Michael E. Walston

            Well, I’m glad I could help. I guess. I thought I was being gently snarky, and your sincere response to my post came as an amusing surprise to me.

            Anyway, good luck with it all.

            Everybody else: Look what can happen when you spend a lot of time on the internet…

            Oh, well. Maybe I did some good today…

            Sheesh!

          • that’s dishonest. They arent your words Vera. It’s NOT sales copy fgs.

            The more I think about it, your ‘friends’ didnt have contracts with you, right?

      • Much like an alcoholic who thinks they’ll be able to stop with just one drink…

  38. Therein may be the issue: not seeing that the money raised ought be with an independent agency, preferably an escrow at a bank, with an officer presiding instead of the ‘accidental publisher.’ Here is a current article by an author who has listed the authors from this publishing venture. Interesting. Way more than ‘accidental’ publishing, just my opinion:

    http://deirdre.net/norilana-books-again/

  39. Hello Vera. I see there’ve already been lots of harsh words, so I won’t add to them. What’s important right now is accepting responsibility, setting things right, getting everyone paid, and ensuring there will be no more incidents like this one in the future. Here are the steps I think you need to take right now:

    (a) Stop explaining/excusing your actions. Simply say “During a time of prolonged stress, I messed up. I put money that should’ve been ear-marked for my authors to personal use. This was my poor judgment and the responsibility to repay the debt is solely mine.

    (b) Sit down, either alone or with an accountant, and work out a monthly payment plan, whereby each of your authors will received $10 monthly for X number of years, until the debt is repaid. This is a slower but more honorable solution than crowdsourcing, which only pushes the debt onto others.

    (c) Shut down your press, except for your own titles and public domain works. I know this is painful to hear but no matter how forgiving the authors willing to stick with you, continuing to act as their publisher only increases the debt and digs you in deeper.

    The above is my best advice and I wish you luck in carrying it out. It’s not a perfect solution, because it delays reparation and because scraping up even those small monthly payments will doubtless be hard for you. But I think it’s the best option you’re going to find.

    • I don’t get why people aren’t exactly understanding. The money that is still coming in is STILL going to her bills. This isn’t an isolated mistake that happened years ago it’s an ongoing issue.

      How could anyone believe this money will go to the authors while they are still being stole from.

      • The money that is still coming in is STILL going to her bills.

        But, currently, these authors are choosing to lend her more money, which is different than when she was spending their royalties without their knowledge or permission.

        Although…upon re-reading some of the comments, it looks to be possible that even as the train wreck was unfolding, the authors were informed of what was going forward and agreeing to allow her to defer their payments. In which case, again, they were agreeing to lend her money.

    • You made the same points I made, only much more neatly and clearly. So, yeah. I agree. This is a damn fine plan.

    • Dara,

      I really appreciate your kind and reasoned comments.

      A lot of what you say is already being done.

      The ONLY reason I am doing the Indiegogo crowdfunding is because I want the authors to be paid SOONER than several years down the road.

      I can shut down the campaign in a moment.

      But it is NOT what my authors want.

      • Your authors, understandably, want to be paid. They should band together and start THEIR OWN campaign, if necessary, but you, with your history and the fact that this is a continuing issue, SHOULD NOT be given money on behalf of anyone else.

        • agreed Karpov. The pay should be direct to the authors, bypassing the person who failed to pay them for over six years now.

  40. I do not understand why Vera Nazarian hasn’t been prosecuted (yet?). She stole a lot of money. Maybe in her mind she had a good reason, but it’s still theft. If she refuses to make restitution, she should be in prison. If she doesn’t want to go to prison, she should seek out an honest job and have her wages garnished until the money is paid back. In no other industry would embezzlement be hand-waved.

  41. I think stillborn’s point needs to be reiterated: Vera is still actively stealing from these authors.

    • Meanwhile, all the rights have been reverted, and quite a number of my authors chose to stay with me and my tiny press.

      It looks like the authors sticking with her now are indeed aware that they are continuing to lend her money. In which case, that is their choice.

      • So she says. I’d like to see a contract or twelve.

        • Yes, there is that. When my employers owed me $9,000, I asked them to create a written agreement stating that they did indeed owe me that money and specifying at what interest rate they would pay me back. They complied with my request.

      • Any author that sticks with her now deserves what he or she gets(or doesn’t get, in terms of royalties). You will be treated the way you allow yourself to be treated.

