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Thread: Vanilla Heart Publishing

  1. #101
    practical experience, FTW twnkltoz's Avatar
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    Welcome to the oh-so-frustrating world of publishing. It's one thing to go to a small publisher that doesn't give an advance. It's entirely another to go to one where people are complaining they aren't getting royalties and the publisher isn't following through on promises.
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  2. #102
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalKay View Post
    I've come across a number of publishers that seem to regarded as reputable, but still there are A) authors that have had negative experiences with them, and B) a number of them who offer no advances (many will rip on the new or unknown publishers for this).
    Advances are not the end all be all of publishing the way many people seem to think as far as ebook publishers go. Keep in mind with 'old school big 6 publishers' your book doesn't actually come out for upwards of 2-3 years after you sign the contract. Also, you are paid--if the ebook publisher is reputable--regularly usually no less than 4 times a year. With the 'big 6' you likely won't get more than the advance--sadly, most books don't earn out their initial advance--and if it does you won't be paid--on average--more than twice a year.

    All publishing houses are bound to have dissatisfied authors. Not every publisher is a 'good fit' for every author. Off the top of my head I could name 5-6 publishers I haven't liked working with that have authors who are happy with them.

    Things you want to steer clear of are publishers with multiple authors complaining about the same issues, a bad reputation at Preditors and Editors and/or Hi Piers, or other signs of trouble.

    For instance, a lot of books suddenly being taken down--a possible sign of trouble behind the scenes--or issues with the website. Is it online consistently or are there extensive areas of time when the site isn't available? Do they change the url they are using frequently? (This can be a sign of someone skipping out on money owed to a hosting service because they don't have the money to pay what is owed.) Can you easily buy books from them or are there customer service issues like books which won't download, books that don't have a 'buy link' or other problems with the cart?

    Talk to some of the authors who have books with that publisher. Make sure to talk to more than one or two. In this business you never know if the 'author' you're speaking with is actually one of the company principles rather than an author with no vested interest in the company. Be sure to ask about whether payments are being made on time and accurately. Also ask how sales are for several authors. If they're not at least in the triple digits you might want to reconsider whether submitting to that house is a good idea or not.

    Selecting a publisher is a combination of many things, all of which should be carefully weighed before you submit your work.
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  3. #103
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalKay View Post
    Part of me feels that someone like me (total newbie, completely unpublished) can't affort to be to chooosy, yet I have seen it posted several times :Tis better to be unpublished than to have a bad publisher.
    I hate to see this kind of statement. Being previously published doesn't give anyone more of a 'right' to be with a great publisher. The only thing that makes one author more deserving than another is the quality of the work. If your writing is shoddy then yeah, maybe you shouldn't be choosy - or maybe you should improve before submitting. But if your work is great then it doesn't matter half a whit whether you're brand new or not.

    There is no 'climbing the ladder' in publishing. This is not corporate America where you start as a guy in the mailroom and work your way up to be VP. You are allowed to start at the top in publishing and I hate to see newbies choose tiny publishers where their work will be invisible to most readers and chalk it up to 'paying my dues.' Bull. Aim for the top and work your way down, not vice versa. If you don't think your book is good enough to be picked up by a great publisher then stop submitting it and write a better one.

  4. #104
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    While it's true that there are a number of publishers that don't offer an advance, there are also some in that group that not only pay decent royalties, but pay them on time. This is why I suggested you research other publishers here to see what other AW members have to say.

    Also, what Fae Sutherland said.

  5. #105
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalKay View Post
    Part of me feels that someone like me (total newbie, completely unpublished) can't affort to be to chooosy.
    That would only apply if total newbies were never picked up by major publishers or big e-publishers. They are, if their manuscripts are good enough.
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  6. #106
    I wish I was as cool as this cat. Kay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fae Sutherland View Post
    I hate to see this kind of statement. Being previously published doesn't give anyone more of a 'right' to be with a great publisher. The only thing that makes one author more deserving than another is the quality of the work. If your writing is shoddy then yeah, maybe you shouldn't be choosy - or maybe you should improve before submitting. But if your work is great then it doesn't matter half a whit whether you're brand new or not.

