In a statement issued to authors today, owners of Torquere Press LLC Kristi Boulware and Joanna Talbot admit to having financial problems and basically tell the whole of their authors they're not getting paid unless a loan can be procured. Not only that, they blame the authors who pulled their books between January and April 2016 for this failure, saying those authors leaving TQ caused them to not have enough money to pay overhead.
Pardon me? This is not how publishing works.
The simple equation of ebook publishing is this:
An author writes a book. The publisher edits it and puts a cover on it. The publisher lists it on their site and on distributor sites. Sales happen. The publisher promises to pay a % of sales to the author. This is a contractual obligation, not a gift or charitable act. The author has earned this money based on their hard work writing and promoting the book and on their talent. Payment must happen no matter how many or few sales are made. The publisher is supposed to put whatever percentage the author has earned into an escrow account until it's time to pay and only use the publisher's percentage to pay overhead and salaries.
End of story.
Now, unfortunately, due to the delayed nature of distributor payments, many times publishers don't realize they're in trouble until they have a bad quarter and end up not having enough of their money to pay bills or salaries or for that vacation they took, and they "borrow" from next quarter's author money. This is called robbing Peter to pay Paul. If the publisher is lucky, they have a good quarter next time, or their spouse has a day job, or whatever. They can pay the money back and get back on track. That's sadly not the case here.
Here's a timeline for everyone who thinks this is all brand new.
3rd qtr payments for 2015 were due no later than November 30, 2015. At least 3 authors, including TQ's bestselling author of all time, were not paid. Despite repeated email requests for information, two of these authors got no reply until they caught up with the owners on FB. One was paid via Paypal on the last day of December 2015. One finally received a check on Dec 31. 2 weeks later in January 2016, that check bounced for NSF. That was what was marked on the check. Not stop payment. NSF. Despite repeated requests for payment, the author with the bounced check was forced to turn in the owner for check fraud in late February for nearly 10K. Due to this issue, that author pulled her titles. Since mine and my wife's payment was late per the contract, we also pulled our titles because as former publishers and authors who went through the EC collapse, we could see what was happening. That was at the end of January.
The next round of payment owed were for 4th qtr 2015, payable no later than the end of February. I received my payment March 29. 1st qtr 2016 payments were due no later than May 31. I have not received it, despite a statement balance of $1558.41.
Most authors who were paid for that qtr report being paid June 30. 30 days late.
Other authors who were not paid, or who were again paid late, finally pulled their books.
2nd qtr 2016 was due no later than Sept 3rd, even by the newer contract term of 65 days past the end of the quarter. It has not been paid to anyone to my knowledge and now the letter has been issued that overhead takes priority over author payments and that up until "a few months ago" owners were still drawing salaries, which should have been the first thing to go once a check was bounced.
So I ask this. Where is the money? By statements alone, some 30K is owed to a handful of authors who have been repeatedly stiffed. That is 1/3 of what Torquere received in actual sales for THOSE authors alone. So where did all that money go? Why was author money being spent in the first place, no matter how bad the business was being mismanaged?
My advice to all Torquere authors is this: she offered your rights back. Write today and get them. NOW. Run. Write RWA and report non-payment. Write Writer Beware and report non-payment. Go public. This is theft, and it's unacceptable to ever blame authors, distributors, or advertising contracts for author money being spent on anything other than royalties.