More Small Publisher Storm Warnings: Port Town Publishing and Light Sword Publishing

PORT TOWN PUBLISHING

For some time now, there have been rumors about the alleged bankruptcy of Port Town Publishing, a small publisher located in Wisconsin, run by Jean Louise Hackensmith (who, it turns out, has a 1996 conviction for theft in a business setting, a class C felony–she started Port Town while still on probation for that conviction).

Writer Beware has seen documents that confirm that Jean Louise Hackensmith and her husband, Ronald Lee Hackensmith, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January of 2008. (Chapter 7 provides for liquidation, with the debtor’s non-exempt property sold off to pay creditors.) Creditors included several Port Town authors, a phone company, a printer, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and a number of collection agencies. The case was closed on April 22, 2008.

This was the second time around for the Hackensmiths: they’d previously filed for bankruptcy in 1995.

Over the years, Writer Beware received a number of complaints about Port Town, including publication delays, poor physical quality, nonpayment of royalties, continued sale of books whose contracts had terminated, and general unprofessional behavior. At one point, if authors wanted distribution through Ingram, they had to pay a $50 processing fee. Later, Port Town required authors to agree to buy 250 of their own books.

Port Town’s website has been gone for some time, but its books still show as in print and available on Amazon.

LIGHT SWORD PUBLISHING, a.k.a. LSP DIGITAL

Since its establishment in 2006, we’ve been getting a similar range of complaints about Light Sword Publishing: delays, nonpayment of royalties, unprofessional behavior. We’ve also gotten reports that Light Sword’s current owner, Linda Daly, and its former co-owner, Bonny Kirby (who is no longer associated with the company), misrepresented the company’s expertise and capabilities in order to encourage authors to sign contracts.

We weren’t entirely surprised, therefore, to discover that in late 2007, Linda Daly, Bonny Kirby, and Light Sword Publishing were sued by one of their authors for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Writer Beware has seen the complaint, as well as numerous other documents involved in the lawsuit).

Although the defendants filed a counterclaim, alleging that it was really the plaintiff who provided misrepresentations and breached contract, the plaintiff was ultimately successful. On April 15, 2008, a default judgment in the amount of $15,342.64 was entered against Bonny Kirby, and on July 8, 2008, a default judgment in the amount of $16,558.63 was entered against Linda Daly and Light Sword Publishing.

Although we’ve gotten reports that Ms. Daly may be intending to file for bankruptcy within the next month or so, Light Sword Publishing appears to be alive–if not, perhaps, well. It’s now calling itself LSP Digital–according to the announcement on its website, “with the industry shifting due to the economy and the amazing technical advancements in the printing industry, LSP Digital was formed so that our authors can compete in todays [sic] competitive market through digital manufacturing, while holding steadfast in our commitment to our readers and authors.”

In a way, what’s happened with these two publishers is unusual. Though troubled publishers often threaten to file for bankruptcy, they rarely do–a bankruptcy filing costs money and obligates you to your creditors, and it’s really much cheaper and easier to claim to be filing, and then disappear. That’s what happened with Creative Arts Book Company, a vanity publisher that took money from authors and never published their books. (I still sometimes hear from CAB authors who are convinced that CAB’s former owner is illegally producing and selling their books; I’ve seen some evidence to suggest that this is indeed happening, but no conclusive proof.)

Also, unhappy authors are rarely willing to incur the expense and emotional stress of a lawsuit–which carries with it, of course, the risk of losing. Over the years, Writer Beware has heard from thousands of authors who have had dreadful publisher experiences–but we know of only a handful of lawsuits.

In all other ways, however, the sagas of Port Town and Light Sword are depressingly typical. If you’re a regular at the Bewares & Background Check forum at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, or a reader of any of the blogs that keep an eye on the world of electronic and small publishers–such as Dear Author, EREC, or Karen Knows Best–you’ll know how common it is for small publishers started by inexperienced people to fall into a predictable pattern of bad behavior–failing to perform, failing to pay, attempting to harass or intimidate authors who speak out or ask uncomfortable questions–and to go out of business within a couple of years (or less) of starting up.

Wouldn’t it be easy if we could dismiss publishers like this by calling them “scams?” It would remove all ambiguity, and place them in their own special category apart from all other publishers. Problem is, most of them are not scams (or not entirely). Amateur publishers aren’t generally out to deliberately defraud their authors. It’s just that they don’t have a clue what they’re doing, and often get scared and mean when things start heading south.

For the author, of course, this is a meaningless distinction. Whether you’re scammed or amateur’d, the bottom line is pretty much the same: few sales, no professional cred, a book tied up in contract, and possibly a lighter bank account (because so many amateur publishers encourage authors to buy their own books).

In other posts, I’ve suggested ways for writers to guard against being amateur’d–researching thoroughly, avoiding unproven publishers, and just being careful, which includes being aware of problem contract clauses that may make it tougher to get free of the publisher if it gets into trouble. But the best way to protect yourself is simply to avoid amateur publishers from the get-go, and start your querying process at the top rather than the bottom.

Of course, many writers wind up with the amateurs not because they didn’t look higher, but in frustration after striking out with reputable agents or larger commercial publishers. But rather than submitting to the Port Towns of the world, I’d suggest you pick a POD service such as Lulu.com. Your contract will be better, your stress level will be lower, you’ll be better treated–and your sales and professional credibility will be about the same.

Better POD’d than amateur’d, in my opinion.

