Since posting a few days ago about the incredibly hard time we were having getting Advocate parent company Here Media to cough up 175 bucks they owe us for freelance work, we’ve gotten letters from multiple people telling us their similar nightmare experiences with the company. The latest comes from freelance writer/translator Jeffrey Essmann, and oh is it bad. It involves Here Media’s New York book publishing affiliate Alyson Books.
Alyson Books commissioned me to translate a gay sex guide from the German, the invoice for which was submitted December 2009. The editor told me “accounting was slow,” and that if I didn’t hear anything after a month, I should follow up. I did, and I followed up after a month and a half, two months, two and a half, and at three I took them to small claims. As the court date was approaching they all of a sudden got serious: the accounting department finally asked me to fill out a W-9, and I was even told that a “check was in the mail.” Still waiting. And I “won” the small claims suit, but when they still hadn’t paid within the 30-day grace period, the next step is to contact the sheriff. But in order to do that you need to know where they maintain a bank account, which information I have not been able to track down.
My favorite part: a couple months ago the editor in chief took about a dozen people out to dinner at this very nice restaurant in Chelsea, the subtext of which was that NONE of the people at the table had been paid by Alyson Books. I believe the expression is “beggar’s banquet.” What amazed me, though, was the passivity of my fellow diners. I was the only one who had sued or, for that matter, seemed particularly angry about it. (But I’m sure they’re all pissed off at Wall Street…) So it was great to see your post. Thanks again.
That helps answer the question many of our readers had about why we didn’t take The Advocate to small claims court.
We attempted to contact Essmann’s editor at Alyson to ask him what was going on at his publishing house. We didn’t hear back.
Essmann wrote a humorous take on his collection attempts — one that involved a non-literal flirtation with Judge Mathis — for The Morning News early last month. He’s feeling a whole lot less cheery about the matter these days, as the prospects for actually collecting on his small claims victory now seem daunting.
Previously on FBLA: