Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ask Miz Ging

Dear Miz Ging:


I signed with a publisher who evidently wants to hold my book hostage.  The contract has expired, and despite my sending emails and asking for a release of my rights, I cannot get an answer.  What would you advise?

Signed,
Perplexed

Dear Perplexed:

I found myself in a similar situation, and it's a shame that some publishers can't play fair.  The reality is that some small presses are started as home businesses, and not always by people with business savvy or common sense.  One valuable lesson I learned: When reading a contract, always check to make sure there is not an automatic renewal clause.  I found myself caught in one, and since I didn't notify said publisher of my intent to withdraw my book, it automatically renewed with a new set of rules.  I was forced to notify the publisher by registered mail of my intent, and then allow her 90 days to respond. Of course, she didn't, which wasn't a big shock since she didn't respond to any of my emails either.  BUT....I had her signed and dated signature on the return receipt request.

Some authors with that house engaged attorneys since they had more than one book there, but since I couldn't afford the expense, I kept my return receipt, notified her by email again, and demanded that she take down my book immediately.  When I noticed the book was missing from the publishers site, I did a screen shot for further proof and checked the  other sites where it had previously been featured.  Finding no trace of the book, I reworked the story a bit, submitted it to another publisher (this time, one with scruples) and my story was released with a new title and name.

I am no longer associated  with the previous publisher, no do I wish my name linked to that house in any way.  I wish I could warn others, but I don't dare mention the name.  I will however say the problem was so large, a yahoo support group was formed to help authors navigate the stormy waters.

So...I'm not versed in legalese, so please don't consider this advice.  This is just what I did in my own situation.  The best advice I can give is to solicit input from other authors published with a place prior to signing on the dotted line.  The best source of information you can get is from those who have experience with the house.  Read the contract carefully, and make sure you maintain some control over your work.  I wish you luck in getting back your book.

Thanks for the question.

Miz Ging

Note from Ginger:  If you have any questions, big, small,  insignificant or otherwise, I'd love to hear from you.  Always looking for good discussion info for my blog.  I can't keep up with Rita.  :)

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