HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to limit their production and even close down.
Hurn Publishing LLC, a Harlingen-based publishing company, closed its doors in 2021, and authors associated with the company have yet to be paid.
The authors of Hurn Publications LLC stretch from Ireland to California and some told ValleyCentral their contracts gave a timeline of payments, but nothing has come to their bank account, even refunds for books they had purchased through Hurn.
Hannah Renae Cloe, a Hurn Publications LLC author based in California said, “If you’re a writer then some piece of you goes into your story and the whole situation, I think has made all of us feel like that piece has been taken away like somebody has stolen it.”
Alicia Fadgen another Hurn Publications LLC author based in New Jersey added it wasn’t always like that though. She said in the beginning of her time with the company, Meaghan Hurn, the CEO for Hurn Publications LLC was “supportive, so caring.”
However, the six authors ValleyCentral spoke with agreed it quickly took a turn for the worst as unedited manuscripts were published, layouts were incorrect, and the printing didn’t look professional.
Deborah Hunt, a Hurn Publications author added it was never clear which version of her book would be published. “Normally the author has a chance to review the final copy before it gets printed but I was not given that option.”
Per each author’s contract, marketing was also a signed upon agreement, but that promise was never followed through as authors were told to set up their own interviews and events, according to Rachel Yurko, a Hurn Publications LLC author based in Virginia.
On Oct. 24, Hurn mass emailed her authors informing them of the permanent closure of the company and promised final paychecks along with reporting to be sent out Dec. 3.
“She didn’t take money from me really, but she took so much. She took that enthusiasm,” said Roseanne Frank, a Hurn Publications LLC author based in New York.
Because authors were contracted royalties in 2021, Dallas Gutierrez, an attorney with Villalobos Law Firm said it would be a breach of contract. Authors would be able to get what they’re owed and “they could even be entitled to attorney’s fees and punitive damages.”
Punitive damages would punish the publisher and could lead up to two times the amount authors are owed, according to Gutierrez.
Cloe also informed ValleyCentral when she was trying to report Hurn to the Better Business Bureau the BBB said there wasn’t anything they could do because they couldn’t find Hurn Publications LLC.
Cloe then searched for ‘Hurn Publications’ and ‘Hurn Publications LLC’ through Texas’s taxable entity website. It came back as “not found.” After searching ourselves, we can confirm this is true.
Gutierrez added Hurn could face an additional lawsuit for misrepresenting the company as an LLC.
We reached out to Hurn in regard to this finding but received no response.
As for the missing payments, Hurn said, “The checks we’re sending out tomorrow (Feb. 2) are their final statement, which are the ones we had thought we could send out in December but were incorrect about the sales data.
Hurn has sent a screenshot of pending payment confirmation, but none of the authors have received a physical check or deposit thus far.
Each author has tried reaching out to Hurn through social media, phone, and e-mail, but no one has received an update or response. According to Cloe and Fadgen, they’ve actually been blocked on different platforms of contact by Hurn.
Regardless of receiving checks or not, each author said they are hoping for closure as well as the chance to warn first-time authors.
“If one potential writer sees this and goes, ‘Ooh. I need to research a lot more before I send to a publisher. If somebody, just one person doesn’t get taken advantage of the same way we were, I will feel like we did something worthwhile,” stated Yurko.
As of Feb. 7, the authors told ValleyCentral they still see their books published by Hurn Publications LLC on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and local bookstores which allow for Hurn to still profit off their work.
“I felt like giving up and just getting rid of everything,” said M.A. Maddock, a Hurn Publications author based in Ireland.
Since the interview, the authors have been put in contact with Villalobos Law Firm.
The authors said legal fees are expensive, but they’re hoping an attorney will take their case pro bono.