From Author Allison M. Dickson:
In the summer of 2014, I was invited by a (now former) editor from Ragnarok Publications to contribute a story to an anthology called Grimm Mistresses. You probably saw me talk about it here. At one point, I even had the cover of the book listed on the sidebar with a link to purchase it, but that has since been removed, and for good reason.
At the time, I’d known a few very respected authors who worked with Ragnarok, and they seemed like they were up and coming and putting out some decent work. The editor in question is also a friend of mine and I like her a lot, so I was happy to come up with a twisted take on a Grimm fairy tale for the book.
. . . .
During the early planning phase of GRIMM MISTRESSES, things were looking pretty great. They had the cover done already, and it was gorgeous. There was a limited edition hardcover release in the works as well, which was going to be pretty awesome, since I’d never had my work in a hardcover before.
But then I got the contract, and that was when I got my first whiff of something not being right. And please, everyone, use me and my misjudgment as an example of what NOT to do with a publishing contract. When a contract does not explicitly state a royalty payment schedule, you tear that f****r up and either say “give me a new contract” or you walk. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I did contact the publisher about this glaring omission and was assured that royalties were paid twice a year. I was still not completely satisfied with this, because I wanted it in writing. I’m generally a stickler and I know what to look for in publishing contracts, but at the time my thinking was, “Meh. It’s just a short story. I’ll have rights back in a year (at least that was explicitly stated, and if that part hadn’t been, I definitely would have walked). And the royalty split won’t be all that much anyway, so no biggie.”
In other words, I ignored my intuition, signed, and let the whole thing go. I knew I wasn’t going to get rich. I figured even if I made at most a few bucks, it would still be fun, and I’d release it myself once I got the rights back. It wouldn’t have been the first time I contributed to an anthology for that very reason.
. . . .
So anyway, the contract was signed. The end of February 2015 was the release date. Things seemed to be cutting it close, like end of January and into early Feb, and I still hadn’t seen any edited copy. That seemed weird, but I had enough going on at the time that I didn’t make a big stink about it. After we pestered and finally did get electronic proof copies, I was hugely displeased to find my story contained numerous errors, and actually had errors put INTO it by way of deletion of nearly every comma in the text. Again, red flags went up.
The other stories also contained a lot of typos and other proofing mistakes, and it became very clear that no one had actually done any copy editing or proofing on the book. Again, I was feeling a little uneasy, but we were assured that a clean book would be going to release and that we should just send them whatever errors we found to make sure they caught everything. That was mildly reassuring, but again, the vagueness of the communication was off-putting, and I was getting the sense that things were not going very well behind the scenes. And in case you’re wondering, the editor who invited me was not responsible for the editing issues. The publisher had used someone else to proof (very badly) and then told us he would handle the actual editing, and then he flaked out.
. . . .
So as you can imagine, a polished copy did not go to release. While it was improved from the version I initially received, as far as I could tell, the only corrections that were made were ones that we the authors scrambled to find at the 11th hour before publication, and I know there were numerous other ones we probably didn’t find. In other words, putting out clean work did not seem to be a priority for the publisher, and that put a really bad taste in my mouth. Was this a regular thing with them, or were we just an unfortunate exception?
. . . .
Then came the matter of the limited edition hardcovers. Months and months passed, and there was still no word of when they would be released, despite them initially saying late March of 2015. We kept getting one excuse or brush-off after another. People I know who had ordered hardcovers were coming to me asking where their books were. We’d also never received bookplates for the authors to sign so that the books would be signed as promised. These people had paid their thirty bucks months ago, and they had nothing to show for it. Finally, after considerable pressure put on the folks at Ragnarok to explain why there was no hardcover, they said they didn’t get enough orders and then refunded the money to people who had ordered. Which, you know, awesome, but if there was going to be a reneging on the hardcover, it should have happened back in the spring.
And finally, the royalties. As of January 4th, 2016, nearly a year after the release of GRIMM MISTRESSES, I have yet to receive a single dime for my story. The book has sold copies. I have no idea how many, because along with no payments, we have received no statements or communication on # of units sold. I do know that upon its release, it did sell some copies because the Amazon rankings were pretty indicative of that.
. . . .
Some say it’s unprofessional to drag a company’s name through the mud in public, and I will undoubtedly receive some flack for this. Neglected writers love coming to the defense of their abusers for some reason. Maybe it’s cognitive dissonance. No one wants to believe they misjudged a publisher’s character and signed the dotted line on a bad deal.
Link to the rest at Because Writing and thanks to Suzie for the tip.
Here’s a link to Allison M. Dickson’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.