What an insane whirlwind it has been attempting to have my first novel published. Things started out so great. I ended up with a handful of offers from different publishers all over the world. I signed back in September 2021 with Pegasus Publishers who I thought looked the most promising, and off I went, starry-eyed and high-hoped.
Things started out well. The commissioning editor was lovely, and my production coordinator was fantastic. She sent me a run sheet of exactly what would happen and when, and it was incredibly exciting! But unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way.
I was assigned multiple new production coordinators and things started falling to pieces. I’m not sure if all staff were replaced at the same time, but things took an immediate nosedive on all fronts. My production coordinator started off somewhat responsive but gradually increased ignoring my emails.
When it came to the cover designs, the first three I had sent through to me for review were… disappointing at best. The first one wasn’t too bad, but the others looked as though they had been designed by a teenager 20 years ago who used PowerPoint for their designs. I’m not even kidding, they looked like textbook covers from a science book back in the 80’s. Take a look!
The fonts were insane and there seemed to be zero understanding of colour theory. There was highlighter yellow in every design!! They looked absolutely nothing like the designs I had sent through and what I’d outlined in my brief, and there is no way that they were created by a skilled designer. I’m so confused because when I go to their website and see the books they have available, some are beautiful! It seems as though I was just allocated the owner of the company’s 6 year old child for my design.
The first one was my pick of the bunch, but it still needed a LOT of work before it was anything close to being ready. It took me almost an hour of staring at it to realise that there was a woman behind the blue blur. You can see her eye behind the ‘o’ in the word of, and then you’ll hopefully be able to see the rest. But once I noticed the woman and the sensual pose she had, I realised that this cover was again drastically off the mark.
As someone who works in marketing, I know how crucial it is for your product to display as modern and relevant. Outdated designs and misaligned content is a surefire recipe for a failed publication. Now, my novel is pretty dark and set in the present day into the future. I can’t tell if futuristic is what they were going for with the designs, but they have the vibes of a crime novel or textbook. They may have been classed as futuristic about 30 years ago, but certainly not today. So I sent through some feedback, requested alterations and created some more cover designs to show what I wanted.
In September 2022, I got my final proof for my manuscript. This was the first novel I’d written, so I had been hoping for the editors to help me enhance my story, but unfortunately, it was just a proof read and a few words exchanged. But that’s fine, it was still my story.
My mum was super disappointed seeing that it was just a proof read also, so took it upon herself to start making more significant edits. I spoke to her about not wanting to delay the process that was already taking so long, but I emailed my production coordinator to ask if it was ok to do more significant edits this late in the process.
As usual, they ignored my email. So I ended up just approving what they had sent through to keep the process moving, and asked for an update on the cover design. I’d been told there were around 325 working days for publication, so I was expecting the book to be published in December 2022. So by this point, to me, it really felt like there was no time to mess around with things.
On November 11th, I sent my production coordinator another email following up on the cover design revisions and expressing my concern about staying on track to publish in December. And you guess it – I got no response! So I sent yet another follow-up on the 29th of November. I finally got a response in early December saying they would follow up on the covers and let me know. There was no acknowledgement of my publishing concerns. That part was just ignored.
It took almost 6 months, but when I did finally get revised cover updates, I was again incredibly disappointed. Mostly just because it was clear that we were sticking with the yellow theme, much to my disapproval. But hey, it was already supposed to be my publishing month and I just wanted to get it out there. So I gave them a more modern yellow colour to use and asked them to update it again.
By this point, we were well into December, and any reference I had made to a publication date had been ignored. Sometimes an email would be responded to, but anything they didn’t want to respond to, they just ignored. So I started sending more frequent emails with specific questions in bullet points. On the 11th of December, I sent this;
Now that I have been able to start advertising my novel, I’ve been getting a lot of questions that I don’t quite have the answer to.
Are you able to assist me with the following?
– Where will the book be available? Both Internationally, and specifically in Australia as that is where most of my audience is.
– What is the exact publishing date?
I was also wondering if there were any restrictions in relation to the book cover reveal? I have started marketing on social media as well as updated my website with the colour theme, but I just have a design ‘coming soon’ cover on the book on the website for the moment. Will I be able to update this to the real cover when I receive the final version?
Unsurprisingly, no response. So on the 16th of December, I sent this email
There should be just 10 days left until publishing day now, yay! Would you be able to advise of the exact publishing date so I can let my audience know?
Also in the contract, it states the below;
The Publisher agrees to promote the sale of the Work by any means at his disposal.
The Publisher agrees to notify relevant areas of the trade of the impending release of the work.
Could you please let me know what avenues my novel will be promoted in?
And also what areas of trade have/will be notified?
Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
To this, I did get a response, but not a very helpful one.
As soon as you have signed off on your cover I will pass you to Publicity who will confirm your release date. They will assist in promotion.
In all the welcome information I had been sent, it stated that I would be given an estimated publication date when we were at the final proof stage of my manuscript. That was over two months ago at this point. But at least now I knew that my book wouldn’t be published in December.
By early January they had managed to change the colour of the yellow on the cover and I approved it immediately. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it appeared that conceding was the only option because communication certainly did nothing. My coordinator responded to let me know I was being handed over to publicity and that they would let me know of a date after they had liaised with the printers.
One month after this email, I’d still heard nothing, and hadn’t been given a contact in the publicity team. By this point, I was just completely defeated. The process and my experience had been so incredibly bad, I just wanted it over with. I spoke to Mathias about cancelling my contract because, from my experience with them, they didn’t have the skills or ability to publish my novel. But he is far more accommodating than I am, and he suggested I try to reach out to someone different.
