You might think this is a really strange thing for any writer to say. After all, we write books and stories to entertain people, and hopefully to make a little money in the process, so asking readers not to buy our work is a little like an athlete stapling their feet to the track. They're not going to get very far.
However, sometimes circumstances are so difficult that desperate measures are called for, and that's what has happened here. My second pigeon shapeshifting tale, Steal the Sky, was published by Aspen Mountain Press in the anthology 'Shifting Perspectives 2' three years ago, under the terms of a three-year contract. As of the 1st of October this year, that contract expired, and one of the other authors in the same anthology had already let the company's owner know that we didn't want to renew. Under the terms of the contract, as of 1st October all rights should have reverted to the authors (including me) and the publisher should have automatically removed the book from their own catalogue, and notified any third-party distributors such as Fictionwise, Barnes and Noble, Amazon etc.
Sadly, this hasn't happened. Not just for my story in that anthology, but for many books by many different authors all contracted to Aspen Mountain Press. The company's owner has gone AWOL, is refusing to answer emails, telephone calls or letters, is returning certified mail unopened, and hasn't paid any authors royalties for some considerable time.
The last time I was paid royalties on Steal the Sky was in July, and those were already two months in arrears, which means the last actual payment I received was for May. That's six months ago. Six months of the book continuing to be sold by Aspen Mountain Press and other distributors, while I receive not a single penny. Now the book is out of contract, and it's *still* being sold. Illegally, I might add, and the payments are still not being made.
I'm not alone. There are authors out there who are owed hundreds, possibly even thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties. But I'll let them tell their own stories; all I can do is point to my own experience. I emailed Aspen Mountain Press on Monday to remind them Steal the Sky was now out of contract. I've received no response and the book is still on their catalogue.
I will of course be contacting as many distributors as I can track down to explain the facts to them and beg them to remove the book from their catalogues. But in the meantime I can only issue a heartfelt plea - if anyone comes across this book being sold anywhere, please please please don't be tempted to buy it. You won't be doing me any favours if you do because I won't receive a penny from the sales; the only person who will benefit is the owner of Aspen Mountain Press.
It's an unpleasant situation, and sad too, because until quite recently Aspen Mountain were a decent company to work for. That's no longer the case, and I can only sit and watch the carnage as the company circles the drain. Oh, and if anyone out there is considering submitting work to them, don't. Seriously. It really isn't worth the bother.