1. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Documenting Attempt for Release of PublishAmerica Contract

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by BBWalter, Mar 11, 2010.

    Hello, for all of you who know me, you also know that I am a "published" author. HOWEVER, that being said, please do not look for my novel, Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows. As much as it hurts to state this boldly and openly, I was duped by a scam artist of a publisher. They have not fulfilled their end of the contract I signed, and I am attempting to be released from the contract. By not fulfilling the contract, I mean, simply, that they did not produce a quality work that I (or they) can be proud of.

    In an attempt to be released from my contract with PublishAmerica, I will post ALL correspondence I have with PA regarding this fact on my MySpace account, on my Facebook account, my blog, my website, and every writer's forum I belong to until I am released.

    The reason for my documenting this experience is two-fold. The first is to attempt to keep all parties involved polite and honest. The second is to make sure that any new writer seeking publication thoroughly understands the the importance of researching the publishing options available. There are tons of great sites available to writers to help them make an informed decision.

    This is not an attempt to bash PA or any of its subsidiaries. This is simply an attempt to make all correspondence as transparent as possible. I believe that open communication is the best policy at all times.

    Here is the first email I sent to PublishAmerica regarding release of my novel, Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows:

    Dear Author Support Team:
    A review of my contract for my book, Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows, indicates that PA reserves the right to release my book for lack of sales.
    As you well know, sales for my book have lacked much vitality overall, and even with promotion, I see no possibility of that changing.
    I would appreciate your releasing me from my contract, with a letter returning my rights of copyright, so I can pursue other avenues of publication.
    Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Billie Bookwalter


    Here is the reply I received:

    Dear Billie Bookwalter:
    We have received your request to terminate your book's contract. As a general rule, publishers are not in favor of that. When a publisher agrees to contract a book, it is done with an expectation of entering into a profitable venture. This is why we enter into contracts with a seven-year lifetime, which affords the book ample opportunity to turn a profit.
    If your request was granted, PublishAmerica would be denied, prematurely, any hope of recovering its expenses. This is why we would prefer to finish production of your book, keeping the contract in place until its expiration date.


    Thank You,
    Nicole
    PublishAmerica
    nicoler@publishamerica.com

    As this is unacceptable, here is the response I sent:

    Nicole,

    As I've stated before, despite promotion on my part (and lack of promotion on PublishAmerica's part), I do not foresee any additional sales to my novel. I am requesting a full release of my rights to my novel Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows.
    I can appreciate the offer of purchasing copies of my novel to release me from the contract; however, after going over my contract with legal counsel, there is no clause in my contract holding me to taking that avenue to have my book rights released. And, after reviewing my contract with my legal counsel, would think that PA would no longer wish to continue losing money on a book that is not selling despite ample promotion. It is both my and my legal representative's opinion that further promotion of the book will not produce the results either PA or I would wish per the book's sales.
    I, respectfully, request a full, written release of all rights to Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows.

    Sincerely,
    Billie Bookwalter
     
  2. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    Well, I wish you luck. But unless they're taking a different tack from a few years ago, "Nicole's" next reply will contain at least a trace of snark, if not outright disdain.

    I trust you've been to the Absolute Write forums and checked out the Neverending PA thread? You'll find lots of company there. Some managed to get out of their contract, many did not.

    Good luck.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's a shame you hadn't check pa out on p&e or 'writer beware' before signing with them... that 7-year clause should have been a giant red flag... sadly, getting out of a contract with them is even harder to pull off than cancelling a 'literary guild' book club account!

    if you have an attorney, let him/her handle it... they'll never even blink at anything you say, but they do sometimes sit up and take notice when an honest-to-gosh lawyer enters the scene...

    good luck!

    love and consoling hugs, maia
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Frank B indicated, there are several very long threads at Absolute Write on PA. I am sorry to hear that you went with PA and that you're now experiencing troubles.

    A question: If you have legal counsel, why are you writing the letters instead of your lawyer? That may be more effective.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  5. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    My counsel recommended, for the first step, to make the attempt myself. In his experience, a personal approach is always best to keep things more polite. His standpoint has always been that once the lawyers are called in, things get messy and less nice. I have been trying to make sure things stay as polite as possible - if possible.

    Yes, I have been to Absolute and posted there as well. I've read over all the info available there as well. As I've seen some authors do escape their contracts, but many do not. As it is standing thus far, unless I wish to escalate with my attorney, I may not. We will see what the future brings.

    B
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is this a contract, or literary attorney?... or one who specializes in real estate, or other areas of law?

    as is necessary with doctors these days, one needs to have an attorney who has the training and experience in the specific 'ailment' one needs 'treated'...
     
  7. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Mamma,

    A literary attorney. :) I did do my homework this time. Wish I had in the first place, but...hindsight and all that jazz. :)

    B
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good luck!
     
  9. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Thanks, mamma! since you seem to be fairly experienced (at least on the board here :)) I was hoping you might know what I should do.

    I am sending out queries to agents for a new novel. Almost all agents ask for publishing credits. But most agents don't consider self-published as a credit. My difficulty is...I didn't pay to publish, so I'm technically not self-published; however, my contract is with PA, which is generally not considered a credit by publishing standards. So do I put down that I am self published or published? Not sure exactly, and I can't seem to find anything like this on the PA thread or here. Thought you might have some idea of what I should do?

    Thanks again!
    B
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but you're not considered 'published'... PA is about the worst vanity publishing venue you could mention... on a par with poetry.com...

    and never mention being 'self-published' [unless you've sold 100k+ copies of your book ;-)]...
     
  11. FrankB
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    Yeah, if PA is your only publishing credit, best not to mention it at all. I think your query will get a fairer reading that way.

    Good luck.
     
  12. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Thanks, mamma! I know...I don't much consider myself either. I was simply afraid an omission would be a negative mark. Think I'm going to ask an agent on their blog sometime.

    B
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Omission is not really a back mark, it is only the absence of a bonus point. The wrong type of inclusion, however, is a black mark.

    It's a bit like the Abraham Lincoln adage: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    (And no, I'm not calling you a fool)
     
  14. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Cogito,

    Didn't think you were calling me a fool in the least. :) You've always been very helpful and never snarky in the process.

    I think you're right. I'll omit in the future in hopes my query gets a fairer read for it. (I did ask an agent for their opinion on it - just through an open ended forum with my secondary pen name and not my primary or real name, but I've not heard back yet. But I think you're right.)

    Thanks to you and mamma for all the help...um, yet again! :p
    B
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    see what i said about this in your 'published or not?' thread...
     
  16. chiank
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    chiank Member

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    isn't mentioning self publishing with PA better than mentioning no published history in query letter?
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. That has been a major discussion point in this thread.

    If you're applying for a job as Head Chef in a four-star restaurant, listing your experience as a drive-through server at McDonalds on your resume will certainly hurt your chances of landing the job. It suggests you don't understand the differences between that experience and what you are seeking.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    absotively and posilutely not!... cog has nailed the 'why'...
     
  19. DaWalrus
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    DaWalrus Member

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    My sincere sympathy. This is a classic example of the so-called "gotcha capitalism," ((c) NPR.org, I think). Free market my tukhes.

    I've seen their site. They call themselves "America's No. 1 Publisher," because they publish more books than anyone else. Marketing bordering on outright scam. Also, check out This article in the Washington Post about them.
     

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