FortyFifth Time

February 13, 2010 at 10:16 am (Uncategorized)

…and I’m back! Now, where were we?

Firstly, apologies for my absence, I’ve been taken away from home with work and haven’t been able to blog, but this weekend I have some free time and some stuff to talk about. So, if you’ll indulge me, off we go!

This week, I have been mostly dealing with idiots, which has been a shame. Specifically, I’ve had further dealings with Neil Jackson of Ghostwriter Publications and the Ex Occidente Press. Ex Occidente is quicker, so I’ll sort that now: I can’t remember if I blogged about it before, but over 18 months ago, Ex Occidente got in touch and offered to do a collection of my stories – we had agreed on 4 stories that they wanted, when they suddenly fell quiet. No replies to emails, nothing. I assumed that EO (Ex Occidente – it’s faster to type as EO!) changed their mind and that was that. In the intervening period, lots of people began to complain about EO’s methods of doing business, the delays and incorrect deliveries, etc, and I began to think that I might have had a lucky escape not working with EO, especially when some other authors began telling me their horror stories in trying to work with them.  I posted a short comment about my experiences with EO yesterday on the Ramsey Campbell board, and Lo! What should happen but I get my first email in over 12 months from EO! And a very offensive email it was to, accusing me of bearing a grudge and stating that their silence was a kindness, because my stories were ‘bad’ and unoriginal and they didn’t want to hurt my feelings with a rejection. Fair enough, that’s that cleared up then…only it isn’t, because I have emails from EO saying they like the stories and talking about their Simon Unsworth collection! Weird… Now, I’m genuinely not bearing a grudge, and I also don’t want an EO collection – working with them sounds terribly stressful, and I’m relatively sure my work wonuldn’t fit with the way in which the press has gone (they seem to like slightly more ‘ephemeral’ stories that my rather concrete supernatural tales). The books they produce are lovely, but if they can’t deliver them properly, or treat their authors well, the most beautiful book in the world isn’t going to help. There’s no excuse for unprofessionalism!

Which brings me to Neil Jackson and Ghostwriter Publications. Now some of you may remember the history to this: I was due to release a collection through Ghostwriter but had to withdraw from them because of what I perceived as a very poor attitude towards their authors and customers, and concerns about what I thought of as questionable ways of doing business. The correctness of my decision was reinforced when Neil refused to send me the 6 copies of Creature Feature he owed me according to our (signed) contract and only sent me 1. I thought the issue was dead and buried, but then at the beginning of this year, someone told me to look at the GWP website, and I found that Creature Feature was still be advertised and sold, and that my name was being used as part of the list of ‘stories by’ advertising! I contacted Neil to ask what he thought he was doing, selling a book with my stories in that he has no rights to sell, having reverted all rights to me and having not yet paid me the agreed amount for the use of the three stories. This was his response:

This is just the remainder of the first ‘test’ run…but I’ll send you five extra copies. The new edition does not contain any of the stories you previously submitted.

Best of luck with the ‘new’ collection.

I don’t know about you, but if I’d bought a copy of Creature Feature, I’d be really pissed off that it was a test run, especially if that hadn’t been explained to me when I paid the £7.99 fee! Mind you, it might explain the poor quality of the proofing, typesetting, etc! But, I thought, I may finally get what’s owed me.

Of course I didn’t. A couple of weeks later, I contacted Neil to ask where my books were and this is the response I got:

Sitting on my floor…I’ll get them to you very soon.

And they arrived soon after? No, again, of course not. When I contacted Neil last night, he simply told me that no copies of Creature Feature were being sold that contained my stories, and never mentioned my copies even when directly asked about them. So, what conclusion can I draw from all this? Well, clearly, it reinforced my sense that I was right to follow my instincts and stop working with GWP and, particularly, with Neil Jackson. And Neil? Well, there’s a word for people who say they’re going to doing something and don’t do it, isn’t there? What was it again? Oh, yeah, that’s right: liar. Neil is, on current evidence, a liar. He agreed to pay me for the stories originally and didn’t, he agreed to send me copies of the book and didn’t (which, as I understand it, other authors have also experienced). Whatever money he’s making from the sales of Creature Feature he has done, at least in part, on the back of stories he has no right to sell. In some ways, I didn’t ever expect to get the extra copies – Neil’s history is a very poor one, full of worrying incidents from when he ran a film school in Canada. For me, though, his attitude is encapsulated best in this short interview he did:

I particularly like the way Neil makes up a figure for sales (5000 per unit!) and then, in the last comment, comes close to insulting his crop of writers! Er, yeah, Neil, it does matter if something comes out 6 months after it’s release was originally agreed if that delay isn’t explained and agreed! Oh, and is the shop open yet? Has anyone seen a GWP title in an actual, proper shop, or stocked by an online dealer other than GWP itself? No? You surprise me… And if you do google Neil, or his film school, you’ll find some comments from very angry people who clearly consider Neil to be a crook. Is he? Dunno, but I have my suspicions.

