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Zombiefest Charity Anthology (Gary Munford & Catt Dahman)

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angelameadon

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This is a bit of a long story, so please bare with me.

About a month ago I submitted a story to an anthology being put together as part of a big Facebook book event. I had a great time with the event and made some cool new friends.

The event was run by Gary Munford and Catt Dahman, they also put the book together. They accepted every story and seem to have done no editing (from my read through of the pdf) and the formatting is atrocious.

The problem came in when I pointed out that the cover was unprofessional and could hurt sales. This is the cover:

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This was my comment on the Facebook group where the book was being discussed. They openly talked about progress and Gary gave many updates and posted the TOC here as well. So I thought it was a reasonable place to raise my concern.

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As you can see, they quickly asked me not to say anything negative and I responded with a (sincere) apology.

I withdrew my story:
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Since then, I have been vilified in the group:

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Had my career threatened:
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I posted the cover image on my private, restricted Facebook wall to ask my friends what they thought of the cover.

I was quickly trolled by two guys from the group who were very rude:
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Then Nick posted this to his personal timeline, cutting out the rude interactions of his own:

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(My suggestion to post it to Lousy Book Covers came after Nick demanded evidence that I wasn't the only person who didn't like the cover.)

While Gary has been cool, Catt and the other members of the group have been terrible, harassing me and threatening my career because I pointed out my opinion of the cover in a gentle but direct manner.

Criticism is part of this profession and if you can't take it you shouldn't be trying to make books.

I would recommend that authors stay clear of these people because they are unprofessional and treat you very badly if you disagree with their hand-holding mentality.
 

Chris P

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I'm sorry this happened to you, Angela. I think it is generally good advice to avoid any book project not put together by people established in publishing.

When I was first serious about publishing, someone posted on Yahoo Answers that they (actually singular: she) were putting together a horror anthology and would pitch it to publishers (or, I suspect now, do it POD). I mean, she had to be legit, she had a webpage and a Facebook page and stuff. But the editor had no idea what she was doing, gave me a "rights? what do you mean by rights?" response when I asked her which rights she took and responded with "good question!" when I asked her if this would be a royalties-sharing situation, one-time payment, a copy of the book, or no payment. Fortunately, the project went nowhere I didn't have to go through what you did.

ETA: I think you might want to smudge out the names of anyone not in charge of the project from your photos. Posting them here might be seen as YOU trolling THEM. Although we tell the truth about the publishers, we leave our fellow writers out of it.
 
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colealpaugh

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Angela, I'll always root for a fellow AWer, but unless I missed something, I'd suggest you reconsider your post. You express concern over damaging your career, but you might have jumped a few notches here over being unhappy about the cover. The cover is the bottom line, right? You let them know you didn't like it, then you withdrew your story. But it didn't seem like you were ever asked to sign off on the final cover. Again, I'd suggest you take a few days away from this. Facebook posts don't cache across the internet. Blow them off. Delete what they posted on your wall. I'd even delete what was posted on their wall. But AW posts show up forever. Being so upset over a cover might not be something you want to reread for years. Just my 2 cents. I wish you all the best.
 

angelameadon

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Thank you both for your feedback.

I'm not that upset about the cover, really. I've withdrawn from the anthology.

What upsets me is how I've been harassed and misrepresented after being kicked out of the group so that I have no way to respond.

Ah, I hate this whole messed up situation.
 

Polenth

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I'd file this one under: Always think twice about taking part in hobby projects, especially if it appears to be powered by enthusiasm alone. I looked the book up (which is currently free) and it doesn't look like it was edited beyond an automated spellcheck. The pdf formatting was not good.

But unfortunately for you, they didn't remove your story. So keep that screenshot where they agreed to remove it, because you might need to prove it.
 
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seaaircarol

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For what it's worth, I don't care for the cover, and I don't feel you were rude. You were just expressing your opinion about a project you were involved in. It seems like the situation has unnecessarily escalated, and that doesn't seem like your fault. IMHO.

:)
 
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Old Hack

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I agree that the cover is amateurish in the extreme, but I also think that you should have ensured that this publication was credible before you submitted to them. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh: I don't mean to upset you, but you really should research markets before you trust them with your work.

However, I have to comment about this quote from the Facebook conversation you included:

I know for a fact...that there is a sheet kept somewhere of writers and readers who post negative things and we sure don't ever want to ever be on that list.