  42. Thanks for the link above. There are two other older links about aspects of the story I’ve broken. I did a fundraiser for Vera years ago and feel the need to atone for my sins.

    The essence, here is a brutal combination of:

    1. Misappropriation of author royalties.
    2. Not selling a whole lot of books.

    The so-called “personal problems” I had with Vera started BECAUSE it came out that she wasn’t paying her authors royalties. Last year.

    In 2008/9, Some of the tail ends of the funds raised were returned by PayPal when my PayPal account was frozen, but I actually had an IRS audit on all funds I’d received including that PayPal account’s amounts I’d passed through — and far more was paid to Vera than she cops to above. Because I didn’t have access to the final data, I don’t have full amounts, but I estimate it was < $1000 that was seized at the end. What I had access to, Vera got.

    She should have raised it through her own PayPal account anyway.

    http://deirdre.net/something-needs-to-be-said/ (Sorry, the cache for this post was generated without the 51 comments, including Vera's defense of her $212/mo cable bills when she owed authors money. They've now been re-enabled.)

    http://deirdre.net/something-else-needs-to-be-said/

    http://deirdre.net/norilana-books-again/

    The tl;dr version of that last: I estimate 100-200 copies per title per year. Maybe fewer.

    • Deirdre,

      What you say is blatantly untrue.

      I am frankly stunned.

      The following you say makes NO SENSE:

      “In 2008/9, Some of the tail ends of the funds raised were returned by PayPal when my PayPal account was frozen, but I actually had an IRS audit on all funds I’d received including that PayPal account’s amounts I’d passed through — and far more was paid to Vera than she cops to above.”

      What are you talking about???

      “Because I didn’t have access to the final data, I don’t have full amounts, but I estimate it was < $1000 that was seized at the end. What I had access to, Vera got."

      What is this? WHAT amount?

      This is between YOU and the IRS!

      *Edited to add*

      I am beginning to think there is some kind of major misunderstanding or possibly even miss-accounting between us, and I don’t even UNDERSTAND what it is.

      When all this was happening, I only know of the money I received as I was in desperate crisis mode. It was used exactly as I mentioned. The plumber and B of A was paid, I paid the bills and bought food.

      I thought your grudge/problem was against me for making you deal with the IRS audit.

      If if there is some other unaccounted discrepancy, this is the FIRST I am hearing of it, and I don’t even know what that means.

      Also, I explained to you even back then, I could not afford a PayPal *business* account. Back then you could not handle more than $500 a month unless you had a PAID business account, and I had no means of getting one for a fundraiser, as I was in the hole.

      Could it be that some amounts were different between what people pledged and what ended up being given?

      Because I am honestly absolutely confused and boggled even more now than I was before… but at least I am no longer thinking you just hate me for no damn reason at all, and that maybe from your end there was something that did not add up. It has to have been a misunderstanding! Because I was only the recipient of it all, so how could I KNOW?

      All I remember is sitting there with my mom and both of us *crying* in awed amazement when the PayPal deposits started to come in from different kind people…

      • Trust me, it doesn’t take an IRS audit to not like you.

      • No, the IRS audit was about my 2007 tax year and we were audited about 2008 income as well, including all bank statements (which led to PayPal transaction info right up until the time my account was frozen). Which meant I had to fork over all the paperwork of fundraising for you, which I did.

        It was annoying, but it’s life. I didn’t blame it on you. It just cost us an extra $500 or so because of the accountant time required to deal with it.

        Everything I received for you was paid out to you, and the IRS saw that.

        No, what started the whole problem between us was hearing not long after the fundraiser about the loans from Kevin. I didn’t know it was Kevin until I saw the bankruptcy filings, though. At that point, I wondered how much else significant you were hiding financially.

        I still wonder.

        • Deirdre,

          Kevin’s loans — which he very specifically *asked* me to keep confidential because he did *not* want it publicly be known that he lent people money and thus be approached by everyone for loans (and part of what really broke my heart when you posted it in public and threw his name out there, which went against his deepest wishes) — Kevin’s loans were made to me completely independent of the fundraiser, and months BEFORE the sewer flood that precipitated the whole thing.

          I used the money to pay business invoices and do author promo, and then I received another sudden ultimatum from Bank of America, after months of silence, to come up with first over $20K or lose the house there and then and after I paid them, and ADDITIONALLY paid for several more months of mortgage, on time and promptly, they reneged on their promise and forced me to reapply for the modification for the fourth or fifth time (I don’t remember now which one it was, there were at least five times I applied for various loan mod “plans” with them).

