6 August 2013

Finally Free to Talk About the Delay

Dear Fans, Readers, and Fellow Authors,

I am finally free to talk to you about the struggle I have had in re releasing The Mercenary. At last my 'red tape' is gone and I can move forward. I am sharing my story for two reasons. ONE - so that readers can understand why there has been such a huge delay in the release of book two. I'm so sorry, I've done my best to get to this as fast as possible. TWO - because I would do anything to stop another budding novelist from going through what I have just experienced.

When I first published this book I was a very new, very inexperienced author. I knew that it would be difficult to break into the writing market from little old NZ with a large percentage of my target audience being international. So I made the decision to self publish. I thought that because I was new at this I should pay an indie publishing company to put the book together for me, to give it the most professional finish possible.

I made my choice (after much deliberation) and handed over the money. It was much more than I really wanted to spend but this was my dream and I wanted to give myself the best chance at success. I thought I had done my homework and chosen a reputable company.

Right from the beginning I had problems with this press. They released the book without telling me, and then tried to deny that it was out. I couldn't do any release hype at all because I found out it was available for sale from a friend who had already purchased it. It had been up for four days at this time.

There were a long list of other issues pertaining to my publication that made it an agonizing journey. Poor communication, attempts at manipulating more money out of me, sending marketing aids to me 3 months after my book was out... when it was too late to use them effectively, failing to provide all of the services detailed in their publishing package. I was bullied by their marketing staff, telling me my book would be a failure if I didn't pay $XXXX for a publicity campaign. Then there was the kicker... royalties.

I have yet to receive a cent from them. (And I've sold enough books that this is heartbreaking) After a long delay and a lot of mucking about, they finally sent me a royalty check. However, it had a three month expiry on it, and took more than two months to get here. There was not enough time remaining on the check for my bank to deposit it (international checks require longer processing time). My indie publisher refused to change the three month expiry, refused to write a new check at all. They also refused to put the money direct into my bank account because: "The international exchange rate makes things too difficult."

So I made the decision to 'unpublish' with them, and redo the book myself. This has taken so much longer than I had planned or hoped. First they ignored my email requests to remove my book. After some time (and several further attempts to contact) I decided to call them... only to find out they had chosen to process my request after all and just hadn't bothered to tell me.

I URGE any new/indie writers to please think very carefully about where you choose to publish. Particularly if you are choosing to hand over any money. Research the company, scour the internet for bad feedback. Research the company again. Make sure you are aware of your rights, and their policies before you commit to anything. My saving grace with this press was that I had no formal contract. So while I may never see the royalties owed to me, I can at least start over with my books somewhere else. I  had been sensible enough to make sure I retained ownership of all the rights to my work.

Fellow writers, even if you are not yet known or recognized, your words are your heart and soul. The very essence of yourself. They are and always will be precious. Never think that you don't deserve the best and never stop trying to be all that you can be. This includes the way in which you share your work with others. I wish you all the best with your own writing journey, and hope that it contains less obstacles than mine so far.

Johanna Rae

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