Have you ever seen a situation in life the inspired you to be the force of change? Have you then ever taken action on that inspiration and literally put your money where your mouth is? It’s a bold and brave place to be but sometimes one that doesn’t ALWAYS pan out like you plan. As a writer, putting your best, and most noble, foot forward doesn’t always mean your first effort will be the one that achieves your goals. So, what do you do when setbacks happen? As a writer, what do you do with your gift, your talent, your passion, when you hit roadblocks and hurdles? Such is the focus of this series of articles I’m doing in the hopes of bringing about a sense of commonality and brotherhood amongst authors. Sharing 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 telling 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 while keeping their determination. This brings me to Cheri Andrews.
Cheri began publishing her series of books in 2008 when her daughter came home from school one day complaining about the assigned reading. The content wasn’t a good fit for their family values and Cheri saw both a need within her child’s school system, and an opportunity to empower her daughter to be a force of change. She urged her daughter to investigate further. “I encouraged her to learn why her class had to read those specific books. The teacher informed her that it was because those books contained the vocabulary words they needed to learn.” Now most parent’s might have left it at that but not Cheri. She was further motivated still. “I was trying to teach her the life skill of not complaining unless she was willing to be part of the solution to resolve the issue. I explained to my daughter that her idea of going to the principle to have him change the curriculum would only work if it was combined with a possible alternative reading option as a solution.” And what was Cheri’s solution, to write her own books!
Cheri had already begun her YA Fiction series, REEF WARRIORS, as a way to stay connected to her daughter. She would use her daughter’s daily life as little details to enhance the characters within the novel. So when the issue of curriculum clashing with family values came into play, it was a natural leap for Cheri to use the books, again, to bridge the gap. “I obtained the vocabulary word list from the school and added them right into my stories.” Her goal was to offer public schools the books they needed with necessary vocabulary, but without language and content that perhaps might have been too dark or even questionable in vernacular. As all this family bonding unfolded, Cheri Andrews prayerfully sought a Christian publishing house. She thought she found it in Tate Publishing.
Her beginning with Tate was a positive experience and everything seemed true to their advertised model of a faith-filled organization. Sadly, the latter part of 2016 brought communication challenges. Then the beginning of 2017 showed an almost ludicrous shift in communication. Emails, all sent within a few weeks of each other and all sent en masse to the Tate Authors, provided the narrative for a true sling-shot response.
January 4th, 2017: The director of Marketing for Tate, Terry Cordingly, sent an email discussing the wonderful business changes coming with Tate moving procedures BACK state-side and away from the Philippines.
January 13th, 2017: the VP and Director of Production, Tim Kelley, announced the exciting advancement of a Publishing Portal to better serve publisher/author communications.
January 19th, 2017: a Blanket email from a general Tate email address (unsigned) stated that a transition period had begun and Tate was no longer accepting new artists. That was to be the last communication Cheri would receive.
Andrews, like many others, was told that Tate would be in contact WITH HER
directly about her work. But that contact never happened. Despite paying over $15,000 in personal funds towards her book series, Cheri was and is still owed property. Her website that Tate created for her was inexplicably taken down and re-directed back to Tate’s homepage without her knowledge or consent. The retainer she paid, out of pocket, for a Tate publicist to market her book was never acted on. The posters and push cards and book marks that she purchased for the third book in her series were never delivered.
“I was embarrassed to discover my Tate author website now reflected Tate’s current home page, alerting all my potential customers to this publishing house failure, and possibly tarnishing my credibility as a reputable author. I quickly removed the link from my book social media pages, but there is no way I can stem this knowledge from reaching all the potential readers that received my business card at the large craft/ business venues where I signed/sold books.”
Devastating news indeed and moreso from a company espousing Christian ideals. However, despite what would have sunk almost anyone else, Cheri Andrews remained unstoppable. “I never stopped writing. I am almost done writing book four. After that I intend to start writing book five. I am going to try and get a literary agent and go the traditional route of publishing again. My goal is the same, to provide not only an entertaining read, but a positive tool to help guide young teens through the multitude of challenges and decisions they’ll face as they mature into adulthood.”
FOCUSED, I applaud Goodreads
And for all other would-be writers out there I recommend adding Cheri’s indomitable spirit to the list of traits you would do well to cultivate. Writing is not an instant overnight burst into infamy. You must be intentional, cautious, and be prayerful. Proceed with eyes-open but if it's what you love doing, never ever give up. If you are passionate about writing, then hone your craft, learn what you can, and carry-on. I cover more on things to be wary of in my article 7 Ways to NOT get published…. but for now, I encourage you all to JUST KEEP WRITING!
To learn more about Cheri Andrews and her books, click on any of the following links:
Book 1: Reef Warrior: Journey to Discovery
Book 2: Reef Warrior: Embracing Reality
Book 3: Reef Warrior: Navigating Transition
Cheri's books on Goodreads
And to read more articles on author's impacted like Cheri, check out the following: