Silver Publishing’s Shit Goes Public

Read it here.

I’m surprised it took this long. I’ve been reading this stuff on Silver’s forum for a few weeks now, and I’ve been amazed at how sweetly most of Silver’s writers have responded to this series of events. They weren’t getting their royalties and weren’t raising a ruckus? What’s more, the publisher tells them there’s no money and they offer him their loyalty? What?

What authors need to remember is that a publisher is not “family.” It’s a business. It’s great if you like the people you work with but remember to put your own interests first: they make a living off your writing! They can’t exist without you. If they’re not paying you what you’ve earned, that signifies a huge problem. Take your hard work elsewhere.

I can verify most of the information presented by Mercy, as I edited for Silver for about six months this year. This news became public at Silver in the last month. It was interesting to see the letter to authors, because I’d only heard about it previously.

I suspected they were courting trouble early on, based on the quality of manuscripts they were accepting. I mean, 90% of it was garbage I would never have accepted (and me being the mouthy ass I am, I said so; I’m surprised they didn’t fire me then). The first manuscript they offered me was so badly written, I was appalled.

I was told this writer had a following at Silver and she was getting better. I looked the author’s name up at Silver. They’d published several of her titles. In the end, I rejected the edit. I simply couldn’t fix it without totally rewriting it (something I did for another author a few weeks later; it went on to get good reviews. Thanks! That was my writing you loved, not the author’s.). That author has gone on to publish several more titles at Silver. I told AJ Silver couldn’t possibly stay in business putting out this kind of crap.

I emailed back and forth about it with my boss, who’s a really terrific person, so I’m keeping her name to myself. I hope she’s smart enough to find another berth fast because this ship is sinking.

I was told Silver liked working with new authors, helping them improve. Editors were expected to teach these people how to write. Uh, what? I was getting paid to edit, not teach. Kudos to a terrific editing staff because they made some really bad writing into much better work.

Mercy talks about the bad editing at Silver. Please don’t blame the editors; we did the best we could with what we were given. I mean, what editor is expected to rewrite someone’s manuscript in order to make it good? What editor has that much time? I did it a couple of times and then stopped. It’s not like we were doing it for fun. We were there for the money. I was so discouraged and upset by the lousy manuscripts, I quit. My friends applauded. They’d gotten really tired of me ranting and raving about how awful Silver’s manuscripts were. Good timing on my part.

My boss told me writers at Silver were bitching about me in one of the forums, calling me harsh. *snort* Well, if you couldn’t write, I guess you might consider me harsh. A couple authors refused my edits. Hey, their loss. I’m sure their next editor(s) went more gently on them… and their stories suffered because of it. And then the readers who bought their stuff suffered.

Some authors recognized their shortcomings and loved me, even requested I edit future work. Most thought I was an asshole, but that was because I cared. I wanted the writing to be good badly enough to make myself miserable in that job. It’s always about the writing. If you call yourself a writer, then learn how to WRITE, damn it. Otherwise, you have no business being published, and Silver learned that the hard way.

Why did Silver accept bad writing? My theory is they wanted to push titles as fast as possible. I guess they thought readers would overlook the awful story telling and simply keep buying. And I think that worked for a while, but readers hate getting cheated. When they lay that money down, they expect to read something good.

I’m currently editing for the most professional publisher I’ve yet found. Without fail, I’m paid on time and the manuscripts they give me are of good quality. Silver consistently paid me late and never gave me an explanation. I consider myself fortunate that I received all money owed me before this shit hit the fan. I only wish Silver’s authors could say the same. Many of them are still awaiting payment from second quarter.

I wish Silver luck. They’re gonna need it.