140 Comments

  1. Thank you, Mari Sloan’s husband. I think we’ve all been a little whacky about this whole mess.
    I have contacted Victoria to speak with her privately.
    I was not aware of the implications that “stock” entailed…see what a sharp learning curve I’m on?
    Karen

  2. My book MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY got a “five star” review from Affaire de Coeur, a magazine I had never heard of, so I decided to take a look. It turns out their reviews and articles are tied to whoever happens to be advertising in their pages…I found this among their advertising packages:

    “To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles. If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it will go in the same issue as your review and ad. We accept articles at any time, we need articles 3 months in advance. All articles must receive approval on subject matter.”

    And I saw this in their FAQ:

    “We will not accept submissions less than three months prior to the date of publication unless it is associated with an ad.

    We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad”

    But what does this have to do with Light Sword, you ask?

    Well, a woman named Bonny Kirby is the magazine’s advertising coordinator.

    Is this the same Bonny Kirby who was one of the owners of Light Sword…and was ordered to pay damages to an author for fraud?

    IF so, what a sleazy conflict of interest…one that would explain how Linda Daly ended up on the cover not so long ago…and why Light Sword titles get positive reviews in the magazine.

    Lee

  3. Well, whatever journalistic credibility Affaire de Coeur might have had (assuming they had any at all) has been shot to hell. Bonny Kirby, their advertising director is, indeed, the same Bonny Kirby who co-owned Light Sword

    (see http://www.myspace.com/freakishreader)

    How could any ethical, legitimate publication review books published by their advertising director?

    Is it any wonder that Light Sword books received positive reviews in the magazine…or that Linda Daly got a cover story?

    I will be asking my publisher NOT to use the Affaire De Coeur review on my books…I wouldn’t want to lend them the slightest shred of credibility. I will also ask them to stop sending them my books for review.

    Lee

  4. Morning, Lee;

    One of the myriad things LSP SAID they would do, and did not, was send galleys and ARCs out for review. One of the places, of course, was Affaire de C’ouer.

    But Ms Kirby and Ms Daly had parted the sheets, so my novel was not sent out(anywhere–now THERE’S a big surprise). I shot an email to the Affaire, itself. They confirmed that they, indeed, did not receive advance material from LSP. I emailed Bonny Kirby. I was told the only way I could get a review with Affaire would be in association with my puchase of an ad in their magazine. If memory serves me, I would have had to buy at least a 1/4 page ad to ‘qualify’ for the review. I passed. I don’t pay for reviews, either.

    Contacting Ms. Daly, I was informed by her that since my book was so late going to print(all my fault, of course–I had the temerity to demand that the edits be correct–my bad–sorry)it did not go out for review.

    Anyway, I started hustling on my own and landed a review with a reviewer from MBR and a couple of other legitimate venues. Paying for reviews, IMHO, would be like Ms America contestants paying for judges. They call that fraud and someone almost always either lands in jail or wanders off into the sunset, bathing suit in hand, talking to herself.

    What’s really interesting about the Kirby/Daly dance team is that, according to Daly, they have permanantly and rancorously parted company over money supposely paid by an LSP (volunteer? employee?) to the duo for ‘stock’ in the company. According to Daly, that money never made it into LSP coffers, but the check was cashed by Kirby.

    The former volunteer/employee discovered the irregularity when she and her husband asked when they would be seeing a return on ‘their investment’. Kirby (who lives in Texas) and Daly (at home in Michigan), fought about this and split up.

    Now, I can only speak for myself, but if I owned a company and, during the operation of same, my vice president alledgedly absconded with company funds, you can bet your fuzzy bunny slippers I’d have reported the theft and filed criminal charges against the perpetrator. That didn’t happen. To my knowledge, the true victim, the volunteer/employee who forked over the money to begin with, has not filed any charges, either.

    So, recapping, it appears we not only have a company that takes its ‘stable'(what a denigrating appelation)for a ride (also, no pun intended), they also appear to have pocketed cash (and check or credit card, I’m sure) from unsuspecting ‘investors’.

    And, although Ms Daly makes the statement on her web pages that Ms Kirby is no longer associated with Light Sword Publishing, Ms Kirby still lists herself as the vice president of the company on her MySpace pages.

    Some days, I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole. But for now I’m going to pass on the mushrooms and the KoolAid, thankyouVERYmuch.

  5. “Affaire de Couer” is a magazine that is listed as ‘erotica’ and is for adults. So, not only is there a problem with conflict of interest, but there is a conflict (mild word) with the judgement of anyone who would put a children’s book in that magazine for review.
    I am no prude, I don’t care what GROWN men and women read.

    However, as a clinical psychologist and a mother, I would have thrown 3 kinds of fits had my child been given this magazine. This paraticular magazine featured a book for children and they were passed out as advertisement at the Texas Book Festival in early November of 2007.

    Children were exposed to topics and pictures that have no place in a child’s hands. This particular magazine crossed a line when it included a child who was interviewed and that interview along with pics of the Dragon (costume)with children were used as an advertizing gimmick.

    So, in my opinion, handing these magazines to children was a horrible lack of judgement. Unfortunately, I don’t think that act was legally actionable. But to quote Mari Sloan’s husband (by the way, what is your first name?:)) “this is just what I was waiting for”, because this has been one of the worst deeds in a long list that I have wanted to address. To form your own opinion, check out the magazine in question, which was either a Sept. or Oct. release in 2007. Then ask yourself if you would want your children, grandchildren or any child to receive this magazine. I think there are a few copies floating out there as well.
    Karen

  6. For all interested, I in fact did leave LSP, but certainly not under the circumstances that Linda Daly claims. It was my money that kept the company afloat for some time and the accusations that Linda made were completely unfounded and untrue. I am taking legal action to completely separate myself from LSP and would recommend anyone associated with that company leave quickly before she makes it worse.

