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Thread: RockWay Press

  1. #1
    astonwest
    Guest

    RockWay Press

    www.rockwaypress.com

    Anyone ever heard of these folks?
    It sounds like a scam to me (especially considering the 'reading fee', not to mention the fee won't get returned if none of the submissions are 'worthy' of receiving the first prize)...

    I wasn't submitting, but a friend asked about them...I mentioned to my friend it sounded like a scam, but wanted to double-check with others who might know more...

    Thanks.

    :hat
    Big Daddy West

  2. #2
    XThe NavigatorX
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    I know Sherri Szeman personally and one of their authors, Meg Files, is a former teacher of mine who runs two writing workshops each year and is the author of a few books, including one from Writers Digest Books ( www.amazon.com/exec/obido...1094402545 )

    I haven't talked to either of them in awhile, but I would stake my personal and professional reputation that Rockway Press is nothing but legit. The only thing I would disagree with is the whole contest thing, because they charge a reading fee, but that's nothing new, and if they say the fees go to the judges, I believe them.

  3. #3
    zerohour21
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    From what I've heard, any contest of this nature that charges people to enter is probably a scam, so it would be a safe bet to stay away from the contest.

  4. #4
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    The reading fee is a little higher than average, but many legitimate contests charge a fee to offset expenses/fund the prizes/pay the judges. A fee is not necessarily a sign of a scam.

    RockWay Press looks to me like a serious and reasonably professional micro-publisher. According to its website, it does a number of good things such as work with a distributor, pay royalties on cover price, produce actual print runs, and pay modest advances.

    - Victoria

  5. #5
    astonwest
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    Something I didn't quite understand, though...is it seems (unless I missed something) the prize for the contest is only a publishing contract...

    However, any time outside of the contest dates, a person can submit for publication (I believe a query was needed first)...so was there really any benefit to paying a reading fee for the contest, when you could do so for free (again, unless I missed something...I didn't see where a reading fee was required outside of the contest dates) anytime else?

    Big Daddy West
    :hat

  6. #6
    SRHowen
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    I had thoughts along those lines--why is it ok for a publisher to have a contest with a fee, when at other times you can sub for free, yet an agent with optinal fees (ones to move a ms to the "head of the line") is a bad thing? (this assumes of course that both have a good track record)

    Shawn

  7. #7
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    >>why is it ok for a publisher to have a contest with a fee, when at other times you can sub for free, yet an agent with optinal fees (ones to move a ms to the "head of the line") is a bad thing?<<

    With the agent's fees, the problem is that they present the potential for abuse. If the agent can generate extra cash by offering the expedited service, how tempting might it become to ask for material in which the agent isn't interested, in order to encourage the fee? I'm not saying this is what's happening--just that there's a real potential for it. This exact kind of abuse is the reason the AAR prohibits reading and reading/evaluation fees.

    I can see that the same potential for abuse exists with a fee-based publisher's contest--i.e., it might be tempting for the publisher to use the contest to filter submissions, and thereby exact a de facto reading fee. So on reflection, and for consistency's sake, I guess I'd have to say that a caution is in order here too.

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    SRHowen
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    Just wanted to put that out there--it seemed to me to equate to about the same thing.

    Another one I just recently saw--an agent offering a contest with an entry fee "to find the best ms for world wide representation" (isn't that part of what your agent soudl be doing for you if they take you on? This contest makes it sound as if the world wide representation is indeed some sort of prize) and this guy supposedly is a good agent with a good rep--as far as I can tell. and the prize is not only world wide representation but a $1000 signing bonus if you "win")

    Shawn

  9. #9
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    Shawn, who's this agent with the contest? Again, I see lots of conflict of interest potential here.

    - Victoria

  10. #10
    SRHowen
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    Sent to your ez-inbox.

    Shawn

  11. #11
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    Thanks--replied to you that way as well.

    - Victoria

  12. #12
    NomadPress
    Guest

    Re: Rockway Press?

    I would be more concerned that this publisher doesn't have a distributor: selling books into Baker & Taylor, Ingram, B&N.com, and Amazon.com mean only means that the books are available through them, not that they are actively pushing these books to readers. Distributors actually have sales teams with reps who go to chains, specialty venues, and independent bookstores to sell to buyers.

    Small presses can be terrific partners for new authors, but without the mechanics of sell-in and distribution in place, no publisher can make a success of any book.

  13. #13
    astonwest
    Guest

    Rockway Responds

    Just thought I'd bring this back up to the top...
    (although I had to go searching manually...apparently searching for 'rockway' couldn't find the thread?)

    www.mindsightseries.com/c.../4298.html

    Looks like the owner of Rockway decided to respond to concerns...

    I'm curious about something, and hope some others could answer...but is it common for publishers to take money out of author royalties for "publishing, distributing, and publicizing"?

    :hat
    Big Daddy West

  14. #14
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    RockWay Press

    I'm curious about something, and hope some others could answer...but is it common for publishers to take money out of author royalties for "publishing, distributing, and publicizing"?

    Nope. All that should be factored into the retail price. Here's their contract, FWIW: http://www.rockwaypress.com/contract.htm
    ICAO
    ---------
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  15. #15
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    06-09-2006, 08:33 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    Rockway Publishing - Info Needed

    I read some discussion here a while back regarding Rockway Publishing. It seems that after Rockway is challenged as to whether or not it is genuine on any of the writers' boards, the publisher Sherri (now Alexandria) Szeman logs in several times and posts lengthy replies feeding the group with lots of information and the matter gets dropped. I would like to know if anyone has any updated information. I am running into a lot of information that seems to end about a year ago.

