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I don’t think I’ve ever bought any books from New Concepts, so they’ve pretty much always sailed under my radar, however, I did receive an e-mail from one of their authors yesterday, with “concerns” over the running of the company, and the way they are currently treating their authors.

Her e-mail starts:

“I am an author with New Concepts Publishing. In fact, I’m a very unhappy author with them, along with numerous other authors. I’ve come to you to ask if you were aware of the fact that NCP is a vanity press for the publishers/owners? If I had known this before submitting to them, I never would have done so. But now that I am, I realize how huge a mistake it was.”

She continues:

“I have yet to be paid for my 4th qtr sales. But at least this is not as bad as some of the treatment other authors have faced, or are currently facing.”

My source then goes on to list a number of things that have been happening at NCP of late:

“Repeatedly ignoring or not answering questions and queries by their authors
Questions and queries by authors on the authors’ email loop being slammed by a select handful of “friends” (in both private emails and loop mail)
Publisher’s Liaison slamming questioning authors in email (since authors are not allowed to write directly to the publisher/owners)
Authors never given release dates, or told when their book is out (or if they are given a release date, not releasing it at that time — example in point, one author was told her book would release in Aug., ’07. It was finally released this month.)
Late or no payment (ditto for 1099s)
Misspelled name on the cover, and not correcting it
Wrong cover on the book, and not correcting it
No edits before releasing the book (or extremely poor editing, if any)
Author not given a chance to see final version of book before its release
Not giving the author an ARC, and forcing them to buy their own personal copies once book is out
Limiting an author on the number of copies they can buy of their own books
Denying authors release from their contracts (no buy-out clause in contracts, either)
Publisher/owners using up to 12 pseudonyms (5 known and documented) for their own books, of which 80-90% of all books released are their own
90% of books released onto Fictionwise belonging to publisher/owners, and a very select handful of “inner circle” friends
90% of books being released to paperback being those of the publisher/owners, and that same handful of friends
AUTHOR’S BOOK(S) REMOVED FROM WEBSITE, AND WHEN QUESTIONED, WAS TOLD THAT NOWHERE IN THE CONTRACT DOES IT STATE NCP HAS TO POST THAT BOOK FOR SALE, THAT THERE IS NO “REQUIREMENT” THAT THEY HAVE TO.”

Whew! Well there’s a lot to consider there, how true these issues are, I don’t know, but for those of you who do know, you know the drill. E-mail me at hairylemony @ gmail . com, with your version of events.

The author mentioned that they were a vanity press for the owners/publishers which I must admit I found a tad confusing. I think she’s misunderstood what a vanity press is, and I’m assuming that she means that the owners/publishers are publishing a huge percentage of their own work, which strictly speaking seems to be par for the course for a lot of e-book publishers out there, but this alone doesn’t actually make them a VP house.

Anyway, if anybody else has a beef with the way things are going with the company, or maybe you haven’t been paid for your work in a while (which is usually a good indication that the company is on a slippery slope to bankruptcy) or if anybody has any inside knowledge, please e-mail me.  As usual, I promise total confidentiality.

15 Comments »

  • I’m not unsympathetic to the author’s frustration, but most of these issues are contractual based and if one has negotiated a strong contract, there are remedies available. However, if one doesn’t negotiate the contract or have a qualified professional go over what’s handed them so they know what they’re signing and what protections are missing from the document, then they can be in a position of much harder to attain remedy. Not that’s it’s impossible, just harder.

    I am surprised the author is writing you rather than an attorney. Not that you aren’t wonderful, *G* but I would think legal consult would go a long way to alleviate her frustration and provide a clear path for him or her as to what can or even needs to be done for his or her particular situation. Pretty much, though, the author has to go back to what’s written in the contract as the contract spells out both the author’s and the company’s obligations in regard to the book it pertains to, including viewing the final product, where the book will be sold and in what format, under what terms it can be removed from sale sites, payment schedules, penalty for late payment, etc.

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  • Ellen Ashe
    March 9
    3:16 pm

    I have hired a lawyer, for one, because my books- one has15 months left on the contract- was dropped on NCP site, and he shook his head, calling NCP contract PATHETIC. Addresing various issues within the contract, the president of this company wrote back to him in her usual arrogant ignorant manner, even spelling the word BREACH incorrectly. Not saying much more as the matter is still being looked into legally.
    Yes, if you bow down and kiss butt and make loads of money NCP will treat you well. But don’t ask questions and dear god- don’t complain about anything- even when your book is held hostage, because that puts you on the HIT-LIST. Sorry- their bully tatics and ignorance needs to be documented. There are plenty of good publishers out there that treat authors with respect. NCP isn’t one of them.

