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Well, I’m pretty sure when this many authors are pissed off at their publisher, it generally means that their publisher is probably shafting them. Royally.

From what I can gather, New Concepts Publishing seem to be losing the grip on their business, and I can’t help but wonder if they are having money troubles?

Anyway, here’s a selection of excerpts from the complaints that I’ve been getting from authors:

They’ve been yanking authors around for years. This dropping books and not releasing contracts is sheer spite. They have an infamous “shit-list” consisting of authors who question or argue and the numbers on it are increasing.

I hired a lawyer and the letter Madris wrote in return to it was arrogant and ignorant. She even spelled breach “breech”. Then she implied I lied to him, I was simple and my books weren’t worth NCP’s time and effort anyway. Just an example of how dreadful this woman is and what bullying tactics some authors have cowered under.

It’s about time the shit went the other way. They have many unethical business tactis that need to be addressed so authors aren’t made to feel like pieces of slime.
Lawyers are expensive and I can’t afford to press my issues much further. But I can’t see him tolerating the tone of the letter sent back to his office. My fight continues, at least for a little while.

Seeing as Ellen Ashe has been so vocal about her anger at the treatment she has received from NCP, there’s no reason for me to hide her identity, she’s taking a stand, which is nice to see.

Anyway, here’s another excerpt from another e-mail:

Royalties are always paid late, if at all without much prodding. I still don’t have a 1099. Well, they did mail me a slip of blank paper with a number on it (in late Feb), and since I did the math,that appears to be my gross earning from last year. My last book didn’t even get any edits. I had to bug the crap out of NCP to insert the ones I sent, and I’m still not sure they fixed every problem. It’s impossible to contact them for help or clarification on issues, which makes it frustrating for authors who need to air frustrations.

NCP was down for two weeks in Nov 2007 and for an entire month no one seemed able to get a hold of anyone. No explanations until after they were down. But come on, if a server went down, does it really take weeks to get it back online? And the customers are always complaining on the loops about poor customer service. It’s embarrassing.

I used to be told when my books would be released, but my last two were a surprise. One didn’t come out when it was supposed to, with no word to me whatsoever. Then later it simply appeared on the site.

Also, any author trying to get in touch with the publisher via the author loop, not the reader loop, the author loop, gets slammed for even mentioning problems. The other authors who seem to have a book out every other week, or the newbies who don’t know any better, jump on those with problems and make it virtually impossible to get help even from the people you’d think would support you. I have heard from several authors off the loops that I’m not the only one feeling frustrated.

That particular e-mail was posted on my WordPress blog, but I think it bears re-posting.

This following e-mail was from somebody who admittedly had never written for NCP, but it was interesting all the same:

Probably none of my beeswax, since I’m not published with New Concepts, but I will say this…

Early in my career, I was offered a contract by NCP. Being a newbie in the field, I took it upon myself to ask one of their authors if it was a good publisher.
Her response consisted of a very long e-mail with complaints almost identical to the one you have on your blog (especially non-payment of royalties that went back nearly a year, and refusing to respond to questions/complaints). She advised me to stay far, far away.

I promised her I’d never reveal her name in this context, but trust me–she’s a pretty well-known, reputable author.

It’s interesting to note that even way back, there was unrest at NCP.

Before last year, I rarely got review requests from the authors. They always came from ____. Like clockwork, every week I’d get multiple emails from her. It wasn’t unheard of for her to miss a week, so the following week I’d get double. But, I haven’t gotten a review request email from _____ since August 2007. Before that set it was June 2007 that I got books from her. We’ve only gotten one set of requests from the author liaison and that was in October 2007.

I only mention this because it was not the norm. Somewhere in 2007 things changed.

Also, we’ve been to the last two RT Conventions. With all the “rumblings” about NCP I’ve heard, we thought it odd that they’re not hosting the last party of the week like they have the last 2 years.

The above was from a reviewer. It seems to me that even people, external to the business have been noticing the changes for a while now.

