It Takes a Community...

$20,440 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 181 people in 13 months

**UPDATED 4.10.18**

Quite a bit has happened since I last updated this page and I wanted to bring you up to speed. I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received and the main reason I’ve gone quiet is because, for a time, others needed your support as well. (For anyone who isn’t aware how fellow members of the community were drawn into this lawsuit, I’ll explain below.)

After losing her motion to quash and filing a motion to strike, the defendant counter sued me for close to half a million dollars.

Unfortunately, she also chose to involve other authors who had nothing to do with the dispute between the two of us. Some were authors she’d had public fights with that were completely unrelated to this case while others were guilty of nothing more than contributing to my fundraiser. I believe her agenda was to frighten and curtail support, and for a while, she succeeded.

Fortunately, the judge saw this for what this was, even going so far as expressing the opinion that this was a revenge filing:

"The point is, this cross-complaint is troubling because it smacks of revenge. P sued D, X-D then helped P, so D sued them too. Does this court take jurisdiction over every person who lends a hand to a party in a case? What happens if some third party now helps D? Will there be a third cross-complaint for defamation, hauling even more authors before this court for a resolution of an even bigger Internet squabble? This has to end somewhere; that end should be here.”

The judge made it clear that simply contributing to a person’s legal fund does not give court jurisdiction over that person. He also indicated this countersuit was a good candidate for an anti-SLAPP filing. For those unfamiliar:

"A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The California anti-SLAPP law was enacted to protect free speech rights. Code of Civil Procedure section 425.18 was enacted to facilitate the recovery by SLAPP victims of their damages through a SLAPPback (malicious prosecution action) against the SLAPP filers and their attorneys after the underlying SLAPP has been dismissed."

That a judge suggested filing an anti-SLAPP as a remedy against this countersuit is telling of its merits; he made no such suggestion about my original case against the defendant.

After losing multiple motions to quash, the rulings for which, according to the judge “weren’t even close,” all of the remaining defendants in the case were dismissed— except for me.

From the start this wasn’t about money. It was about taking on this fight for all those who have suffered at the hands of this promoter, as well as repairing the damage done to my reputation due to her false accusations. It’s astonishing that this has gone on this long and cost so much, and it’s hard to ask for anything further from the community, but as you can imagine, being countersued has increased my legal bills substantially. The past twelve months I’ve neglected my writing and taken day jobs working 60-80 hours a week just so that I can afford justice. That really is all I want, and it’s for that reason I am once again asking for your help.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

(Original story below)

**UPDATED**

Many of you have been following the KBoards thread where I have been making regular updates about this case ( http://bit.ly/2w2YgNQ), but I wanted to provide an update here as well as talk about the way forward.

For those unfamiliar with what prompted this page, please scroll past this update for the full story.

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to settle this matter since January, when I requested the return of my funds rather than sign new contracts with onerous terms. I also wasn’t comfortable with this book promoter's business practices, which had caused two of her sets to be removed from sale.

This promoter then began an unprovoked and untrue character assassination that lasted for several weeks. I was shocked and humiliated and just wanted it to stop. As I talked to other authors though, I realized this wasn’t just about me; this was how the promoter regularly treats authors in the indie community who fall out of her favor.

No one could afford to fight back, and many who offered me support in private were afraid to speak out publicly for fear of being similarly targeted.

I knew I couldn’t take on this legal action alone; I just don’t have the funds. With your generous help, I was able to hire an attorney and start legal action.

We began with an offer to settle out of court. All I wanted was an admission that her accusations against my character had no basis in fact. We also asked for a modest financial settlement and indicated we were open to negotiating the amount.

That letter went unanswered, and with the defamation continuing, I was left with no other choice but to file the lawsuit.

Service was first attempted at the Florida address listed for her LLC. Unfortunately, when the process server arrived he was told the address was invalid, and the papers were denied. Our only recourse was to serve the papers at her home in Georgia. Within one hour of service, the twitter account that had been attacking me—calling me a racist, linking to negative reviews, and saying I was unfit to write for teens—disappeared.

