Amazon in Charge, Human Behaviour, Human Nature, Mistakes, Publishing Warnings, Scams, self publishing woes

Amazon Meets Scammed Author Halfway

In preceding posts the subject of Amazon and scamming publishers has relevance for many authors, especially new ones.

My long fight has not been resolved to my satisfaction, but Amazon finally met me halfway and took down the Kindle version of my novel.

The issue? Due to a late contract and the initial lies coming to the surface, I backed out of a contract as it stated an author could leave the publishing company at anytime. See, the publisher encouraged me to buy books so I could sell for 100% profit. This profit of course translates into recovering costs for the novel’s production with a self publishing service. I launched my novel and I continue to sell, but I have a ways to go to recover costs—all of it—ISBN numbers, Cover art, editing, fees to put up on Amazon, fees to open an account with Ingram, the printer, printing, delivery—all of it.

Meanwhile, I knew I had sales in Amazon as people sent me their screenshots. I checked my e-mail regularly for PayPal notifications to no avail. I contacted the publisher who evaded my questions and left some messages unanswered. The contract I had received stated he takes fifty percent of Amazon sales.

After pushing the issue, he told me to read my contract about my Amazon sales. I had an editing contract with no information about this. He said he sent it, but I did not receive it. Another author showed her publishing contract to me. After viewing it I became very assertive with the publisher who is also the editor. The scam: If I buy books, he keeps one hundred percent of my Amazon sales—book for book I bought—to recover his losses. His loses? Please, correct me if I am wrong to feel I have been scammed.

When I left, he said he is changing the contract and going for half of book sales. He said he would call it the “Lynn Clause” because I left him without profit. Again, what? Authors pay for every spec of production plus the cost to print and deliver books—and he feels entitled to half? I shake my head.

I have nearly an inch of printouts concerning my correspondence with Amazon. I fought daily as selling my work without my permission is copyright infringement. The Kindle came down, but the print version remains as physical copies are considered to be his to do what he pleases… because I gave him permission to publish.  At this point, Amazon closed my case. I must contact them until they answer. I would like to know how many copies are at this scammer’s disposal.

I am waiting to hear from Ingram regarding my request to transfer the account into my name. The publisher may refuse. At that time, I may open my own account; however, he has the print-ready files and could produce my book and sell it. That would be copyright infringement. I hope he isn’t so greedy he would do this, because I’m not afraid of confrontation. He’ll wish he never sweet-talked me into coming on board with him by cancelling my contract with the publisher I had decided to work things out with. He had me where he wanted me. Edits and begun and there I sat with no publisher. He was able to do this as the traditional publisher knew him well. I contacted her and felt so confused, and believed he lies so much, I let the contract go. They sent me a proper notification of cancellation.

In my world if a contract has no physical or at least an electric signature, it is not valid. I signed nothing with this self publisher, but because I gave him money, Amazon says that’s good enough. And also be aware of this when you are dealing with self publishing and paying: I received no invoices and no receipts. That can actually work in my favour if I pursue this case, but it will go above Amazon if I do.

Do your homework like I did, except don’t let that research crash when you’re being sweet-talked into jumping aboard with a publisher of any kind.

Thanks for reading.

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Editor marriages, Human Behaviour, information, Mistakes, Scams, self publishing woes

Author Fights to Prove Infringement

Amazon is a big deal, we all know it. There are numerous on-line book outlets attached to them, which is good for book sales—until an author has to fight to prove copyright infringement.

One leaves a publisher they had paid to produce and post the book, and unnamed  publisher keeps the book posted on Amazon “to recover losses.” But losses for what? Author pays everything from editing to book cover to ISBN numbers to print and delivery—and whatever happens in between—all expenses, so we must consider this to be self publishing.

