So, not long ago, Torquere announced to their authors list, at least, that they were closing.
All of the authors who have gone unpaid and unanswered cheered. Yay! They're doing the right thing and reverting rights.
Except they're not.
Two days ago, Kristi sent this to Torquere authors.
"We are having to change internet carriers and are without from last night until 12/27 when they can come hook it up. I can not check the TP email or use my Mac until then. I have access to my gmail and my phone during this time."
Now. I know Ms. Boulware-Talbot. She worked for me for 3 years before she took over TQ. She's had her TQ emails on her phone for all those 5 years. So even if this mysterious outage is real, why can't she answer emails.
I'm baffled, y'all. I understand wanting the weekend off, but be honest and say I'm not working from Friday to Monday. I know maybe 5 authors who actually got their reversion letters.
Why are the sales channels still up? Why is the site still up? Where is the public announcement?
More smoke and mirrors and more bullshit.
Here's where they announce their main point:
While we realize this announcement may not be totally unexpected to some of you I’m sure many of you will have questions. Please be patient with us as we will take some time in getting all of the hundreds of rights reversions together. The process of us wrapping up Torquere will take at minimum 90 days if not longer.
Right. Now, see, I can totally understand taking time to make sure all rights are reverted correctly.
What I can't understand is leaving sales venues up for that time. Make a public announcement so readers can download any files they've bought, give people 3 or 4 days, then shut down the website and distributor site accounts instead of stealing yet more money from your authors.
The only nod at all to the fact that they have not paid anyone since June 2016, and that was for (4th qtr distributor sales and 1st qtr TQ sales-- I did not get paid for that 2K statement thanks) was this paragraph:
We are very saddened that we have to end things this way, but we believe it is for the best for everyone involved. We will continue to support each of you in any way we can when it comes to self publication questions, or even helping you find a good new home for your current and future books if we are able. We are still looking at options on how to get everyone paid and caught up and appreciate your patience while we are dealing with this matter.
You see how they did that? We're keeping your books hostage while we slowly take down the sales areas, but we have no plan in place to pay you the 10s of 1000s of dollars you already earned and we didn't pay! But here's the kicker.
We have done everything we could to turn things around but with the saturation in the industry, the financial hardships we are in, my health in constant decline along with the negativity we have had hurdled our way. We feel like we are currently fighting an uphill battle. We have so many happy memories and will hold on to those as we make our choices for our futures in this industry. It has truly been an honor and privilege to work with each of you.
IOW, we love y'all for making us money, but it's your fault that we failed. Uh, hello! If they hadn't stolen thousands, no negativity would have come their way. No one wants to be a victim of theft. But I'll be damned if I won't expose a thief when I'm faced with one.
So again, I urge the owners, Kristi and Joanna, to do the right thing. Announce to your readers, distributors and creditors that you're closing. Give people 3 days to download any files. Turn off your payment gateway. Close accounts at Amazon and other distributors as those books will remain in people's libraries even when you take the books down. Once you are no longer making illegal money off people, you can send reversion letters over a reasonable period of time. You're done. Stop punishing authors for your mistakes.
I would like to speak out on behalf of all of the unpaid and unanswered authors of Torquere Press LLC. You may say I am no longer a Torquere author, but as long as you owe me and my wife the nearly 4K combined you owe us, I am an unsatisfied author of your company.
Therefore, I take it on myself to speak for all the authors who have not been paid, some since 3rd qtr 2015, most since June 2016. I speak out for the author you still owe $18600.00 not including the 10K you paid for a bounced check, which also has not been received. I speak out for the author you owe $35.00 for an anthology story. I'm calling you out for all the authors who have requested payment, rights reversions, or just a simple update and have remained unanswered.
I'm also writing on behalf of your staff, some of whom I hired when I was the owner of Torquere Press Inc, and therefore I feel responsible for. Those staff who worked for you for free for too long while you made promises you didn't keep, then threw them under the bus by telling the authors you paid the staff rather than author royalties. Which is not true.
So, here's my challenge to you both.
Own up to your shit. Give the authors a reversion letter. Even if you do it the cowardly way like Ellora's Cave and put it up publicly for all the authors to grab. Then close the business. Stop stealing. Stop sitting on your butts and making income off the authors you refuse to answer. Clean out your emails and give people their books back. The money is gone. We get it. While it would be a decent thing to do to pay us, you're not going to. But this is people's lives. It's their copyright, their property.
Give it back. Answer for yourself, and for once, do the right thing.
Take down the websites and the distributor accounts and stop acting like you can just walk away. You can't, and doing the right thing now might stop some of the legal actions said authors and staff are already in the act of starting.
"Sales we (sic) lower from distributors end of October than September. We are paying the editors their invoices from the books that have released. We are not ignoring the fact that we are behind on royalties and we are trying our very best to get things above water."*
Now, let's break this down, shall we?
Item the first. What does it matter to the authors who are owed money what kind of sales in there were September and October 2016? There are authors who are owed money from as early as 3rd Qtr 2015. In the thousands. The money all Amazon vendors received on Oct 29 was for August 2016. TQ still hasn't paid any author that I know of for April, May and June of 2016, and now they're using August money to pay editors rather than putting it away to pay authors? 3rd qtr 2016 royalties are due out no later than Nov 30. Do we think anyone will get paid? No, because by Torquere's own admission the money is gone!
Item second. They're not ignoring that they're behind. Except they are. By the accounts of at least 20-25 authors I've seen on social media, they've stopped answering emails. They're not giving rights back, even though they said in a public update they would. At least when they were issuing reversions they were better than other failing pubs, but now they're playing the we keep your books and your money game just like the rest.
Finally and, I think, more importantly, they're paying their editors with the recent payment from Amazon.
Yes, editors need to get paid for work done. However, as an LLC, it is the owner's responsibility to do that with her own money if paying the authors what they have earned ends up leaving her upside down. The onus is not on the authors to pay the businesses' bills. By contracts that the owners of TQ signed, the money earned by authors is to be paid to them no later than 60-65 days (and in some cases 30 days) after the end of the quarter. That 30-40 percent (with many at 35-45) should NEVER HAVE BEEN USED FOR ANYTHING ELSE.
So. Where is the money? Low sales are not to blame, because regardless of how much or little an author made, they should get paid. I know maybe 5 authors who are owed upwards of 50K all told. That doesn't count the other 100 or more authors and what they're owed for 2nd and 3rd qtr 2016. It's time for all TQ authors to stand up and demand to know where all that money went. Speak out. This needs to be stopped.
* I did remove a few more personal remarks from the email to be as fair as I can.
What an awful trick. I had planned a great Halloween blog for yesterday but I got sidetracked, and I feel shady writing it today and posting it backdated...
Also I feel very grumpy today. I keep trying to honor All Saints Day and live today kindly and with a little humbleness. Instead I'm dwelling on stuff that's not worth my time, because I loathe people who make vague threats against people I love. Even when those threats are empty and meaningless, it makes me mad. So have some good thoughts for me, and send your leftover Halloween candy.
Happy Birthday to my great nephew Boo, who is 5 today, and was a Ghostbuster for Halloween. You make my day, baby boy.