For weeks we heard nothing. And then, a few days before their deadline to respond, my attorney was contacted by her attorney. He requested two additional weeks in order to file a responsive pleading, and as a courtesy, my attorney complied. 

Instead, he filed a motion requesting the case be dismissed, citing California as an inconvenient venue for his client. We filed our our opposition, and in August, the judge ruled in our favor. The case will stay in California. 

Soon therafter, instead of filing an answer, he filed a motion to strike. We have recently filed an amended complaint, and are currently awaiting their answer.

This battle is costing both of us much more than the disputed contracts are worth. I have pushed back the launches of my next two books by several months and accepted a 60-hour a week job so that I have funds of my own to contribute.

This is why people walk away from unfair business practices and chalk up the loss to lessons learned—because fighting for what is right is insanely expensive and emotionally draining. But if no one can afford to fight back, it allows the promoter to continue these practices.

I started this fundraiser at the urging of several community members who wanted to see these practices stopped. It’s not about one contract; it’s about promoters exploiting loopholes and convincing authors that there are no consequences to unethical behavior. It’s about intimidation and fear tactics.

Despite the toll this has taken, I am still ready and willing to fight this fight. We have an excellent case with irrefutable proof and a strong witness list. All of the evidence will be available in the trial documents, and I will continue to update the community. But there are several ways to delay a case, and I now expect to confront them all. Every response, every filing has a cost which is why I have reopened this funding page.

I was inspired and heartened by the outpouring of support I've received so far and was hesitant to ask for more, but a fellow author reminded me what I’d named this fundraiser, and it gave me the resolve I needed.

It really does take a community. From the depths of my heart, thank you for your support.

___________________

The original story:


Hi, I am Christina Garner. I’m an author trying to find my audience, and this is my story. 

In August 2016, a friend recommended a book promoter to help me sell my books. I did a little research and the reviews were glowing—people seemed to be thrilled with her services. Many of her promoted titles hit bestseller lists. Since I had decided 2017 would be my year to invest in my writing, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I dug into my savings and signed up for three multi-author box sets, one shared writing collective, private coaching, and several promotions geared at book promotion and newsletter building, all totaling upwards of $4,000. With so many people singing her praises, I felt confident this was money well spent.

I was laying the foundation that would let me write full time in 2017. I had three novels published and three planned for 2017, as well as content for three box sets. I was excited and ready to do whatever it took to get my work out there.

Then things changed.

The promoter had some of her box sets pulled from sale because they violated Amazon’s terms of service. Our contracts were changed dramatically without our consent. We were told “no refunds.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the tactics used to keep authors quiet were unprofessional. Anyone who asked valid questions was shamed publicly and in the social media groups we were required to join for communications. People were told they would be removed from promotions they had already paid for if they disagreed, their prepaid services “donated” to other authors.

I wrote a private email to the promoter, politely explaining that the projects were no longer a good fit for me and requested refunds. Instead of keeping our business private, as I had done, she took to Facebook, publicly blasting me as unprofessional and going back on my word. She announced that I had let 70 authors down and dozens of others joined in to shame me back into line.

I tried to work with PayPal to get my money back, but because the promoter insisted on “Friends and Family” payments for our business contracts, there was nothing PayPal could do to help me. I should have known better, but I don’t use PayPal much and simply followed her directions for the payments.

I consulted with several attorneys, each of whom agreed I was owed my money back after careful review of the contracts. (They also lectured me about signing one-sided contracts. Lesson learned.) The first attorney I hired sent the promoter a letter I had not reviewed, which was full of mistakes. The promoter sent me a barrage of angry emails followed by more defamatory posts on Facebook.

I found a lawyer who specializes in entertainment law. I have a strong case that she is confident we can win.

