Lies and More Lies

So here we go again. I feel like all I’ve been doing lately is complaining about Noble Romance. Not that I don’t have good reason, as has been outlined many times in previous posts. This time, though, things are a bit difference.
You see, about a month ago, Jean Gombart, the CEO of Noble Romance Publishing finally responded to me. TEN months after my first communication to him outlining my contract breaches, which included non-payment of back-owed royalties on both titles. But that wasn’t what spurred him to respond.
What prompted him to finally respond to me was the fact that he sent my royalty statements for May to someone else. He actually sent personal financial information that was for my eyes only to someone else. The carelessness of this action raised some very troubling concerns. Noble plays fast and loose with authors’ personal information. I have very real concerns that my personal identifying information is not being secured properly, leaving me vulnerable to some very real threats, such as identity theft.
In any case, once he responded, I immediately shot back that he had yet to address any of my breaches and other concerns. Do you know what he had the balls to respond with? That they researched my claim of owed royalties and found nothing. Yet, somehow, he never felt the need to tell me this. If he had, which I pointed out to him, he would have known the facts he had were incorrect, and this I place squarely on Jill Noble’s shoulders. All of the communications Jill and I had regarding the owed royalties was in Jill’s possession, and she never turned over any of her records to Noble Management when she flew the coop. However, I am a pack-rat and I save EVERYTHING. I pulled out all of the royalty statements, the email trails and all the proof I had that I was never paid.
I got another email, one I was not supposed to see. Gombart sent the email to his accounting staff to research and made the comment that if I was right, he’d have no choice but to return my rights. I knew I was right. However, in typical Noble fashion, they looked up one title and not the other and dared to tell me they’d give me the rights back to that one title only.
I don’t think so.
Needless to say, I once again provided him my proof that BOTH titles were owed royalties, and that all I would accept was the rights to both books back. Lo and behold, he admitted I was right. Here is the email trail where he admits I am correct and that he will return my rights:
From: Jean Gombart []
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:06 PM
To: Gianna Simone
Cc:; mary harris
Subject: RE: Status Update
Dear Gianna,
Renata did process all the # for In the Devil’s Arms also comparing your revenues against your advance and you are absolutely right. Faith in June 2011 did a mistake.
After reviewing all your accounts, we now show that we are owing you $10.40 royalties for “ Healing the Mage” and we are owing you $11.33 for “ In the Devil’s Arms”
Would you like to receive these amounts by PayPal or with a check to your attention.
We are very sorry for you to have to wait such a long time.
Please do accept our most sincere apologies.
Best Regards,
Jean Marc Philippe Gombart
Noble Romance Publishing
PO Box 467423
Atlanta, GA 31146
From: Gianna Simone []
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:16 PM
To: ‘Jean Gombart’
Cc:; ‘mary harris’
Subject: RE: Status Update
Thank you for your prompt response.
I do not want any payments or adjustments – I only want the rights to both titles reverted to me ASAP, a letter stating that the rights have been reverted and both titles removed from all sites where it is currently being sold. I believe I mentioned June 25 would provide ample time for that to be completed, though sooner is better.
Gianna Simone
From: Jean Gombart []
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:22 PM
To: Gianna Simone
Cc:; mary harris
Subject: RE: Status Update
Dear Gianna,
Thank you for your answer.
We will pay you anyway because this is contractually our obligation.
We will soon be sending you the paperwork for your release for both titles.
Best Regards,
Jean Marc Philippe Gombart
Noble Romance Publishing
 PO Box 467423
Atlanta, GA 31146