    I believed I could not be conned, I was wrong. I believe she is going to declare bankruptcy based on my going after the return of all of the money I sunk into the company. She changed the name to attempt to block me “from taking control”, I did not then, nor do I now want control of that sinking ship. I want it gone from my world.

    All of this bickering does not help the authors still caught in this mess. I wish them all well and hope against hope they do not lose what I am losing and what others have. Caution should be given and care should be taken, but slamming authors who have at this point, by some miracle not fully damaged by her practices does not help.

    Linda can say what she wishes, she always does, but the story is always as Linda as the victim and everybody else is out to get her. The authors know when she is questioned it is always one of three things:

    a. She cries so hard she has to throw up
    b. She cries so hard she is having chest pains
    c. She is having a psychic vision and can’t talk about business.

    It is NEVER as anonomous stated a situation where she will answer reasonable questions asked of her. This is the base of why I am no longer affiliated as well as many others. Lee and others can and have villified me in many ways, but in doing that they do not have the full story and are making assumptions that are not based on anything related to the truth.

    As was clearly stated, lots of people have come and gone in LSP, I only wish I knew then what I know now and I would never have associated with her. I recommend that anyone considering an association reconsider.

    Bonny Kirby

  7. “It was my money that kept the company afloat for some time”

    Ms Kirby, documentation and verifiable facts are the best medicine for this form of disease. Any copies of checks sent to Linda Daly to help fund her operation, any email correspondence between you and Linda Daly to verify what you claim, anything concrete and tangible that is not an opinion or hearsay, and anything else of that nature should be forwarded to Victoria immediately, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to contact her privately ASAP.

    Although I do not consider you without guilt, there is a certain vindication to be found in repentance and confession.

    By the way, Karen, you can call me Al. That’s my name …

  8. “All of this bickering does not help the authors still caught in this mess. I wish them all well and hope against hope they do not lose what I am losing and what others have. Caution should be given and care should be taken, but slamming authors who have at this point, by some miracle not fully damaged by her practices does not help.”

    This is not “bickering” and the suggestion that it is, is offensive. This blog is an expose (pronounce that ‘ex-pose-ay’) of scam tactics, poor taste, and bad business practices. The authors “still caught in this mess” will have to make the personal decision to extricate themselves on an individual level, and when evidence of this is seen, I have no doubt that they will be able to accomplish that with the full support of everyone reading this. There is no such thing as a successful predator without a victim. Willing victims are not sympathetic to me. Much like the man who kills his parents and begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan, I have no sympathy for lambs who walk willingly to their slaughter and then ask for pity because they are just lambs following their nature.

    I hope the lambs read this. I hope some of the lambs figure out that this isn’t a schoolyard and this isn’t about bullies picking on victims. This is about victims opening their eyes and questioning what’s happened and considering that they might possibly be victims.

    Until this happens, I have no sympathy for the lambs.

  9. a. She cries so hard she has to throw up
    b. She cries so hard she is having chest pains
    c. She is having a psychic vision and can’t talk about business.

    You forgot the ‘Archangel Michael’ and Daly’s apparently direct connection to him, Ms Kirby. Good old Mike is always showing up with messages to Daly. He is her business advisor and all-around Mr. Fixit. ‘Archangel Michael told me (yadayadayada)’ is her mantra.

    As far as the next post goes, I’m with you, automated. At this point, anyone who has had even a single telephone conversation with Ms Daly and still cleaves unto her and her ‘making authors’ dreams come true’ psychic-babble BS gets exactly what they deserve. It’s a shame that the overpowering need for publication clouds common sense to such a degree.

  10. Looks like another flame war may be shaping up here, so I’m switching back to comment moderation.

  11. “You forgot the ‘Archangel Michael’ and Daly’s apparently direct connection to him, Ms Kirby.”

    I find this twist in the discussion disturbing, since we now are delving into the realm of personal insult rather than relevant fact, and there is no shortage of relevant and verifiable fact.

    For over a year Bonny Kirby was Linda Daly’s business partner, and no amount of scoffing at Daly’s personal peculiarities after the relationship has been severed changes that. The partnership dissolved immediately after lawsuit proceedings were begun. Ms Kirby’s actions during that time were deemed criminal in a court of law and there has been a judgement filed against her.

    Mocking Linda Daly serves no purpose other than petty distraction, and it’s a very bad idea.

    This is all I have to say on this particular matter at this time.

  12. Consider this my last post on the comment.

    A. I cannot due to an ongoing litigation provide financial documentation to a website no matter how good their intentions. Ask Linda Daly to produce the check of that well meaning volunteer that she said I stole from. This I would like to see since she made it up.

    B. True, I forgot the Archangel Michael thing, it has been several months and she tended to hit me with the other three.

    C. I am no victim. I made a bad business decision, I’m getting out of it, sometimes bad decisions bite you in the rear and you take your medicine. In my case that medicine is a clear loss of money and time.

    D. The information spouted by your buddy Lee, whatever is motivation is based on half information, no common sense and the idea that attacking people out of the blue is fun. How is that productive to your site.

    E. The authors still caught in this or “lambs” as you facetiously call them are not business smart people, they are everyday people caught by someone who is a good con artist to the point she makes people feel like she really cares about them as a person. Since this kind of thing can happen to anyone, back off of them some. At some point the light will go on and hopefully they will have protected themselves.

