So it’s all over the internet, there isn’t much need to be diplomatic any more. I don’t go out of my way to badmouth anyone, but in this case I think it’s important that everyone who has had negative dealings with a certain publisher needs to speak out. The more of us come out of the closet on this, the less new writers will fall into the same trap.
I’m talking of course about Open Casket Press, one-time publishers-to-be of World’s Collider. This small press is a one-man show, run by Anthony Giangregorio. He also runs Living Dead Press and Undead Press, the latter of which published a lady called Mandy DeGeit in the anthology Cavalcade of Horror. Tony has a history of messing about with stories right before they are published, usually without warning the author and allowing them time to approve the changes, and usually to the detriment of the story.
But with Mandy he went too far. He butchered her story, adding extra scenes that completely changed the tone of the story and ruined her characters. This was Mandy’s first published story, and you can imagine how devastated she felt when she received her copies (at vast expense) and found these random and unexpected changes. But good for her, she spoke out in her explosive blog post, and now the entire small press community has risen up to reject the poison in its midst. Even Neil Gaiman has tweeted in support of Mandy’s plight.
A few months ago I pulled World’s Collider from Open Casket Press’s roster. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a dreadful and misogynist book blurb for Women of the Living Dead. I called Tony out on it, said I didn’t trust him with World’s Collider (in an e-mail I agonized over for hours). His response, “Whatever”, and then he defriended me. Was that terrible blurb the only reason I backed out of the deal (before I signed, thank God!)? Hell no.
So here’s my reasons for leaving OCP.
- Tony was always an oddball to work with from the start. He would frequently badmouth other writers to me as if, as a fellow editor, I would understand that writers are flaky, demanding and don’t realize when they require rewrites to make them publishable. This is not standard behaviour for editors.
- His covers are often pretty bloody awful.
- He had already been known to tamper with writers’ work without telling them.
- His edits to my stories for Zombie Buffet and Bigfoot Tales were thankfully minor, but he has a habit of introducing more mistakes in the changes he makes.
- His price point for ebooks is outrageous. $9.99 for one of his anthologies! Daylight robbery. I knew that at this price, World’s Collider was never going to sell.
- Tony does little or no promotion for his books. He knows how many of each one will sell and ensures he makes a nice profit from each sale.
- Tony wasn’t prepared to pay my writers. I was going to pay them myself. I also had to fight for comp copies.
- There was no payment or royalties for me either.
- The first anthology of his I had a story in didn’t list the author names on the table of contents. This seems like a small detail but is indicative of Tony’s attitude towards writers. He doesn’t care one bit about them. They are simply workhorses who should think themselves lucky to be given the honour of being published by him for no pay and very very little glory.
- His turnover is insane. He puts out an anthology a month. True, World’s Collider is a complex anthology with a lot of work to put in before it’s ready, but the idea of editing AND publishing an unlinked anthology every month is absolutely crazy and just asking for poor quality output.
So there you go. Stay away from Living Dead/Open Casket/Undead Press and do your research on a publisher before signing any contract. Don’t be tempted to sign away your work just because any old hack says they will publish it. Look for the warning signs: rapid turnover of books, no payment for anthology writers, bad press from readers and/or writers, etc, and don’t sell yourself short!
UPDATE (May 16th): Darren Mills, an author who has a book published with OCP, reports that a reviewer has posted a negative review of his book that seems to bash the editor AND THE AUTHOR as a result of all that’s come out in the past couple of days. While it could be a genuine review and a complete co-incidence, it’s possible that someone pissed at Tony is taking it out on the writers who have worked for him. While this blog likely won’t reach people planning to do this, still it’s worth saying that LDP/OCP/UP authors are victims in this and do not deserve the same ire as should be directed towards the man in charge. Darren talks about his experiences here.