Thursday, April 3, 2008

DEJA VU

Boy, does the subtitle of my blog apply to this one. "You never know what you're gonna get." I don't even know how to begin this looooong explanation, but when you post a cover for promotion on several sites and it suddenly disappears, questions arise. This is not the first time, but the second time, so rather than have people question my sanity or stability as an author, here is my best attempt to explain what has happened to my new Sarah's Journey Cover. I'd like to add a caveat that this my own personal blog and the opinions and experiences are my own and to my knowledge, true and accurate. I have copies of all emails on file.

If you'll recall, over a year ago, I signed with a certain publishing company to release Sparta Rose. I was assigned a cover, spent countless hours posting it on various author and reader sites, ordered promotional material, then had it yanked because of one particular person who managed the loop. Imagine how humiliating it was to request that the cover and trailer be pulled from the Covey Awards. I'm not going into details, but suffice to say, I'm not the only person who encountered problems with her. I'm sure deep down she has a very nice side, but in witnessing her responses to me and others, I view her as confrontational and always refusing to take ownership of her part in any problem. She maintains that she is a co-publisher, but my contract showed no evidence of her authority to take any action, but, because of the unprofessional way I FELT authors are treated on their loop, I requested that rights to my book return to me and they were. Within just a few weeks, the cover that had once been mine was reassigned to an anthology by that same publisher. I would have thought the authors would have preferred something more original than a cover that had been vigorously promoted by someone else, but I was wrong.

Here is the original cover assigned to me:












I was very fortunate to be picked up by another publisher who found merit in my work. Before they even assigned a cover to me, they were contacted by the previous publisher and 'warned' not to allow me to use the same image. I was puzzled, but not surprised. Mind you, this is an image available to anyone on IStockphoto.com and can be used thousands of times with one purchase agreement.

Here is the image:











Rather than create problems for a new publisher, I let go of the idea of using the image to match the promotional material I'd purchased. I was fortunate to receive this awesome new cover, designed for Sparta Rose by Enspiren Press. It's equally as beautiful and eye-appealing.





So, assuming my problems were over, I went on to write another novel. I signed a contract for it's release and when it came to discussing cover art, since I still had the picture I'd purchased from Istock.com, I decided to utilize it for Sarah's Journey. Julie D'Arcy, a fantastic cover artist for Eternal Press who contracted my book, and is a good friend, agreed to design a cover for me.
Here is that cover:



Sarah's Journey is about a western woman who survives a wagon train massacre. It seemed to fit my book fine. As you can see, the bottom in no way resembles the original, nor does the font. Julie did an awesome job. I was thrilled, and once again ordered postcards, t-shirts and labels. I also posted it in several places on the net.

A few days ago, I posted my first promotional email on an author's loop. The book is due for release in May so I'm scurrying to get reviews and feedback. I was leery, because the co-publisher from the original house was also posting there, but she posts everywhere as most good authors do. Almost immediately afterwards, my current publisher received an email from one of the anthology authors who accepted the re-assigned cover, inquiring whether it was known I was using one similar to theirs. When Julie responded, saying she designed the cover with no knowledge of their book and using the art I proposed, she also explained the IStock.com copyright. Almost immediately an email came from the original publisher to my current publisher expressing that she is "saddened that she (Me) keeps trying to use a version of the cover for her we designed when she was under contract with us."

Rather than cause further problems for yet another new publisher, I sent an email telling the 'saddened' person that I will not use the image even though I don't understand why they feel so threatened by my use of it. I offer the following as proof that the same photo art is often used over and over:


I'm sure the fact that these books all share a commonality, does nothing to diminish the talent within the covers.

Although I wanted to write a long, scathing letter, protesting the continued harassment and question what I ever did to deserve it, instead I decided to use my blog to explain to my fans why I keep having to remove my covers. I feel it necessary since this is the second time I'd had to pull a cover to appease someone else. I assure you that I've done nothing to warrant the continued stress, and I can also assure everyone concerned that I'm done with the cover image in question. The promotional materials on which I wasted money have been burned along with any memories of this whole sad event. I want to put this to rest once and for all.

