A few years back, I released a collection of short stories called Sex in the Time of Zombies as a free download to help promote my other work. Overall, the collection was a success: it drove people to my website, garnered favorable reviews, increased sales, and introduced me to thousands of readers around the globe. Around the time when downloads of the collection had died down a bit, I was contacted by Anthony Giagregorio who wanted to publish a print version through Living Dead Press. Yes, that Anthony Giagregorio. If you don’t understand what I mean by that statement, then you’ve obviously been sequestered from the firestorm burning through the indie author community over the last couple days. It’s not my intent to rehash everything that’s transpired, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google Tony’s name and/or Undead Press to get brought up to speed.
Like the other authors coming forward, I also never received galleys for the finished product. There were changes made to the stories in the collection that I would have argued against until I was blue in the face, but they weren’t nearly as dramatic as the incidents being reported by other authors. Most of the changes may have seemed inconsequential to most: changing a whispered bit of dialogue to something that was shouted, replacing the word courage with strength … that sort of thing. But to me, those words were important. They were stylistic decisions I’d made when drafting the stories, specifically chosen to add a little something to the atmosphere and character development. While I was less than thrilled with the revisions, I chalked it up as a learning experience. After all, I had signed a contract giving them the right to edit the collection. (In the spirit of fairness, however, I should mention that there were a few changes that I actually did agree with and which we’d discussed over the phone. Tony, for example, was the first person to point out I overused the word that. Now, every time I write I reread the sentence to see if it still makes sense with that taken out. If it does, I strike it and move on.)
That being said, I want to go on record as stating that Mandy DeGeit and the other authors have my full support in this controversy. Regardless of whether Tony was within his legal rights to do what he did to their stories, there is no excuse for the way he treated them in the resulting fallout. If he truly believed he did no wrong, he could have made the exact same points in a tactful manner instead of belittling and mocking someone who was simply trying to get her story published.
While I deeply love the stories and characters contained within Sex in the Time of Zombies, I am just as deeply embarrassed to have them represented by a press which has so little regard for professionalism and common decency. What Tony needs to remember is that authors are just as important to the success of a press as readers; regardless of whether that author is submitting a novel or a short story for inclusion in an anthology, they thought enough of that imprint to want their work placed there. To degrade and humiliate them when concerns are expressed is not only unconscionable, but also the height of arrogance. Show a little appreciation. Show a little modesty.