    As for me, I will follow the court case until she declares bankruptcy to get out of paying me and the many other bills she has run up and I will recover.

    While I think it is a good thing that sites like this warn authors off of bad deals like this, there is a point where the discussion does more harm than good.

    I do not feel, and don’t take the idea that my post yesterday was any kind of “confession”. I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and will take the heat for a bad business decision, that’s it.

    Regarding the statement that Affaire de Coeur charges ads for review, nothing could be further from the truth so let me straighten that out for you. When a galley leaves the publisher, it then goes to the office and then has to be routed to the reviewer, whereever they are. They then have the time to review it in order to get it in before the 45 days it takes to get the magazine laid out, set up, printed and released. Any books that show up for review after the 3 month deadline, like the one that is discussed here has to have special treatment all the way through the process. This does in fact require an ad to expedite it. There are only a couple of reviewers that can take a book and get it done that much more quickly, not to mention the problems with layout and setup to get all of that corrected.

    Affaire de Coeur does not charge for reviews, however, like any BUSINESS when the process is interrupted and has to grind to a halt to accomodate someone, it requires an ad and not all of those are approved.

    This is an example of the half-truths and no common sense of some of the loose cannons that are posting. Should every late book hold up the magazine, it would never get out, much less on time.

    It is not a case of a book going out late because they wanted it corrected, so therefore not sent out for review. I believe Linda Daly said that, but I don’t believe she was telling the truth. I think she just didn’t do it.

    As I stated previously, I will not post again. I think that this has gone onto the point where it is counterproductive and is causing more harm than good.

  13. It is my understanding that the successful lawsuit ended with three judgements, one against Light Sword Publishing, one against Linda Daly personally, and one against Bonny Kirby personally. If this is not correct, this is a good opportunity to set the record straight. Bonny is here, ready and willing to clear up some of the inaccurate statements that are naturally being said about her, and I commend her for that. Would she like to comment on any action she is taking to do damage control at this point? She stated that she is taking steps to separate herself from Light Sword Publishing, but isn’t it a little late for that? What CAN be done now?

    Mari Sloan

  14. I shouldn’t attempt to be subtle. Apparently, when I attempt to be subtle, it’s SO subtle that no one actually gets it.

    When I asked Bonny Kirby to contact Victoria privately if she was scammed by LSP, that was sarcasm. It isn’t possible for someone to write letters to authors such as the one Bonny Kirby sent my wife unless that person is wholeheartedly into what they’re doing. That isn’t a case of being mislead, but rather a case of denying complicity after the fact. (complicity: guilt as an accomplice in a crime or offense)

    I am simultaineously amused and appalled by the tactic of showing up, blatantly ridiculing a former associate, asking for an end to all so-called bickering, and the assumption that by doing this, somehow she’s not the person who was just successfully sued for deceptive practices, and now we’re all going to feel all warm and fuzzy disassociating her from the LSP experience.

    I’d be extremely interested in hearing Bonny Kirby’s defense of her actions, and some sort of explanation as to exactly how she was supposedly duped to the point where we should not consider her responsible for her actions.

    Was the judge wrong about you, Bonny? Was the judge wrong about Linda Daly too? What would you have done differently if you were the judge, Bonny? Talk to us. We’re here to listen.

    Have a nice day, y’all.

  15. “Looks like another flame war may be shaping up here, so I’m switching back to comment moderation.”

    Indeed.

    I’m not a quick-thinker, so I apologize for not asking this question earlier. Is the person that wrote the post and signed it Bonny Kirby really Bonny Kirby, or is this just someone’s idea of being cute and baiting former LSP authors into behaving badly?

    I’ve read a number of things written by Bonny Kirby, some directed to my wife, other things that were none of my business but things I was allowed to see anyway. None of the things I have seen previous to this post resembles what I read here, not to mention that given her present legal predicament, it makes very little sense for her to have said the things she did.

    Comments? Opinions? Verification from the real Bonny Kirby that she really wrote this?

  16. Bonny,
    How did the children’s book and the Dragon end up in Affaire de Coeur? Did Linda make that decision too?
    Karen

  17. Bonny Kirby wrote: Regarding the statement that Affaire de Coeur charges ads for review, nothing could be further from the truth so let me straighten that out for you. When a galley leaves the publisher, it then goes to the office and then has to be routed to the reviewer, whereever they are. They then have the time to review it in order to get it in before the 45 days it takes to get the magazine laid out, set up, printed and released. Any books that show up for review after the 3 month deadline, like the one that is discussed here has to have special treatment all the way through the process. This does in fact require an ad to expedite it. There are only a couple of reviewers that can take a book and get it done that much more quickly, not to mention the problems with layout and setup to get all of that corrected.

    Affaire de Coeur does not charge for reviews, however, like any BUSINESS when the process is interrupted and has to grind to a halt to accomodate someone, it requires an ad and not all of those are approved.

    I’m sorry, but this simply doesn’t ring true with me. Probably because I dealt with Affaire several weeks back in an attempt to get my own work reviewed. When I contacted the company, I was told, not by one, but by TWO people, that I would have to pay for an ad in order to be reviewed. I was never given the option to be put at the back of the line, so to speak, in order to get a review without paying a fee. If what Ms Kirby says is true, it seems to me that queing-up for a free review would be an option. My work has been reviewed by several reviewers at this point–all reviews having been completed after the book’s release. Not one of them suggested I needed to ‘pay for an ad’ to cover the ‘costs’ of reviewing after publication. C’mon.

