Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
Many of you may already be familiar with the names in the title of this post. If you’re not, have a look at this Alert on the Writer Beware website, and at my September 2009 post about the Florida Attorney General’s civil lawsuit against Fletcher, his companies, and some of his business associates for deceptive business practices.
For those of you wondering about the status of the lawsuit, it’s still active, and proceeding through the courts. Lawsuits of this kind often progress very slowly, especially where defendants seek to delay the process by filing jurisdictional disputes, motions for changes in venue, and the like. We will be posting updates as we receive them.
EDITED MAY 2014 TO ADD: The lawsuit has been settled, with Strategic and Fletcher ordered to pay restitution to authors. A full report is here.
Several months after SBPRA published The Distant Echo of a Bright Summer day, I checked my royalties and discovered they had sold a grand total of 5 books. I was dismayed, to say the least, as I had been promised universal publicity — China, Europe, Australia, India, etc. I did not expect my book to become a bestseller (though it would have been nice), but I did expect a respectable showing; the law of average, if nothing else, should have guaranteed that. Adding further insult to injury, I eventually got locked out of an ability to check on my royalties. Despite numerous attempts, I was denied access. After a time, fatalism too over. Not knowing where to turn (I got no response from SBPRA), and knowing that legal recourse would be too expensive and problematic, I said the hell with it. Next time, I'd try harder to interest a brick-and-mortar publisher. Lately, however — and on and off for the past couple of years — I checked my website (they did do that for me) and the oddest thing was, both Amazon and Barnes and Noble always showed used copies of my book for sale, along with listing a 16.95 to 22.95 price for a new paperback edition. Strange, considering that SBPRA seemed to write me off as one of their failed projects. If so, why do used copies of my book keep turning on those two sites and why is it priced so high? Somebody must be buying the damn thing! And somebody must be making some money off it. Would you think? But the problem now is to find out what's going on. The problem is how to contact Amazon and Barnes and Noble to learn just how many of my books have been sold. Once I learn that (if I can), I can then approach SBPRA and start asking questions. Perhaps that approach may not work, but if anybody has a better idea, I'd like to hear it. In the meantime, I'll entertain fantasies about kicking Robert Fletcher where it hurts to the most. Scoundrel is too nice a word — sociopathic scumbag is better!
I have been contacted by both Finn Partners and SBPRA. Repeatedly. They can't write a decent email. LOL! SBPRA argues with the facts (that they have changed their name over 40 times since 2001) and Finn is another cut throat self-publisher. I've published 7 books with Lulu and now Amazon. My 7th "The Kimono" will go to Amazon.com next week. These two above are total scammers, wanting from 5,000-15,000.00 for their 'services'. And they don't read anything, except go on the offense. They downplay Amazon, etc…but their track record is horrible. I am just deleting them now and not arguing with these liars. Finn Partners also support tobacco companies, and have launched anti environmental programs. They are not someone that I would care to be associated.
If this comment reaches the ears of one author to help from falling into these traps, than this is worthwhile. Recognize that these companies are not trying to help you sell books, they are making their money getting authors to buy their services. They don't care if your book sells or not. Some may even promote their marketing area, but all their marketing does is try to get the author to buy his own book to sell. Books do not sell without professional promotional abilities. The skills to promote your book to the large buyers for libraries, book stores, book clubs, etc. There are several publishers that will promote you book at no cost to you, but still do not have the appropriate promotional talents. I am a retire CFO before becoming author. The book publication world is the largest business scam I have ever seen.
Legitimate publishers do NOT ask authors for any money.
End of story.
I am a published author through publish america now america star books have not recieved any royalties to date but it shows my book being sold all over the world
I self published using Amazon's Create Space – I controlled everything, & though that meant more work for me to do, it was worth it. I paid them to edit it and to make a cover, but I am pretty much in control of everything.
I got an email out of nowhere from Yorkshire Publishing this week, and – well, just copying the first few lines (that got me interested):
"As 2017 comes to a close, we wanted to take an opportunity to reach out to you. We know that in the past you had been working on completing a manuscript for publication. If you still have an interest in exploring your options – we would enjoy the chance to work with you.
"As you may know, this year has been a big year for Yorkshire Publishing.
"Yorkshire Publishing has republished over 400 new titles for authors who found the doors to their previous publisher barred unexpectedly. While Republishing their books – we have been working diligently to build a positive publisher/author relationship with them. We have been able to turn their bad experience into a much more enjoyable one with Yorkshire Publishing."
When I finally had a second to look them up, I found this blog. I'm not sure how they fit into this scenario, but the fact that this came up (& someone mentioned Tate was a part of it all) I'm figuring this applies to the email I just got.
(Tate Publishing no longer, & now operates under Yorkshire)
Well – I guess I'll just delete their email. The whole unsolicited email thing made me suspicious, but when you're dreaming of people reading your book, your interest automatically gets piqued when you read these buzz words…
I've self published 25 titles through Amazon. It's easy, and free. They don't market for you or edit though unless you pay. But I've been really happy with them.