    Along with a writing partner, I recently submitted a MS to Rockway for publication. It was supposedly accepted. However, the publisher Sherri/Alexandria is giving me quite a run around. She refuses to speak with me directly regarding the "many changes" she intends to make to my MS. Her contract states that she will "consult" with the author regarding changes, but ultimately the final decision on what to print is hers. How can someone be expected to sign a contract under those conditions? I have visited a lot of sites and read a lot of sample contracts, and none of them state the publisher has the right to change the MS without approval from the author. Who on earth would agree to such terms when they have no clue what the intended changes are?

    This has caused a rift between me and my writing partner that is beyond repair. The book will likely be scrapped completely now because I refuse to sign this contract and he wants to. It represents hundreds of hours of my time and a lot of hard work.

    I have done my homework on Rockway. I am unable to find a single one of the books listed on Rockway's site for sale at Barnes and Noble.com or Amazon.com -- or anyplace else for that matter. I see that books due out in "Fall 2005" are still pending and the website hasnt been updated except to change her name to Alexandria. As near as I can tell, nothing is published. In addition, in her posts on various sites, Sherri/Alexandria states that her books are available at Barnes and Noble, Target etc. on a 1 - 2 day order basis "if not on the shelves". A trip to my local B and N -- the newest and largest in the New York Metropolitan Area produced absolutely NONE of her books on the shelves and NONE were available to order. No one there has ever heard of Rockway and they can find no listing for them anyplace.

    And yet Rockway has a commendation from Preditors and Editors on its home page. What gives? Is this publisher legit or not? Am I throwing away a really decent book and signing it into oblivion? It sure seems like it.

    This is my first sale. I am frankly confused and devastated. I cannot understand why she will not communicate directly with me. I have recieved NOTHING in writing saying the MS was accepted or declined. In addition, a proposal for another book sent to her back in February - long before this MS was sent to her -- has so far gone unanswered. VERY unprofessional in my humble opinion. In addition, a letter I wrote to her requesting my original MS be returned to me has been ignored. How do I get it back from her? Will I need a lawyer? If this is an example of how she runs her business, I want nothing to do with her and I would advise anyone else to steer clear.

    Has anyone had any experiences with Rockway? I can use all the help I can get here. My gut instincts are telling me something is very bogus about the whole outfit. Someone explain to me why a published author suddenly changes her name. That makes no sense to me, either.

    In my opinion, when the subject of Rockway has been brought up on the writers' boards, the lady did protest too much. And that was exactly one of the warning signs of a scam publisher that I read on Preditors and Editors -- that when there is a question about the company, the publisher suddenly shows up on the boards posting again and again to protest their innocence. Help!!! It seems to me there is something very wrong with the way Rockway does business and I would like to know before anything else happens to my MS. You can reply to me here or at my e mail deni913@hotmail.com ... Thanks ... Charie
    06-09-2006, 08:52 PM
    Aconite
    Full sun to light shade
    Mod Squad Member

    To avoid thread proliferation, please check the Index for existing threads on the publisher you're asking about, and if one exists, post in that thread. The existing thread for Rockway is http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=708.
    __________________
    06-09-2006, 09:10 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    Sorry -- new here ... I assumed that since the thread was more than a year old, I would ask for more current information ...Should I delete and repost? Charie
    06-09-2006, 10:41 PM
    HapiSofi
    Board fanatic
    Absolute Sage

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PersiphoneHellecat
    I have done my homework on Rockway. I am unable to find a single one of the books listed on Rockway's site for sale at Barnes and Noble.com or Amazon.com -- or anyplace else for that matter. I see that books due out in "Fall 2005" are still pending and the website hasnt been updated except to change her name to Alexandria. As near as I can tell, nothing is published. In addition, in her posts on various sites, Sherri/Alexandria states that her books are available at Barnes and Noble, Target etc. on a 1 - 2 day order basis "if not on the shelves". A trip to my local B and N -- the newest and largest in the New York Metropolitan Area produced absolutely NONE of her books on the shelves and NONE were available to order. No one there has ever heard of Rockway and they can find no listing for them anyplace.
    Sounds like a thoroughly answered question to me: no bookstore placement, unreliable publication schedules, publisher misrepresentation. You know they can't be good.
    Quote:
    And yet Rockway has a commendation from Preditors and Editors on its home page. What gives? Is this publisher legit or not? Am I throwing away a really decent book and signing it into oblivion? It sure seems like it.
    Yes. If you go with Rockway, you're throwing away your book.

    I wasn't aware that P&E handed out "commendations". Possibly Rockway is lying? Or maybe they gave it a clean bill of health, once upon a time, before they knew anything bad about it.

    Ask Dave Kuzminski.
    Quote:
    This is my first sale. I am frankly confused and devastated. I cannot understand why she will not communicate directly with me. I have recieved NOTHING in writing saying the MS was accepted or declined. In addition, a proposal for another book sent to her back in February - long before this MS was sent to her -- has so far gone unanswered. VERY unprofessional in my humble opinion. In addition, a letter I wrote to her requesting my original MS be returned to me has been ignored. How do I get it back from her? Will I need a lawyer? If this is an example of how she runs her business, I want nothing to do with her and I would advise anyone else to steer clear.
    Tell her you're withdrawing the book. I'm not sure what y ou do beyond that.
    __________________
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.
    06-09-2006, 11:03 PM
    Aconite
    Full sun to light shade
    Mod Squad Member

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PersiphoneHellecat
    Sorry -- new here ... I assumed that since the thread was more than a year old, I would ask for more current information ...Should I delete and repost? Charie
    No, I'll ask the forum mods to just merge the two threads. Welcome, by the way. Stop by the Newbie board and introduce yourself. And good luck with your book.
    __________________
    06-09-2006, 11:55 PM
    Sassenach
    Inexplicability Assessment

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PersiphoneHellecat
    Along with a writing partner, I recently submitted a MS to Rockway for publication. It was supposedly accepted.

