Does Ephemera Bound Publishing suck?

Yes.   0 votes - 0 %
No.   0 votes - 0 %
Maybe.   0 votes - 0 %
0 Total Votes
Hmmm by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:03:34 AM EST
Well, I'm glad I got one of your self-published copies.

Sorry for your troubles.  It's sad to hear that you got played that hard.

I certainly hope things come out better for you in the future.

"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito

Well, To Be Frank... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 2) #17 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:03:06 PM EST
...rendering one's first novel "unpublishable" may be redundant in most cases, including mine. It's not like I've been cheated out of a gold mine here.

It just irks me when people operate with less than Vulcan-like precision when it comes to matters of business. I can tolerate all sorts of colourful shennanigans in other zones of life, but not when it costs me money or rains on my parade.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
It occurs to me by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:16:56 AM EST
that I've rarely heard a good experience with any sort of intellectual property move that goes from small-time self-publishing to supposed "big time" brick and mortar houses. Music, films, books, pretty much anything that can be published. Once the original creator signs a contract, they're fucked. Honestly, as much as it sucks to be you right now, you're one of the lucky ones. A lot of folks end up bankrupt after big promises and the realization that the up-front payout was actually a business loan that has to be paid back.

I'm really sorry to hear this happened to you though. Everything I've seen from you indicates you have the talent to make it, and there's no reason even someone with half a brain cell couldn't promote you into the sky.

Good luck. I hope your next business venture goes much better.

IIRC by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:32:37 PM EST
Quite a few big books started out self published by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:47:58 PM EST
The one that comes to mind is the Celestine Prophecy. It took selling a few ten thousands of copies before it was noticed by a publisher. ISTM that the odds of self publishing and getting picked up by a publishing house are probably better than trundle-tossing, but not by a whole lot.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
This Has Been My Impression, Too by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:06:28 PM EST
...Which is why I post stuff for free on the Web instead of sealing it secretly into self-addressed envelopes and mailing it off to phantoms.

The bottom line lesson is that I'll be exceedingly sceptical of anyone else who wants to take a financial interest in my output in the future. They'll really have to work hard to prove to me that they can offer me enough benefits to offset having to my stuff into idea-jail.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
One other thing to consider: by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:27:01 PM EST
At least, from the people I've chatted with in the music world, something that helped the few that did pull it off in a positive way was having an agent. In one gentleman's words, "Sure, they're soul sucking zombies of business, but you pay them to give a shit. If they don't get you making money, they make no money." He hated having to do it, but the agent took care of all the back end bullshit you just listed, while he concentrated on getting things done, talking to his agent once every couple weeks to make sure the process wasn't getting derailed.

This is not first hand knowledge on my part, and should only be taken as something I pass along from old acquaintances who say the agent made a difference. That's a really small number of people though.

[ Parent ]
true for books, too by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #25 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:08:42 PM EST
However there are scam-artist agents as well, so it helps to be wary.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
Let me second this by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #29 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 06:41:44 PM EST
An agent is a necessity. A agent takes a cut and takes much of the bullshit.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Indeed. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #30 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:06:25 AM EST
I do believe I will be pursuing representation when my third (and hopefully worthy) novel is complete next year.

I still have one more practice novel to get through first (though a literary agency did approach me about it, I turned them down because they wanted me to pull everything I'd written so far offline and thus cheat my loyal readers out of an ending).

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
For ensuring that we get that ending... by Bridget J (4.00 / 1) #46 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 09:02:06 AM EST
...your loyal readers adore you for that. Just in case we haven't told you lately.

But yes, while you don't require an agent to publish, their job is to deal with a lot of the crap you've dealt with from EB. Preditors & Editors seems to have a good initial reference for what to look for in an agent.

[ Parent ]
Shit by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:21:48 AM EST
I'd wondered what happened. It seemed obvious to me that it was a perfectly publishable work when it was on lulu and I was surprised the way it just never seemed to appear anywhere else.

Sounds like you have excellent grounds for a lawsuit, though perhaps it'd be a financially bad idea.

Have you thought about contacting the folks at Making Light? They're real editors, and they seem to specialize in outing publishing scam artists. (Though these guys seem more like incompetents than scam artists.)
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

IAWTP by ana (4.00 / 2) #4 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:24:45 AM EST
Dragging incompetent and dishonest "publishers" through the mud is what they do best.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Thirded. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:43:10 PM EST
the ML guys are great, and they tend to enjoy stories like this. And ... they have much higher visibility than we do, so if you want to blacken the names of the blackguards ...
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
Fourthed, and more resources for you... by Bridget J (4.00 / 1) #41 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 02:12:47 PM EST
...if you don't have them already. Some other places to check out, which might be interested to hear about your experiences with EB:

Writer Beware:

Preditors & Editors: or mirrored at

These links are courtesy this old post from Neil Gaiman's blog, in particular the long and comprehensive section of that post which is an email he received from Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who is one half of the couple who run Making Light.

