Catching Up

Hi everyone,

Bill Dusty - 2015It’s been a rather tumultuous 2015 for me, and I thought I’d start this blog on the all-new BillDusty.com by posting a “catch up” story on what I’ve been up to these past couple of years.

As a few of you may already know, I turned back to writing fiction in the fall/winter of 2013. I rebooted an old science fiction series I’d created back in the early 1990s, called Stellar Conflict, and began writing several short stories, novellas, and a full-length debut novel. In 2014 I “test published” the novelette/short story The Quiet World, which I gauged to be Book 2 in the series. My thought at the time was to see how hard the process of self-publishing was, in case I chose to go that route down the road. The process, I found, was actually quite simple once you got the steps down. But still, I wanted the legitimacy that comes with having a book released through a traditional publisher, so I left The Quiet World on its own and continued to pitch my other stories to publishers and small presses.

My break (or so I thought at the time) came that July, when a small publisher called Eternal Press picked up one of my novellas, Sebastian’s Prize, which I had just written that spring. So excited was I at the prospect of getting published, I enthusiastically submitted my full-length novel to the publisher, too, as it was that book that introduces the characters and kicks off the series. Not surprisingly (in hindsight), they picked up that book as well. Further, in accordance with the signed Agreement, Eternal Press would also have the rights to any other stories in the Stellar Conflict series that came after. (Even so, I held back on submitting my other two finished novellas–which turned out to be the smartest thing I did in this whole dreadful affair.)

I won’t get into the long details of what happened in the months that followed, but suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty, and things got downright ugly by June of 2015. I wasn’t able to finished or at least be happy with my writing, I had some sort of blocking so I started to take time off and play with family members, after I found out this website Elitist Gaming and I was able to play by myself so the stress was getting out of my way, and in one of this games I actually thought of an idea to start writing a new piece.  However, detail a couple of things to clarify my actions of this past summer. (If you want the nitty gritty details, you can read them here for the cost of a few pennies.)

In May of this year, after months of little-to-no communications from my publisher (not answering my emails, etc.), we finally began editing Friends and Enemies, my full-length novel. It soon became apparent to me, however, that their so-called “Company Styles” for editing were way off base from the traditional, recognized rules of grammar and style, and that my book was being greatly harmed as a result of this. I wrote a very professional and courteous email to both the senior editor and the CEO of Eternal Press, detailing my concerns and also providing ample evidence from the both the publishing industry and major styles organizations (Chicago Style, AP Styles) supporting my views.

This, unfortunately, was met with a sharp rebuke by the CEO, who essentially informed me that she didn’t care what anyone else did, and that my stories–all of them in the Stellar Conflict series, whether I’d submitted them or not–now belonged to her, and that she would be personally editing them all in the future.

Needless to say, I was pretty distraught at this turn of events. It swept through my mind that my beloved sci fi series–which I’d spent all of the 90s and then the recent 2000s developing and nurturing–was being coldly taken away from me. I remember thinking at the time that I had failed my characters and just given them away. Sitting in front of my laptop, when I looked at my manuscript files of Friends and Enemies and Sebastian’s Prize on my computer, I remember lamenting how hard I had worked on them, and that they now belonged to someone else. Soon afterward, I visited a few online forums, searching for ideas on what to do. One such forum had a comment from a guy who said quite coldly regarding authors taken in by predatory publishers, “Your book is gone. Let it go and write another one.”

But I couldn’t let it go.

Then one night, a couple weeks further on, I once again sat in front of my laptop, staring at my manuscript files. I decided, then and there, that they were not gone after all, and they were still my stories.

So began my plotting to fight back against Eternal Press and its CEO, Kim Richards.