    However, ....<full-post quote snipped -- CAO>
    Since you haven't signed anything, withdraw the book.

    If your partner is unwilling to, it sounds like a problem for an attorney. This is certainly an example of why it's so important to do the research BEFORE submitting to a publisher.
    __________________
    06-10-2006, 12:41 PM
    Liam Jackson
    I banned my other me
    Mod Squad Member

    Is Rockway ay actually afiliated with P&E as the site below claims?

    http://www.amymistretta.com/id26.html
    __________________
    06-10-2006, 12:44 PM
    Popeyesays
    Board fanatic

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Liam Jackson
    Is Rockway actually afiliated with P&E as the site below claims? http://http://www.amymistretta.com/id26.html
    Both the link and the link root are no good.

    Regards,
    Scott
    __________________
    06-10-2006, 12:54 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    Thanks for the welcome. It seems Rockway has received a "Truly Useful Site Award" from P and E. Shrugs. I find it amazing how authors who are dealing with these delays and junk can manage to write such glowing reports of their Rockway experiences on their websites, but then I remember that having a website is part of her contract. I imagine they HAVE to say that stuff. Shrugs.

    I located one of her books for sale at a site called Books a Million -- available on a 5 - 15 day order basis -- sounds POD to me ... I went to that particular author's Rockway ordered website and discovered by her own admission, her books are currently only available at one or two bookstores in her immediate area. Sounds like she purchased them and stocked them there. They are NOT available yet through B and N per the author's own admission. Sounds to me like Rockway is just one step above a Vanity Press -- but Vanity Presses usually manage to deliver books on schedule.

    Personally, I am steering clear of Rockway completely and I would advise others to do the same. Unreliable and uncommunicative ... Charie
    06-10-2006, 12:59 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vstrauss
    RockWay Press looks to me like a serious and reasonably professional micro-publisher. According to its website, it does a number of good things such as work with a distributor, pay royalties on cover price, produce actual print runs, and pay modest advances.

    - Victoria
    Actually, according to their website, they pay NO advances. You may have been referring to an older version of her contract. And from what I have heard, working with a distributor is no guarantee that stores will actually stock books. It just means the books are available to the distributor. However, as I have found out, it seems she doesnt actually do print runs, just POD. Charie
    06-10-2006, 10:35 PM
    HapiSofi
    Board fanatic
    Absolute Sage

    There are a couple more things I'd like to say about Rockway.

    First, there's the $25 reading fee for submissions to their contest. How do I sign up to become one of their judges? $25 is peanuts for reading a full manuscript, but that's not what's going down here. This isn't far removed from slush reading. Most slush doesn't take more than a quarter-hour to process. A lot of it takes less. If you get a substantial number of submissions, it works out to an hourly rate of return to which I would like to become accustomed.

    Second:
    At RockWay Press, we focus on our authors, on the quality of their writing (no matter what genre), and on the author's long-term goals and career.

    Sadly, this concept that has disappeared among most major trade publishers, small presses, and some literary agencies.
    Malarkey. That's boilerplate badmouthing of the publishing industry. It's also not true. You darn well betcha good publishers are mindful of the author's long-term career.

    Big companies look at profits, not at the quality of the author's writing.
    That sentence makes me want to say a bad word that would make the moderators unhappy. It is absolutely untrue. Big publishers look at the quality of the writing just as assiduously as small publishers. Furthermore, this person seems to think that profitability and writing quality are separate characteristics. They aren't. They're inextricably linked.

    Conglomerates want published books to "pay for the investment" that the company has made in the book in as little as six weeks, six months, or, at the most, usually one year.
    If that's how long they expect the book's sales period to be, then yes, they expect it to make its profit during that time. That said, six weeks is an exaggeratedly short period.

    If the book's cost isn't repaid by that time, the book is pulled off bookstore shelves, taken out of print, and remaindered a practice whereby the publisher makes some additional money by selling the books at cut-rate prices to remainder houses, which then re-sell them to the public at a profit. The authors themselves receive no royalties on the remaindered books not when the publisher sells them, and not when consumers buy them.
    A remaindered book is not out of print. Also, authors do too get paid royalties on remainders, unless they're being sold at less than manufacturing cost.

    I don't like publishing operations that try to pull in authors by telling lies about the mainstream publishing industry.
    __________________
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.
    06-10-2006, 11:15 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    Second:[indent]At RockWay Press, we focus on our authors, on the quality of their writing (no matter what genre), and on the author's long-term goals and career.
    I quite agree - she doesnt seem real concerned with with my long term goals and career. Otherwise she might have bothered to talk to me. Charie
    06-11-2006, 09:25 AM
    Liam Jackson
    I banned my other me
    Mod Squad Member

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Popeyesays
    Both the link and the link root are no good.

    Regards,
    Scott
    A bad cut-n-paste. Apologies. Try this link.

    http://www.amymistretta.com/id26.html
    __________________
    06-11-2006, 09:39 AM
    James D. Macdonald
    Dawnolite Sparklecow
    Absolute Sage

    Rockway Press, http://www.rockwaypress.com/ , does indeed have a P&E "Site of Distinction" award: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peasdt.htm
    __________________
    06-11-2006, 11:22 AM
    CaoPaux
    Mostly Harmless

    "These awards do not constitute an endorsement by Preditors & Editors or its service carrier."

