Friday, November 26, 2010

Darcy's Posts Revisted

Since the issues of royalties payments, or lack thereof, seems to be a common complaint of PublishAmerica's authors, we thought it was time to revisit Darcy's comments that were incorporated into my investigative reports on this company.

In her blog posts, Darcy tells us that the royalty payments were calculated by her-and only by her for the pay period ending January 31, 2009. She reveals that PublishAmerica only paid out HALF of the due royalties to the authors. Since she was the person who did the calculating, her account is credible.

Darcy insists that she did one calculation that was correct and another that was incorrect. The figures that were incorrect amounted to half of the correct amount. Nonetheless, PublishAmerica chose to use the incorrect figures to pay its authors.

This is a prime example of PublishAmerica's problems. They place untrained employees in positions to do the accounting.

" My situation stands thus:

I was originally hired in my current company's customer service-like department. This was okay, but I did not enjoy the phone work. One of the two IT people at the time resigned from her job, so I volunteered to take on some of her duties, which made the job more interesting and me more enthusiastic about coming to work.

I was then moved out of the customer service department, and kind of straddled two different departments--the Public Relations and IT departments. I kept the tasks that I'd volunteered for, didn't have any phone work, and was given PR work to do as well. This situation was also good to me, so I was perfectly okay with that change.

After a while, the IT department became more full-fledged, and the PR work was taken from me. In addition, the person who created and managed our author and royalties databases (I work in a book publishing company) resigned his position to go back to school. I "inherited" the administration of those two databases when he left. This worried me, since I had minimal knowledge of the software (SQL Server and MSAcess), and do not know how to troubleshoot some of the more complex issues that may pop up (and sometimes have popped up).

I'm almost certain (it's been at least a year and a half since) that when I was asked to take over the author and royalties databases, I mentioned my lack of confidence that I could do that work, but my boss asked me to take the work anyway. We pay royalties out every six months, in February and August, and the calculation process takes two days working in MSAcess if I put all of my other tasks on the back-burner.

The first time I went through the process by myself (the previous person had shown me how to do it six months before, and left documentation for the process--which is not a perfectly-programmed process by any means) I had to re-do it due to errors. I did not mind this, since I was not certain I had gone through the process properly.

Six months later, the process went through without a hitch, but due to the poor design of the author database, we have had problems with our calculations for the 1099s which were to be sent out. All through this extremely frustrating calculation and re-calculation of the 1099s, one of my bosses (I have three) kept saying things (for which I have documentation through e-mail) like, "It's not rocket science," and such. When I suggested that, before this years 1099s are due in January 2010, the author and royalties databases/procedures should be completely re-designed in order to streamline the process and ensure accuracy, I was shot down.

This month, when I went through the process the first time, starting February 1st, I followed the instructions exactly, but there was an issue due to price mark-ups we had had in September--the sales reports we'd received from our distributor had the price for the product during the month it was sold, but the royalties database only shows the current price--the discount percentages were incorrect on the statements made through that process.

In order to correct the error, I suggested that the discount percentages be re-calculated to reflect the new prices, and my bosses agreed, so I went through the two-day process again last Monday and Tuesday. At the end of the process, I always run a query to figure the total amount of royalties paid. Due to my missing a query (and not knowing which one at the time, so I couldn't go back to fix it easily), and the realization that there was a set of data from Great Britain in August 2007 in there, when what was really needed was from August 2008, I needed to start that process again, even though the total royalties came to a number that the bosses had expected.

So, I went through the process a third time, last Thursday and Friday (yes, twice in one week), and everything seemed to go without a hitch. I even checked a few of the results against the raw data, and the calculations were correct as far as I could tell. But the total was nearly twice the one I'd given my bosses the second time I went through the process. To me, this was expected, due to the price mark-up and the number of new books we'd put into print in the last six months. However, they declared it "unacceptable," and decided to send the royalties statements from the second run instead of the third, pulling all of the statements for books that had had sales in Great Britain to be fixed separately.

Since I've done a two-day, labor-intensive process three times in the last two weeks, I have been completely stressed. This is only one example of the tasks I'm expected to do, but simply don't have the advanced training for. I've attempted in the past, with increasing desparation, to find a new job for which I actually have the skills but will at least pay the same amount as I currently make, but have come across some road blocks:

I need to make at least $30,000 per year in order to be able to keep paying my bills. I'll even settle for exactly $30K, since that's $500 more per year than I make now.

I do not have a college degree, but do have a lot of the other skills required listed on some of the job postings I have read which require college degrees.
I am not sure when I would be able to go to an interview for a new job--my current employers require at least 10 days' notice to take vacation time, but I have no way of knowing in advance when (or even if) I'll be contacted for an interview, and have no intention of telling my current employers that I'm going for interviews (or anything like that) until I've actually got a new job lined up.

If I do manage to schedule and attend an interview, and am then offered a job, I will have to give two weeks' notice at my current job, and therefore will not be able to start the new job until two weeks after it is offered. I'm not sure that prospective employers would agree to wait two weeks to have someone fill the positions they're offering.

My current job has not been a good fit for me for over a year, but in my current job search (since it's not smart to quit without another job lined up), I basically feel trapped where I am. I don't know what to do, but I just cannot stay in my current job and go through another royalties calculation period."

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