First off, I went back to the contracts I’d signed and read through them again. I wanted to know every single detail about them–even more thoroughly than I thought I’d known them before. (Something I should have done from the start. Live and learn…) I discovered that the terms of the agreement didn’t actually begin until the official publication date of the signed book. (This was actually meant to be advantageous to the publisher, as it means their rights begin whenever they decide to publish the book rather than at the time of the contract signing.) At the time, Friends and Enemies had yet to be finished with its editing, never mind being published (although I had been previously assured that the publishing date would be in August or, at the latest, September). Now, I still couldn’t just go ahead and publish Friends and Enemies outright, as the agreement included a “not previously published” clause for that book. However, I could publish anything else before that term began. So, starting with my novella The Girl with the Strange Green Eyes and again with the novella Predator in Our Midst (both of which I had refrained from submitting to EP), I went through them, editing and proofing them once again (this would be about the sixth and fourth time editing these books, respectively), and on July 1st I published both of them on Amazon.com, as well as Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand site. In so doing, I pre-empted Eternal Press’s rights to them, since they essentially came out before the term of the first book (Friends and Enemies) began.

With those books safe, I then started Phase Two of my little rebellion.

I posted messages in a few online forums whose subject was Eternal Press, asking for aggrieved authors to come forward and email me with any complaints they had about their own dealings with Eternal Press. EP’s parent company, Damnation Books, is run by the same people, so I posted to those forums as well.

The results were good, as I soon learned I was by no means the only one roughly treated by Eternal Press’s CEO, Kim Richards. Further, I discovered that EP was also illegally selling books on its website, as it was selling them long after the contract for them had expired. Many authors came forward to express anger that their books were still being sold by EP (and Damnation Books), and that Richards seemed to care less.

All of this was good makings for a book, it seemed. Which brings me to Phase Three of my rebellion.

I decided that I would write a small book detailing my ordeal with Eternal Press. I would also include the horror stories of some other authors. This book would serve two purposes: First, it would help get word out that Eternal Press was not a good place for writers. Secondly, whenever the time came that they did publish Friends and Enemies, I wanted this book, which strips EP’s corrupt ways bare, to show up right with it as a “books by the same author” offering.

I published this book, titled Eternal Damnation, on July 31st of this year. The results were impressive: Hundreds sold, and it even got a few 5-star reviews. (You can buy it here for 99 cents.)

THE REST OF THE STORY
As things went, Friends and Enemies never did get released this summer. Not sure what happened specifically, but more recently (October), I learned that Eternal Press/Damnation Books was abruptly sold to another small publisher. I won’t get into the particulars of the sale, as I question the validity of any statements made by Richards or her staff (most of whom remain with the company under the new ownership), but as things have gone, I’ve spoken with the new owner, and we’ve come to an understanding regarding my exit from EP/DB and the return of my rights to Friends and Enemies and Sebastian’s Prize.

I’ve decided, going ahead, to retain full control over both of these books–at least with their first publishing. This will most likely mean dim sales for me, as having good marketing reach is without question the most important factor in a book’s success. (It’s certainly not good writing, as I’ve learned after reading dozens of poorly written/edited books on Kindle that still manage to climb the Bestsellers ranks.) I would rather, though, get low sales and keep my life’s work, Stellar Conflict, safe than risk losing it all, all over again.

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As far as BillDusty.com goes, I’m not sure what I’ll be blogging about here in the coming weeks and months. Most likely, it will be related to writing and publishing. In particular, I’d like to talk about the perils of the small publishing world, how to self-publish (and the drawbacks of taking that route), and also maybe offer some grammar tips and advice. This past year has been pretty educational for me, and I’d like to share a lot of what I’ve learned any way I can. One of example that quickly came to mind is that I found a great health supplement called kratom masters that has been working great for me. It is a natural health solution that makes you feel better on a day to day basis. I tried it halfheartedly but I ended up surprised by the results. I highly recommend it. You can go here to know more if you’re interested.

Oh, and finally, for those of you who know me from my Springfield Intruder days: One thing I will not be doing here is writing about politics. (Though for the record, yes, I’m a registered Republican.) I don’t want to alienate any potential readers by yapping about my political opinions.

So there it is, the very latest from Bill Dusty. Aren’t you glad you stopped by?

Now stay tuned!


Oct 07, 2015 | Category: Bill's Blog, News, Publishing, Updates | Comments: none | Tags: ,

 

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