Throw Me to the Wolves and I’ll Return Leading the Pack! (part 1)

Wolf-1Guest post
by Nicole Storey

I saw this meme on Facebook and thought it perfect to use for the title of this post. Why? Because it expresses how I’ve felt for the past two months. It’s difficult to be shoved into turbulent waters just for making a decision someone else didn’t approve of. It’s even harder to keep your head above water while trying to find a way out. But it isn’t impossible. It can be done.

Two years ago, I was a budding new author who just finished my first book. Like many others who begin this long road without a map, I automatically took what I thought was the safest route. I signed with a small press publisher. Now, before I go any farther and some readers get their undies in a bunch, let me say that this is my story, my experiences, and they are in no way definitive. However, every day I hear from more and more writers who managed to get off at the intersection of Scam and Misrepresentation and have their own dark stories to tell. You may want to pay attention. Trust me, once you turn down the wrong road, it can take years before you find another byway. Think Twilight Zone.

I actually thought I was playing it safe. I spoke with writers who were/are signed with this publishing company and received nothing but praise and glowing recommendations. I spoke with the owner of the company at length and asked many questions. Everything seemed legit. This particular company was hailed as a rare gem among small press publishers. In hindsight, I should have remembered that it’s difficult to tell a diamond from a cubic zirconia with the naked eye. All that glitters…well, you know.

The first year, I drank the Kool-Aid and sang praises with everyone else. I published three books, recruited other authors to the compound – I mean company – and did my part to support and help in any way I could. Sure, there were problems. At times, I felt that my work wasn’t given much (any) attention, while praise and marketing was heaped upon others. When technical issues arose, my books seemed to take longer to sort out. However, when I voiced my concerns, I was given a Big Gulp-sized cup of that Kool-Aid and sometimes a snack (bull was often served), and everything would be A-OK again. All was right with the world.

By the second year, the Kool-Aid had turned sour. The bull was tough and difficult to chew – swallowing it was impossible. A close friend and author who was also a member of the cult – I mean company – left quite suddenly. She confided in me all the problems she’d encountered during her contract. I was shocked. We had shared some of our horror stories regarding the owner and how numerous problems always seemed to fall on the shoulders of a select few, but what she described went far beyond the lack of marketing or being treated unfairly.

In July of 2013, my fourth book was published. My other novels signed with the company had been put on a virtual shelf to collect dust. Meanwhile, the owner kept signing more authors, not caring that others, who had been with her longer and supported her, were neglected. Only a handful in her ranks received any attention.

Among other problems, my release date was pushed back three times with no notices. After three months, I still had no paperbacks to offer because the owner could not format a book cover that had more than one or two pictures on it. The results were two missed books signings and embarrassment for me. During this time, I was fed lie after lie while other authors were getting books pushed out like Stephen King and interactive programs on iPad. I couldn’t even get a paperback copy of my book. My one promo, which I set up and paid for myself, fell flat when the owner set the wrong dates for my book to be on sale.

On October 7th of 2013, I received a message from her stating (for the umpteenth time) that the problem with my cover art had been fixed and I would receive my books from CreateSpace in two weeks time. If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Money Pit, you can imagine what it felt like to keep hearing ‘two weeks.’ On October 24th, I received a check in the mail instead of my books. It was from the owner and dated on September 25th – fourteen days before her message to me on October 7th. On the memo line of the check were the words, “Refund for paperback books.” It was time for me to go. I had no idea that decision would cost me so much…

Stay tuned for Part Two of my post coming soon! In the meantime, feel free to read this blog post I wrote which gives a bit more detail, but not everything. No, there was worse to come.

Nicole StoreyNicole Storey lives in Georgia with her wonderful husband, two prodigious kids, and a plethora of pets. When she isn’t traveling to magical realms with potty-mouthed pixies or fighting demons, she conspires with angels and keeps humanity safe from evil. She also enjoys reading, writing blog posts and reviewing books, gardening, cooking, and anything associated with Halloween. Nicole is an author of juvenile fantasy and YA paranormal. Her books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords in e-book and paperback. Learn more about Nickie from her Amazon author page or her blog.