          By the time the sewer flooded, all of that money was gone into B of A. some of it for back mortgage, and most just POOF.

          So I was not withholding anything intentionally, I was simply doing what Kevin asked me: keeping this confidential.

          As for all the major trouble you went through on my behalf with that fundraiser, I am DEEPLY SORRY, and I am still profoundly grateful to you for your efforts. I will never forget them, they were one of the FEW truly genuine and good things in my life at that point.

          I mean it.

          • I’m not the one who made Kevin’s loans public, Vera.

            You are.

            Your bankruptcy filings made it a matter of public record.

            Stop deflecting blame. That is your most annoying habit.

            • Oh, no you are right about that, the loans had to be made public due to the bankruptcy filing, and Kevin and I discussed it just before filing and he knew about it, but what could we do?

              However, it would have been just another rote item in a bankruptcy that no one cared about until you pointed it out in your blog and highlighted his name repeatedly — in fact, it is what made me so angry that I basically blew up at you. The fact that Kevin’s name was bandied over and over, against his deepest wishes.

              However, I regret that and I am sorry for all my hard words to you.

              • Vera, you shouldn’t have borrowed that kind of money from Kevin. Period.

                For a POD press? That’s ridiculous.

                At its heart, one of the big problems here is that you don’t actually understand how to market and sell books, not even your own. That — really didn’t become apparent to me until yesterday when I ran through the possible number scenarios.

                You can put the blame on all kinds of financial stressors, but if you’d had that one thing right, the other stuff wouldn’t have had the same effect. Essentially, it’s the one thing you’ve actively been hiding from other people, even in the midst of all this becoming public. All the deflection is away from you and onto other things and other people.

                There’s only a few ways out of this one:
                1. Get better at it, which means changing who you are and how you approach your business. Unfortunately, now you’ve gone and lost a lot of good will.
                2. Getting another way to support yourself.

                Honestly? I don’t see you doing either of those things.

                • Deirdre,

                  I appreciate your reasonable and thoughtful comments.

                  Two points you may not be aware of right now —

                  1) The deep dark secret of small press is that selling 200 copies a year for an average POD paper print title is pretty normal. It’s actually darn good — and yes, that’s a sad thing to say, but it’s the reality.

                  It’s the high sellers that are the outliers. The ones you might hear about… The ones that publishers push even higher up and send out extra ARCs for.

                  I worked internally for other publishers before I started my own small press, if you might recall, so I have seen the inner workings of small press from a variety of angles.

                  So, 100-200 copies a year is a sad reality.

                  2) My inability to sell more was deeply dependent on NOT having the FUNDS — the cash flow to do *paid promo.* I absolutely do not dispute that I could have sold more, but my hands were tied — I figuratively wrung my hands being unable to take advantage of more paid marketing opportunities, buy more ARC review copies, send out those freebies to more than the basic trades, enter my authors books into more paid competitions for juried awards — although I covered all the majors such as World Fantasy, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Cybills, etc.

                  At one point, just as I was surging for once, various titles were taking of, just as I started to do relatively well and move copies for the whole stable of authors, the economy crashed, and all the dire crap you know about started happening to me, like dominoes falling. No more proper marketing. No more ads, paid PRs, etc.

                  And that’s the dire reality of it.

                  Ebooks is where it’s at now. My monthly numbers prove it. A real paper print decline observed in sales of perennial classics that normally did not depend on/require any marketing, that started since 2009.

                  • I remember you working for Wildside. I also understand there was a technological shift involved, especially as someone who actually worked to help make that happen. (iBooks

                    So I’m going to say this, and I probably shouldn’t. But here are some things you could have done to make things better without money.

                    1. Email list! Look, I may not be in your corner any more, but there are people who are. You have published a lot of great authors, some of whom are my friends. Mailchimp is free up to 2000 names.

                    2. Your web site is a hot mess. One of the top banners? Is for something from 2011. The concept of a web site for a business should be to KEEP PEOPLE THERE, not lose them to another site by clicking. Internal links only. And damn, that HTML 4.0 Transitional looks dated.

                    3. Clicking on “Browse our Featured Titles” on Amazon links to a list where some of the authors have withdrawn their work. That seems — unclassy.

                    4. “More Featured Titles” on your home page includes withdrawn works.

                    That’s just a start. It frankly looks like you’re not even trying.

