Friday, February 20, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- Cacoethes Publishing to Some of its Authors: See Ya!

Last year, e/print publisher New Concepts Publishing stirred up some discussion by posting a Public Notice listing the names of authors whose contracts it was terminating. Previously, New Concepts had been the focus of a variety of complaints, including late payments, failure to fulfill publicity promises, failure to edit, and releasing material without authorization. There was some speculation that New Concepts was booting authors who had been vocal in their dissatisfaction.

Now it appears that e/print publisher Cacoethes Publishing--also the focus of author complaints (including complaints to Writer Beware about nonstandard contract terms)--has followed in New Concept's footsteps. Cacoethes authors recently received this press release:

Ms. Denise Mosley has officially disclosed the names of the authors whose contracts are being terminated by Cacoethes Publishing House. In a closed interview she stated

“I think this move is beneficial for both parties. As a small company, we are unable to meet some of the unrealistic expectations of many of these people. We wish them luck with their future endeavors. However, at this time we are uninterested in continuing a working relationship with them.”

The current list consists of the following authors:

[five authors' names and book titles redacted]

This is the start of many changed [sic] for the company, which officially opened its doors November 15, 2007. Ms. Mosley plans to make another round of cuts during the spring.

“I think it’s good to evaluate our working relationships and effect the necessary changes.”

When questioned regarding the Blogs / Statements posted online regarding the stability of the company and other issues Ms. Mosley stated,

“I do not feed into idle gossip or slander. Nothing on those sites is accurate except for my phone number…the parties who participated in those vicious, libelous chats will be dealt with via our legal representatives. If I place my focus on those issues instead of the tasks ahead of our company, then I’m not doing my job.”


Not much comfort, perhaps, for the authors who've found themselves so summarily and publicly booted. Ms. Mosley also seems to be ignoring the fact that one of the "blogs" on which the statements appear is the guestbook of her own website.

This story has also been covered by EREC.

40 comments:

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

I guess ethics don't mean much to these people, just the almighty dollar...

behlerblog said...

It's shameful for any publisher to air their dirty laundry in public, and there is only one reason for it; to intimidate and control their authors. That is NOT what "real" publishers do because they're too busy signing and producing great books.

Georgie B said...

Pretty petty if you ask me.

The equivelant of saying, "I'm gonna take my ball and go home if I don't get my way."

Anonymous said...

Lots of companies are making cutbacks now and lots of people are losing their jobs. So what's the big deal here? I think the most important statement is that many writers have unrealistic expectations. I agree. People expect to get a book out there and make a packet and blame everyone they can think of when it doesn't happen. The only thing they did wrong was post the names of the writers publicly. But lots of companies are making cutbacks now, so it's not really news.

T. Anne said...

I'm glad I wasn't a part of that. It doesn't sound nice.

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

Anonymous: publishers don't cut down on their writers like this when things get tough. Especially if those writers are earning them money. If they're not, then all they do is either not renew the contract or sign a new one. This was a really unethical move and bad form that wouldn't reflect well on any company. I have to ask, would you be so nonchalant if your name had been on that list?

Anonymous said...

I've been given some rought treatment from companies I worked for. Who hasn't? But people in the entertainment business have to be such crybabies. Y'all talk about having thick skin and how rejection letters and all that are necessary. Easy to say to others, but then a little name posted on a short list and they're all crying. Even the oscars cut down the glamour because of the recession. What planet do you people live on? The fact is that no company is obliged to keep an employee or other person on forever and ever. Some disappointments or dissatisfied people are let go. I can't fathom what you think is wrong with that.

Deb said...

Anon, the catch here is that the let-go is done PUBLICLY. When you got laid off, did your firm's management team put the news on its website? or a blog everybody can read?

I submit that they didn't. Just as it's unethical for me to slam my publisher while I'm in a contractual relationship with them, it's unethical for them to damage my reputation.

JS said...

a little name posted on a short list and they're all crying

I'd be crying "restraint of trade" and "trade libel" to a lawyer if it was me.

It's fine for a publisher to terminate contracts, just as it's fine for a business to lay people off. What is NOT fine is for either to send a press release saying "We're dumping these people because they're difficult to work with."

Lisa Burke said...

