Saturday, October 15, 2011

Aspen Mountain Press: the continuing train wreck

I should be editing.

I should be polishing AN IMPERFECT WIFE so my editor doesn't go, "Why did we buy this manuscript? Grace can't write her way out of a paper bag!" I should be mentally gearing up for my half marathon tomorrow.

Instead, I'm writing this damn post because Sandra Hicks, owner of Aspen Mountain Press, put her website back up and told an author she doesn't have money to pay royalties, one day after she said there was money available. She continues to insist she's done nothing wrong.

Yes, she's selling books she has no rights to, failing to pay authors and staff, failing to edit and release books, and using business money for personal expenses. And she thinks everything's fine and dandy.

Insert shocked pause here.

Celina Summers posted two jaw-dropping posts about the AMP debacle (here and here). There will be more to come as AMP continues to use its feet for target practice.

Here's my story:

For both Books 1 and 2, I signed my contract and sent it to Sandra Hicks on 6/27. I included an extra copy of the signature pages for her to sign and return to me. To date, nearly 4 months later, I haven't received my copy of the signature pages.


Book 1-- HARD BARGAIN (HB):

  • 9/15: July royalties and statement were due. I never received them.

  • 10/7: Sandra sent me an e-mail asking me where I wanted my royalties sent. I gave her my mailing address.

  • 10/15: I'm still waiting for royalties.



Book 2 -- HARD TO HANDLE (HtH):
  • 8/8: I submitted the manuscript per my contract. According to the editorial schedule, final edits were due 10/3 for a 10/24 release date.

  • 8/17: I hadn't heard from an editor regarding HtH so I e-mailed Sandra asking her when I would be assigned an editor. I never received a response.

  • 8/19: I noticed the wheels were coming off AMP, so I sent a certified letter to Sandra offering to renegotiate the contracts for both HB and HtH. I offered to waive my right to an audit and all royalties due in exchange for my rights back. I never received an answer.

  • 8/22: HtH was listed in the "Coming Soon" area of the AMP website under my REAL name (not my pen name). I contacted Sandra every hour for the next 5 hours asking her to immediately remove my real name from the website.

  • 8/30: 8 days later, Sandra finally removed my real name from the AMP website.

  • 9/28: I mailed Sandra a certified letter notifying her she breached the contracts for both HB and HtH. I listed each contract term she breached.

  • 10/3: the final editorial deadline for HtH passed with NO word from an editor or from Sandra.

  • 10/15: I'm still waiting for an editor. Obviously, HtH will not be released on 10/24, if ever.

You'd think a publisher would release authors who no longer wish to be associated with it, right? Unhappy authors won't promote and won't write, especially if they're not getting paid (duh). Yet Sandra Hicks thinks she can bully authors into staying. Here are some choice quotes from a message she posted to the AMP authors (bolding mine):


The first thing I am doing is reading and responding to authors. Each is individual, case-by-case. Just because some authors no longer wish to be identified with AMP does not negate their contracts. I and I alone will make that decision, on a case-by-case basis as I look to the future.

.....

Having been an author, I know the return of my intellectual property is more important than anything else. That said, I would seriously consider how much attorney fees cost and weigh them against what I believe I'm owed.


Translation: "You want your rights back? You want your money? Come and get me."

Nice.

I've already taken steps to terminate my contracts, but much of it is a waiting game. I hope speaking up will shorten that wait. Please spread the word, and don't buy HARD BARGAIN or any other Aspen Mountain Press book. Thank you!