______

I decided to add additional info to my post. I do not wish Silver ill. I hope they pull out of this death spiral and come back stronger than ever. But it cannot be denied the publisher behaved recklessly, spending royalty money to enlarge his business instead of giving it to the authors who earned it. By not establishing a line of credit to pay those authors immediately, he’s making yet another bad decision. In the letter posted at Mercy’s site, the publisher said there was adverse reaction to him doing this. Authors are not in a position to have an opinion on how a publisher runs his business, and while their concerns can be noted, the final decision must be that of the publisher; only that person knows what’s really going on financially.

If Silver fails now, the publisher can blame his authors for making a bad decision by persuading him not to get a loan. This would be wrong, of course, as the final decision was his, but he could say it.

I had limited dealings with the publisher while I freelanced there. My impression was, he was easily distracted and lacked follow through. Yes, there is a valid reason behind this but no point in going into it here. Further, I don’t know him well enough to have an opinion on his character. I can only speak based on observation regarding our direct interaction. It’s OPINION and should be taken as such. He was always responsive when I emailed him, but he dropped the ball on a decision that never got made.

I stand behind my statements regarding their exemplary editing staff and the bad choices Acquisitions made in the manuscripts they accepted. Other editors may have enjoyed a different experience. My remark about 90% of the manuscripts being badly written is based on the ones I was given to edit, not ALL manuscripts accepted. I’m a hell of a good editor, so maybe they gave me the worst of it, knowing I could fix it up. (That’s speculation, btw, and should not be taken as fact.)

I never bought a single book from Silver. I didn’t know what I’d be getting. While it’s a noble idea to nurture young writers, it’s not practical if you run a publishing business. You want the best quality work you can find. It makes everything so much easier! I mean, why stress your staff to that degree? I never worked so hard as I did at Silver. I put in extraordinarily long hours editing for them. I was cranky, I was tired, I was frustrated, and in the end, I was driving myself crazy trying to do a good job for them.

I’m so much happier where I am now. *sigh*

 

About Theo Fenraven

Theo Fenraven lives in St Paul, MN, where it is really cold most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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59 Responses to Silver Publishing’s Shit Goes Public

  1. AJ Rose says:

    *is even happier to have gone the self-publishing route now*

    I considered submitting to Silver… until you started working there. Thank god I listened to you. They’re Aspen Mountain V 2.0.

    • Ain’t that the truth? There’s another publisher I suspect is teetering on the edge: late statements, late royalties, down to two releases a week and most of them are short stories or reprints.

      Writers have to be really careful these days which publisher they choose, because those titles will be tied up for anywhere from two to five years. What happens if your publisher suffers meltdown while they still own the rights to your work? A sobering thought.

      • PD Singer says:

        Aspen Mountain already fell apart–the horrible details were available Oct 2011. I’m surprised they’re still twitching. Quite a lot of their good staff went to form Musa Publishing, and a lot of authors followed them.

      • I was wondering what happened with Aspen and its staff and authors. Are they still operational at all or totally defunct?

        The story of their downfall was a sobering tale. It freaked me out, actually. What’s scarier than a publisher doing down and taking your book rights with it?

  2. Isa says:

    I’m glad you are critical when you edit. I’m generally not to critical about the books I read but I’ve read some where I wonder why the author thought it was okay to repeat the same nickname/phrase 5,000 times in the story and why no one said to change it. Other books I have to reread one section a couple times to understand what they are saying or who is actually talking. If this is the first book I read by the author I probably won’t read a second one because I assume it will be as bad as the first one.

    If a publisher is putting out quality books but only a couple per week or month I’m okay with that as a reader. I’m on a book budget and if to many books are released I will only buy the books I really want. Although I have a to buy list it is very small and only when i can not find anything new to read will I buy something off the list. I don’t agree with them not paying their authors on time. But I know how some businesses work especially small ones and people are more likely to pay themselves first.

    I’m glad you bring these issues up. I tend to forget everything that is involved in getting a book published. My thoughts are usually “where’s is the next book?”

    • Silver isn’t a small business. They have a lot of writers making money for them. From what I understand, the publisher took money that should have been saved for royalties and invested it in his mainstream book publishing division. And then it blew up in his face.

