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Thread: Iconic Publishing, LLC / Jonquil Press / Red Lizard Press

  1. #26
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    That's what I figured. I sold some work to extremely small-press magazines back in the 90s, when I was still following the advice of some creative writing teachers who believed in the 'start small and get street cred' approach. I also still believed in start-up companies.

    How did that work out? I had one or two articles in a local science fiction organization newsletter. I 'sold' poetry for contributor's copies to magazines barely heard of today. An anthology sale in 1999 never earned royalties because the publisher went belly-up a year later, and the editor still has copies in her garage. In the fine-art field, I lost money to start-up design companies with bankruptcies and poor business models in their past. So I learned the hard way: trust but verify, and give new businesses a chance to fail with someone else's money and products.

    Flash forward to 2009 when I got back into writing. The markets opened up so much it no longer made sense to go with anything but the most prestigious venue possible. This doesn't have to be a pro-rated magazine, as many literary and academic journals offer serious credentials to their authors. For hobbyist authors who just want to see their work 'out there' self-publishing plans completely side-step the middleman publishers.

    When it came time to research a very narrow genre for my debut novel, I didn't even bother to query some lovely small presses because they showed averages of double-digit annual sales, virtually no advertising in larger markets, and they relied on Print-on-Demand through B&N or other catalogs. I've known POD in the art market: I have two posters that netted me $29 in POD royalties last year. Big whoop.

    I will not work with a publisher, no matter how kind or lovely, who wants me to subsidize operating costs. If they don't have enough capital to fund their business plan for at least a couple of years, they're too unstable for me to risk.

    As James and many other AW folks have said: "A story that's publishable by one is publishable by many. A writer should aim high."

    I hope Iconic treats you and your book well, Christina, and that they buck the trend of so many other small publishers we've seen come and go in the last decade.

  2. #27
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    Love your cover

    Quote Originally Posted by cnhoward View Post
    Bottom line is that Iconic followed through on everything that they promised. I went in knowing they were a very new company and I signed the contract after asking for a couple of changes. Nobody twisted my arm. I don’t feel deceived or hoodwinked in any way.
    cnhoward, "followed through on everything they promised..." So far, you mean.

    With your book, was extensive editing done? A friend of mine, who is unlikely to come here, told me they are very disappointed with Iconic. Absolutely no editing was done. No marketing was done. She wasn't even aware the book had been launched on Amazon. She did not receive the specified number of free books promised. I hope things go better for you. And I'm sorry you felt "attacked" here. It isn't about you; it's about your publisher, and this forum is for other writers to make informed decisions. Iconic sounds like a lousy bet. But if your claim is "happy" then good luck to you.

    I do like your cover by the way. Did you hire and pay for the cover artist, or were they provided by Iconic?

    Incidentally, I find it cowardly that your publisher asked you to "defend" them by asking you to come here and say positive things.


    Last edited by LillyPu; 09-21-2012 at 04:57 AM. Reason: cn howard deleted her post "Absolute Write is awful" so I deleted the link.

  3. #28
    The 1st Rule of Write Club: Write! Jamiekswriter's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, it looks like with that 250 copy policy in place, Iconic *is* a vanity/pay for play publisher. If the author's royalties came out to be .50 a book, she will "pay" Iconic $125.00 for the opportunity to publish her book before she sees any royalties. This makes me sad and mad at the same time.

    Sad, because I would have been taken in by this scheme when I first started and trusted everybody.

    Mad, because Iconic is either taking advantage of writers or is clueless that they are taking advantage of writers.

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  4. #29
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    After following this thread to another online forum, I can only shake my head in sadness.

    I've had my nose thwapped in AW for posting idiotic things, and it will probably happen again. Even so, I've *never* had anyone say outright or through implication that I was an idiot. I've gained several contracts through AW forums, and learned more about publishing in my two years here than in 16 years of solo study. Have I been royally pissed-off by some things that were said to me about my work? Sure. But I mined those comments for the useful bits of information, and applied them.