                    • Deirdre,

                      No problem, your advice and points on this are good.

                      The website was originally done a long while ago and barely maintained by me throughout all the crisis, I agree it needs updating, but that requires more resources than I have. And I am not talking about money but about strength and energy and outdated HTML/web coding skills now. It’s been along time since my high tech days.

                      It is 100% hand-coded by me in Editpad.

                      Yes, it is ugly. :(

                      I did have a mailing list, but there was no time to do the mailings once the crises started. Everything pretty much fell apart, including the website.

                      I hope to update it sooner than later.

  43. I agree with PG’s recommendation.

    If you want to help any of these authors, send them a check directly.

  44. I would have a very difficult time donating money to a person who has a history of bankruptcy and poor financial and business management. If I were inclined to donate at all, it would be directly to the authors who have been robbed by this woman.

    Unless she had written permission to use the royalties that came in from her authors for personal use, then she stole from them. Period. Coming later and saying “I’m super sorry but I was under so much stress I just couldn’t sit down and figure out who was owed what and then Oops, I spent it all” does not constitute permission.

    And given that there seems to be evidence that money was mishandled, borrowed, raised and/or not paid back in the past, putting more money into this business is a bad idea, in my opinion.

    I’m not unsympathetic to going through hard times. We’ve all had them in spades, I’m sure. But as others have said, that is not a justification for stealing from your own company and the profits of others to handle your personal debt.

    And then coming to the public asking for the money… well, that isn’t the way.

    What is the way? Perhaps an author-led fundraiser to get their money back, where the money goes directly to them? (If indeed the public should cover the mismanagement of this publisher at all.)

    Certainly, though, the answer is not to give this woman or this business more money.

  45. What’s truly unfortunate is that people have donated to the campaign, and as far as I understand, with IndieGoGo, you don’t have to earn all the money to get paid, so already this woman is getting money from people for her fraud. I wonder if there is a way to have the campaign shut down for ethical violations?

    • Well, is that really the right thing to do? I remember a woman married to a minister. Her husband was abusive. He hit her when he was angry.

      When his church found out about it, they garnished his wages as a consequence. Very understandable that they wanted to take action of some kind. But in this case, their action punished his wife and children as much as or more than it did him.

      • What a stupid leadership. They should have removed him from his position until he got his issues resolved–and yes, meaning he had to get a secular job-helped the wife go to a safe place while he got counseling, and give her his wages to support her in transition. A church my friend belongs to had a situation similar: They set a bodybuilder as the wife’s 24/7 on call emergency rescue/guard. Got the family counseling. Provided meals to the stressed wife. The marriage got nicely fixed up and they are well and happy.

        Garnishing wages? What the hell kind of solution is that? Who gets helped by that? It’s punitive without solving the problem. Some elders are dumbasses.

        In this situation, solving the problem is not giving more money to the person who didn’t handle money properly to begin with. But the authors didn’t seek legal recourse and gave “loans.” It’s the authors who need to solve this, not strangers.

        • Oh, I like hearing how a church better resolved a similar situation. Good on them!

          I’m afraid that you are probably right that Vera Nazarian handles money so poorly – as well as being unable to own up to her responsibility in this situation – that giving her more money is not going to resolve the problem. Also that the authors owed money are the ones who must act, not a bunch of outsiders.

  46. The bottom line in all this seems to me to be that Vera needs to STOP publishing other authors’ work IMMEDIATELY and NEVER do so again.

    • I said that five months ago. It was censored from the SFWA forums, fwiw.

      http://deirdre.net/oh-colleagues-my-colleagues/

      (largely a post about other SFWA matters)

    • It seems that she has stopped publishing the authors who took their reversions and moved on. She continues to sell only the public domain works and the works of authors who have decided to continue to lend her money while she tries to straighten things out.

      • That is exactly so.

      • Yeah, I get that, but if she really cared so much about the welfare of these authors and repaying them, then she should also stop publishing them. She clearly cannot be trusted to publish other people’s work. She cannot be trusted with their money. She needs to stop thinking she’s responsible enough to be a publisher for anyone but herself.

      • She still owes royalties on the books sold during that time. Reverting rights does not alter that fact, especially from a legal perspective, nor should it from an ethical one.

        • I don’t know where you fall on personal debt that’s gone through bankruptcy as far as ethical obligations go, but one of the confounding factors in the amount of royalties owed is that she never declared them on her creditor matrix.

