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Thread: Stanley Publishing

  1. #1
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Stanley Publishing

    I was surprised not to find a thread on Stanley Publishing here already, so I started one, in case there are Stanley authors out there who want to publicly report their experiences.

    As of now, Stanley appears to be defunct. Its website has been suspended, and there are author reports of non-payment as of the second quarter of 2012. Reportedly also, the publisher hasn't been responding to emails or other attempts at contact since July.

    Stanley's Facebook page is still active.

    - Victoria

  2. #2
    In the Center of things Vandal's Avatar
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    Hi, everyone. My name is Vandal and I'm a Stanley author.

    <Hi, Vandal!>

    When I first approached them in 2008, they were new and inexperienced and only had a few books out. They were not a good fit for the manuscript I had at the time so I put them aside.

    "Give them a few years to figure things out." That is the conventional wisdom.

    Cut to September, 2009. My MG mystery Dizzy Miss Lizzie got me an agent, but he never sold it, then he grew weary of me and Lizzie and we parted ways almost a year later. I tried to find a home for this book because I knew it was publishable. In the next year I turned down three contracts with small presses (all with decent reputations) because they were "not quite right." In August, 2011, I approached Marsha Morris of Stanley Publishing and she offered a contract. I talked to several Stanley authors and they were quite happy with the publisher and sales and the contract. Stanley offered a great royalty and print runs, something the other three didn't. She even had a distributor. I signed and off we went.

    Between December 2011 and June 2012, all was well. The editing was good, the cover was nice and the small press machine rolled on. I had a successful launch, local bookstore placement, and Lizzie was getting very good reviews from "people I didn't know". We even went to a second print run. In early July, Marsha suggested we put the ebook out for free to stimulate even more sales. She was hoping for 300-500 downloads.

    We delivered 1300 downloads and made it to #1 on the Amazon freebie list for middle grade mysteries.

    Rollin', rollin', rollin'!

    Sales continued into late July, but I had yet to receive a royalty check for Q1. I politely nudged and she sent me one later that month. Thank you very much. I was the top seller for Q1 and Q2.

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is when the wheels came off the publishing wagon. I really don't know what happened. Stanley published several more books over the summer (repeat authors plus a debut) and into the fall. Q2 royalty checks were due, so again I nudged. Nothing. Lizzie was sold out on Amazon, so I asked Marsha to restock it, which she did. But still, no $$$.

    In September, the website went down due to lack of payment. I contacted other Stanley authors and they didn't know what was going on. My emails were ignored. My DMs were ignored. My phone calls were not returned. My agent even tried to get an answer, but got only silence.

    WTF?

    The website eventually came back up due to circumstances I can't disclose. Lizzie sold out again on Amazon, but still no royalty payments. Another author was relying on the publisher for books to sell for various charities, but got the same silent treatment. All we wanted to know was what was going on.

    No response.

    I looked over my contract and found that the publisher was in violation of several sections and I sent a strongly-but-professionally-worded "return my rights" email to Marsha.

    You guessed it. No response.

    All I want is the rights to Lizzie back. I'll never see the money she owes me so all she has to do is reply to the email.

    Silence.

    Unfortunately, some of the other Stanley authors are friends with Marsha and do not plan on taking any action (the lady who needs the books for charity is planning on getting a lawyer, thankfully).

    I contacted Writer Beware, which led to a Facebook post and a Tweet earlier today. Thanks to Victoria for helping spread the word.

    I really don't want to hire a lawyer for what is likely hundreds of dollars in royalties (but we'll never know since I never got a statement).

    I found a link to the Texas Consumer Protection site and I'll look into sending them the above information. I'm not sure what you can do when someone refuses every effort to communicate.

    I thought I did my homework, I vetted dozens of presses and read (and turned down) many contracts.

    I made a mistake by choosing Stanley Publishing and now I'm paying the price. Actually, Lizzie's paying the price. Amazon refuses to pull the listing because they still have some copies "In stock." I'll never see a dime from those copies. It all goes to the silent publisher.

    I appreciate all the support I've gotten here, but please don't send me any hugs. I'm fine. Really. I have another book coming out in November and my agents are working up four other manuscripts.

    I just want my rights back, for Lizzie's sake.

    She's much smarter than I am.
    Last edited by Vandal; 01-24-2013 at 05:15 PM.
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  3. #3
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I am so sorry to hear this, Vandal. I hope you can get your rights back.

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  4. #4
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Hi, Vandal. Not offering hugs, but a suggestion: if all you want are your rights, and some of the other authors are friends of hers, how about approaching them and suggesting that they talk to her? Gist of that talk to be: give these people their rights back, and they'll go away, and not drag you into messy and expensive legal action.

    If they're her actual 'friends', presumably they can get in touch with her, and have some idea of her situation. Unless 'friends' is just code for 'people in denial'.