    Years of writers' support groups and local writers' meetings had insulated me from some hard truths. When querying my own work, I had to learn this about commercial print or e-pub venues: no one cared about my feelings, my years of writing, or my daydreams. They cared about my actual work, and whether it might sell more than a few copies to my relatives. More often than not, when I found a publisher or agent who seemed overly sympathetic - they were in it to sell me something.

    I've been a hobbyist. I've already had my name in small-press publishers' lists, and I have a bit of a following in other fields. Right now, I want to make my hobby a little more lucrative. That means going with publishers and agents who will actually market my work beyond a B&N listing or a few press releases.

    This is the core difference between AW and some of the other writers' support groups I follow - I use AW for the industry know-how, not the bandaids for my hurt feelings.

    I really do wish Christina well, and hope her sales numbers are great enough to justify her faith in her publisher.
    Last edited by Filigree; 09-18-2012 at 04:04 AM. Reason: wrong name

  5. #30
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Oh, cnhoward, if you're watching this at all:
    • Please understand that Old Hack's comment about Barnes & Noble was a comment about the publisher, not of your work. She was saying that the publisher didn't do for you anything you could have done for yourself WRT Barnes & Noble, NOT belittling your accomplishment.
    • If people here were assuming your work was no good, or "degrading your accomplishments", they wouldn't have been encouraging you to think closely about what publisher you choose.
    • I think it was incredibly, incredibly unfair of your publisher to put you "in the middle" by asking you to come & defend. It put you in an uncomfortable position that was completely unnecessary. (And I think it contributed to your mistaking criticisms of the publisher for criticisms of your accomplishments.)


    Anyway, I'm sorry that you found your experience with Absolute Write so unpleasant . I wish you well in all your future endeavors .
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  6. #31
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    cnhoward, I'm so very sorry it all went so horribly wrong for you. That's a nightmare of a story. I hope you get the money issues sorted out soon, and that you start to feel better about this soon too.

    I strongly suggest you contact Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, and tell her your story (although I'll ask her to come and read it here too).

    My condolences for your loss.

  7. #32
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnhoward View Post
    Now that all is said and done, I have to offer my sincere apologies to one and all. You were totally right and I was wrong.


    At the time, I was still under some pressure to save not only my publisher's reputation, but in a bigger way, my own. If he failed, I failed. I still had my book launch pending and I had to hold out hope that he would follow through with his end of the contract and do right by me. It didn't happen.


    I admit that I did take personal offense at the B&N statement here because in my mind, that was a really important step forward in my attempt to be a legit writer. But I did appreciate the good advise I was getting. It was opening my blinded eyes to a lot of things. Admittedly, once my hairs are raised, I kind of dig in and get stubborn. For that, I'm so sorry.


    Instead of it being my dream come true, my book launch was the thing nightmares are made of. Although it's been over a month, I'm still having bad dreams, panic attacks, not sleeping, I've lost 22 lbs., I'm not eating, I can't write much of anything, I still break out in spontaneous tears. I was humiliated in front of my colleagues, my friends, my family, my bosses, the University benefactors, and even some media (who kindly said NOTHING about it).


    Not only was this happening, but my uncle died on his way to my signing--wanting to help me celebrate my big moment. So it was as if he died for nothing. My family and close friends were in deep sorrow for his loss that night while still trying to be up for my sake. (We were all an emotional mess from crying all day) and then to have the publisher do what he did... it was my own personal hell.


    Not saying who was right or wrong and not getting into the exact details (so take it with a grain of salt knowing there's always two sides to a story), basically the books weren't printed until the last minute. The publisher changed the fonts and colors and back cover blurb and fonts without me or the graphics person knowing about it. Plus when he changed it, he misspelled the word Angels. Instead, the title and spine were printed as Wrath of 'Angles.' No, it wasn't a book about mad mathematicians. There were font issues and typos on the back cover as well.