[ Parent ]
Thanks For The Link by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:09:21 PM EST
As far as a lawsuit goes, from elements I didn't go into detail about in my rant here, it seems fairly likely that Ephemera Bound is having trouble keeping its lights on. I can't see it being worth the effort of an international legal effort.

Still, if I'm ever in the Dakotas I'll be sure to stop by to take a shit on their stoop.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
*COUGH* by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:28:13 PM EST
You may have a contact in the Dakotas who would be happy to make a special delivery.

[ Parent ]
Hush! Can Web-Trawling A.I.s Infer Implications? by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #23 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:37:11 PM EST
even so by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #26 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:24:52 PM EST
you should go see a lawyer. Your position is morally right but may not be legally right.

I would go into more detail about why I think this is the case, but I can't; it would be practicing law without a license, and that's become something I'm very leery of. (Then, too, I know enough to see where the other guy could screw you legally, but not enough to be certain he can; IP law isn't my forte).

Were I licensed I'd offer to advise you for free, because you're a friend and I like your writing. But I'm not, so all I can do is reiterate what i've already said: get a lawyer's advice so you can be certain these guys can't screw you more than they already have.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Everything I have read by blixco (4.00 / 2) #5 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:33:35 AM EST
about small publishers...everything...has been bad. Every single one of them sounds like they got in it because someone else does the work, and all they have to do is shuffle papers from printer to shipping, and then, oh shit, it IS hard to do and they all scam their way through it.

Big publishers or nothing.

"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

Add My Anecdote To The Pile by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 2) #22 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:35:01 PM EST
Not for the first time, I'm painfully reminded that the part I enjoy is actually telling the stories. Since I am doing that, I have to appreciate that I'm in a good place already.

As far as gravy goes, I'm planning on starting a new book next year that I might consider fishing around to see if I get any big bites. This experience with Ephemera Bound will definitely be informing the process, and my expectations.

It's gonna be cool. It's about a train, eh?

Trains are cool.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
O love you. I wish I could write like the above by greyrat (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:44:10 AM EST
and like the book and your other stories. If by some freak chance you ever get your allotment of books from Ephemera Bound, I'd very much like to buy one as a souvenir of the horror show. I re-pointed my boy to the web version, and I'll do my best to justify purchasing a hard copy for myselfhim too.

P.S. Remember the show The Starlost? by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:56:50 AM EST
I had a copy of the original novel from which the TV series was derived. The most interesting part of the novel was the introduction: A very long  screed by the author (whose name I don't remember -- this was 30 years ago) describing the massive cock-up that was the publishing of the book and subsequent creation of the  incomprehensibly crappy TV show. He described in painful detail how the whole process spun slowly out of and away from his control, how he was endlessly screwed by greedy liars and incompetents, and how he finally walked away from the whole project in disgust.

I wish I could find it for you...

[ Parent ]
Amazon Has It In Stock by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #31 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:09:01 AM EST
...For whatever it's worth (though my edition is slightly cheaper).

I mean, I won't get the money but one shouldn't quibble over $0.05 or whatever my cut theoretically amounts to.

On the other hand, I really don't recommend the second edition. Reports from people in the field are that it has not been carefully prepared.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Amazon, by greyrat (2.00 / 0) #39 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:45:43 AM EST
The have the book I was referring to - Phoenix Without Ashes. This is the very same edition I had. At least, the cover is right.

[ Parent ]
Damn. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 11:49:48 AM EST
It's always disgusting and disheartening when you try to do play things the right way only to discover the other guys are weasels who are so bent they don't even realize they're destroying themselves.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
Ouch. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:47:59 PM EST
That sucks. Ephemera Bound is treading the line between outright scam and predatory asshole. They shouldn't be, and it's awful that you've fallen victim to them.

But I feel compelled to warn you: ISTM that you are in a position where Ephemera Bound could sue you in American court and win.

I strongly recommend you consult with an IP lawyer as soon as humanly possible.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

How Sucketh The Suck by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #32 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:13:58 AM EST
I will be consulting with my law talking guy next week sometime, when he gets back from Venice. He has advised me in the past, however, that Ephemera Bound seems too poor to either recover any money from or to mount an effort against me.

I have to wonder, though, in all my blissful ignorance: what would a judgement against me in an American court matter? What are they going to do -- extradite me?

Granted, if they had a ruling on their side in their own country they could continue to sell my work without fear of legal retribution from me...but isn't that the worst case scenario (and pretty much what they're doing now, anyway?)?

At any rate, I certainly do not have the money to retain an IP lawyer. It's not even an option.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
i'm not sure by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #37 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 05:41:43 AM EST
how a money judgment in a contract dispute in the US would be enforced in Canada.

