I’ve been asked to address rumors and hearsay (something I usually don’t do), but when the misinformation becomes widespread, I wanted to post something on the site so that I can refer anyone who maybe a victim of believing in gossip as gospel…our official stance of Shane Staley, as a contributor to IndieMuse. So here’s a quick fact-check:
Addressing the question on the rumor: In his 20 years of publishing, has Shane Staley taken or not paid authors (taken advantage of authors)?
Fact: This is actually blatantly false and misleading. If someone lasts 20 years in business as a publisher, won a Bram Stoker Award, helped launch the careers of many many new authors, the modus operandi of such a person should be obvious. The only unpaid royalties or non-payment to authors happened as a result of the closing and bankruptcy of one of his imprints (DarkFuse) in 2017. In the following letter to authors issued on 1/14/21 he addresses this and the money was, in fact, set aside and paid out of his own pocket to reimburse authors, after the fact…and offered to anyone who didn’t claim their money through the courts.
The official letter has been included below:
Letter To DarkFuse Authors 1/14/21
Dear DarkFuse Author,
Hope you’re doing well and staying safe through these trying times in this pandemic. I wanted to reach out to you today to catch up on past matters with the imprint of DarkFuse and its bankruptcy.
In 2017, I lost connection with a lot of you after the lawyers came in to liquidate the business and declare bankruptcy. At this time, the bankruptcy has cleared and all claims have been made against the assets that were seized. My personal finances were tied up (tax returns) and some property sold off to take care of deficits left from the imprint’s debts.
At the time of bankruptcy, I’m happy to state that authors walked away with more money than what was liquidated, meaning that I had paid for stories in future anthologies and advanced many authors for books that rights were reverted to the exact day the bankruptcy was set in motion. But the last quarter’s royalties owed to authors was liquidated through the court and, to my knowledge, there were no claims on these royalties through the courts.
Throughout the past few years, this has not set well with me, as I have been in this business for more than 20 years and every author that has worked with me knew that I always honored contracts and, most importantly, always paid on time. That was why I was able to achieve a successful business for that long of a time. But with DarkFuse’s liquidation, this marked the first time in my professional career that I didn’t submit rightful payment to creators.
I want to say thank you for your past support of my publishing endeavors and to state I am sorry DarkFuse couldn’t maintain its solvency. I’ve taken full blame for it as it was my responsibility. I will state that, in the months that led up to the filing, the company had a drastic and untimely drop in revenue from eBook sales. Whether this was a fluke in reporting from vendors or changes in algorithms within the online retailers, sadly we’ll never know. Within a matter of months, revenue went from 5-figures per month to barely 4-figures, without any drastic shifts from publishing (all titles remained for sale and new ones being released). This paralyzed the company’s cash flow which paid 50% of its royalties to authors and had advanced to authors and artists a substantial amount of money for more than a years-worth of future projects. Sadly those projects were never launched, but I’m happy they were paid advances for. I’m also proud that I was quick to act and revert rights back to all authors the same day the bankruptcy was filed with the courts, so no one’s work remained in limbo, so every author could continue to earn money by getting their titles back on the market.
As I have now finally recovered financially from the aftermath of the bankruptcy, my first step to make things right is to pay back those authors whose royalties were liquidated in the final quarter’s statements to authors.
I have included your total amount due with this letter. Please forward me your Paypal account e-mail address so I can arrange transfer of this amount in the coming weeks.
Thank you for your patience and understanding through these trying times. I wish you the best in all your creative and personal endeavors going forward.
Staley & Associates
Shane sent myself and all staff members a direct letter on any issues with people being mislead and misinformed. I’m including this letter below because it states some insider information and truth, greatly lacking in reports which are circulating.
Letter To IndieMuse Staff 1/20/21
January 20, 2021
Dear IndieMuse Staff,
It has come to my attention that some staff members have fielded concerns of others (reviewers, authors, etc.) about being featured or promoted here based on my contributions as a staff member to IndieMuse, so I wanted to comment on this situation.
