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Problems at Noble Romance?

22 April 2013

From author Brita Addams:

There has been much written about the problems that authors are having with Noble Romance. My situation isn’t unique, but quite typical. The problems are nothing new, but the nature of some of them is certainly new.

Inexperience, arrogance, and disdain for authors has characterized the management of Noble Romance and authors are suffering for it. NRP now has a CEO who interprets contracts the way he wishes, apparently feels a firm release schedule isn’t necessary, doesn’t get books to third party sites in a timely fashion, and in some cases not at all. His continued admonishments to authors on their email behavior has raised the ire of many.

. . . .

Even before her departure, Jill Noble Shearer had raised the ire of many authors. She made many promises that were never kept and then with her departure, she left authors scrambling, wondering if her promises would be kept by the new powers-that-be.

. . . .

In the hours and days that followed Jill’s departure, her daughter attacked several authors, including myself, with some nasty comments, until she was finally fired from her “management” position at Noble. By that action, we thought that new management was on the side of the authors. Little did we know.

. . . .

In a phone conversation I had with him in early August, Mr. Gombart promised to get all of Noble’s books up on as many outlets as possible, because distribution was the most important thing. It made sense. I walked away from that conversation confident that Noble was in good hands and that Mr. Gombart would make things right.

Then things deteriorated. I informed Mr. Gombart of my agreement with Jill Noble re: reversion of my rights, and he told me on the phone, “Jill did not have the right to make such an agreement. Jim Noble is the only one who can revert rights and he is not inclined to do so.”

. . . .

At this point, he took the tack that he was “going to teach authors how to act.” He refused to speak to anyone who was upset, who spoke of reversion, well, anyone who disagreed with him in any fashion. See below the email where he chastises me for my email tone. This is not isolated. He spoke such things to me and others, on the telephone and in emails. He apparently doesn’t wish to hear any opinion but his own. No logic but his own, no ideas, but those that have put Noble on the path of destruction that it is on now.

Many authors wanted out. We all put up with the willy-nilly way that Jill ran the company, and then Mr. Gombart refused to listen to anything that was contrary to his agenda, something the authors are still wondering about. Certified letters have gone wholly unanswered, yet he claimed recently on Piers Anthony’s blog that no letters have gone unanswered. That is a bald faced lie and every NRP author I know will say the same.

. . . .

On February 7, when Serenity’s Dream still hadn’t been put up on All Romance Ebooks, I wrote to Mr. Gombart.

I wondered when you will be getting Serenity up on All Romance ebooks. I see it isn’t there and a good share of my sales have come from there, behind Amazon of course. My tour officially starts on Sunday and I’d like to have the link should people wish to shop there. 
Hope all is well,
Thank you in advance,
Brita

On February 7, I received this reply:

I basically do not work with them, them represent 0.9% of our overall sales.
I may do it for you in the next future but I have other emergencies.
I hope you understand the logic behind that.
Jean Marc Philippe Gombart
CEO
Noble Romance Publishing

. . . .

On Sun, Mar 3, 2013 at 9:32 PM, Jean Gombart wrote:

Britta,

As I told you I will do it and will correct what need to be corrected but you need to understand that as a publisher I have total control on with whom I do want to work. I do not have neither contractual or moral obligation to work with Are ever if I do not want to work with them. I am doing that to please you, not because I have to.


As a mark of courtesy, I would be delighted if you would change your email tone. The is not the way I like to work with people and if that does not improve soon, I may end up not working with Are afterward.


Nice words and elegant style will lead us to a great working relationship, please try harder.


Best Regards,
Jean Marc Philippe Gombart
CEO
Noble Romance Publishing

. . . .

Every Noble Romance author, that I am in touch with, had mistaken royalty payments in December, followed by a drastic reduction in their royalties over the last two or three months. My intention is to have my representative visit the Noble offices in October and audit my records there, in their entirety from 2010 to the current time.

Link to the rest at Brita Addams

Passive Guy has no first-hand knowledge of the situation with Noble Romance, but he will observe that the problems Ms. Addams reports are similar to those experienced by some other authors with a publisher that has financial problems and/or takes on new management that may or may not understand how to run a publishing business.

