Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters

Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters
by Jean Pendziwol

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing
Elvis, Joan M. Baril, customer poet Rob Lem

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Duncan Weller Discusses Canadian Publisher Scams.





Duncan Weller and friend at Chapters

In his blog (Art on the Edge at duncanweller1.blogspot.ca) Duncan Weller, esteemed Thunder Bay artist and author,  describes unethical practices which he has learned by experience sometimes occur in Canadian publishing. Some of the scam practices outlined here can also be found on the web site Predators  and Editors at pre-ed.com. The size of this site alone, with its long lists of scams, should give every writer pause.  And Duncan's blog post (reblogged with his permission) should also give every writer pause. 

When a former intern at a major publishing company located in Toronto told me two weeks ago of the criminal behavior he witnessed there, perpetrated by the publisher and all their employees, I was gleefully fascinated, almost ecstatic. 
It  was corroboration of the worst kind of behaviour by Canadian publishers that I usually hear second or third hand. Don't be surprised. iI don’t usually get excited hearing other people’s tragic stories, but this former intern did himself a kindness by leaving the industry, so my glee wasn't too much at his expense. 

I’ve had my own horrible experiences with my former publisher, Simply Read Books, who recently got caught printing and translating books by Canadian authors in foreign countries without notifying or paying them, so no contracts or royalty statements. I still have no idea how many copies of my first book, Spacesnake, were printed or were sold in Korea or what I deserve to earn as a result of the sales, amongst other problems and breaches of contract.

My jaw dropped when he told me that the publisher he worked for gave the newly hired interns a speech which included the phrase, “Exploitation is not a dirty word,” and went on to describe how they took advantage of writers, photographers, and illustrators. Later the intern learned that this publishing company obtained tens of thousands of dollars of grant money for their literary works and more artistic books from provincial and federal arts councils. This is public money, of course, your tax dollars at work.

 The money was used to pay small advances to the authors, photographers, and illustrators to keep them happy. And the money was used to pay for the printing of the literary and artistic works. This publisher also produces books about TV wrestlers and monster trucks, amongst other subjects.

However, in the literary department, when the publisher claimed to be printing 3,000 to 5,000 copies of a book, they were actually printing only 300 to 500 copies. The author got his allotted ten copies, the libraries got a few, and there were just enough books to make it look like the publisher was actively promoting the author. But of course, they weren’t. You can imagine the savings and wonder where the money went.

In the last two weeks I’ve met with two other writers, one whose books have sold thousands of copies in the United States through an American publisher. When I relayed what the former intern had told me, they weren’t surprised. They in turn told me some of their horrible experiences with their publishers.

And so, I just added the stories to my growing list, but that original feeling of glee was smudged out to be replaced with a feeling of totally despondency that has lasted a week or so now, despite taking on a really cool illustration job from California, and some recent success at the two-day Artisans Northwest sale, selling a ton of my self-published hardcover children's picture books – 90+ copies (earning me close to $2,000.00 whereas if I had a publisher I would only earn about $150.00 – and as for the "status" of having a publisher,  I couldn't give a shit.) 

There is so much to write on this subject that it would take a book to fully cover it all. 

One can ask, what kind of damage is being done by wayward publishers? Why do bad publishers continue to be backed by so many different granting agencies? (My former publisher continues to get a hundred thousand dollars a year from three different government agencies, despite multiple complaints by writers and illustrators about breaches of contracts, outright lying, and total misrepresentation.) Don't granting agencies have policies to follow in order to stop them from handing money over to criminals? Why is the Writer’s Union useless? Why do writers continue to work with bad publishers and keep silent? 

Why do some writers, I call “publisher’s pets,” defend publishers when they know that their fellow writers are being ripped off? 

Why don't we have more than one book chain in this country, and is it still really a book chain (Indigo/Chapters is now officially a department store!)? Why does the industry love and celebrate mediocrity? Why do dull books get big awards? Why is it the public doesn't know what's going on? Why hasn't the media taken an interest? Isn't anyone concerned how this kind of criminal exploitation could wreck our chances at truly having freedom of expression in this country? Could this be wrecking our democracy? 

A brave young journalist or documentary filmmaker could easily get a successful career going by covering what’s happening in the Canadian publishing industry. It wouldn’t take much for a writer and illustrator team working with a journalist or documentarian to reveal how awful publishers are by planting a “new author” and “new book” into the system and track all that happens along it’s way to success or failure. 

