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Norilana Books (Vera Nazarian)

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girlyswot

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Norilana Books.

Seems like another small press run by an author who got in way out of her depth. Apparently hasn't paid royalties since 2010.


In 2011 she was asking for people to buy Norilana books to help fund her move cross-country.

Last year, she was running a Kickstarter to publish one of her own books. Which is not exactly a sign of a healthy publisher.

The good thing is that they are not accepting new submissions. So I guess this is mostly one to watch in case she springs up under another company name, or in case you come across another Kickstarter appeal.
 

Filigree

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I can give you a little background on Vera, since I've known her for years. I can't verify anything about her royalty situation. She puts out solid books, hers and other authors'. She is reprinting Tanith Lee's backlist and some new Lee books, including the Flat Earth fantasies that DAW seemed to drop. Vera's Kickstarter for the 'Cobweb' books (which I did not participate in) were successful, and the first book got strong reviews. She is also known for some hilarious Jane Austen pastiches.

Her financial problems stemmed from a foreclosure and healthcare nightmare in California, and a subsequent move across country that probably saved her life. Things appear to be improving right now.

She is a very small press. Even if she was accepting mms right now, I would probably look for a larger press with a stronger marketing footprint. But I will certainly buy and recommend the books she produces.
 

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Most of us who know Vera, love Vera, and are devastated to see her maligned the way some posters (not here) are doing. I am one of her authors. She has reprint rights (paper only) for three of my novels. She has put out lovely editions, with appropriate, detailed covers, and has made these available so that they can be bought in hard copy. Yes, I would like to have my royalties made current, but I am nowhere near asking for complete rights return because I know that when Vera is able, she will pay.

Modean Moon
 
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Karen Junker

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What I don't understand is someone who has not returned the rights of authors who have not been paid for up to three years, if the stories are true.
 

girlyswot

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She certainly has a very loyal following. I was struck by that when I was reading some of the other sites that mention her and I'm not surprised to see it here too. It's great that she's such a lovely person and that readers and even the authors she owes money to still want to support her. I hope that you're right and that she can get things together and pay off her debts.

But I am not convinced she knows how to run a business, or at least not a publishing business. You pay your author royalties out of the money you receive from book sales. Your own financial situation isn't relevant because you shouldn't ever be using author royalties for your personal liabilities.
 

Filigree

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AFAIK, she has done it publicly and privately, to help get the word out. Vera's one of the very few cases that, if I were in a position to be an angel investor, I would do it in a shot. I like her work and her viewpoints.

Would I send her my big secondary-world sword-n-planet novel, if my agent can't get it into one of the Big Five or an appropriate mid-grade press? Probably not, for the same reason I wouldn't send it to one of the more-clueless houses negatively profiled here. They're not branded well enough, and they don't have enough marketing firepower to get my work noticed. I'm setting up the groundwork for self-publishing, if it comes down to it.

Unlike a lot of flailing small publishers, Vera is trying to get Norilana into order, and trying to be open about the reasons that it was not. That goes a long way toward good-will, for me.
 

MMo

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I find it odd that she puts such statements out publicly, rather than contacting authors directly. Maybe she has done both.

Not being one of her authors, you can have no idea what she has communicated privately to each of us. Commenting on what may or may not have been communicated serves no purpose but to whip up adverse opinion. I have no desire to see a dog-pile in this case.

As a point of information, I and other Norilana authors whom I know have been in direct communication with Vera throughout the years.

I have happily granted Norilana Books retention of the non-exclusive rights to my three books, even though the terms of the original contracts have expired.

Modean Moon
 

Filigree

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To add to what Modean said, I know two other Norilana authors who have granted extensions because they believe in Vera. They're not inexperienced authors, either. There's been steady communication from everyone involved. (And no, I'm not a Norilana author, but I do hang out in many of the same places.)

Am I giving blanket exemptions to all of Norilana's problems? Nope. I've been here since 2010, and anyone following me knows how harsh I can be when I deem it merited. I've started pulling away from that in some cases (Filigree's Rule, and the reason why it exists). but I will try to inject reason where I can.

I don't see Norilana in the same difficult category as some of the more predatory and/or clueless small publishers I've seen here in 'Bewares'. For new authors who are looking for an extremely literate editor with an interest in high fantasy, mannerist fantasy, and very high-quality erotica, I'd say wait a year or so and see what Norilana does.
 

Jamiekswriter

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What I don't understand is someone who has not returned the rights of authors who have not been paid for up to three years, if the stories are true.

Vera said in her Facebook page that anyone who asked for their rights back were immediately granted them.

