Today, the former head editor and person best positioned to tell the true story, the actual truth, did just that. Celina Summers, who knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak, dug them all up and spread them out for all the world to see. And what we saw was ugly. And fraudulent. And illegal. And so, so, so, much worse than we authors trapped at AMP wanted to think. I can do no better justice to this ever-developing story than to direct you to the words of Celina Summers herself, on her own blog, posted today. She has said it far better than any other person could have or rather, should have. I give you, Celina Summers:
Breaking My Silence on Aspen Mountain Press
Because of your inattention, you have lost staff, authors and books. And the flood is not only continuing, but growing rapidly. As a result, my income is going to drop substantially. I've lost three authors and their books in two months--*author names removed*. All three of them have devout followings and readerships. AMP can't afford the loss of any authors or books, particularly since Aurora is now responsible for roughly half of AMP's releases which was not the intended purpose of the line. I wasn't supposed to have to carry the release schedule.
As a result, here's what I expect to happen during my three months' absence, which is now effective immediately. I expect my royalties paid on time every month, both as a writer and a editor. I expect statements with those royalties so I know what I'm being paid for. I expect the Aurora releases to come out on time and in good shape, for my authors to get copies of their books upon release and for THEM to get their royalties on time and with royalty statements. If, for any reason, these conditions are not met, my leave of absence will become permanent. I will not return to a big old mess.
I've come to the conclusion that the only way you're going to bestir yourself enough to care about AMP and its writers, editors and staff is to return to the days when you have to do it all yourself. And the fact you didn't even respond to an email as important as the first one I sent is insulting.
Author) Do you intend returning answering queries, letters etc? What is the time
span involved so we know when to expect an answer from you?
Ms. Hicks) In all fairness, I can't tell you what sort of time frame to expect an answer
in, except to say that I am working on them. It takes time to respond to
THREATS such as the one Wells made and take care of other business matters AND
attend to my health needs and the work that must be done in raising my son
Author) Do you intend returning rights to authors who have asked for them?
Ms. Hicks) Not in all cases. All who've asked will be getting a personalized letter from
me through the mail system explaining what I am deciding and why.
Author) If YES,when can we expect to have the documentation?
Ms. Hicks) When I get to the requests, I am writing a letter and mailing it to the authors.
Author) If NO, can you please use this Loop to advise who yes and who not? If NO, can
you please explain why you intend holding on to authors that have lost faith in
Ms. Hicks) Losing faith in a company does not void a contract. Any business matters are
between the author and AMP. If the author wishes to make those matters public,
they will. I won't violate their privacy in that way. It is their own
Additionally, I'd like to tell the members here that this is not a business
MEETING loop. I've posted a few announcements in the past, and participated in
some general chat, but I don't use this for meeting purposes.
Author) Do you intend paying royalties AND supplying sales statements in toto as per the contract? When can those owed money expect to be paid?
Ms. Hicks) Yes, I will be paying royalties and statements, but as of the moment they are on
the back burner as I deal with all the other threats to the company, and the
requests to relinquish contracts.
Author) Do you intend removing out of contract books from the AMP web site and
within what time frame? Bear in mind many third party sites have already done so
on request from authors who have provided documentary evidence of the end of
Ms. Hicks) Yes, but again, I can't provide an exact time frame. Interestingly enough, some
of the authors who have sort of provided evidence have also negatively affected
authors that wish to remain with AMP. Any of the threats that are coming from
in force contracts can cause issues for the authors. This especially is true in
light of the clause to redress breaches. A scanned copy of the clause with the
authors signature eliminates the DRM violation claims.
Author) Do you intend continuing business with AMP?
Ms. Hicks) Yes. I put a lot of love and time into AMP. Am I ill? Yes. Is AMP ill, yes.
This situation has certainly given me a load of things to consider. What if I'd
had a heart attack or ended up in a coma? I have to develop a system to provide
back up for such scenarios.
Also, let's be perfectly frank here. Ms. Hicks hasn't had a heart attack or a stroke. Her health permitted her to make this statement today without any trouble or turmoil. Her health permitted her to drive to the bank and cash a check. Her health permits her to do many, many things--but not, apparently, to answer an email, cut a check, type out a royalty statement, or anything that might benefit her authors and staff.
Author) If Yes, please state when we can expend within what time frame it will do so
and also do you intend doing so with authors who no longer wish to be identifies
Ms. Hicks) The first thing I am doing is reading and responding to authors. Each is
individual, case-by-case. Just because some authors no longer wish to be
identified with AMP does not negate their contracts. I and I alone will make
that decision, on a case-by-case basis as I look to the future.
Also, these complaints have been ongoing for over a year. Is she saying that in all that time, she is only NOW reading authors' emails?
Author) If NO, when can we expect the return of rights letters, payments, etc, that
will avoid legal action on the part of those owed money?
Ms. Hicks) As stated before it is one thing at a time. Having been an author, I know the
return of my intellectual property is more important than anything else. That
said, I would seriously consider how much attorney fees cost and weigh them
against what I believe I'm owed. Aspen has the money to pay its authors, but
being one person at this time, I have made the decision to handle the rights
And as an author who knows the return of intellectual property is more important than anything else, AMP's owner, who suffered as an author from the Triskelion debacle, is proving stubbornly resistant to returning anyone's intellectual property despite the numerous and egregious breaches AMP has committed on every single contract in the past 14 months.
Author) At this stage I think these are the main themes authors are worried about and
I ask, on behalf of all of them to give answers as soon as possible.
While we all know about your personal problems and many have wished you the
best for them. You should also be aware that this situation have caused all of us to suffer anziety(sic), depression, and other problems caused by stress. Do you truly believe that it is fair, or worse still, legally defendable refusing to face up to this situation?
Ms. Hicks) Actually, yes, it is defendable as I have sought documented treatment for my medical issues as well as the depression. It is not a refusal to face the
situation, it is an inability due to depression. And for those that are
suffering anxiety, and depression, then I would surely expect them to be more
compassionate of the anxiety and depression I am suffering. Do I believe it is
fair? Of course not. I don't believe it is fair for a person to suffer cancer,
lose a loved one, get laid off from a job they've worked at for 20 years. Some
thing just have to be handled one thing at a time, one day at a time. Seems tome like there was a boatload of people who got paid just last month (and no,they did not get their statements, they are sitting in my flash drive)
And as a clarification to many of you, right or wrong, I made the decision that it was better you got your money than the statement. Cutting the checks actually took less time than attaching the document and emailing it individually. Now, that said, some of you think I owe you money that I actually
did pay--you did not cash your checks. There is ample proof of that in the bank account. Will I send statements? Yes. When, not until I can get people paid.
Have I not answered emails? Yes. Why? Bad news upon bad news only deepens depression, doesn't help it at all. For those who have known me since the very early days of our writing careers and the beginning of this company, you knowthat I don't speak ill of others, and that I haven't treated you badly.
Am I coming out of this? With professional help. I don't know what sort of time frame to expect for that either. Some days are better than others. Right now I've upped my work quotient to about 2 hours a day. Upped. Is that great...depends where you are. Right now for me it is-two years ago-I was
putting in twelve to fourteen hours a day and editing as well. I was also writing. Now compared to then? Bad. Perspective has a lot of power.
Even answering this post has zapped a lot of the energy I had for the day.
Again, to all of you who've put in requests, watch the mail. You are getting signed hard copies related to your requests.