I love how he blames this on the woman who handled the royalties. Technically, it wasn’t her fault, she was never provided the information to make the adjustments (thanks again Jill Noble), and she left the company, no doubt because of all of this BS. But if he had bothered to respond to me last summer, he would have known right away, and he could have locked me into those contracts for their duration. Instead, he ignored me, and now he has to pay the consequences. I also love how he decided NOW he’s contractually obligated. What, he wasn’t bound by the contracts until I pointed out his error in sending my personal information to someone else? That’s not how business is done.
I gave Mr. Gombart until June 25 to provide my reversion of rights letters. Needless to say, I didn’t get them despite my repeated requests for updates. Since he once again refuses to respond to me, I began the process of advising vendors of DMCA copyright infringement, and I included both his email and my termination of contract letter from November of 2012. Almost every vendor complied without hesitation and removed my titles from their sites. I am still waiting to hear from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I realize they are slow with this sort of thing, so I anticipated they would take longer. However, I was advised to contact Ingram, as they supply many of the sites.
I contacted Ingram and they responded informing me they had to confirm with Noble first. Do you know what he did? He told them I am still under contract to them. So now it has been proven beyond any doubt whatsoever that Jean Gombart is NOT a man of his word. For someone who claims to be a Sorbonne-educated businessman, I find him to be unethical, unprofessional, arrogant and ridiculously stubborn. He has agreed to return my rights, yet continues to once again ignore me and pretend he made no such agreement. I have it in writing though. He cannot squirm out of this, even if he continues to drag his feet. In the corporate world, that email agreement is binding. He can stall and bury his head on the sand all he wants, he put it in writing that he would give me my rights back. Whatever games he tries to play, he cannot weasel out of the fact that he made a binding agreement, and put it in writing. That he refuses to once again uphold his end of the agreement only reveals his lack of morals and inability to speak the truth.
I urge any authors out there to avoid dealing with Noble in any way. You will only set yourself up for aggravation and lord only knows what else, not to mention, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft because they will not safeguard your information.

New Year, Same Old Crap

The new year is supposed to be a time of renewal, beginnings, starting over, etc. In many ways, this proves true – I always find myself more motivated once the holidays are over, and a little less frenzied and hopefully calmer, with a brighter outlook on things.  Of course, considering I am now neck-deep in preparations for my daughter’s Sweet 16 party, this year is not starting out as calmly as others.
Last year was in general a good year – I had two book releases and made significant progress on two other works. However, I also got royally kicked in the teeth by one of my publishers.
Anyone who’s following this blog probably doesn’t need an introduction to this mess, so I’ll keep the recap short. Noble Romance Publishing has screwed me, as well as other authors, and is now infringing on my copyright. When Jill Noble abruptly left and started her smear-campaign against the authors she left in the lurch, I had my eyes opened in a really big way. When the new CEO, Jean Gombart, took over and asked authors to contact him regarding issues, etc., I did so. Got no response. So I waited a week or so to send the contractually obligated certified letter outlining what I viewed as breaches of contract. Most of those items listed were relatively minor, and I could have lived with them if the CEO had acted professionally and responded to me. But one issue was a major breach – I am still owed royalties on each of my books. We’re going on near 18 months on one of them now. Anyway, the certified letter giving them 90 days to correct the breaches went ignored, never mind unanswered. I doubt they even opened the envelope. My numerous follow-up emails have also been ignored, as has the second certified letter I sent stating that I exercised my right to terminate the contracts and that they no longer have the right to sell my books.
Still – not even an acknowledgement of my existence. Oh, I get a royalty check each month – but so far, nothing on what’s owed me. I went so far as to comment on their Facebook page, but my comments are deleted, because we wouldn’t want to hurt the other authors they are promoting and acknowledge to the public that there are unhappy (and furious) authors. WTF? In other words, the ones who either are (un)lucky enough not to have any issues, so they are stuck waiting out their contracts, or are genuinely happy there. Hey it happens, I get that. But as long as Noble keeps stealing selling my books, I’m a Noble author too, so why do I get ignored as if I’m not even real? The one person who did respond to me assured me they would forward my email to Mr. Gombart. I don’t believe that ever happened, and even if it did, it didn’t change anything. This person who calls himself a CEO refuses to respond to me in any way. I’m trying to recall if maybe I ran over his kid, or his puppy, or something heinous like that to deserve such ill treatment at the hands of someone who claims to want to grow the business and its authors. Ha!
Then I hear they opened up a new author’s loop, but authors are not allowed to comment in or participate in any way. It’s only for Noble staff to pass along info. They don’t want to hear about issues authors have, only the happy good thoughts. Give me a break. I didn’t get an invite for quite a while anyway, not until I made a fuss with someone who hadn’t yet gotten the memo to ignore me, claiming they didn’t have my email address – um, hello? Does anyone on Noble’s staff communicate in any way? I do get those statements each month via email – just because someone’s in a “different office” doesn’t mean you can’t get my email address. The more I hear from these people, the more disgusted I become.
The best one is the latest – I made a comment on Twitter to their @NRP_Submissions timeline. I was immediately unfollowed. At first I thought I was blocked too, since I could no longer reply to tweets, but I actually can do that by typing in their Twitter name and making my post. Which I will continue to do. Since they don’t see fit to respond to me otherwise, proving again how childish and unprofessionally they are behaving.
I just don’t understand why. My books with Noble are not selling well, so why go to all this trouble to keep them up for sale, and infringe on my copyright?  Why not just let it go – give me my rights back and it’s done. They never have to hear from me again.  I will take my titles and publish them elsewhere, and do a whole lot better.
I have no qualms about sharing this over and over and over again as publicly as I can and need to. I’m not stating anything untrue – I have adhered to the terms of the contract, Noble has not, and clearly has no intention of doing so. Anyone thinking of signing a contract with them, trust your gut when it tells you it’s not a good idea. If Noble hadn’t been my last shot at getting published a few years ago, I would have listened a lot more closely to that inner voice.
In the meantime, I continue to battle on.

