Writer Beware: Trouble at Silver Publishing

Sunday, November 18, 2012

For a couple of months, several people, editors and authors alike, were approaching me privately and asking if I'd heard anything troubling about Silver Publishing. Then they would proceed to report their experiences, including slow/under/no payments and poor communication.

After receiving more than enough of these private inquiries, I posted about it in the Absolute Write forum back on 8/30/2012.


The publisher was quick to reply that oh no, there were no troubles.

Ahem.

Someone has finally gone public with it.

http://mercyceleste.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/rumors-sometimes-have-way-of-being-true.html (No longer available, she pulled it because the publisher encouraged authors to go after her and harass her.)


It's unfortunate, because there are a lot of good small/indie publishers out there. If you've had trouble with Silver Publishing, make sure to go to the discussion thread at Absolute Write and post your experiences.

The people who contacted me privately had their own reasons for not going public, mostly because they feared retribution from the publisher. But now that it's public, I encourage anyone who does have an issue with them to report it to help other authors and editors make informed decisions.

EDIT (12/17/2012): Apparently, the few people brave enough to speak out against Silver Publishing have been facing an unusual opponent...their fellow Silver authors whom the publisher has bamboozled into staying quiet by promises to pay them if they don't speak out about what's been going on (ie SERIOUSLY HEINOUS breaches of contract regarding payment). This Svengali publisher is turning author against author there. So people who ARE speaking out are basically getting victimized a second time by people who are also being victimized by this douchenozzle.

Folks, SERIOUSLY??? The guy is in BREACH OF CONTRACT. If you went to work and your boss told you nope, sorry, no pay today, but stay quiet about it and I'll try to pay you next week, would you tolerate it? And seriously, would you go after fellow coworkers who said f*ck this noise and went to the media to report them? NO, you'd stand together.

Listen, the more victims suckered into this guy's Ponzi or Pyramid or whatever it's called scheme are the people he's "paying" you off of. He's admitted in emails to malfeasance and mismanagement of funds. Do you HONESTLY think you're going to get a full and honest accounting of your sales???

BAIL OUT. NOW. Get your rights back and run fast and far and chalk it up to experience. And if you're afraid of coming out in an identifiable way, go over to Absolute Write and create an anonymous account and post in the Silver thread there. Or post in the comments here anonymously.

Why am I so pissed off? I've got friends screwed over by this guy. And they're afraid to speak out because of getting harassed like others have. People who know me know there are three things (besides my coffee) that you do NOT mess with: you don't f*ck with my family, you don't f*ck with my furbabies, and you don't f*ck with my friends.

29 reader comments:

  1. kazzak said...:

    I'm not a writer, I'm a reader and a reviewer, and I am so disgusted with this whole mess. I buy from Silver because there are writers I really like and follow that publish through them, *sighs* but I feel tainted. I just think of the writer when I buy and hope they get paid. that's where I want my money to go, to the writer, not..other places. I won't say any more for fear of going too far.

  1. @kazzak - Actually, I think people have stayed silent for too long. Basically, from what I read in the one blog post, the publisher intends to keep accepting submissions and use that money to pay off money owed to existing authors. I believe that's a ponzi or pyramid scheme.

    I'm just glad that SOMEONE finally decided to go public with it so authors can be warned away and keep from getting screwed.

  1. CaroleDee said...:

    Crazy.. AGAIN. Stinks of the same rank as the 'Noble debacle'.

    As a reader and blogger that is constantly pushing books from small publishers on people where do I stand? Do I still point people toward these publishers that are screwing the authors or black ball them and in the process screw the authors out of royalties they may never see?

    Big publishers are pushing out nothing but carbon copies of the same book over and over. I HATE reading and reviewing those books! How about you be a doll and give a list of which small publishers treat their authors right so I know where to pin my loyalty and money ;)

  1. Anonymous said...:

    I was so new to join as an editor at Silver. From my limited interactions with the other staff, things were going quite smoothly up until the point where I was waiting and waiting to *finally* be paid. The quality of the MSes were on the whole fair, but then the authors I'd worked on were previously published and were very receptive to any editing suggestions I made. I'm sorry things have gone so wrong. They seemed like a decent company to work for otherwise.

  1. @CaroleDee - Yep. It strongly reminds me of Noble, but people came forward sooner, and there was a far more public implosion in that case.

    I know from personal experience that Siren-BookStrand is top-notch. I was with Amira, and during my time there, they were also awesome. (My writing really isn't in their niche, but they are a good, honest publisher, in my experience.)

    I've heard good about LooseID, Samhain, and EC (although with EC you need to carefully negotiate your contract, I have heard from several authors). Those are the ones I can name that I've either experienced, or that I've heard enough good about from a wide enough variety of people that I can name them in relative surety that they're okay.