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  • Ellen,

    That’s a shame. I’m so sorry. But your lawyers’ comments in regards to NC’s contracts illustrates a point I don’t think can be said enough. The time to have an attorney look at a contract is before an author signs. That way, it doesn’t matter what the original instrument looks like. Pathetic or a Barracuda with extraordinary big teeth by the time it leaves the negotiation process the one the authors signs should be tight, professional and protect the author’s interests as well as the publishers. And when disputes come up, all the posturing in the world won’t matter because the contract spells it out and the contract is legally binding and enforceable. Both ways.

    As far as documenting bullying tactics, I’m not sure of the point. This is a business, and if both sides are taking care of business, there’s just no way to bully. All the screaming in the world doesn’t change the words of a contract nor the obligations spelled out therein.
    s
    Ie: I know authors often get upset with epublisher when their books don’t go into print. It’s common practice for epublishers to buy print rights but make no promise to exercise them. (many authors seem to accept this as okay, but I don’t know why) After the contract is signed, it’s too late for an author to carp and those rights are gone and the publisher is under no obligation to utilize them. However, if it’s important to an author to have a book in print then they need to provide for it in the contract. Set a certain time limit for the book to go into print after contract signing. If that doesn’t happen then the contract needs to provide for the reversion of the print rights to the author. If the contract doesn’t state that the book will go into print and the house doesn’t put it in print, this is not a deception on the Publishers part. Not a sleight of hand. Their obligations are spelled out in the contract. They are legally bound to live up to the letter of the contract. No more. And absolutely no less. Same for the author’s side.

    As an author I can’t complain if I don’t take the steps necessary to understand my rights nor the effort to protect them via contract, but once I have, I’m not even going to blink if my publisher tries to “bully” me. I’m simply going to pull out my contract, smile sweetly and say something like, “I believe paragraph 3 sub section g disagrees with your assessment.”

    Seriously, we as authors, e or otherwise, need to learn to love our contracts and view them as the strong assets they are. A well negotiated contract pretty much removes 90 percent of stress from the publishing process and it’s worth fighting for.

    As someone who spent 20 years writing before publishing, I understand the desire to be published and the anxiety that pops up when a contract is placed before an author, but I have never felt that the short term benefit of being published at any cost is worth the long term issues it creates. It might take an author two or three offers before they find one that fits their needs, but turning down a bad, non negotiable offer is not the end of all hope. It’s merely, IMO, another common sense step on the way to a career and not something to be feared.

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  • I have to admit that being one of their authors hasn’t been the most wonderful publishing experience I’ve ever had. My book came out without my knowledge, I was handed a single copy of the download in one format only, and while I had no problems working with them, I also have no intention of publishing with them again in future. It’s like a social club, with the chosen ones getting all the attention and promotion. If you work quietly and effectively, professionally, without bowing and agreeing they’re wonderful, you go unnoticed – in all ways, including getting any decent sales or promotion for your eforts.

    I think the author’s reference to vanity press was more aimed at the fact that their vanity is what decides which books go to press, and get promoted and sold. They think they’re the best authors with the company, so whatever they produce gets priority – in that way it appears they ARE a vanity press… ego driven all the way.

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  • Ellen Ashe
    March 9
    4:37 pm

    Contracts. Well, y’know, it’s what’s NOT there that is interesting. What’s not in the NCP contract is their all mighty power to drop the author and the author’s books whenever they feel like it. The president writes my lawyer and states: “In the first place it doesn’t say any where on the contract that we have to post the books for sale–naturally we do
    because the objective is to sell the books–but there is no REQUIREMENT that we do so…” Gee, how did I miss that when I signed on with NCP?!? Here I thought a publishing house that took my books would A) Promote my books and B) SELL my books. I guess I shouldn’t have assumed this- I should have paid a lawyer $360 an hour to explain to me the between the line shafting I could possible receive.
    Here’s the thing- this is one of many dirty little tricks NCP plays. Contract here does nothing to protect authors. And you’re right- it comes down to what’s in and NOT in the contract-I learned the hard way. New authors, I hope, will learn from my mistake.

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  • Ellen-

    We all live an learn. And often it’s more important what’s not said in a contract than what is. Hence the need for most of us to attain legal advice before signing because we’re just not aware of industry standards and how the play into phrasing, etc

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  • Karen Scott
    March 9
    4:47 pm

    From the e-mails I’ve received so far, it would seem that New Concepts are indeed a publisher to avoid. Even their ‘big name’ authors aren’t happy. With permission, I shall be posting excerpts of the e-mails I receive, so authors, keep sending me the goods!

