I’m something of a champion of folks who go it alone – no matter what their business. I support small companies, home businesses, self-published writers and start up industries. So I’ve been quite interested in Ridan Publishing over the last year or so.
The majority of small start up publishers fail within the first year. Usually because the owner doesn’t have the skills, experience or connections needed to run a publishing business. However, Ridan seemed to be defying that.
Ridan Publishing (http://www.ridanpublishing.com/) is owned and operated by one Robin Sullivan – you can read her blog here, although it hasn’t been updated for months http://www.write2publish.blogspot.co.uk/
The company was set up with the sole purpose of publishing books by one Michael J Sullivan – Robin’s husband. Now, I have no issue with this, as such. I mean, the books look good, they are well marketed to their target audience and the covers (all done by Michael) are drool worthy gorgeous.
Over time Ridan took on other authors – some of them very well established and respected authors including AC Crispin and Nathan Lowell. It seemed, for a while, that Ridan was doing something that the vast majority of small start up presses don’t ever manage to do – they were not only staying in the game, but they were growing and doing well.
So what happened?
Well, cracks started to appear last Christmas with rumours of delays caused by personal issues on Ridan’s part. This I am sort of willing to let slide – I mean, on one hand when you run a small business and something happens in your private life that overshadows it, well, everything else takes a backseat. However, looking at it from a business POV and I can see how authors would be annoyed – after all, why should someone else’s personal issues impact on your life?
This is one of the reasons that many folk avoid small, one person operations – when the shit hits the fan there’s no one to back you up with a mop.
Those personal issues of Ridan’s founder (and seemingly sole operator) resulted in five books missing their Christmas release slots.
Yes, I understand that personal issues can’t be predicted, but I also know from experience that the work on those book should have been completed months before hand – releasing them should have been a formality. Again, this is an area where Ridan perhaps tripped up – rushing books through the process and leaving no time to catch a breath or factor in unforeseen circumstance.
Why is missing release dates such an issue? Well, when a date is confirmed the publicity machine goes into overdrive, so to speak, and authors make announcements and promote their work, readers and fans get excited, everyone is looking forward, events may be scheduled and then…..nothing.
Which is pretty much what happened to Nathan Lowell. His publishing experience with Ridan began to fall apart in December ’11 – you can read various snippets here:
Now, you might think that the lack of contact and delayed deadlines on Ridan’s part were resolved pretty quickly. However, you’d be mistaken. It’s now October ’12 and the books in question STILL HAVEN’T BEEN RELEASED.
In fact, it got to the stage where Lowell left Ridan : http://solarclipper.com/news/ridan-and-ishmael-wang/
And he’s not the only one.
More recently Ridan had signed AC Crispin – if you’re a massive sci-fi nerd like me, then chances are you’ve read her work. Crispin is a New York Times Bestseller, and was the first person to get a non-direct adaption Star Trek novel onto the bestseller lists. She is all kinds of awesome!
Ridan were due to re-release Crispin’s ‘Starbridge’ novels, and there was a lot of excitement among the sci-fi community over it.
However, Crispin left Ridan too – in October ’12, following months of non-communication, missed royalty payments and general phuckery on the part of Ridan. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7654022&postcount=487
Apparently Robin Sullivan doesn’t have the time to open, read and respond to a certified letter (for those who don’t know, certified means it’s a letter that you have to sign for on delivery, so you would be more than aware that’s it’s been delivered) but she had plenty of time to go on holiday with her husband, as detailed on his blog recently : http://riyria.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/vacationing-under-yellow-umbrellas.html
Now, some had predicted that, as Ridan had been set up with the sole purpose of promoting Michael’s books, that once Michael signed with Orbit, that the Ridan side of things would tail off and Robin would lose interest, having, as some put it, achieved her purpose.
Sadly, that does indeed seem to be the case. While Michael’s career is going from strength to strength, those authors who were duped into signing with Ridan have been left floating in the ether. The main question is whether those authors were ever anything more than an attempt to give credence to Michael’s work and publisher.
AC Crispin terminated her contract with Ridan in October ’12, following months of being ignored by Robin Sullivan. Robin took to the Kindle Boards to defend herself:
But what prompted her to speak out after months of radio silence? Well, it seems to be the massive public outcry and naming and shaming, for instance, from Jim Hines: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/654416.html and a whole two years worth of posts on AbsoluteWrite: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=177833&page=20 (more recent posts, feel free to scroll back)
And so the question remains whether Robin Sullivan would have bothered to contact her authors had she not been publicly named and shamed. My guess would be no – given that she has spent a year ignoring letter and emails.
In that time of NOT publishing contracted books and ignoring authors and claiming personal issues were the reason she was so behind and all the delays etc, Ridan had the time to publish a new book from Michael J Sullivan – ‘The Viscount and the Witch’ is available from Ridan Publishing, publication date 8 October 2012. Which is super nice for Michael, but a smack in the face for those authors who have seen their books delayed by a YEAR.
But it gets worse.
Oh yes. There have been numerous reports from readers who puchased books from Ridan and never had them delivered. Robin stated that the ‘person’ who was responsible for fulfilling orders had not done so, while, at the same time, continually asserting that she was a one-woman operation. So, what’s the truth?
Robin took time out of her day to post a response on the Kindle Board – because obviously that’s a better option than responding to your writers individually, or even, say, updating your website or official blog,. But hey, what would I know.
Now, I have a few issues with this post.
1. The blatant sympathy garnering – while I understand personal tragedy changes your perspective, how does it account for a YEAR of missed deadlines, ignored emails and letters, missed publication dates. But hey, you were able to publish your HUSBAND’s book on time. Hmmmmm.
2. How she belittles AC Crispin’s missed payments with this quote:
Ann not getting her money was not an attempt to steal those few hundred dollars. It was merely a matter of being too overwhelmed with issues in my personal life to do the accounting in a timely manner.
The stressing of ‘a few hundred dollars’ is not only belittling, but it’s also very patronizing No professional would ever even HINT at what their authors were earning. It’s not professional, it’s not classy, and it’s not an excuse. Try again Robin.
The whole post smacks of ‘woe is me’ and doesn’t address the fact that authors have seen TWO missed royalty payment and books delayed by a YEAR. No mention either of the fact that two big name authors have left Ridan in the last few weeks and have publicly stated that it’s due to their shoddy business practices.
Robin Sullivan has stated that she hasn’t had much online time lately – which is slightly odd for an e-publisher – however she has had the time to get herself onto panels about publishing : http://nycc12.mapyourshow.com/5_0/sessions/sessiondetails.cfm?ScheduledSessionID=1BA0C9
Right now I’m torn. On hand I really want to hear some good news coming out of the Ridan camp to show that small presses work. But at the same time I’ve seen how Ridan has fallen apart.
It seems that Ridan has achieved it’s objective – to sell and promote as many of Michael J Sullivan’s books as possible. Now that he has a big name publisher, Ridan is redundant.
Personally I feel sorry for the authors who have been shafted, and I really hope that Robin Sullivan gets her shit together quickly.