Tate Publishing & Enterprises, based in Mustang, Okla., has closed its doors, setting off a storm of customer complaints and lawsuits by companies such as Lightning Source and Xerox Corp., as well as an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department.
Tate, in operation for 17 years, calls itself a family-owned Christian book publisher and music producer. It was started by Dr. Richard and Rita Tate and has been run recently by son Ryan Tate.
In a recent email letter to Tate authors, chief executive Ryan Tate said, “Tate Publishing is experiencing a transition period and we are no longer accepting any new authors or artists. All authors and artists will be contacted directly within the next few weeks about the status of your production and your options for completing your projects.”
Calls to Tate Publishing are answered with a recording stating the same message before directing authors and artists to the website, with no option to leave a message. Emails were not returned as of Tuesday, and Tate’s Facebook page was unavailable on Tuesday. The Tate website has been updated to call itself the Transition Information Center, confirming that as of Jan. 17, it has suspended operations. The site contains a message informing authors that Tate is “working to find a new home for you” and tells prospective clients that information “will not be sold, distributed or represented to any publisher or other entity.”
Authors and artists were given the option of terminating their relationship with Tate before the “transition” is complete. A link to a “Contract Release and Request for Files” form was included in the email for those whose work has been published. A similar form is available for those whose work hasn’t been published yet.
For a $50 fee, published authors can receive their print-ready files within 30-45 days via the U.S. Mail. The contract, signed by Ryan Tate, also states, “I understand that termination of these agreements does not entitle me to any refund or monetary compensation whatsoever.” Apparently whatever monies paid or owed will be forfeited.
Mary Detweiler, an author from southeastern Pennsylvania, has published four books with Tate at a total cost of just under $12,000. She was happy with the company for the first two books, but noticed a marked difference for her third and fourth books.
She visited the Tate campus to do audio recordings for each of her first two books. The building where she recorded had been full of people, but was “a ghost town” for her third visit, plus no one knew she was coming due to employee turnover.
“Between the release of my second and third books, the founder retired and his son Ryan took over. At that third visit, my trust evaporated,” Detweiler told PW.
She saw a rapid turnover of author service representatives assigned to her, and Detweiler had to contact company vice presidents to receive a royalty check and books she’d ordered and paid for.
“I had to battle to get anything,” she said. “I couldn’t get anything without being a squeaky wheel to a v-p. I’m really glad to be done with them and not the least surprised they are going under. They weren’t operating with integrity.”
Tate Publishing will be in court on July 7 as part of a lawsuit filed by Xerox Corp, which is seeking roughly $2 million plus interest for unpaid services, according to a story run last week in The Oklahoman newspaper.
Lightning Source, on-demand producer of print and digital media based in Tennessee, is also suing Tate Publishing for nearly $2 million in money owed, according to news reports by The Journal Record in Oklahoma City.
The Republic of the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment also filed a negative report against Tate Publishing based on its practices in its Philippines office, according to the report, and the U.S. Labor Department is also looking into the company for undisclosed reasons.
The website Consumer Affairs lists numerous complaints about Tate, with an overall rating of 1.5 stars out of five.
In a story published in The Oklahoman, Ryan Tate is quoted as saying “We have done this for about 17 years. We have been very blessed to represent great people, and we want to make sure we take care of everybody as best we can.”
Tate’s troubles come three years after another Christian self-publishing company imploded. WinePress Publishing officially closed its doors in January 2014, several months after a WinePress staffer was convicted of first-degree child rape and molestation of a child.