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Vanilla Heart Publishing

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Adobedragon

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Ah. I can;t help thinking that a simple redirect would be nice. If they want to keep their customers, that is.

I'm guessin' there aren't many of those, customers that is.

The web page is a big ole fail by my rather simple criterion. I.e., "Does it sell books?"

Answer, nope. It's just a wall of text, text links, broken image links, and photos of authors. No covers, no excerpts, nothing to entice this buyer, anyway.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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This thread is a great exemplar of how a publisher can begin with all the best intentions and still not provide the editing, production, marketing, and distribution that a book needs to actually reach readers.

Kimberlee's plans, as she outlined them in her post on the first page of this thread, were clear and reasonable as far as they went (I think she overlooked the importance of having strong distribution partners in place). Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have been able to deliver on them to date in a way that works for all her authors, which is too bad--the world needs more small presses and more happy small-press authors! I wish her all the best in getting VHP on track with her original goals.

So glad that twnkltoz and Brenda found other publishing venues that worked better for them. I hope, too, that CCE and Mary Q continue to be happy with their experiences with Vanilla Heart.
 
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Brenda Hill

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Thanks, IceCreamEmpress, I'm still not where I want to be, but I'll keep trying.

Not sure, but I think Mary Q left VH a while ago.
 
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CCE

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response re: VHP

I've been asked privately if I would recommend Vanilla Heart, and my answer is NO. Three main reasons why:

After I signed, the company scaled down to a one-person operation, which meant if the managing editor had anything to do - illness, hers or in her family, emergency in her town, or anything else - the publishing shut down.

...

They do have several loyal writers who support the company and each other so you feel as if you've been accepted into a writing family. Kinda reminds me of another 'publisher.' All I can say is, if you're seriously interested, check your contract.

I certainly wish Brenda well in her endeavors. There are 2 points to this post that I would like to respond to:

1) I have been with VHP for over 3 years I believe since before Brenda came on board, and the size of the management has not changed in that time.

2) "writers who support the company and each other" - great words and I attribute much of the success I have enjoyed to the cross-promotion and affiliation with my fellow authors. Many of these "loyal writers" have helped each other with guest blogs, reviews, and even reposting FaceBook & Twitter postings. Several members of this writing family are far from new to the field of writing and publication and we've used our prior experiences to know what we like.

And yes, it is great advice to always check your contract before signing so that you are aware of what is expected of you as a working author as well as what you can expect from the publisher.

Good writing to all.

~Chelle
http://ChelleCordero.com
 

Brenda Hill

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I know you're happy with VH, Chelle, and I understand why. However, other writers, some who have already left and others who plan to leave, are not - mainly for the reasons I listed.

I believe this was my statement: "After I signed, the company scaled down to a one-person operation, which meant if the managing editor had anything to do - illness, hers or in her family, emergency in her town, or anything else - the publishing shut down." That was my experience.
 

MaryQ

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While I currently wait for the rights to my three books to be returned to me from VHP, I am in the process of re-working those three books, add the forth and final book to the series, getting new covers and putting the new books/series up as ebooks for summer. Add a few short stories I've been throwing "out there" will keep my name in the market while I work on bigger projects.

I'm currently exploring my abilities as a writer and challenging myself. A writer can't grow with out some good challenges and my last WIP was a huge challenge but I feel good about it.

I've signed up to attend some writers' conferences, been networking like crazy, and made some wonderful writer friends in the meantime. It's great to have a support group. LOL

My writing style has changed somewhat and acording to a few reviewers I've created something unique and marketable. I guess one could say, I'm maturing as a writer. I feel there are bigger opportunities for me and I'm going after them.
 
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IceCreamEmpress

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While I currently wait for the rights to my three books to be returned to me from VHP

So I see you've also left them, MaryQ? That's another interesting datapoint.

Best of luck with finding new homes for your work.
 

RyanCallaway

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I might be beating a dead horse at this point but I did want to share my experience with Vanilla Heart Publishing. I was very excited when one of their authors/editors put me in touch with Kimberlee and helped me submit one of my novels. It was accepted and she was supposed to be my editor but ended up leaving the company. Things went on fine from there, I had a relatively good relationship with my new editor, and Kimberlee was always kind and professional. I even submitted a short story to the company for one of their anthologies (Arms Wide Open). Compensation for that, mind you, was supposed to be between $15-$45. Not a huge amount but still worth the 7,500 words they were asking for. It was upon the release of that anthology that I first noticed something I found problematic.

As an author and a filmmaker, I enjoy using flashbacks as a storytelling device, typically to move the story along and keep the timeline compact while giving exposition or background. My editor didn't too much care for it, and in one flashback in that short story, which came while a character was telling another of a recent event - she changed it into an all dialogue section, without really altering the wording. So a scene/subchapter written in third person as a flashback, was converted to first person with no other revision. The result was a quiet and reserved character speaking like... well, like a weirdo. That was a minor gripe, but it was definitely a questionable decision when it came to quality and dedication to releasing good products.

