Nazarian’s Consequences

Money So. Vera Nazarian is running an Indiegogo campaign, ostensibly to pay the authors who have chosen to remain with Norilana Books the royalties they’re due. Sounds like an okay thing to do, right?

No. It’s not. Would you like to know why?

Because Nazarian IS Norilana Books. And she’s the same person who hasn’t paid royalties to her authors for multiple years, borrowed $100K for “business expenses” and then discharged that debt through bankruptcy (her creditor is, sadly, passed on), who asked the SFF community for help with her mortgage etc. and took in a large chunk of money that has since vanished, admits to not having a separate business checking account ever so what royalties do come in go straight to her personal expenses–I could go on, but a few clicks through those links will give you an idea.

Nazarian showed up in the comments to the Passive Voice post. I encourage you to go read through and note what her comments did not include, and what, as far as I can tell, her online begging for money has never included. Here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list:

* An apology for stealing the royalties due to those authors who believed in her enough to entrust her with their work. She could start with reading Scalzi’s post on how to apologize.
* Concrete accounting of where the missing royalties went–if you’re asking for more after over $170K (by one reckoning) has disappeared, posting a detailed breakdown of where all that cash went is a good idea.
* Getting an accountant or escrow officer to oversee the disbursement of these funds she’s asking for to the authors in question. (Note that Nazarian says she doesn’t have the “time or money” for this, though I’m sure someone with accounting experience in the SFF community can be found, OR the Indiegogo campaign can be modified to include such a cost.)
* An explanation of why her Indiegogo campaign to ostensibly benefit the authors whose royalties were stolen is “flexible funding” (as Nazarian’s other Indiegogo campaigns to self-publish her work have been). This is a concern because “flexible” means that even if the full amount isn’t raised, Nazarian gets the cash. You could argue that it’s better for the authors to get some money even if the campaign doesn’t reach its goal, but I invite you to cogitate upon whether they’re going to see any from a person who won’t engage oversight and down whose gullet so much has already disappeared.
* Clear, verifiable transparency in accounting for whatever funds she has taken in through Norilana Books, her various fundraisers, and “loans” from “friends” in the SFF community.

I find it saddening and a little grotesque that Nazarian still has a core of defenders, most of whom seem to think it’s okay for her to continue asking for money because “she’s a good person” or “the Norilana books were so pretty!” or some other reason. Even if Nazarian has merely been tragically misguided or just the victim of awful circumstance, if these people truly want to support and defend her, now is the time to say, “Honey, let’s find an accountant for you and start sorting this mess out. No more excuses. Also, stop spending all your time in comment sections of posts detailing how your behaviour looks more and more like theft the longer one examines it. Just stop.” I really don’t care how “nice” she is personally. My ex-husband was incredibly charming in person, and it helped him “borrow” money he never repaid from all sorts of people. “Nice” does not mean “trustworthy.” Whether Nazarian is untrustworthy because of circumstances or through intent also does not matter much at this point. The bare fact is, money keeps vanishing and she keeps asking for even more.

Also, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference how pretty the books are, or how Norilana “took a chance” on them or “was asked to publish” them. For multiple YEARS now, authors have not been paid for those pretty books. Who has? Nazarian. Who admits she doesn’t have (and implies she has never had) a separate business account for author royalties, just her own personal bank account. (Yes, that’s one thing I just can’t get over in all this, that admission.)

I don’t have a dog in this fight. My only (incredibly tenuous) connection to Norilana Books is that one of my writing partner‘s short stories was in an anthology brought out by Norilana in 2009. I’m bothering to post this because it’s so damn egregious, and because, as Dierdre Moran has pointed out frequently, something needs to be said.

Last thing: Be reasonable in the comments, folks.

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Unfortunately I think its a loss/lose situation. I hope all of these authors get the money that they deserve but I can’t support a campaign like these and I’m surprised it even makes the requirements to be an indiegogo campaign. Again, she’s asking for people to bail her out and to take responsibility for her actions. I checked out the link and she’s at about $1,000 of her almost $20,000 goal but in the comments it says that the campaign has been canceled and that all money will be refunded. I clicked the ‘donate now’ button just to check and… Read more »

Mel Reams
Mel Reams

“Nice” does not mean “trustworthy.”

That is a fantastic life lesson right there. I wish we as a society had a better handle on the idea that a person can be nice, sincerely well meaning, and pleasant to hang around with and still be a terrible risk to do business with. We seem to have this terribly black-and-white view that a person is either a remorseless thieving jerk or an innocent victim of circumstance, which makes it really hard to protect ourselves from people who are somewhere in the middle.