The Final Straw
So I went to the Pegasus website and found a generic email address, hoping to find someone who was responsive. I asked them where my book stands, and let them know how incredibly disappointed I’d been with the entire process I’d been through with Pegasus. How I had no excitement about my book being published anymore, and I was hoping I could revive that with a positive experience with the publication team.
I got a response a few days later letting me know that my book was in the final checks before being sent to the printers. That email sent me over the edge. I couldn’t work with these people anymore. The book had already been reviewed and checked a million times. I was told over a month ago that it was going to the printers, but they were still holding it to check it again??? I was supposed to have been let know of a rough publication date when we were at the final proof of the manuscript… FIVE MONTHS AGO!
So that was it, the final straw had been broken. He got a response from me in less than 5 minutes.
On further thought, I think it best for both parties that we terminate the contract we have in place before it moves further.
I am no longer an advocate of Pegasus nor am I happy for my work to be published through Pegasus / Vanguard Press.
This is due to the following reasons:
1. Emails being ignored frequently by my production coordinator.
2. My requests and directions being ignored regarding the book cover.
3. The outlined process for publishing not being followed as advised by my first production coordinator.
And from Pegasus’ side, I’m sure that you are not interested in representing a disgruntled author.
Should you wish to see evidence on each of the points I’ve outlined above, I would be more than happy to provide them.
Please let me know how we go about making this process official as there is nothing in my original contract regarding this.
He responded letting me that contracts aren’t in his department, and that I should probably reach out to the marketing department instead. This baffled me, so I checked with him to see if the marketing department is the right place, and asked if he could please just forward my email to the relevant person. He refused and again stated that I should reach out to marketing.
So that’s what I did. I reached out to the marketing email address he had provided, and told them exactly what I had told him. To my surprise, the marketing department was the correct department. They sent me this;
The work on your book has been completed and we are awaiting printer’s proofs, therefore the contract stands.
I received this email from someone who had once reached out to me as a production coordinator but now had the title of manager. They also seemed to be the entire marketing team. Talk about red flags going off in every single direction! There was no way that I could expect any kind of justice for my book with this kind of structure. I needed out, and I needed out immediately. So I sent a more firm email, making sure they knew I was breaking up with them. All they needed to do was let me know how to make it formal.
As stated, I no longer wish to have any affiliation with Pegasus Publishers and want the contract terminated immediately. I am disappointed at the complete lack of acknowledgement or remorse for any wrongdoing on your part. This highlights that any future dealings with Pegasus – should the contract unfortunately continue – are going to be incredibly frustrating knowing the inability to take accountability.
This is not just from yourself, but from most employees I’ve had the displeasure of communicating with at Pegasus Publishers. The consistent lack of communication and acknowledgment of my requests has cemented my beliefs that Pegasus is incapable of publishing this novel. I appreciate that there has been work put into the novel, but the standard of which has been disappointing at best.
I genuinely believe that it is in both parties best interests to terminate the contract immediately. If you are unable to assist in this matter, please advise me who can.
I do appreciate your prompt response to my email, however, I have come to understand that many emails simply get ignored. As such, I’ve copied in Suzanne as well, as she may be the better person to deal with the matter.
I’m hoping to hear back from you on how to terminate this contract as soon as possible.
And guess what I got as a response? NOTHING. Not a word. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am definitely infuriated.
So now I have no bloody idea what to do. I don’t want my novel published with them, and I’ve made that very clear. But their lack of response leads me to believe that they are going to hold me hostage while racing to get it published, and then tell me that there’s nothing I can do now that it’s published.
So at the moment, I’m weighing up my options. Here’s what I’ve got on the table;
- Publish the book myself before them.
- Send them a link to this post and hope they attempt to sue me for libel (even though they can’t because everything mentioned is a fact with proof, and there are no false statements) and use that as my founding block to get out of my contract.
- Let them publish it just forget that it even exists.
- Let them publish it, do no promotion from my side, and instead rewrite the book and publish it myself or through a different publishing house.
I’m not kidding when I say I have zero excitement left for this book. I have soooooo many regrets about signing this contract. I have the skills to build a platform to sell and market it, but I wanted a publisher’s network. But in hindsight, I should have just self published.
But after seeing how they operate, I strongly believe that their version of publishing a book means bulk sending out an email to bookstores with a list of the books that have been published that month and nothing more.
I don’t want this book published at all, especially through them and with the way that the book now presents. The last thing in this world I want is to have to continue to deal with Pegasus Publishers. And if they do end up publishing it, that’s what’s going to have to happen. Or I just pull one of their tricks and just ignore any and all communication. But that means they end up with all the money made from it. Without me marketing it though, I really don’t think that would be anything of note anyway.
But in more exciting news, I have almost finished my second novel! And that is certainly not going to go down the same path. No, it’s not Fallacies of Tomorrow Part 2. I don’t even know if I’ll finish that now with the terrible experience I’ve had. But I am excited about this one and I can’t wait to share it with the world!
That’s about it for my rant today! And this is why I haven’t been able to give anyone updates on what’s happening with the book. It’s because I don’t bloody know anything! I’m sure one day I’ll look back at this and laugh. In fact, I already do that, but it’s also mixed in with rage. But hey, you live and you learn. And hopefully no one else has the same experience or makes my mistakes!