    @Anon - Frequently, fellow staff is good to work with. The problem usually flows from management and rolls downhill from there.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    That comment the publisher made in Aug at Absolute Water Cooler had people inside and outside of Silver believing his words.

    It wasn't until the middle or toward the end of October he finally admitted he was having cash problems. That was when he offered to give back rights to people. How many actually took him up on this offer is anyone's guess.

    I don't think anyone came forward publicly until he sent that letter in early November that was posted at a writers site. That letter was the absolute proof things were amiss.

    Why would anyone speak out before that letter? Authors were assured everything was fine, privately and publicly. And at a writers forum, too.

    What kind of person posts publicly that everything is peachy at his pub when obviously it wasn't?

    A person not to be trusted.

  1. @Anon - Well, the people who'd contacted me privately (I emailed them when I wrote it on the AW forum) had their reasons for not going public. Some feared retribution (and not getting paid at all) from the publisher, some feared the publisher smearing their rep, etc. All of them were outraged by his reply. I tried to talk them into going public, telling them that if they ALL did it at once, it would be a compelling story, but I respect that they all had valid reasons for remaining quiet.

    Where there is smoke in the publishing world, there is usually fire. I just hope the authors do get their rights back and can go on, because frankly, I expect the editors and authors owed money are likely never going to see it, not that they can trust the royalty statements they're given at this point. And it's doubtful any of them can afford the expense of a forensic attorney to audit the books for what would likely be a pittance of a return.

  1. Tymber,

    I was one of those unhappy authors with Silver and I will tell you that they are masters at denial.

    Thanks for the post! I'm going to check out the links you posted now. :)

  1. The truth of the matter is that he spent the money, a great deal of it. I heard $40k for the writer's retreat. Plus he followed that with his own personal "business" trip to several states. And flew his mother back and forth from South Africa a few times.

    He has mishandled things, tried to deny it, and tried to tell authors who pulled their rights that he would pay them when their contracts would have been up, and then at 10% per month. He is in breach of contract now, and only the grace of God has kept him from being sued by someone. I expect that to happen at some point.

    The authors who have stuck with him in the hopes of seeing their money are going to find out the hard way that wishing doesn't make it so. And nice guys can screw you too.

  1. kazzak said...:

    I also know for a fact that writers are turning on each other. I will NOT buy from an author that has turned on people trying to do the right thing. I don't like people trying to hang someone else out to dry that is trying to help. Know this writers that stay - I've been in business for around 30 years, long enough to know you will not see your money. Take your rights back, get together with others authors and perhaps start a class action. Here's an idea - how about being constructive and supporting each other? Realise you are all in this mess together because of Silver not your fellow author.

  1. I feel for all of them. This is very close to what happened with Mardi Gras Publishing a few years back and I was personally dealing with it myself. The backlash from "supportive authors" that the publisher was friends with (and Paying btw) was hellish. To all the authors getting harassed, don't let it get to you. Keep writing and worry about you, and your career. Their bullshit only goes so far, and they can't and wont have an effect on your career. And much like with Mardi Gras, those that support blindly are the ones left without a publisher, support or backup with the shit hits the fan. Good luck to all of you.

  1. I'm sorry to hear about Silver's issues. I've been with two publishing houses where the owners were up front about their problems and closed, giving us back our rights and my books have gone on to be published elsewhere. Currently I am working with wonderful publishing houses who I can count on to pay me and support me. Secret Cravings Publishing is a great place with fabulous people. I feel like I'm with friends who I can reach out to at anytime. I have and will continue to recommend Secret Cravings to other authors and readers.

  1. Davee said...:

    I found a wonderful home with Secret Cravings Publishing. In a time when we hear so much negativity, I will honestly say the professionalism, kindness, thoughtfulness, and prompt attention are paramount. If I have a question or need, I will receive a reply within the day, sometimes within hours.
    I also found great camaraderie with many of the other authors at SCP. The support is amazing, especially when I feel defeated or frustrated.
    I hope the authors experiencing difficulties resolve their discrepancies soon, it must be heartbreaking to see your work minimalized because of treacherous business practices.

  1. I have contracts with Siren-Bookstrand and Secret Cravings Publishing. Both places the other authors and the staff have been incredibly helpful and welcoming.

