In late 2013, I had most of my first true crime manuscript ready to submit to a publisher. I found a Christian publisher online that wanted the first chapter only, so I decided to submit it, planning on using the inevitable rejection slip to start wallpapering one office wall. Much to my shock and amazement, on a Sunday evening no less, the Chief Editor called me and identified herself.
“Where is the rest of this book?” she asked excitedly.
I explained that it was not yet finished but would be by the end of the year. She told me to please contact no one else, that they were excited about this book and wanted to take me on as an author. Not knowing how these things worked, I asked her to send me the contract to review before making a decision. She was somewhat pushy but agreed. The fee was $2,800 to publish with them; they would provide all the work: the editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing, amounting to about $20,000 of work on their end. All I had to do was order books as needed. Tate Publishing, I found out later, was what was known as a Vanity Press. It is an arrangement where the author is supposed to own the copyright and get royalties but the publisher always gets a cut of all sales made through them or their distributors.
I was aware that some vanity press publishers charged upwards of $10,000. I consulted via several emails with now-deceased true crime best selling author, Ann Rule, who was skeptical of the proposal, but not altogether against it. She gave me some sage advice that I should have heeded, but as an unknown author, I decided to take the plunge. What happened afterward was an arduous process that ultimately resulted in disaster. This didn’t just happen to me. It happened to over 3,000 authors who published through Tate.
My book, “Too Brief a Candle“, took 16 months from submission until I had it in my hands. It took another year to show up on Amazon. The editing was horrendous and I had to re-edit their work. The ever-changing editing staff was quite chagrined at my 112,000 word count, which should not have been unusual. The operations staff was located in the Philippines, something not mentioned in the contract. They were never reachable by phone because of the time difference. Tate itself was headquartered in Mustang, Oklahoma. Their employees had an extremely high turnover rate, so emails were constantly coming from different people who didn’t know me or my manuscript.
The only time I ever spoke with anyone was when I was called and pressured to buy packaged deals of my book: “Buy 100, get 100 half off!” and other crazy deals. They didn’t print on-site, so when I did order, it took weeks to get books. The same was true for outlets where my book was supposed to be marketed online. Every site consistently said, “out of stock”.
To add insult to injury, they priced my trade 6″ X 9″ paperback at $29.95, a price that no one would want to pay for a softcover book. The marketing department was supposed to schedule my book signings. Well, they did – in odd cafes and tiny bookstores on Monday afternoons. Suffice it to say, I fared much better when I marketed my own signings.
Then, after July, 2016, my quarterly royalty checks stopped arriving. When I emailed my contact person (in the Philippines), the response was always that a new check would be issued and sent. And it never was.
Last month, I received a message from someone wishing to buy the ebook version. She told me that the site was down. I checked, and sure enough, not only was it down, but behind my back and all the other authors’ backs, on January 17th, Tate Publishing had closed its doors.
Bill Haile’s plight with Tate began back in 2005, and is deeply sad. He and his wife lost their daughter on prom night in 2004. The roads were wet and the car she was in was broadsided by a drunk driver. She was thrown from the vehicle and died instantly.
He wrote, “A Walk in Assurance; Sustained by Faith“, as a healing testimony to his daughter’s devout Christian walk. It was a small 12-page book which was turned down by a few places, but Tate accepted the manuscript. Like myself, Bill was told that they only accepted about four percent of the submitted manuscripts and even less actually made it to production. Bill was charged more than I was for his little book, $3,895! Also like me, he was promised a return of that money after a certain amount of books were sold. (For me that number was 1,200, but it had to be directly through them which was nigh impossible, since people don’t purchase books directly from publishers).
Bill’s editing from Tate was terrible and a store refused to stock it. He had no scheduled signings at all. Bill’s royalty checks also ended after the first few. When he needed to have a second edition designed due to the poor quality, they made him pay for it. The little volume in memory of his daughter became a considerable stress in his life. He turned to CreateSpace to republish with the help of Shannon Whittington, who is assisting several Tate authors.
Vera Lauren has written a detailed blog of her harrowing experience with Tate. In it, she emphasizes the dilemma for as yet unknown authors needing a brand from a publishing house. Tate knew it could provide that brand. Vera was told she had only two hours to submit her final corrections to her manuscript, “The Measure of Christ’s Love“, before Tate was sending it to print, or it would be delayed by 10 months! It was another experience I shared that was simply outrageous. Vera and her partner Catherine had invested over $4,000 total with Tate, and never saw a dime in royalties after the first year.
The pattern was becoming quite clear. As Vera so eloquently states:
“Tate promised the whole package every author dreams about; marketing, PR, audio versions of our books, a book trailer video, book signing events, placement in major book chains such as Barnes & Noble, and Christian book stores. The reality, Tate’s staff never truly helped with…any aspect of this process…”
Vera discovered that Tate was farming the production work out to CreateSpace, the self-publisher run by Amazon. (It does a decent job for a reasonable cost. CreateSpace produced my second book. They are also republishing my first one for me). All Tate did was act as a middle agent and slowed down a process we each could have done on our own, and charged us exorbitant fees in the process. We never got placed in a single Christian book outlet, either a box store or online.
Michelle Christina Delgado experienced Tate’s con-artistry from a musician’s prospective. She actually met in person with a woman named Jade, who insisted that she sign on with Tate and promised her a studio session for eight songs, backup musicians, instruments, a music video, and photography. Michelle made several payments amounting to $1,650. She spoke with Jade again in January, the very week Tate shut down. She was led to believe that everything was on track. But after that conversation, she found out the truth and is now fighting hard to try and get her money back. Jade never returned her calls.
Ex-Tate authors have formed a Facebook group to document our experiences, many of which are mentioned here. We are supporting each other, and brainstorming ideas as to how to take the next steps. Getting our stories out to the media is essential, because Tate Publishing scammed decent people out of money and time. One bit of information I discovered in the group is that our books and music were never copyrighted. My book has a copyright seal inside on the publisher’s page. But when I searched the government copyright records, it wasn’t there. None of our work is there. My own copyrighted music is there, so I know the site works. Tate committed fraud by using the government copyright logo.
We will not give up until we see recourse against Tate Publishing. This company should never resurface. It is shameful that they misled so many aspiring authors by hanging a “Christian Publisher” shingle.
My latest book, “He Should Be Dead” is self published on Amazon.