          So what’s unclear about the ~19k is: how much of that was incurred prior to 2012? And does her failing to list the royalties owed — apparently deliberately, so they weren’t properly noticed — affect whether or not those amounts are legally still owing? And does paying these now, by any means, affect her discharge?

          I tried to do some case law searches on it, but bankruptcy isn’t the area where I’m well read. I think this is really an edge case though. Most publishers who can’t pay royalties die for good, but in this case it was a sole proprietorship that didn’t.

          • If she was a sole proprietor rather than incorporating into an S-corp, then she is personally liable for all the debts her company owed. Under a bankruptcy plan, the judge can order every asset liquidated in order to pay owed royalties before declaring the matter settled. In most states, the only thing not subject is your house(assuming it’s your only residence).

            At the same time, she has to be honest in listing every royalty owed during the time in question. I hope she kept records of sales, otherwise any of her writers could come in and give a figure, and the burden, legally, then falls on her to show that the assertion is incorrect. Given the history of not paying what was owed, just giving her word isn’t going to count for much in court.

  47. After all these comments, I’m coming to think that the authors involved need to move on and ask Vera to stop this. It’s starting to make the authors themselves look bad to allow her to crowdfund on their behalf, encouraging begging for royalties. Take your loss, folks. Self publish your work. Move on.

  48. Thread. Of. The. Year.

    I’m going to go get caught up on my DVR now.

    • For realz! 231 comments since posting and there’s still 2.5 hours left in the day, EST.

      I think PG would have to set himself on fire to top this turnout.

    • Yes, it has been entertaining.

      This was my favorite part: “By the time the sewer flooded, all of that money was gone into B of A. some of it for back mortgage, and most just POOF.”

      I wonder how “most” of a hundred grand loan goes “POOF”.

      • 100 grand of loans, 41.8k of income in 2009, 30k of fundraising. Plus the 2008 income that didn’t have to be stated on her BK.

        In 2008 and 2009, Vera had more access to capital than I earned from my job as an Apple engineer.

        Just to put it into perspective.

        • True Deirdre, but I also had a barrage of events happening to me and my family that I do not wish upon anyone — and not even that amount of money could have saved us.

    • Michael E. Walston

      The year is still young…

  49. I’ve been critical of the fundraiser too, asking what I think are important questions, but I have to admit that the tone of some of the comments and the insults are discomfiting.

    • I apologize to you and anyone here if my words at any point came across as hard or unfair or ungracious.

      But this has been a very long topic, and I am honestly tired.

      I am going to call it a day and go do some work now, folks — best wishes to ALL of you posting here, no hard feelings to any of you, and thanks for listening to my various explanations, and considering this whole situation.

      Many of you have been very helpful in fact.

      Finally, thank you to Passive Voice / Passive Guy for starting this conversation and hosting this.

      Good night. :-)

    • Just how nice do you think we should be to someone who stole from her writers? Are you in court asking a judge to be nice to all those defendants out there who had no other choice but to mug that family because they had no other way to get money for food?

      It should be discomfiting, and it should be insulting. Being labeled a meanie over judging this kind of thing isn’t high on my give-a-hoot list.

      • This isn’t a courtroom, and she didn’t mug anybody. Unless people who are mugged ever let the same person mug them month after month for 5 years without ever calling the police.

        I also don’t think there’s a requirement to be nice, necessarily, but it’s a good idea to remain civil. The Internet has a long memory.

        • I sure hope so. I want every single one of my “f*** yous” to her to live forever. :D

          Seriously, though, I see no reason to remain civil to someone who stole from her friends yet steadfastly refuses to even acknowledge that fact.

        • I’m sorry, but I don’t remain nice to thieves.

          Or is there some other way you would characterize what she did?

  50. I think this situation should be looked at as a learning lesson for all those of us running small presses: Do not get in over your head; if it looks like things are getting out of control, start letting go of things that are getting too hard to handle. And always pay your authors first, never pay yourself until after everyone else’s dues are squared away!

    I started a small press in 1983. When I first started it, I had dreams of expanding and becoming a “big” small press. I started out publishing my own books and those of a few locals, that went well. Than in the late 90’s I created a website and put out a call for submissions. At that same time I started 2 magazines and 2 annual anthologies, put out call for submissions to those as well.