      Now, instead of borrowing money to pay those authors, he’s decided to borrow against future royalties to pay past royalties. Um, this sounds terribly bogus to me. I can’t see how he’ll ever get out of this hole following that plan.

      One writer privately emailed me that she had lost around $15,000. I would be pissed as hell about this! I mean, I could live on that kind of money for a year.

      A publishing company is a business like any other. Would you sit back and smile and remain loyal to an employer who didn’t give you your paycheck? Because that’s what this comes down to. The publisher owes money to his “employees” and he didn’t pay it. Worse, instead of taking out a loan, he is asking them to be patient while he takes their future royalties and gives them to other writers.

      I wouldn’t stand for this one minute.

      Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it.

      • Isa says:

        I totally understand what you are saying. I wouldn’t be happy losing that much income either. I work in a small business and I would be out the door as soon as I didn’t get that paycheck.

      • The problem is that many writers still think they shouldn’t get paid for what they produce, so if a publisher decides not to pay them for some reason, well hey! that’s okay.

        I don’t think it’s okay at all. I look at royalties as no different from paychecks. It’s money the writer has earned and is entitled to. To think anything else reveals you as someone lacking in self-esteem.

        I’ve heard there is a group of writers at Silver determined to help save the company. At their own expense. To me, that’s plain silly. While I admire their loyalty, it’s misplaced. They’re getting screwed and saying thank you while it happens.

  3. Noelle says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m a newbie writer who knows next to nothing about the publishing business and having authors and editors speak out about their difficulties helps me decide where to submit. Silver Publishing was on my list of epublishers but thankfully authors and editors are speaking out before I submitted anything.

    • I do think news of this type should be out there. I was a newbie myself not long ago and I would have appreciated knowing some things about online publishers.

      Before I worked for Silver, I was attracted by their 60% royalty rate, too. I mean, who doesn’t want to make that kind of money?

      I’m reminded of the adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  4. Lesley says:

    Thanks for posting. As a reader who has bought a few books from Silver I found the choice I’d titles (and my view of what I’d bought) uninspiring. So much so that I rarely visit them now. The whole thing is very sad, I feel so sad for the authors. I have read Mercy’s post and also can’t see how Silver can ever get Solvent.

    • I agree. Things are a mess right now, and no matter how forthright the publisher is being about it, the fact remains that he hasn’t paid royalties that were due. I don’t want to add flame to the fire (beyond what I’ve already done by talking about this publicly), but he essentially embezzled from his own company. Plus that company is in South Africa and beyond the laws of most countries. Who could afford to sue from another country?

      This whole thing is just awful. He may not have meant this to happen, but happen it did. I wish he was being more proactive about fixing things by getting that loan.

  5. Pingback: Reader Beware: Silver Publishing | The Naughty Bits

  6. Hmm, I’ve been watching the all the hub-bub and It makes me very angry on behalf of the authors. I think many don’t realize that when they decide to publish their work, they are becoming a business, and need to treat things as such. If you own a business you aren’t “nice and understanding” when you don’t get paid. What Silver is doing is bad business at best and outright theft at worst. In my opinion at any rate. :)

    • I agree, and I’m really surprised at how many authors are willing to put up with this. I simply wouldn’t. While I don’t write for the money, I do like getting paid what’s owed me. I feel bad for the publisher, their staff, and the authors. People do make mistakes but they shouldn’t compound them, and it’s my opinion Silver is doing exactly that.

  7. Notice: I am the publisher of Lot’s Cave. I’ve been involved in a number of successful businesses over the years. After looking over the situation with Silver Publishing, a solution might exist that will solve certain problems that all of us are experiencing at this time. As such, I would like to encourage any authors interested in seeing Silver Publishing succeed to feel free to contact me via email, admin at lotscave dot com.

    Phaedrus T. Wolfe, Publisher:
    Lot’s Cave

  8. Leta Blake says:

    Reblogged this on Leta Blake and commented:
    Wow. Very unsettling news.

