Many writers pour personal elements of their real life into their work. Not just time and emotion, but perhaps character names or even personalities. This is a great tool for fiction writers because the more REAL the character feels the better you can make that character come to life on the page. All that human nuance is better described when you envision a real person before you. But then what happens when your work gets derailed due to circumstances beyond your control? How do you regain your footing as an author if a character that is SO personal to you gets sidelined by someone ELSE'S actions? Such is the focus of this post in a series of articles I’m doing. I hope to bring about a sense of commonality and brotherhood between other writers who have found themselves similarly stranded. Sharing stories of other writers that fell on the sword of a bad publisher who, to coin a phrase, done them wrong. Perhaps in sharing our stories, we can be a cautionary tale to new writers at risk of getting scammed as we did, but more importantly to ENCOURAGE authors who have found themselves in this same spot to carry on the good fight! This brings me to Bob Richley.
Bob Richley is a YA Fiction and Poetry writer. He began penning his first novel back in his college days and his poetry began even earlier during his High School years. His first novel was to be the launch of a series called “The Oregon Kids”. The series was inspired, in part, by a real life single mom and her struggle to raise her kids without a consistent male role-model. He hoped that his series would give kids an entertaining read, but also serve as a tool to discuss strong moral principles too. A gateway, if you will, for parents to have good dinnertime discussions on family values. Being a man of faith, it was only natural that he would search for a Christian publisher to support his endeavors. His search landed him with Tate Publishing.
It was 2015 and Bob says that in the beginning it was a great experience. “For the most part it was a positive experience. I was pleased with the final product and I loved the illustrations.” Things changed once the work was complete. As with many former Tate authors, publicity and marketing fell flat. “I was disappointed at the length of time it took to produce the book. It was so much longer that even Tate had said. Also, my book was available to purchase before I even received my own copies. Copies I had to order and pay for.” In fact, as of today Richley still hasn’t received all the printed material he paid for. “I did not receive all the copies I ordered and in particular, I never received the hardcovers that I ordered .” But the lack of printed material was not the end of Richley’s disappointment with Tate. He shares also about a lack of payment in Royalty’s he says he has earned but never seen.
“Amazon has a tracking system for authors that shows books sold. I know I had book sales. I have not received any royalties for books despite both Amazon AND Tate reports showing sales.”
Harder still for Bob is that he modeled characters in his books, after his own children.
Autumn, a character in the first book of the series, shares the name of his first born daughter. And his second daughter Johanna comes into the second book of the series. A book that now, Bob fears, will never be published. “I really wanted two books with both daughters’ names in the books. I really expected that to happen because of my lifetime publication contract I paid for. Now, I don’t know how I could make that happen.” Bob still wants to write and wishes to be published but as he has learned, “writing is easy…. marketing is difficult…and finding a new publisher now may prove impossible”. And now with his money lost with Tate's closing, he faces the uncertainty of moving forward.
The personal connection to Bob’s characters isn’t the only thing about Tate Publishing’s demise that has been emotional for him. Tate publishing was also involved in labor dispute scandals after moving some of their offices overseas to the Philippines. According to reports, there were unpaid wages and eventually the Phillipine offices were shut down. “My wife is from the Philippines. We have visited family a few times over there. We have a special compassion for the employees in the Philippines who lost their job and who did not receive pay from Tate. We know how hard life is there. The Philippines is a poor country and so losing a job is particularly devastating. We were especially hurt that Tate took advantage of the employees in the Philippines, closing down the facility and failing to pay wages earned. Not receiving pay is akin to stealing from the poor which is something God abhors.” A sentiment that has been echoed by several Tate authors I have spoken to.
From a company claiming to be Christian, we expected better.
Despite the setbacks, Bob Richley still writes. His busy life with a family and two young children makes it difficult, but he makes time to work on his Poetry and even blogging. To write, despite disappointment, shows a true dedication to the art form of writing itself and for that, I applaud him. And for all other would-be writers out there I recommend adding Bob’s tale to the list of lessons that can be learned. Be cautious, be prayerful, proceed with eyes-open, but NEVER give up. If you are passionate about writing, then hone your craft and carry-on. I cover more on things to watch for in my article 7 Ways to NOT get published….but for now I encourage you all to JUST KEEP WRITING!
To learn more about Bob Richley, click on any of the following links:
And to read more articles on author's impacted like Bob, check out the following:
Author Interview -- Bill Haile, Sr.
Author Interview -- Cheri Andrews