It was 2005. I was 25 years old and in college and working on becoming a teacher. On my computer I had a story that I half wrote in 2001 and finished in 2003 while caring for my newborn daughter during the summer between semesters. I was very proud of my work. It was my first complete, novel length story. I researched publishing and agents. I even bought “The Writer’s Market” which was full of publishers and agents. I began sending my manuscript out. I began sending it to agents, publishers anyone and everyone who might help me reach my dream of becoming a writer. I had probably sent my work to about a dozen or so places which is essentially none in the publishing world. I got two responses almost immediately. I was sure I was well on my way to becoming a professional writer. I was dead wrong.
I researched Tate Publishing who offered me a contract. I found only a little about them but it was generally positive with only a couple of people complaining about poor editing and poor quality of product. My desire to be published overshadowed my ability to be patient and wait for the proper partner to help me become the author I could be. Tate required a $5000 investment fee to fund marketing, allegedly. I looked into that as well. I absolutely saw people saying that no publisher should ever expect their writers to invest in their own publishing, but others said that it was not unreasonable. Again, I was young and really wanted to be a writer. So I signed and my book was published in 2006.
At first I was elated. Everything seemed to go well. The editors and designers who helped me were awesome. I really enjoyed working with them. The cover looked great and it was a fantastic feeling to get a box of books in my hands for the time. It that moment I was sure that I was going to be a full time writer before long and immediately began working on another manuscript. It didn’t take too long to notice some cracks in the foundation however.
One of the first issues was how many editing mistakes still remained in the published copy. I read through it a few times myself but tend to miss errors because I instinctively knew what I meant. I was highly disappointed however that the copy editor missed nearly 100 spelling and grammar mistakes. I asked about the poor editing and they sent me a “post production correction” form for me to fill out each mistake with the page in which it could be found. Several months later they corrected the manuscript and eventually printed corrected copies but continued to sell the ones full of errors in the meantime. Still I was optimistic.
Tate’s policy regarding the $5000 investment was that if you managed to sell 5000 copies you would be returned the investment and offered future contracts without the need of any money from the author. I figured I could do 5000 in sales no problem and therefor the money would be returned. I was mistaken. It turns out that 5000 in sales was a bit of a goal. I managed to sell about 500 from my own hands but even if Tate themselves sold some (and I know they did through Amazon and other distributors) I apparently did not reach the mark.
I finished the sequel to my work a couple of years later and was even more enthusiastic about it. I had some insecurities about my first book, feeling like I could have done better, but this one I knew was quite good. I had several people read it and got great reviews. I edited the work several times and knew it was ready for publishing. Part of the contract with Tate was that they reserved the right to review any subsequent works I wrote before any other publishers. Fair enough, I sent them a copy. They agreed to publish it but wanted another $2500 to do so. I declined. They discounted that to $2000. I again declined. I shelved the work and mostly gave up on my dream of becoming a writer. Partly out of disappointment with my publisher, partly out of disappointment with myself but mostly because I was in my first few years as a teacher and had a few small children.
In 2016 I received the rights to my book back as Tate only reserved the rights for 10 years. It happened to be good timing for me because I resurrected my writing dream and had more time with my children getting a bit older and being more efficient as a veteran teacher. I began to plan what to do next when I saw that Tate went bankrupt. It got worse.
In January the publisher closed its doors. I read that several companies were suing them for back lease money on printing equipment and possible repossessed that equipment. There were messages about them closing for now and reorganizing. Apparently they attempted to create a new publishing company under another name. Then in May the CEO and his son were both charged with several felony’s including embezzlement and extortion. It seems that the Tate’s had some pretty criminal business practices. I know that I myself only ever received less than $20 in royalties. I’m not sure how that is possible as I was supposed to receive 40% of the cover price of $14. I didn’t really think much of it except to believe that my book was simply not very good so not very many sold. However, there were many authors who had books published and never received royalties.
So what now? Tate is going to face legal pressure and perhaps they are facing a trial. That may result in some refund coming my way which would be nice. Regardless, I’m moving forward as a writer and going to continue writing because I love it. Tate will hopefully face some justice. No matter what, I will write.