    The University, who was sponsoring the author reception and signing, told the publisher he couldn't sell a book with such obvious typos, especially since it was an academic environment AND my job at the University is to fix typos in the national library databases. And there weren't just typos on the outside, but on the inside. A serious typo was on page 2 of one book! It would have left the University and me with a black eye. It still did in a way.


    Long story short, I ended up having to print the books as promotional copies (without an ISBN) at a local printer in order to have physical books in time for the signing. It was either do it or have no books at the book signing. The publisher then informed me I was in breach of contract for printing more than 7,500 words and for being in competition with him when I told him I needed to make the money back for what it cost me to print them and for the promotional materials costs, so he had to either let me sell the promotional copies or pay me for them. He refused to do either (even though he had given me permission to print corrected copies at the espresso book machine in downtown Denver using his .pdf) which I couldn't physically do because of my health issues, nor could I afford it. Nor did I know what kind of set up costs, computer skills, etc. would be needed to do this. And it was very expensive.


    I guess neither of us trusted the other. He wouldn't give me the money without the printer's receipt (which was at my house an hour and half round trip from the University and which I said I would fax to him as soon as I got home. I never even thought about bringing it with me. I was notably overwhelmed by everything, all the relatives and people in the house helping me get ready, planning the funeral, etc.). And I didn't trust him when he said he would send me a check for it later. He had already said he would send me a check for some of the promotional materials which I had yet to see.


    He walked out on the signing, telling me his lawyer advised him to leave and to tell me I couldn't sell any books. This was after everyone was already there, seated and waiting (and listening to us in the back of the room). I ended up having to just give the books away and take the loss.


    To make matters worse, I'm going to have to send the publisher's books back at my own expense (yes, the books I was told I couldn't sell.) That's another $200 or more out of my pocket. I'm handicapped. I can't drive. I'm on a fixed and reduced disability income. I've already had to take a hit for the printing costs and for the promotional materials. It was a very expensive lesson to learn.


    Two lives were lost that day--one literally (my uncle) and my own creative soul. I spent 35 years writing what I thought was my masterpiece work. I was so proud of it. Years and years of tweaking and researching and making everything plausible and fit just right throughout the trilogy. Now it's gone. Irretrievable because of my stupidity and ignorance and being too cheap to pay a lawyer to have looked over the contracts first before signing. It hurts and makes me cry to even think about it. I can't even look at the cover images. They remind me of my failure and my uncle.

    And I have very little hope of ever seeing a dime from any of the three books I signed over to Iconic. I'm not saying it won't ever happen, I'm just saying I'm not holding my breath--especially when it's not being actively marketed and there's a 250 book clause before I see any royalties which have to equal more than $100 dollars before a check is issued.


    And that's the fallout from my own experience. He can say I was wrong. I can say he was wrong, perhaps we were both wrong, but in the end, a man died and everyone lost something from the experience. It couldn't have been any more tragic and devastating.
    Oh, Christina, I am so sorry to hear this. Condolences on the loss of your uncle.

    You're grieving now for a number of things, which is understandable. But don't count yourself out; you've been writing for a long time, and once you get through the grief, your writing mojo will probably come back. Just give yourself time and permission to grieve.

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  8. #33
    phoenix blazing Parametric's Avatar
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    That is one of the worst publisher stories I've ever heard. I'm so sorry.

  9. #34
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Oh no!

    I do hope you find your creative spirit again, once you have a chance to mourn (both for your uncle, and for this horrible experience).


    Edited to add: also, thank you for coming back here to tell your story -- it will almost certainly prevent at least a few people from being duped into signing up.
    Last edited by LindaJeanne; 11-07-2012 at 04:11 PM.
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  10. #35
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    that is just so awful. I have no words ....... just jaw-droppingly awful. I am new to this industry but in a million years I wouldn't have even thought something like that possible! I will never go near this publisher. If I see their books I will avoid them!