It's nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

Amateurish micropresses run by people who have no real experience in publishing might well keep such a list and circulate it to their similarly amateurish micropress friends, but it's going to end there. In all my years (nearly thirty!) of working for professional publishers large, small and in between, I've never seen a hint of such a list.

Individual agencies and publishers do keep lists of writers who have harassed or threatened them, and they keep the police aware of such events, too: but they don't keep lists of people who have been upset by having their work included in anthologies with sloppy, amateurish covers published by the inexperienced, nor do they circulate such lists. This is not something that anyone should worry about.
 

HapiSofi

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Anyone can declare they're doing an anthology and start soliciting stories. Don't invest time, money, or caring in one unless they have a serious track record, or a signed contract with a real publisher, or both.

The cover is amateurish (not in a good way), and it will limit their sales. Anyone who thinks so is free to say so. The opinion requires no credentials.

The existence of writer folklore about a mysterious yet powerful list that's maintained of People Who Say Nasty Things matches the times and places where two-bit barely-professional publishing happens. Real editors, agents, and publishers have never heard of it, and wouldn't care if they did. The story is passed around by writers who are anxious about having gotten involved in flaky or marginal projects, and don't want any else to talk about them.
 

gingerwoman

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I agree that the cover is amateurish in the extreme, but I also think that you should have ensured that this publication was credible before you submitted to them. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh: I don't mean to upset you, but you really should research markets before you trust them with your work.

However, I have to comment about this quote from the Facebook conversation you included:



It's nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

Amateurish micropresses run by people who have no real experience in publishing might well keep such a list and circulate it to their similarly amateurish micropress friends, but it's going to end there. In all my years (nearly thirty!) of working for professional publishers large, small and in between, I've never seen a hint of such a list.

Individual agencies and publishers do keep lists of writers who have harassed or threatened them, and they keep the police aware of such events, too: but they don't keep lists of people who have been upset by having their work included in anthologies with sloppy, amateurish covers published by the inexperienced, nor do they circulate such lists. This is not something that anyone should worry about.
They even included READERS on that list? How are the readers punished for their negative comments? That list must be longer that Santa Clause's naughty list. lol
Angela I don't want to upset you either, but I do think you've shown some naivety here in not expecting that reaction, and hopefully learned something.
Those people were right in saying that you should have approached them in private first, rather on their Facebook, but it would have been more professional for them to just delete your comments from their page and talk to you in private.
I don't blame you for making that mistake we all make mistakes, but I've read of MUCH MUCH bigger relatively successful presses that have acted in a similar way when slighted. Criticizing others about anything is always going to be a minefield and you have to weigh up how important the issue is and approach carefully. That's a lesson for you, for your safety online and for your peace of mind. Don't think I'm criticizing you, (lol) everyone has to start somewhere learning these things.
Please don't worry about your career. You writing will stand on it's own when you submit it to bigger places. This will blow over. Take anyone who insults you off your Facebook and move on. (((hugs)))
 
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HapiSofi

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Angela I don't want to upset you either, but I do think you've shown some naivety here in not expecting that reaction, and hopefully learned something.
Those people were right in saying that you should have approached them in private first, rather on their Facebook, but it would have been more professional for them to just delete your comments from their page and talk to you in private.
Professionalism? Say what? I am a publishing professional. When authors and readers don't like our covers, what we do is suck it up. If we're smart, we also take notes on what didn't work. We try not to blame the public for disliking it. And if we feel miffed anyway, we don't say so.
 

gingerwoman

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I am a publishing professional. When authors and readers don't like our covers, what we do is suck it up. If we're smart, we also take notes on what didn't work. We try not to blame the public for disliking it. And if we feel miffed anyway, we don't say so.
I meant that if they were that upset about her comments and thought it would harm their sales, then it would have been better to talk to her in private than what they did which was publicly chastise her.

As for the rest of what you quoted I explained it more fully in my original post. I'm not siding with the micropress I'm just saying one shouldn't be surprised if a publisher gets angry about a public criticism. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's probably safer for the writer to try to approach the publisher privately first.
 
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Old Hack

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I meant that if they were that upset about her comments and thought it would harm their sales, then it would have been better to talk to her in private than what they did which was publicly chastise her.

