OK, I got an email from another zine publisher a few days ago, a person who I’d never met or heard of, and he asked me if it was true that I did business with Desert Moon Periodicals. I told him that, yes, I distributed Crimewave USA through Desert Moon and that I’d never had a problem with them… You see, I was assuming that he was thinking of distributing through them, and just wanted a reference… Well, when this person wrote back, he asked if I was “planning to take legal action” against them… And that, my invisible friends, is when my world started to go black.
It turns out that Desert Moon hasn’t been paying anyone for quite some time.
So, I started leaving voicemails for Jolene, the woman there who I usually deal with. Well, today, after having left a few messages for Jolene, I decided to try the other side of the company, the side that deals not with publishers, but with retail stores who buy the magazines. Not surprisingly, I got someone right away, a guy who introduced himself as JR. After telling him quickly who I was, and what I was calling about, he said he’d never heard of my magazine (that they’ve been carrying for over half a dozen years now). When I repeated the name of the magazine and reminded him that we’d been doing business for years, he then asked if I was “speaking English.” (Which, I have to admit, was a really funny way for him to divert my line of questioning.) Then, after I got all defensive and said, “Yes, sir, I am an American,” he slammed down the phone in my ear. He may have also said, “Don’t fucking call here again,” but I can’t swear to it. (There was some profanity, but I can’t remember for certain what it was.)
So, I haven’t done the math yet, but, given the terms of our contract, they owe us about $2,500 (minus any returns) for the last issue (and they may still owe some on earlier issues). And that’s not the worst part. The worst part is — that was the money we were planning to print Crimewave #16, the issue we’re presently working on, with. So, tonight I will be writing a letter to the Better Business Bureau and emailing all the independent stores that bought the magazine through Desert Moon, telling them what the situation is. And, tomorrow, I will be calling Borders, their largest client, and talking with them. (It’s about six years old, but I have a list of at least fifty stores that were carrying our magazine though DM, and I assume that most still are.) After this, I’m not sure what to do. I guess I can either file a lawsuit in New Mexico, or retain a collections agent, neither of which are things that I have experience with.
If you live in New Mexico and you’d like to pay JR a friendly visit, let me know… Or, here’s a better idea. What if you just call his 800-number and ask him to pay his debts. (1-800-547-0182 ext.2)
(If you do call and ask JR why he isn’t paying us, leave a comment and let me know.)
And, lastly, if you’re a subscriber of Crimewave, I apologize, as this might mean an even longer delay than usual.
And, in case you were wondering, that’s what the last nail in the coffin of the small press sounds like, folks.