Todays flurry of emails from my ever-so-honest ex-publisher Shaela Montague-Phillips looks like this:
The first letter from her:
Hi Erin:To which I responded with:
Although you are extremely upset at me...I have tried my best to please you.
I have decided to go to LuLu.com. I am converting all of the authors I
ever published over to them. They give a nice quality. I have converted
your book, in which it is available on perfect bound. Please contact me
immediately if you do not want your book sold on this site. You may add
more poetry or add things additionally to your bio. I think you will be
able to trust this company and so will your family and friends. So your
book is now available. Here is the site http://www.lulu.com/content/355683
Again, I am sorry for all the trouble I have caused. Any pain that I added
on to your life. I am learning alot. So here it is...please contact me
ShaelaWhich was followed by this:
Absolutely DO NOT print my book through Lulu or any where else. Our contract has been fulfilled and has expired, and you have NO RIGHT to do so. If I want my book printed through Lulu.com, I can do so myself. You think you can just keep contacting me every so often -
there will be NO MORE of you doing anything with my poetry and profiting off of it and screwing me out of it. I'm done. If you print my book through Lulu --or any other printer, publisher, or press, including Kinkos AND your friends Minuteman Press-- I can't even begin to explain how much trouble there is going to be.
You've cheated me out of my money, cheated me out of my books, chose the period during which my infant son was in the hospital to approach me with a "reconciliation" and now THIS? I just buried my son, LEAVE ME ALONE, LEAVE MY BOOK ALONE, DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN, and ABSOLUTELY DO NOT REPRINT MY BOOK EVER.
Why in hell would anyone want you to print their book through Lulu? Why would anyone want you to profit off of their book when it costs you nothing to publish through lulu, and they can do it themselves and get ALL the profit? I can't believe you're still emailing me. Damn straight I trust Lulu, I just don't trust you to be honest about how many copies sell, or to actually give me all of my sales.
Ok...its your choice...its unavailable.and then, in quick succession, this:
I never cheated you out of money, believe me, it costs more to publishMy next response to her was then this:
regardless if its minuteman or what. Whats interesting was that it was the
same company that did the books before, you were pleased. I never asked for
any money from you. I didn't know your son was passing when I came back to
you. Oneday, I had enough time to breath and so I could afford to make
things happen again. Regardless if I go through Lulu or another press, its
the same, you could have done self- publishing along time ago with out me.
I was trying to help. Would it help you if I gave you a receipt for the
books I made, to show you I didn't cheat you, that I spent more money on
your books than what I expected. Would it help you if I went to paypal and
got all the sales to show you exactly how many books were sold. Then we
could compare notes. You have been rude and nasty, yet I have been postive.
I have had an up and down year, and nothing could be worse than losing a
child. I didn't mean to disturb you again, only excited by what I could
provide. Again the book is marked unavailable. Like all the books I make,
I print up some to sell at my shows. So you may have copies floating in
Pittsburgh. I am allowed to do that! My client list off of the net, has
been blessed. The grants that I received gave them and me opportunities. I
wish that I could have handled this another way. I lost you as a friend,
and you were a good one. I made my mistakes as far as being a new business
owner, but I shouldn't be condemned...because unlike the people you claim
that hate my work...I have 30 new authors that loved what I have done for
them. I have fought for them to have quality and experience being an
author...my online authors suffered. However, I am trying to make all this
up to everyone.
I am not a bad person. I am only 26 and learning. I don't pretend to know
everything...I learn from experiences. So I thank you for giving me this
opportunity. And on a personal note, I pray that through your family's time
of mourning that you will stay blessed.
Thank you for your time
OK, first of all, it is your guilty conscience that makes you continue to contact me. Your practices have been (and continue to be) illegal and unethical. My contract was with Meeting of the Minds and Chapbook Enterprises (NOT IGFM). The contract has been fulfilled, and has expired. You no longer own any copyright to my work, and no longer have the right to print, publish, sell or distribute Poetic Acceptance in any way shape or form. I'm also due 100% of the sale of all those copies sold and distributed at your local events.And the final in this extension of absurdity was this:
As for your Paypal statement, I have no way of knowing if that's a complete listing. Those statements are easily altered when copied and pasted into an email.
