Ever have that feeling that the train has jumped the tracks, barreling wildly forward towards a blunderous nightmare, and you are stuck with no way to get off? Sometimes that is the case once you are signed on with a project and only AFTER it has launched it’s starting gun do you realize you’ve made a mistake. So, what do you do to unravel the mess and try to reclaim your footing? More specifically, as a writer, what do you do when you get contractually into bed with a publisher who – as it happens – is a total fraudulent hack? Such is the series of articles I am writing about the unwitting authors and Tate Publishing company. FELLOW authors, in fact, who have fallen on the same sword as I with a publisher who has done us wrong. These are the tales, cautionary as they may be, in the hopes that somewhere some poor beginning writer with big eyes and a willing heart won’t slam headlong into the same mess. Like I once did. Like R. C. Coleman did.
For R. C. Coleman, a love of writing came about at a young age through school assignments. Though Grammar wasn’t the favorite topic, the creativity involved at story telling was an instant passion. And being homeschooled as a child allowed for greater flexibility to pursue it with the time and intensity desired. As R.C. progressed creatively, the writer evolved and by adulthood, Coleman was headlong into a series of children’s chapter books. Specifically, books intended to capture the fantasy-obsessed generation with new adventures that while thrilling, would also have a biblical foundation that was relatable. A noble goal indeed and in 2010, the first of these stories, Destination White House fell into the lap of what SHOULD have been an ideal publisher. Coleman signed on to work Destination, and later Cinderfella, with Tate Publishing. They were a self-proclaimed Christian publishing house and they scooped up Coleman’s creativity with a contract to publish. Eventually she even transitioned to a 'lifetime publication' arrangement with Tate as well…and that singular high point was the top of a long, downhill slope.
Unlike so many other tales from the trenches of bad publication that I have covered, R.C. knew almost instantly that a grave misstep had occurred. But it was already too late and the deceptive publishing train had already left the station – Coleman’s work on-board for the long haul. “With my first book I was promised a TV interview with a local station if I paid … but no attempts were made to set up an interview. In 2014 I spent $2,400 on a Publisher for Life contract with a 500 book voucher. They published one book …but am still owed around $2,000 worth of books unredeemed. They started work on creating my website but never completed it … they never created or aired the TV commercial they promised. I seldom received [royalty] checks any way and they were rarely more than a few dollars. When I told them I had not been receiving any royalties and requested a payment, they dodged me for quite some time before I finally received an email.” That email from Mr. Randy Morales that stated they could not process her request for Sales Reports or Royalty Statements because the accounting department was overrun.
R.C. Coleman took the hit badly but was stuck contractually and unsure how to proceed. “In many ways, it was devastating because I had invested so much of myself; time, money and talent into their company out of good faith because I believed in their integrity. Despite all the difficulties. It was like starting from square one; seven years I could have spent in pursuit of a real writing career wasted.” The problems which began in marketing continued in editing and even more so into illustration. Books sent out to book stores with Coleman’s cover and SOMEONE ELSES contents were the pinnacle in unprofessional behavior. In the end, when Tate finally went belly-up, Coleman was almost relieved to just be free of them. So much time and over $6,500.00 dollars wasted, had left R.C. ready to move forward without Tate. Painful, but wiser, Coleman vowed to never jump into a vanity publishing scheme again.
I asked if R.C. Coleman had any final words for Tate Publishing, given the almost immediate nature
of their duplicity and the length of time spent fighting their broken business model. Coleman was not without passion in responding. “I chose [Tate Publishing] because they claimed to be faith based and their mission was to help first time authors by providing them with a publishing company that was different than others. That was the kind of company I wanted representing me. I believed in their integrity even when the road was bumpy. Though I feel greatly wronged I am, more than anything, grieved and disappointed in Tate’s representation of faith based companies. It is hard to understand how their staff, if they had knowledge of what was happening, did not have the decency in themselves to inform any of us before it had gone so far. Instead they continued, up to the closing of the doors, to market us without any intention of following through on these promises. I feel just as deceived by the proprietors of Tate as from the staff.”
Powerful sentiment that I myself can attest to sharing. In fact, KFOR news Oklahoma did a news story on Tate Publishing in January of this year (2017). Richard Tate himself espoused his deep love for all the author’s and how their company was not going to abandon us. And yet hundreds of us were left high and dry. I MYSELF PERSONALLY can share that my numerous requests for my files, my copyright, my property, and my royalties, have all gone unanswered.
And yet, despite all this, R.C. Coleman remains undeterred. Focused on the original goal and now she moves forward creatively with WISE eyes. “I am working on several titles at the moment, one which I have completed in its entirety, and several new titles in my allegorical fairy tale series. I have received other offers from companies like Tate but I do NOT wish to go down that route again. I plan to continue looking for an agent to represent me in locating a traditional publishing company.” Coleman has learned some hard lessons in all this that we all hope to pass along to future writers. Don’t always jump at the first offer you are given. If it seems too good to be true, it might be because it is. If pressure is applied for you to jump on a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, maybe stop and ask, if it’s so special…. why the pressure?
R.C. Coleman’s experience is one that was shared by literally hundreds of other authors at Tate Publishing. Certainly, however, there are so many other would-be authors who have fallen into similar traps. As such, I hope that this article, and ANY of the many other’s I have written, serve to help shield you. Learn from our experiences. Proceed cautiously in publication, and with your eyes open. If you are serious about being a writer then continue to hone your craft. Never give up…. never say die…. JUST KEEP WRITING!
To follow Coleman's writing, check out:
Facebook: R. C. Coleman
Instagram: Inspiring Hope
To read more Tate publishing stories, check out any of the these.