Suffering in Silence

A few months back, I wrote a two part short zombie-esque story entitled “Rejuvenation/Rejuvenated”. I liked the story from the moment I got the idea. I thought it would be cool to show what the scenario looked like from multiple perspectives without retelling the same thing. I finished the story and began looking for a market for it.

I had previously placed a different short story of mine, Finishing Last, with Open Casket Press in an anthology called Women Of The Living Dead. I hadn’t gotten galleys or been allowed to review my work before it went to print, but I didn’t think much of it. After all, I was (and am) still pretty new to the publishing world, what did I know? I read my story after the book was sent to me (I didn’t even know when it went to print, let alone when it would be available) as my payment for that story had been a contributor’s copy. There were a few sentences that had been rewritten, but on the whole it seemed fine. I added the story to my bibliography after tracking down the link on by myself.

Later on, publisher/editor of that anthology posted on facebook about another book he was working on, a project tenatively titled “Zombie A Day”. I sent him one story I’d done a while back entitled “Blind”. He accepted and asked if I had anything else. I mentioned the two part story I’d finished and he said he’d like to read it. I sent it to him, hope shining in my eyes like the eager little writer worm I was. He liked it, and wanted to print it, but not as I had intended. There was a bit of back and forth between he and I about combining the stories into one, which I didn’t want to do, as I liked the idea of keeping them separate but related.
A short time later, he announced that he hadn’t gotten enough material for the proposed Zombie A Day collection, but would be printing my stories in another anthology called Zombie Tales. I was thrilled, as I had found a home for not one, not two, but three stories… Or so I thought.

The anthology was released under the name of a different publisher, Undead Press, and my story was no longer my story. It had been butchered. I sat in my livingroom with one of the 6 copies I had purchased, flipping through the pages, eager to see my words in print… only they weren’t my words. It wasn’t even my TITLE. Parts of my story had been cut out, names and details had been changed, things I was never made aware of and had never agreed to. I sat there in numb shock. Here was my name, attached to a story I no longer felt connected to. People were going to read this, it might be their first, possibly only, exposure to my work and what they were going to find were the words the editor had ascribed to me, which were very different from my own. My heart sank. I threw the book at the wall. What the hell was I going to do?

In the end… I did nothing. I bit my tongue and kept silent about my interactions with Anthony Giangregorio and Undead Press/Open Casket. I was afraid that he, as a publisher, would somehow blackball me within the industry if I spoke up or opened my mouth in any way. So I didn’t say a word to anyone other than my close friends and family. And I’m sorry for that, because the very same thing happened to a friend of mine just recently. Mandy DeGeit had a story published in Undead Press’s Cavalcade of Terror, which was similarly mistreated. I learned my lesson about being quiet. If someone does you an injustice, murders your artistic creation and sews the pieces back together in some sort of Frankenstein’s Monster parody of your original work, speak up. SHOUT. Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell everyone THEY know. Get the word out. Don’t let this kind of thing happen to others. The industry as a whole suffers when tainted by the warped vision of one so-called “Editor” who thinks he has the right to make changes to your vision without consulting you.

29 Replies to “Suffering in Silence”

  1. "…might be their first, possibly only, exposure to my work and what they were going to find were the words the editor had ascribed to me, which were very different from my own."

    and THAT is one of the main reasons this is unacceptable. it's not their name going out on that story, it's yours.

    stand up and yell. no more being silent. this isn't just about calling them out for their unprofessional behavior, it's about warning others so they don't fall victim to him.

    undead press has both twitter and facebook, you should go post a link to this blog on both and let them know you're not silent anymore.

  2. Bravo, Kelli! Well said. I read Mandy's post first, and was horrified. I agree, absolutely. Another avenue is Preditors and Editors – he has well and truly earned his place there. Go post that link, and let us know so we can comment.

  3. This is some straight- up bullshit! How DARE they destroy your story and then attach your name to something that you did not write!? That's unbelievable, and I'm totally on your side. I know how talented you are, and I know what you can do. The only thing I know for sure is that you'll come back strong and show those d-bags.

  4. I found this post through Mandy DeGeit's post, and I'm totally shocked by the way this guy has been treating his authors. What a total jerk off.

    I'm sorry this happened to you and Mandy, and I look forward to reading your stories as they should be published, by a publisher that respects you and your work.

  5. I, too, found this through Mandy DeGeit's post. I'm sorry this happened to you.

    I submitted a story to Women of the Living Dead. I think it odd that the editor for that was listed as Jody Giangregorio, but he's the one doing the editing. Also, he put a smiley emoticon in his email to me. That should've clued me in to how unprofessional he is. I put my phone number on my submission since it's standard manuscript format, but I didn't expect him to call since the internet is a thing. He phoned me the next day, talking a mile a minute. (He called from a Brooklyn, NY number, and I'm a slow-talking Southerner.) He said he *might* accept my story, but it needed a lot of tweaking. Well, I had an experience with someone in the past changing my story without my permission, and I didn't like his tone, so I told him to choose someone else's story. He got angry, said he was sorry he'd wasted his time, and hung up. (I may have called him a douchebag before he hung up; I can't remember.) I'm just glad I dodged a bullet.

    I understand the lure of having publishing credits. Getting in with a professionally-paying publisher is hard. (I've been trying for three years to no avail.) However, there are plenty of small presses that treat you professionally even if they can't pay you professionally. Good luck.