  9. Once more my procrastination has saved me from an awful situation. I had considered submitting to Silver Publishing, but hesitated because they were so new. Earlier, I had thought about Noble Publishing, but also hesitated. The three publishers I’m with now have excellent track records and are above board with their authors.
    I wasn’t so lucky with Aspen Mountain, but fortunately, I only had one short story with them and wasn’t anywhere near as burned as my fellow AMP authors.
    My best wishes to the authors at Silver.

  10. That’s what happened at Triskelion. They were doing really well, had a fairly large staff, but the owners invested too much in print. The physical books were are poor quality and expensive, with some horrendous cover art (the owner did most of the cover art – I have a couple that still make me wince when I look at them, and sadly, being print, they’re still around). When Triskelion finally went bankrupt, the receivers had to cope with two warehouses packed with unsold print books. The owners had no idea about the publishing industry, tried to blame other people and finally went bust. And cheated on the royalties. I never received what was owed me, but if I’d fought it, it would have eaten into my writing time, might have stopped me writing altogether.
    But I am never smug, because it could still happen to me. It could happen to any of us.

    • Poor business decisions happen every day. Sad, but true.

      Did you get your rights back at least?

      By self-publishing, I make sure it won’t happen to me. I don’t think it’s likely Amazon will fold any time soon and Smashwords, ARe, and B&N seem to be doing fine, as well. :) However, I took a hit on sales doing this. I discuss it on Monday’s blog post.

  11. Wow. Excellent rant. Aspiring writers should read it to learn what real editors sound like.

    Accepting bad writing if you’re a publisher (or inept clients if you’re an agent) is not a viable long-term strategy. The basic task is hard enough if you’re pushing books that people want to buy and read. The work required doubles and quadruples, and the rewards dwindle to nothing, if you take on projects that aren’t up to snuff.

    “Giving a chance” to writers who aren’t ready for commercial publication is an appealing idea, but the same can be said of perpetual motion, cheap and easy antigravity, or engines that use water for fuel. Your intentions may be good, but the universe is not going to forget that there’s a crushing debt of undone work built into your basic design. The only people who really are in a position to give writers that chance are the readers. Trouble is, the readers won’t do it, because they’re basically self-centered and have no mercy in them.

    I don’t mean that as criticism of the readers, all hail the readers, masters of our universe, may they live a thousand years. It’s how the reading transaction works. What I’m saying is that any commercial publisher that takes on books that aren’t up to commercial standards is bound to fail. Publishers may be able to slow down that failure by throwing vast amounts of other people’s labor at the problem — that’s where you came in — but the end is unavoidable.

    No one wants to read bad books. They don’t even want to read books they think might be bad. You provide your own example of that: “I never bought a single book from Silver. I didn’t know what I’d be getting.” It’s a universal reaction. Want to hear an odd fact? Most bookstore customers will resist buying a book that even *looks* like a bad book they once got wheedled into trying, whether or not it’s from the same author or publisher. Every bad book that goes out shrinks the potential audience for the next one.

    So thanks for writing this piece. I’m glad you’ve found a better position. May all your books be good, all your authors be saintly, and all your covers be just what you wanted only better.

    • Thanks for your comment! I enjoyed reading it. You state the problem of publishers accepting bad writing very well. In the end, it’s simply not cost-effective. It’ll cost you any way you look at it.

      “No one wants to read bad books. They don’t even want to read books they think might be bad.” Kudos for leaving out the superfluous ‘that’ in the second sentence. ;/ (One of my pet peeves!)

      Reading that part of your comment, I’m reminded of “50 Shades of Vomit,” and wondering how such a poorly written piece of crap ever became a bestseller. That it did so seems to negate your statement about bad books.