    The P&E awards are public opinion polls. Sometimes, a lot of people like questionable sites.
    __________________
    CAO
    06-11-2006, 01:49 PM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    I think it's based on exactly what it says -- "useful" information at the site. The site actually does contain a lot of information, but as many who have reported on this board and Midnight Forum, and others who who have written to me have stated, much of it is inaccurate and wrong. I doubt many people who read the site actually followed up with Rockway or they wouldnt have voted them as being "useful" for anything. It is unfortunate perhaps that the P and E seal, when seen emblazened across the home page of a website, actually looks like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. To someone like me who had no prior experience with them and no sites like this one to warn me, it seemed to me like they were actually recommended by P and E. At least now I know better. Thanks for all who have helped me with this. Charie
    06-12-2006, 12:16 AM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    FYI -- I just found that one book from Rockway available at Amazon -- available in four to six WEEKS with a special charge of 1.99 added for special order... How POD is that? I also found out from Ingram that the book is out of stock from the publisher ... They have a # you can call to check ... I did -- they dont have any ... That is totally not what the publisher represents in her "useful" website ... Charie
    06-14-2006, 12:44 AM
    PersiphoneHellecat
    Esteemed New Member

    I sent a copy of my letter to Preditors and Editors and received the following reply. I post it with their very kind permission. Charie

    "The award (or commendation) you mentioned is purely based upon the information they've presented upon their site for writers. P&E is not affiliated with any publisher.

    Although we do not have any concrete proof yet, we suspect that the publisher has found itself in over its head. Should we obtain anything, that will be posted immediately should it warrant a change in P&E's opinion of that publisher.

    Our advice at present is that you not deal with any publisher when you have a gut feeling that something just isn't right.
    --
    Cordially,
    Dave Kuzminski, Editor
    Preditors & Editors
    http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/"
    Lost the last couple posts. Nothing to recommend Rockway.
    ICAO
    ---------
    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  16. #16
    RockWay Press
    Guest

    RockWay Press

    It is, indeed, extremely disappointing and unprofessional when a writer whose book has been rejected for publication, in this instance, by RockWay Press, goes on a public terrorist campaign to darken not only the reputation and good name of a publishing house but those of its authors as well.

    I will not reveal the identity of the author whose work was rejected and who has virtually filled this forum with lies and blatant untruths, but I assure you that this author was never offered a publishing contract with RockWay Press, nor was the author ever told that the book had been accepted for publication by RockWay Press (neither in writing nor orally over the telephone, the latter of which is how RockWay notifies authors' that their books have been accepted for publication).

    This author's book was pornographic and, furthermore, contained explicit rape and sodomy scenes involving children.

    As I informed this author in the lengthy and detailed rejection letter, RockWay does not now, nor will it ever, publish pornography or books that explicitly describe sexual assaults on and torture of women and children (nor on men, for that matter).

    RockWay will never promote that kind of writing, does not condone any of the gratuitous sexual violence, S&M practices, or pedophilia which that book depicted (in explicit, graphic, gruesome, and gratuitous detail), and will never accept or publish said kind of work.

    Here is a copy of the rejection letter which I personally sent to the author whose book was rejected and who has posted approximately 3/4 of the recent negative and untrue posts on this forum thread, denigrating and slandering RockWay's reputation and the reputation of its authors:

    -----------------
    Dear [author's full name]:

    I have read your submission, [book title], which I allowed you to send to me since [editor's name], who is one of RockWay's authors, worked as an editor on the book with you. I read the book in its entirety. You seem to have done a good deal of hard work on the novel, and [editor's name] did an excellent editing job.

    RockWay Press does not publish pornography, however, and the scenes in this novel which contain sex & violence are so brutal and graphic that they cannot be called "erotic scenes", and RockWay has a policy of NOT publishing books which contain gratuitous and unecessarily explicit violence; graphic and explicit sex scenes which do not enhance character development, urgency, or advance the plot; books which contain either implicit or explicit violence against children or women; or books which contain sado-masochistic themes -against anyone - in a gruesome or grotesque manner or in a way which does not contribute to the artistry of the book nor further its plot.

    Even if your book were brilliantly written and certain to become a financial and critical success, RockWay would be unable to publish it on principle: RockWay does not wish to make that kind of writing available to the marketplace.

    I do not send form letters to the authors whose work I reject. I tell them the truth about why their work is not appropriate for RockWay Press. Your writing itself, [author's name] is satisfactory, and some of the characters are developed sufficiently.

    However, had [editor's name] not edited this book and asked permission to submit it on your behalf, I would not have read the entire manuscript: it is gratuitously pornographic and contains unnecessarily explicit and extremely violent rape and sodomy scenes.

    Indeed, had I known in advance that the book contained pornographic scenes and was about characters committing pedophilia (described in unbelievably graphic detail), I would never have permitted you to submit it to RockWay Press in the first place, whether or not [editor's name] had edited the book.

    I would suggest that you check the listings in the Small Press Directory in the index under "pornography" and submit to the publishers who do accept such books. I'm sure that you will be able to find a home for your book with a more appropriate publisher who knows how to market to your particular audience.

    Additionally, a signed and notarized contract submitted with a manuscript does not in any way obligate RWP to publish your book; [the submission of a signed and notarized contract with a manuscript is for RockWay's protection, [author's name].

    Several unprofessional writers whose books have been accepted by RockWay have intentionally not signed their contracts and have used our acceptance as an illegitimate, devious, and deceptive way to acquire agent representation [in the hopes of illegally acquiring a "better" offer from a larger publisher; this behaviour is unethical and illegal since, once a book contract has been offered and accepted, the publisher who offered the contract has the legal right to publish the book].