    That is just heart breaking. To work so long on a novel only to have it treated so poorly.

    I am officially terrified.

  11. #36
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnhoward View Post
    Now that all is said and done, I have to offer my sincere apologies to one and all. You were totally right and I was wrong.
    I'm sorry it didn't work out for you.

    At the time, I was still under some pressure to save not only my publisher's reputation, but in a bigger way, my own. If he failed, I failed.
    I can completely understand this, and I know that everyone here would too. It's hard to hear bad things about something or someone you work with.


    Instead of it being my dream come true, my book launch was the thing nightmares are made of. Although it's been over a month, I'm still having bad dreams, panic attacks, not sleeping, I've lost 22 lbs., I'm not eating, I can't write much of anything, I still break out in spontaneous tears. I was humiliated in front of my colleagues, my friends, my family, my bosses, the University benefactors, and even some media (who kindly said NOTHING about it).


    Not only was this happening, but my uncle died on his way to my signing--wanting to help me celebrate my big moment. So it was as if he died for nothing. My family and close friends were in deep sorrow for his loss that night while still trying to be up for my sake. (We were all an emotional mess from crying all day) and then to have the publisher do what he did... it was my own personal hell.


    Not saying who was right or wrong and not getting into the exact details (so take it with a grain of salt knowing there's always two sides to a story), basically the books weren't printed until the last minute. The publisher changed the fonts and colors and back cover blurb and fonts without me or the graphics person knowing about it. Plus when he changed it, he misspelled the word Angels. Instead, the title and spine were printed as Wrath of 'Angles.' No, it wasn't a book about mad mathematicians. There were font issues and typos on the back cover as well.


    The University, who was sponsoring the author reception and signing, told the publisher he couldn't sell a book with such obvious typos, especially since it was an academic environment AND my job at the University is to fix typos in the national library databases. And there weren't just typos on the outside, but on the inside. A serious typo was on page 2 of one book! It would have left the University and me with a black eye. It still did in a way.


    Long story short, I ended up having to print the books as promotional copies (without an ISBN) at a local printer in order to have physical books in time for the signing. It was either do it or have no books at the book signing. The publisher then informed me I was in breach of contract for printing more than 7,500 words and for being in competition with him when I told him I needed to make the money back for what it cost me to print them and for the promotional materials costs, so he had to either let me sell the promotional copies or pay me for them. He refused to do either (even though he had given me permission to print corrected copies at the espresso book machine in downtown Denver using his .pdf) which I couldn't physically do because of my health issues, nor could I afford it. Nor did I know what kind of set up costs, computer skills, etc. would be needed to do this. And it was very expensive.


    I guess neither of us trusted the other. He wouldn't give me the money without the printer's receipt (which was at my house an hour and half round trip from the University and which I said I would fax to him as soon as I got home. I never even thought about bringing it with me. I was notably overwhelmed by everything, all the relatives and people in the house helping me get ready, planning the funeral, etc.). And I didn't trust him when he said he would send me a check for it later. He had already said he would send me a check for some of the promotional materials which I had yet to see.


    He walked out on the signing, telling me his lawyer advised him to leave and to tell me I couldn't sell any books. This was after everyone was already there, seated and waiting (and listening to us in the back of the room). I ended up having to just give the books away and take the loss.


    To make matters worse, I'm going to have to send the publisher's books back at my own expense (yes, the books I was told I couldn't sell.) That's another $200 or more out of my pocket. I'm handicapped. I can't drive. I'm on a fixed and reduced disability income. I've already had to take a hit for the printing costs and for the promotional materials. It was a very expensive lesson to learn.
    That's one really shitty mess. I'm sorry you had to go through that. But thank you for sharing - these sort of stories are always valuable for folks researching publishers.
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  12. #37
    ...it's anything but. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    cnhoward, I am so very sorry. And condolences on the loss of your uncle. Let yourself grieve, but don't give up on your creativity.

