Well, here we go again. The CEO of Noble Romance Publishing, Jean Gombart, continues to lie about how he and the company are treating their authors.
The latest comments from Mr. Gombart now appear on Piers Anthony’s site. Clearly, Mr. Gombart is not telling the truth in his comments. I am a perfect case in point.
I’ve chronicled the situation on my blog from the moment the whole mess began last July. Jill Noble left the company abruptly and with many issues unresolved. I didn’t realize at first exactly how bad those issues were, having only experienced them for myself. Once the implosion occurred, and I heard from other authors, I realized that there were many more issues, far more grievous than mine.
In any case, I didn’t know what to do. Things were going from bad to worse, and I wanted the rights to my two books back. But after continued silence from the remaining management at Noble, save for a “we got your email, understand your concerns and will get back to you” canned response, I was really starting to worry. Jim Noble, the owner of the business, made absolutely no attempt to reach out to anyone. Nothing at all.
In the meantime, Noble authors were subjected to threats and insults and general nastiness by Jill and her daughter on the loops. When it became clear we would not be swayed by these threats, they shut down the group. So we created our own, but of course, we also gained a spy or two who passed along everything that we shared on our PRIVATE loop.
Then came word that Noble hired Mr. Gombart. In his introductory email to the Noble authors, he invited us to reach out to him – he claimed he wanted to hear our concerns and issues and wanted to work with us to build up the business and maximize sales. I thought, okay, let’s see what happens. I sent an email. I outlined all of my issues – the general concerns about the health of the business and the ability to turn it around (at that point, the company looked to be in complete tatters), the appalling treatment from existing Noble staff, my contract breaches, and my interest in seeing what his plans were to make things right. I received no reply.
Then I proceeded to hear what Mr. Gombart had to say to those people he did actually take the time to respond to. He was “going to teach authors to behave,” and “there are no breaches as far as we are concerned.”
I was dumbfounded. Really? Granted, most of my breaches are minor, easily resolved. However, in the case of each book, I am owed back royalties. It’s not much, and again, easily resolved. Still, owing an author the royalties due them is a major breach of contract. I began to get angry. So I revised my email outlining my concerns, and sent it off in a certified letter, which the contracts – offered and signed by Noble Management, Jill Noble-Shearer at that time – required in order for Noble to review the issues. The clause also gave Noble 90 days to respond and resolve the issues. If they did not, at the end of the 90 day period, I was within my rights to terminate my contracts.
Needless to say, Noble didn’t respond. So at exactly 90 days from the date Noble received my letter (I have proof of delivery), I sent off another certified letter terminating my contracts. Again, nothing. My books remained on Noble’s site, Amazon, B&N, ARe and Bookstrand. My piss-poor formatted print version of In the Devil’s Arms also remained for sale, though its ridiculous $19 price has ensured I haven’t sold a single one of those. Healing the Mage never made it to print – oh, wait, is that another breach?
In any case, I proceeded to follow-up with weekly emails to Mr. Gombart. I quoted the contract clauses, pointed out that I knew he had received my letters, and that he was now required by those contract clauses to remove my books from all sites and provide me with a letter stating that all rights have reverted to me. I reminded him that I owned the copyrights on the books, not Noble, and he was now infringing on my copyrights. Now some authors actually spoke on the phone with Mr. Gombart, but for me, that has been an impossibility. I work full time and have two school-age children. The time I have available to devote to such calls would have to come at hours when Noble’s business day is over. That situation will be changing very very soon, however, and I do believe it’s time for Mr. Gombart to see that I am indeed real. After all, who wrote the two books that he refuses to take down? Regardless, until now, my only method of communication was sending emails and certified letters.
And I’ll admit it, I was angry. The tone of my emails was professional, but there was no question that I was pissed off. I’ve never had any response to any of my communications. My books are selling next to nothing. I’m a non-entity to Noble.
I’ll also admit, I have publicly tweeted about these unethical business practices. I’ve commented on Facebook, on various Noble-sanctioned loops (though I’ve since been banned from those for daring to speak the truth – heaven forbid other authors see the reality of working with Noble), anywhere I can. Absolute Write. SFWA. I gave Piers Anthony my side of the story, proving the lies Mr.Gombart is trying to pass off as truth. I filed a grievance with RWA – Noble ignored their letter too. I’ve looked into legal assistance, and that is likely where this is headed, though the process is slow because of other issues. But it is far from forgotten or over – Noble continues to infringe on my copyrights by refusing to take down my titles, refusing to respond to me in any way, and refusing to pay the back-owed royalties.
And it’s time that everyone knows the truth, despite whatever denials Mr. Gombart and Noble may state. Noble Romance Publishing and Jean Gombart have treated authors with a total lack of respect, contract clauses are outright ignored and he is lying when he says all letters have been responded to.
You can read about Kari Gregg’s POD disaster here: http://www.karigregg.com/?p=1729
If anyone else wants to share a link, let me know and I’ll add it – I know there are others who are in a similar, and in some cases, worse situations.