To the authors currently experiencing payment issues with TQ and EC, an open letter.
“To judge him by our own moral standards meant we were in a constant state of disbelief.”
In 2011 everything began to go to shit.
The Christmas Throwaway, Texas, Sanctuary, everything was going well for me.
And then it all stopped, over the space of a year I lost everything financially, and could have walked away from writing. I was called a liar to my face and online in various groups. I had the vilest emails sent to me, the nastiest messages. Online friends and other authors turned on me. It was hell and I didn't know from one day to the next whether the decisions I was making were for the best or not.
I hired a lawyer I couldn’t afford – negotiating a one off fee for letters and negotiation.
I cried so much, I got so low that it was difficult to get out of bed.
And then I had a moment.
Fuck me if the bastard was ruining my career, or my life. Or taking writing from me.
So, somehow, I wrote every hour I could, hours and hours, I reissued 25 books as self-published, I panicked and signed up to other publishers. I wrote novellas to have a presence in the market, I did everything I could to not stop writing. My self-esteem was shot but I had to try.
And all through this, I cried so much I never thought I would stop.
I don’t recall exactly how much I actually got back from Silver; I can’t bring myself to look at the emails and statements because they trigger me even to this day. I just know at the time that we thought it was at most a sixth of the total debt owed to me.
Anyway, we’re not convinced we ever saw exact figures of what he owed us as we know he under reported everything we sold. I was missing most of Texas, and a lot of Throwaway. Oh and don’t get me started on The Gallows Tree, or Sanctuary income, Still Waters, Full Circle, I got very little.
Meanwhile people were still writing for Silver. He was using the income from those new authors to try and clear the debts he had with his old authors. Sound familiar?
He then left the country when the money finally ran out. Or something. We never really knew where he went. Only that he left destruction in his wake. He was greedy, he took everyone’s dedicated author monies and he spent it all, and then he ran.
The reason I am telling you all this?
This is a cliché, but I promise you it gets better and the whole thing showed me who my friends really were.
The owner of Silver was a liar, a thief, a cheat, and he made it very personal. The big breakthrough for me was the realization that he wasn’t playing on the same level as me morally. There was no way any of us could win against a liar. To judge him by our own moral standards meant we were in a constant state of disbelief. He wasn’t like us. He wasn’t a fundamentally good person; whatever anyone said, he used all of us.
This is what is happening to others out there. When I see other authors post now that they are being lied to, or that other bills are being paid out of author money, or that their publishers have expensive holidays, or hell, that authors at the publishers are turning on each other… I feel so much for them.
My advice, for what it’s worth?
Cry, rage, but then realize you are better than the ones doing this to you.
Cut your losses. Ignore the money they are still making from you. Run and just hope that one day you get your books back. Write new books. Self-Publish or publish with a new company. Cross market with other people in your position. Show the publisher what they are missing by not having you anymore.
Try not to let it consume you, like it started to do me.
And if you are a new writer and you are looking at subbing to a publisher go and talk to other authors already there. And I don’t mean the big names, I mean the authors that are new, or have a couple books that did okay. Ask for complete honesty from them.
Peace and hugs for every one of you going through this at the moment. You know where I am if you want to talk.