Several years ago, back when I worked at the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, I heard of a new horror imprint that was starting called ChiZine Publications. They’d started as a local horror magazine and were branching out to publish short story collections and novels.
Over the years I went to several of their events: book launches at Ad Astra, evening readings at bars, the store hosted a few readings and launches. I reviewed some of their books on this blog and interviewed a few of their authors for an in store display and posting in full here online.
Several of their authors were regulars at the store and would chat with us and sign copies of their books when they came in to shop.
So it’s with surprise and horror that I’ve learned how the publisher has been treating some of their employees and authors. Apparently the close friends of the publishers (Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory) have been treated well, but others have had late or non-existent payments for work, missing author copies of anthologies, there are accusations of authors being intimidated (so they wouldn’t complain about lack of payment) and fears of being blackballed by the publisher so others wouldn’t work with them. One author has also accused another author of some vile racist comments.
I’ve been following the complaints via twitter and facebook but file770 now has a good overview so I’ll link to that post here.
As some others have pointed out, being a 2 person operation doesn’t excuse not paying people on time. If you can’t run the business properly, maybe it’s time to shut down.
ChiZine has published some amazing books, but the harm they’re doing to the writing and speculative fiction community in Toronto seems to outweigh the positives.
I still have several of their books on my to be read pile. I don’t believe punishing the authors by not reviewing books is fair, so I won’t remove them from my pile. One author has been accused of using racist comments towards another author so I will not review that author’s books anymore (and if other authors are named in the future in such things - from ChiZine or other publishers - this will apply to their books as well).
However, until I hear these issues have been cleared up and proper apologies rendered, I won’t be supporting any more of their events.
I’m a bit torn on buying and reviewing newer books. Again, I don’t think authors should be punished for the publisher’s behaviour, but I don’t want to support the publisher by giving them money. I’ll have to think about this and see how things play out in the next few weeks.
High Fever Books has an updated rundown with more stories of mistreatment and the official ChiZine Publications statement (several of these are linked to on facebook).
Update Nov 9
Dora Badger has started a Google Doc with information on how you can support ChiZine authors outside of the publisher (other books they've written, patreon accounts, etc). It's a work in progress, as there are a lot of authors.