  5. #5
    It's too hot Mclesh's Avatar
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    Oh, Vandal, this sucks! I really feel for you. I sincerely hope you get your rights back and every dime you are owed; you certainly earned every penny.

    So sorry to hear about your experience.

  6. #6
    She who must be obeyed Amanda R.'s Avatar
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    That is really terrible. Keep us informed. We would like to know how this turns out for you.
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  7. #7
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about that too, Vandal. Wow, three offers and you turned them down? Makes me wonder if you were being too picky. I'm lucky if I get one, two would be even greater. Why would you submit to all these places and continue to turn them down? Perhaps asking questions first before you even submit would have been better. Then you wouldn't have been wasting so much time.

    I totally understand about being picky and trying to go with the right one. Call it as lesson learned. I learned the hard way too and started getting really choosy with who I submit to too. It is really good to hear you're doing better and have an agent now. I sincerely hope things get better. Your books look interesting. Good luck with them.
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  8. #8
    In the Center of things Vandal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    Hi, Vandal. Not offering hugs, but a suggestion: if all you want are your rights, and some of the other authors are friends of hers, how about approaching them and suggesting that they talk to her? Gist of that talk to be: give these people their rights back, and they'll go away, and not drag you into messy and expensive legal action.

    If they're her actual 'friends', presumably they can get in touch with her, and have some idea of her situation. Unless 'friends' is just code for 'people in denial'.
    I've contacted each author and asked them to demand their rights back. One even sees Marsha on occasion and asked me if there was anything she could tell Marsha. Hell, yes. Tell her to let the authors know what happened to the company. Tell us anything. Something.

    Another author (with five books) contacted her and said Marsha was going to call me that night. She never did, of course. That author has since said he wasn't going to make waves. He did let it out that Marsha is as good as bankrupt.

    There are sheep.

    The author who donates her share to charity is truly pissed and will take action since she needs books by the hundreds to support her causes.
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  9. #9
    In the Center of things Vandal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undercover View Post
    Sorry to hear about that too, Vandal. Wow, three offers and you turned them down? Makes me wonder if you were being too picky. I'm lucky if I get one, two would be even greater. Why would you submit to all these places and continue to turn them down? Perhaps asking questions first before you even submit would have been better. Then you wouldn't have been wasting so much time.

    I totally understand about being picky and trying to go with the right one. Call it as lesson learned. I learned the hard way too and started getting really choosy with who I submit to too. It is really good to hear you're doing better and have an agent now. I sincerely hope things get better. Your books look interesting. Good luck with them.
    I turned down the other houses after seeing the contracts. They all had language that was quite unfavorable and would not divulge to me until they accepted the manuscript. One publisher would not make my book available in print form until 200 ebooks were sold. This was a recent change in policy and not on their website, but it was right there in the contract and I couldn't get it changed. Middle grade books need to be available in print from right away.

    Yes, I was picky, but the Stanley contract blew the others away. But alas.

    Thanks for the support!
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  10. #10
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    I agree, MG books need to go to print right away. Not every child has a nook or whatever.

    Well, I see you have a good agent behind you now, so I am sure things will get better. I like your little mystery books. Hopefully you will get your rights back and Lizzie can be reborn.
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  11. #11
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vandal View Post
    One even sees Marsha on occasion and asked me if there was anything she could tell Marsha. Hell, yes. Tell her to let the authors know what happened to the company. Tell us anything. Something.
    I'd get really specific with this person. Not 'something, anything', but "I want a written letter, signed by Marsha, returning my rights to me. Give me that, and I go away.
    Otherwise ..." Let her fill in the blanks with lawyers and ongoing problems for years.
    If she's 'as good as bankrupt', I think you want to get your rights back before actual bankruptcy, which will tie up your rights in her financial affairs.

  12. #12
    Hakuna Matata Little1's Avatar
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    that stinks Vandel I hope you get something back soon.
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  13. #13
    In the Center of things Vandal's Avatar
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    Update:

    I retained a lawyer to get my rights back for Dizzy Miss Lizzie and to force Amazon and B&N and others to stop selling it online. We are giving the (reclusive) publisher ten days to cooperate or the rights revert to me by default.

    I hate to spend the money, but it irks me to see my work sold with no compensation. Publisher had plenty of chances to avoid this action. I even offered her $200 last fall to make this go away.

    Silence is not golden.

    Lizzie is pissed, so I recommend you stay out of her way!
    Last edited by Vandal; 03-07-2014 at 08:55 AM.
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  14. #14
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Good for you Vandal. Sometimes there is no choice but to hire an attorney. I have to do the same with an issue of plagiarism. A bit costly but worth every penny.
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  15. #15
    In the Center of things Vandal's Avatar
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    I got my rights back to Dizzy Miss Lizzie and got it removed from Amazon as a download. B&N should be removing it soon.

    Publisher never did answer the complaint. What a low form of humanity.
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