ARGH!!! I wish this issue would just go away…
The issue being Tony and his presses: Undead Press, Living Dead Press and OpenCasket Press*.
*(On that note, why does he need three presses anyway? It makes him seem sketchy. Well he is a sketchy publisher, we all know this, but after the whole fiasco and everyone knowing what he’s up to… he’s still trucking in the publishing world.)
I was messaged by one of my fellow authors yesterday, Brent Abell. He had originally been accepted into Cavalcade of Terror, but was smart enough to pull out of the ToC when he saw the contract. Tony emailed him a few days ago, asking if the story he had originally sent in was still “up for grabs”. You can read Brent’s story here. I shook my head and said WTF? I couldn’t believe that after Brent pulled out of the anthology, Tony had the nerve to message him asking for the story. Obviously, Brent said no.
Shortly after the above mentioned happened, I received a message from Wes Southard (one of the authors who was in Cavalcade of Terror) stating the same thing. Tony emailed him asking for a story. This request was also turned down with a resounding NO! and Wes blogged about it here.
Since Tony is still up to his shoddy/vanity publishing tricks, I feel it necessary to bring up a few facts that may have saved me a lot of trouble in the beginning.
The two most important rules for writing, which have been driven into my brain by Kelli Owen, are both #1’s because they are both EQUALLY IMPORTANT and they are:
1- GET PAID!
Is your book up on Amazon for free? Is this a work for charity? Fine then, not a problem. Continue on.
If it’s not free to the general public, this means the publisher is making money off something you created for free. That’s not right. We are writers, it’s a job for us, why are we working for free? Do you get free gas from the gas station? Harlan Ellison says it best in his rant about getting paid. Watch the rant here.
1- CONTRACTS CAN BE CHANGED! (Before signing obviously)
This is something I didn’t know. The contract sent to you isn’t the be all and end all. You have the right to change things that you don’t like and send it back. If you don’t understand contracts, find someone who does.
Here’s the first page of the contract Tony sent me for She Makes Me Smile. Let’s discuss.
First of all, there’s a mistake in the title. “Calvacade of Terror” should be “Cavalcade of Terror”, I noticed this, but signed anyways. Honestly I told Wes Southard: “Worse case scenario, the spelling mistake gives us a way out of the contract, if we need one.” (Jebus, if I only knew how right I was.)
#1- License to Publish: “Publisher has the right to edit WORK before release” EDIT EDIT EDIT. Now even thought Tony doesn’t know the difference between edit and rewrite/rework/create new paragraphs, it was up to me to ensure somewhere in here said “I GET TO SEE THESE EDITS BEFORE THE STORY GOES TO PRINT” aka a galley will be sent to me so I can approve my story. *(This tiny step would’ve saved Tony a lot of trouble). Make sure you see something of the sort, allowing you to approve edits before publication.
#4- “Author is to be paid the rate of one print copy of an overstock book.” This is crap. This is Tony having too many of his own VanityBullcrapBooks floating around in his mom’s basement and she’s sick of looking at them. He’s paying us with one of his own books which he couldn’t sell, not even a copy of our own anthology. NO NO NO!
#5- “Subsidiary Rights” This means: Tony would get paid if you ever sold it for any movie rights or anything, that HE would get paid, so for a story he never paid YOU for, HE would get paid. THIS IS CRAP! *(I didn’t understand this one, and just signed it, that was my mistake. Kelli Owen explained it to me.) Please be cautious, again if you don’t understand something, ask around.
I could spend time going over the whole contract, but there’s really no point. Tony’s grammar and spelling in correspondance should’ve been enough for me to walk the hell away from whatever he was doing as a publisher, but the stars in my eyes blocked me from seeing what I should have. I let “the idea of being published” get in the way of common sense.
What I know now:
-Getting published in a vanity book like his isn’t worth the time I spent writing my stories.
-How to deal with contracts.
-Good presses will allow you to change your contract if there’s something you don’t like.
-If they want your story, the publisher will make things happen.
(I understand not everyone wants to hear me talk about this issue. I’m directing this specifically to the girl who told me off when I tried to warn her and a friend about Tony’s bad habits. While I understand you haven’t been screwed over YET, why risk it? To be published in a book that no one will see, which was just made so the publisher can showcase his stories and make money off something you worked on? If that’s why you write, then I bow out to you. You should check your contracts though, because I’m 100% sure you’ve lost a hell a lot more than you should’ve… but that’s okay, because you know better than me. :D Good luck with your writing. Sorry for trying to help. Also, I have a big fat I-told-you-so waiting, so don’t come crying to me when something does happens…)