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Thread: Damnation Books

  1. #201
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dondomat View Post
    The dealings thus far in their embryonic stage; yes the kill fees are there.
    Ahem. I think you mean 'termination fees'.

    A kill fee is paid by a publisher (usually a magazine publisher) to a writer when the publisher decides not to publish a contracted stroy.

    A termination fee is paid by a writer to a publisher when the writer wants to get out of their contract early.

    Being as these terms are nearly opposite in meaning, it's a good idea to use them correctly.
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  2. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    A kill fee is paid by a publisher (usually a magazine publisher) to a writer when the publisher decides not to publish a contracted stroy.

    A termination fee is paid by a writer to a publisher when the writer wants to get out of their contract early.

    Being as these terms are nearly opposite in meaning, it's a good idea to use them correctly.
    Thanks for the clarification, Terie. Gotta love absolute write, I learn new stuff here all the time.

  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by showme View Post
    "Overall my experience with Damnation was quite pleasant, until we disagreed on the design of the cover. They were unwilling to negotiate, so I asked to be released from my contract. At this time, they sent me a letter charging me a $800+ “termination agreement.” This letter included an itemized list of expenses—and as a publisher myself I know how exorbitant and ridiculous these charges are.

    Further, there was no mention of a termination fee in the contract I originally signed. I spoke to a woman name Victoria Strauss, who wrote a fascinating blog post on the subject of kill fees (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2009/0...s-and-why.html). She explained that a kill fee is used to blackmail an unhappy author into getting back in line. She said this example of a kill fee was especially “sleazy” because there was no mention of it in the original contract. When I refused to pay the fee, Kim Gilchrist told me that unless I paid it they would go on and publish the book without my support.

    Believe me—I tried everything to negotiate—I even offered to PAY some of the legitimate fees in order to see a new cover designed for the book—but they refused. It was either, “Pay us 800 or shut up and sit down.” I also spoke to a lawyer—he agreed with Ms. Strauss in myself: Damnation Books would never get away with a kill fee in court, but they did have the rights to publish the work. So as of now, despite my pleas, Damnation will be publishing “The Berserk” in March (you can find it on damnation’s website).

    I am writing this in hopes that you will alert your readership of Damnation’s hidden fees. They are unlawful, unethical and, for a small independent publisher who should be out there championing small artists—this kind of cutthroat publishing behavior is unconscionable. There are other publishers who do this. According to Ms. Strauss’ blog, writers should beware of this type of bullying, and keep an eye out for it in their contracts (and NEVER sign a contract that includes a kill fee) but Damnation does not state it in their contract.

    Feel free to publicize this email and the contracts I’ve included as you wish.

    I believe I’ve said enough—I am more than willing to answer any other questions regarding this incident, or fill in any details you may need.

    Thank you in advance for any consciousness-raising you do on the issue.

    Sincerely,

    Alex Smith

    UPDATE March 10th, 2010

    Damnation Books officially violated their own contract when they made substantial changes to my text without my approval, including the re-naming of chapters and inappropriate additions to the copyright page. Further, Damnation published the book on Amazon as The Berserk by Alex Smith, April Duncan, and Matt Truiano. The latter two are editor and cover designer, respectively. It is outrageous that they would attribute the creation and writing of the novel to two people who, however talented and deserving of praise in their own right, had worked on the book for a month, where I had worked on it for two years. As such, I have decided to publish a “perfect version” entitled Berserk on Amazon. Damnation are welcome to try to sue me if they so chose."
    http://reimagineritual.wordpress.com...s/#comment-650

    P.S. Just to clarify here, as there's been some confusion, I'm not Alex Smith.

    Holy shit.
    I mean, excuse my tone, but....
    Holy shit. Putting myself in this position, this is like one of the most terrible things I've read on here. I'd flippin cry if this happened to me.

  4. #204
    practical experience, FTW Lordofthehunt's Avatar
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    Beware Damnation Books

    While I loathe to make my arguments public, the unwillingness of Damnation Books to act like reasonable adults has forced me to take this step, the next being legal action. I want everyone to know how Damnation Books treats authors who want to leave their house.