    There is no 'climbing the ladder' in publishing. This is not corporate America where you start as a guy in the mailroom and work your way up to be VP. You are allowed to start at the top in publishing and I hate to see newbies choose tiny publishers where their work will be invisible to most readers and chalk it up to 'paying my dues.' Bull. Aim for the top and work your way down, not vice versa. If you don't think your book is good enough to be picked up by a great publisher then stop submitting it and write a better one.

    I seriously needed to hear that, thank you! I do think my book is good enough. But, yowza, after being rejected by agents I wasn't sure if I should even try the publishing route.

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalKay View Post
    I seriously needed to hear that, thank you! I do think my book is good enough. But, yowza, after being rejected by agents I wasn't sure if I should even try the publishing route.
    If everyone who got rejections stopped trying to get published there would be exactly zero books in the world. Rejections have nothing to do with the quality or publishability of a book or of a writer.

    Not to say ignore them if you happen to get a few that mention the same thing as the reason for the rejection, but just your basic form "Not for us" rejection? Pssh. Trash em and keep going.

    Good luck! It's a tough business but it's worth the effort.

    ETA: LOL sorry to barge in and be so mouthy. Apparently I have lots of feels today.

  8. #108
    I wish I was as cool as this cat. Kay's Avatar
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    ETA: LOL sorry to barge in and be so mouthy. Apparently I have lots of feels today. [/QUOTE]

    No worries Fae Sutherland, I always appreciate tough love when it's needed.

    However, there is nothing more for me to worry about regarding VHP. I woke up to the R in my email this morning.

    I totally appreciate everyone's insight and opinions!

  9. #109
    practical experience, FTW twnkltoz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalKay View Post
    ETA: LOL sorry to barge in and be so mouthy. Apparently I have lots of feels today.
    No worries Fae Sutherland, I always appreciate tough love when it's needed.

    However, there is nothing more for me to worry about regarding VHP. I woke up to the R in my email this morning.

    I totally appreciate everyone's insight and opinions![/QUOTE]

    I can't help but wonder if they rejected you because of your post here. And really, you're better off.
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  10. #110
    I wish I was as cool as this cat. Kay's Avatar
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    Of course that crossed my mind too. But if my book isn't a good fit for thier current or future lineup as they said, then I'm glad they let me know now and not two months from now.
    If it is because of my posts then we are not compatible for a working relationship, as I need a publisher who understands my need to flush out all the nitty- gritty details in order to feel I am making an informed decision.

    I wish VHP and their authors all the best. It seems these days publishing is tough business to stand out amongst the rest that are throwing their hats into the ever expanding ring. That makes it equally tough for authors who want the best home for their hard work.

    Remaining unpublished will not break me. But it is a huge bummer.

  11. #111
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin MaryQ's Avatar
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    I published three books with VHP. I was happy at first, everything was peachy. But then problems started. Royalty checks were late and release dates were pushed around for strange reasons. When the books did come out I didn't see any editing. I did a lot of my own promos at author events and sold many books. I filed the proper paperwork and sent in the money. However, I never received a dime for books 2 & 3 due to lack of sales. Hmmm.. what about those books I sold and signed? Guess I should have kept some money out for myself but at the time I didn't think that was professional.

    To make a long story short... I terminated my contract but it took over a year to get my rights back. Never did see any $$.

    Lucky for me, a reviewer who liked my work recommended me to another pub and I've been with them every since. My eyes were open super wide when I received my first edits. I realized my work was never professionally edited. My editor actually had to IM me to explain how to use the editing program!!! Editing is so important and I feel it helps a good author become a great author.

    I also threw a couple short stories on Smashwords just to keep my name out there and use as freebies sometimes. I only paid $35 for the professional covers! As for my three books... I'm currently self editing them. I have two pubs interested in rereleasing the new and improved versions.

