|Book Builders – warning worth repeating, ongoing nonpayment
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|Author:||mtncartoons [ November 5th, 2004, 11:15 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Book Builders – warning worth repeating, ongoing nonpayment|
I urge you: never work with this NYC packager.
I took a revision job from them in December 2003. Going on faith since they're a member of the American Book Producers Association, I began—and completed—the work before receiving a contract. It got much worse from there.
Here are some facts, according to my experience and the experience of close to twenty other writers who have e-mailed me since I first posted about them in March 2004:
1. They ask for much more work than they pay for. Almost a moot point because…
2. …they withhold payment. In my case partially, for many others fully.
3. They stall on sending contracts. I had to ask for mine four times in two months—and this long after I’d turned in the work. After the third time they told me it had been sent, I wised up. I had to physically show up unannounced at their office to get it.
Here is my opinion:
1. They go beyond unprofessional. They’re outright sleazy.
2. They do shoddy editing and it takes a toll on the writer. And that’s not just my opinion. An editor at Heinemann told me they will no longer work with them for this reason.
3. They should be exposed. We writers can do that simply by turning them down and warning others.
I've written for dozens of book publishers and magazines and have never experienced a company even a fraction as manipulative as BB.
I wish I could summarize what happened in a sentence or two, but I’ll explain it step by step so you can see why I am so inclined to post this warning. I was hired by BB to revise someone else’s text based on comments made by an editor. My contact was not that editor but rather an administrator. I was given a tight deadline and turned in my revision on time, even though I’d not yet received a contract. BB then asked me to do a second revision—assuring me that my contract had been sent. I saw that the editor who had reviewed my draft was different than the one whose comments I was editing from the first time—and in many cases, he asked me to change back what the first editor had requested. It seemed as if the second editor hadn’t even seen the draft with the first editor’s comments, and my BB contact indeed verified that was the case. I told my contact that this lack of consistency was a waste of my time. He agreed but said they couldn’t get the original editor to review my draft. (In hindsight, he was sending subtle hints all along that he knew he was working for a rotten operation. In fact, he left the company midway through the mess I was getting myself into.) Although I was frustrated by this inefficiency, I wanted to be big about it and did the second revise—still without contract, even though they’d told me weeks earlier that it had been mailed. In hindsight, I see the foolishness of believing them, but at the time I still gave them the benefit of the doubt. However, when they asked me for a third revise, I balked. I politely said no and explained it by saying what you just read. They said okay, making me think they realized I was being totally reasonable. Then they sent me a letter explaining that they would now pay me $200 less than what I was contracted for because I didn’t complete the job. This after I did an extensive revision beyond what I was contracted for—STILL with no contract in hand. This after my BB contact praised my work. This despite the fact that I called the publisher this project was for directly and he too said I did a great job. Through persistent yet professional phone calls, I went after the money BB owed me. After a few days of being summarily dismissed and even insulted, I accepted that I would probably not get that money, but I sure could get the word out about the behavior of this company.
In March 2004, I posted online to run up a red flag as well as see if other writers have also been burned by BB. I was inundated (relatively speaking) with messages from people with similar gripes—and they’re still trickling in, over half a year later. All report similarly shady dealings, and it seems most were worse off than me—their pay was not just arbitrarily reduced, it was flat out never sent. One of the writers who contacted me is taking BB to small claims court any week now. Most who contacted me gave me permission to include their situation in the "case" against BB I have since presented to the American Book Producers Association, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Authors Guild, among others as time allowed. Both the ABPA and the SCBWI confronted BB about their treatment of writers—SCBWI in the form of a stern “we’re not recommending you to our members” letter that I was copied on. I am still petitioning the American Book Producers Association to revoke BB's membership. I tell them BB is tarnishing their reputation.
Please help me stop them from exploiting more writers. Spread the word.
I can document all of this if anyone’s interested. I'm happy to forward all correspondence I have, though I warn you that it is a lot.
Thanks for listening, and happy writing.
Marc Tyler Nobleman
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