      Has the standard dropped so far that badly written books not only sell, but sell so well the writer can wipe their ass with ten dollar bills? I do sometimes wonder, and if the answer ever comes back ‘yes,’ that may be the day I stop writing. Bestselling books written that poorly make good writers wonder why they bothered to learn how to write at all. Getting published should mean something, and if anyone can see their book in print, then it ceases to be special.

  12. erinsromance says:

    Hi, Fen, I’ve been deep in the sanctum of writer’s la-la land, but I’ve been meaning to touch base. This blog brings me out. In a separate email, I may explain to you why Silver and I will never cross swords again. Suffice it to say that I got lucky when I got you as my editor. I also want to know who you edit for now. I see that you write for Voodoo Lily Press. A connection there, perhaps? I last tuned in to your blog a few months back, about the time I stopped writing my own due to writing obligations.l You sound very, very different now. I’m knocked out. GFY.

    Will write later. Fondly, Erin

    • Nice to hear from you. Thanks for a lovely comment. Elsewhere on the ‘net, a few people have been bashing me for this post but I’m taking the high road and staying out of it.

      I freelance edit, if you’re looking for someone. Get prices and email address on that page of this blog.

      Voodoo Lily was started by me and my friend, AJ Rose. So VLP and I are more than connected. :)

      I’ll email you other info. Thanks again for stopping by!

  13. Re 50 Shades of Whatever: There’s a severely under-served market for commercial erotica for women. Luck of the draw could just as easily have had a good book reap the benefits of being first into that market. More titles have followed. Unless smut gets banned again, chaos should gradually give way to order, and normal standards of quality once more apply.

    You get strange distortions like that when the market’s starving for books the industry can’t supply. It most often happens when readers love a book or series, want more just like it, can’t get what they want, and will take whatever comes closest. Fantasy did that in the wake of Tolkien. For a while there, books were getting published that I doubt would make the cut today.

    The rise of fanfic has been interacting with that pattern in some interesting ways. I have no idea how it’s going to work out in the long run.

    • If the far right have their way, smut will go underground again. That would be a shame. I think there’s a real need for erotica in any culture, but especially ours, which has been under the yoke of hypocritical puritanical edicts for a very long time. This has also played a part in denying rights to LGBTQAI individuals.

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence that marriage equality has become a big issue at the same time erotica writers are having an impact on book sales.

  14. What’s even sadder is after several friends of mine (editors and authors) privately contacted me, telling me their troubles with Silver but afraid to go public, I posted in the Absolute Write forum about it back on 8/30/12. ( http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184764&page=4 )

    The publisher responded quickly with a two-step assuring everyone there were no problems.

    I wonder how many authors got screwed in the mean time. I’m glad it’s gone public. Having no personal interest in it (other than outrage at my friends getting screwed over), there wasn’t anything else I could do.

    • The entire situation saddens me. It’s bad for Silver, bad for the staff, bad for the authors. I really hope Silver can work this out.

      One problem was when they switched over to the new system. That shut down editing for weeks, and editors who had come to depend on that income were suddenly flailing, wondering how to pay their bills. Who can blame them for being frightened? They had no warning and no idea when things would stabilize.

      Even though I was staff, I didn’t know the full extent of the problem until very recently. The publisher was forthcoming up to a point. I guess I can’t blame him. No one likes admitting to mistakes that impact others.

      • I hope they can, but my gut and experience tells me otherwise. Especially since this was going on for a while even before I posted what I hoped would be an opening for others hesitant to step forward to take back on 8/30 at AbsoluteWrite.com. And then he blatantly lied and said there were no problems. That tells me he was just juggling things as long and as hard as he could until he finally couldn’t hide it any longer. At least now that the word is getting out, hopefully other writers won’t get caught up in it.

      • When did publishing get so scary?

        By self-publishing, I’ve taken a hit on sales but all things considered, maybe that decision wasn’t so bad.

      • I do a little self-publishing, but mostly on mainstream and non-fic. That’s why I love Siren-BookStrand. They’re awesome to work with, and they’re smart business people.

