Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Diggory Press: The Journey So far & The Quest For Truth

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It is a story of intrigue, deception, fraud, defamation, theft, forgery, religious persecution, death threats, hatred, subterfuge and much more, culminating in investigations by the British Police Force, Scotland Yard, An Gardai (Irish Police Force) and I have even encountered unsubstantiated claims of Interpol being involved; resulting in, at first, small claims court actions, and now, potentially, a civil court case early next year.

The entire three year-long events about this case could have come straight out of an Ian Flemming book or the latest espionage offering from Tom Clancy. As far back as those dark winter days of 2007, when we witnessed the unfolding drama on the Book & Tales Forum about Diggory Press.

(WARNING: Grab yourself a coffee or tea – you’ll need it if you delve deeply.)

It was, in particular, the exchanges of posts between Stephen Manning and Rosalind Franklin, which took us into the wee hours of the mornings—this almost had a book written all over it—from the moment the very first written word was penned. Indeed, it is a book I might just take up writing. One of the reasons the whole issue intrigued me was how many of the issues furiously and tirelessly debated touched upon all that was critical about the pro’s and con’s of an author embarking down the self-publishing pathway. These issues are going to be eagerly argued next year, such as; who owns/or should own an ISBN when a book is self published through an author solutions company?; is that company responsible for/how the book is listed on line?; how does an author really get their publisher/author solutions company to provide details of sales and royalties?; is an author paying for a service or entering into a form of publishing contract?; what avenues of arbitration/mediation do author solution companies and authors have? Many of these issues in the traditional world of publishing have long been hammered out and we have the benefit of author and publisher guilds and associations, as well as literary agents. In the self-publishing world, we are all at sea.

The principle parties in this case are Rosalind Franklin, proprietor and owner of Diggory Press, Stephen T. Manning, an academic in Counselling Psychology and Comparative Religions and owner and proprietor of Checkpoint Press, and five other individual authors of books submitted for publication to Diggory Press over the past three years. There were some one hundred individuals who expressed grievances against Diggory Press over this time frame; some 20+ proceeded with claims through the courts, being refered to mediation, some cases have been dropped through expense of civil action, legal frustration or weakened cases and others were struck out. A few remain pending or have reached settlement. The court case of March 2010 pertains specifically to Diggory Press, Stephen T. Manning, and five other individual authors.

I have long held my opinions (right or wrong) on the Diggory Press legal action on this site by a number of authors which has been on-going since 2007 and remained objective in my views. Most visitors who have left comments have acknowledged this objectivity, a small few disagreed that I was being objective (Hi, Wordsmith!). Make up your own minds; the link below includes most, if not all, postings and comments made on this website. I might also add that several of those authors involved in this dispute posted here, and by actual name, which I respect. Others, I have met on writer forums, and about a half-dozen or so have corresponded with me privately.

Over the past three years, I have seen whole web sites and blog sites appear, almost entirely given over to discussion on Diggory Press and the comments and actions of some of its disgruntled authors or the complete and utterly irreverent espousing on the virtues of Diggory Press (rightly or wrongly). The only sizeable equivalent of sustainable comment and discussion I have seen is that of Publish America. Few of these sites and blogs gave any real balance. To me, they may have started well, but they degenerated into simple mouthpieces for either party. It seems you had to be in the Diggory Press/Franklin or Manning/The Authors (original seventeen) camps, and dare you thread the waters in between!

Well, in the last couple of weeks, the debate has kicked off again, more ferociously in fact than ever. Links are provided below to the current commentary. I won’t provide the specific links, as those involved, affected and interested will already be aware of the debate enough to delve deeply into the sites to find the ‘true’ story. Some of the evidence which will prevail on the upcoming court case is present, though, I suspect, not nearly as much as will transpire early next year. The case was recently reset to go ahead in March 2010.

