Is July over yet? Because it really needs to be. I haven’t been keeping up on the various non-Goodreads-related kerfuffles, what with being off Twitter, on vacation, and trying to stay off the internet and get my own stuff done. So it has taken me a while to catch up with things. This incident is hardly unprecedented, but it’s still depressing.
I always thought Jill Noble, now using the name Jill Shearer, was the owner of Noble Publishing. She was frequently described that way, and she listed herself as the CEO on her Twitter and Goodreads accounts. But apparently the owner is her brother, James K. (Jim) Noble, Jr.
For reasons best known to the parties involved, Jill Noble abruptly left her position last week, and the company is scrambling to take care of the day-to-day work like, oh, issuing royalty statements. The owner is supposed to address the situation immediately. But authors are still waiting, and calls and emails have gone unreturned. Noble Publishing’s Twitter account was shut down right after Jill Noble left, the author loop was disbanded soon after, and communications have more or less ceased.
Except, of course, in public, on the internet. A large group of Noble Publishing’s authors have set up their own (private) loop so that they can share and coordinate information, which seems to me to be an obvious and sensible thing to do. But someone in the group is now forwarding the emails to the publishing house, and accusations of disloyalty and worse are flying. Here is “Anom” berating the authors:
Perfect example of the new tasteless, tacky authors loop that was created by the select few that caused the very reason for termination of the first loop in the beginning. Most of the authors in this loop have taken it upon themselves to purse vengeance against Jill for most personal reasons and belligerency. Their actions are clearly malevolence and hold no real truth behind them. … True intention and true colors adequately shine through in be the case of the authors intentions. Legal ramifications may be in the works if they continue to harass or defame her in anyway. JMO and Observations.
#protip: If you can’t spell “anon,” don’t understand the difference between “ramifications” and “responses,” engage in Capitalization Abuse, and write sentences that would flunk you out of Comp 101, you probably should refrain from defending whoever you think you’re defending. You’re not doing them any favors.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t post the same error-written, idiotic message on two separate blogs. You look like an e-publisher employee who doesn’t understand how the internet works.
We’ve seen this trainwreck over and over with small publishers. Royalty statements and/or payments aren’t accurate. The people in charge become difficult to reach. Anyone who tries to find out what is going on is accused of being disloyal or a troublemaker. And then poof! The face of the company is suddenly gone. And the single communication after this bombshell is along the lines of “move along, nothing to see.”
What makes this situation a bit different is that the owner of the Noble Publishing is not only still around, he is the head of a large and successful enterprise. He may or may not have created this situation, but he’s holding the bag, and given the profitable history of his main line of work (which also carries his family name), he’s well qualified to clean this up. If I were Jim Noble, I’d be embarrassed to have my name associated with this unprofessional mess, and I sure wouldn’t want to be spending my extremely valuable time (and my expensive lawyers’ billable hours) litigating class-action and individual suits with writers.
Unlike Aspen Mountain Press, Red Rose Publishing, and all the other epubs that have gone belly-up in the last few years, Noble Publishing has an honest-to-goodness businessman at the helm. If Jim Noble wants to cut his losses, it makes good business sense to let his authors have their rights back and let them go about the business of writing and publishing somewhere else.
In the meantime, though, he should probably tell his niece to STFU and stay off blogs, email, author loops, and other places where she’s doing more harm than good. She’s the only company employee who is talking at the moment, and screaming about libel when it seems obvious that people are telling the truth really makes the company look foolish.