When bad publishers attack… again…

It’s not a big secret that every now and then a publisher pops up that seems to be good at the outset and then flounders like a fish out of water, gasping for air before flopping to a ‘orrible death. We’ve seen a lot of these on the Absolute Write forum, mostly because of the plethora of one-person outfits that start up with the best of intentions (to publish their own works) and end up in water way over their head.

The most recent implosion seems to be Ridan Publishing and Robin Sullivan. In a nutshell she created Ridan to publish her husband’s work (which later got picked up by Orbit and is doing quite well) and later took on other authors. She came to the attention of the AW crew mostly because of her claims that seems to be, well… outlandish. That she could pay high royalties and maintain a high sell rate despite never updating her website or doing much promotion other than cranking out ebooks with fabulous covers (courtesy of her husband) and give the author a contract that had an opt-out clause that could be invoked within 30 days – hardly standard for the industry.

Unfortunately these dreams came to a smashing halt with the discovery last week that she wasn’t paying royalties to A.C. Crispin for her Starbridge series, out of print and which Ms Crispin wanted to see back in print to provide funds for her medical costs. Now if you don’t know who Ms Crispin is… well, let’s just say she’s a Big Name in the author world and you really don’t want to mess with her.

Ms Crispin hadn’t seen royalties for a year on these books and no communicaton with Ridan/Robin Sullivan. She invoked her clause to opt out of the relationship but the registered letter sat at the post office.

Nada.

Nothing.

Then Jim C. Hines got into the picture. Again, if you don’t know who he is – let’s just say that he’s quite Da Man. It seems that his threat to “drop the internet” on Robin’s head prompted a phone call from Sullivan to Ms Crispin and the news came out that they were negotiating an amicable split.

Then this, just today.  On the Kindleboards where RS and Ridan basically made their reputation for supporting self-published authors and where she plucked a few for her personal stable. To say it’s insulting and disgusting is to understate the obvious. She not only throws down the amount of money she owes Ms Crispin, violating the trust between author and publisher, she blows off the entire situation and twists it around to make herself look like the good guy for doing what she’s doing to “help out”.

Gobsmacked, I iz.

This illustrates, unfortunately, a trend we’re seeing more and more of online – small one-person outfits who just can’t handle the work of running a company single-handedly and get in way over their head. There’s been numerous examples over the years tracked in AW of these people dragging down not only the authors they pull into their whirlpool but also editors, artists and others who get trapped when the sole person gets sick or has a personal crisis or something else. Whatever the reason the authors are left high and dry because there’s no one else to do the work or send out the checks or get the books released.

If nothing else the Ridan story should be a warning sign for all authors looking for a publisher – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And a small outfit, especially with only one person on the payroll can easily lock up your rights for a long, long time.

As regards this situation – I can safely say I wouldn’t recommend Ridan to my worst enemy right now.

As with all things – imo, jmmv.

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