(WARNING: Grab yourself a coffee or tea – you’ll need it if you delve deeply.)
Ah! Another new one pops up as the Bravejournal site bites the dust - June 10th.
as of June 9th, this link was now directing to Bravejournal homepage
suspended by Wordpress

Weighty and sharp stuff, I think you will agree. But I must add an additional thought about the recent above links. There has always been an unsavoury undercurrent of ‘religious’ belief and discussion just under the surface of all this. In my mind, it has never had anything to do with the actual case, yet, it remains central in the passions and ideology stirred to some degree in all of us. There is one thing which comes across as very clear about the two principle figures in this case, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Manning, regardless of where you stand or what you believe/disbelieve about either of them or what has been said or claimed by either party.

They are both highly intelligent, centric individuals, well educated, and deeply passionate about what has shaped their beliefs, academically, theologically, religiously and have been effected greatly by their own life’s experience. Yet, look back on all that has been said, and it is clear both are charging headlong toward what each believes is, in both their own words, at various times, ‘THE TRUTH’. It has been a mantra for both of them. For one, it is ‘The Colour of Truth’, for the other; it is ‘The Word of Truth’. If they are both right and they continue like this, around about late March next year, they will both reach the same singular point and violently bump heads.

It is a little rudimentary, but then, searching for the ‘Truth’ often leads one onto a singular path which misses much of the universal perspective, thereby, removing the individual far from what actually made them what they are and what they are to become. No righteous indignation or facts written upon a piece of paper take us any closer to the ‘Truth’ because none of us have any ownership on the ‘Truth’ no matter what our proof. Believe, just for a moment that you own it, and it becomes ephemeral.

I wish all parties well and they both find contentment and wealth of spirit whatever the outcome.
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  1. I too have had problems with Diggory Press. My emails were ignored for more than 2 years after the publication of my book. I was aware of at least a few sales made by friends and relatives and I had even purchased 2 digital books myself as a test. I told Diggory to stop selling my work as they were not paying me for it. I then recieved a statement of what I had earned (it didn't total up properly), but then informed that they did not owe me money because they were charging me annual digital fees against my royalties.

    This was the first I had heard of it. It isn't a large sum of money but I certainly feel cheated.

  2. Lizzie,

    Sorry to hear of your experience.

    I should point out that the digital annual fee charged by POD publishers is fairly widespread, though Diggory should have made you aware of this. Also, to cut down on admin costs, most POD publishers will not release royalty payments until a specific sum has been reached in that author's account, usually between £20 - 50.

    Really, at the moment, its half and half. Some publishers will provide a contract, others don't. It's all to do with the argument as to whether companies offering self publishing author services, are truly publishing or offering simply a 'service' where no specific contract is necessary to be drawn up, as the business and consumer rights should cover most of the terms and conditions.

    It is the one reason I am a strong advocate of agreed 'general' contract of practice across the board for all POD publishers/self publishing service companies.

    Your own experience is a common one among many of the original 100+ complaints from Diggory authors, some of it borne out of not understanding how POD's do their business and simply authors not wanting to pursue a company through the courts because they were treated badly and a company did not exemplify good customer service.

    Diggory in many of their exchanges with authors on line in forums and directly with those authors were far off the mark when it came to good customer service. That in itself is a critical black mark and warning to other authors and perspective customers.


  3. Unfortunately a number of (Portugalmail) blogs were left high and dry by faults in's transition to a WordPress platform. I suspect this may be the reason why no posts or comments are being published at SleuthforTruth's blog there. By co-incidence, I have a blog of my own and all updating ceased mid-July, until I contacted some PortugalMail employees directly (their customer service options were all dead).

    I am an ex-Diggory customer and received royalties (sometimes less, sometimes more) but never any statements. I had a pretty good business relationship with them until this Spring when I tried to order more author copies (something I'd done before without incident) and completely failed to receive any reply to emails sent to more than one Diggory email address, a letter by post and a phone call (BT Answer). I was therefore forced to republish my book directly through Lightning Source and ask them to withdraw the original Diggory publication which they did). Diggory still have it on their site (though no-one would be able to buy it because LS have discontinued it and Diggory don't hold physical inventory). Funnily enough I received a very creditable amount of royalties (from Amazon sales?) to my bank account after asking Diggory to discontinue (still no statement of any kind), but I'm guessing that the quarterly royalties must be done by some kind of semi-automated system.

