Back in the day, November 2010 to be correct, after I had been sending my books off to several publishers for several years, How I Won Lotto, Moved To L.A. & Married A Really Huge T.V. Star! captured the attention of one publishing house here in Australia called JoJo Publishing. I had sent them the full manuscript as directed on their website, full of typos I’m sure since I have found some since, and they rang me. Yes, they rang me. That’s how come I have the honour of saying I got the call.
Because I did.
They wanted my book, called me several times in November/December, sent me paperwork to think about and sign after I asked them to send it, and told me it would take two years to get it up and running. I had already been online since 2009 and had a platform and didn’t want to wait another two years. I know pub houses can take anywhere from 6 – 24 months to get a book out so it wasn’t unusual.
But I didn’t want to wait that long.
I didn’t know about self-publishing, and desperately wanted my books to be out there. So the only other alternative was to pay them $12,000, half of the $24,000 publishing fee, and then I would get 50% of the royalties.
I remember crying for weeks. I so desperately wanted to be published like so many other authors and have my books in stores like so many new authors, and I emailed back and forth with one of my followers, Cyn. I even asked for advice from the yahoo group that I belonged to, Romance Writers of Australia.
But when push came to shove, I didn’t want to wait two years, didn’t have $12,000, and didn’t want to give up my rights to my book.
In March 2011, and I really thank God now, I discovered self-publishing because and haven’t looked back. In fact, I’m looking into something exciting where my books are concerned. More on that later in the year.
Since thanking JoJo for their offer and rejecting it in December (I received a call early 2011 because he hadn’t received my tear filled email) I went into 2011 with a heavy heart, even though I somehow knew that something was coming. I discovered Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath and not only found out about, but moved into self-publishing. I haven’t bothered with publishing houses since. Except to read about the Big 5’s shenanigans where Amazon is concerned. Because that’s my business now. Writing books, releasing them, and learning my craft by reading stories about publishers and their feud with Amazon, and reading what other authors are doing to move ahead and make sales.
So, while searching for something on google last week, I decided to look up JoJo for a book cover I vaguely remembered and discovered something almost hilarious. Hilariously ironic. Or is that ironically hilarious?
JoJo Publishing had been accused of duping its authors and was placed in voluntary liquidation in 2015. It had published books by more than 250 authors since it was founded in 2002.
According to a Smart Company article – The business charges some authors a fee to publish their books, which is a different model to traditional book publishing and sometimes referred to as “vanity” publishing. However, the liquidators of the business estimate more than 50 authors may now be owed money. In September, an investigation by the ABC Radio National program Background Briefing aired allegations from more than 30 authors who said they were deceived after having invested between $9000 and $35,000 of their own money to having books published. The group of authors is reportedly considering legal action against JoJo Publishing.
Responding to the claims made in an ABC report, “Due to risk factors, not all authors can fit into the model of receiving an advance and royalties – although many have this arrangement with us. These authors, who would not find publishers elsewhere, may enter into a business arrangement where they make a capital investment and share in the profits. Our publishing venture has provided authors with the opportunity to have their books published, distributed and marketed in ways they would not have otherwise had. If they have a business arrangement with us and make a loss, then we make a loss too.”
The rest can be read here at Smart Company.
The news also made the Absolute Write forums.
And scored an ABC network program. Part of their story was talking to one of the JoJo authors and it’s similar to what they did to me – First-time author Margaret Spivey sent the manuscript to about 50 publishers but only one agreed to publish: Jojo Publishing, who told her it was a work of genius. But there was a catch. She was asked to invest $12,000, and in return she’d get 50 per cent of the profits.
‘There was urgency in this voice that wasn’t there previously,’ Spivey says. ‘And along with that urgency was, “Well, we can’t really afford to pay for that at the moment. If we publish it now we can’t afford it. But if you’re prepared to contribute half the cost, which was $12,000, then we could go ahead and get it published now and get it out in the marketplace, and by contributing half the costs, then of course you get equal share in all the profits and all the earnings from the sales of the book.”‘ Margaret Spivey was nervous, but she took a punt and went with it.
And because they wined her and dined her, which is normal for big wig publishers to do to new authors and something I didn’t get because I turned them down, there was more…She ended up paying for that meal two years later.
Discovering that she had paid to be wined and dined by Jojo Publishing was just the beginning of Margaret Spivey’s ordeal. Since having her book published five years ago, she’s received absolutely nothing in royalties, and no information at all about the sales of her book. ‘I haven’t received 1 cent,’ she says. ‘I don’t know anything. I don’t know how many copies of the book were sold … I don’t know anything. And I couldn’t get any info.’
Besides the fact that a rough 95% of authors don’t earn out royalties, that’s nothing new. But it means she probably didn’t make back any of the money she’d spent.
I am so glad I didn’t go with this company. I would have lost all rights to my book, been unable to publish it anywhere else, or do what I’m about to do in the next few months. But here we are 2017 and I’m just reading, by fluke, about this company.
So glad I kept my rights, and my head, and that my muse guided me away from them.