    Please do contact Writer Beware.
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  13. #38
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    Christina, please contact me (Writer Beware). beware@sfwa.org . I would like to start a file on this publisher, but I can't do it unless you get in touch with me directly. I think you also need to do what you can to get free of this guy. All information shared with Writer Beware is held in confidence.

    I'm so sorry for what you've experienced with this publisher. It truly is one of the worst publisher stories I've heard (and I've heard a lot). Please do get in touch.

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  14. #39
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Christina, I am so worry to hear about this. I was hoping you and the publisher would dodge the developing issues and come out stronger. I'm cringing on your behalf.

    Grieve. Heal. You will get through this. You will write other stories, and they will be amazing. Remember at all times *you* went into this business with good faith, *you* did everything you could to make the launch a success, and nobody attending it should waste a moment snarking at you.

    You did what you were supposed to, barring some more front-end research that got lost in the enthusiasm. It happens. As writers, we tend to be starved for validation, so it's understandable to react with joy and trust when someone else offers faith in our work. It's too easy to let emotion rule the day, especially when emotion feels so good - and rationality seems to threaten that joy.

    I have to thank you, Christina. Your story has reaffirmed my belief in the good that AbsoluteWrite and other watchdog sites can do on behalf of inexperienced writers.

    I am going through a related legal situation that I can't really explain at the moment, but it was leaving me with a weary exasperation toward unscrupulous publishers and a profound disdain for most of their clients. I'd almost reached the point of deciding that each party deserved the other, and that I wan't going to get in the way of more P.T. Barnum moments.

    You've reminded me there is a real, heartbreaking, human cost to this problem, and that we are all stronger as a group than when we are alone.

    For all the newer and/or inexperienced writers who might be lurking through this thread: please learn from both of us today. Opinion posts on AW and other publishing industry watchdog sites may be too harsh for comfort, but they are coming from a wide base of experience and informed consensus. Do your research. Ask for help before you sign that contract.

    And Christina? I will be, with your permission, sharing this entire thread with my legal counsel, as a near-perfect example of what watchdog groups are supposed to do.

  15. #40
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    Sorry to hear your terrible experience. No author should have to go through something like that, but it's going to happen with the amount of shitty people in the world only looking to make a quick buck or two at the expense of someone else.

    And this should serve as yet another warning to all authors - do your due research, and when folks here on Absolute Write and other such sites provide warnings and advice, it's in your very best interests to listen carefully!

  16. #41
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    This is without doubt the most heartbreaking (and rage-inducing!) story I've ever read on AbsoluteWrite.
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  17. #42
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    cnhoward, I'm so sorry this happened to you. My condolences to you and your family for the loss of your uncle.

    I hope that when you are ready, you will come back to AW. This was a sad and terrible experience, and it's understandable that it could leave you feeling that your work has been wasted, and that your creative soul is lost. It may not feel like it right now, but these things are not the case. You planned, wrote and completed a novel and took it to the publication stage. That's vital experience for a writer. You've obviously got the discipline and creativity to do this. You have control over your writing future. Don't let this experience fool you into believing it's vanished out of your hands.


  18. #43
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    I am so horrified for you, and so so sorry this happened, but this isn't the end of you as a writer. It will take some strength to get back there, but I'm sure you will find it.

    Do whatever you need to do to get to your healed self. Know there are loads of people rooting for you.
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  19. #44
    Wicked chicken AW Moderator evilrooster's Avatar
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    Christina, that's a heartbreaking story.

    Please give yourself some time to grow back before you despair of yourself as a writer. You sound like you're in a terrible place right now, but it will get better.

    Thank you for coming back to share your story. It may help other people avoid your situation.