As for the rest of what you quoted I explained it more fully in my original post. I'm not siding with the micropress I'm just saying one shouldn't be surprised if a publisher gets angry about a public criticism. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's probably safer for the writer to try to approach the publisher privately first.

The poor cover is going to have a much bigger impact on the sales of that anthology than one writer's comment about it on Facebook.

The publisher's reaction to the writer's comment is going to have a much bigger impact on the sales of the anthology than the writer's comment.

I don't think it would have been at all professional of the publisher to delete the critical comment from the Facebook page. A professional approach would have been to ignore it, or to ask for specifics so that they could improve it. Objecting to the comment in the way that they did is so far from professional that it's a huge red flag for anyone considering submitting to this particular anthology in the future.

Also, I note from the Facebook page that the writer requested that their work was removed from the anthology, was told it had been, but then someone else claimed it was still included. If this is true it's worrying, and another reason to avoid this anthology.
 

HapiSofi

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I'm not siding with the micropress I'm just saying one shouldn't be surprised if a publisher gets angry about a public criticism.
And I'm disagreeing. Angela has every right to be surprised by their behavior. Old Hack and I are certainly surprised by it.

You've heard of the ABM, the Author's Big Mistake, which is to reply in person to a bad review? Publicly bitching about the unenthusiastic reception a project has gotten from readers and reviewers is the publisher's equivalent.

It's rare and regrettable for a real publisher to do that. To publish is to make public. It's our natural venue.
 

angelameadon

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Thank you for all the advice, I have certainly learned my lesson on this one.

My experience with small presses up until now has been very, very good. I was lucky enough to work with Pill Hill Press and they were consummate professionals at all times.

I'm not really worried about "The List" - I think it's a sign of their own arrogance.

Once again, thank you for all your advice, I'm not insulted by any of it. I was naive, that's on me, I have learned a painful lesson.

At the same time, I'm glad that I stood up for myself. I have higher standards for my work and hopefully I will grow and improve because of it.
 

Wisteria Vine

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Everyone knows there is an unwritten "list" of those authors and publishers and so on who behave badly and create drama and scandal. We know this. I simply pointed it out that we should all be aware that negative =negative and people have long memories for this.

Since I have not threatened anyone, not posted anything threatening, and not harassed anyone, I can only ask my name not be pointed out as doing so. Again, people have long memories

AT the risk (again) of being accused of threatening (!!!???) people, my advice is still to LET IT GO and move on and learn and when you let go, the negativity shall also let go of you!

Hello, Catt.

Couple things:

Where is this "unwritten list"? Who keeps track of it? If it's not written down anywhere, then is it really a list at all? Who gets to add to it? Do all these 'list-keepers' get together once a month, skyclad, under the waxing moon to add new names? I'm curious. How does that work?

But in all seriousness, the idea of a list, unwritten or not, is absolute rubbish. And the fact that you keep holding that over the head of new authors and telling them that "people have long memories" really IS threatening them to either behave the way you want them to OR ELSE.

As for your name being mentioned and drama dying down in fifteen minutes...it was how long ago that this thread last came up? Five days ago? You would have been better off to heed your own advice and "LET IT GO." And, ultimately, it's not up to you to keep your name from being brought up. You put it out there, but you don't get to control when and how it appears.

It's just the way it goes.
 

Polenth

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I wish I'd taken a screenshot of the deleted post, because it contained an extra beware for anyone considering this anthology series in the future. It's not an anthology series. It's a scrap book intended only for those involved.

This may well be news to the authors involved, as they've certainly given no sign of knowing in their blog posts. The original poster didn't know either. So they went into it expecting it'd be edited, formatted and all that jazz. It's also a tad odd to sell a scrap book of unedited work.

But regardless of that, there are still obligations to the authors. When it's agreed an author's work will be removed, it should be removed.
 

CaoPaux

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Mmm, let's let it lie for the moment. I've got record of it.
 

Old Hack

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I think there's already enough information in this thread to help writers work out how good or bad an idea it would be to submit to this anthology. The now-deleted posts were only icing on the cake.

I hope everyone will take note of the small portion of the post that Wisteria Vine quoted. I've worked in trade publishing for around thirty years now, and am unaware of any such list. If one does exist it's not in the publishing world that I know.
 

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