But, one last thing. In my search to find the cover I previously had that was re-assigned, I came across a series bearing a familiar title.

17 comments:

Kim Chatel said...

Ginger, as an iStockphoto contributor I abhor what this person did to you. Only the photographer holds the copyright to photos on iStockphoto. This publisher has no right to insist that you use a different photo. I would suggest that you send a letter to iStockphoto explaining the situation. They won't be happy either. The whole purpose of iStockphoto is to sell the same image repeatedly. If this publisher did not pay the higher rate for an exclusive right to the photo, then they will be in trouble. I wouldn't be surprised if iStockphoto reprimands them.

Sloane Taylor said...

I agree with Kim. Use your word power, Ging. This is a deplorable situation.

Mary said...

I agree with Kim also. I can't count how many times I've seen certain other covers. With the same image, in a little different color, or shade.

Good Luck!
Mary

claredivatoo said...

I find this astonishing and ludicrously spiteful, too. You know how much I adore my cover for Masquerade, but I've already found it on at least one other cover - and as background in others. That's the nature of stock photography.
I also think you should alert iStockphoto about this, though I have every sympathy with you, not wanting any more personal grief over this.
*hugs*

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

I just have to say that I am continually astonished by how vindictive your ex-publishing house is. Their actions border on stalking and most certainly cross the line when it comes to bullying. They are not only telling a person who is no longer contracted with them what to do, they are telling other publishing houses what to do.

Having put up with their unprofessional behavior myself, I can only sympathize with you, Ginger and wish you luck in the future.

One would think that the publishing house in question would have better things to do than keep track of someone no longer with them.

Elena Dorothy Bowman said...

Ginger, I agree with Kim and Sloane and the others. You paid to have this cover and your ex-publisher does not have exclusive rights to it unless that's what they paid for. I think your cover suits your novel perfectly, and don't let anyone push you around. iStockphoto should be made away of what your ex-publisher is doing. By the way, who is that spiteful individual who authors ought to steer clear of? Wishing you much luck in getting this resolved to YOUR satisfaction.

Best,

Phyllis Campbell said...

Ginger! I'm APPALLED to think a publisher did this to you!!! Obviously this publisher is NOT professional and doesn't know what the hell they're doing. Get them out of here, I say! We don't need authors to get sucked into a place like this.

My heart aches for your problems, and I can't believe someone did this to you TWICE...by the same people. Once again, I'll refer back to this very unprofessional publisher. Take Kim Chatel's suggestion. Report this to Istock!


I hope this publisher stops stalking you. You are an AWESOME writer and you are better off without them. I'll rally in your corner any day!!!

Brittany Kingston said...

I really feel for you, Ginger.

It's so upsetting when these things happen, especially when others get away with it time after time. You can't help but feel singled-out and picked on, and although you know it's not your fault, I know how awful it makes you feel.

I'm so sorry this has happened to you. I'll send you some really positive, healing energy today.

You know how they say: The best revenge is living well, in this case: The best revenge is coming up with a better cover than they do - every single time!

Cheers

Brittany Kingston

Anonymous said...

Ginger, this is the most unethical and unprofessional behavior I have ever seen from a publisher. And I've been around this business for more than 20 years. But for those who read Ginger's blog, I want you to know that I was published by the same publisher. I, too, had a cover pulled two months before the release of my book in 2006. All the promotion I had done went to waste. I found a cover artist who designed another cover, which turned out to be more eyecatching and much more beautiful than the original. So all was not lost.

Unfortunately, a year and 3 months later, it happened a second time. Another contracted book was supposed to be published in December 2007, but once again, the temperamental "co-publisher" (and I use that term loosely) pulled the cover because she was miffed over a few authors talking about her rantings. (That's a whole other story. Actually, a quite appalling one.) So once again, I was left with a lot of costly promo material and no cover, and this time no book.