    At the time the business was just me. No one else. I was doing all of it myself. And I seriously misjudged what I was getting into, by expanding to more books a year, 2 magazines and 2 anthologies. OMG! Did I misjudge it! A few weeks later I started getting submissions…most of them were pretty darned crappy too, not even close to publishable, not without some major editing, and me I didn’t have a full editing team in place. More submissions kept coming in, and a few months later I realized there was no way 1 person could deal with this – I didn’t even have time to open the submissions let alone read them. I was swamped. I was overwhelmed. I sent everything back to everyone unopened and said “sorry, we are no longer open to submissions”, I took down the website, scrapped the magazines and anthologies, and had a big rethink of my goals.

    I realized I was happy doing what I was doing: publishing my own work and the work of a few locals. I changed my platform, and set up new guidelines, stating that we would specialize ONLY in publishing authors from my home town. When I reached having 7 authors to work with, I decided that was enough, and closed submissions again, from that point on, working only with these 7 authors. It worked because it was manageable and I stopped expanding before I got in over my head….had I kept plowing ahead expanding bigger and bigger, and in 2005 when we got hit by Katrina, than in 2006 when a crazy fan put a bomb in my house (why I now live in a motorhome, and am still paying off $3million in medical bills), had I expanded, it all would have fallen in same as Vera’s did when life threw her a curve ball.

    I look at what happened to Vera and think: Wow, that could have been me, if I hadn’t backed out early. Looking back, I am so glad, I stopped expanded my business when I did, because I never would have expected Katrina or the bomb or the $3million in medical bills. Some things you just can’t plan for, but when a business starts getting to be more than you can handle, you gotta know when to back out and cut your loses before it buries you and you end up in a situation where you are owing your people more money than you can pay.

    Vera’s situation was terrible, she had no way of knowing the events life was going to throw at her, and I hope this all gets worked out for her and her authors.

    • Thanks, EelKat.

      • {{{hugs}}}

        I know what it’s like when life turns on it’s head…and get a cancer diagnosis in the middle of it all. My dad was in a coma, my grandmother died, my husband suffered brain damage and now lives in a world where he never had a family but was a celebat priest – he remembers me as “a dear friend”, you have no idea how much it hurts to look into the eyes of the man you spent 27 years with and see nothing: no love, no recognition, nothing – his memories of “us” are erased…one second you have a house and a family and the next second people are dead and dying and the house it scattered all over town…and that was just the beginning…than the medical bills started piling up, and we moved into a motorhome because we couldn’t afford to rebuild…it’s been what, 7 years now, I’m still in and out of the hospital, I’m walking with a cane the rest of my life, and with a cancer diagnosis, how long is the rest of my life going to be?

        And than on top of that, try to run a business? OMG! I put everything on hiatus, I pulled stuff out of publication, told authors, take it elsewhere or self-pub, or you know wait until this is over and I’ll republish it than. I hated doing that because the press was my life, I loved it, I put everything into building this business and I got hit by one thing after another…just like you…that’s why when I read what happened to you, and I’m thinking OMG! I know what she’s going through…even the living in the woods in New England, Only I’m in Maine… there was a while when the bills, esp the medical bills were just unbelievbly insane and, taking care of my dad and my husband, and than my own health going down the drain…

        I see your situation and I’m thinking, it’s like looking in the mirror, just life gone crazy and not knowing what to do or who to turn too and I completely understand how overwhelming something like this feels and how, the mail, omg, my mail went unopened for like 8 or 9 months while my dad was in the coma and than in recovery after he woke up again…I remember reaching a point where I was so depressed that I just couldn’t even get up in the morning.

        I see a lot of the comments here, how they are saying it’s not hard to sort out the royalties…well, yeah, it’s not hard…when your brain functioning properly, but I know from experience, that when half your family is in the hospital and it looks like they are dying, you can’t even think straight, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you just float around from day to day with no real knowledge of what’s going on, and to think, that you would even be aware of receiving a check, let along being able to figure out how to divide the money up…yeah, I don’t think the commenters have ever been in a seriously traumatic situation of this kind of magnitude, otherwise, they would know how impossible even thinking straight is during a situation like this…i mean you THINK you know how you’ll react, you THINK you know how you’d handle it, but really, until you are in that situation yourself, you have no clue how you’ll deal with it emotionally.

        I mean, I shut down completely, I went into a state of almost canatonic shock, I couldn’t eat or talk or stand or move….my body physically shut down…like I said mail stack up, I had bills, checks, letters, everything unopened for close to a year. So, I understand what you are saying here, when you say, you were unable to sort out the royalties.

