Sunday, March 09, 2008

What's Up at NCP?

Since the beginning of this year, I've been hearing rumblings that all is not well with the authors of another e-publisher: New Concepts Publishing.

In the beginning, the two complaints I heard most often were that there was a lack of responsiveness to author emails and a lack of information on release dates.

I refused to post the rumors because I have friends published at New Concepts, and I haven't wanted to be a gossip monger.

However, the author unrest has grown to the point that it has now moved onto the blogosphere via Karen Scott's blog here. [Update: Apparently Ms. Scott is having server problems].

Since the beginning of the year, although I haven't heard all of the things that Karen's informant alleges, I have heard the following:

1) Non-receipt of royalties. By their own Author Liaison's report, the royalty checks are due at the end of the month following the close of the quarter. That means that the checks for the quarter ending December should have been sent by January 31. I hear some authors have still not received those checks.

2) Late receipt (or non-receipt) of the 1099s. Some authors got them a month late. A few say they are still waiting despite the government mandate that these should have been mailed by
January 31st.

3) Non-responsiveness as a publisher. More than one writer has complained that they can't even get firm release dates for their books.

4) Non-responsiveness by the Author Liaison, who openly acknowledged on a loop that he is always slow in responding to individual e-mails; he prefers to answer questions on the author loop.

5) Lack of input given to the author about their cover art.

6) Lack of editing.

7) Lack of responsiveness from Customer Service when a download link to a purchased e-book doesn't work. Another writer alleges that some bookstores are no longer stocking NCP print books because of problems with customer service.

Probably the thing that bothered me the most was the perception on the part of some NCP authors that they will be punished for voicing complaints. They claim their books have been pulled
from the production schedule, and they worry about veiled threats.

To support their perception, the disaffected authors point to a post by the moderator of the NCP promotion loop: "I'm simply saying that networking is everything in this business, and people talk. If an author is seen as being a prima donna, a complainer, a troublemaker (whether it's true or not) it can be (sic) cause an author problems down the road."

That post contains an important nugget of truth: Perception is everything. NCP needs to act quickly to address these author complaints. In the same way that the rumor mill can ruin an author's reputation, it can hurt a publisher's reputation.

Poorly managed e-publishing operations have gone out of business with depressing regularity over the past two years. NCP needs to focus on convincing its authors that the problems they've identified are being addressed and will shortly be a thing of the past.


Unknown said...

Karen's got a temp blog up here for the time being.

Maya Reynolds said...

Shameless: I referred my readers to Karen's previous post because it contained industry information. I did not refer my readers to her current post because I find it tasteless and juvenile. I will let readers make their own decision as to whether to visit the site or not.

Monica Burns said...


I’m disappointed that my words were given to you without my express permission. Clearly the individual(s) who provided you with my comments does not respect copyright, and for a writer not to respect copyright is unprofessional and unethical.

Additionally, whoever provided you with my words has their information wrong. I am NOT a moderator on NCP’s author loop. I’m an author with NCP who’s not having problems with the publisher. I simply posted an opposing viewpoint on our author loop to ensure that new authors to the loop had more than one POV. The only reason I’m responding to your blog post is simply to clarify my words since the individual(s) who offered up my words for use have it wrong as far as I’m concerned.

The individual I directed my remarks to on the author loop interpreted my comments as an attempt to silence them. That wasn’t my intent at all. I made my comments in the spirit of trying to help another writer based on my own personal experience, as well as presenting an opposing POV to new authors. Regardless of whether a writer is correct or not in their concerns/beliefs about a publisher to publicly air their concerns on a reader loop that the publisher owns OR on the Inet and announce it everywhere is unwise. I know that from personal experience. To be blunt, it’s just plain stupid – and I’ve been stupid in the past.

Writing is a business, just like any other business. If someone has a day job and they cause trouble and are eventually let go, their behavior can follow them. Legally, HR people can only respond to a “would you rehire” question with a yes or no. However, there are definitely ways to make your “no” sound bad such as long drawn out pauses, a harshly spoken no. Why would it be different in the publishing industry where there isn’t any legal requirement to say yes?

Now this doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead. It means you go hey, I’m not getting satisfaction here. I pull my rights now. I don’t wait it out. It’s not a question about a publisher doing someone wrong. It’s about maintaining a professional behavior in the face of what the writer believes the publisher is doing wrong. We don’t have to put up with publishers treating us badly, but we should as writing professionals maintain a professional demeanor.

I am sorry that one or more individuals are having issues with NCP. I am not. I’ve received my royalties, received my 1099 and while the communications are delayed longer than I’d like, my questions do get answered.

The one thing I won’t forget is the individual(s) who opted to take my words without my permission and bandy them about for their own purpose. They’ve made a lasting impression on me.


Maya Reynolds said...

Monica: When I published that post, it was under the impression that you were the moderator of the NCP promotion loop. I sent that post to two NCP authors to fact check it before I posted. Both confirmed the post was correct and could run as written.

When the actual moderator contacted me, I immediately posted a retraction and apology.

Monica Burns said...

And I saw that when I visited Dear Author I thank you for that. My issue was that another author violated copyright rules by providing you with that comment. They got their facts wrong, and that totally ticks me off. I'm vocal on the author loop at NCP because I like helping the newbies. People helped me, and I like to pass that on. I apologized over on Dear Author and do so here for implying that my beef was with you. It is not.