    I also have a huge issue with Affaire positively reviewing LSP books, when one considers Ms Kirby’s association with the company. It’s also interesting that Linda Daly appeared on the cover of the magazine one month, and, in a previous month’s issue, an LSP author and her book cover were also featured. When one considers the miniscule number of books produced by this company compared to the numbers of many of the other companies to which Affaire provides reviews, the ratio of free advertising LSP has received at Affaire seems way out of proportion, to me.

    In defense of LSP’s authors, it should be noted that the vast majority of these people were ensnared by Daly long before warnings were posted, anywhere. It’s been made abundantly clear (in writing here and in court)that Daly’s predatory practices are fraudulently inducing and very seductive. It should also be noted that even the judges in the case recently concluded bent over backward for Ms Daly, in spite of the fact that she failed to comply to court orders more than once. To use her own verbiage, she ‘markets her wares’ quite well.

  18. Bonny wrote: “Regarding the statement that Affaire de Coeur charges ads for review, nothing could be further from the truth so let me straighten that out for you. When a galley leaves the publisher, it then goes to the office and then has to be routed to the reviewer, whereever they are. They then have the time to review it in order to get it in before the 45 days it takes to get the magazine laid out, set up, printed and released. Any books that show up for review after the 3 month deadline, like the one that is discussed here has to have special treatment all the way through the process. This does in fact require an ad to expedite it.”

    So, in other words, I was absolutely right. If you want your book reviewed after the three month deadline, you have to pay for it (and I’m sure the review will be a positive one, too). That is reprehensible.

    Bonny wrote: “Affaire de Coeur does not charge for reviews, however, like any BUSINESS when the process is interrupted and has to grind to a halt to accomodate someone, it requires an ad and not all of those are approved.”

    No, Bonny, that’s not what professional, business-like publications do. What they do is respect their deadlines. They do NOT stop the presses to review a book submitted late…they just don’t review it. They do NEVER require authors or advertisers to pay for editorial content under any circumstances. Because that would be unethical and despicable.

    No reputable, professional, and legitimate publication would require someone to buy an advertisement to “expedite” a review.

    No reputable, legitimate, and professional publication would permit advertisers to have any influence over editorial content at any time.

    No reputable, legitimate, and professional publication would feature articles, reviews and cover stories about books published by the magazine’s advertising director because it would be an outrageous conflict of interest.

    These are basic ethical standards of conduct that any high school journalism student could tell you about. It’s shocking to me that it’s news to you and the magazine’s editor.

    Clearly, Affaire de Coeur is not a reputable, legitimate, and professional publication, which is why I’ve refused to acknowledge their positive review of my book and won’t have anything to do with them.

    Lee

  19. From the Affaire De Coeur website page that explains their various advertising packages:

    “To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles. If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it will go in the same issue as your review and ad. We accept articles at any time, we need articles 3 months in advance. All articles must receive approval on subject matter.”

    “We will not accept submissions less than three months prior to the date of publication unless it is associated with an ad.

    We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad”

    Buy an advertisement and the magazine will “compliment” it with articles and reviews? We will review your book after publication, or if you submit it late, IF you buy an ad? There’s clearly a connection between buying ads and getting coverage. They say so straight out! So how can Ms. Kirby now argue otherwise? What is even more disturbing is that no one at the magazine understands why this is an enormous ethical breach.

    Lee

  20. More sinificant than Affair de Coeur charging for what must surely be favorable reviews (easy enough to ascertain–just review back issues) would be to discover what the nexus is between this ‘review magazine’ and Light Sword Publishing and whether or not Ms Daly and Ms Kirby entered into their association with the intent of using an already-established pseudo-literary magazine for the placement and advertising of their clients’ books. On its face, that appears to be the situation.

    It would be of further interest to ascertain whether Ms Kirby has been involved in any other publishing ventures during which that company’s books/clients received similar treatment at Affaire de Coeur.

  21. To be fair, providing reviews in exchange for advertising is not a policy that’s unique to Affair de Coeur. Romantic Times also offers this arrangement to small press-published authors (though apparently not to mainstream-pubbed authors), according to RT publisher Carol Stacy, as quoted last year in the Dear Author blog.

  22. I can’t speak for the reviews in Affaire de Coeur — I haven’t seen a copy of the latest incarnation, and the gerbils that power their web server are tired. But from my experience, small press authors are not guaranteed a great review in Romantic Times, even if they buy advertising space. This might be the case in Affaire de Coeur as well. But I can’t tell because their web server gerbils have collapsed.

    For what it’s worth, in the past, Affaire de Coeur was definitely a legitimate publication. OK, it wasn’t PW, or even Locus, but romance reviews at that time tended to be positive. Affaire de Coeur had a reputation among some readers for having better and more unbiased reviews, at least in comparison with Romantic Times. (The few times I managed to find a copy, the reviews seemed mostly positive, but they were more detailed, and there were fewer ads and less useless glitz.) However, this version of the magazine is under a new ownership.

  23. Victoria,

    What Romantic Times is doing is a conflict of interest and a huge ethical lapse…I am shocked. But their conduct is still not nearly as outrageous as giving cover stories and reviews to books published by the magazine’s advertising director.

    It seems like the two magazines who cover romances need to learn a lot about credibility and ethics.

    Here’s a snippet from the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics:

    “Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months of study and debate among the Society’s members.”