Onto the major issue, the contract I signed which I still have to this day, stated that I would be paid and given royalty statements quarterly. And that was it. No other conditions or clauses. My novel was published back in June of 2008 and I have yet to receive a single royalty statement or payment. I emailed Kimberlee three different times to ask what was going on. First she told me that they had been backed up but to expect a payment and statement in a few months (giving me a specific date). That date came and went and we went through the same thing a second time half a year later. The third time she told me that I had just reached "payout", something that was not in the contract nor had it been brought up at any time prior. She also was sure to let me know that she was considering dropping my book since I had little participation in its marketing, leading to declining sales. Of course I wasn't marketing it by this point because I hadn't gotten a dime after two years. Anyway, she gave me another date which came and went. That was back in October of 2010 and the date she gave me was January 30th.

I don't know the experiences of other authors related to payment problems, although one I was in contact with did say he strongly believed he hadn't received everything he was entitled to. As for me, I know I earned SOMETHING from watching the sales rankings from time to time, and even hearing from Kimberlee a couple months after its' release about how well it was doing. So regardless of whether I ever made four figures out of it or not (I'm sure I didn't), contractually I know I was and am entitled to something. I would like to seek legal action because I still have the contract and the email correspondence. I may have to count my losses though because I would probably end up losing money in the end after the lawyer fees, etc.

But anyway, just had to get some of that off my chest, lol. It has been frustrating but I am happy that VHP is no longer selling my book and all rights have reverted back to me. Even that took longer than it was supposed to. She told me last summer that she would be discontinuing YH as of January 1st. It was still on sale until May, meaning she had either forgotten or was squeezing a couple of extra bucks out of me while she could. She also informed me that I could not use the edited version of the book whenever I self published it or submitted it elsewhere. I may ignore that direction though because my initial contract didn't say anything about it, regardless of her agreement with my editor.

I know some people have had decent experiences with VHP but I was blatantly ripped off, and have little recourse unfortunately.

Ryan
 

twnkltoz

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Sad story...thanks for posting it, Ryan. Yet another reminder that I did the right thing to walk away!
 

MaryQ

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Ryan, welcome to the club. I recived one payment for my 2008 release and none for my 2009 release. VH claimed "not enough sales". I wondered where all those people who brought my books to author events purchased their copies. Hmmmm.....

I had a few issued getting my rights returned and my three novels pulled from the market. In the end, I basically sent my contract back to VHP with highlighted areas of each section they didn't follow with the demand of immediate release.

Currently I'm writing shorts for a new publisher & extremely happy with my editing experience. Looking back, I don't believe my books were edited properly. (NOTE... my current ebook is on a best sellers list for it's size and genre.)

But live & learn from every experience. Ryan, I think we need to talk and find out if other authors have had the same experience. I have a lawyer who has gone up against publishers before... we might want to see what he thinks of the situation.
 
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artsigirl90

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Mary, Ryan--

For personal protection I am not giving my name, but I am a long-forgotten VHP author who has faced the same problems you have. Everything was peachy-keen until my book came out, and then suddenly I was forgotten. After nine months of badgering, I got one royalty check, and then I guess I just ceased to exist in their eyes. All my prompts for payment and notices for new manuscripts were ignored. Eventually my book fell to the bottom of the heap, and now it's gone. No letter, no note, not even a one-line notice of my book being discontinued. Nothing. I literally discovered this when I went to the site to link a cover of my novel to my new web site. I felt ignored and neglected--treated very rudely, at the VERY least. :( As far as book publishing goes, I am not sure where I will go from here--I'm more into writing short stories for literary journals now.
 

twnkltoz

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How sad, and thank you for posting your story here for others to see. I hope there is some legal recourse for you.
 

Stacia Kane

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Welcome to AW, artsigirl90!

If your book is no longer being sold on the VH website, you should email and ask for your rights back. I don't know what the reversion clause in your contract says (assuming there is one) so of course I can't speak in absolutes, but either the rights would revert now that the book is no longer for sale (out of print), or the fact that the book isn't for sale *may* be a breach of contract, in which case you should be able to revert the rights.

Just send a short, polite email saying that since the book is no longer for sale, you'd like your rights back, please, and ask them to confirm it in writing (again, check your contract for a reversion clause first, so you can quote it/mention it, and to find out what exactly your standing is with it). Once you have that confirmation of reversion you can shop the book elsewhere if you like--not all publishers will take reprints, but it's certainly worth a try.

Good luck! :) I hope you stick around here.
 

Kay

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Just wondering if anyone has had experiences or interactions with VHP in the last year. They have my full ms and I expect ot hear from them by mid- May.
This thread has definately opened my eyes to some red flags, but I also have seen some of those flags from other popular, reputable publishers.

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.

Two other publishers have my full ms as well so maybe they will bite first.

Any insight would be appreciated!
 

JulieB

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Welcome to AW, CrystalKay!

What red flags do you see from other publishers?

Of course, you can afford to be choosy. If you sign a bad contract or go with a publisher that has a bad track record of payment, production, and/or marketing, your book will suffer, and you may have a tough time getting your rights back. That's a general statement, not aimed at any particular publisher.

Please hang around and read threads about other publishers and how they handle various aspects of the business. You'll get a better feel for what you need to know before you sign a contract.
 

Kay

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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).

I feel like I have researched so many publishers to the point where I'm exhausted! There are many that, hands down, I would never submit to. But then there are the ones that have such a mixture of results that it leaves me baffled.

I'm forming my list of the next round of publishers to submit to (if the 3 that have my ms now shoot me the R), but aaahhhhhhhh..... I think I'd rather spend my time pulling my hair out. Or maybe geting a root canal.