I had a contract with Strategic. I was horrible. I eventually won my rights to my book back when they breached their contract but it was a rough few years.
People can complain and be unsatisfied with with publishers. I have read about problems that some people had with this publisher. But like I just told Ken if a person does not keep up their part of the contract they can't expect for the publisher, to do it all, to keep up both sides of the contract. It is a 50/50 joint venture publishing.contract with a $2,500 dollar advance if the first book makes 1,500 sales and they decide to publish the second book.
The contract is binding, but either person can walk away from it. If they see you are not going to keep your part of the contract, they can keep your money and cancel the contract because that is written in the contract.
If you put $200 on a $1,900 contract and later decide to break it because of dissatisfaction with the publisher, you can walk out of the contract but you can't get that money back because you already signed the contract and accepted that clause.
I love the contract with Strategic, I just want to make sure that they fulfill their end of the bargain. So I count the cost, check with the BB, and any scratches that they have had in former contracts.
And those publishers are not obligated to fulfill their part of the publishers contract if you have not given them the joint venture standard contract amount, When the company did not complete their part of the contract or they were slow about completing it, authors got mad, and ridiculed them online.
I understand both sides but a joint venture publishing contract means that both sides are expected to publish the book equally. And of course, publishers will slack on their job until they receive the contract amount to move the book forth.
And some authors complained that they did not receive the royalties. The publisher is not going to give them royalties if the authors did not hold up their part of the contract. If you still owe the contract amount.
If you don't put anything in the pot, you can't expect to take anything out of it………….
I love the contract, but authors have to realize what they are signing into and stick with the contract. I understand what the publisher and contract is saying….it is clear but authors shouldn't read more into the contract than what is already written in it…..
Is it that Strategic doesn't pay you at all if your royalties are under $25, or that they don't send a check until your royalties total $25? The first would be cheating you. The second would be standard practice for many smaller publishers and/or self-publishing services, which don't want to have to cut checks or deal with Paypal for small amounts.
Once upon a time, Strategic only paid royalties if authors asked for payment. Is that still true?
The book fairs are a way for Strategic to reach into their authors' wallets yet again, by extracting payment for catalog listings. For that reason alone I'd suggest that authors not participate.
I don't think you need to worry about your book being published overseas without your knowledge. Strategic has done a number of overseas distribution deals, whereby its already-published books are made available to overseas consumers, but I'm not aware that it has had much (if any) success with rights marketing.
I am a published author with Strategic and while I receive periodic royalty reports, I find them confusing. Also, I do not understand the "rule" that Strategic doesn't pay royalties UNDER $25. I don't know HOW many authors they published but I estimate in the thousands. Is it legal to hold indefinitely any amount of royalties? If you have thousands x less than $25 the amount in Strategic's account is substantial. Also, for the few times I received royalties, I had to wait.
The other problem I encountered, I paid $450 for them to format the e-pub electronic version and when I asked for the book because I wanted to leave the company, I was told they cannot and will NOT give it to me because the contract says it applies only when tey market it.
The International Book Fairs are another story and I withdrew from that arrangement because their explanation as to how do we know especially in Asia the books from the catalogues are not published without our knowledge. It was unclear when Strategic sells a catalogue, what is it to stop to whatever country they sold the catalogue to not publish. After all, my understanding is Strategic sells the catalog, so doesn't this mean they made there money? How about the authors whose work is in the catalog? I am very upset and confused.Any suggestions are much appreciated. Thank you.
Thanks for your comment, Karen. Would you be willing to share how much you paid Strategic to publish and market your book?
I am a published author with Strategic Book Publishing, and would recommend them to anyone. My book is doing well, and the people, including Robert Fletcher, are a pleasure!
Thanks for your comment, Robin. Am I right in guessing that you paid Strategic for publishing and illustrating your book, and for taking it to BookExpo America?
Also, please see my update to this post, in which I link to my report on the outcome of the lawsuit (which has been settled, with Fletcher and Strategic ordered to pay restitution to authors).
I am a successful author who's publisher IS Strategic books and Publishing Rights Agency. They have followed through on every aspect of my contract, which I took to a lawyer before signing so that I was aware of what I could expect from them. They have delivered! Look me up, my award winning Children's book Zoo on the Moon is having more success than I ever dreamed possible! Through my publisher it was selected at Book Expo America, for curriculum in 147 countries. I loved working with my illustrator who was able to capture my thoughts with her aware winning illustrations. My 2nd book June Bug Jamboree debuts this week. Whether you are self published or under contract, YOU must do the majority of the marketing yourself, that's just the way it is!