    The ethics are also embraced by just about every respected magazine or newspaper you can think of. For example, here are the editorial guidelines for publications produced by the Mystery Writers of America:

    “For Articles, columns, interviews and essays:

    * – The editor should maintain honesty, integrity, accuracy thoroughness and fairness in reporting and editing of articles, headlines and graphics.

    * – There should be a clear distinction between news/feature stories and opinion pieces. It should be made clear that any opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mystery Writers of America or the local chapter.

    * – The reporter or author of editorial content in the newsletter must avoid any conflicts of interest, real or perceived, with regard to the subject of his articles. All potential conflicts should be disclosed (eg: an author interviewing his own publisher or editor).

    * – The reporter or author of editorial content in the newsletter should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment related to the articles they are writing (eg: free travel and registration at a conference in return for the article).

    * – Unless a piece is clearly identified as “opinion,” personal views such as religious beliefs or political ideology should be kept separate from the subjects being covered. Articles should not be approached with overt or hidden agendas (eg: someone who hates cozies shouldn’t be writing about the popularity of cozy mysteries).

    * – Competing points of view should be balanced and fairly characterized.

    * – Persons who are the subject of adverse news stories or features should be allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond to the adverse information before the story is published.

    * – Fairness means that all important views on a subject are presented and treated even-handedly.

    * – Authors should always cite their sources and never plagiarize.

    For Advertising:

    * – Editorial impartiality and integrity should never be compromised by the relationship and the chapter should retain editorial control of ALL content. Selection of editorial topics, treatment of issues, interpretation and other editorial decisions must NOT be determined by advertisers.

    * – Editors must never permit advertisers to review articles prior to publication.

    * – Advertisers and potential advertisers must never receive favorable editorial treatment because of their economic value to the newsletter.

    * – Editors must have the right to review, prior to publication, all sponsored content and other advertiser supplied material.

    * – The choice of advertisers (conferences, self-publishers, editorial services, etc.) should not bring the MWA into disrepute or imply an endorsement by our organization of any of the goods or services being advertised. This is especially important when it comes to self-publishing firms, agency representation, editorial services, writing contests, and writers conferences.

    * – There should be a clear and unequivocal separation between the advertising and editorial content of the newsletter. Editors have an obligation to readers to make clear which content has been paid for, which is sponsored, and which is independent editorial material.”

  24. I agree that providing reviews in exchange for paid advertising is an ethical lapse–even where a good review is not guaranteed. (This is one way Kirkus rationalizes its Discovery program, where authors can buy reviews for $350.)

    One ethical lapse may spawn another. I know of at least one publisher that, according to author reports I’ve received, pressures its authors into buying group ads in RT because of the reviews.

  25. I understand the reason that exposing Affaire de Coeur for what it is, is necessary. Yes, the magazine, at best, is a blatant breach of ethical behavior and one of the main reasons Linda Daly associated herself with Bonny Kirby right from the outset. Cost-free, biased publicity for herself and her authors was as expedient as additional cash-flow. I’m not certain why this isn’t obvious to anyone looking at the situation objectively.

    What dismays me is that Linda Daly, Bonny Kirby, and Light Sword Publishing were sued by one of their authors for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the official response from Bonny Kirby is “I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and will take the heat for a bad business decision, that’s it.” Instead of addressing this, the discussion has drifted into a guilt-by-association indictment of Bonny Kirby because of her association with Affaire de Coeur. Affaire de Coeur is actually the least of it, and is probably a good subject for another blogpost.

    “I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and will take the heat for a bad business decision, that’s it.” Consider this statement, and everything expressed and implied in it. I have not been convicted of crimes and held personally liable for damages in excess of fifteen thousand dollars. I have not written venomous, hate-filled letters to LSP authors and others merely in the name of conducting business. I have not misrepresented myself, or either of the companies I am associated with. I’m just an innocent victim, and I’m not responsible for any of the things that it’s been proven that I’ve done.

    If nothing wrong was done and nothing illegal was done, why was a judgment against Bonny Kirby granted? Was it because the judge was a ‘bad man’? Was it because of the ‘conspiracy’? Was Linda Daly guilty of thought-control? Is that why Bonny Kirby wasn’t responsible for her actions?

    The reply that “I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and will take the heat for a bad business decision, that’s it” is nothing more than a denial of reality and it is NOT acceptable.

    I want to know what Bonny Kirby was thinking when she did what she did and I want to know why she did it if all her crime was consisted of being as duped as the authors were.

  26. Regarding Ms Kirby: in spite of the fact that I agree absolutely with the disingenuousness of a book review outfit providing reviews for books published by an employee’s publishing house, and the even smellier practice of charging ANYONE for a review of their material, I must make some facts clear.

    Upon my own book’s release in May(LSP, yes), I contacted Ms Kirby, inquiring about a book review and also inquiring about advertising rates at AdC. Ms Kirby sent me AdC’s advertising rate schedules and explained to me that she did not believe that AdC had received the ARC or galleys for my novel from LSP and if that was the case, I would have to pay for a review.

    She referred me to another person whose name escapes me. That person confirmed that the only way I could get a review of my novel would be to pay for advertising in the magazine. Although I was very interested in a review, I found the idea of paying for one ridiculous. I also found the cost of advertising with AdC very expensive.

    During the course of this interchange, however, I asked Ms Kirby if ‘she’ could review my novel, not meaning Ms Kirby, herself, but rather, her company.

    Kirby contacted me immediately and told me she could not and would not review my material because of the conflict of interest between herself and LSP-produced works. She referred me to another person at AdC. So,in my case, at least, she did make a rudimentary attempt to distance herself from this process.