    On April 9, 2012, I sent a certified/registered termination letter to Damnation Books (received by Damnation Books on April 14, 2012) requesting the release of all rights they held regarding my works: Armageddon Bound, Resurrection, At the Gates, Skulls, The Long Road, and the Temple of the Dead.

    On May 11, 2012, I received a certified letter in response to my request, summarily rejecting my request. (A PDF copy of the letter can be found HERE)

    Dear Mr. Marquitz,

    This letter is to notify you that your request for return of rights is denied because the time length specified in the contract terms has not been reached. When each contract expires naturally, you will receive a return of rights at that time.

    Signed: Kim Richards Gilchrist


    In the specific case of Armageddon Bound (on a different contract than the rest of my works), this response is in direction violation of the contract term listed below. (A PDF copy of the complete contract can be found HERE)

    Either party may terminate this contract for any reason with ninety (90) days written notice, sent registered mail to the current address of the Publisher. Upon termination of this contract, all rights return to the author.

    As per the contract, I have complied with the terms and will consider Armageddon Bound to be released on July 14, 2012. (Nothing in the contract stipulates agreement or acceptance of the release required by Damnation Books, nor does any verbiage claim the right to refuse my request as they have done)

    Further still, on May 8, 2012 (received by Damnation Books per USPS Delivery Confirmation on May 11, 2012), I sent $200 as payment in full of the minimum, early termination fees listed in the contracts for Resurrection, At the Gates, Skulls, and the Temple of the Dead: $50 for each. (A PDF copy of the contract* can be found HERE)

    Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.

    At the time, Damnation Books had chosen not to set a fee, deciding rather to deny the release of my rights without discussion or consideration of their own contract terms, so I sent the minimum fee for each contract, as it is more than sufficient to cover the costs associated with my works even without factoring in profits made by Damnation Books through the sale of my books.

    The covers for the above listed books were $50 each, totaling $200. Fees for editing (as shown HERE in the editing contract for Damnation Books) are set at 10% net royalties, with no minimum or set amount promised the editor. There is also no minimum or set amount claimed in any of the contracts. As such, Damnation Books has no legal right to claim editing fees above and beyond what has been paid the editor through sales, regardless of amount earned. Given this, I had every intention of walking away with my rights on June 11, 2012, having met the terms of the contract release triggers in the following paragraph, present in all four contracts of the disputed books.

    Upon receipt of a written termination request letter and the fees from the Author, the Publisher has thirty (30) days in which to remove the title from distribution and disable the ISBN numbers associated with this title. Rights to the work return to the author at the end of that thirty (30) day period.

    Note: there is no stipulation in the contract requiring the approval or acceptance of either the fees (or even the amount of the fees paid) or the release of the rights by Damnation Books. There is also no verbiage anywhere in the contract that allows them to refuse the termination request or reject the payment.

    However, today, June 8, 2012, I received a letter from a lawyer claiming to represent Damnation Books. While DB now acknowledges they have no claim to Armageddon Bound, per my original argument, they have chosen to set a fee for the remaining books: $1,000 for each, making it $4,000 for me to buy my way out.

    Now, since each cover cost $50, single ISBNs cost $125 (and DB buys them in bulk so the cost is much lower), there’s no minimum fee for editing, and promotion is part of the cost of doing business, Damnation Books is charging me more than $825 for the formatting of each book (one of which is only 42 pages), all while ignoring any and all money they’ve made off the sales of the disputed books. And to top it off, their lawyer didn’t even provide me with an itemized list of the charges associated with my books or credits earned, making this nothing more an attempt to pressure me into submission.

    So anyway, as I said earlier, I hate having to take this public but I want people to know exactly what they’re getting into when they sign on with Damnation Books. I was their first author, and I’d been nothing but loyal and supportive since the beginning and look where that got me.

    This is, amongst the many, just one more cautionary tale for those seeking publication. I went into this with open eyes and still ended up having to fight for what is rightfully mine. So, be careful, and be absolutely certain you can abide the terms of the contracts you sign, and be ready to fight for what is yours because there's always someone out there trying to take it away.



    *While this contract is specifically for At the Gates, the terms are the exact same for all of the disputed books.