      • The important thing is you’re happy with your publisher. If you’re not, go elsewhere.

        You’re Madmumbler on absolutewrite?

      • You’re the one that brought this to their attention. GFY!

  15. Absolute Write is a great forum. I’ve been reading it for years, and I’m pretty sure the oldtimers there weren’t impressed by Silver’s response to Tymber’s warning. They’ve seen a lot of publishers pop up like toast when their business practices are criticized, immediately followed by one or more authors earnestly explaining what a great publisher they are.

    What AW’s Bewares Board regulars know is how that story usually ends: delays, good intentions, more delays, lots of hangwringing and denial, accumulating evidence from authors and freelancers who haven’t been paid and can’t get through on the phone, repeated temporizing and excuses from the publisher, and the long slow slide into oblivion.

    Any week now, one of AW’s people will wander into that thread, remind Silver’s authors that they need to make sure their contracts contain proper reversion clauses, and casually suggest some collection strategies for freelancers who haven’t gotten paid. If the indications and reports from Silver Publishing keep deteriorating, AW will also point out that it’s essential to get a proper reversion letter, and that such letters are a lot easier to get before the publisher falls off the map and stops answering email and phone calls.

    Silver can say whatever he pleases. If it’s not believable, the Bewares Board will contradict him. If it’s too over-the-top, they’ll make fun of him. What impresses them? Real sales figures. Workable business plans. Reports from authors and freelancers who’ve gotten paid.

    Tymber, you and Theo have done what you can. At this point, there’s enough information out there about Silver Publishing’s problems that writers should hear about it if they do any research at all.

    You can’t save the ones who don’t do basic research. Sometimes it’s all you can do to save yourself.

    Publishing has always been scary.

    • This publisher lives in South Africa. A couple months ago, when I didn’t get paid on the date I was promised, I contacted my boss and asked about it. She said his internet was spotty and he was having problems getting out.

      I had to ask for my payment every single time other than the first and last. In the latter case, I think my boss interceded and made sure I was paid. I’ve already said she was terrific, and I mean that.

      This morning, over at AW, I see that Michael Barnette has viciously attacked my editing skills. I wish he’d come here and do it, so I could respond. Or he could even scream at me in emails. Instead he chose to air his displeasure with me publicly.

      I wish I could post a piece of the story in question, which would support my position that he’s a crap writer that needs a lot of help, but I signed a confidentiality agreement and can’t do that. He keeps saying he was a pioneer in the genre. I believe that, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good writer.

      So excuse me, everyone, but I gotta say something here. No doubt, it will get back to him. And since I make a living off freelance editing, I do feel I have to present my side of the story, because some people will believe anything they read on the internet.

      Hey, Michael! I didn’t work in a vacuum. I was in touch with the EIC every step of the way and she was well aware I was cutting deep and had reason to do so. I was even warned you were a sensitive case and asked if I could handle it. Meh. Until I started reading, I thought I could. I wasn’t editing to my style, I was editing to publishable standards. Sentences and paragraphs have to make sense. I didn’t even realize how “celebrated” you are until after I finished the edit (which took me four long, horrible days, btw) and read your titles at the end of the manuscript. Until that moment, I thought I was working on a story written by a neophyte, someone who hadn’t learned their craft yet.

      For the record, I felt bad about the edit, but not because I did it badly. I felt bad because I knew you’d take those edits badly. You mentioned how much ego I brought to the table. That wasn’t ego, that was confidence in my abilities. I know what I’m doing. I’m a good editor, something other writers will attest to. You’re the one bringing ego to the table. Silver didn’t fire me, as you imply. We mutually agreed I move on to another publisher because the level of quality in the manuscripts Silver accepts–the standards of which are set by the publisher–would always drive me nuts. You see, I don’t want to rewrite. I hate rewriting. It takes a lot of valuable time and I don’t get credit for it. I’d rather edit quality work.

