Just putting out a message out here, as advised by another member, to report that I've had a really negative experience with this publisher, and with his first anthology.
I originally chucked it all down to me being a new author, but I think the company's had its fair share of teething problems too. I've seen a fair amount of unprofessionalism by Mark Parker, owner and managing editor, namely:
- an instance of an announcement that I can't seem to see as anything other than "shaming." A couple of authors gave incorrect information about the anthology. It happens. Yes, in the statement, no names are mentioned, but when you know what/who he is referring to in the specific instances mentioned in the announcement, witnessing this is rather disappointing. I'd have been mortified it that had been about me. If statements are to be made, the message should be general. One-to-one matters should be dealt privately. I don't want to be privvy to other people's business.
- editing problems: the contributors to the publisher's first anthology signed a contract that stated that any change to the text would need to be approved by the author, except grammatical errors. When Mark sent my edited story to my partner (who was doing the formatting and graphic arts for the company/anthology), we discovered that up to then, none of the authors were given the opportunity to check their edits. Supposedly there were only minor grammatical corrections. But actually, my edits were, for the most part, rather questionable, and the editor/publisher had gone beyond the limitations set by his own contract by amending more than minor grammatical errors and never checking those with me. If I hadn't brought that up, none of us contributors would have known, because by the time this came out, half the stories had already been edited, and Mark was well on his way to continue the way he was going, in a rush to publish ASAP as he was already past the deadline. I can't say for the other authors, but I was much less happy with my story as a result. Imagine finding that out once the book is out?! Because yes, even though I heard him say that the pressure is on him because it's his neck that was on the line since it was his name on the front cover, well, no, we authors have a stake in it too. It's our name under the title at the start of each story after all. And also, by signing the contract, we authors give permission to the publisher to publish our story. And that's as far as it goes. Bad criticism disregards who owns the rights when. After this blew up and Mark was confronted with the fact that he wasn't asking authors to give their consent to the edits, he eventually relented and offered contributors the right to check their edits. It's a shame it went that far, because he had been advised to do so all along.
- threatening attitude. My contract was cancelled because I withdrew my support to the anthology. No big deal, I'd had enough negativity from it in the first place. My partner's contract was also cancelled on the same grounds (he also had a story in the anthology). When I announced what had happened, and why, and advised the authors I knew who were also contributors to check their own edits in the light of what had happened to mine, by the way I never said the same had happened to them because I had no proof of that, but that it was better to be on the safe side, well I got threatened for libel. Thing is, I'm not lying and I have a whole array of screen captures I took before leaving the group and from personal correspondence that I can use as back up. Then, he used a cease and desist asking all contributors to remove any photos they had posted of the anthology's cover, since he was getting it re-done by another artist (my partner having designed the original one and a few others which were to be used for future anthologies), based on some half-truths. But the whole thing about this cease and desist thing is that he himself never removed the original cover photos he had posted. The mind boggles as to the real value of this cease and desist.
Also, I was nudged merely 24 hours after receiving my contract because I hadn't signed and returned it yet. No threats, but still. I'd have liked to be able to read and sign it in my own time, when my head could process things better, and not be rushed into it.
- constant change of mind. It's really difficult, as a contributor, to follow things at Scarlet Galleon Publications. First we have a 12-month contract that goes down to 6 months as per the submission guidelines, only to revert back to 12 when the contracts are sent. Then we have the various announcements, which, since they were coming from Mark, might count as official, but then things don't pan out as planned, and we get issued yet another statement asking not to divulge any information without the publisher's prior consent. The anthology was supposed to be in one volume, then two volumes, then one volume again. Publication date was originally 22nd of September, then the date came and went and no idea of when the publication date would be (but then it was delayed further by authors requesting to review their edits). People are named as contributors, then they aren't in the TOC. So we get announcements that are kind of announcements but not official, but we are left to guess about that. So we get re-issued a statement demanding us all not to divulge any information without express consent from the publisher. In the end, I just shut up. And I think many others did. Unfortunately, that kind of killed the buzz that should have built up prior to the release of the publication. And contributors are not the only ones to be confused! Shortly after the publication of the anthology, I found a recent entry on Google about the release of the anthology with my name still listed as a contributor when I was actually booted out a month before.
- when work and friendship get mixed. Mark, my partner and I were all "friends." Well, my partner was more of a friend than I was, since my relationship with Mark was based on a few Facebook encounters, whereas my partner was actually involved with the project from the start, being a valuable source of information for Mark (who had little experience of everything publishing), and dispensing all this information and all this time for free (and that amounts to quite a lot over the months!), on the basis of friendship. When the edits thing blew up, Mark actually accused my partner of being jealous, and used personal information to attack us - yes, some people have ways to make you guilty of spending an afternoon visiting a local park. Thing is, Mark gave himself twice the workload by deciding to publish double the stories he'd originally thought he would. None of this was our fault. I feel a barrier was crossed that shouldn't have been, here.
Like I said, all this may just be teething problems. I thought I would move on with this, but then I researched publishers and authors behaving badly, after other things I heard blowing up in the publishing world, asked a few questions here and there, and was told that my experience was not insignificant. I know that I'm not the only one who had a not-so-stellar experience with Mark Parker and Scarlet Galleon Publications. But apparently, from third parties, other authors are happy with theirs, so to be fair, I'm mentioning it. Maybe I was just a problem-child, because I had nothing to lose, and, to be honest, not really anything to gain from my story being published, since writing is a hobby and I've never been aiming to get my name out there. Oh well. But that doesn't make my experience any less negative. I've been pondering going all out about it for a while, and I truly feel that maybe it might help someone else. Someone who thinks about dealing with this company, or someone who is new, like me, and considering submitting to a brand new publisher. My personal opinion is that it's probably best to wait and see before jumping on board this ship. I don't think there was a will to do mischief on behalf of the publisher/editor, those problems happened due to lack of experience and professionalism. Hopefully, Mark will get trained as a proper editor, since he's planning to release more anthologies, and he will learn from his mistakes for the better. However, for me, the damage is done. But, seeing the positive in all that, with this experience and all the learning I've done from researching, I'm much more prepared if I ever decided to submit again
To finish with, and because, of course, there are always three truths in any situation, I thought I would leave you with Mark's hot-off-the-press interview, with his own vision on the edits situation as an answer to Question 4, which, as you can see, is completely different to mine. http://www.examiner.com/article/insi...ad-harvest-q-a . I'll abstain from sharing my opinion on his view of the whole editing thing, and especially the fact that apparently, many authors expect editing to be merely proofreading. I simply disagree and find this statement belittles the contributors and writers in general.
Sorry it's a bit long, but that's pretty much all of it. Thank you for reading.