In as much as I hate having to bring things to the public arena, there are times when I must. This is not personal on many levels; it is a matter of principle and ethical behavior.
With Decadent Publishing, it appears to be a lack of both from their side of it.
This publisher treats what they deem as a problematic authors, namely me, as if I was born stupid and won't fight for my rights. I can only say, "Wrong. Very, very wrong."
In December 2010 I entered into a contract with Decadent Publishing for my story, The Highlander's Time. The contract was a fairly standard "Royalty Paying" contract ie. a "For Sale" contract—3 years, 40% direct download/35% third party. It was the normal verbiage: Return of edits as specified by the editors (though they have it slightly oddly worded with an 'if they deem it needs edits' clause they will assign an editor), they'll provide cover art and an ISBN – blah, blah, blah.
This is nothing unusual for me. I've read this contract about a hundred times, and signed each in good faith. Done deal.
It even includes the normal – that the Publisher can reduce the price to stimulate sales… Their contract states this will not happen before six months of the release.
Got it—no problem.
I've had this happen before. You know—50% off and all that. No big deal. It is backlist at that point, and I'm moving forward.
Not all that unusual, especially if you've only got a story or three at a publisher, and they are trying to actually STIMULATE your sales.
Okay, we're all on board.
Well, as with some new publishers—I can't and won't say it's all of them because I've only ever seen this happen with Decadent Publishing—we got into a row over a review. Yes, this is about a review. Sorry, I wish it was something so much more salacious than that.
Ms. Olmstead released my name and that of another person to her authors who decided to all jump on the trash-them bandwagon. Note, and I hope all those who jumped on that snark-fest hear this, the other author didn't have any part of it. Shame on you. Shame. Shame. Shame. Must be nice to be judges on high.
We both kept our peace during this incident. We did not comment in the threads. It was a matter of, "Why fight when the court of public opinion has already tried and convicted you?"
There is no good reason to do that.
So, we remained quiet. She wrote. I wrote. We moved forward. A simple and quite logical step to take.
All the while I waited for The Highlander's Time to either be published or not.
Lo and behold, it was published. I don't have an exact date on the publication because it just appeared out of the blue on their site. I never received a notice from Decadent that it was coming out. I actually found out when it showed up in a bulletin from All Romance e-Books saying 'Hooray, your book is out'. (Okay, it doesn't exactly say that, but I still have the bulletin for purposes of knowing when the contract might end—ballparking this one).
Fabulous—it's out. Okay. Promote it. Do what I normally do. Sell some. Get some money for it.
Good deal. Water is under the bridge and headed for the sea—all those lovely little euphemisms allowed.
Truthfully, I was somewhat surprised that they even published it. Ah, but their contract states that if they don't pub a work in 12 months then the contract is void. Now, the whole, let's publish it, get some money out of it, makes sense.
Here's the kicker. My book is now free if you buy another from their catalogue. Seriously. That's the price. And, you can't actually buy it even if you wanted it alone. You have to buy from the other stories in the catalog. Take a little .99 story and get a story originally priced at 4.99 for free.
Talk about putting me in a really sick situation. If I complain about it on the web, I take money from other authors. If I shut up, I suffer through two more years under contract letting them give my book away left and right.
If I didn't laugh at this point, I would cry.
Still, the point is this—I never signed a "For Promotion" contract. I never gave them the right or the liberty to give my book away for free. They chose to do this on their own and without my consent.
I signed a "For Sale" contract. That is a royalty paying contract.
They've reduced the price on Amazon to .99, and I humbly ask if you are going to purchase The Highlander's Time you do so there. They've removed it from All Romance e-Books, and have it 'for free with purchase' on their website.
What's an author to do?
I know there is a great incentive to purchase another of their stories and get this one for free, but it comes down to ethics and a matter of principles.
Will I earn any royalty from books downloaded for free from Decadent Publishing's site? It's pretty obvious that the answer is no.
Will they do this to other authors? There are already five other books that are free with purchase, but I don't know these authors circumstances or if they allowed them to be used for promotion so I refrain from speaking for them.
What I can say is I didn't give them this right to put my story at 0.00 and never would have. This doesn't do anything to STIMULATE my sales or my brand. This STIMULATES Decadent Publishing's sales.
Truthfully, I would never, even if I thought I could get a contract with them, go back to this company.
You'd think at this point that Ms. Olmstead would merely give my rights back and stop dealing with me. Truthfully, who wants to deal with an author who has lost all faith in a publisher and really has made very little stink about them?
She has, on one point of that argument, given up. She never answers an e-mail I send to her. And, even when I've thanked her in the past for such things as loading the book on ARe or Kindle there is no response. When I asked questions regarding this incident about how I would make any royalty or how long the story will be for free--it has been nothing but crickets.
This is my experience with Decadent Publishing. I will openly admit that I am probably the exception rather than the norm, and this is not meant in any way to minimize the relationships other authors have with Ms. Olmstead and Decadent Publishing.
If you like her-hey, giggle about my sorrow and what's happened to me. No skin off my teeth, but don't cry when it happens to you.
I've got twenty-four months of her giving my book away for free and I'll never see a red cent except if you buy it through Amazon. I'm almost certain she'll pull it down sooner rather than later on Kindle because this is now a case of holding a story hostage. I mean, she already took it down from All Romance e-Books.
Does this sound like she's trying to get some profit from The Highlander's Time?
To me it sounds like punishment.
And the truth will always remain: I did not enter into a "For Promotion" contract. I entered into a "For Sale" contract.
I'm not disgruntled at this point. I'm just stunned and really sad she's like this.
Until the next story comes out…best!
Footnote: I received a response from Decadent through their customer service (of course there was no direct response from Ms. Olmstead)--we will only talk through lawyers. Fine. That's how it will shake out then.
Footnote to the footnote: it is now removed from the Decadent Publishing website. Can you say--breach of contract and then some?