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May 2017

   PSA: Poetic Service Announcement - written 05/01/2017
                                              
   Please feel free to share with established and future
   authors on FB.
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One of the toughest decisions, an author has to make, is the selection of a reliable publisher. With more than six months of personal experience, I have painfully learned that PBP (Published By Parables, headed by John Jeffries) is NOT one of them. For decades, I’ve listened to ministers tell me that “Mediocrity is not a hallmark of Christianity; it’s halfway between success and failure.”; and yet, the shoddy workmanship of transforming my manuscript into a usable PDF (that would produce the book) failed to even reach the level of mediocrity. I extend an apology to those, to whom a premature recommendation of PBP was given by me. Don’t repeat my mistake! Please. You’ll be grateful and thankful for heeding my warning.
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This company engages in deceptive practices and doesn’t operate with complete transparency. For example, it advertises that it will publish your book for free. While this is technically true, you will have to make an initial payment of $185; $35.00 for the copyright and the $150.00 for the ISBN-Barcode. In addition, John will subtlety lecture you, regarding why he won’t cover this expense and why you should.
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Before I began writing poetry seriously, I acquired 30 years of IT experience and 20 years of desktop publishing experience; so I understand conceptual ideas, the need for high standards and the importance of having a solid, but flexible framework. In addition, I was taught the criticality of working with a mindset of excellence- a topic taught by most ministers. One example is Titus 2:7-9, which states: In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
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Computer templates, used in today’s bookmaking operations, are not meant to be static; rather they set an initial foundation from which work can begin. Given the style of my writing, PBP had agreed to modify the template being used, as to minimize the impact of my having to change my writing to accommodate the shortcomings of said template. I understood that this would possibly extend the timeframe to get my book constructed. I was okay with this and never rushed PBP in its efforts.
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With each iteration of manuscript changes, new random and unexpected problems began to appear; so I was blamed my project’s lack of progress, since the errors arose from PBP’s ongoing modification of my manuscript’s template. It’s unimportant to realize that ALL modifications to the template were made solely by PBP. PBP never reviewed an updated PDF before sending it to me; therefore, it became my responsibility to identify issues that resulted from the technical incompetence of PBP. So what if titles lost their boldface attribute, while the text of poems were inadvertently made boldface. So what if poems were displayed to the left of the left-hand margin, pages numbers were lost, or randomly displayed in boldface, or that page headers would be missing or cut in half- it was my fault for desiring a template customized to meet my personal need. So what if the page numbers were corrupted within my index of poems, from PBP inserting new pages into the beginning of my manuscript. So what if I was concerned that the index’s format was changed from the way I desired. Stuff happens and I need not concern myself over such details. Apparently I was delusional in thinking that I was responsible for the vision of my new book.
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And if that wasn’t enough fun, PBP would ignore some of my changes, such as inserting the occasional blank line, as well as making unauthorized modifications that included adding, replacing and deleting PBP graphics. One graphic I was fond of, PBP removed because its intended purpose is meant for “internal company use only”. Guess I’m just an unruly rebel for wanting to use it. Since he originally inserted it into my PDF, using it must have been initially okay. This incident is one of many that shows John’s lack of attention to detail.
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In addition, I was unreasonable for wanting my legal name displayed properly (so I can differentiate myself from the other “Joe Breunigs”; no offense guys!) That correction alone took John SIX MONTHS to address; my book’s title also created angst for PBP, since it contained an ellipsis. Twice I e-mailed instructions on how to insert one because he misplaced/lost the first correspondence. And so I was unreasonable once more, since his option of using three consecutive periods was deemed unacceptable by me. An ellipsis is my favorite punctuation mark; if he couldn’t handle my previous instructions, he could have COPIED IT DIRECTLY FROM MY MANUSCRIPT.
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John constantly complained about updating the template and the slow iterative process of making my book. At one point, John made the remark of how he had published two other titles during the timeframe my book was being worked on. As Christians, we get in trouble when we compare ourselves to others, since everyone’s journey is unique. So it’s clear that PBP’s intent was to manipulate me into feeling bad, regarding PBP’s lack of progress. Supposedly I was out of line for suggesting that he remember James 1:2-3, which teaches us: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. In discussions with PBP, I indicated that I have 15 complete and unpublished manuscripts of poetry. In addition, I stated that we would have the most hiccups during the creation of my first PBP, since we had no experience working together. Nor did PBP understand that this process of creating a personalized template for my work would save time during the construction of future titles- both for me and other poets. Should I apologize for forward thinking?
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Given the problems I was forced to face, doubt became evident in my selection of PBP; so I decided to ask more questions, to step up due diligence on my end; NONE of my follow-up questions were ANSWERED. I had the audacity to ask for a contract, how much I could expect to earn per copy sold, why PBP didn’t request my SSN and other questions of concern. I wanted to understand how to stop PBP from making unwanted changes or ignoring the ones I desired. One would like to think that a publisher would be appreciative of a proactive author, seeing that I have one title already. At one point, I had the false hope that my book could be completed by December 2016, but not in time for Christmas. Now we’re into May 2017.
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Nor was I ever allowed to see the prepared book cover- FOR MY BOOK! I was informed that I couldn’t be allowed to see it because the image MAY need to be re-sized. IMO, this is a ridiculous excuse. Since I never saw the cover, I was unable to either review it (for mistakes) or critique it. Supposedly the cover was made three months earlier; since I’ve not seen it, I must assume that PBP is not lying to me. And it was crazy of me to imagine using the graphic (OF MY BOOK) as a marketing tool to create excitement and interest in my latest title or possibly generate pre-order sales. When a publisher intentional decides to play games like this, does anyone else see this issue as a “Red Flag”?
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Caught between his impatience, unrepentant attitude and ability to be easily offended, John refused to apologize for his technical ineptitude and unwillingness to press forward; instead he chose to hide behind his spiritual authority (which I do not fall under); he essentially demanded that only I had the onus of forgiving him. After a weak and failed attempt to bully me into accepting substandard work, he later announced that he was quitting my project. In a phony letter of apology, John even implied that I needed to accept responsibility for the failure to get this book made, since I HAD CONTACTED PBP. In addition, he reiterated that PBP is a ministry; if that’s true, then why didn’t he demonstrate patience, perseverance and humility towards me or ensure quality of effort… as unto The Lord? Should PBP want to dispute my account, John should be reminded that I’ve retained a copy of various PDF iterations of my unmade book with the aforementioned issues.
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I took no pleasure in composing this PSA, but felt that it was my duty, to share my poor experience in dealing with a difficult publisher, to my writing communities. This notification could have been prevented, if John had repented, swallowed his pride and pushed forward to get my books made. Instead he chose to become an irrelevant part of my journey as an author, which is sad, since he acknowledged that I have a gift for writing poetry. IMHO, we the writing community, must be willing to stand up to publishers, since the responsibility (of the vision for our books) lies with us. We should be able to freely ask questions and have templates modified to suit the individuality of our books. Let your voice and concerns be heard. Please share this message with the writers you personally know. We should not be forced to accept shoddy work! John can be reached on FB at https://www.facebook.com/john.jeffries.33; the PBP website can be found by searching its full name. Please feel free to share this PSA on John’s page, so he understand the ramifications of his actions.
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Joseph J Breunig 3rd
Written by
Joseph J Breunig 3rd  Southern Maine
(Southern Maine)   
964
 
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