      You have your opinion and I have mine, and as I told my boss, I stand behind those edits. So maybe you can shut the fuck up now and move on, eh? I think we’d all appreciate it.

      • Well, this explains it. I read one of his books and thought it was good. Then I read another and thought, “WTF? I can’t finish this. What happened?” I’m wondering if the book I read was the one you edited. The second one I tried to read, I just left it off my bookshelf and didn’t even bother to place it on my DNF list.

      • He rejected my edit, so you didn’t read anything I worked on. Thanks for the comment. :)

  16. Don’t get dragged down into the editing argument. Never accept the premise of the question, as they tell politicians. LOL

    The bottom line is, there is now publicly revealed proof as to Silver screwing authors and editors out of royalties. Something that’s been privately discussed for over two months now.

    That’s what’s important. The editing question is, actually, subjective. Good, bad, indifferent.

    Not paying their authors and editors is an objective fact. And that’s where the focus needs to stay. It doesn’t matter that they’re paying some of their writers and editors on time. What matters is they are in breach of contract with others. That is where the focus needs to stay.

    If other issues are allowed to take the forefront, it’s like saying, “Well, Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t a bad guy because he didn’t kill ME!”

    Just because Silver hasn’t screwed all of their editors/publishers out of royalties (and, honestly? I’d bet they have been screwing even the ones who don’t realize they’ve been screwed…yet) doesn’t mean they’re not a bad guy. The fact that they’re still holding submission calls is reprehensible.

    • Excellent point, and I’ve said all I’m going to about the editing issue.

      You’re correct; the focus needs to remain on what the publisher is or isn’t doing. Ya know, I’ve often wondered how an author knows the numbers on their statements are correct. There really is no way to tell, is there? We take our royalties on trust, assuming the publisher isn’t out to screw us, but how do we know?

      Another publisher I have titles with still hasn’t sent me the third quarter statement, despite me asking about it via email. And because things appear to be breaking down at that company, I constantly wonder how correct the numbers are when I do finally get it.

      Publishers are in a perfect position to steal from their authors. There should be a way to hold them accountable, just like any legit business.

      • Well, there is. Every contract should have an audit clause. Problem is, it’s damned expensive to get a forensic accountant involved, and since most of the clauses specify the audit happens at the publishing house, and most authors aren’t near there, it’s prohibitively expensive.

        That’s why when authors and editors get screwed, they need to come public sooner. Likewise, editors and authors who are happy with their publisher need to also speak out. Word of mouth is the most effective advertising, good and bad, even when it comes to picking a publisher.

      • How does an American author audit a South African publisher?

        Most writers don’t make much money. I sure couldn’t afford to hire someone to go in there and tear their books apart. Instead, we continue to accept the numbers presented us and hope for the best. In future, I hope this business becomes more transparent.

      • Exactly, and that’s my point. You can only rely on word of mouth.

        Good publishers know they only make money if the authors make money. They do everything to help ensure their authors make money.

        But when even companies like Harlequin are getting sued regarding how/when they pay, all you have is faith. Or take the risk to self-publish. Which, unfortunately, FAR too many authors are NOT qualified to do, yet attempt anyway and sink their reputation.

      • ;/ Yeah, I know. I make sure the work I self-publish is up to snuff. Nothing sinks a book faster than bad editing. Not only do I go over it several times, I have others who do, too.

        I think there’s gonna be a huge shake-out in the next couple years about how and when people publish, whether it’s through traditional methods or self-publishing.

        I’ve read books on Amazon that had good reviews… only to discover they were badly edited to the point where I couldn’t read them. It makes me wonder: are readers no longer discriminating? Will they accept poorly written and edited books and even give them good reviews?

        The thought makes me sad.

  17. Different readers have different tolerances. Some read at very high speeds and only pay attention to the plot. Some have an intense attachment to a specific subgenre or emotional transaction, and can ignore fairly rough prose as long as the book delivers the particular buzz they crave. Others can’t ignore inept language. People read for a lot of different reasons.