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  • Publisher/owners using up to 12 pseudonyms (5 known and documented) for their own books, of which 80-90% of all books released are their own
    90% of books released onto Fictionwise belonging to publisher/owners, and a very select handful of “inner circle” friends

    I think she’s misunderstood what a vanity press is, and I’m assuming that she means that the owners/publishers are publishing a huge percentage of their own work, which strictly speaking seems to be par for the course for a lot of e-book publishers out there, but this alone doesn’t actually make them a VP house.

    This is one of the things I am seriously thinking of adding to my definition of “Vanity Press”.

    If you find the owners are faking several pen names on their own web site (more than two) and not really having an obvious reason to do so (Writing erotic or M/M they don’t want associated to their straight romance) then in my opinion it is obvious they are pulling a fast one and deciding to make it look to the customers and other writers like they have all these dedicated people working with them.

    That is a out right planned deception in my opinion.

    New Concepts Publishing might not be the only ePublisher doing this but the other well known ePublisher I have heard also doing this also has the exact same problems with how shall we say grandiose interpretations of their contracts and what they as owners can do.

    In other words this seems to be a solid indicator you are dealing with people who have issues with honesty and will probably end up ripping you the hell off.

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  • Thanks for the heads up people I have pulled their link off my blog.

    I love Dani Harper’s Heart of The Winter Wolf but I aint promoting something like New Concepts Publishing on my site.

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  • I know I spoke up on the author loop that some authors were not happy, and was told those who were should pull. Seems there is a problem in that when communication to management is non existant. It seems to be an all-in-the-family run and preference is given to owners and all their aliases. Authors are told print is based on sales….but the owners and all their pen names are getting on the print release list before the ebook is out.

    I don’t expect my book in print there, though somehow I got my books on FW. Not sure how other than I haven’t complained much. Two of my 3 books there are reprints so I don’t have a whole lot vested there. Reprints to me are testing ground.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shafted on the going to print front. I am shocked that this year, I will get at least two. Wonders of wonders. What am I going to do to avoid this in the future? Move onward and upward. No epub is willing to write in their contract a definite date for print…or even “if” your novel will go to print.

    Basically, you live, you learn.

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  • I’ve seen mention of books being pulled from NCP to be “streamlined”. What does that mean?

    I know NCP pulled off many non-erotic titles off their website in the past, so is this a similar situation?

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  • Ellen Ashe
    March 11
    12:52 pm

    Streamlined- I wrote to ask NCP why FIVE of my titles were DROPPED from their website the first of February. (3 have contracts due to expire in June, one in December 2008, and another not until April 2009) Not dropped I was told- STREAMLINED.
    I quote from the author liaison:
    “We are streamlining our huge royalty statements. Our royalty statements have gotten so large that it now takes more than a month to complete them and this makes everyone unhappy.” ??????
    I wrote to ask Madris that if NCP has dropped my books then just return them to me and we’ll call it a day.
    She wrote:
    “This has low priority at the moment. At the moment we’re tied up- everyone is tied up and I’m not pulling them for this.”
    I wrote:
    “I didn’t realize a letter from you returning my rights required full staff participation. Perhaps when you’re not so busy you might explain to me where in the contract “streamlining” books comes into play.
    That was Feb 5. My emails after that have been ignored.
    So I hired a lawyer to look into STREAMLINING. He worte to Madris saying this looked like breach. She wrote to him:
    “There is no breech. In the first place it doesn’t say any where on the contract that we have to post the books for sale–naturally we do because the objective is to sell the books–but there is no REQUIREMENT that we do
    so…” Then she went on to suggest I was simple, I misinformed, and that my books weren’t worth their time and effort anyway.
    Rude, arrogant, ignorant tone and she spelled breach incorrectly. That was to my lawyer! I was stunned but hey- should this attitude surprise anyone who has been bullied by this company????
    My lawyer is proceeding… we talk again today.

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  • Legal Defense Fund

    Stand up for liberate and fight the New Concepts Publishing Tyranny

    Strike a blow for freedom and help an author take on the publisher.

    Donations can be made via paypal – ellenashe@hotmail.com

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  • Oops, I shouldn’t post before my second cup of coffee has had time to make it into my blood stream.

    That would be liberty ;-)Stand up for liberty ;-)

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  • I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with an epub that also publishes the owners’ books. I’m just saying the potential for abuse is there, and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it where I am.

    Ellen, even a good contract can only protect you so far if the publisher refuses to honor it or communicate with you. What author has a bottomless wallet to pay lawyers’ fees? Any way you look at it, it sucks dealing with people like this. I just hope they self-destruct with a little more grace than some others I’ve seen…

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