Thanks for the blog entry on NCP. I’ve been with NCP quite a while, and when I started out I had a good working relationship with my editor, and if I emailed her I heard back from her right away. Things slowly deteriorated to where it was difficult to get a reply. I’m no longer writing for NCP, but judging from what I hear, people are having a really hard time getting any response from the company, or even getting rights back that they’re entitled to per contract.

Oddly, NCP added an author liaison a year or so ago, and yet he never responds to emails either. And the reader loop reflects ever-increasing frustration with customer service, which doesn’t seem to reply to readers in any sort of timely manner, if at all.

All the complaints definitely have a similar theme to them don’t they? What is it with some e-pubs and not answering e-mails? This was a common complaint from the authors of the e-pubs that have since gone kaput.

Not answering e-mails seems to be a ‘head in the sand’ type thing that people do when they are having financial difficulties.

It was recently mentioned on the author group that a good many of NCP’s major authors are actually the owners of the company. I’ve written for NCP for years, and never had an inkling of this, nor has it ever been disclosed in the RT articles on the company, as far as I know (and to be fair I’ll add I can’t prove it, as I can find nothing on the internet to link any of these names with the owners of the company).

People seem to have found out about it by meeting the authors at RT. While authors are certainly entitled to use pseudonyms, and keep their real identities private, these authors do seem to get preferential treatment—their books always go into paperback (which mattered back when NCP was still working with a distributor to get their books into stores) and they are always prominently featured in ads (including ones that were paid for by other authors out of pocket—and for all I know the owners of the company paid for their portion of the ad out of pocket, too, but it does make me wonder).

I don’t mind that the owners write for the company, and I don’t even really mind that they get preferential treatment. But the fact that they’ve kept it so grimly secret all this time concerns me, and makes me wonder why it’s been such a closely held secret.

At any rate, I’m not writing for NCP any more, and I’m getting my rights back as my contracts expire (at least I’m requesting them; one hopes the company will comply). While I always had a good relationship with them, there are too many peculiarities in their current business practices for me to continue with them..

Well, I for one will be interested to hear how this one pans out. Something’s definitely smoking at Casa New Concepts. Any further news, e-mail me at hairylemony @ gmail . com.

It’s also interesting to note that I haven’t had a single e-mail refuting any of these accusations either. Very telling that, methinks.

18 Comments »


  • Rosemary Laurey
    March 11
    8:57 pm

    Interesting this, but not not really news.

    Way back when in 1998 I researched several e-publishers with an eye to submitting work. One thing I did was order books from each company both as download and disks. I wanted to find out what customer service was like since back then 98% of ebook sales were via the respective publisher’s web site.-Also wanted to check quality of books, editing, covers etc.

    It took NCP over a week to send me the download, something every other publisher (I targetted 4 of them) managed in 24 hours or less. And nearly FIVE weeks to send me the disk I’d ordered. Got it in the end after multiple e-mails, must in all fairness say they sent me an extra book as a compensation for the delay, but decided there and then not to submit to them.

    They made it too hard for readers to buy books!

    But it’s also a shame to see one of the early pioneers of e-publishing in such disarray.

    Must add I agree with Sarah, too many authors sign contracts without reading them, and without negotiating necessary changes.

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  • Capo
    March 11
    10:03 pm

    I’ve had no problems with delivery. Did notice some formatting issues with the last e-book I purchased from them. Not enough to make me stop buying – until now. I refuse to patron any publisher so obviously indifferent toward not only authors but the very contracts they put their own John Hancock to. I doubt this is an issue of poor negotiating skills on the authors’ part. If I had to make a guess it’d be simple greed and devil-may-care attitude going on.

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  • Just my .02, which means little since I was never an author with them, but here’s my reasoning for it.

    Authors are NOT allowed to negotiate the contract with NCP. It’s take it as is or don’t sign. Most contracts have points I’m flexible on, but out and out non-discussion? Nope, sorry. No can do.