    As a rule, they all prefer competent writing and editing.

    • Since becoming a professional editor (and yes, I was tested every time), my standards have changed. I can’t seem to stop reading critically now, which tends to ruin reading for pleasure unless the editing was done really well.

      I can skip over the superfluous ‘that’s unless there are too many of them, I can ignore the rare typos and skipped or extra word. But anything worse than that starts a buzz in my head, and I find myself getting irritated. If it’s bad enough, I can’t read the book at all.

      I wish I could turn it off, but I can’t. I love reading! These days, I have little time to indulge, and combined with my ‘new eyes’ that see all weirdness, I have to be particular about the books I choose to spend time with.

  18. lyngala says:

    I’m so glad the shit did go public. I had just sent a story over there about two weeks before Mercy’s post. I pulled it, and Loose Id has already taken it in. I certainly wouldn’t want to get caught up in this.

    That said, I seriously want you as an editor after reading this. The best editors are like the best teachers–tough as nails and able to make you see the subject in a new light. So if people complained about your edits being too tough, they were fools. I adore Dreamspinner, but my one complaint is that I want tougher editors, not warmer, fluffier ones.

    • Thanks. It’s great hearing you say that. My friend AJ tells everyone he wants tough editing. It does him no good if stuff is overlooked.

      Authors who don’t want coddling eventually find their way to me. I’ve been very lucky in that they’ve been good writers to start with and only need the usual tweaking. ALL writers need editing (yes, even me!).

      And good for you, getting your manuscript accepted at Loose ID so quickly!

  19. Lily Sawyer says:

    If I might ask what publisher do you work for now?

    • I’ve very carefully not said, haven’t I? :)

      They are the most professional outfit I’ve worked with. I hope to be freelancing for them for many years to come. I like the people there, I like the quality of the manuscripts they accept, and I love that I’m paid on time and don’t have to wait six weeks for it, like I did at Silver. Who waits six weeks to get paid?

      But I am also an author and blogger, I’m mouthy, and I’m known in certain groups, so I think it is wiser to keep the name of my employer to myself lest anything I say reflect badly on them. Most people can separate one’s personal life from their professional life, but not all. Discretion is not always a bad thing. Heh.

      If you have some particular reason for knowing, email me.

  20. uniquepov says:

    Hey Theo,

    It’s really horrible, everything that’s happening at Silver. As one of their recent authors, I felt like I’d done my homework prior to signing the contract (back in early summer). Just goes to show you just never know.

    You edited my book and I loved working with you. I hope I’m not one of the authors you were complaining about – but honestly, if I am, I hope you’ll let me know that now. I’m in this to publish well-written, entertaining fiction. Not enthusiastic, amateurish attempts.

    I prefer to keep my nom de plume out of the spotlight where Silver’s concerned – I’ve said my piece to them, privately, and just plan to keep my head down and hope we all see at least some of what we’re owed, before it all goes under. I certainly don’t plan on submitting another title to them anytime soon.

    But you’re right, royalties are paychecks. An author contract is a CONTRACT, and when there’s a breach, it needs to be remedied. Only time will tell if Silver will be able to do that.

    I’m glad you’re happy in your new position and I wish you nothing but the best!

    I’d love to hear from you if you have a minute.

  21. It looks like Silver Publishing has just closed down and withdrawn their titles. That should be a lesson to all those publishers who think about quick marketing via tagging rather than looking for new books that dare to ‘do their own thing’ and propose new forms and styles. Regarding readers as ‘targets’ and as a market is a colossal mistake: the market is stupid, readers are not!

    • This was more about the owner of Silver being a crook. He published books only to the extent that he could skim money off the royalties, and in the end, he was taking a lot more than anyone knew. It was inevitable that this bubble would burst.

  22. Joyce Baker says:

    The one error I find even after all the editing, that I have a problem believing authors, editors, whomever, can’t get right. There refers to a place, Their refers to ownership.

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