If you are embarking on a self publishing journey, do not let a publisher of that nature tell you they are better than self publishing. They “publish for you.” All it means is they are going to have more control over your book than you expect. Like when you pay for ISBN numbers and the publisher puts them in their name, with the Ingram account and Amazon account. Make sure you get a publishing contract to view before getting too excited about getting your first book into the world. It’s worth the money to have it looked at by an intellectual property lawyer. I didn’t, because I thought what I received was the contract. It was simple and straight forward, but it only covered editing. I was not told when encouraged to buy books “for 100% profit” that because I bought books, the publisher would take 100% of my Amazon royalties, book for book. What do you think about that? Is it fair? Is it just me? Me who paid for everything?

When I finally viewed my contract, I was appalled at this. But the contract also stated an author could respectful leave the publisher—so I did. But I went through some uncomfortable and long messages from an extremely angry publisher. Which did not surprise me much as the editing process felt heavy. I endured insults to my writing in edits. Belittling a writer is not simply, “I call ’em as I see ’em.” Is it that difficult for some people to be diplomatic?

After I left, I was accused of not paying for my cover, meaning I couldn’t use it after leaving, and I wouldn’t let this slide. I traced it in my PayPal account. Disappointing for the publisher as I was legally free to use my cover I paid for. I was accused of lying when I said I did not receive a publishing contract. I received an editing contract. Nothing about this process was what it should have been. Stress crowned the days, the weeks, the months.

This keeping my book on Amazon is a form of copyright infringement as the publisher has been asked by me to take my property down. Another author does her best to help me, and she, too, mentioned to the publisher it needed to come down. He lied saying he took it down and I put it back up. How can I do that when the account is in the publisher’s name? And I couldn’t open a new account and post it as the copyright page (technical page) needs to change and there are numerous typos throughout my novel. That involves Ingram, which I am locked out of as well, plus rewriting the book ready file, and I couldn’t. I asked him to send my property to me, he did, but in PDF so I could not edit. Fortunately my son is an IT guy.

I am in the process of proving to Amazon the work is mine. He even put the © in his company name. And it doesn’t mean much as he must have my permission to have my copyright. My work is automatically copyrighted when I write it and put my name on the work, and I have several drafts to prove it, and e-mails from publishers I shopped my MS around to. Keep your drafts and e-mails, you may someday need them.

But I’m left to wonder how publishers are able to open accounts, lock them in their name, and they don’t have to prove who the MS belongs to, they don’t have to prove they have permission to use it, but I fight for many days now, and we are not finished.  I have made an application to transfer the Ingram account to myself. Publisher may refuse, then I will pay (again) to open my own account. Legal complications are draining. Scammers are everywhere, and the police officer I created an incident with said this person has been at this a long time. He is seasoned enough to stay in the grey area of legalities.

I’ll say this:  when a self publisher or any publisher seems to be too good, they are. Take that seriously, because it is. Literature is a cut throat industry. Wear a collar and ask questions. Don’t ever worry you’re insulting a publisher. If they are honest, they will cheerfully answer questions.

Thanks for reading.

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Human Behaviour, Human Nature, Humanity, information, Mistakes, Traditional publishing

What’s to Say Writing’s Glamorous?

In a few short minutes a contract was cancelled.

I was lucky to get out of a contract. My publisher, who was editing my novel MS felt too ill to concentrate and diligently work on it. The warning signs were there, but I was excited to be accepted by a traditional publisher after just turning down my first traditional contract. I wanted to be in that less-than-two percent. And I am, but with a price.

No matter how excited you are to get published by a traditional house, make sure you vet them the way they vet us. Actually, do this for self-publishing also.

Check their Web site for the year they started and how many books they have. This is more important than I initially thought. If they have few books compared to the length of time they’ve been publishing, they may be short staffed. Worse than that, you don’t know if anyone is being payed or if it’s a group of friends helping one another get the company going. Books, books and how many tell a story of their own. If no one is collecting a paycheque, the incentive likely isn’t the same. Who works hard and invests themselves for free? Even with the frail promise of a booming future business, most people are not driven if they have a job, and volunteer on the side.

