Tate Publishing & Enterprises has formally announced that it has shuttered its operations as a family-owned Christian book publisher and music producer and the company is now entering a period of transition period “and we are no longer accepting any new authors or artists.” The company began operations 17 years ago, based out of Oklahoma, USA. Trouble at Tate Publishing has been brewing for quite some time, and having closed its office in Cebu, Philippines last year. There has been an increasing number of complaints online from both employees and authors and this has been followed by filed lawsuits by Lightning Source and Xerox Corp for print service contracts they have with the company. The Republic of the Philippines’ Department of Labor is carrying out an investigation into Tate Publishing and the United States Department of Labor is also examining the company for reasons not yet publicly disclosed.
Originally formed by Richard and Rita Tate, the company has been run in recently years by their son Ryan Tate.
Since January 17th, the Tate Publishing website now describes itself as a “Transition Information Center” with the suspension of operations and a page informing current authors that the company is “working to find a new home for you”. Authors have been provided with an option to terminate existing contracts (books not released) during the transition period and a link to release print files of their books. However, this release comes with a $50 dollar fee for digital files in respect of authors with a book already released. My advice here is to get out while you can and not allow Tate Publishing to decide the fate of your book by passing on its own print/publishing assets to some entity you have no checks and balances on.
There are already a number of self-publishing service providers looking to mop up this mess and gain additional business, including Lulu, Dog Ear Publishing and several Author Solutions imprints, though I would advise authors to think very carefully before diving into another pool of water with their books. As I reported in my December Publishing Service Index:
The publishing service industry is becoming increasingly competitive and it is becoming very clear that more and more authors are seeking the flexibility and economy of freemium platforms, freelance marketplaces and direct online sales channels. They want empowerment and the direct tools to publish, and preferably online, whether their intentions are for a print or ebook release, or both. The dominate era of convenient but often expensive publishing packages (and those service providers who still stick rigidly to this paper-driven, high print markups, and low revenue return for authors) looks doomed.
Tate Publishing, like so many pay-to-publish operations, are quickly learning that the publishing landscape is changing and authors are becoming much more savvy about their publishing options. Now, authors don’t as easily get suckered into expensive packaged deals that cost thousands of dollars and do little for the marketing prospects of their books. These companies are getting out of the publishing service market because they know the game is up, and they also realise the pool of suckers is dwindling. That equals less profits for them through author services and has nothing to do with the sales of books. Their businesses were never structured on the sales of books. The growing author dissatisfaction with crappy publishing services (often no more than the very basic printing of a book and poor contract terms and revenue) no longer outweighs a strategy (over the past five years) of shifting customer service departments to places like the Philippines and India. It means they still having to compete with the growing number of new freemium models of publishing and a handful of reputable publishing service providers.
Although our original review of Tate Publishing was undertaken in 2011, I think my concluding comment on their operation still holds true:
I’m now less convinced about Tate. In short, Tate want it both ways – to be considered a ‘traditional mainline publisher’, and also expectant that authors they sign should have a professional publicist. In the big bold world of publishing – that’s what a ‘mainline’ publisher is meant to provide for an author. For me, you are either a ‘traditional’ publisher, or a publisher seeking financial assistance from an author. In a nutshell, if an author signs to Tate with a professional publicist, then that author is already paying their publicist a fee or royalty cut, and thereby removing a significant financial onus and responsibility from Tate. For me – Tate is an example of ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’
I guess in recent months Tate finally realised the cake is gone.