Friday, July 31, 2009

Get it in writing!

A friend recently emailed me to say she's been ripped off by a local publisher and needs to know how to disentangle herself. She has given me permission to post this. Here is her email (I changed all the names):

My book is published without a written contract. All I have on paper is an order form stating size of book, cost for bar code, ISBN, etc. Initially, I was told that the up-front money would be the total and that any monies from the sale of my book belonged to me. Well, over the weeks of getting the thing printed, Jane at ____ gave out little details about how it really worked. Honestly, I thought that I was getting a book printed POD. I had no idea she would take 20% of every book she sold that I had bought, as well as having extra books printed to sell in her "bookstore" and that I hadn't paid for. She would get all of that money. I verbally agreed to that, I think, in the week the book was being printed. The reason I didn't make waves was because it had already cost me more money because "it was taking so long and she was having to help me more than usual" to get the book done. I needed the book in my hands for an event. My question is can I terminate my relationship with Jane and do I retain all rights to my book, to include all hard data and disks? This is a lot to ask of you, but I'm not happy about this deal. The only one making any money is Jane and I keep going deeper into the hole money-wise. She is charging me $450 for a second run of fifty books. She sells other authors' books at her place of business to include two of Diane’s. When I queried Diane about it, she told me she had no idea Jane had any of her books and that if Jane had sold any, Diane hadn't received a penny from the sales. I can't afford to keep doing this and any thought of doing a second book with Jane is out of the question. Any help would be appreciated. I'm so dumb for not finding out all this legal stuff up front.

Then on the phone she told me the publisher was planning to print copies and sell them on their own, giving nothing to her! She said that for her initial print run including setup charges and whatnot, she paid nearly $1000 for 50 copies that would list for $11. Subsequent copies cost her $9 each. In other words, my good friend has been taken for a ride.

Oh, and she had a conversation with the publisher in which the publisher said they were getting so much business they were going to have to start keeping records.

I told her I'm not an attorney, but that she should send a certified letter to the publisher telling them to cease and desist from printing any copies not requested by her. She also can and should terminate that relationship immediately.

If there's one lesson to come out of this mess, it's this: Get it in writing!

14 comments:

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a horrible nightmare! $1000 for 50 copies sounds like out and out robbery. I hope she's able to get out from under this. I also hope she posts some sort of warning for other would be clients.

Karen Walker said...

This is horrible. Isn't there someway she can let others know what company this is so others won't be robbed. I hope she finds a way to recoup some of these losses. Just awful!
Karen

Morgan Mandel said...

I feel sorry for both of them. Thank goodness, I haven't come that close to such an experience. The worst that happened to me so far was leaving 5 books on consignment at a bookstore which went out of business and not being notified to pick them up before they closed.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://www.morganmandel.com

Ruth D~ said...

Is this not fraud? Seems there might be a legal aspect she can pursue.

cindy said...

Really sad story. But I can see how it happens. We SO want to be published!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh my gosh! Yes, get everything in writing!

Hope to hear from you again soon, Bob. Sorry I missed this earlier post.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
www.spunkonastick.net
www.thecircleoffriends.net

Import2sage said...

That's the very best practice . . .

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