I'm one of the authors on the list, and although I thought the "press release" move was completely unprofessional, I am not "crying" that I was on it. In fact, I am very pleased to no longer be affiliated with the company. VERY. I was also hoping that after this news came out, that other authors who were having trouble with Cacoethes would contact me so I could assure them that they are not alone.

The press release was clearly done as an attempt to shame or frighten us, but it did neither to me. I am not ashamed of the book I wrote [just wish someone could have done it justice] and I am not afraid of this company and their constant threats of unfounded lawsuits.

Just had to give me two cents on this one...oh and thanks Victoria, for posting this. : )

Anonymous said...

You only complain AFTER being laid off. Funny.

And when you lose your job, it does become public. The whole neighbourhood finds out.

And actors get cut publicly. Consider Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. But that doesn't seem to deter people from entering the business.

Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Cry baby Lisa Burke! Get real, sweetheart. Would YOU have stood by the others if you hadn't been cut? Of course not! You'd say 'hey, that's the breaks!'

Give me a break, honey! In this cutthroat business, that's the way it works.

Victoria Strauss said...

Gosh, Anonymous. You've run out of arguments, so you resort to taunts. Where have I seen that before?

It's almost as if...well, not almost; it is as if you had some sort of agenda. Why do I suspect you're either Cacoethes' owner, or one of its authors who didn't get the ax and now is feeling a tad defensive?

Jane Smith said...

I'd pay a lot more attention to Anonymous's posts if they weren't, you know, anonymous. That one little point kind of weakens the whole argument, don't you think?

Average Cacoethes Author said...

As a current Cacoethes author I am here to tell you that they don't pay ANY royalties to their authors. Go to ANY author's website and e-mail them, ask them the last time they got paid. They charge $100 per book setup fee - that's $100 for the eBook and $100 for the print! Plus, if you sell a book on Amazon or B&N or Borders you get about 3% of the net sale... not gross like my contract reads. Communication is sparse, at best, with them and there is NO method for tracking sales whatsoever!

If I had it to do again, I'd email authors before I signed with them. That is what I did with my second book -- and my current publisher is very responsive and actually is doing work for their money.

Don't blame people for being anonymous, Denise threatens lawsuits against ANYONE who speaks out against Cacoethes. They are just trying to protect themselves.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I was approached by Cacoethes to publish my original story, which I had posted on line. They seemed a bit shady to me, so I was reluctant. I am so glad I didn't sign with them.

Anonymous said...

I did email an author first, and he told me the company rocked. But they don't - it's been a dismal experience from start to finish.

Anonymous said...

I actually really resent that other author leading me down the primrose path by extolling the virtues of this truly rude and disgusting firm. Thanks for the reference. I bet he hasn't gotten a cent, either.

kd said...

I am a Cacoethes author and I regret it. Cacoethes has not done anything for me expect leave me hanging.
They have cut me off communicatioons wise but claim they haven't. I've asked numberous time to be released from my contracts but Denise won't allow that. I doubt very much that they will publish my books but they won't let me go either.
I bought a books from them in Jan knowing it wouldn't be out until End of March, but guess what- its now August and I still don't have the book from them. I reordered it through Amazon and got it no problem, now I have to get my money back from cacoethes, I've only been trying for five months. now with no luck.
Stay away if you can.

Dove said...

Kd, you had problems when you ordered your book from them? I am having that problem too. I tried to order it from Amazon but they are doing whatever they can to get it back in stock.

I have contacted them through customer service and haven't heard a word from them. I think it is a life lesson and I think that whole website is a scam.

Halvor said...

I am having a terrible experience. No answered phone calls..no returned voicemail....no returned callses or emails when I request a personal visit....Im seeing that they are either out of business or a total scam. What recourse do I have? Can a lawyer do anything about this. Please instruct! Help!

Dove said...

Halvor,

All I can say is that you have to put out a dispute on PayPal.com. Put out a claim and tell the what your problems are dealing with Cacoethespublishing company. They will send you an email, giving your transaction numbers and the amount that you paid for the items and they will give you the seller's transaction ID and they will tell you that they are investigating your claim.

However, what they also want you to get involved. You have to talk to credit card company about the situation and have a communication with the seller. If you haven't heard back from Denise Mosley, you can let them know that you did everything to get in contact with her but she did respond to none of your messages while you file your dispute with Paypal.

You either have to wait like like two to three weeks or more to get their conclusion on their investigation.