As a general proposition, authors should carefully research the history of a publisher before signing any contract with it. 30 minutes on Google will usually disclose if other authors have experienced problems.

If the publisher has provisions in its publishing contract prohibiting the author from disparaging the publisher, even if Google does not disclose any unhappy authors, you can assume the publisher has them.

If an author is doing business with a publisher and observes deviations from professional behavior – promises unkept, schedules unmet, one employee saying one thing while another employee says something different, missed or late royalty payments – at a minimum, the author should usually cut her losses and not submit any more books to that publisher.

One of PG’s most common pieces of legal advice is, “Don’t do business with flakes.”

 

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Legal Stuff, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Romance

27 Comments to “Problems at Noble Romance?”

  1. >don’t do business with flakes.

    Yep! Well-intention incompetents are much more dangerous than outright criminals. Harder to spot coming.

  2. Why do authors continue to sign up for this treatment?

    Dan

  3. Wow, this sucks.

    If she wants out, though, it shouldn’t be too hard to get it. Just start p****** them off royally. Refuse to be quiet. Send e-mails and letters daily. Have her agent bug them.

    Get them to drop her.

  4. Jean Marc Philippe Gombart does Are write much elegant style.

  5. *jaw hitting the floor*

    Good lord, what kind of business are they running? Let me rephrase that. Do they KNOW how to run a business? If I had someone patronise me that way, I would cut my losses and run. After getting my money and making sure I spread the word to everyone I know not to deal with this company. And possibly after…no, no…violence is NOT a solution…

  6. I can’t believe the pettiness and lack of professionalism when the publisher asks the author to pay for the shipping of her contractual author copies. WTF?

  7. Thank you Passion Guy for picking this story up.

    I have requested my rights, all I want to do is take my work elsewhere. While he continues to breach contracts daily, he denies that is the case. Apparently only authors can breach.

    Up to this time, Gombart has refused to release me or anyone.

    I’ve sent him several emails illustrating my intention to have my records audited, and have heard nothing from him. Other authors report the same thing.

    I will update my blog as anything new comes in.

    Thank you again.

  8. I’m one of the authors Noble is screwing over as well, and it’s absolutely disgusting the way this man is treating authors. I’ve never actually been responded to – to Noble I’m a non-entity, even though they owe me back royalties on both of the titles I have with them, and refuse to acknowledge any of my certified letters. Legal action is now my only recourse to get my rights back.

    The sad thing is, when I signed my contracts with them a few years ago, I hadn’t heard anything bad about them, and I looked. In fact, based on communications with existing authors at the time, Noble appeared to me to have a very promising future. Once I signed though, things didn’t hold up as well as they’d first appeared, but at that point I thought it was just me, for whatever reasons. Turns out I was clearly wrong in that respect as well.

    If nothing else, I’ve learned quite a bit and thankfully have other publishers who treat me well, have fair and straightforward contracts and actually acknowledge my existence.

    Thanks for helping to keep this in the forefront – if it prevents even one more author from getting sucked in and stomped on, that’s good. In the meantime, I’ll just keep moving forward with my goal of getting my rights back. My honest belief is that Noble is not doing very well anyway, judging from their lack of any significant new releases and repetitive promo for the same handful of titles. So it may just be a matter of time.

  9. P.G.

    I could never be a writer.

    The only way I’d have of dealing with this nonsense is via bellicose baseball bat politesse.

    This is just hideous.

    brendan

    • brendan,
      Cut off the narrow ends of two baseball bats and connect them with a short length of chain.

      The leverage is amazing.(Just ask Bruce Lee.)

      Dan

      • Add spikes to the the end of each wooden piece, and you’re fully equipped to enter the world of publishing.

        Also, don’t forget the smoke grenades, tranq darts, and grappling hook.

  10. One of PG’s most common pieces of legal advice is, “Don’t do business with flakes.”

    The problem is that they keep finding new ways to flake out on me. I learn one set of warning signs, & discover more to watch out for. (And I’m not talking about just the publishing business, but business in general. To paraphrase Mickey O’Rouke’s character in “Body Heat”, “Any time you do business with someone, they’ve got 50 ways they’re gonna try to f*** you. If you think of 25 of them, then you’re a genius.”)

