Self-Publishing Authors Beware. I copied the whole article so you could read it here without having to wait for another window to open.

Publisher abruptly closes

Staff reporter-Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
A Minneapolis publishing company’s authors and employees are in a bind after the owner suddenly closed shop and disappeared.

As recently as last month, Brio (incorporated as BRIOprint) took deposits from authors while President William Reynolds assured them that their books were in the works. The firm closed without explanation Oct. 1.

Unable to contact Reynolds about missing payments and publishing delays, authors went to the firm’s Facebook page to complain. Employees chimed in last week to explain that they, too, were owed money; shortly after, the company’s Facebook page and Twitter account were deleted and its website replaced with an older version.

Reynolds couldn’t be reached for comment.

Brio was a hybrid publisher, putting out about two dozen books as an independent publisher and at least 300 self-published projects for authors last year, former employees said. That kind of volume would make Brio a small independent publisher, but one of the larger Twin Cities self-publishers, said local book publishers, who noted that the firm wasn’t particularly active with Minnesota authors.

“Most of their clients were picked up over the Internet,” said Tom Kerber, chief publishing executive of Beaver’s Pond Press in Edina.

Neither Brio nor Reynolds, 46, had filed for bankruptcy as of Wednesday, according to a search of public court records. RSP Marketing Owner and President John Marino founded Brio with Reynolds in 2003, but exited the company in 2010. Roy Wetterstrom, another former owner, said he sold his stake in the company in 2006.

Writers rally

Things seemed fine this summer, when Massachusetts art gallery owner Anet James started working with Brio to publish a children’s book authored by the wife of one of her clients.

But just before the firm closed, Reynolds sounded desperate when calling clients for deposits, said James, who is working with authors to move their projects and track down Reynolds. On the Friday before Brio folded, Reynolds assured James that the book was in production.

“He has a lot of people mad at him,” she said.

The New York author of reflux diet cookbook “Dropping Acid,” Jamie Koufman, wrote on Brio’s Facebook page that Reynolds owes her company more than $100,000 in royalties and “lied continuously about paying us.”

Reached by phone, Koufman said she was in the process of filing a lawsuit, but declined further comment.

Seeking an explanation for unpaid royalties this summer, South Carolina author Randy Bazemore resorted to randomly dialing extensions in Brio’s phone directory. He reached Reynolds and got him to write a $665 check straight from the company’s ledger, Bazemore said, but the check bounced last month.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Steve McCarthy said no criminal complaints have been filed against either Reynolds or Brio.

No one home

The firm’s Plymouth Building office was dark but unlocked when a reporter visited Friday. Boxes of books, computer equipment and shredded documents were scattered about the uninhabited 12th-floor office.

Brio had about 10 people working in the downtown Minneapolis office and a Northeast Minneapolis warehouse before it closed, laid-off employees said. They were suspicious about project delays, but were still surprised — and owed back pay -— when the company closed.

“There’s not much we can do because none of us can really reach the owner,” former sales rep Katie Olson said. “I’m just saying [to clients], ‘The doors are closed and I don’t know much more than that.’ ”

Olson started her own firm, Knockout Publishing and Print Management, to service about 300 accounts after Brio.

Two other ex-employees, designer Anthony Sclavi and project manager Courtney Bomkamp, started print management and book design firm Name to help Brio’s clients.

“We’re in the same boat: out of money and not getting any feedback from Will,” Bomkamp said.


Business: Book publishing firm
Founded: 2003
Headquarters: Minneapolis
President: William Reynolds

Jim Hammerand covers banking/finance, courts, and professional services