Not to go into details and beat a dead horse, suffice to say there are many of us who will never submit to this unprofessional publisher again. In fact, if we're asked our thoughts of the publisher and staff, well let's just say none of us will lie about our experiences.

BTW, this publisher has warnings against it at P&E and Piers Anthony sites.

I guess the moral to all this is, be careful who you sell your books to. This would have never happened if the publisher was a NY publisher and not a small press. Lesson learned. Next time I will do my homework before I submit to future publishers.

Rita Karnopp said...

Ging... it's so wrong... sounds rather strange to me... what is the underlying problem here?? I've seen many book covers that are similar... but... so what... that second book cover Julie created was beautiful... and I don't see why it should should have been a problem. I'd have cried too. But, being the professional you are... you moved on... good for you! I'm ticked for you! You didn't deserve this. Big hug to you... Rita

Ally said...

I am proud to know I have such a worthy author writing for EP. You are incredible and deffinately the better person. The tact of some people these days has a way of getting us all down and I'm glad to see how proud you stand. Either way you know you have my support.
Hugz
Ally

Micheale said...

Ginger, I don't know what I can add to all the wonderful support you received through these comments, but I'll try. I'm so glad you took the high road here and are finding a way to pass the information on. We know they-the publisher and alleged co-publisher- will get what's coming to them in the end. I agree with the others, you definitely need to let iStockphoto know this happened! I also wonder if there's a way to get these so-called professionals to stop stalking you!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is WOW! No, wait I have one more comment...Are you serious? This goes beyond petty and unprofessional. I'm shocked that another publishing house would even contact another house warning about stock cover art. Hellooo...it's stock cover art. I wish you could post the name of this house so as to warn new writers such as myself of where NOT to submit. It sounds as if your old house is run by people that are shallow minded not to mention extremly insecure if they feel the need to hassel an author that is no longer with them. Are these people per chance frustrated writers??? Don't they have their own authors they should be taking care of...a house to run? It's these sort of stories that circulate in this industry that give small press houses a bad name.

Although I don't know you, Ginger, I wish you all the best and agree with other posters...yes, you're clearly taking the high ground but you should report this behavior to iStock. This publishing house is now interfering with the ability for other artists to make money. They have stepped over the line and are messing with something that is none of their business. If they don't want their covers to look similar to someone else's, then they SHOULD NOT use stock photos. Shame on them!

Anonymous said...

I can not believe in this day and age where stock photos are used on all kinds of things that this would be an issue for a publishing house. I don't care how small or large. I am sorry you're having this kind of trouble. No one's career should be marred by this sort of unprofessional behavior. If this house is so concerned about the cover art of other houses they are no doubt trying to shift the focus of their substandard titles. Or perhaps lackluster edititing or maybe a combination of both.

It sounds as if they need to fire the "co-publisher (who needs to denote themselves with that kind of title?) who sounds like a Me Me Me kind of person and worry about what they want to do once the house folds.

Did you say there is already complaints out at P&E and Piers? If so good. Writers listen to these places. Yeah, I hope these people are learning to practice "do you want fries with that?" This industry is really too small to be making such a big stink.

Tabitha said...

Ginger Spice,
Don't let these people get you down. Sounds to me like they're afraid of your success with that particular book cover.They need to get a life and leave you alone. Gosh, what is their problem that they have nothing better to do than stalk you, harass you and aggravate you about your book cover? Sounds a little twisted to me...best of luck to you and I know you will get a much better cover for Sarah's Journey...Tabs

Kim Richards said...

Ginger, I'm sorry to hear of this harrassment. If I were the photographer, I'd be thrilled to see my picture used on your cover and appalled that someone else laid claim to it this way. Sheesh. Some people!

Latesha said...

Ginger, I'm sorry to hear that you have had such trouble with these covers. All are beautiful and I think that you should have been allowed to use them. I hope that all ends up working out for you with regards to things.

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