As before, I leave you to draw your own conclusions about this. You may think I’ve got a cheek, asking for books that I’m owed when it was me that withdrew from the contracts we had (true – although in my original request for rights reversion, I specifically said that I didn’t want a reversion on the already published stories contained in Creature Feature), but I still maintain that Neil should pay me what he owes me for the work he published. Of course, if the books turn up this week, I shall offer a full and frank apology, but you know what? I’m betting I won’t have to.

Anyway, on to better news: I wrote a new story last week, intended for an anthology I’d been told about. The antho is closed, at the request of the editors, so I can’t tell you anything about it, but I can say that my story has been shortlisted, which I’m excited about. I’m not in yet, but it’s looking hopeful… More news as I get it.

Other thing: JOIN THE BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY. This is a great organisation, and membership genuinely gets you stuff (magazines with reviews and fiction, free books, a chance to vote on the BFS awards and a whole lot more!). Membership isn’t expensive, and it’s a very worthwhile endeavour.  And, on a related note, I’m pleased to be able to tell you that one of the guests at this year’s FCon in September is the excellent Lisa Tuttle! Lisa’s work is well known, and extrememly well regarded (she also releasing an Ash Tree collection, launching at the event at WHC in March along with Steve Duffy, Lawrence C. Connolly, Gary McMahon and some idiot called Simon Kurt Unsworth). Have you got your membership sorted for FCon yet? No? Why not??

Last thing: how excited am I about World Horror in March? Oh, just VERY! I have a number of things to do at WHC – on Thursday night I’m on a panel about ‘New Blood’ in the horror genre, along with Gary McMahon (chaired by Steve Duffy), and on Friday, I’m super busy. At 12 I’m signing for the launch of the paperback Very Best of Best New Horror, at 2 it’s the Ash Tree launch event at which Lost Places will be let loose on an unsuspecting world, at 4 I’m in a signing for the release of Black Book of Horror #6, and at 9 I’m doing a reading (not sure which story yet). I’ll be knackered! But it should be a great, great day! Come along if you can…

Right, that’s your lot. Later, Lords and Ladies!


  1. Carson Buckingham said,

    Christ, will it never end with Neil? What a moron! I’m glad you’ve written an expose on him–perhaps it will save other writers a horrible experience and a complete waste of time.


    PS–I noticed that BF added at the end of the interview that he, too, has parted with GWP. It;s a wonder to me that there’s ANYBODY left there!

  2. Stephen Volk said,

    God, Simon! Some people you just need to file under LTS… Life’s Too Short. But really, these people MUST be named and shamed otherwise they will go on as serial abusers of writers as infinitum. I feel this very strongly! Can I suggest – for discussion at WHC perhaps? – a BFS blacklist of rogue publishers: very easy to define “rogue” – renegged promises, breach of contract, broken promises, unpaid cheques… the usual shit. Surely this is something the BFS can (and in some ways must)provide? You surely shouldn’t have had to go through such errant behaviour. May i also suggest the BFS pubish a code of conduct for both publishers and writers? or is that far too sensible?

  3. simonkurtunsworth said,

    That’s my take on it – I may not be able to stop them, but if I don’t say anything I’m collusing and becoming part of Agnew’s silent majority! And if it keeps one person away from dealing with these fools, then good. Plus, it gets it off my chest!

    I’m certainly up for a chat at WHC about it, and for talking to the BFS about what if anything they can do about it.


  4. Stephen Theaker said,

    It could be something that we do at the BFS – though doing it in public can be awkward, legally. In particularly bad cases it might be worth contacting Preditors & Editors:

  5. simonkurtunsworth said,

    I could have sworn there was a comment from Rhys Hughes here a minute ago! Where’s it gone? I swear I didn;t kill it! Rhys, can you repost it?

  6. Carson Buckingham said,

    By all means, contact P & E. When I was still working with Neil, I contacted P & E and got Ghostwriter Pubs listed on their site. I believe all it presently says after the listing is: Small UK publisher specializing in horror fiction. You may want to add to that description a bit. I think I may, as well. He’s jerked you around quite enough!

    Your mate,

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