I'm relieved to hear you are consulting your lawyer. :)
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I have a high threshold for taking it in the bum by MissTrish (4.00 / 2) #11 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:32:04 PM EST
and even this seems excessive. Best wishes in the coming fire-fight.

ypu're a chair
Sigged! n/t by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #28 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:56:53 PM EST

"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito
[ Parent ]
I Foresee No Firefight by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 3) #33 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:15:19 AM EST
I don't think they have any ammo (financially speaking, that is).

But it's always nice to have your bum in mind.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Jesus by motty (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:51:32 PM EST
There may be some honest small publishers left but it looks a lot like these people are nothing but a bunch of conmen. Wishing you all the best getting yourself and your book out of that situation. Also what blixco said. And what aphrael said.

I amd itn ecaptiaghle of drinking sthis d dar - Dr T
Hanlon's razor by Herring (4.00 / 3) #13 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:13:23 PM EST
To me, they sound 4 parts incompetent and 1 part evil. After all, if they were competent and evil then they'd be a large publisher.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Wait a second. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:00:33 PM EST
How much work did they put in to not selling any of your books? Why didn't they just, like, do the job properly?

I do know the answers to these questions, actually, because I've worked in the niche publishing/bookselling market. Wouldn't do it again.

Beats Me. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #34 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:16:20 AM EST
Honestly, I don't know what these guys were thinking at any step in the process.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear this by Kellnerin (4.00 / 3) #24 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:02:34 PM EST
It's clear you got involved with a crummy operation, though the publishing industry in general can be a pretty depressing place.

For future reference, a standard publishing contract has some usual exit clauses. For example, the publisher can judge a manuscript not up to their standards and therefore deem it unacceptable (unlikely in your case since they'd read the finished product). More relevant to your tale is that it is usually incumbent upon the publisher to make the book available for sale within 18 months of the author's delivery of the manuscript, or the author can terminate the agreement.

Also there is traditionally a clause whereby the author can request that all rights revert back if the publisher cannot keep it in print or if sales fall below a certain level. (This used to be a no-brainer for publishers: books that are not selling and taking up room in their warehouses is a bad thing, and they are usually happy to remainder them, give the author the chance to buy copies at cost, and revert the rights. It's become more of a battleground lately with digital publishing and print-on-demand, but POD were the idea you'd stay on Lulu, wouldn't you?)

The idea of "a professionally edited hardbound edition of [your] book distributed through major booksellers" is romantic, but as you noted, it was essentially a reprint, and shelf space in "major booksellers" is tricky for even the big boys to score for new authors. Small publishers are generally only successful if they identify a niche and establish themselves in it -- which Ephemera may have done, though your book was not, as the lingo goes, "a good fit for their list" -- so they were over-promising from the start.

You no doubt already knew how to reach your audience better than they did. Again, even big publishers routinely under-promote their authors. Few writers score interviews or book signings. Basically, the only way you could do better than you were already doing with your self-published version would be to have a major publisher put some real money behind it. Which you've already learned, the hard way. I'm sorry publishing is so fucked up.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

Lowered Ex-pec-ta-tions... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #35 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:18:15 AM EST
Like I said, I didn't really expect much, but since I thought the manuscript was far too amateurish and unfocused to be properly published, I figured whatever small splash they could make would be a bonus.

I just hadn't counted on how much grief it would take to get there...only to find that there was nowhere at all.

Oh well...onward and upward.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
the industry by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #42 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 04:40:10 AM EST
thrives on idealistic notion that publishers, by dint of being publishers, are capable of producing polished, lasting artifacts, and opening doors to fame (or at least some sort of exposure ... right? Seriously? No, really, you're not kidding?) simply due to their position in the world of letters. The dirty secret is that the idealistic vision is almost never true, and these days, for a lot of people who have the right friends (or the right combination of skills themselves), doing it on your own is by far the better path.

I found Simon on Ephemera's site with the amazing promotion, "Buy This Book Today $0.00." I think they're a little less competent than most at this business thing. Oh well, never trust a "publisher" with a seven-digit ISBN prefix unless you know the proprietors very well. (Besides, they should totally be on the ISBN-13 program by now.)

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
That's Good News! by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #43 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 05:42:33 AM EST
That means they've stopped offering their version of the book, and are complying with our modified agreement -- which saves me a lot of hassle.

Thanks for pointing this out!

I guess true professionals put these things off until Saturday morning over coffee. Um. That's standard, right?

