Wow-- before I say anything, this is the first of two posts I will be making surrounding this issue. This one is solely about Silver, the next will be about the MM genre in general.
I was never the kind of person up on the latest gossip. In fact, I tend to go out of my way to stay away from gossip and petty grievances, but this is WAY more petty grievances. This is the mother of all scam from someone we trusted and believe in. Now before I go into Leiland Dale or whatever name he's using now, I have to say this. As an author I take my work very seriously. I respect the craft and the work that goes into a story. Sure, not every story will get a five star review (or whatever scoring system they're using these days) but then again you can't please everyone. So when it comes to an author and said author's work I respect that author in making decisions that is best for that author and that author's work. So this is NOT about blaming an author, this about shedding light on a someone who played on authors love of writing and putting their works out there. This blog, is so that new authors don't fall for this guy's tricks and get sucked into the black hole that has become Silver Publishing and Leiland Dale (or whatever he's calling himself these days).
Most of you don't know this, but I started out with Ocean's Mist Press and Mardi Gras publishing, two houses that has long since gone under but their selfishness and dishonesty is all over the internet still so if you're curious, google them. And after going through those wringers, plus hell getting my work back from Red Rose Publishing, I've become really weary about 'spreading my submission wings' to new publishers. Before I signed with Silver Publishing, it took me a while to sign my first contract with them. Why? Because I noticed the address on my contract said "South Africa" Most of you may be wondering why...well, I was thinking ahead of what would happen if this guy decided to pull an Ocean's Mist Press or a Theresa from Mardi Gras we'd all be screwed. Anyways, I signed my contract for Country Soul and life went on.
So last year, I began hearing mumblings from a few authors who haven't been treated fairly by Silver Publishing. Now, when I say fairly, I mean they weren't getting statements (as stated in the contracts), they weren't being paid on time if at all (as stated would happen in contracts) and a whole slew of other red flag behavior. My ears perked up. I began following closely and noticing things that they were complaining about were beginning to happen to me. To begin with, he went through and "adjusted" the royalty scheme without sending new contracts, then he changed payment schedule from every quarter to every month. Then somewhere between that he changed it again WITHOUT notifying all Silver authors. My warning bells began going off even louder now.
Payments were late and when they did come, most times they wouldn't jive with the statements (if I even got a statement). Sometimes I emailed Leiland so many times for a statement that he sneaks it into my google drive then tries to tell me that it has been there for a while - erm, no, my dear, computers time and date stamp EVERYTHING so NO it wasn't there from time.
Other authors began muttering about getting lawyers and starting a lawsuit so that was when I spoke up and told them what I thought. I told them straight up that this man was from South Africa, and if we start anything without being able to nail this guy he's going to skip town and none of us will ever get our money or rights back. Next point I made was that if we tried this most of us would have to do this under South African Law (See why I was nervous about the South African connection?) and that would cost us an arm and a leg probably WAY more than he owes us we'd have to spend on lawyers (not just one but more than because we'd have to get a lawyer in our home country AND one in South Africa--Jurisdiction my beautiful readers, Jurisdiction).
Then getting any reply from Leiland began being a chore. He would go WEEKS without replying to an email. Then things got blown out into the open when a few authors went public. Still I said nothing publicly, but I became a part of a group and they realized how absolutely ticked off I was. I went through this bullshit THREE times before and would be DAMNED if I went there again. I began sending Leiland time sensitive emails...demanding statements and payments. After repeated emails, he finally slipped a statement into my google drive that turns out to be works of fiction because they claimed I had no third party sales when my books were high on the Amazon best sellers list.
Then I saw the ship sinking and sent him a letter demanding my rights back. I couldn't afford to have this guy skip town and not give me my rights reversal letters. Suddenly I began getting PM on facebook calling me a "paranoid bitch" but I didn't give a flying fig. To stress how serious I was, I wrote him a very long and extensive letter stating why I was pulling my books. The reasons were many including lack of communication, lack of payment, lack of statements, lack of trust in him and the company as a whole and calling him out on the lies he's been feeding us. I even told him in the author group on facebook the letter was coming and if he doesn't respond to it, what my next steps would be.
He was not very pleased and long after the letter was registered back to me as delivered by the USPS, he ignored it until I sent him the letter in an email letting him know I know he received the letter and that if he doesn't give me my books back within the 90 days it stipulates and that is in my contract I that I had a blog and a very big mouth.
Almost instantly, he answered, telling me basically how dare I call him a lair and how he wasn't really getting anything out of Silver being open and how dare I threaten him. The best part of that letter was that he said my books would be down by sometime in February.
I kissed any money he owed me goodbye I stuck around in the group that was fighting to get their works back from Leiland or payment or even and email back for that matter. Things got from bad to worse. A small part of me still wanted my money. I guess I wasn't strong enough to just walk away then. He fed us this line that the company was sold and that the new owners would take care of paying us. My first question was, why would a company buy a company like Silver that is in SO much trouble. I'm not talking a few disgruntled authors here or there, am talking the GRAND-DADDY of all trouble. I asked this question in our private group. It never made sense to me.
After a bunch of us dug around we found out that the new company, EMPIRE he claimed bought Silver was a sham. I personally googled this company and they had no internet presence. I kept searching and found that company had something to do with Leiland and I was so confused. I told the group what I found and a few others began digging really deeply. They dug so deep and so hard that Leiland finally said the deal fell through. The one company we found that did have a website had nothing to do with publishing what-so-ever and now the shit really hit the fan--Leiland left town for South Africa...he's gone...as in...with the wind and our money....
Long story short, Leiland Dale (or whatever he's calling himself these days) realized that we were on to him. He knew we were digging and it was only a matter of time before we found things that would really make him cry and then someone mentioned calling ICE - the guys responsible for finding illegals in the US and all of a sudden he just HAD to go back to South Africa to take care of his "sick" mom.
Bottom line? This man ripped us all off. He did it and he has no remorse about it. And then his so called "Best friend" is claiming she had no idea what he was up to and thinks this whole debacle is hilarious and that "those people" are insane. He did precisely what I thought he would do from the first contract I signed with Silver and he left everyone to clean up his mess. A few of these people are kind and genuinely shocked this is/was happening, others are just asses about it which pisses us off even more.
Listen, we're all happy to get published - especially if its with a publisher we believe to be reputable. But do your research. There are plenty of places out there like WRITERS BEWARE that will tell you the truth about what's happening in these houses. Do NOT simply look at the covers and author names on a publisher's site and decide to sign with them. DIG. Ask questions. If you dig deep enough and ask enough questions, you will get the answers you're looking for to make an informed decision. Do not sign with a company that has little to no web presence and if it can be helped do not sign with a company that is brand new. Try for those that has stand the test of time. If possible sign with a company in YOUR country. This way of shit hits the fan like it did at Silver, you don't have to worry about where to send the cops and extradition and all that BS. And if something in this world seems too good to be true--chances are, its too good to be true.