I would more than happy to help.









     et with two other writers, one whose books have sold thousands of copies in the United States through an American publisher. When I relayed what the former intern had told me, they weren’t surprised. They in turn told me some of their horrible experiences with their publishers. 
     And so, I just added the stories to my growing list, but that original feeling of glee was smudged out to be replaced with a feeling of totally despondency that has lasted a week or so now, despite taking on a really cool illustration job from California, and some recent success at the two-day Artisans Northwest sale, selling a ton of my self-published hardcover children's picture books – 90+ copies (earning me close to $2,000.00 whereas if I had a publisher I would only earn about $150.00 – and as for the "status" of having a publisher,  I couldn't give a shit.) .ater the intern learned that this publishing company obtained tens of thousands of dollars of grant money for their literary works and more artistic books from provincial and federal arts councils. This is public money, of course, your tax dollars at work. The money was used to pay small advances to the authors, photographers, and illustrators to keep them happy. And the money was used to pay for the printing of the literary and artistic works. This publisher also produces books about TV wrestlers and monster trucks, amongst other subjects. 
     However, in the literary department, when the publisher claimed to be printing 3,000 to 5,000 copies of a book, they were actually printing only 300 to 500 copies. The author got his allotted ten copies, the libraries got a few, and there were just enough books to make it look like the publisher was actively promoting the author. But of course, they weren’t. You can imagine the savings and wonder where the money went.



Later the intern learned that this publishing company obtained tens of thousands of dollars of grant money for their literary works and more artistic books from provincial and federal arts councils. This is public money, of course, your tax dollars at work. The money was used to pay small advances to the authors, photographers, and illustrators to keep them happy. And the money was used to pay for the printing of the literary and artistic works. This publisher also produces books about TV wrestlers and monster trucks, amongst other subjects. 
     However, in the literary department, when the publisher claimed to be printing 3,000 to 5,000 copies of a book, they were actually printing only 300 to 500 copies. The author got his allotted ten copies, the libraries got a few, and there were just enough books to make it look like the publisher was actively promoting the author. But of course, they weren’t. You can imagine the savings and wonder where the money went.Later the intern learned that this publishing company obtained tens of thousands of dollars of grant money for their literary works and more artistic books from provincial and federal arts councils. This is public money, of course, your tax dollars at work. The money was used to pay small advances to the authors, photographers, and illustrators to keep them happy. And the money was used to pay for the printing of the literary and artistic works. This publisher also produces books about TV wrestlers and monster trucks, amongst other subjects. 
     However, in the literary department, when the publisher claimed to be printing 3,000 to 5,000 copies of a book, they were actually printing only 300 to 500 copies. The author got his allotted ten copies, the libraries got a few, and there were just enough books to make it look like the publisher was actively promoting the author. But of course, they weren’t. You can imagine the savings and wonder where the money went.



 don’t usually get excited hearing other people’s tragic stories, but this former intern did himself a kindness by leaving the industry, so my glee wasn't too much at his expense. I’ve had my own horrible experiences with my former publisher, Simply Read Books, who recently got caught printing and translating books by Canadian authors in foreign countries without notifying or paying them, so no contracts or royalty statements. I still have no idea how many copies of my first book, Spacesnake, were printed or were sold in Korea or what I deserve to earn as a result of the sales, amongst other problems and breaches of contract.
     I’ve had major trouble with all of the three publishers I worked with in the past, Black Moss Press, Orca Books and Simply Read. One day, I’ll get it all down on paper and put it in a book. But what will make for really interesting reading, and protect me and others from legal action, is when I compare my experiences to dozens of others who’ve experienced worse problems than mine, with these very same publishers and many others.
     The former intern, who I met at the Country Market, told me he had a great love of literature and wanted to be involved with the publishing industry, but became so disillusioned that he left Toronto and the industry to switch gears in his life and pursue a totally different career, studying here at Lakehead University. 
     My jaw dropped when he told me that the publisher he worked for gave the newly hired interns a speech which included the phrase, “Exploitation is not a dirty word,” and went on to describe how they took advantage of writers, photographers, and illustrators.


 don’t usually get excited hearing other people’s tragic stories, but this former intern did himself a kindness by leaving the industry, so my glee wasn't too much at his expense. I’ve had my own horrible experiences with my former publisher, Simply Read Books, who recently got caught printing and translating books by Canadian authors in foreign countries without notifying or paying them, so no contracts or royalty statements. I still have no idea how many copies of my first book, Spacesnake, were printed or were sold in Korea or what I deserve to earn as a result of the sales, amongst other problems and breaches of contract.
     I’ve had major trouble with all of the three publishers I worked with in the past, Black Moss Press, Orca Books and Simply Read. One day, I’ll get it all down on paper and put it in a book. But what will make for really interesting reading, and protect me and others from legal action, is when I compare my experiences to dozens of others who’ve experienced worse problems than mine, with these very same publishers and many others.
     The former intern, who I met at the Country Market, told me he had a great love of literature and wanted to be involved with the publishing industry, but became so disillusioned that he left Toronto and the industry to switch gears in his life and pursue a totally different career, studying here at Lakehead University. 
     My jaw dropped when he told me that the publisher he worked for gave the newly hired interns a speech which included the phrase, “Exploitation is not a dirty word,” and went on to describe how they took advantage of writers, photographers, and illustrators.

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