    Therefore, to protect ourselves and the time we spend reading, editing, and critiquing a book, RockWay now requires that all submissions include a signed and notarized contract. For our legal protection, [author's name].

    [The contract you sent to RockWay Press] is not legally valid or binding until it is completely executed, i.e., signed by me [RockWay's publisher] and a copy of said signed, notarized, and fully executed contract returned to the author.

    Since I am not accepting [book title] for publication - with or without revisions - the contract you signed has been destroyed. RockWay has no obligation, either moral or legal, to publish the book; and you are free to submit said manuscript to other publishers.

    Additionally, as indicated on our website, once a manuscript has been rejected, it is shredded, destroyed, and discarded in order to protect the intellectual property rights of any writer or author who submits to us on a query or through a contest. Therefore, as soon as I informed [editor's name] that I had rejected [book title], the hard-copy of the manuscript was shredded and disposed of in a manner that would prevent anyone else from recovering it. Therefore, the physical manuscript that was submitted for consideration cannot be returned to you: it was destroyed several weeks ago -- after I rejected it.

    And may I say, [author's name], out of professional courtesy and for your own ethical edification if you wish to remain in the publishing business, that it is completely inappropriate for your [parent] to call me and leave a threatening message with [RockWay Press'] answering service.

    Not only is it inappropriate and unprofessional, [author's name], threatening someone's physical well-being is a prosecutable crime.

    If you need representation for your books, I would strongly suggest that you find a reputable agent who will take on your work, attempt to sell it, and remain in contact with the publishing houses, publishers, and editors to whom the manuscript is submitted.

    It is quite obvious that your [parent] is not a professional agent because (1) [your parent] did not pitch the book to me, (2) [your parent] did not submit the manuscript to me, (3) [your parent and I] do not have a professional, working [publisher/agent] relationship, (4) [your parent] behaved in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner [by threatening me and my employees with physical harm], and (5) the explicit threat which [your parent] left on RockWay's voicemail system is contraindicated by the ethical behavioural guidelines established by SAR and adhered to by all legitimate agents.

    Please do not submit any future manuscripts to RockWay Press, [author's name], neither through a legitimate agent nor as an entry in our annual international writing competitions. We do not publish your kind of writing, and, furthermore, we will not deal with any author who behaves unprofessionally or authorizes a third party, i.e., your [parent], in this instance, to behave inappropriately or unprofessionally on the author's behalf. (There is a clause in the contract you signed which discusses this in great detail.)

    Unfortunately, [author's name], RockWay does not publish your kind of work, cannot accept it on principle, and will not be publishing it. Your signed and notarized contract, along with the hard-copy of [book's title], was shredded and disposed of immediately after I informed [editor's name] that we would not be offering you a contract for pubication on [book title]. This is done in order to protect your intellectual property and keep it from coming into someone else's possession.

    Best of luck with your writing career. I'm sure if you get a legitimate agent or do sufficient research into the marketplace, you will, indeed, find a home for your novel. There are certainly plenty of publishers who would be delighted and happy to have you as an author, publishers who would know how to appropriately market your work and reach your target audience.

    -------------
    RockWay Press is a traditional publishing house, so it does, indeed, reject books for a variety of reasons. Rather than send the writers a form letter - as many publishers do - I explain, in specific terms and great detail, exactly why RockWay cannot accept the book.

    I have been a published author for over thirty years, and I have never received such a rejection letter myself, so, when my own work has been rejected, I have never known if it is because something in the book doesn't work; if the particular editor to whom my agent submitted it simply didn't like the topic; whether the publishing house already had a book on that topic coming out soon; whether the publishing house previously published a book on that topic and, not making as many sales on that previous book as expected, did not wish to "take a chance" on another book on the same topic even though it was written by a different author; or whether the publishing house simply does not know how to market such a book.

    That is why I inform the writer of the rejected manuscript exactly why it was rejected or was considered inappropriate for our house.

    Of course, writers and authors have a right to feel disappointed, angry, sad, depressed, etc. when one of their books has been rejected. Those are totally normal, acceptable feelings, and all authors experience them to varying degrees in their writing and publishing careers. The publishing business is a very mercurial one, and a book that might have been a bestseller last month may be rejected by all the publishers to whom it is submitted next month.

    Writers and authors who've had their work rejected have every right to vent their negative feelings with their friends, partners, children, parents, agents, writing colleagues, therapists, etc.

    I believe they even have the right to vent their frustration at the process of becoming a published author, which always involves rejection if the writers are dealing with legitimate publishers; and that writers and authors have the right to vent said frustrations in a public forum such as this.

    What I do not believe, however, is that anyone has the right, in either a private or a public forum, to spread lies, unsubstantiated rumors, unverified information presented as "fact", or slander about a publishing house, its employees, or its authors. Of course, I cannot prevent an author whose book has been rejected from telling lies -- in public or in private -- about RockWay Press and its authors.

    However, if those writers choose to do as this writer has done -- to spread lies, untruths, innuendo, and slander about RockWay Press or its authors in a public forum, and I find out about it, I will respond in the said forum, albeit in a professional manner rather than in a way which would impugn the writer's character as this writer has chosen to do by spreading lies about RockWay Press and its authors.

    RockWay Press does not reject authors: we reject manuscripts. The rejection of a manuscript is, in no way, a commentary on the author's writing unless I specifically tell the author that his/her writing needs work -- and I never do that in a public forum. Such information is for the author only.