  11. You can read about my experience with Noble releasing a second edition paperback that is a grossly inferior product of my title, Spoils of War, here: http://www.karigregg.com/?p=1729 Noble released the second edition paperback in October 2012 without notifying me (forget the author copies Noble is contractually obligated to prove me). I was completely unaware a second edition existed and unaware there were any problems until April 2013. Dimensions that are approx. 11″x9″, no title page, no page headers, no page numbers, no chapter breaks. Point of sale reports show readers have been buying that…that…atrocity for six months. OMFG doesn’t begin to cover it.

    I’m filing a claim against Noble in Georgia magistrate court for this and many other issues. Unless writers would like to follow my plodding footsteps into court…no. Just no.

  12. (I am a lawyer, this is not not legal advice. Consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before making legal decisions.)

    The part that jumped out at me:

    They published two books WITH NO LICENSE?

    ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

    If that were me and I really wanted to make a nuisance of myself, I’d file copyright applications on the books, wait for the registrations to come back (assuming I had the cash I’d pay for the expedited registration) and then send them a letter along the lines of, “You are selling copyrighted material without a license. Cease and desist immediately and tender an accounting with royalties within thirty days or prepare to be sued into your component molecules.”

    Now, whether such a suit would succeed is an entirely different matter, and of course this isn’t legal advice because there is doubtless other stuff going on here of which I wot not. But assuming it *is* that straightforward, a base position of “I’ll take a reversion of all my rights as a settlement in the copyright infringement case” might be a fun one to work from.

  13. Gombart’s emails are filled with errors that make him sound semi-literate. Reading those ought to make anyone who deals with writing, words, and language flee in another direction.

    • I suspect that English is not Mr. Gombart’s first language. Assuming that it is French (which seems HIGHLY likely: http://erastes.dreamwidth.org/711220.html) his English is not bad at all, considering. (I have a rule that I will make fun of someone’s English only if my command of their native language is better than theirs.)

      However, given that he is running a publisher of English-language books, his writing certainly does not give them an air of literary authority, second language or no.

      How someone with a Master’s degree from the Sorbonne ended up running Noble Romance Publishing is, I suspect, either a very interesting or a very depressing story. We may be dealing here with what my father-in-law commonly refers to as a person educated far beyond their intelligence. Why the CEO is personally posting books to bookstores is likewise probably either the fascinating tale of a true Renaissance man or the story of a micromanaging so-and-so trying to run a company on the dark side of cheap.

  14. The publisher wrote: “I do not have neither contractual or moral obligation to work with Are ever if I do not want to work with them.”

    Huh?

    I read English. I read French. And I have no idea what he’s trying to say! In a BUSINESS letter.

    • This is what I think he means, Laura. “I do not have any contractual or moral obligation to work with All Romance E-books.” That’s what Are seems to stand for. So he’s saying he doesn’t have to work with that distributor/e-store if he doesn’t feel like it, so there. Not a very professional attitude. You’d think he’d want the widest distribution possible for Noble’s titles.

      Tori

      • Some people like to cut off their nose to spite their face.

        I think he’s completely overwhelmened by the problems, has no idea of the business or how to deal with writers who know more than him and is trying to micro-manage instead of delegating to people who have the knowledge, expertise and people-skills.

  15. If I can sell my newest women’s fiction somewhere else and have it outsell the one Noble has of mine, I’ll get my rights back. How fracking lame is that? Obviously, the man enjoys his power. It’s inappropriate and mean-spirited. Their perception of reality and accuracy are the only ones that matter. That has been made abundantly clear to me.

    • Would self-publishing count? What sales do you have to get? I’d buy a copy in solidarity. (Well, within reason; $50 is kind of beyond my means.)

  16. You may add my voice to the list. I am prominently listed on Piers Anthony’s HiPiers.com as one of the complainants against Noble Romance Publishing, and have just published a post at my blog (http://jswayne.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/silence-does-not-equal-consent/) concerning the substance of my issues. What triggered this was learning that Gombart is now claiming I am on friendly terms with Noble, all is forgiven, et cetera. I assure you this is not the case.

    Best,

    J.S. Wayne

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