    My advice to you is:
    1. Look into getting your work professionally edited. Make friends with an editor and pull a favor or there are sites you have to pay for. Check with writing groups you belong to, I'm sure you could find someone. Take time to self edit again and get rid of words such as "was, felt, that, it, like" and make sure you keep your scenes in one POV, no head-hopping.
    2. Publish something small on Smashwords or something similar or even on your blog just to introduce yourself to the world. Use Facebook & Twitter & the like. Build a following before you have a book out.
    3. Never give up. Get involved with writer groups in your genre. Network, network, network. Try to attend a writer's conference and make an appointment to pitch your work to a pub in person. And when you get your acceptance letter have a reject letter burning party and invite us.

    Good luck and feel free to email me.

  12. #112
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    In October 2010 I signed a contract with Vanilla Heart Publishing to publish my debut novel, No Easy Way, which was nominated for the 2010 Molly Award by the Heart of Denver Romance Writers.

    In August 2013, eight novels later, I terminated my relationship with Vanilla Heart Publishing on the grounds of a severe breach of contract, misrepresentation, fraud and theft pertaining specifically to Articles #5, #7, #10, and #11 of the contract.

    During my stay at Vanilla Heart, I upheld my end of the agreement. I continued to write novels, producing eight in less than three years. I continued to submit my novels to Vanilla Heart first, as per our contract she was entitled to a thirty day right of first refusal on all Just Call Me Angel books. I continued to blog, participate in blog tours, promote and market my work through book tours, meeting with book clubs, book signings, holding contests and networking via numerous social media outlets (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.) In return for my loyalty, I was lied to, manipulated and used.

    Upon confronting Vanilla Heart Publishing with the breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraudulent activity, I was given no apology for wrongdoing nor was there an admission of remorse whatsoever. Instead, I was sent a list of termination items wherein it was stated that I was “not to discuss the Author’s Group or any information from that group, or discuss Vanilla Heart Publishing, nor speak as an agent or former agent of the publisher, either by verbal, written, or electronic communication with any persons, groups, or agents.” It goes without saying that I did not agree to this and informed Vanilla Heart that all statements that are factual, unbiased and can be proven with subpoenaed records, email correspondence or any other written form of communication do not fall into the category of slander or libel and are allowable for discussion in any setting, person-to-person, blog, group format or social media.

    My attorney is now in the process of reviewing back royalty statements from all of the distribution channels and thus far the information I have received from Vanilla Heart Publishing does not come close to matching the real reports in number of books sold nor in amount of money owed. I sit amazed at how I have been ripped off for almost three years. It saddens me and it angers me.
    I requested royalty statements from Vanilla Heart at least eight documented times since October 2010. Every statement was falsified. Every paycheck came months late. I never even received a statement for 2012 from Vanilla Heart and the check I received doesn’t match the distributor’s royalty records for the quarterly periods during that time. Each time I requested a statement or a check I was promised it and then given an excuse as to why it would be late. The excuses ranged from severe medical issues to a gardening accident and countless laptop crashes, an accountant who allegedly printed the reports too small to be read and the post office that lost checks or statements along the way. Every excuse added to the sour pit growing in my stomach. Still, I wanted to believe that everything was on the up-and-up; but, over time, there were just too many red flags.

    Little did I know, but several of the Vanilla Heart authors were experiencing the same frustrations I was. No statements. Late checks. Excuses galore. The problem was, for a long time, none of us communicated with one another. We didn’t compare notes and that’s exactly how Vanilla Heart wanted it. Manipulative phone calls from the Publisher psychologically pitted one author against another. “She’s the next one I’m getting rid of,” was said to me on several occasions, referring to fellow Vanilla Heart authors. The Publisher made a point to let everyone know who was in her “Core Group” and who was not. I was in the Core Group and I think that was one of the reasons it never dawned on me that she might be breaching our contract at all, much less in so many ways. I was made to feel “special” as if we had more than just a business relationship…as if we were “friends.” Friends don’t steal from or lie to friends, my mind would justify… but the red flags waved.