  1. It's a hard dose of reality. l feel for the authors caught up in it. Turning on each other only benefits the publisher. I admire my publisher. In fact I was recommending Secret Cravings to a friend who just got back her rights. SCP is growing responsibly. They help their authors promote through special events, fun and new types of hops. Two of my covers were on the back page of a magazine. They have impressed me at every turn. When authors are having problems we need to do what we can to help. Thank you for making us aware of the problem

  1. I feel for the Silver authors. As an author who has been down this same road a couple of times,it really sucks to do all that hard work of writing, editing, etc., and then not get paid for your efforts. It's wrong for the authors not to support each other, because eventually,the publisher will fold and no one will get paid. Right now I'm so happy to say I'm with Secret Cravings Publishing and what a fantastic house it is. The money is always there and on time. The staff is friendly, but professional. You ask a question and you get an answer pretty darn quick. I see no other publisher in my future...Tabs

  1. Very sad to hear about more authors going through a horrible situation similar to what happened at Noble and Aspen. It's important before submitting a manuscript to do a lot of research on each publishing house because while self-pub has advantages. It also has a lot of disadvantages. I happen to work for a publishing house that I have faith in, Secret Cravings Publishing. It's about to celebrate its second anniversary and it's growing and growing. Everyone you work with is extremely helpful and professional because it is a business. My royalties are paid monthly and not only on time but sometimes early. Being a fairly new author, I have nothing bad to say about my experiences with them.

  1. Karen said...:

    My heart goes out for the authors at Silver Publishing. It's a sad situation, and proves that before submitting you have to do your research.

    I am an author at Secret Cravings Publishing. They are not only my publisher, they are my family. They are professional, have excellent editors who strive to bring out the best in their authors, plus we get monthly royalty statements and get our checks monthly.

    Everyone helps each other out. Ask a question and you get a response within twenty-four hours. A wonderful experience, my home for all my future books.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    A year ago Silver HAD a good reputation, so authors thought this publisher could be trusted with their manuscripts. How quickly things can change. Also, I will never think of a publisher as my family. Not after this mess. It can happen anywhere to anyone. Be prepared.

  1. I hate it when anyone misrepresents themselves and fails to uphold their end of a legal contract. Has anyone contacted the BBB? I feel blessed to belong to one of the best, if not THE best, new online publishers - Secret Cravings Publishing. With their subsidiary, Sweet Cravings Publishing, they've branched out into a wide range of genres to satisfy almost any interest. I'm sure anyone needing a new home for their work will be more than thrilled to join our team!

  1. Cin said...:

    @CaroleDee, As an author with Secret Cravings Publishing and Twin Trinity Media, I can say without a doubt that good small or indie publishers do not work this way. My heart goes out to the authors at Silver, but I'd like to remind people that getting your book hijacked by a bad publisher doesn't just happen with the ultra small ones.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    In summer of 2011 Silver Publishing had an excellent reputation. They were growing at a nice rate. Excellent book covers. Authors were willing to tell me that yes they paid on time. Their editing is excellent. It's just a good place to be and the royalty rate is 60%. Book sales were very good. Several best selling authors. Books selling pretty high in the Amazon rankings. And at ARe. Top sellers in all categories that they publish in. In summer of 2011 Silver was a great place to submit to. By February of 2012 things seemed to change. An expansion to three or four times more books per week. Other small things. Books that were scheduled early in the year were put off until mid year. Communication became difficult. Unanswered email. Or if it was answered it was with that's not my job. Certain members of staff were incredibly rude. Payment was late. Three weeks late and only for onsite books. By the time the second qtr royalties were due it was mayhem. Nothing to put your finger on. Just a change in atmosphere. Money was again late. Mine was seriously less than I expected. I had a book that ranked below the thousand mark at Amazon for nearly a month. At the same time I had a book with another publisher ranking the same. I was paid nearly triple with that other publisher and at 35%. The numbers didn't add up. I had print books ranking in the top ten best seller list on site but was never paid for a single print copy. The website would show sales of 12 copies for one day then nothing for three days then 12 again. This went on all summer. Rinse repeat. Small things behind the scenes on two more books. The editor of my third book didn't seem to know English as a third language much less a first. Slashed out entire paragraphs and rewrote the most god awful grammatically incorrect crap you've ever seen. Issues on top of issues on top of issues by mid summer. Then August came. Some people were paid. Some were paid twice. Others weren't paid at all. I have no idea about the retreat or the trips I wasn't there for those. But I hear tons of money spent on socializing instead of paying royalties. And now there are no royalties being paid. Or ten percent of owed. Money still owed from the first quarter. Like someone else said, I can't bring myself to ever view another publisher as family. Not after all the we're family, please don't tell on me, I'll pay you if you don't tell on me non-sense. I have other publishers. I am first and foremost a business person. This is business. I provide a manuscript that is as clean as I can get it. I submit the desired edits in the time allotted. I am provided with cover art with hopes that I have some input in. We set a date. I promote that date to the best of my abilities. I'd love to have a publisher that did promotion as well. Haven't had one of those yet. And then publisher pays me for the sales I earned at the time publisher has led me to expect to be paid. And then I'll be happy to give them a second book. Color me disillusioned.

  1. I'm another Secret Cravings Publishing author and editor. Whilst I admit that I never dealt with any other publishers before I found SCP, I have been with them as author and staff for over a year now and I have found them a wonderful publisher. I have always been paid on time and have detailed accounting of royalties on books. If I do spot an accounting error, which isn't very often, they have always been prompt to rectify it.