  5. #205
    Ouch! I'm sorry you had to go through this. My only advice (and I'm not exactly an expert because every time I've had to quit a contract I've gotten off moderately easily) is to make it clear that you have no intention of promoting your book or encouraging others to buy this book, and that you will publicly condemn Damnation Books for their business practice, specially with the termination fee. This will of course discourage other writers from wanting to sign up with this publisher. Also ask for an itemized list of the charges applied which your future lawyer will need-although if you mention a lawyer, I trust you have seriously looked into that option as a lawyer isn't cheap. Even an initial consultation with a lawyer can take about $200/hour. So, in other words, be a pain in the ass and make it clear that it will cost more effort to keep you on rather than release you from your contract. That's option #1.

    Option #2 is to not promote the book, but let the contract expire naturally. Call it lesson learned, write some new books, and forget these books ever happend. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that unfortunately happens when working with a bad publisher. Even if you get the books back (and there's no guarantee) you will have an incredibly hard time selling a previously-published book elsewhere.

    Hope this helps,
    Natasha
    Last edited by Topaz044; 06-10-2012 at 07:14 AM.

  6. #206
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    I would go with option 2 and call it a lesson learned. Why on earth did you give them so many books and now backing out? I see you have other works too, I don't know where. But yeah, swallow your pride and keep the money for important things, like bills and gas. Why put all this time and effort into it and get a lawyer, that's going to cost more. You're talking thousands and thousands of dollars here.

    I hate to be harsh too, but you should have caught on after the second and third or whatever other book you gave them. Whatever happens, I hope it works out.

  7. #207
    practical experience, FTW Lordofthehunt's Avatar
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    Things will work out regardless whether my books remain with them or I get the rights back. I signed the contracts and knew what I was getting into and I'll handle my business. That said, it's absolute garbage that a publisher will ignore their own contract terms and fight to retain an author who doesn't want to be there.

    My goal is to make sure people know how Damnation Books treat their authors when things don't work out between them. I stated the facts so people could see the whole picture and not some emotional rant. I'm not whining so people will pat me on the back and make me feel better, I'm warning folks off.

    @Undercover: The reason they have so many of my books is because things were fine until Damnation Books changed. All of a sudden, ego got in the way. Being told my work is only as good as the worst of the dreck DB publishes is a clear indication that it's no longer about the quality but only the quantity. That's fine if that's how they want to operate their business, but I have bigger goals in mind.

    I just want everyone to be sure of what they're getting into when they sign with Damnation Books.

  8. #208
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    Wow Tim! I had no idea this had happened to you. I have had no problem with my contract but I am unhappy with how the promotion has been handled. My book The Blood Reapers was released September 1st 2011 and I have yet to see a single attempt for them to promote it. I was told they would do the best of their abilities to promote my book. I have seen several pictures of their tables they had set up at conventions and I never even seen my book set up. I even sent them a big box full of promotional postcards I paid out of pocket for so they could hand them out but I am unsure if they actually did hand them out. I am currently writing the sequel to my first book which I am going to submit to Damnation because I couldn't really see anyone else accepting a sequel to a unknown book. I just wanted to share my experience with you guys.

  9. #209
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    "Now, since each cover cost $50, single ISBNs cost $125 (and DB buys them in bulk so the cost is much lower), there’s no minimum fee for editing, and promotion is part of the cost of doing business, Damnation Books is charging me more than $825 for the formatting of each book (one of which is only 42 pages),"

    Now that's pretty strange when in reality, it looks like the author is totally responsible for nearly all the formatting of the book before or during contact signing. I have four single-space pages to prove it, with more rules and regs than I've ever seen from a small press publisher. (I wonder if I'm allowed to post those formatting guidelines). Looks like they need the author to do damn near all of the work.

    Plus you must submit a marketing plan.

    And if they are like Eternal, which I had a run in with two years ago, you won't get a contributor's copy, and they do claim to produce print books. The formatting guidelines are representative of both Eternal and Damnation contracts.

    I goofed big time by submitting to them after reading their Duotrope page. I mistakenly thought their advance was listed as semi-pro, when in fact, that was an indicator of their pay scale per word for their novellas. One field over is their advance spot, and that one states "no monetary advance."

