More Publisher Storm Warnings

Header image: dark, stormy sky with lightning flash (credit: Den Rozhnovsky /

A roundup of recent publisher troubles and closures that have come across my desk:

Noble Romance Publishing

Noble, the subject of numerous author complaints (and those are just the ones that are still online; a number of others have been deleted in the past few months) since owner Jill Noble departed abruptly last year and left the company in the hands of Jean Gombart, is finally closing its doors.

There’s still no indication of the closing on the company’s website, where as of this writing submissions are still being sought.

Mercury Retrograde Press

This nice small press for which I provided a blurb a few years ago, is closing its doors as of January 2014.

Vanilla Heart Publishing

Authors have reportedly experienced a multitude of problems, including badly edited and formatted ebooks, missing and incorrect royalty payments and statements, failure to register copyrights as required by the contract, and disposition of subsidiary rights not included in the contract. This post from one author provides more detail. It’s similar to private complaints Writer Beware has received about this publisher.

I’ve seen a recent Vanilla Heart contract. Its major problem is that there’s no grant term–the publisher simply takes exclusive publishing rights for an unstated period of time–and the author has the right to terminate only if the publisher breaches the contract and fails to correct the breach, or if it doesn’t publish within 18 months (or 24 months if causes “beyond its control” delay publication). Otherwise, termination is entirely at the publisher’s discretion. It’s ironic that it’s Vanilla Heart’s apparent bad behavior that enabled its authors to get free; if there had been no problems, Vanilla Heart could have held on to those authors indefinitely.

Eternal Press/Damnation Books (now an imprint of Caliburn Press)

Author Terri Bruce has won a Temporary Restraining Order in her ongoing dispute with the publisher, which allegedly inserted hundreds of errors into her books and refused to publish a corrected version. Writer Beware has received another very similar complaint, and other complaints are online.

Recent Eternal/Damnation contracts include “termination penalties” of up to $1,000 for “premature” termination of the contract by the author (an example can be seen here). Such penalties (a.k.a. kill fees) are a red flag; they obviously don’t benefit authors (and can be used to harass and browbeat them), but they don’t really benefit publishers either. See my blog post on this subject for more detail.

UPDATE 9/27/13: Terri Bruce’s lawsuit was settled September 10, with Eternal Press ordered to stop publishing Terri’s books and to return her rights.

UPDATE September 2015: Eternal Press/Damnation Books has been purchased by Alan Leddon of Caliburn Press/Spero Publishing. Writer Beware is receiving complaints of unpaid royalties.

UPDATE 11/26/16: Over the past few months, Writer Beware has received numerous reports of problems at Caliburn Press (formerly Damnation Books). Complaints include publication delays, nonpayment of royalties, high staff turnover, and allegations of money missing from business accounts.

Cedar Fort

This LDS-focused publisher has canceled publication of a book over one of the co-authors’ refusal to remove the word “partner” from his author bio, fearing that their distributors would refuse to carry a book with any whiff of gayness.

And in Addition…

In case you haven’t seen them, over the past couple of weeks I’ve posted Alerts about Iconic Publishing (attempted copyright theft) and American Book Publishing (a notorious vanity publisher that is now doing business under several different names and aliases).


  1. Alan Leddon's comment that "HUGE changes are being made…" is the biggest joke I've heard yet. The original Damnation/Eternal group looks competent compared to what this chump generates: no royalties paid to most authors to date and forget about getting any sort of publication date. It's just one lame excuse after the other. Victoria Strauss of SFWA has been keeping taps on this crook, based on the many complaints she's received. Stay away from him and any of his related companies,like Spero and Caliburn. Bad news all the way. An absolute disgrace to the business.

  2. Have heard nothing but bad things about Vanilla Heart's treatment of authors and the quality of publishing, etc. Yuk.Too bad these horrible parasites can manage to stay in business.

  3. I have recently purchased Eternal Press and Damnation Books. HUGE changes are being made in both imprints and how they operate.
    Please don't judge my companies by past owners.

  4. I also think PDMI should be put on this list, too. I was an author with them and they were terrible. When I canceled they kept my royalties. I had to pay them out even! That, in my book, is stealing. They are awful. Their editing is a joke. Their business manager is a tyrant, they expect everyone to give, give, give, and then no one gets anything in return. Their department heads don't even get paid!

    I had to go through all of my books before they published and found so many errors, I lost count. When I complained, I was told I was the problem. I count myself lucky to be away from them.

  5. I agree with PDMI Publishing being added to the list. I had a book published with them, and no longer work with them. They did not deliver on all which they said that they would do, I did not receive enough work to validate the thousands of dollars which I paid them. I definitely do not recommend working with them.

  6. When I heard word from Noble about the closing I immediately got in touch with my other publisher who instantly took my two Noble books. So no loss there, and I'm certain they'll do better at their new house.

  7. Vanilla Heart has lot the majority of its author over the past few weeks. They've gone from having a fairly large roster to about four or five – and two of them are the same author just writing under a pen name. They had some good authors there, like S.R. Claridge, Smoky Zeidel and Collin Kelley, who has already had another press pick up his books. Hopefully all those authors will find better homes for their work.

  8. PDMI a freelance publisher should also be added to this list..It pretty much is similar to the complaints of Vanilla..I've been threatened with discussing my dealings with them on all social media and have yet to receive any royalties.
    I did receive a letter from their attorney requesting my social for them to release my earnings, but as I replied back to their attorney that they did have it, and I was concerned about giving it to them a 2nd time and accepting any royalties without actual proof of the books earnings would not be in my best interest..I never did hear back from their attorney afterward.
    I requested termination of my contract after several people told me that they had not seen their royalties for a year..Another author told me she paid thousands for editing and only published it days before the book release and it was a total mess.

  9. Dorrance is one of the oldest of the vanity presses (established long before the digital age) but has re-tooled itself in recent years to look more like a self-publishing service. Still, it's very expensive–if you want to self-publish, there are many much cheaper options. Also, they're notorious for spamming and cold-call solicitations. See my blog post.

  10. That's good to know, Jaye–thanks.

    I hope other authors will post here to let us know about their experiences.

  11. Noble has unhitched their database from their website, so they are no longer selling books, so that's a start.

    As far as I can tell, they've removed all ebook titles from retailers that they directly control, e.g. Amazon (ebooks only, as PODs are handled by a third-party – Lightning Source/Ingram, I believe).

    I wrote to the contact person (who is NOT the CEO or the owner, neither of whom I have ever had any contact with) requesting a rights reversion letter for my titles, which I received within 48 hours.

    The past two years were a stress-filled struggle dealing with them, but it appears (at least, in my personal experience), that they are bowing out in a proper and expedient manner.


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