Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers and industry news and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

June 16, 2016

Tate Publishing & Enterprises Slapped with $1.7 Million Lawsuit

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Readers of this blog may be familiar with Tate Publishing & Enterprises--an Oklahoma-based publisher that describes itself as "a Christian-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors."

Tate takes pains to depict itself as a selective traditional publisher that accepts "only a single-digit percentage of authors who submitted manuscripts for publication" (a claim that's a little hard to credit from a publisher that, if Amazon is to be believed, pumped out 3,000 titles in 2015). In fact, authors must pay nearly $4,000 to publish with Tate, with even more due if they choose to buy any of Tate's array of extras, such as "personalized author websites" and video book trailers. Tate also incentivizes author book-buying, by promising to refund the original fee once 2,500 books are sold and allowing author purchases to count toward the total--though only if made in bulk quantities of 300 or more.

There is no mention of any of this on Tate's website or in its videos. Tate doesn't disclose its fees until authors either submit a manuscript or request more info. For that reason, as well as the very large volume of complaints we've received about the company (many of them from writers who approached Tate in the belief that it was a traditional publisher), Tate is included on Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Publishers List. (For this and other comments we made, Tate claimed in a 2008 blog post to be suing us, but no lawsuit was ever filed.)

You don't have to take my word about the complaints, by the way. In 2015, Tate was the second most complained-about company to the Oklahoma attorney general. Many more complaints--not just about Tate Publishing, but about its vanity recording subsidiary, Tate Music Group--can be found online, including at the Better Business Bureau--where, despite 102 complaints over the past 3 years and what the BBB acknowledges as "a significant pattern of complaints", Tate has an "A" rating. (How do you get an "A" rating from the BBB despite more than 100 customers complaining about your service? Sign up to become a BBB accredited business and make sure you respond to everything.) (UPDATE: Sometime between me putting this post online and June 24, the BBB suspended Tate's accreditation and removed its rating.)

Tate got some unflattering news coverage in 2012, when CEO Ryan Tate fired 25 production workers in retaliation for an anonymous email about rumored layoffs at the company (the rumors were sparked by Tate's decision to outsource some of its work to the Philippines). Ryan Tate's nearly 20-minute rant, recorded secretly by an employee, went viral after it was leaked online. (You can listen to it--if you dare--here. You can also marvel at Tate's Employment Agreement, here.)

Now Tate may be in bigger trouble. Xerox Corporation, which leases some of the equipment Tate uses for its 24-hour-a-day printing facility, has filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against Tate Publishing and Ryan Tate, alleging defaults on re-structured lease and service agreements and on a promissory note executed to address previous debt, and seeking re-possession of $450,000 in leased equipment as well as a money judgment of $463,786.90 against Ryan Tate personally, as Guarantor on the promissory note. The full petition can be seen here.

The suit has spurred some local media attention, and Ryan Tate isn't taking it lying down. To The Journal Record (sorry--paywall) he characterized the lawsuit as intimidation. "[Xerox is] just positioning and posturing, trying to force us to sign some different long-term contracts we’re not interested in." To he downplayed the impact of the suit, describing Xerox as "really a small part of our manufacturing process.” To the Mustang News, he claimed that "We are in the process of filing our counter suits and Xerox is trying to force us to use their equipment for our shop on a long-term basis as well as they have failed to deliver on some major contractual elements in regards to service, maintenance, and equipment purchases." (Worth noting: according to this glowing 2011 "case study" on Tate's partnership with Xerox, Tate has been working with Xerox since at least 2007, and its production facility is set up with "all Xerox digital equipment.")

That's not the only lawsuit Tate is fielding at the moment. One of its authors, Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks, has filed suit for breach of contract, deceptive trade and marketing practices, fraud, and several other causes of action, alleging that she paid over $12,000 for a book that was published full of errors (twice) and never marketed. She's asking for her money back, as well as attorneys' fees and damages. Her amended complaint, which includes pages from her book showing the mistakes, can be seen here.

Summonses in both suits were issued on the same day, May 27. Tate has 20 days to respond. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 7/1/16: More trouble for Tate. Local news station KFOR reports that staff have been laid off from Tate's printing plant, and author complaints of non-payment are surfacing (Writer Beware has received similar complaints).


Britton Swingler said...

I can't quite get a comment out of my head and onto the page; I just keep reading the attachments and "flipping" through the uncorrected manuscript shaking my head...

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it looks like the BBB is reviewing Tate Publishing's rating, but that also means all of the complaints are hidden. I see Tate Music still has an A- rating though.

Anonymous said...

Dr Richard Tate is apparently still a member of the BBB Board. Isn't that a conflict of interest? It promises to be a fascinating meeting.

And Christy Kelley-Tate (aka Mrs Ryan Tate) has recently registered a business, Lux Creative Concepts:

I'm sure Lux Creative (who look to be a reputable advertising agency working with many top Christian publishers) will be less than thrilled when they find out.

Anonymous said...

It's about time.

Michael LaRocca said...

I'm sorry to hear that these scams still work. If they're getting money from authors, they don't need to get money from readers. I've never gone to a bookstore or a library seeking a title by Tate Publishing, but I'm confident I won't find any.

Graham said...

Re the threatened lawsuit - Ken White at Popehat has a saying that goes something like "vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of thuggery". Mr Tate seems like a bit of a blusterer to me.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Britton S.

It was the most frustrating experience, and then you are left hanging to fend for your self, as a result much of my manuscript was discombobulated and lost. There was no technical assistance.

leon said...

BBB is certainly reviewing the Tate Publishing I think.

Roman Pang said...

I have the most terrible experience with Tate publishing. I asked them to publish my book "Understanding Prayer, Faith and God's Will" in 2013 and paid a US4000 downpayment. The published book (in 2012) contains punctuation erros in a few places! Without raising a fuss, I cancelled the contract very soon which they agreed. However, they did not remove all advertisement on the book, and after a couple of months I wrote to tell them. Although they said they would remove but it continued to remain there for another 1 year. I wrote to them again and they ignored , without replying at all. This went on for another year until 2016 when I threatened to sue them. Only then they started to do something about it but the advertisement is still there. I am going to take legal action against them. In their contract with authors, Tate said they will check for all punctuation and grammar errors but they failed to do so. And not only that, they continued to be unprofessional and irresponsible but not removng the advertisement.

Anonymous said...

Former employee here, this place is a joke. Do not publish with them.

Aileen Stewart said...

There are always two sides to every story and yet people often judge on one sided hearsay, and the comments of disgruntled people who may or may not have a right to be disgruntled. I have been a Tate children's author for six years. I have a traditional contract and pay nothing. I have had great editors for all five of my books; although both my editor and I missed a mistake in one of my books. One or two mistakes getting by an editor is pretty normal for all companies. I read a picture book once that only had one sentence per page, published by a large traditional, that had a mistake. While I'm not saying Tate is a perfect publisher (who is?), I am saying that they have always honored my contracts, have given me beautiful covers, have edited my work, have given me adorable illustrations, have priced my books fairly, have lowered the price of my books when asked, and have resolved the few issues I have had throughout the years.

le shi said...

To Whom It May Concern:
I have a Children's Publishing & Distribution contract
with Tate Publishing and Enterprises on 10/14/2015.
these are some words in it as follows :

Tate Publishing offers priority publishing for a $1,000 non-refundable fee. If you wish to take advantage
of this rush package, there will be an additional $1,000 rush fee required with your signed contract in
order to take our normal 6 month production length down to just weeks. Your book will begin the
marketing phase 90 days from the day you submit your book to production.

But until today, I haven't got a layout I agree from Tate.
I have been waiting near a year.
I think their graphic teams and project manager haven't ability to design a children's picture book.

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