    If this author, whose work was rejected by RockWay with the courtesy of a detailed explanation of the rejection of the work, or any other writer / author cannot emotionally handle the almost constant rejection that all authors receive, then I would strongly recommend that said author(s) change their career field or publish and distribute their own work.

    Publishing your own work, though it will not be carried by bookstores, is the only way to avoid rejection in this business. Rejection is an intimate and indivisible part of the writing business. Writers who cannot live with the stress, disappointment, frustration, anger, and sadness of such rejection should find a job in another field, one that does not intrinsically involve a 99.99999% rejection rate.

    Spreading lies and blatant untruths about publishers who reject your work will not get it accepted somewhere else. In fact, it will harm the potential career of an author who engages in such viciously unethical behaviour, as the writer of most of the entries in this forum has done. Whether you know it or not, and despite the huge number of books that get published each year, the publishing world is a small, intimate business, and the names and reputations of authors who behave inappropriately, unprofessionally, or unethically quickly become known to most editors, publishers, and agents.

    If you wish to increase the number of rejections you receive, then, please, by all means, engage in this kind of back-stabbing, mendacious behaviour. And please do be sure to do it in a public forum so that as many people as possible will be able to read it. The greater the lies and the larger your audience, the higher the number of rejections you'll receive.

    However, I would suggest that, if you really want to exponentially increase the number of rejections you receive, you become an actor. It's the only business I know of where talented, highly motivated, and hard-working people are rejected even more often than writers.

    Sincerely,
    Alexandria Szeman
    Publisher / Executive Editor
    RockWay Press


  17. #17
    5 W's & an H Sassenach's Avatar
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    Can you--briefly--explain the "signed and notarized contract" referred to in your letter?
    I feel God in this Chili's.
    -Pam Beesley









  18. #18
    figuring it all out Harris's Avatar
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    I had to comment. Ms. Szeman has ongoing excuses and nothing viable to contribute. She has only put out 1 book in almost 2 years. She constantly has excuses contributing her inability to publish to the fact that she has money issues. It has gone so far that she sent mass emailings detailing the various jobs she's taken to keep the company afloat. Look at her comment. Could she have posted a more damning look at an author's work? I personally do not believe anyone sent her porn involving children. That is over the top and another typical attempt by her to gain sympathy. Avoid this publisher.

    To add to these woes, I know several authors begging to get out of their contracts and not for any other reason than RockWay promises things they can't deliver. They won't publish promised books.

    I believe she started this company with good intentions but those have strayed from whatever vision she set out.

  19. #19
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockWay Press
    I will not reveal the identity of the author whose work was rejected and who has virtually filled this forum with lies and blatant untruths, but I assure you that this author was never offered a publishing contract with RockWay Press, nor was the author ever told that the book had been accepted for publication by RockWay Press (neither in writing nor orally over the telephone, the latter of which is how RockWay notifies authors' that their books have been accepted for publication).
    The author who posted here about her experience with RockWay was offered publication by you, along with her writing partner. So I'm not sure who you're talking about.
    Several unprofessional writers whose books have been accepted by RockWay have intentionally not signed their contracts and have used our acceptance as an illegitimate, devious, and deceptive way to acquire agent representation [in the hopes of illegally acquiring a "better" offer from a larger publisher; this behaviour is unethical and illegal since, once a book contract has been offered and accepted, the publisher who offered the contract has the legal right to publish the book].
    But if they didn't sign their contracts, the contract wasn't accepted (by them). Unless both parties sign, a contract isn't binding, and the publisher has no legal rights at all.

    Besides, since RockWay doesn't pay advances, I find this a highly dubious claim. An established agent who works on commission is not likely to offer representation on the basis of a contract from a non-advance-paying publisher.
    Therefore, to protect ourselves and the time we spend reading, editing, and critiquing a book, RockWay now requires that all submissions include a signed and notarized contract. For our legal protection, [author's name].
    This makes no sense whatsoever. How on earth does this offer you legal protection?
    Also, according to your website, this (exceedingly bizarre and unprofessional) requirement is just for contest entries.
    It is quite obvious that your [parent] is not a professional agent because (1) [your parent] did not pitch the book to me, (2) [your parent] did not submit the manuscript to me, (3) [your parent and I] do not have a professional, working [publisher/agent] relationship, (4) [your parent] behaved in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner [by threatening me and my employees with physical harm], and (5) the explicit threat which [your parent] left on RockWay's voicemail system is contraindicated by the ethical behavioural guidelines established by SAR and adhered to by all legitimate agents.
    This is beyond weird, but it's what convinced me that you didn't make this letter up. Again, though, whoever you're talking about, I don't think it's the author who posted on AW. (BTW, the SAR hasn't existed since 1991.)
    What I do not believe, however, is that anyone has the right, in either a private or a public forum, to spread lies, unsubstantiated rumors, unverified information presented as "fact", or slander about a publishing house, its employees, or its authors.
    Leaving aside the identity of the author who posted here, what exactly has been said about your publishing company that you believe to be a lie, rumor, or libel?
    Whether you know it or not, and despite the huge number of books that get published each year, the publishing world is a small, intimate business, and the names and reputations of authors who behave inappropriately, unprofessionally, or unethically quickly become known to most editors, publishers, and agents.
    Nonsense. Besides, this conflicts with your website's portrayal of publishing as a huge impersonal world in which faceless conglomerates pump out cookie-cutter books from disposable authors.

    Since you've joined us here, perhaps you'll answer a few questions.

    - Of the 26 books listed on your website with 2005 and 2006 publication dates, only one appears to have been released. Can you explain why?

    - That one book (THE BINDING by Brenda Barrie) shows as available on Amazon with a 4-6 week shipping time. This suggests to me that you don't have an arrangement with a wholesaler. Can you comment?