        I think this can be taken as a lesson in business planning, in both your case and mine, thing would have been so much better had there been a “plan B”…you know had the business not been a one-woman operation, had there been a partner who could have taken over the funds/payments when you were unable too.

        I know looking back at the should-have-dones and could-have-dones doesn’t help you, but maybe it’ll help other prevent publishers from making the same mistakes? You always think “It’ll never happen to me”, but you never know what tomorrow will bring.

        I don’t know all the facts and details of what has happened in your situation, can’t comment on what happened to the funds, or anything. I just know from my own experience, how easy it is for things to get out of control wicked fast, and how hard it can be to keep track of stuff when life pulls a rug out from under you.

        I’m not sure the fund raiser is a good idea, because, well as you can see from the comments on this blog post, it does raise a lot of ethical questions. I can certainly see how one could ask “If they took the money than, what’s to stop them from taking the money again?” Sure that’s a logical question.

        I don’t know that I can think of a solution here. How can you get the money back to the authors?

        I see the comments of “get a second job” and yet, I know the limitations caused by caring for loved ones and dealing with your own disabilities and health issues at the same time. Not being well enough to work apart-time job is very frustrating. Than trying to care for a loved one besides? Been there, doing that, know the struggle. It’s hard to find time to write and run the publishing house in between those things.

        You are in such a heart wrenching situation. I wish I had an answer that would help find a solution, one that would get the author’s their money back and help you get your own life back together. I’m sorry I have no answer to either one.

        Sending you and your authors many prayers and blessings and hope that brighter days are soon ahead of you. {{{hugs}}}

  51. This sounds suspiciously similar to what I went through with a small press publisher, about 15 years ago. She not only didn’t pay royalties, but didn’t pay her editors, and always had a reason why. I bailed just before it hit the fan in a big way, losing 6 months worth of editing pay.
    Last I heard, she’d moved, changed the name of her ‘company’ and was trying to get people to give her money again. Bad news all around.

  52. from indieagogo… amongst other matters that impinge on funds raised…

    “Taxes

    “Your taxing authorities may classify funds you raise on Indiegogo as taxable income to you and any beneficiary who will receive funds directly from your Campaign. We will ask you for your tax identification number (TIN) and the TIN of any beneficiary of your Campaign so that we may report taxable income to the relevant taxing authorities.

    “We will provide you with a tax document if required by the relevant taxing authorities. We encourage you to consult with a licensed tax advisor from your local jurisdiction when planning your Campaign so that you understand and prepare for the tax obligations you may incur from the funds you raise.

    “Your Content

    “While using the Service, you may post photos, videos, text, graphics, logos artwork and other audio or visual materials (collectively, “Member Content”). You grant Indiegogo and our users a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, publicly display, publicly perform, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, and distribute your Member Content on or in connection with the Service and our related marketing and promotional activities. As between you and Indiegogo, you continue to hold all ownership interest in your Member Content. You represent and warrant that your Member Content and our use of your Member Content will not infringe any third party’s intellectual property rights, proprietary rights, privacy rights, confidentiality, rights of publicity or otherwise violate these Terms or applicable law.”

    There are additional and extensive fraud warnings to those who mount campaigns at indieagogo, including requirement of transparency of one’s history that brought one to this point, and present circums. etc.

    The campaign in question, imho, does not meet the fundraiser criteria with precision at this time, with or without kopping a commenter’s words as vera said she did, but without letting readers at indieagogo know they are not her words, nor that they came toward her as a snark, and etc.

    The bigger picture looms more and more clearly.

    I just hope for pax for the authors, who I note with some poignancy, are not represented on indieagogo nor here re this matter.

  53. Hi Vera,
    I know you from KBWC. I’m sorry for all the illness in your family and that it seems to have hindered your ability to function as a business.

    But now that you know, the best thing you can do is send all your authors a letter that you are taking down their books (then do it) and cease and desist from acting as their publisher. Suggest to them to self publish. You must stop taking from them—immediately. The only books your line should be repping are your own.

    This is the honorable thing to do.

  54. “You can wash your hands but not your conscience.”

    Bad things happen to people every single day. I understand difficult times where everything is overwhelming–I’m sure most, if not all people on this thread have been there. It’s not only the theft that bothers me, but the total denial and inability to stand up and say, “I was wrong. I took something that wasn’t mine. I need to make it right.”

