(Being a permutation of a comment I left on Goodreads earlier this evening):
I would like to add my voice to all that’s being said on social media, private and public forums and elsewhere regarding allegations that Nocturnal Readers Box is not shipping merchandise, not issuing refunds, disputing refunds, and belittling and harassing dissatisfied customers. I would also like to offer my sympathy to any fans of mine that may have been under the impression that I somehow “endorsed” this company or was working with them.
On March 5, 2018 I received an email from Vincent Guerrero of The Nocturnal Readers Box. He told me that he had been inspired by reading THE RISING and had designed “a sweet enamel pin”. He wanted to know what I thought and he wanted to know if I had any upcoming books his subscribers might like.
I responded that the pin looked “pretty cool” and advised him to contact my publisher. I also suggested that perhaps my novel DEAD SEA would be a good fit for inclusion in the box.
At that point, I assumed he would reach out to my publisher, and there would be some sort of contract or document drawn up clearing him to a) manufacture this enamel pin based on THE RISING, and b) order copies of DEAD SEA for inclusion in his box.
Instead, Vincent apparently manufactured the pins and included them in the box without my express written permission or contract. In marketing, he stated they were “inspired by Brian Keene’s THE RISING”. The photos I’ve seen of the pin itself — the packaging says “Based on Brian Keene’s THE RISING”.
By the time I realized the pins were out there in the wild, it was too late to say anything, so i kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to come off as “Big name horror writer bullies small start-up company”.
But Vincent then, unbeknownst to me, apparently offered Nocturnal Readers Box subscribers an art print based on my novel DEAD SEA. I was unaware of this until today when folks pointed it out on Twitter.
Understand — this goes from being “fan art” to using my intellectual property without my permission. I have never had a problem with fan art. I like fan art. i endorse and celebrate and support it. I am delighted by it. But I am not delighted by theft. I am a successful horror writer but I am not a wealthy horror writer. (If I were, I would have had health insurance to cover that catastrophic accident I had earlier this summer). While some may say, “Oh, what does he care? it’s just a pin…” understand that is more than just a pin to me. It is how I feed and clothe my kid and hopefully put him through college some day.
In addition to bootlegging my own intellectual property without permission, I have confirmation from someone in the know that the Robert R. McCammon item Nocturnal Readers Box offered to subscribers was also unauthorized. I cannot speak for Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen king, Joe Hill, Nick Cutter or any of the others involved, but I must wonder if the circumstances are similar in those cases, as well.
In addition to using intellectual property without explicit legal permission and documentation, it is my understanding that these items were used to seek validation with potential subscribers — and that is where I really grow disgusted. I in no way gave permission for my name or brand to be marketed as such, and my sincere apologies to any of my fans who subscribed to this service because they thought these unauthorized items somehow indicated my endorsement of this company.
In truth, it was learning about his allegedly abhorrent treatment of customers that finally made me speak up.
I understand there is a cavalcade of customers who have requested refunds and even more that have not received shipments for June, July, August or a special ‘Stephen King’ box. A quick Google search also shows a number of Better Business Bureau complaints being filed against the company. Author Edward Lorn has some excellent coverage of the situation on YouTube. All I can do is add my voice and platform to those calling on Vincent to do the right thing, and immediately refund the money of dissatisfied customers, and cancel the auto-renew subscriptions of those customers. And I urge any dissatisfied customers to dispute the charge with your bank, PayPal, or other financial institution. If you didn’t receive the merchandise, MAKE SURE your financial institution knows that — even if you get a refund.