I had filed a dispute with Paypal and told them that Cacoethes Publishing company had ripped me off and that I had never received anything from them. I communicated with Ms. Mosely twice and I sent her an email asking her where's my transaction number, but I haven't heard from like a week. I did go to my credit card company and told them about it everything.

I just got an email from Paypal saying that they will put back the money that I paid for the book but didn't receive...back into my account.

Paypal are very helpful and are willing to work for you.

kd said...

that might be another ay to get Denise's attention. Nothing else seems to. She ignores emails, phone calls, IM's and certified letters. Maybe taking away the only thing she does want is going to make her pay attention. All she wants is money, for which she does nothing for.
Many of my customers paid for book they never got. As did I. I finally had to file a complaint with the BBB. I really don't expectc anything to come of it but I had to do something
I've been asking for months to be terminated but she hasn't gotten back to me on that one yet

R said...

As a writer with one book out and one book "at the printer" with Cacoethes I am a little perplexed at the negative fixation on this publisher. Perhaps the public airing of some internal conflicts was in poor taste and Victoria, you noted that much of the negative invectives thrown at Cacoethes came from their own site where people could vent or compliment. I find that very healthy. I have seen no other publisher allow writers or the public to rage or compliment on their own sites. I would like Denise and others at Cacoethes to someday make public what is really going on there, and it is not negative other than having to deal every day with a terrible economy. They have issues with communication, but so do many, many publishing houses and agents. This virtual vigilantism has gone way beyond good advice to aspiring writers. An agent friend of mine keeps a database of writers from hell who cannot write and who whine at the slightest provocation, and even cyber-stalk her or slander her in internet forums for not accepting their 200,000 word YA fantasy about unicorns. I have seen many news items in Publishers Weekly where book deals are canceled and we all know the name(s) of the authors; where publishing houses go belly up even after getting the thumbs up from the virtual vigilantes. It is wise for a writer to seek advice from those who have previously published, but it is quite another thing to make a cottage industry out of virtual vigilantism. Victoria, I recall when you slashed out at the Indie Book Awards and when several postings, including my own, proved that while they are very new they also delivered on promises, I did not see your apology. This is not advice, this is vigilantism.

Anonymous said...

R,

I can't believe you are jumping in to defend this company. In what parallel universe are their business tactics acceptable. Many of us who work with them also work with other publishers, and the difference could not be more pronounced. People who complain about the company are doing so out of abject desperation. I guess as long as things are going well enough for you personally, noone else matters.

Anonymous said...

Their website is down. They've ignored a group letter from 11 of their authors. R, do you still think this is typical publishing? Nice of them to just disappear with our literary rights...I'll see them in court.

R said...

Anonymous, I recieved 10 copies of my most recent novel thiis paast week and noted some irregularities in the layout and then some odd character recognition problems the printer had, and i sent my errata and these problems have been fixed, and I should get the next set of ARCs next week. I am not sure why you and some others are having problems, I am in daily email and phone communication and working hard to pre-sell my book. I am sorry if you are having problems. It has also never been my intention to be anonymous in this discourse and i do not know why I appear as R. My name is Shawn Rohrbach and you can see my web site at www.shawnrohrbach.com

Anonymous said...

According to State records, Cacoethes Publishing LLC was dissolved as a corporation on September 1, 2009. After this time, they sent emails to authors saying they were still in business and straightening things out. This is illegal!

R said...

(360) 753-6200 That is the State Attorney Generals Office for Washington State. Give them a call and tell them.

Anonymous said...

They won't answer emails or phone calls from anyone else. I'm talking about 11 people. Apparently, they are open for business to you, but not to anyone else.

and this is very strange...

http://www.secstate.wa.gov/corps/search_detail.aspx?ubi=602726618

Anonymous said...

I've alerted the BBB. I really resent the fact that Cacoethes have sealed themselves off from their own authors (except R.). It would be a simple matter for them to address us all *now up to 12 dissatisfied authors*. We've sent countless inquiries to them.

Anonymous said...

As someone with inside knowledge of this particular company, I can tell you the entire operation was bogus, from a non-existent staff to pirated software to dirty accounting... the list could go on and on. It was always a scam, and having seen it first-hand I am sickened by how many people were hurt by these self-entitled predators. My best advice to you is to READ YOUR CONTRACT VERY CAREFULLY. You do not necessarily need for them to release your copyright back to you. PAY ATTENTION and do what the contract states is necessary for release.