In 2017, my previous imprint DarkFuse filed bankruptcy, and legally discharged its debts in a bankruptcy hearing through the court. This was in part due to a radical decline in eBook sales in a short period of time, catching us all off guard. It was unfortunate for all. Prior to that I spent 20 years of my life devoted to independent publishing and helped launch many well-known authors in the horror genre. Delirium Books, my former imprint, was active for more than twelve years, won a Bram Stoker Award For Specialty Press Publishing in 2004. You can see my entire publishing history of more than 300 titles I published is online through my website if you’re not familiar with it or need to reference this (https://www.staleyandassociates.com).
Over that span of time, in a niche market, you make your fair share of rivalries and face many disagreements when you’re in business. I truly feel DarkFuse had a successful impact on the genre, as did Delirium Books. We paid authors fairly and timely. Launched many good careers. Yet, after the DarkFuse bankruptcy, authors didn’t receive their final quarter’s royalty payments, which was the only author payment I missed in a career lasting more than 20 years in the business.
This has obviously led to some misinterpretations about my history as a publishing professional, sparked by a few irrational perspectives who have seemed to spread their misconceptions of me to others.
During the bankruptcy, the lawyers came in, all assets were frozen to pay back debts, the courts took over communications, and I switched careers to make ends meet, teaching local youth the sport of tennis. So at this point I had been out of publishing and the genre while everything was in limbo. In July 2020 I was approached by Patrick, a former staff member, and I decided to help him launch a promotions site for independent authors. It later became IndieMuse and I spent far more time on the site than I planned, building the site and even contributing some articles to get the site up and running. Around that time, the dust settled from the bankruptcy and I got back on my feet again.
Two weeks ago, I started the process to pay back all authors who lost their money in the bankruptcy of DarkFuse. To this date, every author owed outstanding royalties has been contacted to get paid. 75% have already received full payment (which are all who have replied to my notice). I did this not because I was legally obligated to (the debt was dissolved, already collected in the courts and set aside for claims). But I realized most authors couldn’t afford to pursue the claim, so I’ve proceeded to pay them back out of my own pocket. All authors who responded were paid back 100% of what was owed and we’ll follow up with those who have yet to respond.
The same reason I did this was the same reason I helped to build the IndieMuse website: to support the independent publishing scene I have supported for most of my life and to help promote new authors.
But there are some people out there that have spread misinformation that has dangerously crossed over to the illegality of libel or slander. What’s even more disheartening is that this same information has been purposely and personally aired to hurt my good name, and to attempt to negatively impact the growth of the company and the staff which has worked tirelessly together since the inception of the company for the sole purpose to promote independent authors. And perhaps the saddest of all is that there have been reports of authors or reviewers boycotting or blacklisting this site due to this one-sided perspective running rampant, which also hurts authors from using this site to get further promoted.
Those who are perpetuating these lies and misinformation are not hurting me as much as limiting the opportunities of others and tainting their own genre in a very negative light.
So I wanted to reach out and give everyone on staff a first-hand account from my perspective, which is not only shared by myself, but many others I’ve worked with over the past 20 years. Which is the fact that I worked hard for authors, treated them fairly and always paid on time. The truth is that I have great business relationships with the vast majority of the authors I’ve worked with in the past. I believe they have appreciated all that I’ve done for them, and I have truly been honored to work with them as well. But that is not shared from all perspectives, obviously, as there are a few that don’t want to see my return to the business. And I truly believe this may very well be motivated by personal vendettas and business rivalries. Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you know the full story and can communicate this with others who are having indecisions about supporting or working with us. This should not and will not reflect on your hard work and efforts.
IndieMuse was never intended to be MY company, but a group effort to do what we all love: supporting independent authors. I’m proud to be a part of it, I’m proud of my history in publishing, and would be the first to admit that mistakes were made in my past, but never due to a malicious intent to harm. No one’s perfect, but failure is important for growth. It’s what I tell all my tennis students: don’t be afraid of failing; learn from it and you’ll grow stronger and succeed. It’s true for tennis, publishing, becoming an author and, most everything in life.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. I would prefer anyone who has issues with me to go to the source, or at least let Patrick know about any issues arising. If seeking first-hand knowledge and not hearsay were the case with everyone, we wouldn’t have any issues or misinformation circulating. But now you have officially been given my statement concerning any allegations or issues anyone might have with me or my name being listed amongst the contributors to this site.
