Publisher Of Anthology Screws Over Writer: A Cautionary Tale

29 comments
Undead Press screws Mandy DeGeit

via Pluck You, Too!

Today's cautionary tale about the publishing industry comes by way of writer Mandy DeGeit. She was thrilled when her short story, She makes me smile, was accepted for an anthology, Calvacade of Terror.

But that elation turned to dismay when she found out the publisher, Undead Press, made major changes to the story without running them by her. 

DeGeit recounts the situation on her blog: She signed the contract, and the anthology was due to come out May 1. When she got a copy of the book, she learned that Undead inserted a typo into the title, renaming the story She Make's Me Smile. Which is pretty bad--but not as bad as the fact that they also made some heavy changes to the story without her approval. Said DeGeit: 

They turned a non-gendered character into a boy, they named the best friend, they created a memory for the main character about animal abuse. They added a suggestion of rape at the end…

Edits are one thing, but this is ridiculous. They even inserted an entire new paragraph, with that animal abuse memory--and it was a terribly written paragraph, at that.

To make matters even worse, when she e-mailed the owner of the press, Anthony Giangregorio, to find out what happened, she got a response the was shockingly dumb. Here's an excerpt: 

and as for the story. the editor had a hard time with it, it was very rough and he did alot to make it readable. despite what you think, your writing has a long way to go before its worthy of being printed professionally.

we did what we had to do to make the story printable. you should be thankful, not complaining. ah, the ungrateful writer, gotta love it

Giangregorio even made some vague legal threats, but in a subsequent e-mail offered to waive Undead's one-year exclusivity rights to the story, letting DeGeit take it elsewhere. Which doesn't really make up for anything, does it?

The comments on DeGeit's post reveal that this isn't the first time Giangregorio has pulled some bullshit on a writer. While I feel bad for DeGeit, this is a good example of why you should thoroughly research a press before submitting to them. I'm not victim-blaming, but while the publishing world is full of wonderful people, there are also plenty of unprofessional assholes.

Has anyone else ever experienced something like this? Ever seen your work changed to the point where you don't even want your name on it? (Personally, I know the feeling, from my journalism days. It sucks.)

Share your tales of woe in the comments. 

Rob Hart

News by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor, as well as the publisher at MysteriousPress.com. He's the author of New Yorked, nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose and South Village. Short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Needle, Joyland, All Due Respect, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at Salon, The Daily Beast, Birth.Movies.Death, The Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and Nailed. He lives in New York City. Find him online at www.robwhart.com

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Comments

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies May 15, 2012 - 10:03am

Yeah, he's an idiot and an asshole. He published a vampire anthology that Christopher Dwyer and I put together, it was all set, edited, and we had an angle: twists on the classic vampire story. He ended up cutting out a few of our people for no reason, and then added in a bunch of his friends, and their stories were for the most part terrible, and were not twists, but just the same old vampire stories we've seen forever. I wouldn't publish with him again if he paid me in gold coins and boobs. AVOID at all costs.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson May 15, 2012 - 10:05am

What if he paid you in gold boobs?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies May 15, 2012 - 10:14am

^have to consider that.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 15, 2012 - 10:15am

This is amazing. I say she should rewrite the contract herself without his permission and stipulate that he be considered a motherfucker.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 15, 2012 - 10:19am

@Richard

I remember you telling me about the vampire debacle. Fucking shame, dude. Can't believe this is the same guy. What a twat.

Hopefully this article serves as a warning for anyone who thinks about signing with him.

And what's up with the guy's website? Looks junior varsity as hell.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 15, 2012 - 10:23am

Thanks for sharing, Richard. I'm sorry to hear you and Chris got screwed by this guy, but hey, Brandon is right. Let this serve as a warning. Hopefully fewer people get taken by his dickery after this. 

Alan Dubinsky's picture
Alan Dubinsky from Portland is reading A Very Minor Prophet May 15, 2012 - 10:23am

So her writing had a long way to go before being "worthy of being printed professionally," but this publisher still felt it "good enough" to be included (+ gratuitous edits) in his anthology? Ah, the shady publisher, gotta love it.

JJDeBenedictis's picture
JJDeBenedictis May 15, 2012 - 11:04am

Note to self: Do not publish with someone who doesn't know when to use "it's", where to put commas, or how to spell "a lot".

Derek Manuel's picture
Derek Manuel May 15, 2012 - 11:07am

An alot of edits sounds like a terrible beast. I would not want to let my story anywhere near it.

 

Steve T's picture
Steve T from Chicago is reading Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth May 15, 2012 - 11:09am

I think he also got in some sort of trouble with copyright infringment when he sold some of his George Romero fan fiction

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 15, 2012 - 11:13am

I'd say that when you have over 25 zombie novels out but the thing you're best known for is fucking people over, it might be high time to back out of the game.

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz May 15, 2012 - 11:33am

Did someone mention gold boobs?

