From Writer Beware:
A brand new publisher has hung out a web shingle: Resurrection House. As of this writing, its website is pretty bare: a single page with a mission statement, a call for submissions, and a link to a cryptic YouTube video. As yet, no books have been published; there’s also no information about staff. You can’t even tell what genres Resurrection House is interested in…
What Google won’t tell you is that Resurrection House has another staff member: Night Shade Books founder and publisher Jason Williams. (Though Williams’ involvement with Resurrection House isn’t publicly disclosed, Writer Beware has seen a message posted by Teppo to a mailing list for Night Shade Books authors.) If that name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a bit of background…
Mark Teppo has stated that Jason Williams will be working with Resurrection House only as an employee, with the title of Acquisitions Editor, and won’t have a hand in running the company. By all accounts, Williams is a talented editor. Still, even as an employee, his association with Resurrection House is a data point that writers should have the opportunity to factor in to their decision to submit.
More from Jeff VanderMeer:
Recently Mark Teppo created Resurrection House, a new publishing company aimed at recruiting new, up-and-coming authors. What isn’t as clear from the website, although it is in a private post that Teppo put on the Night Shade message boards, is that Jason Williams, one of the founders and operators of Night Shade has been hired as an editor there…
So let’s talk about Night Shade a bit…Depending on which Night Shade author you talk to, NS was guilty of lesser or greater sins. Some didn’t get paid. Some didn’t get paid and suffered a lot of passive-aggressive behavior. Some didn’t get paid and had to threaten lawsuits and received crappy, unprofessional behavior. And yet others got paid, didn’t suffer any or hardly any unprofessional behavior…
Ann and I, for example, decided never again to deal with Night Shade after doing our pirate anthology with them—despite getting paid. Ann was treated at best rudely by Night Shade and at worst in a sexist way—that project became a living hell for her…
Many of my personal experiences working with Night Shade were fine. I had and have quite a bit of respect for a number of their former staff members. I was very excited to see them picking up exciting titles that other publishers would not such as Will McIntosh’s brilliant SOFT APOCALYPSE.
My only personal negative experiences with Night Shade came from Jason Williams. In reply to a request for payment, Williams wrote a very nasty letter to myself and the other writers in an anthology, implying that we were unreasonable and ungrateful to demand payment on schedule. For me, payment on schedule for something minor like a short story isn’t a big deal. For others involved, it could mean making rent, buying medicine, paying bills. This is our labor and we deserve to be paid on time and according to our contracts.
It was a very small incident, but the letter was so stunningly bizarre and unprofessional… that I was not surprised to hear that he was acting unprofessionally with other writers and in situations in which there was much more on the line.
I don’t know if other people will come out with their stories about his actions. There are lots of reasons to keep one’s head down and try not to think about bad situations from the past. People fear retaliation, and they fear being hounded for telling their stories.
What I can say is that after what I’ve heard about Jason Williams’ behavior, I would never work with him.
I strongly urge Resurrection House to reconsider their involvement with someone whose recent, pervasive pattern of behavior has been damaging to so many authors. However, since this is unlikely, I hope they will do the following:
*Put Jason Williams through training courses on harassment
*Put the rest of their staff through the same
*Make sure that Jason Williams is subject to clear and regular oversight
*Make sure there are clear lines of communication through which authors can report problems, and make sure that they are well-treated and respected should they chose to use them
I would also like to see Resurrection House be publicly accountable for failures in this arena. One way that harassers get away with the same patterns again and again is that each incident is resolved privately — or never even named, due to wariness or fear of retaliation — and no one ever understands that their experience doesn’t just stand alone, it’s part of a web of experiences.