ComStar Media is out of my life, except for the first Jura story stuck in Tavern Tales anthology. (The whole is full of typos per a friend with a discerning eye for copy-editing but apparently they don't have one at CSM either).
Eighteen months was the contract time for 'Ikarias, Tales from the Worlds of the Half-Dragon, Book 1: The Sorceress' Game'. Despite reassurances of interest that's all I received, reassurances. There were no edits, nothing. I wrote emails which took weeks to get replies, tel. calls were picked up by an anonymous machine and not returned. Took CSM 9 months to do a company update. The October '06 sales report came out as a notice 5 months later in their yahoo site that there hadn't been enough sales on the Tavern Tales anthology. The contract for a second anthology never materialized though I'd sent my signed copy back 3 months ago. I pointed out typos on their website--ALWAYS A BAD SIGN WHEN THERE ARE TYPOS ON A PUBLISHING WEB SITE! Run do not walk in the opposite direction if you see that.
18 months is industry standard. Yes, there were problems with distributors, the owner's health, etc, yes it's a family-owned company, small and new, and there's the rub.
New means they're beginners.
Small means they pay after the book gets published--no advance.
New means they have a shoestring budget.
Small means if things don't get off the ground they just don't get anywhere.
If they also do games, and CSM does, then literary efforts will come second to pandering to the gamers.
The publisher-editor is also a writer, I have no problem with that. The fact that the publishing business had to come second or third after she needed to get a 'real' job to support the publishing business speaks volumes. I still needed to wait until the contract time was legally up to get out--that incident was a few months into the contract. I kept hoping, kept asking 'Are you interested?' 'What about the story sent for the sci-fi anthology?' 'How about an artist?' 'Should I edit now and send you the revised shorter version to fit the budget?' I was willing to do anything I could at my end but my end wasn't the issue.
On the good side, the time wasn't wasted. I have become a better writer. I have three complete novels in a series to offer someone who is reliable--a stronger case to present to prospective agents/publishers. It's been a learning experience. It's been frustrating, disappointing, and pissed me off as well.