Here we go again. I spoke a couple of months back about the implosion at Noble Romance. Jill Noble pulled a major flounce (not my term, but it certainly fits! Don’t remember who used it first, but thank you and if you tell me, I’ll update here! :D) and then proceeded to publicly dump on all the authors, calling them trash, recruiting her daughter to get engaged in the public name-calling and smear tactics, etc. It pissed me off – after all, despite what Jill & Co. might say publicly, I did nothing wrong. Well, other than bug her for my owed royalties. BTW, in case you haven’t heard, Jill is now an agent – representing authors! Ain’t that a hoot? I wonder how many will want to work with her after seeing how she treated her authors previously.
In any case, after that initial brouhaha, the powers that be at Noble hired a new CEO. I have to say, he made getting royalties paid a priority and he did it fairly quickly considering the disaster he stepped into. I sent off an email explaining my issues with Noble. I didn’t rant, or threaten, didn’t act out of line, but strongly pointed out my serious concerns about the company. I didn’t hear anything back, but information started to filter through and I decided before I went the certified letter route, I’d watch and see if anything looked to be improving. It wasn’t.
So I typed up a very professional letter, stating my issues in a very business-like manner (I’ve written a ton of business letters – 23 years in sales & marketing for a global corp. gave me a lot of experience). I took it to the post office, paid for it to go certified, with return receipt and tracking. And off it went.
It sat in the PO box for some time before it was finally signed for. I do have my receipt in hand now, in my file with all the other documents. However, after several weeks, there has not been a response. Granted, I gave them the contract-required 90 days to resolve the issues, but I expected at least some sort of reply. Something to indicate they received my letter and are reviewing my issues. Nothing. As I thought on it, I realized the people running this company have no idea how to be professional in any way.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Some of what I heard he had to say about dealing with the Noble authors truly disturbed me. Who did this guy think he was to tell us how we should react and behave? There is no doubt after being royally screwed over by Jill and Noble in general that several authors, including myself, are angry. We have a right to be. But that doesn’t mean we behaved less than professionally. And for the CEO to insinuate that, and further alienate the very authors that provide Noble with their product, was not a smart move. While I can’t speak for them, I strongly doubt many of the current Noble authors are planning to ever send any more manuscripts to them. I know I’m not. Poor marketing – hell, poor organization and business management, period – lack of communication, truly horrible POD’s and a general contempt for the authors have made them a serious NEVER AGAIN on my list of publishers.
But what has really sent me over the edge is the latest information from various sources. It has come to my attention that our new CEO, Jean Marc Philippe Gombart, has no intention of responding to certified letters (or even reading them), or to anyone who expresses any anger. Um, excuse me? Does he not realize there are serious breaches of contract going on here? I am owed royalties on each of my books – one of them for over a year now! That’s MAJOR! I don’t have the proper forms for the IRS (I don’t care what the hell stupid phrase you put in your contract, the IRS regulations trump that and if I get fucked over because Noble refuses to provide me with form 1099’s, it won’t be pretty). Piss-poor POD formatting and lack of author copies in all available formats (outlined in my contract as due to me) I can see being a minor point of contention to someone who HAS NO PRIOR PUBLISHING EXPERIENCE AND STILL NO CLUE HOW PUBLISHING WORKS.
I can deal with the “minor” issues – I admit to being willing to work with a learning curve (23 years of business experience has taught me that as well). But this guy is a seasoned businessman according to the press release. Knows how to run a business. Is that so? By allowing the lack of payment to continue, and flouting IRS regulations? Not smart business-like behavior to my perspective. In fact, it’s foolish. Because if I complain to the IRS that Noble hasn’t provided me with all the forms I need to have for accurate files, the IRS is going to be going after Noble. Not me. Not paying me the money I am due on the books that I sweated over is going to get them a letter from a lawyer. Not me. (Okay, the IRS might look closer at me, but I have a really good CPA – my sister. And I keep copies of everything. I’m clean!)
Yes, I am contractually obligated to give them 90 days to resolve the breaches (you wouldn’t believe the list I now have of contract no-no’s. I learned, sadly, the hard way). But if they’re not even going to read my letter, then the 90 days becomes irrelevant. How can you fix the breaches if you don’t know what they are? And how in the fucking hell can you expect to keep my rights with such grievous breaches?
The sheer arrogance of this man boggles my mind. When authors send him an email he lowers himself to actually read, his response is “Call me.” Shouldn’t that be the other way around? My 23 years of experience in business (yes, I am repeating it again – I’m not a green newbie in every way) have taught me that the new boss reaches out to the employees, (in this case, the authors, though I wouldn’t exactly say we’re employees), not the other way around. Besides, someone like me, who works that FT job, can’t make calls related to writing on work hours. My boss and coworkers support my writing career – as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job that actually pays my mortgage and covers my kids’ health insurance. When I get home from that paying job, it’s too late to call, business has ended for the day. Besides, there is no way in eternal hell I am racking up long distance charges for someone who can’t even be bothered to read a certified letter concerning major breaches of contract.
The unethical and downright rude behavior of the management at Noble (TIIC) is appalling. Sneering at authors and acting like they’re gum stuck on your shoe is not the way to win loyalty. This lesson has been a costly one for me, but I am now wiser. While the loss of unpaid royalties will not get my electricity shut off, it will do that to others. Now I have to say – how dare they trifle with people’s lives as if they mean nothing? I seriously feel like I’m dealing with a Leona Helmsley-type here – self-centered, vain and arrogant, everyone should show them respect. No way. Not when you don’t give me that same respect. It’s clear from what I’ve learned in the last few months the people who provide Noble’s products are somehow viewed by management as inferior and not worth dealing with. You know, eventually, all those contracts will expire (have no doubt, the letter intending not to renew my contracts is drafted and ready to go, even if it has to wait. For now, anyway). And all those rights will legally revert to the authors. Does Noble’s management not worry about that? Do they truly think the continued lack of communication is going to make the authors want to keep their work there, and submit more? And do they really think anyone in the publishing universe will forget what has happened? Actually, on that last point, they do seem to think that. I find that rather amusing – no one ever forgets (or forgives) in the internet age.
If they do truly think all those things, then I have to believe we are dealing with very ignorant and clueless people here. If this type of behavior continues, my guess is that Noble won’t survive for much longer anyway.
At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Yeah, I know, I’m coming off like a bitch. Hell, I am one, usually! lol But I don’t care anymore. I will never send them another word of my work again, and I will, one way or another, come hell or high water, get my rights back and leave them in a trail of dust so big, they’ll be choking for weeks!