Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why my Book Won't be Published with Bryler, and Hope...

It is with sadness that I must tell the world that my book, Into the Walls of Madness, will not be published with the company it was supposed to be published with. Here are the reasons why:

The company that was supposed to publish the book was Bryler, which was owned by Cynthia-Ann McMurray. This company has now apparently gone under. But it is not just me who has suffered greatly from dealing with this company, and the subsequent fallout of it - several other authors have been through emotional hell like I have.

For over two years, I tried to be in constant contact with the company that agreed to publish my book. But, release date after release date was pushed back. Or ignored, with no notice to me. If I didn’t get in touch with them, no one from the company got in touch with me. I got pregnant, brought Victor into the world, and still nothing from the company in substantial ways to move my book forward. It wasn’t until shortly after Victor was born that I received a fully edited copy. I spent copious napping hours my son had working on the book. In the evening, my husband would watch him so I could work on the book and finish it by mid-summer, then re-submit it to the company. I put so much time and money (driving around, getting photo permissions, etc.) into this book. And then, September 2012 came and still nothing. No sign that this book would be done anytime soon.

Around early 2013, a few authors contacted me, asking about the book’s progress, and my experience with the company. And, you see, this is where it was a little complicated. When we signed our contracts with Bryler, there was a clause in there that said we were not supposed to discuss our experience with the company. The lawyers who since reviewed my contract (after Bryler had broken it by not actually publishing the book), informed me that would not hold up legally. People are allowed to talk about their experience and their contract. So when other authors came to me, and told me of their struggles and loss of hope with the company, I started to talk to them, too. I told them about the stress, the constant delays, the constant excuses for these delays, the times when no one answered the phone, no one responded to my emails, etc. Of the pain that came from dealing with Ms. McMurray on a personal and emotional level. Other authors told me that all the staff had quit. One staff member left because she had not been paid – and I can say that, because that staff member took Ms. McMurray to court as a result, and won. But it took her months to do so, because Ms. McMurray came up with several last minute reasons not to appear to her court date. Ms. McMurray and Bryler have now lost three court cases as a result of her business actions.

Bryler charged some authors varying amounts to publish their book (some authors had a traditional agreement of the company covering all costs). And by varying, I mean that they could have covered the printing charge, of about $3-4,000, or they could have had that charge and pay for an illustrator (an extra few thousand), if they were writing a children’s book. Or they could have had to pay for everything, as a few authors did (Cary Baker admitted to paying $18,000 for 1000 copies in a recent article about the company). Authors were supposed to receive royalties from the sales of their book, very generous ones in light of the money they put up for the publishing of the book. And yet, only of the authors I have spoken to, which is not all authors, none of them did. There is now a warning on the Better Business Bureau about this company and Cynthia McMurray.

One author, who was not involved with the company, wrote some blogs about what their author friends were going through with Bryler. It was the first time the authors had a public chance to talk about our stresses with the company. However, Ms. McMurray threatened legal action against this person for posting about her company, unless the author removed all posts and wrote an apology. I guess that is what has promoted me to write this. So much has been taken away from these authors without hope of getting what they are owed; it is not right that their voices are also silenced. The legal system, which seems useless to help the authors who are out so much financially and emotionally, seems to provide protection to the person who has done the wrong. Well, I have also talked with a lawyer, and I know that I am legally able to write about my experience.

Since my falling out with Bryler, the company has, according to Ms. McMurray, closed. Yet not gone bankrupt. Thus all those authors who were in thousands with the company are simply left out in the cold, with no chance of recovering the thousands they paid for their books, or getting the royalties that are owed to them. The legal system will not help them because they signed a contract. Yet it will protect Bryler and Ms. McMurray. To me, that seems horribly wrong, and no wonder people would  feel broken, abused and seriously hurt after something like that. And then to have their voices silenced... well, that is just too wrong.

Now, Ms. McMurray is offering to give the books back to some of the authors. Others have had to get lawyers involved to retrieve their books. All authors I have spoken to who have gotten their books back have had to sign confidentiality agreements (again) that they will never speak of their experience with the company or Ms. McMurray. But I have no books to get back. All I have is wasted years, time, money and resources, with no hope of getting any compensation from the company. I am sad, and angry, and extremely disheartened. But I am forging on.

The best I can say is that through this, I have met some amazing and supportive people who, like me, were hurt by this experience. And I will not give up on this project. A few months ago, I took the day off and prepared new submissions of this work. It was hard, I can tell you. But I did it. I’m a very determined person, and with Kipling’s “If” by my side to keep me going when the going got tough, I sent them out. Now I wait, and hope that something good will come out of this. Because hope is such a beautiful human emotion. We can lose so much, go through so much pain, but always, if we can still have hope, we can still survive.

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