Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Do You Trust?

I've been updating an old Scarlett River blog post today.  I've also been trying to wrap my head around this situation.  The press was set up by two writers, Allen Jacoby and Jo-Ann Russell, and I don't understand how they can treat the writers who trusted them the way they have.  I'm sure they wouldn't enjoy being treated in the same way by editors and publishers they've submitted to.

I can understand if they had to close up shop, but to not notify the writers is unconscionable.  In my search for news about this press I found that at least one of the anthologies they posted calls for has been published recently and is available for sale.  And I wonder, have the authors been notified?  Will they receive the royalty payments they were promised? 

And I think what irritates me the most about this situation is that Jo-Anne Russell is still out there working as an editor for another new press.

As writers we have to trust the people we work with.  At some point in the process between submission and publication we have to trust that the editor isn't going to screw us over.  And the more these small presses open and close with no regard whatsoever for the writers, the harder it's going to be for other small presses to gain author trust.

UPDATE:  7/10/13  I received this email from Jo-Ann Russell explaining the situation.

 Greetings Sandra, how are you?
I have read your blog and the comments, and I completely understand where everyone is coming from. SRP fully intends to keep all commitments. I had intended to have the press change hands, however that did not go as planned. Rather than let the press die I have chosen to stay on board and carry on. During this process, I have lost most of my editors and therefore I am trying to secure new ones in the hopes of getting up to date with all the works past due. The website is currently down but will be back up soon.

I have been in similar positions like my writers from time to time, and I know how awful the feeling is.
Be well.

Jo-Anne Russell


Katherine Tomlinson said...

interesting you should ask that. My story "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" is supposed to be published in their antho "Blood and Roses." I have the contract. But I wasn't given a publication date. Just yesterday I went on line trying to find out more and was unnerved to find the site MIA and a lot of warnings, including yours. I have Jo-Ann's email so I'll inquire further and let you know what she tells me.

sandra seamans said...

Thanks, Katherine. Every bit of information we can get out helps other writers who find themselves in the same publishing boat.

Thomas Pluck said...

People self-define by their behavior. Every can say you're trustworthy or a "nice guy/gal" but if you behave unprofessionally, that is who you are. If you worry about how people will talk, maybe you should reconsider your behavior.

No one is perfect. But it's cowardly to just disappear like that. I no longer write without a contract if there is money involved (even a free copy). Not that it matters, are you going to sue over $10 or $50? All you can do is talk about it. If the behavior is egregious enough, it's worth warning people off.

Dirty Noir disappeared like that. One of the editors had the common decency to publish a story I had accepted there at his new gig. So Brad Green is aces in my book.

I have edited anthologies. I know it is hard work. But I put it in the contract that I would update contributors every 90 days, and I do. I behave professionally and I expect the same. Otherwise I do not deal with them again. At times I have to force myself to be lenient, because I hold myself to a high standard. But I have limits. And when excuses come up, it is just a roadmap for the future if you continue dealing with disorganized, procrastinating, discourteous people who treat business frivolously.

sandra seamans said...

I remember when Dirty Noir disappeared, Thomas. There were excuses made, but none by the publisher himself.

I do what I can here by posting when a problem comes up but usually by then it's too late. I also don't post markets where a bad editor has set up a new zine or press. I do know that when people land here searching for a market that something's happened and I usually do a search and post updates on old posts.

And you're very right about professional behavior. And both parties need to behave in a professional manner for publications to work.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks, Sandra,

As usual, your posts are helpful to writers. I submitted a short story to this publication and didn't get a response either. I appreciate the info. Unfortunately, this happens quite often.

sandra seamans said...

More often than we'd like, Jacqueline.

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Sandra,

I've 26 submissions to anthologies outstanding fore more three months. Of those, I've only been updated on one.

The submissions with dates in 2012, 2011, even a 2010 - all I can find out there are calls for submissions, sometimes posts explaining delays. Were projects cancelled? Published without notification? Imaginary?

Another anthology, to which I was accepted, was cancelled, and then revived, and I've heard nothing from the editor and/or publisher since the original acceptance.

How much time do I waste following up on these things when writing time is so tight?


sandra seamans said...

That's a good question, Stephen! I don't know why, but some anthology editors seem to take forever. I always check to make sure there's a press attached to the project as that makes the process faster. Unless, of course, the press goes belly up during the process :)

I don't know why some editors don't keep the writers updated about the progress of an anthology. I would think that after a few years with no word you could probably withdraw the story and try to place it elsewhere.

The whole process is very frustrating and there doesn't seem to be any sure rules to follow when the project is up in the air.