    That said, I find that the predatory nature of charging authors, anxious for review, a fee for ‘advertising’, offering the sought-after review as a carrot, is nauseating. It’s especially nauseating when principals of the company also own(ed) a publishing house catering to the needs of ‘new’ authors.

    Needless to say, I did not avail myself of the opportunities offered by AdC. I found review opportunities elsewhere.

    It should also be noted that ‘certified editor’, who has posted here, is also, or was also, a ‘reviewer’ at Affaire de Coeur.

  27. Isn’t Kirkus Reviews a separate publication from Kirkus Discoveries?

    Discoveries are published only online, and not in the magazine proper. But it’s the same company–see Kirkus’s website.

  28. I’m sorry, anonymous, but the victims DO share part of the blame in the cases of Airleaf and Lightsword. Too many aspiring writers are blinded by desperation and can’t see the obvious warning signs.

    What he said.

  29. what bothers me on this loop is that several people who’d never heard of LSP now have a skewed view of the company. ONly the negative–none of the positive.

    Ahh God bless you Patricia. I hope one day you don’t regret trusting in this shark of a woman.

    I suspect, though, that you will be butt-f**ked at some point by her, because leopards can’t actually change their spots.

  30. I want to know what Bonny Kirby was thinking when she did what she did

    At this point, I really don’t think it matters what Ms. Kirby or Ms Daly were thinking. The decision of the court makes plain that, regardless of what they were THINKING, their ACTIONS were fraudulent.

    LSP’s supporters have suggested here that this thread was purposely posted when it was to prevent Ms Daly from responding as she was on vaction at the time the thread went up. Well, she’s been home for many days, now.

    Neither she, Ms. Kirby, or their associates who have posted so visciously here, have answered any of the questions put to them. I am especially interested in answers to the questions concerning distribution. Not one of LSP’s authors, to date, has responded to questions regarding distribution.

    I really would like to know if Light Sword Publishing placed ANY authors’ books in bookstores, and, if so, where, and how many. Which titles? I’d like to know how Light Sword authors know, except by taking Linda Daly’s word for it, how many books they have sold, and where. I’d like to know if Light Sword authors have any idea what the print runs on their books have been–and where, for that matter, their books have been printed.

    One poster here, several posts back, said that LSP books are distributed through Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Amazon, etc. No, they are not. Although Ingram still has a few copies of some of LSP’s titles, under Linda Daly’s NEW company, LSP Digital, all of LSP Digital books will be POD through Amazon’s POD service, and/or Kindle. When asked, Daly refused to make clear whether or not she would also be printing books through other sources. So, there is another question that needs an answer: Where and how will LSP Digital books be printed and distributed?

    Ms Daly proclaims loud and long that she is bankrupt, that all of her money is tied up in ‘literally thousands of books’ she has printed (19 titles). I think it would be illuminating to hear how she intends to go forward if she did not have the resources to answer the lawsuits lodged against her. How does one continue to operate without funds?

    Where, if she is bankrupt, will the capital come from for her to run LSP Digital? Has Ms Daly attracted more 3% investors to her company? And speaking of investors, is there even one out there who can report any return on his/her investment? Are Daly’s remaining authors paying to keep her afloat?

    What about the future? Will LSP Digital be open to submissions anytime soon, ever?

    Finally, what qualifies Ms Daly? What kind of education does she have? Does she have business experience? If so, what companies has she operated and are those companies still in business? What publishing experience/education does she have?

    These are not tough questions. This is not an attack. This is merely an attempt to get the facts, whatever they may be. These are questions any reputable publisher would be happy to answer.

    There is only one person who can clear up these mysteries. That’s Linda Daly, herself. If she has any defense regarding the judgements against her, her partner, and her company, I think she needs to post that information here so people can make an informed decision after hearing from all parties involved. In the past, it has been Daly’s practice to front off a couple of her authors–getting them to speak for her. That won’t do.

    Thus far, the silence is deafening.

  31. Two questions:

    1. It was a default judgment against the publisher– did the defendant not show?

    2. If the judgment was for fraud would that be dischargeable in bankruptcy?

    Well four questions:

    3. Were the defendant’s jointly and severally liable?

    4. Was Light Sword Publishing created as a subchapter S corp or some other type of entity?

    One statement: I don’t do business with anyone who talks to archangels.

    DS

  32. I recently received excerpts from an interview with Ann Crispin. Most of her remarks are a mirror of Light Sword Publishing. I’m posting her comments here. I’ve cut anything not pertinent to this discussion.

    ~~~~Below are Ann’s remarks~~~

    If two or more writers report the same kind of difficulty with the publisher (late or no royalty checks, slow or no response to author inquiries, etc.), then that means you should move that publisher to the very bottom of your list. If there are multiple complaints that sound similar, cross them off altogether.

    2) What are some of the major red flags/warning signs to look for in
    detecting a publishing scam?

    1. Any mention of the author paying upfront fees of any type (also see above answer).

    2. Complaints from authors about slow or nonexistent royalty payments.

    4. Author-unfriendly contracts. Writer Beware posts analysis of these contracts from time to time. It’s amazing how lousy some marginal publisher contracts can be.

    7. Publishers that pay royalties based on net, rather than cover price, of the book.

    8. Publishers that pay a “token” advance. (One dollar is fairly common.)

    9. Publishers that, in addition to one or more of the above things, also stress (some to the extent of putting language in the contract about this) that the author alone is responsible for marketing his/her own book.

    11. Publishers that trumpet that their books are “available” in all bookstores…but you can’t find a single copy on their shelves.

