I've been trying to share my experiences with Soaring Eagle Books (aka Eagle's Branch Books) and its owner/CEO Penny Fletcher.
A friend of mine recommended I post here.
I'm here because I'm trying to prevent anyone else from going through the same publishing nightmare I'm currently dealing with. Penny Fletcher is still actively promoting her company (its been open almost a year now) and looking for new writers. She spoke at a Nanowrimo event in Florida last weekend, she says she's being included in next year's Writer's Market and she's even talked about trying to get on with RWA as a speaker.
I was offered a traditional contract with Soaring Eagle Books in January of 2014. I thought I had finally found the help with editing, formatting and marketing that I believed I needed to succeed. I signed my publishing contract in February 2014 and moved full speed ahead, working with my new publisher to get my novel, Feeding Gators, released.
My first sign that something was amiss came very shortly after I'd signed my rights over. Penny Fletcher had said SEB would be exclusively small press but just after I had signed to publish, she emailed out a document that said they would be doing both traditional publishing and pay-for-service publishing, aka vanity publishing.
I asked my contact whether they were going into vanity publishing and was given an explanation that, in order for the press to afford the front end on their traditional publishing, they were going to offer services for-hire as well as the traditional setup. I was assured that my contract was traditional and would be fully honored. It seemed a reasonable enough explanation for a new, small business that was still trying to get on its feet.
My novel went through editing. It was formatted. It went to the printer. My publisher was unable to give me an official release date but the book did become available for purchase in the time-frame when she said it would.Despite being edited twice, the final product has some pretty glaring typos.
I don't claim to know what happened to introduce these errors to the text, but I do know that my own final copy doesn't have them. I very intentionally checked it specifically for these errors. I don't know where they came from or how they were introduced. What I do know is that my twice-professionally edited book reads like it needs an editor.
However, at this point it was too late to do anything about the typos. We were on to marketing the book.
While I have some PR and marketing experience, I was leery of trying to sell my book all by my lonesome. One of the main reasons I signed with Ms. Fletcher was because I wanted to know I had someone out there treading water with me in the scary sea of book sales.
Ms. Fletcher talked about great things in terms of marketing. She said my book would be professionally reviewed by Atlantic Book Review prior to its release. She told me that the book would be available in several major distributors catalogs and could be ordered from any book store in America. She said it would have space on their website. She said press releases would be sent to local book selling venues and news outlets. She mentioned book signings. She also promised plenty of social networking and marketing.
At the time of publication, I felt that what she stated was true. I desperately wanted that marketing assistance and I believed it to be worth sacrificing some profits for.
On my part, I created a website (gengriffin.weebly.com) and try to keep it updated regularly. I created a page on Facebook and a handle on Twitter so I could connect with my potential readers on whichever platforms they preferred. I signed up for a new email address and created a Google Plus account. I try to spend at least an hour each day interacting in some way with potential readers and (hopefully) fans.
On the publisher's part, well... Lets just say that I was in for a few surprises. First my review from Atlantic Book Review was canceled because my publisher claimed Atlantic Book Review was taking too long to get the review back to her. My book had to run without the fun review page and reviewer quotes you see in most books. The press releases may or may not have ever been sent, I certainly never heard a single word about them and was never contacted by anyone who saw one. The book signings faded into the mists of time.
I was told that my book would also be listed in the major distribution catalogs (Ingram and Baker and Taylor). As of November 2014, the book has yet to actually appear in Ingram's catalog. Six months after release and I'm still waiting.
My book is listed on the publishing company's website. For the record, there is no link included that allows the viewer to purchase the book. You can not purchase the novel from this website at this point in time (November 6, 2014).
As far as social media marketing, my publisher's idea of social media marketing turned out to be mass-sharing (aka spamming) various author and book groups with an image of the book's cover. Sometimes these posts include links to buy the book. Sometimes not. Either way, I'm sure my novel really stood out among the 500 or so other novels that get spammed the same way in the same groups on a daily basis.
In a recent communication, my publisher informed me that this social media sharing was a large part of her marketing, along with passing out postcards and/or flyers for the book during her personal public speaking engagements.
At one point, I ordered a bulk order of paperback copies of my novel through Ms. Fletcher (I had to go through her to get the discount). She ignored my attempts to confirm my address and then shipped my bulk order the wrong address. When notified of the problem, she had the order re-shipped without correcting the typo in the address. This meant that my paperbacks were mis-shipped twice. I ultimately managed to get my hands on 2 out of 3 boxes that I had paid for. The third box was lost somewhere in the process and I wound up giving up in frustration.
Unfortunately my frustrations with marketing and shipping have nothing on my problems getting my share-of-profits on my novel.
My contract with Penelope Fletcher and Soaring Eagle Books entitles me to a share-of-profit from the sales of my books.
Unfortunately, Ms. Fletcher doesn't see fit to track the sales of books. Or at least, she claims to be unable to track them despite working with IngramSpark for distribution.
Ms. Fletcher sent my first "quarterly" check 2 months late accompanied by a post it note telling me to ask someone else how my profits were figured. I later learned that that check only reflected a single month of my eBook sales instead of paying me for the entire quarter (3 months) of both eBook and POD sales.
My second check arrived recently (also over a month late) after I requested the rights of my novel be returned to me due to breech of contract for non-payment of share-of-profit and Ms. Fletcher's repeated and admitted inability to track the number of copies of my book that had sold.
As of today, November 17 2014, Ms. Fletcher is still not complying with my requests for an earnings statement to explain the amount that she wrote the check for. She continues to fail to provide sales records for Ingram's sales of the book. She also openly admits that she refuses to send sales records for Feeding Gators on her own company stationary.
Ms. Fletcher continues to refuse to return the rights to Feeding Gators to me, refuses to stop selling the book, refuses to properly account for the sales of my novel and refuses to pay me accurately for my sales.
All in all, my experience publishing with Penny Fletcher and Soaring Eagle Books has been a nightmare and I don't recommend anyone use this company.