I am a very private person, and have remained an outlier working in the independent press for as long as I’ve been in business. Being this way has allowed me to run my publishing businesses full time since 1999, doing what I love to do: edit, publish, and promote authors’ works. While the small press society thrives on close-knit social connections (almost to the point of aversion to anything business-like), in contrast I’m the workaholic behind the scenes, embracing the business behind growing an author’s career. And sometimes business doesn’t mesh well with art, but remains essential for talented authors to transcend the confined bubble of friends buying friends books. But not being the social figure also sets me up to not have much of a voice (or defense) at the water cooler, so to speak, where people can take advantage of this to spread misinformation regarding myself and past business practices which is ultimately to further their livelihood or own best interests. This will soon change! 😉
I have a hard time believing that any person who takes a look at my publishing history at my website would fall for the misinformation that I was a bad, or even corrupt, individual. I wouldn’t have lasted a year, let alone 20+ years in this niche business.
I am confident, and truly hope, that people (particularly authors who are creative free-thinkers), can sincerely form their own opinions and not be misled by others, consequentially limiting their future opportunities of promotional support through our company. Although it is their decision, I wanted to let everyone know my side of the story, which can be verified by many sources, if the truth is properly sought out.
So my advice would be: ignore the noise, be honest, have good intentions, don’t be afraid to fail, tell the real story, do good work, and don’t pre-judge others. There will always be people who want to hold you down, to revel in another person’s failure. To spread a negative perspective they somehow form out of spite or misunderstanding. We are living in the age where people only feel powerful if they can blacklist or cancel someone. What’s sadder is that there are others who perpetuate this due to their complicit naivety.
Let’s move on and help those quality authors who come to us. Those who have reservations, simply give them the facts as you see it, and wish them good luck in all their endeavors.
Thanks for understanding and for your continued hard work and support! The site traffic is continually increasing and we’re still more than a week away from official launch and marketing the site to readers!
Lots of great things to come, particularly with launching the Women In Horror Series (which Richard Martin has pitched and is working on) that I’ve been working several days on the web pages for.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
Staley & Associates
So why are these rumors being spread and circulating?
We’ve talked to many of his past authors (all who have stated they were thrilled with their working history with Shane). His entire publishing history is available on his personal site for further reference.
Our only guess is that these rumors are being circulated to smear Shane’s name and legacy, and done so by others who have a business interest that might be impacted by Shane’s return to the genre. As he has done on many occasions throughout his career, he has acted as a disruptor when it comes to the market, launching many new careers for authors due to this. When he arrived on the scene in 1999 with Delirium Books, similar propaganda was circulated by established publishers to undercut his success. That didn’t fair all that well (check the history).
The sad fact is that there are a few authors being given false information who are trusting sources that may keep them from associating with IndieMuse, to the possible detriment of reaching new readers.
It’s also important to note: Shane Staley has no vested publishing interests currently in the horror genre. He was contracted to build the IndieMuse website and offers valuable contributions to our site in the form of book reviews, promoting authors.
He remains a passionate and major advocate of independent authors, inside and outside of the horror genre.
If you have concerns, or know others who are being misled, please pass along this link and help fight what really amounts to be a smear campaign towards someone who many consider a major contributor to the genre, despite others’ attempts to blacklist or cancel him. Better yet, if you have concerns, do more research on your own (don’t just read unsubstantiated—unproven—hearsay). Access his publishing history, reach out to multiple authors he’s published for reference.
Get the complete story!
We are living in times where people feel powerful only if they can impact others’ lives negatively. It may be happening all around us, but we in genre fiction should know the dangers this presents to all of us.
Thanks for your time and continued support of IndieMuse!