Bruce said...

I can't even believe that people are bothering with Cacoethes anymore. This company DOES NOT exist. They are a scam period. They haven't delivered on contracts for almost two years now. They bring books to print.. sometimes... pay royalties... never... communicate... not at all for months and even at that they have not been readily available to authors since April.

Caco authors, notify them you are pulling your work and publish it elsewhere. Period. It is legal, you can do it and Denise "the big fat liar" Mosely can't do anything about it.

And yes, I'm a Caco author -- and they've screwed me one too many times.. embarrassed me in public and hurt several business contacts that I have.

Victoria Strauss said...

Bruce said,

Caco authors, notify them you are pulling your work and publish it elsewhere. Period. It is legal, you can do it and Denise "the big fat liar" Mosely can't do anything about it.

Are you a lawyer, Bruce? If not, you shouldn't be offering advice on legality.

Legal issues aside, the problem for authors isn't whether Cacoethes might take action against you if you withdrew your work and published it elsewhere. It's unlikely that Ms. Mosely has the resources or the desire to pursue anyone who might take this action.

The problem is that another publisher will be reluctant to contract with you if your rights aren't unambiguously free and clear. If you're trying to re-sell a book that was previously published or under contract, a publisher will want to see evidence of rights reversion. If you can't provide that, the odds they'll want to publish your book are slim. (And if you're thinking you don't have to tell them your book was previously under contract, think again. All they have to do is Google you to discover it.)

I don't doubt that you could find publishers willing to overlook these rights issues. But if so, they'd probably be as amateurish or as crooked as Cacoethes. So you'd just be jumping from one frying pan into another.

Bruce said...

Victoria -- yes, actually I am well-versed in entertainment law.

And your post doesn't address any of the issues, you seem to simply like to hear yourself talk (type?). We've all read what you just wrote a thousand times in our own chat groups -- I'm not even sure why you are talking about this...? Most of the people who posted on this thread have no idea what they are talking about, they don't know what happened and have no first-hand knowledge of the situation. Perhaps not spreading rumors and conjecture would be the prudent move here.
Those of us who bother to do any research at all are all well aware of what publishers want to see but legally speaking the ONLY thing you need to do in THIS situation (not other situations, THIS one) is notify the company that no longer is in operation. The rights revert back to you period.

That does NOT mean you will get it published again. It will have to be something publishers can't keep their hands off of, and let's be honest since Cacoethes published anything and everything there aren't many books like that in this conversation -- if any at all. A smart author would do what I am doing if they can.. rewrite the work keeping the same basic plot but a completely different story line. I've already got an agent who is fully on-board with this plan, loves the rewrite and is willing to push the work when it's polished.

R said...

Bruce, you are correct and smart. I am following a similar path and yes, do have a publisher who cannot keep her hands off my last work with Cacoethes and I am in the final stages of negotiating an advance. However, you are wasting your breath with this blogger. Her real agenda is not protecting innocent writers. Go back and read all of her postings and you will easily see what she is really up to.

Victoria Strauss said...

Hello, trolls!

Bruce, whether or not you are knowledgeable about entertainment law, your statement that "the rights revert back to you, period" tells me that you aren't very familiar with the issues that arise when publishers go bankrupt, become insolvent, or, as in the case of Cacoethes, vanish without formally reverting rights.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a troll, but the contract I have seems straightforward. If they don't publish within a set amount of time, you or the publisher can break the contract by certified letter. You need to wait 60 days after sending the letter. It doesn't require anything beyond that to retain the rights after breach of contract.

R, I thought you were happy with Cacoethes. What changed all of a sudden?

Victoria Strauss said...

If they don't publish within a set amount of time, you or the publisher can break the contract by certified letter.

Thanks for that info. That's definitely a way out for authors who signed a contract but never got published.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is. Thank God.

What I've learned from this fiasco is something I'll use for the rest of my life. I'll always be keeping tabs on CEO/narcissist Denise Mosley. I won't let her do this to anyone else. And I'll never be ripped off again, either.

It feels good to work with other publishers. It's such a relief.

I'm proud of the work I did for Cacoethes. I'm proud of my reviews and I am confident as a writer. I'm just not proud of the company's two employees - they are trash.