"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
I started working for Renaissance Ebooks back in 03 as a copy-editor. I was paid on time, and all was great. The original owner had simply wanted to publish pornography. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he sold the company to a fellow named Karl, with shares issued to Jean Marie Stine and Richard F. X. O’Connor.
They expanded the company to include genre fiction and non-fiction on a variety of topics. I had worked with both Jean and Richard many times over the years and had a great deal of confidence in Richard to compensate for Jean’s flaws. They swiftly expanded Renebooks to become one of the largest Indie ebook companies out there.
Royalties were always on time and so was my money for editing.
Richard died of lung cancer a few days before Christmas in 06. I first noticed the problems developing in 07 when my checks for editing and my royalties kept sliding later and later.
Jean blamed the problems on Richard’s widow, Helene, who was the bookkeeper for the company. Matters came to an ugly state when the royalties that should have been sent out in June of 07, were not sent until August. A loud swell of protest was made by their top authors and many of them moved to other companies.
My initial contract with them was very author friendly and short. I did not learn about their contract changes until early this year, although some remarks made by friends who had signed with them started prickling my attention. They spoke of a First Right of Refusal clause.
I phoned Jean and threw a fit about it, because it could be used to tie up the rights to my entire world of Daverana. I was promised that it would not be in my next contract.
I also sent a copy of the new contract to Preditors and Editors.
They had no problems with it, but it still bothered me.
My final book in the Lycan Blood series came out in February. Several things went wrong from the start.
Jean gave Shadowed Princes the same blurb that had been on Kady’s Vengeance. And the sample was simply the poems at the opening, and not the first chapter. Sales went nowhere. I complained. Jean and I had heated words over it and she blamed me for the mistakes. Supposedly I had sent her the wrong information. Except that I had put it all into the same email that contained both a copy of the cover and the manuscript itself.
That was the last straw for me. So I took my little company I had created to provide promotional materials for my ebooks, and I opened it up to include books by other authors and turn it into a real publishing company. I considered that to be self-defense and an opportunity to make things up to the authors I had recommended to Jean.
Then more things started to come out from friends. One author had their last book in a series mislabeled dark fantasy instead of humor and sales crashed. Jean had sent me the book to edit and I did so. It was the last book I edited for Jean as I quit the company shortly afterward. A year later, she sent the book to another friend of mine to edit, having forgotten that she had already given it to me. Now, six months later, the book is still not out.
Otter posted at Rusty Nail in comments that he had never been paid royalties or gotten a royalty statement. His book outsold my book that month and made it onto the dark fantasy best-seller list at fictionwise. My guess is that it probably sold around 500 copies.
I started investigating and discovered that Jean had not sent out press releases or review copies in nearly two years. I suspect that was the first casualty of Richard’s death.
I kept taking Jean to task about the problems. Sometimes I won the round and sometimes I didn’t. Whenever I heard that someone was not being treated right, I phoned her.
But matters did not improve. If anything, they got steadily worse.
Here’s the kicker that some of you might not be aware of, Jean Marie Stine is a transsexual. She’s my ex-husband. We’ll go more into that in the next post, as there is far too much to say in a single post here.