You continue to remind me of how you never asked me for money, and I've already said, repeatedly, that you did not, however, you DID keep all money from my sales for an extra eight months, at which point you didn't send me the money you owed me, rather you sent a MUCH smaller than promised batch of chapbooks in lieu of my "re-order." You owed me FIFTY you sent SIXTEEN, and yet you maintain that you didn't cheat me out of anything. YOU DID NOT LIVE UP TO YOUR END OF OUR CONTRACT.
You want this to end amicably? OK,
1. REMOVE my book from Lulu (making it unavailable to the public is entirely different than removing it, I want it OFF Lulu completely.)
2. DO NOT print, publish, sell or distribute any more copies of Poetic Acceptance, ever.
3. Make a donation in the amount of the sales I was owed ($45.00) to the American Heart Association via this link: http://heartwalk.kintera.org/charlottenc/novasheart, at
which time I will gladly return the 16 copies that constituted my "re-order."
4. Admit (to me, not some big public exclamation) that you've screwed me by sending me 16 inferior quality Minute Man Express copies, rather than 50 professionally printed copies, as I was promised via the packet you sent me when we entered this contract.
I'm thrilled for the writers that have had a positive experience - but that does not in any way diminish the negative experience I've had with you. I wish them all the greatest of successes. And as for you saying "I am not a bad person. I am only 26 and learning. I don't pretend to know everything...I learn from experiences." That doesn't excuse any of your practices Shaela, and it certainly doesn't excuse the fact that you continue to defend those practices. How long will you continue to use inexperience as an excuse?
I paid more than 45.00 for your books. I am not donating anything us. I
donated my time. I am allowed to have my private files stored at which I
keep them on Lulu. I am allowed to do that. I never owned copyrights to
your book. You are not due 100% of the books I sale privately. Where are
you coming up with this. My inexperience as a publisher was during the time
I published you. I have grown. Whether you excuse me or not this is where
I am at. I keep a private stash of all the books I print and unless you
come to one of my shows I am allowed to profit off the materials that I took
my time to produce and make with my money. You agreed to this, you know I
was going to have private shows. I don't have to showcase your book on the
net, but I can sell materials that I produced before you ended your
contract. That is ethical. I have no guilty conscience. I am just a good
person working to make my business grow. Thank you for your time
Now, first off, she's right, I am not due 100% of the money made from her sales, I'm due 50%, of all sales made through her. My bad. I am obviously NOT getting that, nor will I ever, because I can't prove how many private sales she's made, nor can I ever count on her to be honest about those numbers. Nor does she have any intention of ever forwarding that profit to me.
Second of all, for someone who feels she's done no wrong, she certainly emails me an awful lot with things that are supposed to be to make up for what she's done to me in the past. She continues to apologize and make excuses about being young and/or inexperienced, and yet, continues to proclaim her innocence. Me thinks she doth protest too much.
Third, I love that she admits (now) that Minuteman Express was always her printer, even though in the past she's claimed that she had a different publisher, with whom she had a "falling out" and had to switch to Minuteman Express. That "falling out" was the excuse she used for holding my money for an extra 8 months actually.
You know what I wonder though? Now that she's joined up with these IGFM folks, I wonder if they're aware of her ways? I mean, I'm not the only one (despite her claims) who is unhappy with her and the way she does business - I bet the IGFM guys are clueless to this side of Shaela, and have probably been unwittingly roped into a situation where, when Shaela goes down (and she WILL, give a crook enough rope... you know) she's going to take them with her.
In the meantime, I've reported the situation to Lulu.com and I guess it will be up to them to decide whether or not she has the right to continue to make copies through them.
Anyway. I have to go make dinner, later I'll post about how my birthday went, and some other random Scata.
And Shaela, if you're reading, and I have NO DOUBT you are... I don't want to hear squat about me posting your email, there's a disclaimer there at the bottom of my sidebar stating that all email I receive is possible fodder for future blog posts, besides that, I always post your ridiculous attempts to save face, and you knew I'd post this before you ever emailed me this morning, so get over it. If you don't like how your own emails (and shady practices) reflect on you, then I suggest you change your practices.