    And I'm so sorry to hear about your uncle.
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  20. #45
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    I'm so sorry your experience left you feeling so torn up. Please don't give up. The take-away here is that this sort of thing is devastating to any writer -- BUT it's not any reflection on your talent, your skill, or your work ethic.
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  21. #46
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    I'm in total shock. I'm so sorry your uncle passed, and my condolences to you and your family. And like many others here, my rage grows at this company. It's rare that I comment and even rarer that I comment on one of these posts, but this is just...heartbreaking to me. Stay strong, keep writing (when you can) don't let this company kill your creative spirit.
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  22. #47
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    First, my condolences on your situation. It might seem terrible now, but like all things in life, this too shall pass. Stay strong, healthy and creative.

    Second, thank you for coming back and telling us about your experience. I know it must be hard to open up to a bunch of strangers with something so personal and painful, but you may very well have saved some other writers from this situation.

    And finally:

    Quote Originally Posted by cnhoward View Post
    ...
    And I have very little hope of ever seeing a dime from any of the three books I signed over to Iconic. I'm not saying it won't ever happen, I'm just saying I'm not holding my breath--especially when it's not being actively marketed and there's a 250 book clause before I see any royalties which have to equal more than $100 dollars before a check is issued.
    ...
    When you're feeling better, have a look at your contract for a reversion of rights clause; there may be a way to get out of this contract. Even if another publisher will not take on this work, you can still self-publish... if that is what you want to do. Just don't think you are completely out of options.

  23. #48
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    Iconic Publishing -- NOT RECOMMENDED

    Quote Originally Posted by cnhoward View Post
    I'm still a basket case over everything, but the other very fine Iconic authors shouldn't suffer for it. They deserve every chance for success despite what happened to me. My dreams were crushed, but it doesn't make it right to lay that same fate on others who worked just as hard as I did and managed to make it work for them.
    My condolences to you, cnhoward, and I hope you're on the mending road to recovery from this living hell-hole of a nightmare. Your speaking out might well save other writers from a similar fate. Thank you.

    It's hard for me to believe, after the outrageously shabby treatment you received from this publisher, that yours is an isolated case. You seemed to have handed all your hard promotional work (everything done SO right!) over to Jano Donnachaidh on a silver platter, and still he royally f***ed it up.

    You'll be happy to know that some of the other UNhappy Iconic authors got into gear and did the next right thing. Iconic Publishing now has a "NOT RECOMMENDED" next to its name in Preditors & Editors.

  24. #49
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Hurrah!

    *farts in Iconic's general direction*
    "There is only one thing worse than being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass, and that is being obliged to sit cross-legged on the grass near an ant colony"
    Oscar Wilde (citation needed)

  25. #50
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Stolen copyright

    Hi everyone--my first book was published last year with a company now on your not recommended list. I wholeheartedly agree. I won't go into my entire nightmare, but I do have a new situation on which I need advice.

    I've just discovered, along with five other authors, that the publisher has obtained the copyright to our books. Our contracts state the publisher will copyright the work in the author's name within 3 months of publication. When I found out in April that he had not completed the process, I filed for it myself. But somehow he managed to obtain the copyright in the publishing company's name on March 27.

    I called the copyright office and asked how this could happen. The woman told me that anyone can file for anything and they take the person at their word. I told her obviously you can't take people at their word, the man filed for copyright for my work. She just repeated, "We take people at their word."

    I asked what happens to the $37 I paid when I filed, and she said it is still pending. I asked how can two people have a copyright to the same book, and she said it happens.

    First, I want to caution all authors who sign with a small press to copyright the work themselves.

    Second, I would like to know if anyone else has encountered the same problem and what can be done about it? I was getting ready to send a DMCA letter to Amazon and B&N, but now that the publisher has the copyright, I can't do that. Meanwhile, he continues to make money on my book and not pay me royalties.

    One attorney told me it could cost up to $40,000 to sue him. I've asked other attorneys to take the case on contingency, but haven't found one willing to do that yet. Any advice would be appreciated!

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