The act of writing can be both a joy and a burden at the same time. Your creativity can LEAP off the pages or you can stare at a blank screen for days…fingers frozen over that familiar home-row of doom as you hit the wall of writer’s block. Many people envision authors as instant success once they hit the point of publication, but sometimes (sadly far too often) publication isn’t the end-all be-all that it’s cracked up to be. So, what happens when you achieve a published book, from a publishing company, who pursued you……and then dumps you? Such is the focus of this series of articles I’m doing in the hopes of bringing about a sense of commonality and brotherhood. Stories of other writers, like me, that fell on the sword of a bad publisher who, to coin a phrase, done them wrong. My hope is that by sharing our stories, we can ENCOURAGE other authors who have found themselves in this same spot, and hopefully help a few new writers avoid some of our pitfalls and find new success. This brings me to Kelly Jean Leitaert.
Kelly Jean Lietaert always knew she wanted to be a writer. Even as a little girl, she loved reading and writing so much she would request extra book reports and writing work in school. Much to her teacher’s delight, I’m sure! She would gift her words in poetry form to friends and family members and her imagination knew no bounds. Even the beloved family cat would receive precious childhood gifts. Always true to her craft, Kelly wrote several times a week including journaling and blogging as well. As she grew, Kelly Jean’s imagination did not diminish as she matured. If anything her years of experience in early childhood education served to only FUEL her creative juices. As such, it was a natural and easy shift for her to shape her work into children’s books. In 2013 she finally had the confidence to look for a publisher to take all her years of work and put it on a real store shelf. Tate Publishing was the publisher who rose to the task and in October of 2014, Lietaert’s first children’s book entitle I Wish I Was Big was released. Kelly Jean could not have been more excited to see her dreams come to fruition. Her faith in Tate seemed well placed and her time with them seemed to be exemplary. “It was all brand new and I was completely thrilled with starting the process. All my questions were answered. I was given a schedule of how the process would run, and when I ordered books, they were delivered promptly. I was even given free promotional items such as posters to display at events and bookmarks and business cards with my book cover on the front to pass out.”
There’s Something Pokey In My Shoe
“I signed with Tate because they were a self-proclaimed Christian company. I sought them out so that I could write about God without a secular publisher asking me to remove the name of God from my book. I cringe when I think about the scripture and the name of God that Tate placed right on my contract.”
All told, Lietaert invested over $2,000.00 dollars of her personal funds with Tate directly. Truly the smallest investment I've seen lost to date. But , that didn’t include funds paid for self-promotional efforts since Tate offered little to no publicity or marketing on her behalf. Kelly Jean also states she never received over 200 books and coloring books that she paid for. Items that Tate knowingly charged her credit card for in November of 2016, with full knowledge that the company had their printing supplies repossessed by Xerox. “They told me that my books were being “rushed” to the printers and that I would have no trouble at all getting my books in time for my book release party on November 26th. Needless to say – the books were never finished and I was calling and emailing DAILY to make sure I would have books in time. Five days before my party – I finally got someone on the phone that told me they could not guarantee that I’d have my books in time. This was crushing news and I was a wreck when I had to announce the delay of this book release party. A party that I had been promoting for a month and had over 75 people planning on attending. I was told that I’d have them instead by Dec. 6th…never happened. All in all, I had to cancel NINE events because of Tate’s delays, lies and deceitful behavior.” While Lietaert was devastated to have been unable to live up to her commitments, it was the damage to her peace of mind and trust in the goodness of people that she took the hardest. A trust that has been hard for Kelly Jean to re-build.
Not one to roll-over, she channeled her feelings into action and the childhood tenacity that
once had did not abandon her. Lietaert disputed the credit card charges and was able to receive some of her funds. It wasn’t a total victory, but it was enough for her to push onward and upward. She immediately began the work of retrieving what she could of her files, and re-creating herself to market afresh to publishers once again. NO SMALL FEAT! Her determination, focus, and a fierceness yielded impressive results and Kelly Jean can now proudly proclaim that her works are being published anew with a new company, Mascot Books!
--->>NOW THAT'S HOW YOU GET IT DONE!<<---
Given the tenacious nature of her efforts and career body of work, I have no doubt Kelly’s books will adorn the shelves of every child’s room in no time. I, and the other Tate Victims, stand and APPLAUD her loudly for continuing her work despite one bad bad publisher's bad bad choices. I always say, writing is not an instant overnight burst into infamy. Surely Kelly Jean’s tale could be seen as a cautionary one. But I encourage other would-be authors to LEARN from Lietaert’s experience. Be cautious, be prayerful, but proceed FORWARD with eyes-open and never ever give up. If you are passionate about writing, then hone your craft like Kelly Jean did. LEARN what you can, where you can, carry-on and above all…..JUST KEEP WRITING!
To learn more about Kelly Jean Lietaert, check out:
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