Razvan Teodor Coloja's picture
Razvan Teodor Coloja May 15, 2012 - 11:36am

When I published my second book I went with a relatively new publishing house. They accepted my manuscript and said they'll proofread it for me. The novel was already proofread about seven times but i thought one more reading wouldn't hurt. I got it back about a week later and browsed through the pages casually. I started noticing phrases that weren't mine so I started reading it from the beginning. It turns out they completely rewrote my main character and turned him into a macho, added new lines of dialogue full of jargon to better portray him as an ubermensch and furthermore added new phrases to descriptions. Some of the original phrases were missing. I couldn't recognize my book after that and wrote them a polite e-mail, although I was mad as hell. I told them they'd have to use the latest draft I sent them because the text I got from them was heavily edited and that won't do. They finally went with it and published my original manuscript. So yeah - it happens to other writers too.

DmNerd's picture
DmNerd from Orlando Florida is reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress May 15, 2012 - 11:34am

For newbies like myself, are there lists anywhere of shady publisher's like this?

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 15, 2012 - 11:38am

DmNerd--I wrote a larger piece about literary scams a few months back. Not exactly a straight up list, but maybe you'll find it helpful: http://litreactor.com/columns/the-dark-side-of-the-publishing-industry-how-to-avoid-scams

Brandon Macdonald's picture
Brandon Macdonald from Brantford, Ontario is reading Hell's Angels, Hunter S. Thompson May 15, 2012 - 12:34pm

Awful news for the author of the story. Hopefully karma decides to take a gnarly swing at this goon.

The contact email on the UP website is a yahoo account. Enough said.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 15, 2012 - 1:03pm

Well, there's Preditors & Editors. Not sure how often it's updated. Looks like it was designed about 15 years ago, but it's mostly just text, anyway.

Yeah, I treasure my copy of that ill-fated vampire anothology, because I had some of you contributors sign it, and all of them read some variation of "Man, fuck that guy!" haha

Steve Lawson's picture
Steve Lawson May 15, 2012 - 1:58pm

They say (as indeed 'They' say many a thing) that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover? I for one have always done so since childhood, I'm not saying this to be a good practice but then neither is it a bad one.

Looking at the covers of this publishers books alone I wouldn't have anything to do with them, They look as though the publisher has thought to dismiss the need for an 'artsy fartsy' artist or designer and opted instead to do the work himself. I wouldn't be surprised to look at them if his just stolen images offline and added some text? Ta da! job done. Well done shitbag!

The quality of those publications looks a horror most ghastly! and shit!..Ghastly and shockingly shit!

Caleb J. Ross's picture
Caleb J. Ross from Kansas City, KS is reading on the toilet by himself May 15, 2012 - 2:46pm

I actually remember reading somewhere, though I can't find where just now, of someone reporting this exact same response:

and as for the story. the editor had a hard time with it, it was very rough and he did alot to make it readable. despite what you think, your writing has a long way to go before its worthy of being printed professionally.

we did what we had to do to make the story printable. you should be thankful, not complaining. ah, the ungrateful writer, gotta love it.

 

Apparently, he gets enough angry email that he's been able to reuse the same response over and over.

JamieMarriage's picture
JamieMarriage from Sydney, Australia is reading Spider, Spin Me a Web - Lawrence Block May 15, 2012 - 3:19pm

I'm glad I've never been abused by a publisher that bad (so far); I get tetchy enough when I see a typo in my work.

All my sympathy to Mandy, though. No-one should have to put up with that kind of abuse.

 

Logan L. Masterson's picture
Logan L. Masterson from Nashville, TN is reading Books, magazines, websites, the interior of my eyelids May 15, 2012 - 3:39pm

This story is all over the place! Sadly, authors will still fail to do their research and wind up submitting to one of this dude's imprints, only to wind up with a mauled story in an anthology with an awful cover. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies May 15, 2012 - 3:49pm

Spread the word, people. I've Tweeted and Facebooked this, but I'm also trying to get some big name bloggers to talk about it too. It's ridiculous. For a lot of authors, this is their first story, so they haven't done the research, aren't even sure HOW to do that, they're so new. And believe me, I published with him too, and he seemed very legit, did some good work. 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 15, 2012 - 4:45pm

There's a whole blog devoted to this. Presented in a very factual, non-libelous way, but still. It's the second search result when you google the guy's name, which is impressive.

http://tonygsucks.wordpress.com

 

starrynight's picture
starrynight May 15, 2012 - 5:17pm
chrisdeal's picture
chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version May 15, 2012 - 6:39pm

I remember the travesty that was Eternal Dead after he got his hands on it. Sickening.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break May 15, 2012 - 8:15pm

Apparently, this guy deleted his Facebook.  It was there when the article went up and now it's not.

Interesting.

DmNerd's picture
DmNerd from Orlando Florida is reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress May 15, 2012 - 8:56pm

Rob, thanks for the information.

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray May 15, 2012 - 9:56pm

Gee, its nice knowing we have high degree assholes like him existing.

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter May 16, 2012 - 9:08am

I scoured the Internet on this story yesterday.  It's nice to see her story making waves.