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29 thoughts on “Throw Me to the Wolves and I’ll Return Leading the Pack! (part 1)”

  1. Yes, I’ve heard the story before… no wait a minute… I thought it sounded familiar, it’s my story. I look forward to the second part; it sounds like it’s shaping up to continue to be a replica of my story though.

    Excellent post, Nicole.

  2. Thank you. You know, I have tried really hard to let it all go, but every time I think I’m free of it, something else happens. I just want to warn as many writers as I can to be wary and to research before signing with anyone.

  3. Sometimes it is hard to see this kind of thing going on and not be able to say anything because of who the other person is and very much loved by all. I hear you on what you have gone through and know exactly what you mean. Everyone has to go on their own journey though otherwise we will never learn what will or won’t work for us. If we don’t try it we will always wonder, could it have worked? should I have done it? but yes do your homework. But thats not always a fail safe either. Can’t wait for part two. Thank you Nicole!

  4. I’m sorry to hear of the problems you’ve had, Nicole. Good thing you found IU and all the helpful folks here. And thank you for sharing your story–helping others avoid the same situation is a great way to make something positive out of the crap you’ve had to deal with.

  5. I think you’re so brave, sweetheart. <3 For speaking out about this. For pushing on. So many people now just throw in the towel when it gets tough. I'm so glad to see this means so much to you! I know it's hard (in general; I honestly haven't a clue what this feels like) but I want you to know I'm so proud of you.

    1. Thank you, Kate! I appreciate IU posting it for me. I found writing this post (and the second part, which I think they are posting today) helped to rid myself of some of the bad feelings about the situation.

  6. Nicole, so many of us have fallen for the hype somewhere along in our journey; sad, but it’s all fact-finding and propels us forward. The good news is that we can get the word out as you’re doing, so others may avoid the pitfalls. This is what is called an AFGE (another ****ing growth experience). With this behind you, it should be all good from here on out.

  7. Nickie, so many of us have been duped when we were starting out. Mine was with iUniverse. I’ll never sell enough books to make up for the money I lost. And no amount of research will show you all the holes in the plan.I have seen so many stories like yours, both with small presses and with so called ‘self-publishers’. The best plan is to stick with others like us here, and some sites devoted to finding the scams. I’m glad you’re climbing out from under.

  8. Oh, that sucks! I got tangled in a vanity press for my first book. Thank heavens the guy really didn’t know much, and my knowledge soon surpassed his. 2 years later I got my rights back, had the book fully edited, and republished under my “imprint.” Never again will I fall victim to that. I now have the know-how and the software to do it pretty much on my own (save for my kind editor and a cover artist).

    I send all newbie authors to the IU pages to hopefully educate them on the “presses” out there and that they need to be wary so they don’t fall prey to one that will not do their book justice. Stuff like that just ain’t cool.

  9. What a terrible experience you’ve had Nicole. Hope writing/blogging about it helps you get over it as well as warning others who may fall into a similar trap.

    1. Thank you, Mary, and yes, it has helped. Nothing can change what happened to me but writing about it helps remove the poison from my system and hopefully, keeps others from travelling down the same road.

  10. It’s great to warn others. And it is wonderful to have a voice and to use it to express the experiences that you’ve had in this journey. I think maybe it’s crossing a line when you throw around words like “cult”. Probably not your intent to offend people who’ve done nothing to harm you, but I just wonder why the warning couldn’t stick to your experience without throwing daggers. Either way, I hope from the bottom of my heart you can get through this — all of the things that are keeping you weighed down and unhappy.

    All the best.

    1. I would expect someone who has not experienced what myself and many others have to not understand the pain and how I could have been much more expressive with the words I chose, Rhonda. Thank you for your well wishes.

  11. Thank you for this wonderful post, Nicole.

    I am so sorry you went through all of that, but fortunately the course of events has made you stronger as a result.

    Having read your latest book, Blind Sight, I am very much looking forward to more great books from you in the coming months (no pressure – lol).

    Keep up the great Indie work you are doing. You are definitely a leader in this IU pack. 🙂

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