I want to pass on a warning to young writers in the horror genre (and perhaps to readers, too). There is an editor and owner of several small presses — Tony Giangregorio — who has a long-standing reputation in the industry for not just editing but rewriting his authors’ fiction and then refusing to return or sell back the rights. He received a lot of bad press in May 2012 when he published an anthology having completely rewritten several stories submitted to it (one of them by noted horror writer Jonathan Maberry), but he is now back, publishing some mangled fiction under his Open Casket Press.
In the most recent offense, novelist Paul Johnson is currently distancing himself from a book published in his name by Open Casket Press, Survival Horror: A Zombie Story — because not only is the book poorly edited, but Giangregorio changed the location of the story and added scenes of his own, completely changing the intent of the story. (In fact, while pressing for the return of his rights, Johnson is requesting one-star Amazon reviews for the book published in his name in a bid to prevent Giangregorio from making money on this unauthorized rewrite of Johnson’s story.)
Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a series of such cases.
Here is a copy of a post on my old blog from May 2012, which assembled a lot of the evidence against Giangregorio in one place:
Beware UnDead Press and editor Anthony Giangregorio. This press — one of Tony G’s many presses (to my knowledge, he also owns Living Dead Press and Open Casket Press) — is a scam. Author Mandy DeGeit has blogged about what happened to her, and no less a personage than Neil Gaiman himself has been tweeting the news.
Here’s the short version:
- Tony G recently released an anthology that included Mandy’s fiction. The story featured disastrous spelling and punctuation errors not present in the original manuscript, Tony changed the gender of a main character, added in flashback scenes, and added a suggestion of rape to the end of Mandy’s story.
- When confronted politely but firmly, Tony G. unleashed a torrent of abuse via email (you can read all the transcripts at Mandy’s blog).
(Update 5/16/12: Mandy DeGeit’s story is not an isolated case. Other writers whose stories have been mangled recently by Tony G. include Jonathan Maberry, Alyn Day, and Rocky Alexander.)
Tony is actually infamous in the industry for disreputable behavior, alleged shadiness around copyright, and ill-treatment of authors. (And by shadiness around copyright, I don’t just mean rewriting stories that have been submitted to him; Tony also reportedly self-published one or more novels set in the world of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead — with the same characters! — without permission from George Romero, and then proceeded to collect royalties on Romero’s intellectual property.) You can learn more here. And here is a list of other writers who have reported bad practices by this individual.
His most recent — and creepy — shenanigan: apparently threatening to make a house call on another writer (of the opposite sex) who has also requested that her (also drastically rewritten) story be pulled from his anthology. Maybe it’s a joke. A very, very creepy joke.
Young writers out there, please be careful. When approached by — or approaching — any publisher, vet them thoroughly. Granted, there aren’t many scam artists like Tony out there in the industry, but please be careful. That said, I don’t want to give an impression that Mandy DeGeit is in any way responsible for what happened to her story. When Tony slashed, burned, rewrote, and changed the entire narrative, that was a crime against her intellectual property. That’s like being authorized by you to show the house you lovingly designed to other people to celebrate it, and then demolishing half the house and remodeling it in a shoddy manner completely out of step with your original design. Without telling you I’m doing so. (Note that Mandy was never sent proofs, even though she was in touch with Tony by email regularly.) And then when you point out that I’ve severely damaged your house, I send you abusive emails telling you that second-rate designers like yourself should be grateful for my help.
This makes me furious.
(Update 5/16/12: Writer Beware has posted, in response to this incident, a detailed column on what to look for in editing clauses in a publishing contract. I highly recommend reading it.)
(Update 5/17/12: The anthology Cavalcade of Terror,in which Tony G. brutalized the fiction of writers Mandy DeGeit, Alyn Day, and Rocky Alexander, has been yanked from distribution and will no longer be sold.)
Please spread the word and help other writers beware.
I am reposting this information with the update not in an attempt to tar-and-feather this man, but as a warning. If you are a young writer or even an established writer looking to publish a short story on the side, please be cautious in dealing with this publisher. Please do your research thoroughly when vetting potential publishers. Please go over contracts with care — though I know what a rush it can be to be offered publication after a long search for it, it’s still vitally important to treat a publishing contract as the high-stakes business decision it is. And please share the word with other writers you know.
Update 5/26/13: You can read one blogger’s review of Open Casket Press’s publishing contract, clause by clause, here. If you are a new writer seeking publication, this is worth a read for examples of absurdly exploitative clauses that a scam publisher may write into a contract. The broader takeaway, of course, is that it’s a really good idea to review your contract with a legal expert prior to signing.
Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!
– Rob Kroese, author of Mercury Falls