    It wasn’t until two of the Core Group authors left within a short period of time that I mustered up the courage to start asking questions and digging deeper into what was going on. I dug out every contract, read through every email, analyzed my notes from phone calls, etc. Every hour spent researching deepened the pit in my stomach and leant proof to the revelation I didn’t want to face: Vanilla Heart was guilty.

    Guilty of copyright infringement.
    Guilty of breach of contract.
    Guilty of misrepresentation of intent.
    Guilty of fraud.
    Guilty of theft.

    On August 10, 2013 under the guidance of my attorney, a termination letter was sent to Vanilla Heart Publishing. A complaint was filed with the Washington Attorney General’s Office and DCMA Take Down Notices and Perjury Statements sent to every distributor that carried my books under the Vanilla Heart imprint. All books in all formats were pulled from the market. The distributors worked quickly to make this right, as their policy is first and foremost to protect the intellectual property of the author.
    I want to give a shout out to the employees at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks/OmniLit and Payloadz who were amazing in getting my attorney the information we needed (and I deserved) and in helping to protect my intellectual property rights going forward. These people were absolutely amazing and I am grateful to all of them.
    My publisher used to call Amazon “Damazon” and always told me how slow and non-responsive they were. That must have been a lie too…because after this experience, I would dub them “Amaz(ing)on.”

    So, why am I writing this blog? Because I feel a moral obligation to warn other writers who are as naïve as I was and can become easy prey. The warning signs were there, but I didn’t see them…or I choose to look the other way. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
    As an author, you deserve to have your books registered with the U.S. Copyright office. You deserve a signed contract on every book. You deserve to have timely statements and timely royalty payments and those statements and payments should match down to the penny. You deserve a publisher who will protect your rights and who will not breach your contract. You deserve a publisher who will conduct business in an ethical and moral manner, not hide behind excuses and outright lies. You deserve better than Vanilla Heart Publishing.
    In the past two months, seven authors have left Vanilla Heart… all of which were in the “Core Group.” Some of us have found other publishers who have picked up our work. I’ve signed with Global Publishing Group and my books will be back on the market in all formats by the end of the week. Others have decided to self-publish and still others are so shell-shocked they haven’t decided what to do. What happened to us wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but we are all dedicated writers and will come out on top.
    The moral of the story is: Stay away from Vanilla Heart Publishing.

    My blog post about Vanilla Heart can be found here:
    http://feelingthefiction.blogspot.co...ishing_20.html

  13. #113
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin MaryQ's Avatar
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    I stand and applaud you and your efforts. It isn't fair to keep good authors in the dark. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and glad you have reached out to other authors to save them from the same fate.
    Thank you for sharing. Looking back I wish I could have at least recouped some of my sales of two of the three books I was under contract. But I too will re-release them with editing & new covers.

  14. #114
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    This is another illuminating blog post about Vanilla Heart's many reasons for not paying royalties:

    I am sick (flu, sinus infection, fell in a hole gardening, food poisoning, etc.) and haven’t been able to make it to the post office to mail your check.
    I can't quote imagine the gall it takes to tell someone that you fell in a hole while gardening and therefore you can't pay them. Does that work with the phone company as well?

    My husband needs another surgery so everything will be delayed a couple of weeks.
    That's a page right out of Dorothy Deering's book.
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 08-27-2013 at 04:42 AM.
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  15. #115
    I wish I was as cool as this cat. Kay's Avatar
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    I am truly sorry for what these Vanilla Heart authors went through. I feel like I dodged a bullet getting rejected by them.

    On the plus side, I now have a new favorite excuse for net getting something done: I fell in a friggin' hole! While gardening! Take that, anyone I owe a bill too!!

    Seriously... how do some people look at themselves everyday?

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