Publisher Woes Part 2

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!

Publisher Woes

The past week has been surreal, to say the least. I have to wonder though, why these sorts of things happen whenever I go on vacation. Strange coincidence.
In any case, as many of you already know, last week, Jill Noelle Noble left Noble Romance Publishing. When I opened the email, I suspected it was an update to an email received a few weeks earlier. Boy, was it ever! To say I was stunned would be mild. Wow, what the hell does that mean now? So I posted my very nice thank you to her – after all, for those who may or may not know, until Noble accepted In the Devil’s Arms, I was literally about to throw in the towel on pursuing publication – and wished her well. But then the loop exploded with questions, and I had a real big eye-opener.
See, for some time, I’ve always felt like I was an inconvenience. My emails went mostly unanswered, commitments were made that were not upheld, and when I did receive responses, I felt like I was being a nuisance. I figured, hey, my books aren’t selling all that great, so maybe that’s why. Or maybe, based on my editing experiences, she just really didn’t like my work and wasn’t interested in anything further from me. Which was fine, I’ve sold a few other titles since then to other publishers, so that was some validation. But a couple of my issues were more than asking when I would see my PODs, or who I should send my next manuscript to.  In those cases, I continued to send a very nicely worded, “when you have a moment, can you please let me know?” email every week or so. I got one response, with a promise to resolve the issue by a certain date, but that deadline passed with nothing.
I’ve come to learn I am not alone on the receiving end of this general lack of regard. And as I learned more, the more shocked I was at how bad the whole situation had become. Authors were then prevented from discussing genuine grievances with each other, when our private loop was shut down. So a few authors opened another. We learned we had a mole – who shared our *private* comments publicly. Then went so far as to insult and make threatening comments to people who were reasonably trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.
A Noble employee sent out an email which was meant to appease and calm our jitters. It did nothing of the sort – in my opinion, the fact the owner did not in some way attach his name to that message indicated a further lack of respect for the hard-working authors whose work Noble depends on to actually be in business. I mean, if no one writes any books for them, exactly *how* can they stay in business?
To be fair, I am not in as deeply as others – I have only two books with them and a short story. Others have so much more invested in Noble, and are suffering by not getting royalty payments in a timely manner or having their legitimate issues addressed.  To top it all off, there now appears to be some sort of effort to turn our valid grievances into us being a bunch of unprofessional, untalented losers. Criminals tend to try and blame the victims of their crimes for committing them in the first place. That’s what this feels like. We have been victimized, yet somehow, it’s our fault this is the situation we’re in.
Clearly, there were significant issues to cause this massive implosion. I get that, but when the people most severely affected by that are not allowed to question and demand answers as to what the future holds for their work and careers, well, to me, that’s what I call unprofessional. Immature. Foolish. When the people who actually caused the train wreck then try to pin the blame on others, their pathetic actions show how desperately they are trying to save what’s left of their reputations. Not to mention, their behavior reeks of pure arrogance.
I’m still feeling a lot of emotions, as are many others. At this point, I just want my rights back. I have other places I can place these books where they won’t languish. There are further books in the series that will just gather dust until I can free the first two. After that, I want nothing more to do with anything related to Noble and its current and past management. I deserve more respect and I can and do get it elsewhere.
Here are links to others’ blog posts about this debacle. Some are Noble authors, some aren’t. But I think they explain it far more succinctly than I can, and give much better insight into what really was going on behind the scenes. This isn’t a complete list, I know I’m missing a few, but I will update as I can (at work and some sites are inaccessible to me at the moment)

Bryl Tyne
J.S. Wayne
Bianca Sommerland
Brita Addams
Lindsay Marene Ordone
Aleksandr Voinov
Karen Knows Best
Two Old Farts Talking Romance
Vacuous Minx
Ellie Writes