Advice to fellow authors – Why to stay away from Centum Press

A little more than a year ago, I received an acceptance letter from Centum Press, an imprint of Allegiant Publishing Group, for one of my short stories. They wanted to publish it in an anthology with 100 other authors called “100 Voices Vol 2”. I was obviously excited .

I did some research immediately, but I couldn’t find anything substantial about them. But they had already published “100 Voices Vol 1” and Allegiant had many published books so I thought “What could go wrong?”

Everything was alright at first. A cover was selected, a date was set for publication, pre-orders were available and everyone seemed friendly. Until I got the book in my hands. The most obvious problem? The poor format, like they just wanted to save space and print as less pages as possible. You don’t believe me? Check their page margins in the photo below. It looks like poorly cut, am I right? Then I started reading. I can’t speak for the other authors, but my story had edits that made some sentences lose their initial feeling. I didn’t complain though. They were professionals after all; I thought that I had maybe done something grammatically wrong.

And so the months passed in waiting. The anthology was also on amazon now. So last August we received an email that we would get our royalties by the end of the month. We had to submit our paypal email to their form for that. Nothing came until October (I think), when we received another email saying that there was some problem with the process and we would get paid by the end of that month. Obviously, we didn’t get paid then either.

I let a month pass and I emailed them at the end of November. No one answered me. I found other people on twitter in the same anthology and they had the same problem. No contact, no official announcement and then their website closed! We knew nothing at all.

A couple of days ago, someone contacted me on twitter (not representing Centum Press, but they had contact with some people there) and informed me that Centum Press and Allegiant had gone bankrupt. Then he sent me a new website they seem to be using. And guess what! They are asking for submissions for a new anthology called “50 Voices”. How are they going to publish something when they are supposedly bankrupt I don’t know. They haven’t either answered to people who submitted for “100 Voices Vol 4”, to the best of my knowledge. I used their contact form in the knew website but no one got back to me again.

So, in conclusion, we had our work poorly presented, we didn’t get paid for it, and we have no idea what happens with the rights to our stories since the contract states that “The Author grants to the Publisher the non-exclusive right to publish, reproduce and distribute the Work in all formats in English throughout the world (‘the Territory”) for the full term of the copyright under the present and future laws of any country in the Territory. The Author understands that the Work will first be published in an anthology that will contain other pieces but that the Publisher may at its sole discretion also publish the Work separately at a later date“. I just want to give everyone a friendly advice: STAY AWAY FROM CENTUM PRESS and all other imprints of the same publishing group.

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On Writing and Story Development

I have read recently many articles from well-established and aspiring authors both, stating that when they write a story, especially a lengthy one, they have to know the end beforehand so that they can adjust their entire writing process to it. What scenes are they going to write? In what order? What subtle hints they will use to point to the big finale? This fact made me, also an aspiring author, feel quite lonely and prompted me to write this article today to address people like me whose procedure is entirely different.
When I open a blank document to write a story, all I have in mind for sure are:

1: A vague subject and

2: The main characters

I usually start with a scene that has one of the protagonists facing an obstacle. That same scene could also serve as a means to introduce some of his or hers basic traits. A classic suspense/draw the reader’s interest type of thing. Nothing new here. But after that, the game is on.

 

What guides me through the whole story is the characters themselves. They don’t know what they are going to face so, most of the time, neither do I until I reach the next chapter. For instance, I once wrote a character intending for him to be sour and irritable but every single interaction with his fellow protagonist painted him in a sweet, wounded-but-willing-to-listen sort of light. I couldn’t, for the life of me, write a single piece of  dialogue that would make him a bitter old man. That wasn’t the story he wanted to tell. As a result, my worldview changed and instead of providing him with the happy ending I had in store, I realized that it would make the story too mushy and unrealistic so I had him meet a tragic end.

 

All in all, what I’m trying to say is that there is not a certain road to follow when writing a story. It’s art and as such you have to keep your horizons open, experiment and who knows? Your characters may surprise you after all.