    So I beat over to AW and found this thread. Oh, gawd. That's the first thing I should have done. Not to worry though, I haven't signed the contract, which is supposed to be on its way. And I'm not going to. It took them like five days to read the full, faster than anybody has ever read one of my books. Alas, no mention from the editor on how well they liked the story, only a reminder to download the PDF formatting guidelines--in other words, get your azz busy and do our setup for us.

    When I saw the editing schedule rules, I really wigged out. Talk about tight; talk about missing deadlines; talk about do it our way or hit the highway. Nuh.

    Tri

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    And if they are like Eternal, which I had a run in with two years ago, you won't get a contributor's copy, and they do claim to produce print books. The formatting guidelines are representative of both Eternal and Damnation contracts.Tri
    Damnation and Eternal are two branches of the same outfit, with the same people. They do organize yahoo groups for their authors, so I suppose the underlying theory is that whereas a more pro-active indie publisher would buy the first few copies of book X on Amazon to get the ball rolling and would also mediate between its authors so that they publicly review each other's books, Damnation's and Eternal's authors are provided with a pool where to possibly do the same to each other if they find buddies. I suppose theoretically inside those pools the proactive authors cluster and promote each other, whereas lazy bums like me just grumble.
    Last edited by dondomat; 10-09-2012 at 07:08 PM.

  11. #211
    practical experience, FTW kelliewallace's Avatar
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    I submitted to them today without reading this thread. They got back to me within a few hours saying they will read it soon. I guess I'll just wait and see what they say.
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  12. #212
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelliewallace View Post
    I submitted to them today without reading this thread. They got back to me within a few hours saying they will read it soon. I guess I'll just wait and see what they say.
    The speed at which they are responding (and sending contracts in my case), might be an indication that they are not getting too many takers from the sub trail. I can't abide publishers that feed off authors in any form whatsoever. We have enough inept small presses out there already.

    tri

  13. #213
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    The speed at which they are responding (and sending contracts in my case), might be an indication that they are not getting too many takers from the sub trail. I can't abide publishers that feed off authors in any form whatsoever. We have enough inept small presses out there already.

    tri
    Just to address the speed with which publishers are answering submissions, it's because a large portion of them are in need of acceptable material. It's fast to reject something unpublishable and the bulk of what any publisher gets falls into this category.

    There are a few other factors to take into consideration too. There are about 5x as many publishers now as there were even 3 years ago. There are not, however, 5x the number of good writers.

    A portion of the good writers have gone the self-publishing route, thereby reducing the number of authors looking for publishers.

    So if you get a fast response, don't just think it's a sign that you've sent to a bad publisher--not saying anything regarding the state of Damnation, but they aren't on my 'submissions shortlist'--just that you've sent to a publisher being hit by the shortage of publishable work, especially in the erotic romance field.
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  14. #214
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    Why is Damnation Books on the "Beware" list? http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/0...er-beware.html

  15. #215
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael_b View Post

    A portion of the good writers have gone the self-publishing route, thereby reducing the number of authors looking for publishers.
    Opinions, please. In the age of e-books and social media, is it better to self-publish on Amazon and the other sources or go with a small press. Advantages? Disadvantages?

  16. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonereb View Post
    Why is Damnation Books on the "Beware" list? http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/0...er-beware.html
    I didn't see it listed there. Maybe I need more coffee. (Hey, I *always* need more coffee!)


    Quote Originally Posted by jonereb View Post
    Opinions, please. In the age of e-books and social media, is it better to self-publish on Amazon and the other sources or go with a small press. Advantages? Disadvantages?
    AW has a self-publishing sub-form here. The short answer is that it depends on the work AND the author. There's a lot of good discussion over there that can help you make that decision.

  17. #217
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I would suggest asking that question in a separate thread so we can keep this one on the subject of Damnation Books.
    Emily Veinglory

  18. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieB View Post
    I didn't see it listed there. Maybe I need more coffee. (Hey, I *always* need more coffee!)

    I'm not seeing it on the list either.
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  19. #219
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    I didn't see it either. But it does appear on Preds and Eds as strongly not recommended. So does Eternal.