From what I understand, Norilana was *never* opened for submissions. Authors came to her. Norilana did the newer Marion Zimmer Bradley Sword and Sorcery anthologies, IIRC.
 

Medievalist

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Vera said in her Facebook page that anyone who asked for their rights back were immediately granted them.

From what I understand, Norilana was *never* opened for submissions. Authors came to her.

Yep. This is my understanding as well.
 

roach

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Vera has stated she was never open to submissions and that the non-public domain books she has published were through authors approaching her.
 

Giant Baby

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I find it hopeful that the proprietor of Norilana books has well-placed friends and/or friends well-known and trusted here on AW, who are loyal to her. She is likely a very good person and a very good publisher. I have a friend who’s the publisher of a small press and he’s a very good person and a very good publisher. It would pain me to see him go through something like this and I’d probably want to defend him to the end should it ever come about.

That said, I echo Girlyswot’s original questions about this one. Not only has the publisher (admittedly) not paid royalties since 2010, but I’ve found a number of recent alarming posts, most alarming from comments from the publisher’s own keyboard:

https://www.facebook.com/cynthia.ward1/posts/10200495304734414?commentid=54466527&offset=0&totalcomments=7 (See comments.)

http://deirdre.net/something-needs-to-be-said/#comments (See comments.)

A successful Kickstarter campaign brought in over $5,000 to publish this publisher’s own book in 2012, while her authors were not being paid royalties.

Her fans and friends are certainly loyal. In 2009, a fundraising campaign brought in well over $30,000. (Read from the bottom up to see its progress.)

I appreciate the friendships involved here, but as of the time of this posting, this is how the submissions page reads:

At this moment Norilana Books is absolutely CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS.

Any manuscript submissions will be returned unread or discarded. There are no exceptions.

Thank you for your understanding. When this status changes we will make an announcement.
(Second bolding mine.)

This warrants a Bewares entry, IMO. Whether or not they’ve accepted unsolicited submissions in the past is unclear to the current observer. Norilana’s submissions page suggests that they may be open in the future, and I will take that at face value. They’ve been operating and selling books, without paying royalties, since 2010.

Lovely person or not, WTF? Discussing this sort of thing is supposed to be what this forum is about.
 
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Marian Perera

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That said, I echo Girlyswot’s original questions about this one.

Same here.

And even if she somehow digs her way out of her current financial hole, I wouldn't be confident about this press's viability. Especially if the publisher has undergone foreclosure, bankruptcy, surgery, a family member's illness, a family member's death, etc. to the point where business is seriously affected, who's to say what might happen to her in the future?


I'm also not in favor of buying Norilana books if the authors aren't getting paid for them.

Lovely person or not, WTF?
It's surprising how loveliness of character doesn't translate to reliability as a publisher.
 

kaitie

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Is it actually legal for a publisher to take the money from the publishing company and use it for their personal expenses? Especially while not paying the authors?
 

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Does anyone know if this arrearage also affects those authors published in the recent Sword & Sorceress anthologies?
 

MMo

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Sigh. From the Internet Archive a/k/a wayback machine, for the earliest Norilana snapshot, November 24, 2006:


"At this moment Norilana Books is absolutely CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS.

"Any manuscript submissions will be returned unread or discarded. There are no exceptions.

"Thank you for your understanding. When this status changes we will make an announcement. "

Norilana has never been open to unsolicited submissions. Invitation only. No aspiring writers have been harmed by this company's presentation of lovely books and selected reprints.

Modean Moon
 

MMo

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I'm also not in favor of buying Norilana books if the authors aren't getting paid for them.


Oh, thank you so much (fe). If everyone follows this policy, it assures that she will never dig her way out, and further assures that the authors will not see past OR future royalties. I, personally, continue to refer anyone who inquires about hard copy of these books to B&N for the Norilana edition, or to Baen for the e-books.

If you really wanted to help Norilana's authors, you might consider purchasing either our books, or, if that is distasteful to you, some of the lovely editions of the classics Norilana has published to give for Christmas or other gifts.

Modean Moon
 

eqb

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Norilana has never been open to unsolicited submissions. Invitation only. No aspiring writers have been harmed by this company's presentation of lovely books and selected reprints.

But authors *have* been harmed. Eugie Foster could use the money. Authors and editors in the anthologies she's published would like to see the money they are owed.

I love Vera. I think she's been dealt a rotten deal from life. This doesn't mean it's okay for her to stiff her authors. I've suggested to her that she revert all rights and raise money (by loan, by another fundraiser, whatever) to pay the money she owes to authors. If authors want to opt-in, that's great. But she needs to pay her debts and stabilize her business before she resumes publishing anyone but herself and the public domain works.
 

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