    - Ms. Barrie's book doesn't appear to have received any professional reviews (Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, etc.) What kind of marketing do you do for the books you publish?

    - According to the contract posted on your website, you offer a discount of 30% on author purchases, which are drop-shipped to the author(i.e., shipped directly from the manufacturer, which suggests that author purchases are specially printed). No royalties are paid on author purchases, and the author is allowed to re-sell. These four things--the small discount
    (50% is more standard), the drop-shipping, the absence of royalties on author sales, and the permission to resell--are typical of publishers that encourage or pressure their authors to buy sizeable quantities of their own books. Is this RockWay's policy?

    - Victoria

  20. #20
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Alexandria,

    I am confused (befuddled, bewildered, bamboozled, etc.) and not just by the plethora of synonyms.

    You said that no contract was offered and yet in your letter you say that one was. Which is it?

    How in the world is it possible that: "... a signed and notarized contract submitted with a manuscript does not in any way obligate RWP to publish your book"? What exactly IS this contract you're talking about if it's not an offer to publish?

    You call yourself a "traditional publisher" (warning bells!), yet you refer to another of your authors as an "editor". Real publishers hire their editors as employees. Furthermore, these editors know what the publishing guidelines are, so he would never have submitted pornography to you, since he would know you don't publish it.

    I've also got to know -- since you don't publish pornography and the scenes were so graphic and disgusting, why did you "read the book in its entirety"? As soon as you reach the first graphic scene, that should have been the signal to stop and reject it.

    What is illegal about using an acceptance from a publisher to find an agent? If the author does not sign the contract, the contract is not fulfilled and the agent is free to shop it around to other houses. There is nothing illegal or unethical about it. Also, you don't indicate that the author in question did this, so why is it in the letter?

    You decry "unsubstantiated rumors, unverified information presented as 'fact'" and yet you don't offer a bit of substantiation yourself. You go on at great lengths about the pornographic nature of the work (you devote 8 paragraphs to this subject), which strikes me as a bit of unsubstantiated rumors itself.

    So many things here are inconsistant, conflicting, contrary, discordant, discrepant, dissonant, erratic, fickle, illogical, incoherent, incompatible, incongruent, incongruous, inconstant, irreconcilable, and irregular; I'm tempted to believe this is made up of whole cloth.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  21. #21
    figuring it all out
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    A "public terrorist campaign"? I missed the part where the author started blowing stuff up.

    Soon it will be revealed that the author is, in fact, Hitler's granddaughter.

    Why does writing, agenting, and publishing seem to attract such a disproportionate number of nutjobs?

  22. #22
    Working In A Coal Mine... Sonarbabe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffoon
    A "public terrorist campaign"? I missed the part where the author started blowing stuff up.

    Soon it will be revealed that the author is, in fact, Hitler's granddaughter.



    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson
    I've also got to know -- since you don't publish pornography and the scenes were so graphic and disgusting, why did you "read the book in its entirety"? As soon as you reach the first graphic scene, that should have been the signal to stop and reject it.

    You know, I was wondering that one myself. I may be new to this great big world of publishing and I may look up to Uncle Jim, Victoria, Dave and all the other protectors, but even I can figure that one out.
    The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it. ~ Leo Rosten


    2009 Acceptance Pledge 0/2
    2009 Rejection Pledge 0/10

    Current WIP 46,492/65,000

    Oooh! I have a website.

  23. #23
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    RockWay appears to have no practical ability to get actual books onto actual bookshelves. Cross them off your list.

  24. #24
    Banned persiphone_hellecat's Avatar
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    First of all, thanks to all of you who have stood up for me regarding this nutjob. As for my name, it is Charie however I have been writing under the name Persiphone Hellecat for a while. I noticed many here used nicknames so I used one too. Other sites of a similar nature contain my name. If anyone would like the rest of my name, they can contact me and I will happily provide it. I assure you it isn’t Hitler, Bonaparte, Bin Laden, Hussain and I assure you I am no terrorist. In fact as a New Yorker who knows many who died on 9/11 and had a brother there, I must say I quite take offense with that remark. Terrorism isn’t a word we in New York use lightly Sherri/Alexandria. That alone tells me what kind of a person you are.

    Yes, a contract did exist. The book was accepted by Sherri/Alexandria via a phone call to my writing partner. I was advised to cut and paste the contract from her website, add myself and my writing partner to it, get it signed and notarized and send it to her.

    As for the content, Sherri/Alexandria knew precisely what the book was about. She and my writing partner held several conversations during the writing of it and she was kept informed all along the way. When it was done, it was immediately printed and sent to her per her instructions. The book does not involve any violence against children – hardly possible since the youngest character is 20 and she well knows that. As for erotic content, I doubt it is any worse than her own self proclaimed world renowned novel The Kommander’s Girlfriend or whatever it’s called.

    As for the subject of editing, I was told through my writing partner that after reading it, Sherri/Alexandria wanted some changes made. I was told that the changes were in the area of adding more mystery and suspense to the story. Never were the graphic scenes mentioned as being cut. My partner told her to contact me directly and deal with me personally because he was involved with other projects. When no phone call came in, I began asking questions about the contract and was advised to stop it if I could. My partner had yet to get his signatures notarized, so I called him at about 8 in the morning one day and told him I wanted it stopped. It ended up in his wastebasket. I only wanted to know what kind of changes she intended to make before I signed away my rights as an author to have any say in those changes per her absurd and highly irregular and unprofessional contract.