    And that's interesting, 'cause I got a swift contract from Eternal the year before the Damnation one and turned that down too.

    tri

  20. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonereb View Post
    Why is Damnation Books on the "Beware" list? http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/0...er-beware.html
    I don't find it there as of 12/28/12.

  21. #221
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    Damnation Books on Notice!

    After filing a justice court suit against Damnation Books on November 15, 2012 for multiple counts of breach of contract, I won a small financial judgment against the publisher on April 26, 2013. The judge, however, did not feel it was within his power to rescind the disputed contracts despite finding in my favor, referring me instead to a higher court. (My previous post on the subject can be found here.)

    However, as of my Q1 2013 royalties, I have met and well exceeded the contract terms set by Damnation Books regarding the early termination of my works, Resurrection and At the Gates.

    As per Damnation Books’ contract terms (bolding is mine):

    Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.

    On June 6, 2012, after receiving my request for termination on April 14, 2102, the lawyer for Damnation Books set the fee for each of my contracted works through Damnation Books. He stated (again, bolding is mine):

    “The Company has calculated the costs and time spent which the termination fee is intended to cover and in each instance the termination fee is $1,000.

    As of February 28, 2013, Resurrection has earned Damnation Books (per their official royalty statements less 10% editing fees deducted by contract terms) a total of $2682.02. At the Gates has earned them $2257.60. Both amounts are substantially over the $1,000 termination fees set by Damnation Books, effectively paying above and beyond the requisite (and excessive) fees for release. (These numbers do not reflect profits from March or April 2013)

    As such, the rights for both Resurrection and At the Gates should be returned to me, effective immediately, as the thresholds for release have been exceeded (all associated costs paid) and my request for termination persists.

    Therefore, I file this notice publicly as a statement of intent. It is on Damnation Books to do the right thing and release the rights to these two books, per our signed agreements, or I will take further legal action against Damnation Books to force them to abide by their contract terms.

    (Damnation Books has been notified of this privately and has chosen to ignore my lawful request.)

  22. #222
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    What they're saying is that you owe them $1000 not withstanding anything the book has earned.

    Have they paid any of those earnings to you? You didn't specify if that was total earnings for the books or if that was what you've been paid.

    In either case, you're likely going to need to head back to court in order to secure the rights to your books.
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  23. #223
    practical experience, FTW Lordofthehunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael_b View Post
    What they're saying is that you owe them $1000 not withstanding anything the book has earned.

    Have they paid any of those earnings to you? You didn't specify if that was total earnings for the books or if that was what you've been paid.

    In either case, you're likely going to need to head back to court in order to secure the rights to your books.
    This is total profits they've made off these two books. Damnation Books refuses to itemize or even tell me the charges they're claiming, but having worked for them (and having editing and art contracts as proof), it costs less than $62 for each book they put out.

    They've earned every penny of time and money they've put into the books, and way more.

    Also, their claim was made several royalty statements ago, and they've since earned well over the $1,000 each they were claiming since then, yet they still refuse to release the books.
    Last edited by Lordofthehunt; 05-04-2013 at 06:19 PM.

  24. #224
    Just another face in a red jumpsuit shelleyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michael_b View Post
    What they're saying is that you owe them $1000 not withstanding anything the book has earned.

    Actually, what the book has earned is supposed to figure into the amount.

    This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.


    The problem lies in "and money recovered from sales of the work." Recovered would mean recovering their expense, not profits earned. So if they've recovered their cost, having earned more than $1000 on each book, they'll have a hard time convincing anyone that the writer is obligated to pay more than their minimum of $50 per book. IF and only IF that was actually written that way in the contract that you signed. The contract is all, so they have to abide by it.

    But it's going to take a lawyer for you to convince them to follow their own terms, I'm sure.
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  25. #225
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    The point is they don't say how much must be recovered in order to recoup their expenses. They get to set the amount they want back, not the author, which is unfortunate because they do not give a sliding scale of how much earned equals how much taken off production costs in this case. (And yes, there are publishers out there who clearly spell this out in their contracts when there is a buy out requirement on books that an author wants to pull before that contract ends.)

    Also, a publisher's contract is only as good as the people behind the scenes, as we've seen with the Noble debacle--and may others for that matter.
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