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  • I had a similar experience with them, Rosemary. They were slow to get the download to me, and then the file was corrupted. I emailed them immediately to say I couldn’t open the file, but I got no response. After a couple more polite emails over the next few weeks asking them the status, I finally sent them an email stating that I was planning to request a chargeback from my credit card company, since I’d never received the merchandise. Only then did I get a readable copy of the book I’d bought nearly a month before.

    After that experience with their customer service, I decided then and there I’d never submit any work to them.

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  • You know, I have a very good friend that lives in Canada who bought several NCP books in print recently. When she got them they were horribly constructed, the covers was considerably off, the edges were chewed up, it was missing pages and the text was off. This was THREE books she ordered all in one shipment. So she emailed them, sent them scans of the book, the missing pages, complained about the edges being ragged, and what happened? Nothing. She’s emailed them 8 times about it because she would like readable replacements or her money back and she was disgusted with the fact that they could send her THREE poorly done books.
    Now we all know accidents happen right? but THREE books in one shipment that are like that? NOT POSSIBLE. and now they wont get back at her and she has contacted their CS and emailed everyone she could… NOTHING. She actually contacted Piers Anthony about this, as a reader she feels slighted and she should. So its not just authors that are getting the shaft here… its readers too.

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  • Perplexed
    March 12
    2:14 pm

    I sure wouldn’t look to Piers Anthony for any help in that case – he owns a small press of his own and they’re almost as bad as NCP when it comes to berating the authors and treating them badly when they ask about late royalties or, gasp… editing!

    it’s troubling to see this just because a few months ago NCP was on the FRONT COVER of an issue of RT with a huge story inside – if you’re in financial troubles, you must be screwing up something awful when you get the PR from a shot like that and can’t make it work…

    too many micropresses are playing this game of jerking the author around instead of trying to publish books…

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  • [...] Scott started reporting on this last week and at least one author has gone public. The complaints against New [...]



  • Rosemary Laurey
    March 12
    4:36 pm

    Dear Perplexed:

    You BUY the front cover of RT. I’ve done it :-) All you ahve to do is put your money on the table.

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  • Rosemary Laurey
    March 12
    4:40 pm

    Doona:

    No negotiation? That’s incredible. That in itself is a red flag IMO. I make it a point of principle to squeeze a little extra on every contract. After all a contract is an agreement between TWO parties, not a take it or leave it offer.
    Heck, even NY publishers will negotiate. I expect a small press to.

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  • Wow, it’s always amazing to me how long a company can limp along with things growing worse and worse before they finally implode. It’s always the authors who suffer.

    I feel confident with my e-pubs, Samhain, Loose Id and Liquid Silver. All have open and responsive staff members. But I tell you, stories like this New Concept one freak me out. I guess if things start to go the least bit squirrelly, that’s when you pull all your titles, rather than wait until the ship is half sunk.

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  • Anonymous
    March 12
    6:44 pm

    The problem a lot of authors are having w/ NCP is they are refusing to release titles back to authors, even when the contracts have expired. They also refuse to let authors out of contracts for any reason. Furtehermore, they demand to retain ALL rights (even print) even when they have no intention of pubbing anything but an ebook. The owner Madris will also agree to negotiate terms one minute, then a half-hour later swear she made no such agreement. Then she will tell you that you have only 2 days to approve their edits, even though their standard contract allows you 90 days to approve edits. If you dare assert your rights under their contract are being violated, Madris and the staff become verbally abusive and mean and make threats against you.

    I have yet to be paid a dime in royalties even though my one and only title w/ NCP is a bestseller. Stay far, far away from this publisher. If we’re lucky, they’ll be out of business by the end of the year, and then all authors should be able to get their rights back.

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  • While I am among those who are owed royalties I haven’t been verbally abused or threatened in any way..just ignored, ignored, ignored. Today I’ve written about my own experience at Novelspot if anyone wishes to read.
    Thank you,
    Des

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  • *sigh* These are sad reports, but I’m going to say it again, get an attorney before you sign any contract. Make sure the contract contains language that provides recourse should agreements not be adhered to. That way, there’s no way to bully. It’s a simple matter of moving onto recourse for failure to perform.