The problem is that the fees for the legal case exceed the amount I paid to this promoter. At that point I, as others before me, considered giving up. I was emotionally exhausted. And while the amount of money I’m owed is substantial, I wasn’t sure it was worth enduring even more attacks.

Truthfully, if it were just about the money, I still might simply walk away.

But now this promoter has falsely accused me of plagiarism twice—publicly. She has rallied her supporters to spread lies about me, claiming I chose to pull out of the box sets and donate my spots. She advised me to break Amazon’s rules about exclusivity, (something I never intended to do) but is now claiming I was the one who suggested breaking the rules.

Now I can’t walk away, because her lies impact my livelihood. She is destroying my reputation simply because I chose not to do business with her once I saw what went on behind the scenes—the bullying, the harassment, the rule-bending.

And I’m not the only one.

This promoter has been bullying people into silence for years. She’s run multiple authors out of her genre and others out of self-publishing altogether. I believe this has to stop. I believe someone has to stand up for the people who are too nice, too overwhelmed, and too afraid to admit they too, have been defrauded, lied to, and harassed.

I would not have entered into these contracts if there was proof out there of how she does business—her silencing tactics allow her to keep pulling in new clients who don’t know what they are stepping in to. The deafening silence about these tactics means others will end up in the same boat—handing over their savings and being faced with going through with promotions that may endanger their publishing accounts or losing their money and their reputation by trying to walk away.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope you’ll help.

If you would like more details, please see this thread on KBoards:

Box Set Scams on Passive Voice:  http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,250491.0.html

+ Read More
Quite a bit has happened since I last updated this page and I wanted to bring you up to speed. I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received and the main reason I’ve gone quiet is because, for a time, others needed your support as well. (For anyone who isn’t aware how fellow members of the community were drawn into this lawsuit, I’ll explain below.)

After losing her motion to quash and filing a motion to strike, the defendant counter sued me for close to half a million dollars.

Unfortunately, she also chose to involve other authors who had nothing to do with the dispute between the two of us. Some were authors she’d had public fights with that were completely unrelated to this case while others were guilty of nothing more than contributing to my fundraiser. I believe her agenda was to frighten and curtail support, and for a while, she succeeded.

Fortunately, the judge saw this for what this was, even going so far as expressing the opinion that this was a revenge filing:

"The point is, this cross-complaint is troubling because it smacks of revenge. P sued D, X-D then helped P, so D sued them too. Does this court take jurisdiction over every person who lends a hand to a party in a case? What happens if some third party now helps D? Will there be a third cross-complaint for defamation, hauling even more authors before this court for a resolution of an even bigger Internet squabble? This has to end somewhere; that end should be here.”

The judge made it clear that simply contributing to a person’s legal fund does not give court jurisdiction over that person. He also indicated this countersuit was a good candidate for an anti-SLAPP filing. For those unfamiliar:

"A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

The California anti-SLAPP law was enacted to protect free speech rights. Code of Civil Procedure section 425.18 was enacted to facilitate the recovery by SLAPP victims of their damages through a SLAPPback (malicious prosecution action) against the SLAPP filers and their attorneys after the underlying SLAPP has been dismissed."

That a judge suggested filing an anti-SLAPP as a remedy against this countersuit is telling of its merits; he made no such suggestion about my original case against the defendant.

After losing multiple motions to quash, the rulings for which, according to the judge “weren’t even close,” all of the remaining defendants in the case were dismissed— except for me.

From the start this wasn’t about money. It was about taking on this fight for all those who have suffered at the hands of this promoter, as well as repairing the damage done to my reputation due to her false accusations. It’s astonishing that this has gone on this long and cost so much, and it’s hard to ask for anything further from the community, but as you can imagine, being countersued has increased my legal bills substantially. The past twelve months I’ve neglected my writing and taken day jobs working 60-80 hours a week just so that I can afford justice. That really is all I want, and it’s for that reason I am once again asking for your help.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
+ Read More

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