  1. I am really sorry to hear about the situation at Silver Publishing. Hopefully things will be rectified very soon. I must join the other Secret Cravings authors in saying that I am very satisfied with this publisher. The authors have been welcoming and warm, and the staff is professional and courteous. My first release came out in October, so I have not had my first royalty payment; however, I get prompt sales statements each month. SCP publishes a wide variety of genres, and I heartily recommend them to any author.

    Laurie White

  1. Billi said...:

    As an former author for Noble Romance -- and having experienced just this sort of thing first hand, I can only say that I feel for the authors. It's a terrible situation to be in --without much you can do.

    "Get your rights back!"

    Sure....sure....absolutely! But that's not so easy. Not at all. And to prove that you weren't paid your royalties, or were under paid is just as hard. A lawyer can help you, but the publisher has 60 days to fix their errors after you tell them what their error is....and so on.

    In my opinion it's absolute rubbish that this kind of stealing -- because that is what it really is -- goes on. But with the epublishing industry not under the radar of the Feds, I think more and more this will rise up and bite authors in the ...well, butt.

    The question becomes, if no one is watching, do you still do the right thing? Think Lord of the Flies.

    If you have a great publisher with an incredibly well respected staff, and is highly recommended by everyone -- fellow authors, like Total E-Bound (my new publisher) than you don't have to worry about things like this. But the sad thing is, as an author you have little you can do because I'm sure authors going into a deal with this publisher thought they were working with honest, capable, decent folks...and then that changed.

    I'm waiting out my rights for my books with Noble, than pulling them from the muck. It's not the best solution, but it was all I had available.

    I hope that all the authors can pull together and support each other, but the anger sometimes makes that impossible.

  1. WishToRemain said...:

    I'm a Silver author, and I've just started trying to get my rights back.

    I was worried about backing out in the beginning because I just had a book released in August (accepted last January, when as far as I knew everything was peachy) and I haven't seen my distribution royalties yet. I wanted to at least see if I would receive my first set of those before making a decision. These aren't technically due until March 15, 2013.

    But recently I received notice that print books were being put on hold, and whatever system they're using to try and catch up with royalty payments just gets more and more confusing. I don't know if it's quarterly or monthly or what the percentage of payment is...All of this contributed to my decision to ask for my rights back.

    I received a resounding no in reply. I'm not a huge seller at Silver, due in large part, I'm sure, to the fact that I write heterosexual romance. So they've actually managed to keep up with what I'm owed, and no matter how many times I comb through it, they aren't in violation of my written contract. They've broken my trust, have screwed over plenty of other authors, and have confused the hell out of me, but technically I can't get out of there.

    There are plenty of authors who are still with Silver because they have to be, not because they want to be.

    However, I heard one of the big names over there is working on getting out. I can't imagine Silver won't go bankrupt after that, especially since they refuse to get a loan. They're supposedly working with a financial adviser, but I'm pretty sure we still don't know who the company is, or, honestly, if they exist. There's too much fishy stuff happening, and I was one of the ones who applauded his honesty in the beginning. I thought maybe we could make it work and still have a successful company. Now I just regret having made my best work previously-published and probably off limits as far as most other publishers are concerned.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    This really sucks, I'm not a writer, editor, publisher any of that just an avid reader, who appreciates those who take the time to write stories, novels, novellas, whatever is in their head and heart.
    To me this is just simple logic, really it's like being a farmer you care for your crops first and in this case the crops so to speak are the writers after all without them you have no product just like if your crops die you have no produce. Simple logic come on Silver Publishing do the math and for goodness sake be honest with your authors and other staff you owe them that at the very least. To the authors who haven't come forward because of fear of reprisals I understand where you're coming from and as we all know paying bills,feeding our family those things in the real world sometimes have to come at the cost of doing what we know is the right thing to do. To the other authors and staff who have been intimidating people from speaking up sorry but I have to say shame on you. Think about it all you've really done is facilitate the ability of one person to spend money that should be in your bank account and everyone else's who aren't being paid what they again are legally entitled to. As a reader and purchaser of e-books, I'm going to do the only thing I feel that I can and that's to continue to buy books written by the authors that I like, just not the ones published by Silver Publishing, at least not until I see something that tells me this has been fixed and the people who should be getting paid are. Hopefully if we all help support these authors through publishers who are paying them as they should it will help.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Silver Publishing has a lot of authors I like but as of now, I'm going to wait until their books are published elsewhere. I hate it but have no other way to support them and honor their work.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    I can understand current SP authors wanting to get the money they are owed, but to do it on the backs of new authors who may not have the savvy to realize the issues SP is having really rubs me the wrong way. Not another dime of mine goes to SP until I am convinced new authors are not the bottom of a pyramid.