    And I really don’t understand how if a grant of right expires the publisher can hold onto anything. They may not respond to an email, but there is recourse for that also. As for not giving the books back early, unless it’s provided for in the contract, they are under zero obligation to do so and it would be bad business to do so whether they are exercising those rights or not.

    And yes, I get a publisher may decide not to negotiate. At that point an author has the right to walk away. Not walking way is a choice the same as walking away though it often seems to come with more regrets.

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  • KillerKarma
    March 13
    7:29 pm

    Good points, Sarah. But I think we’re a bit beyond contracts now. It’s like saying that once the horses are gone, to close the barn door. Too late, but a lesson learned nonetheless. Bottom line, NCP is not treating its authors fairly. One author has gotten a lawyer, the only real recourse she has.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t wish NCP or its owners ill will. But I would like them to make good on what they legally promised to their authors AND readers (don’t get me started on their lack of customer service support), and for them to have the same consideration for their authors that they would like for themselves.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, karma is a wonderful thing.

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  • There’s very few times that i have ever elected to say something about what i regard to be a bad situation. Not that i am passive-aggressive, but more of a Pollyanna who would rather find the sunshine in the clouds. But after yesterday..aint no sunshine.

    I am an artist who has done covers for numerous companies including new concepts. I am in fact the one who found and sent the models to her for the RTC. These boys are my discoveries in my hometown.

    A few months ago i became quite disturbed to find that the art I had done for them had been re-rendered by other artists and the work looked like it had been done by an amatuer 7th grade art study student with pasted bright yellow hair etc. i could go on, but thats the artist in me who spends 8 hours or more on a piece seeing it destroyed by a one minute paintover. To make this matter worse, when the piece was published it would say art by me and then this other persons name. I told them if they wanted anything changed i would be more than happy to do it professionally. The response i got after that was to see the rest of my art go on display without my name and under another artists. I did contain my rage although i made note of this in another letter and got no response.

    Okay yesterday: one of my model discoveries, my exclusives, called me yesterday to let me know that New Concepts contacted him the day before wanting to fly him and my other models to the convention again this year. I was never contacted about this at all.And they asked him how much it would cost them to have another photographer shoot pictures of them and sell them to them.

    Do the words backstabbing, underhanded, sneaky, conniving and unethical cross your mind? They did mine.

    I am not a vindictive person. But it does my heart good to hear that people who have been treated as shabbily as myself are jumping ship. I did nothing but try to help this woman everytime she asked for it and took endless hours out of my day to arrange for my models to get to her shows at the RTC. And this was the thanx i got.

    Tell me how you feel.

    Dan

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  • Killer Karma,

    It’s definitely beyond contracts now. *huge sigh* And now to clean up the mess will likely be a lot more expensive since it appears many contracts are not as comprehensive as they should have been which meas lots of “proving”to be paid for before recourse can be achieved. (Why does that sound somehow off color)

    Hopefully, new and aspiring authors will read this thread and not take away only a message that an evil publisher is about, but instead start tying together how a strong contract could provide clear recourse when rough times hit a publisher. It’s unfortunate that things have changed at NCP, but a year, two, three from now we could be hearing the same complaints from authors at ANY OTHER publisher. No exceptions. No exclusions. When the market or finances go bad, (this market is not anymore stable for publishers than authors) the only assets a publisher has to flex to stay afloat are their contracts and they will likely get very creative in interpreting clauses and rights granted therein. And the looser the contract is written, the broader the interpretation that can be applied.

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  • Jo Vandewall
    June 14
    4:30 pm

    I’m late coming into this, but if it were me and if I hadn’t received a 1099 as some have mentioned elsewhere, my first call would not be to an attorney. It would be to the IRS.

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