    Because of all the financial hocus-pocus of the past, anything Ms. Nazarian says now seems disingenuous and dishonest. Several people here have given her useful suggestions on a better way to handle this situation than crowd-funding where the monies raised go directly to her.

    “This Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is a real means for me to raise all the funds necessary without costing my authors anything.” How does paying royalties owed cost her authors ANYTHING? It sure circumvents Ms. Nazarian from any expense. This, and some of her other comments, are highly suspect and if I was an author in this mess, I’d cut my losses and get the hell out.

    Crazy, yo. Cra-zy.

  55. Time for someone to say enough already? Just wondering. This string seems still it ought be 99.5% about the authors who are unpaid for more than half a decade. And why money being solicited from others isnt being held and distributed by well vetted and professional escrow officer.

    And Netta, you are right, any monies taken from one’s ‘campaign’ at indieagogo going to the ‘convenor’ of the campaign or to his/her business, will need to be noted as taxable income if its a sole proprietorship for instance. IRS will be waiting for timely payment of its share in quarterly estimated taxes up to three times more this year, as will the state tax authority.

    Also, the authors are to pay taxes [if usa citizens and income is likely to be over a certain amount] on what they receive from vera/indieagogo and as indieagogo indicates in its service agreement, it will notify IRS of payment of monies to the convenor of the campaign, so the Feds know there has been a taxable distribution.

    • USAF

      you said: “And why money being solicited from others isnt being held and distributed by well vetted and professional escrow officer.”

      You are right on the money I believe (literally).

      There is no way to make sure any money she gets will get to the authors in whole or in part nor will anybody do anything once she pockets any donations.

      I agree with the owner of this site PG who said:

      “PG strongly recommends that if you want to help any of the Norliana Book authors, you track the author down and send them a payment directly rather than trusting someone WHO HAS ALREADY STIFFED the author to make that payment.”

      [cap emphasis mine]

      Not to sound too skeptical and such but it occurred to me this would be a perfect way to get more money from people in this case donors and either keep it all or skim off the top.

      I’m NOT saying that is what she is doing but I am pointing out that unless USAF’s idea of a trustworthy escrow service is used (or money is donated to the authors directly as PG noted) then this whole donation request seems suspect (in light of what PG pointed out about her past actions towards this unjustly treated authors).

  56. DisgustingPublisherisDisgusting

    Hey, I know! Maybe Vera can stop buying Bookbub ads and Netgalley slots to promote her own books and throw those HUNDREDS of dollars towards all the money she owes.

    Just saying.

  57. It sounds like you have a pretty big problem on your hands and I imagine it is causing you a great deal of stress. There is a free resource that you might want to look into called Business Debtors Anonymous. If you’re willing to do anything to make this better (including change), they can help.

    http://www.debtorsanonymous.org/index.htm
    http://www.debtorsanonymous.org/BusinessDA.htm

  58. I am, fortunately, not familiar with the rules of bankruptcy, however I believe that all creditors are only entitled to an equal portion of any money that comes in – therefore the authors would only be paid a percentage of their royalties along with a percentage going to all of this publisher’s other debts – so this fundraising campaign, if anyone were to contribute, would NOT be going solely for the author royalties. I hope for her sake that her personal problems clear up, and I certainly hope that the “patient” authors are paid for their hard work very soon.

  59. Especially when two of the authors affected themselves have cancer.

    Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr. died of cancer months after Vera’s bankruptcy discharge of his $100k loans to her.

    This whole situation came to light last year because Eugie Foster announced she had cancer and Vera hadn’t been paying royalties for three years.

    http://www.eugiefoster.com/the-c-word-or-c-is-for-cancer.htm

  60. THE CANCER CARD, OH, PLEASE

    I’m using a pen name here for various reasons. One is to tell you that a VERY well-established small press starting selling my third manuscipt for them without a contract because I was in cancer treatment and they were taking pre-orders for my books thru catalogues and amazon on the excuse that MY cancer chemo would make a negotiation for my rights/advance too hard on me.

    In other words, they were stealing my book without giving me a chance to fight for a fair advance. And they are VERY reputable.

    NO ONE SHOULD USE CANCER AS AN EXCUSE TO RIP AN AUTHOR OFF. I find this so offensive as a cancer survivor who had to fight through chemo weakness to extract myself from a respected publisher who was using my illness to corner me into a lousy deal that I rank you BENEATH Nigerian bank scammers.

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