Why did you end your contract with PA?

Many people have asked what happened with my original publishing contract.  Why did I end it after less than a year? And what is the current status of “Vision Speak”?  I can tell you that it was a great relief for me to get my rights back and be free of this arrangement.   I am now excited about the future and have much news to share… but first, I need to clear the air about what happened.

So, before I announce the launch of the second release under a new publishing company, this post will give you an idea of generally what happened with the first release of “Vision Speak” from my perspective. 

In June 2009, PublishAmerica  (PA) offered me a 7 year publishing contract for “Vision Speak”.  At the time, I did find some of the criticism about PA online.  This involved discussions on their business practices including suggestions that they are not a traditional publisher but in fact a ‘vanity self-publisher in disguise’.  I chose to believe their insistent denials of these accusations and proceed with the contract, largely because I was impatient to ‘get on with it’ and reluctant to spend years chasing a publishing contract.  Traditionally, a new author must send out query letters to agents and publishers and it can often take many months (or even years) to get a response from each one.  Often the responses are form letters and almost always rejections, the impression being that no one has really read your work on the other end.  It is very difficult to publish a first novel, particularly if one is an ‘outsider’ to the world of publishing as I am.  The alternative is self-publishing which I wasn’t yet comfortable with..

So, I proceeded with PublishAmerica through cycles of ‘editing’, cover design and release, receiving my first copies of the book in December 2009.  The official release was slated for February 2010 by which time it should have been available at all online sites and available via wholesalers Ingram’s and Baker&Taylor to all retail outlets should they wish to order it.

Nothing with PA went as I had expected and there were many painful encounters.  Everything was handled via email.  They didn’t really do any editing.  They typeset the book.  When I found some mistakes that needed to be corrected after it had already been typeset, I had to pay a small fine to have them corrected.  They produced a cover design which I didn’t like.  When I requested a new design, I had to pay another fee to get a second design and then it was done and I had nothing to say about it.  In fact, the emails sent to me by their design department were rude and disrespectful.  Their idea of press release and marketing was to send a blast email out to contacts I had sent them.  No other efforts for marketing were undertaken by them.  The book appeared on Amazon right away but there were issues with all other online outlets and they had a falling out with Ingram’s so it was not available for retail stores to order.  (Without some legwork on my part, I knew that retail stores would not try to order them but my attempts to do this were hopeless without being listed on these wholesale catalogs).  My contacts who did order books directly from PA had to wait a long time, in some cases, months to receive them.

And meanwhile, I was bombarded with solicitation emails from PA (about 2-3 per week) with a variety of offers for me to buy books.  “Authors – buy 2 get 2 free”.  “Order 50 books and we’ll send 10 to Good Morning America”.  “Send books to Tom Hanks if you order today”…. and on and on.  It soon became clear that PA had only one customer in mind to market their books to – their authors.    And they had no end of gimmicky promotions and promises attached to entice these orders.

But I was willing to ignore this.  I had gone so far down this path that I was resigned to making it work – IF I could get books at a fair price and IF they had the distribution model in place.  I needed the book available on all online retail outlets.  I needed it available through the industry wholesalers so I could approach stores myself to do signings and place orders.  But none of this was even happening.  On top of that, PA’s price to ship books to Canada doubled in six months.  By June, they wanted to charge me $12 per book for shipping on top of the price of books (which varied from about $6-12 depending on which deal I bought them under).  For a book that should not sell for more than $20, this was unpalatable.  I was losing money on selling books.  At one point, I was interacting with someone at Chapters.  Because they could not source books via Ingram’s, I could buy the books myself and bring them but they would have to make 40% off the top.

I realized that I had made a mistake and I had to face it.  I began interacting with the Canadian Writers’ Union to get some advice.  Finally, I sent a letter to PA requesting a release from my contract based on this and some other grounds relating to how they had handled the eBook release.

After some unpleasant and unprofessional return correspondence, they told me I could get out of my contract for $299 (plus $12 shipping charge for a letter!)  After my blood stopped boiling, I decided it was a bargain and not worth any more of my precious mental energy.  I paid the penalty and got my release and full reversion of rights back in the fall of 2010.

So, after seven months and many successful events, including launches, conferences, and book clubs,  and some great feedback on “Vision Speak” from my readers , I abandoned ship with PublishAmerica and began to consider how best to bring my baby back into the world under less contentious circumstances.  

Now in the dawn of 2011,”Vision Speak” is available in both print and online as an eBook and I have put this experience behind me.  I am looking into options for distribution and assistance with PR.

And, after a brief hiatus with appearances, I am looking forward to two exciting events next week.

On Monday Feb. 21, I will be a guest on Dr. Majick RavenHawk’s radio show again and on Thursday, Feb. 24th, I will be speaking at the Women With Vision dinner meeting in Collingwood.  More on these events to follow in a future blog!

Eden

With a professional background and education in enterprise software but a lifelong love of the arts, I published my second novel, "Vision Speak", in 2010. Over the past several years, I've explored photography, film production and screenwriting. Along the way, I've questioned my obsessive pursuits - am I crazy? Perhaps this quotation from Thomas Merton serves as explanation. "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I'm still searching... 

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