If there are major delays in sending out a contract, keep looking for a publisher. Be aware, fully aware there may be delays in editing, too. There were delays with my MS, and it was frustrating to sit here in my writing lair hour after hour for weeks, then wait for months for a return.

Talking yourself into believing it’ll be okay, is not the way to start a contract or a publishing journey. Once you have a contract, in most cases you’re bound and there is nothing to be done but be at the mercy of your publisher.

I’m grateful my publisher is a fair person, and she wanted me to be happy when I was not. I lost eleven months, but I am on my way with a publisher who needs to be paid, but I get all the support of a traditional house. He was able to help me leave the contract, simply because he knows the publisher I was with. Moreover, he has paid staff.

Be vigilant with edits. Keep a copy of previous edits you’ve worked on. My publisher edited dramatically. Half pages at a time were deleted and her writing replaced mine. Her voice, her style, and ideas. My characters were doing things I never had them do, and they said what I didn’t have them say. She was showing me what I could do in trouble areas, but her text should have been alongside mine if it were to change so much. Had I not retained a copy, I would never have never been able to restore my work and edit in my own voice. I’m sure I would have had a nervous breakdown. I’m serious.

This is so recent, the knot in my neck is still pulling all the way to my shoulder blade.

My intention with traditional was to be accepted as it was important to me. I needed the risk-taking approval of a publisher. I’ve been accepted twice now with a query. I practised my query for a long time, then started getting action. If you are seeking traditional, ask questions. Ask how many are active on staff. Do they have volunteers? Ask how long edit rounds usually take. Ask what your gut prompts you to ask. It is your manuscript. It’s your slow return on book sales.

I have found since being accepted by a reputable publisher, one I will pay, that once the dust settles a bit and I can purchase books to sell, what I pay in is an investment with return as long as I don’t slack off in selling.

If your first book will be self-published, there’re contracts, so be vigilant. Take the time to study, what’s good and what’s not. Google will get you there, just type in bad authors’ contracts. The good authors’ contracts. Take the time to study, and hope you get a good publisher.

I studied hard. My downfall was trusting because this publisher I met in a writers’ group. I liked her. I still do. Keep personal feelings separate from business sense.

Good luck.

Thanks for reading

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encouragement, Human Nature, information, inspirational, Mistakes

Brilliance of Dyslexia?

Despite the near disabling aspects of it, it’s not a disability at all, rather an outstanding ability. Once it is discovered and nurtured, the brilliance of dyslexia will present.

I gleaned much information and encouragement at age 39 when I was diagnosed with the help of ATN Access Inc.

 If more were known about dyslexia when I started school in 1968, over time, my skills and passion for writing would have developed with less suffocating in my own defeatism.

In grade one I was terribly confused by the compound word into during the read aloud participation. I remember my tingling cheeks and swishing in my ears when the other kids started whispering the word with impatience. I also remember in grade three when I was sent to the office for “clowning around.” I wrote “Wook book fro Writinp” on the cover of my new notepad. I can still see that, it was bold, a black marker, because writing was something I wanted to do well. This happened frequently, and I was labeled as “a slow learner.” Outside of the classroom, sitting on the hall bench, I recall the coat hooks jabbing my head while an unknown adult tried to teach me math, but it was not unlike classroom instruction, just s-l-o-w-e-r. In the 60s and 70s, we kids with learning differences were just labeled slow and treated like someone ought to be there to scrape pudding off our chins at lunch.

To this day I write form instead of from, top for pot, left for felt, gob for dog and so on. I have edited reversed sentences also. I reverse numbers, too. Some days are worse than others. I write, though, and I accept the fumbling process. Autocorrect is mostly hilarious, but the spelling and grammar police on computers these days make it tolerable. Well, mostly. I do have to proofread my work repeatedly, then when I feel I’m finished with the challenge, I have my computer read it to me, still finding errors.

 So why is this learning disability called a gift? What’s to celebrate about dyslexia? C’mon—it’s devastating! Isn’t it? And it’s genetic, too? Don’t parents feel guilty passing this “affliction” on to their children? How can it be overcome? Or can it? Should it? 

