In mid-1994, at the end of a period of negotiation that finally caused me to leave Publisher #1 and sign with Publisher #3, I decided to do an audit of my former publisher. My decision was the result of frustration. Publisher #1’s royalty statements provided little information to the author other than the number of copies an author was being paid for. When trying to negotiate a contract, it’s frustrating not to have information on past print runs and sell-throughs and returns. So I decided I wanted to have that information which seemed just good business sense to me. I hired an auditor and chose 8 of my 18 titles for him to investigate. I was after information, not money (I didn’t believe there was any money to be found), so I saw no point in auditing all of my books.
As it turned out, that decision to audit would put me on a nearly four year journey of reporting discrepancies, letter writing, meetings with lawyers, and eventually a class action lawsuit of which I was the class representative. In the end, the publisher was required to pay a group of more than 100 authors approximately a million dollars in earned but unpaid royalties.
Can you say s.t.r.e.s.s!!!?
As class rep, I had a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the class (not myself), to stay apprised of the litigation at all times, and to make myself available to the courts. Yes, it was very stressful, but there was great satisfaction in doing the right thing.
While all of this was in progress, God was drawing me closer and closer to Him. I was in a small e-mail fellowship with a group of Christian writers. I read my Bible daily. I had become more involved in my church.
It was the Lord who kept me — the woman who likes to avoid confrontation — strong, especially during the three days I was deposed by attorneys in New York City in the fall of 1997. (Hey, there is a reason for all of those lawyer-shark jokes that float around the Internet!) And when I left NYC on October 9th, I made note of these two passages (from the NLT, although I was reading the NASB version at the time), believing that the Lord had accomplished this for me:
Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will preserve me against the anger of my enemies.
You will clench your fist against my angry enemies!
Your power will save me.
The LORD will work out his plans for my life —
for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
Let the wicked fall into their own snares,
but let me escape.
A settlement offer was made by Publisher #1 in mid-December, about two months after I was deposed, and the courts approved the final agreement in January 1998. With a huge sigh of relief, that part of my life was behind me.
During that almost four year period, from the start of the audit to the approval of the courts, I wrote seven books for Publisher #3 (six novels and one novella). More importantly, I finally recognized and answered God’s call on my heart to write for Him (more on that to come).