  6. Bravo!

    There are a lot of small presses out there that take advantage of writers and/or undermine their work–ultimately sapping confidence and output. A friend of mine was (justifiably) bemoaning just this sort of thing tonight on the phone and saying, "I don't feel like trying any more."

    I wish more people would speak out against poor treatment of writers, and publishers who do not honor contracts.

    Wishing you much success in you future endeavors….

  7. Nobody has the right to do this to your work. The idea that "this is how publishing works" is straight up bullshit. Professionals do not behave in this manner. This is amateurishness of the first order. You have my complete support to speak out.

    Eric Stanway

  8. The thing to remember is this: Anthony Giangregori is small potatoes. He will likely be out of business within a year anyway, especially if these are his practices. As I discovered when I went to my first World Horror Convention this year, the horror fiction industry is largely made up of small press publishers that consist of a couple of people with day jobs publishing books out of their garage. There were a ton of those at the convention. And I did not see this guy there pushing any of his imprints (I would remember). At THE horror convention. Rest assured, Alyn, that you can call this guy out with no negative repercussions to yourself.

  9. We in the writing community support each other. We're all in this together. Sorry to hear of your experience…I read Mandy's story as well…this is such a horrific story of a publishing experience. Not all publishers are bad, mind you but…all I can say is the same thing I posted on Mandy's blog:

    I think a mistake we as writers often make (and I made this mistake with my first publisher) is research. How often do we think to look at background information on publishers we are supposed to trust? I learned the hard way. It wasn’t only until they took 6-8 months to merely edit my story (whereas my contract said they would have the book released in that time after signing), delayed my release date twice and barely communicated. Upon looking up reviews of the publisher, I found nothing but negative reviews from readers and writer. Some readers were saying they would never purchase a book from this company. I talked to a writer who had been waiting two years to get a 25,000 word novella released. I also found out they did not print the books themselves- they use Createspace and don’t even sell books through their website. Which means they are not a publisher, they are more like distributor. Just disorganized, unprofessional and didn’t know how to communicate. I withdrew from the contract before they printed the book. I then self-published within three weeks, with professional editing, cover art and the works. I doubt I’ll ever use a publisher again, but as I said, they are not all bad.

    Don’t give up on publishers, but for any you are interested in, do research into their reputation before you ever submit a word to them. Talk to other writers who have used the company prior and get their opinions of their experience. Talk to the publisher themselves too and gauge whether they seem professional or not. Look at the books they have published. We’re in a tough industry these days, but if we look out for ourselves as well as other writers, like you have done here, then we’ll work it all out. We’re all in this together. Good luck!

  10. Tweeted and Facebooked. Sad. Sorry about your trouble with Tony. Try Shroud, Shock Totem, Shimmer, Apex, One Buck Horror, Dark Moon Digest/Books, etc. and you'll find some great presses and editors.

  11. Same thing happened to me with my first published novella; the editor/publisher had inserted profanity by the ton, so much so that I was embarrassed to even show it to relatives.

  12. Came over here from Brian Keene and Mandy DeGeit's posts. I'm sorry he did that to you. It makes things that much harder for the rest of us, because we have to fight through these idiots to get to the good publishers.

    I'm linking to this on my blog and Mandy's post, as well as Brian's. Not too many readers, but you never know; the right person just might see it and not submit to him.

    There is also a link saying he invited himself to your house. Please stay safe; document everything and don't take any unnecessary chances. This asshole sounds unstable.

  13. Please have very large friends staying at your house tonight – preferably friends who can handle themselves in "situations", and have gigantic dogs. Also, please call the police, and let them know what's happening. Someone you don't really know has told you he's coming to your house, whether you like it or not, and you have every right to deny him to step a single foot on your property. And tomorrow, please check into getting an alarm system for your home. If you can't afford it, start a Kickstarter thing or whatever – fuck, I'll chip in what I can, and I don't even know you. But: no woman should have to take this SHIT from any man. Ever.

  14. Came over to see if you'd updated since seeing Mandy's update. I hope you're doing okay. Do not hesitate to call the cops on this jerk. He obviously has terrible judgment, no concept of boundaries, and delusions of importance and righteousness.

  15. Threatening someone with whom you've had an extremely public dispute is really, profoundly stupid. And yes, saying you plan to show up where you would clearly be unwelcome after behaving like a common douchebag is a threat. Tony has given you and everyone in the greater horror writing community so much fodder for shunning him.

    Good luck publishing your stuff with much more reputable publishers, Alyn. There are many great presses and editors around.

    Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

  16. I'm glad you've come out with this– I've been reading about him, and he seems like total scum. A good website to keep an eye on is Preditors and Editors. They do their best to list as many "preditors" as they can. It's a good reference. Be wary, but also know that there are many great publishers who will be happy to publish your work.

    Rosa Sophia — Author and Professional Editor

  17. Stuff publishers/editors who behave like barbarians. Self-publish and control everything. In fact 'stuff' is a good thing to do to extinct creatures, just to remind us all all about the past.

  18. I think speaking out about dirty editors is the hardest thing for a new author to do. The threat of being blacklisted is I think a tactic they use way too much. So good on you for speaking up the only editors who'll care are the dirty ones and who the hell needs them!

  19. What a cocksucker. How much of his stuff is actually written by him anyway? His name was all over amazon a few years ago when you searched for zombie books. I'm gonna clear his shit off my shelf and burn it. F him. Can't trust those shady bastards from NY NJ anyway.

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