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Totally! by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #47 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 05:53:45 PM EST
The book business would fall apart completely if it weren't for the stuff that gets done over Saturday morning coffee.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by jared (2.00 / 0) #27 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 05:48:53 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by jared

Sadly... by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #36 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 04:19:01 AM EST least when it comes to entertainment/media/publishing, the worse sort seems to be the more common sort.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
I hesitate to say anything by johnny (2.00 / 0) #38 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 07:54:25 AM EST
since my performance on the book you and I are collaborating on is not especially great, but here is one observation on transitioning from self-publishing to "the big boys".

Before getting into that, I offer my real sympathies for your grief with Ephemera Bound. You  and your book deserved better.

Some years after my second self-published novel came out, I got a call pretty much out of the blue from a pretty senior editor at Random House. He had read my first book, Acts of the Apostles, checked out its positive reviews, and wanted to know if I would be interested in a two-book deal to reprint Acts & write a new book. It was very good for the ego to have them pick up the phone and call me.

Long story short, after a few flattering phone calls and meetings -- he bought me lunch in Manhattan and breakfast in Boston, I concluded that the "second book" he wanted was not one I was much interested in writing, and that I had no idea what it would take to get to the point where we actually had a signed contract. So, I told him "thanks but no thanks" and ended the conversation.
Maybe that was foolish, maybe Random House would have put their full backing behind me. But my  reading of the tea leaves was that I was looking at a small advance and a minor chance of success,writing a book I didn't really want to write, making much less per book than I can make self-publishing.

If I ever publish a book that sells 20k 30K copies, maybe then I'll have enough clout to get the kind of relationship with a "real" publisher that would make it worth my while.
Buy my books, dammit!

Don't Let The Pains Pain You by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #40 Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 10:53:00 AM EST
Aw, don't worry johnny, it'll come together eventually. My financial sitch isn't nearly as dire as when last we spoke telephonically, so don't stress on my account.

I remember you telling me about your experience with Random House. Just in case I forget, though, tell it to me again next year, will you? It seems important to bear in mind.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Ephemera's Excessive Etherealness by zwhite (2.00 / 0) #44 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 06:11:17 AM EST
I had to delurk to offer my words of encouragement. I've been reading you here and at k5 for years, and when you did SoS and your storytelling blog they immediately went into my RSS list.

Funny enough, last week I finally got around to ordering BONY and the anthologies (they were sent to Alameda, near the nuclear wessels.) Had I waited just a few more days I could have saved myself $8 on shipping. Ah well, now I have another CBB book to look forward to getting. :)

I wondered why it was that the hardcover edition seemed inferior. Now it makes sense. I've never seen so few pages between the copyright page and the start of the story. It was a bit... disconcerting.

If you find yourself out California way anytime please post it here. I'd love to shake your hand (and buy you a beverage or offer you a smoke, if you are a partaker at that time.)

Keep up the good fight. I enjoy your stories as much as I enjoy Philip K Dick's stories, and I hope you won't have to wait as long as he did for well-deserved literary recognition.

Alameda! by R343L (2.00 / 0) #45 Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 06:47:39 AM EST
I can practically throw something at you on the way to CCK on the ferry. ;)

Note there is a fairly large contingent of SF area hussies and you're certainly welcome to come out for drinks and dinner and stuff. There will (hopefully) be an event in a couple weeks when ni manages to bicycle down the coast (probably between the 1st and 5th).

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
that's very kind by zwhite (2.00 / 0) #50 Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:36:55 AM EST
And I may just take you up on that, if I can get over my natural shyness on these things.

[ Parent ]
SoS by hulver (4.00 / 1) #48 Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 12:35:53 AM EST
I bought the hardback version through Amazon, and I was unimpressed.

I didn't notice any differences between the hard copy and the self published edition. The dodgy formatting at the beginning of one of the chapters was still there. The Canaloni / Canoli confusion is still there.

Those are the big things that stick out. I've not been through the two copies side by side, but it doesn't look like much has been changed.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

What a mess by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #49 Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:07:14 AM EST
I suppose this is what agents are for (I had wondered).

Hope you manage to get some form of redress.

It's political correctness gone mad!

*hug* by duxup (4.00 / 1) #51 Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 06:20:09 AM EST
You are a stronger man than I.  Just reading this is upsetting enough.  I don't think I could take it if some of my crappy works were hung up like that.
It's your fault, you jerk! by debacle (2.00 / 0) #52 Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 06:25:15 AM EST
Really, the ultimate loser here is whoever tries to make a deal with me next. This is the second time in my life I've tried to navigate an intellectual property crisis by being candid, giving, understanding, tactful and forgiving -- and, lo and behold, it doesn't work.

You idiot! You poopyhead! Even your daughter is old enough to know that you don't trust strangers!


My sympathies... by SarahDavisSings (4.00 / 1) #53 Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 10:51:17 AM EST
Yikes!  I knew things we're going badly, but not quite like that.  Hmm...sounds like I need to go back to Lulu and get my CBB fix that way.  :)