Let’s sift through an article, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” I read back in 2003 by Alanna Mitchell. You can decide if being dyslexic is being gifted or ruined.

Interestingly, the hemispheres of a dyslexic’s brain are more symmetrical than that of non dyslexic persons. Affected persons have difficulty reading; however, the symmetry is perfect for other complex brain functions involving images and three dimensions. Incredible photography doesn’t just happen, it’s a skill. Outstanding artists have the skill, too. Perhaps they’re not all dyslexic, but artistic imagery, even creative literary art is possibly a flourishing talent for those who are dyslexic. Another perk is excelling at spacial perception, like seeing the trick of optical illusions, and catching moving objects as small as a set of keys. Sports are played well by the ones with symmetrical brains.

Also, dyslexics do not seem to sort through information in a direct, sequential way, rather a variety of things are sorted at the same time, rapidly. This gives them the edge on strategy. Throughout history, many people who are now understood as having been dyslexic, made dauntless advances in science, art, music, politics, and sports. Among the greats are Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Alexander Graham Bell, and Winston Churchill. 

Incidentally, a little off subject, if you look these people up for ADD or ADHD and bipolar disorder, a lot of them will be listed as having them with dyslexia. Learning differences (brain variances) share within themselves, if that makes sense. If you know you have one diverse aspect, you probably have three. Also, some of our favourite authors have learning differences including dyslexia, like Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There are many if you google “famous dyslexic authors.”

The sixteen-year-old, Nicholas Carson, featured in the article, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” didn’t read until he was twelve. He had reported that school was still difficult. It was said then that he thinks in pictures and the school was run by “word thinkers.” So he felt alone in his imagery thinking, yet understood he was also gifted.

The point is that dyslexics have a built-in three-dimensional imagination. They have multifaceted perceptions in varying situations. Try to understand that when a dyslexic carpenter is designing a building, they’re are able to visualize their plan, spin it around and explore all angles from the inside, although it’s troublesome to do this with flat objects like blueprints on paper.

Here’s an example. The letter b from a straight on view is a two-dimentional b. But from behind it’s a d. From above a p, and below, it’s a q. All of these variations are seen at the same time by dyslexics, hence the reading reversals and writing errors. On the other hand, a dyslexic’s stellar imagination can create a compelling story, novel, or poem. We record our mind’s eye imagery. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase descriptive writing.

Dyslexic persons are highly creative, imaginative, athletic, and artistic. It has been established that they calculate thoughts so quickly, they usually don’t understand how they arrived at an answer. This also goes for conversation whereas another’s thought is correctly interpreted before the person has finished explaining something.

Dyslexia then, to me, is a gift. Work with it, not against it, and the perks shine through.

 Please don’t imagine curing my reversals, they are my edge, as backwards as that seems. Understand my ways and accept they’re different. I’m not slow. I’m built for speed, and that sometimes slows me down.

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Human Nature, Mistakes

Reverie and Regrets

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?

The sky was cruel and churning.
The wind was much more than a breeze.
The windows rattled and the furnace hummed;
an old man stood fixing tea.

He stood at the glass between
himself and the outside
and stared at the empty swing on the tree
once occupied by her joyous smile
and ankles kicking freely.

He etched a heart in Jack Frost’s design
and became lost in his reverie
of how many times he’d watch her
while preparing tea and something to eat.

A splash of salted sea
dropped off the cliff of his cheek,
then a flood of tears came
and his shoulders began to quake.

The hot drink spilled over his leathery hands
as if to scald the memories
of all the years and all the days,
the hardships and heartfelt happiness,
They worked so hard to have.

He thought,
Dear Lord, Why?
Why did you have to take her,
she was all I had.

Where are the children to embody her features?
No descendants to hold his hand.
But he knew full well he could have been,
yet he decided to not be a dad.

© L. P. Penner, 2015

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