    I have a partner who can testify to a contract existing as well as I can provide a sworn statement from the notary who notarized my signature. She would remember the contract well. She told me it was the first book contract she ever notarized. My 20 year old son was with me as well. Kindly tell me why I would have bothered to cut and paste and print out this ridiculous 30 something page contract and get it notarized, then pay to send it to Maryland if the book was rejected. She also requested a copy of the book on CD – also not sent to her.

    As for my mother calling her, yes that did happen and it was with my consent and authorization. I am an architect and involved in several other businesses and my mother has the legal documents to represent me in all of them. She even signs my checks if Sherri/Alexandria would like a copy of one. Blank of course. I wouldn’t give her a dime. The message clearly stated I wanted my MS sent back and if it was not sent back, I would go to the media. If that is as she says in her letter to me “a threatening message on our machine. Not only is it inappropriate and unprofessional, it is a prosecutable crime and an “explicit threat”, it’s news to me. Last time I checked, the flag outside my house was the stars and stripes and I have freedom of speech. If there was any other message on her tape threatening her or any of her imaginary employees personally, I would love to hear a copy of it.

    However I would prefer to stick to the FACTS here – FACTS Sherri/Alexandri cannot refute…

    FACT – If she states she rejected my book, she is lying and I have a partner who can verify that. She did not reject me, I rejected her. By the way, her letter supposedly “rejecting” my book was written on 6/19 – approximately ONE MONTH after I contacted my writing partner and told him to destroy the contract. Now tell me- who rejected who?

    FACT – Nowhere does it say on her site she doesn’t publish erotic material. In fact it specifically states on the home page, “At RockWay Press, we focus on our authors, on the quality of their writing (no matter what genre), and on the author's long-term goals and career.”

    FACT – Only ONE book has been published by Rockway Press and currently it is out of print and unavailable anywhere. Sherri/Alexandria doesn’t even publish her own books.

    FACT – Her site states “When books in the warehouses reach a certain level, RockWay's printer automatically reprints those titles to replenish the stock.” Not so – Ingram hasn’t had her ONE book in stock in quite a while. I checked.

    FACT – NONE of the publication dates listed on her website has even come close to being met. And surprise—today she removed all those dates from her site.

    FACT – Not ONE of the contest winners from 2004 has received their prize per the contest rules – publication of their novel.

    FACT – Rockway Press has NO distributor. Ingram and Baker and Taylor are listed on her site as distributors. They are NOT. They are wholesalers. They do NOT have salesmen who go out and sell books to bookstores. They merely fulfill orders and right now they have no Rockway books to sell.

    FACT – Rockway books are “available internationally through Amazon.com, Borders.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Wal-Mart.com, Target.com, and through RockWay Press' online Bookstore.” They are not even available that way nationally. They are not available period.

    FACT – There IS no Rockway bookstore. How could there be without books?

    FACT – The only reviews written on these books are written by Sherri/Alexandria herself. Check it out.

    FACT – The glowing praise about Rockway and Sherri/Alexandria written on her author’s sites is written by HER in accordance to her absurd contract. It states ““Content Maintenance (j) The Publisher will keep the content on the Author's site current for one (1) year after the official publication date of the Work.”

    FACT – In spite of her site having a “Very Useful Site Award” on her home page, she is NOT affiliated with them as some of the sites she created for her authors indicate. Preditors and Editors has stated that here quite clearly.

    FACT – When an author sends a MS to a publisher in a professional two part MS mailer with proper postage on the return portion, it is unprofessional for a publisher to destroy the MS and keep the postage because it is inconvenient to get to a post office to return it. In spite of what she claims, it doesn’t state in her website she destroys MS’s or we wouldn’t have bothered to include the return postage.

    The facts speak for themselves. If you sign a contract with Rockway you are throwing a book away. It will most likely never be printed and surely never wind up on bookshelves without a distributor. If you spent the $35 bucks to enter her writing contests, you are tossing your money away if you think you will ever see your prize. You would be better to spend the money on the latest copy of Writers Digest.

    Sherri/Alexandria wrote me a nasty letter today. Half of it made no sense. It stated she demanded a public apology here at this site for my efforts to speak out against her. There will be no such apology forthcoming. In fact, there will be just the opposite. To borrow from Oscar Wilde, “when I see a spade, I call it a spade” and when I see a scam I call it a scam, too.

    As of this moment, I am blocking Rockway from my e mail. I will also accept no phone calls, faxes, snail mails or any other form of communication from her. I, too, know many trying to get out of Rockway contracts. I know many who cannot even manage to get galleys. And my e mail is filled with information which I am not at liberty to state here in order to protect the sources … The fact is, when authors run across a bad egg like this, I believe it is their obligation to speak out and protect others. That is why we have forums like this.

    I saw absolutely NOTHING in what Sherri/Alexandria said to change my opinion. And obviously others didn’t either. Why continue to hurt and torment these authors Sherri/Alexandria? If you cannot publish their books, and obviously you cannot – let them go elsewhere… You spend so much time at the beginning of your website putting down traditional publishing and you are 100 times worse yourself. Take the test at P and E for how to spot a bad publisher … You score about 90… How’s that for someone who knocks traditional publishing then calls herself a “traditional publisher”? Not even close .. Traditional publishers actually publish BOOKS … Whenever you are criticized, you talk circles but say nothing ... Charie

  25. #25
    Banned persiphone_hellecat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockWay Press
    Whether you know it or not, and despite the huge number of books that get published each year, the publishing world is a small, intimate business, and the names and reputations of authors who behave inappropriately, unprofessionally, or unethically quickly become known to most editors, publishers, and agents.

    If that be the case, I would try real hard to publish some books and not earn such a bad rep, Sherri ...

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