    Note: If the publisher has been in business for less than a year, I would not advise submitting to it. Writer Beware has seen at least a dozen startup POD publishers and e-publishers go belly up within a year or so. Perhaps this sounds unfair to new publishers, and I apologize. But the statistics on startup publishers failing within a year to 18 months are very high. I am not saying these publishers are “scams,” believe me. I’m just cautioning writers to adopt a “wait and see” attitude until the new publisher has gotten on its feet and has become firmly established.

    3) What are some of the major red flags/warning signs to look for in
    detecting a possibly well-meaning (non-scam) but not very professional or
    competent publisher?

    What I wrote above applies here, too. In addition:

    These publishers don’t usually try to get the author to pay money upfront for publication, but they have clueless, author unfriendly contracts, their books aren’t carried on the shelves in bookstores, they pay on net, and they stress that the author must do all of his or her own marketing. Many try to present themselves as a “family” instead of a business.

    It’s a red flag if the press is publishing the owner’s books.

  33. Hi Everyone,

    This is the second time I have posted here on this site. The first time I defended Light Sword Publishing. This time I would like to share my story.

    Linda Daly is a very cunning woman and she is very good at weaving dreams for people. She lives in a fantasy world. The sad part is she actually believes the lies she tells.

    I worked for Ms. Daly and it was a nightmare. I worked as an event coordinator. Those of you who believe your books are available and she has done all these wonderful things for you, I am sorry she hasn’t. Your books are print on demand and most of them are not available.

    I know this because I was responsible for setting up your events and book-signings. I talked to many book stores and they would come back with, “I would love to have the author but their books are unavailable for order.” It was disheartening. Then it got to where Ms. Daly would sign a contract with the store to sell the books on consignment. Anyway it was a big mess.

    I am also a writer, well I should say a writer in training. During the time that I worked for LSP, I sent a manuscript to Linda and she wanted publish it. I decided against it. I saw way to much petty arguing among the authors and her. I did not want to go through all of that.

    I messaged Ms. Strauss to let her know some of the issues and she enlightened where I had gone wrong in my information. A year later and wiser I would advise against sending anything to Light Sword Publishing.

    I worked there for 6 months and was never paid a dime for my services. I set up the event at Motown in Michigan. I also set up the book-signing at the new book store in Texas after the festival. Shortly after setting those up Linda decided that I was no longer of value for the company and she let me go.

    Please take this warning to heart, do not send your work to Light Sword Publishing. Take the proper steps and send your work to reliable publishing houses. If it is worthy of being published then it will be.

    Bright Blessings,

  34. Thank you for posting your experiences with Ms Daly, Concerned Writer.

    What’s been toughest through all of this are those friends of mine still with LSP who have talked to me for many hours–on the phone and online–about Ms Daly, her unprofessional behavior, and her dreadful publishing practices; but then, when these things came to light, chose, instead of the facts, to ‘hang’ with Daly and call me a liar–and worse!

    As I’ve said before, I feel very bad for them. In the end, I hope they come to realize that they have no one to blame but LSP–and, because they remain involved when they know the facts–themselves.

  35. Light Sword Digital’s troubles seem to be compounding. Apparently, financial action has been taken in Michigan regarding the suit that’s been discussed here and LSP accounts have been attached. According to my source ‘inside’ the company, things at LSP Digital have reached critical mass.

  36. Will someone please explain to me the moral integrity of Ms Daly. How does a publisher find herself in deep trouble, both financially and publicly, and yet she closes down LS Publishing LLC and re-opens under LS Digital LLC without a conscience?

    The courts do not place judgements on innocent business owners. There has to be enough evidence to substantiate their rulings.

    It just amazes me that her ‘stable of authors’ have signed new contracts under LSD. Has she declared bankruptsy? What happens to her shareholders who bought stock? Did her employees get paid?

  37. Well, take heart! Apparently, some of those left at LSP Digital have finally wized-up. Two of them have left the company in the last few days. Why Daly continues with this sham of a house is a mystery to me. Looking at the book stats on Amazon, none of the remaining LSP titles are selling worth beans, if at all. But what do you expect when what little advertising that has been sent out is amateurishly created and full of grammar and spelling errors my 4th grader could pick out?

    It’s all a shame and especially sad when supposedly professional authors cannot recognize when they’ve been scammed. Please, Victoria, don’t let this topic die! It’s been said that Linda Daly has considered turning her attention to becoming a literary agent. If that is true, then it is more important than ever that her activities continue to be monitored and reported on.

  38. WHAT! Well, of course, what’s easier than being a fake publisher? A fake agent!!! We all know that a serious agent’s work is never done, but what about one that encourages you to “market your wares?” A piece of cake!

  39. I have just learned that Michigan civil authorities have attached the bank accounts of both Light Sword Publishing and Linda Daly, in Michigan. Similar actions are pending against Bonny Kirby in Texas. I have also been informed that the civil attorney for the plaintiff against Daly has returned to court in Michigan in preparation of seizing physical assets from Daly and Light Sword to satisfy the civil judgements in question.

    It has also been suggested that Daly’s continued defiance of court orders may result in a contempt citation.

    Although both Daly and Kirby have alleged that they would/will file appeals in these matters, neither has done so. The time limit for such filings is long passed. At this point, they have no alternative but to cooperate with civil authorities or face further sanctions.

    Meanwhile, Daly at LSP Digital has released two more titles, her own ‘Sea Of Lies’ and a second title by another of her authors. Both titles are being published by Amazon’s POD arm, Booksurge.

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