  4. Hi again Peter,

    Yes, for a number of weeks the advert links have been broken on the Sleuthfortruth blog. I hadn't been aware of the switch over from to the wordpress platform. Interestingly, was Wordpress not the forst incarnation of Sleuthfortruth's blog? That wordpress blog was pulled by wordpress themselves following Stephen Manning's email complaint to them. I wonder if that has also led to the lengthy hiatus considering we were getting almost day to day 'evidence' postings on the blog.

    Either way, I don't think November can come soon enough for all parties involved. Personnally, I'm exhauusted with the whole thing and pretty Diggory Do'd out! I just sensed in the past two or three months from the on-going debate on Sleuth's blog as well as AbsoluteWrite's on forum that we are starting to go round and round in circles of argument upon argument.

    This whole affair desperately needs the fair but sharp hand of the British justice system to bring an end to this for all parties involved.

    I delighted to hear you have received royalties into your account from Diggory. I have heard of more and more authors reporting this in recent months - though as you pointed out - sometimes without proper accompaning detailed statements. The royalty system does have automations in most decent POD Publishers, but bear in mind, someone at Diggory has still to authorise and sign off on the transfer of those electronic funds into authors' accounts.

    It's a messy business when you have to pull your book from one service and re-submit files to another POD service. I'm lucky in that I have not had to go through the experience and it's one of the strong benefits of dealing directly with a global POD fulfillment and print service like Lightning Source.

  5. Mick,

    in your reply you say: " Your own experience is a common one among many of the original 100+ complaints from Diggory authors..."

    What evidence do you have for this ? Surely authors are amongst the most literate of complainants, why don't these hundred authors publicly post their complaints online with book titles and isbn numbers? I'm not saying there have been no complaints, I'm just interested exactly in how many.

    To date only six people thought their complaints serious enough to risk a refundable £30 for a small claim's court hearing.

    Frankly I am highly sceptical of Manning's as yet unverified claims, and unless you have credible evidence I think it
    unwise and unethical to continue regurgitating these unproven rumours.

    Although 'private eye' and Tony Levine from 'the guardian' swallowed Stephen Manning's claims hook, line and sinker safe in the knowlege that few individuals would have the means to sue for libel even if their story was unfounded, it has gutter press written all over it. Ian Hislop is often described as the most sued man in the uk, likewise his magazine does not sign up to the press complaints commission code of conduct.

    I do however acknowlege your posting of the 'sleuth for truth'
    link on your site, and for a balanced argument an updated link is below.

    As he seems to spend a large proportion of his life
    with seemingly nothing better to do than hectoring RMF online, the above link has some important info regarding his rather shabby and duplicitous character.

    This blog is the same as 'sleuth for truth' which was taken down from a couple of sites last year following a complaint, presumably from mr manning. As he would say, judge for yourself folks...

    For the record I am not RMF and have no connection to Diggory press.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Anonymous,

    Maybe you missed this.

    Without being dismissive, time has passed. Diggory Press has been wound up as a business enterprise, the debate will long go on, but I am not going to argue with the presiding and rulings of a UK judge.

    I am not longer continuing this discussion, neither here, on ETP, or Tim's peacebringers site.

    It's over, the matter is now in the hands of UK bailiffs to ensure that the authors entitled to their money back get it back.

    What exactly is it you want???

    Is it me to suggest an ill-reputable author service wasn't a badly run scam just because it wasn't scheming 100+ authors instead of the eventual few who had the courage and endurance to carry it through???

    If you have any further comments to make, kindly PM me on the site with the official email address provided. Use the CONTACT link and I will be happy to fill you in.


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