Robin Martin Duttmann zooonthemoon.com
When I wrote my non-fiction book, I started trying to get a traditional agent and publisher, and worked at it for about a year. I then decided I just needed to get the book out into the world and I would find a way to do it myself. Being a kitchen design and renovation book, it had many full color photos, so did not fall within the parameters of any of the Amazon & Lulu type of self publishing options. Strategic came across my radar, but thankfully my editor gave me the heads up about their reputation, so I dodged that bullet. However, I ended up with one that I consider to be just as bad. I can't decide if they are deliberately fraudulent or just wildly incompetent. But whichever is the case, writers beware of Yorkshire Publishing. They single handedly ruined my launch and control the royalties. I rarely get updates or statements from them and I don't know whether my book is legitimately not selling or whether they are just withholding royalites. I get quarterly checks from Bookbaby from my e-book version, so I can not believe that if the e-book is selling, the paper version is completely dead. I hope no one has the misfortune of dealing with this heinous company.
I paid SBP a large sum of money to get my book published and marketed.
To date, they have sold fewer than a dozen books. I don't claim to have written a bestseller, but the story was not all that bad, nor was the writing. Basically, I got screwed by slick con artists. What I need to know at this point is, How do I become part of the current lawsuit against this "fly-by-night" outfit?
I have to add that I used Llumina Press in Florida (why are they all in FLA or CAL?) and have been essentially satisfied. It's POD, my required purchase was one book (I got 50) and I was using them to get a local interest historical piece off my plate. They offered services (editing, etc.) but did not push it. I hired my own editor and paid about 1/2 their fee, but that was just a fluke, I figure – had a friend who does proofreading and so saved on that as well. Overall, however, though they (Llumina offered all the same stuff of these others mentioned, they never pushed and the delivery was on time and at stated cost. –
…but every publishing company isn't Strategic Book Publishing!
Every publishing co. has positive and negative reports, but I would not condemn any, instead be cautious. Each person's experience will be different.
Thanks for the information.
I almost send them part of my manuscript. Luckily I google their name and came upon this site. Thanks to the site owners.
I am in a big mess with SBPRA to. I have already paid $995 US and they are asking for more. I have sent them the cover infor and press contact. have signed everythig online. I am so confused,and sad. I have contacted global ews. We need to stop them. This is not fair to novice writers and publishers. They are stealing from us and ruining our reputation and credibility as aspiring writers.
I almost fell for this scam too. I received a contract offer from these guys, and they want me to pay an upfront fee of 200 U.S dollars. I live in South Africa, and these guys have already taken half of my work. I haven't signed he so-called contract yet. What must I do?
Thanks for the heads up. I have been doing business with Lulu.com for about five years. I have published 11 novels through them, and have personally sold around 200 copies. I've never paid Lulu a dime, except the price of the book, which is not outrageous since they're doing the printing, binding covers, photos, etch.
Lulu offers marketing packages. Those do cost, and I have not tried them.
Tate Publishing charges $4,000 to publish (though you might never guess it from its website).
Amazon's CreateSpace (POD self-publishing) and Kindle Direct Publishing (for ebooks) are both free (though you can also buy more expensive packages and adjunct services). They both seem to be well-regarded in the self-pub community. You might also investigate Lulu.com, which is also free.
Well I have to say that my heart dropped when I read the question about one I the other publishers being Tate. It is indeed one of the publishers. Are they equally jaded as SBPRA? My hearts wants a reply of no while my head seems to already know……
Does anyone know anything about the self-publishing through Amazon? I have a story to tell and I want, no need, to tell it. Any sound advice will do…
Thanks is advance….
…and one of those 'other' publishers looking for a little more for a publicist wouldn't happen to be Tate?
I have in my hand a contract from SBPRA waiting for my more than eager signature to start me on my way to being published. Thankfully before I signed and paid my one time setup fee I thought to do a google search about their company. We are a military family stationed overseas with four kids, money does not flow as easily as my dreams and wild ideas do on paper. My heart is broken and I am truly saddened that I was taken advantage of and my dreams exploited!
I was also sent a contract from two other publishing companies, one of which wants a bit more money for a publicist. Are there any words of advice or wisdom out there?
Hans, contact me at beware [at] sfwa.org.
I've a publishing contract with Strategic Book Publishing that is now in its final, cover-design, phase. Suddenly, doing a related Google search, I came across the Writer Beware Blog and read all the negative opinions about Mr. Fletcher and his group. Other blogs echo similar concerns. I now have to decide whether to proceed with letting Strategic publish my book of fiction, or cancel the deal, and swallow the loss. I've two earlier, non-fiction, books to my name, published commercially, and I'm worried that the Strategic name as publisher of the new book will harm my reputation as a writer. I will welcome any comments!
Thank you for this information. I always find this extremely useful.
Wow! as someone working to create a slightly different publishing model that is very protective of certain kinds of blog, poem, and fiction authors, I am amazed.
Thing is, my layman's view is that it's unfortunate that the Fletchers of the world don't put the same amount of effort into doing something different in the small press publishing arena, but designed to treat an author RIGHT.
After all, we new authors can always use more smaller but author centric authors and publishers that actually LIKE to help develop new authors and works, not just take all the profit from our hard work, yes?
Just reposted and retweeted—thanks again to Writer Beware!!!