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Thread: Woodfield Publishing Ltd

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Woodfield Publishing Ltd

    My non-fiction book was published by a UK small independent publisher, Woodfield Publishers, in 2002 - (http://www.woodfieldpublishing.co.uk/contents/en-uk/d69_woodfield-publishing-latest-books.html ).

    The contract stipulated that I would not receive any royalties until 200 copies were sold of the Print on Demand book. Since that time I have sent queries, every year or so, but they have always replied that since 200 copies have not yet been sold I am not due any royalties.

    My contract stipulates, “The Author hereby grants to the Publishers, during the legal term of copyright, the exclusive right of producing and publishing and selling in volume form either as a whole or in part in all languages and in all countries.”
    There is no mention in the contract of what "legal term of copyright" means - I am assuming they have tied me in to 50 years or so - am I correct?

    A few years ago I asked permission from the publisher to cancel the contract as I had an American publisher interested in my book. Woodfield refused unless they were offered a 'substantial sum' by the new publisher. Surely, after 10 years without any remuneration, I should be entitled to leave these contractual obligations. Does anyone agree or am I stuck for life?

    Do any authors have similar experiences with this publisher and/or can advise if I am legally correct in telling them I wish to cancel the contract.


  2. #2
    My non-fiction book was published by a UK small independent publisher, Woodfield Publishers, in 2002 - (http://www.woodfieldpublishing.co.uk...est-books.html ).

    The contract stipulated that I would not receive any royalties until 200 copies were sold of the Print on Demand book. Since that time I have sent queries, every year or so, but they have always replied that since 200 copies have not yet been sold I am not due any royalties.
    You need to consult a lawyer. You should also find out from them how many copies you *have* sold.


    My contract stipulates, “The Author hereby grants to the Publishers, during the legal term of copyright, the exclusive right of producing and publishing and selling in volume form either as a whole or in part in all languages and in all countries.”
    There is no mention in the contract of what "legal term of copyright" means - I am assuming they have tied me in to 50 years or so - am I correct?
    You've (probably) agreed to the (probably) UK term of copyright - lifetime of the author plus 70 years.


    A few years ago I asked permission from the publisher to cancel the contract as I had an American publisher interested in my book. Woodfield refused unless they were offered a 'substantial sum' by the new publisher. Surely, after 10 years without any remuneration, I should be entitled to leave these contractual obligations. Does anyone agree or am I stuck for life?
    You could be 80 years without remuneration, the bottom line is you signed that contract, you have to abide by it.

    All contracts can be dissolved, the question is, what are the terms laid out for it? These should be specified in the paperwork. Sounds like you your has a termination fee. Read the contract, find out how much.



    Do any authors have similar experiences with this publisher and/or can advise if I am legally correct in telling them I wish to cancel the contract.
    We cannot offer you legal advice. You need to read your contract and/or consult a professional.


    When you are consider what to do next, remember that it is *very* unlikely to find a new home. Few publishers accept previously published submissions.
    You may intend to self-pub on Kindle etc. We have a section of the board here about that kind of thing. Be realistic about how many copies you'll sell and if it will cover you to get out of this contract.




    On a side note, this publisher ticks a few of question mark boxes. Not only concerning the OPs sales report and that contract clause.

    The website not aimed at buyers (doesn't even have any books listed on the front page, just some blurb about the publishing house and what they do.). Remember, the job of a publisher is to SELL books. That's what their website should be geared towards.

    No information about who runs the company, only the claim of 25 years experience.

    They, rather oddly, allow you to send your MS for a "Free Appraisal". This follows the normal submission guidelines of every other legit publisher out this.

    From their About Us page:

    We have our own editing, design, typesetting, printing and binding facilities and can produce superior quality books at competitive prices.
    This could be POD or it could be a "proper" print run. Durhamauthor, do they only offer POD?



    On the plus side, they have a clear niche of what they are looking for. The covers are simple and appropriate if not eye-catching.

    If I was looking at them, my biggest question would be about how many of their authors actually sell the requisite 200 copies. It seems very odd to me that yours hasn't, mainly because when a publisher takes on a book, they're looking to sell several thousand copies.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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  4. #4
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Theo's pretty much got it covered. You've signed a contract that won't expire until seventy years after your death. If they haven't breached it and there's nothing about termination in it, there's not a huge amount you can do.

    If you're going to a lawyer, look for one that specialises in Intellectual Property law; they'll be more likely to spot any weasel wording or loopholes.

    My gut instinct is that unless they're doing something to actively injure your reputation as a writer or your ability to write, just walk away. Write another book, sell it to someone reputable, and get an IP lawyer to check the contract before you sign it, not after.

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  5. #5
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkkingston View Post
    If you're going to a lawyer, look for one that specialises in Intellectual Property law; they'll be more likely to spot any weasel wording or loopholes.
    And not just an IP specialist, but one who's also experienced with publishing contracts. Not all IP lawyers work with publishing contracts, and you need someone who knows both angles.
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  6. #6
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Durhamauthor:
    The contract stipulated that I would not receive any royalties until 200 copies were sold of the Print on Demand book. Since that time I have sent queries, every year or so, but they have always replied that since 200 copies have not yet been sold I am not due any royalties.
    Take your contract down to your local Citizen's Advice Bureau and ask them if they can take a look at it for you (some will, some won't - it depends on the volunteers working there). Failing that, see if Durham, Newcastle or Northumbria University have a legal outreach programme for undergrads where they take a look at contracts for you.

    They need to look for the following:

    1. whether you have any audit rights over their sales figures. Standard publishing contracts have this and it basically says you can take an accountant and go and check out their records.

    2. whether you have any right to a sales statement - whether on an annual/six-month/quarterly basis. This tells you how many copies you have sold to date.

    3. what rights Woodfield took over your book - was it just print rights? If so, then you could potentially either epublish yourself or sell the ebook rights to another publisher for a better deal. Note that the lawyer really needs to look at this clause - some publishers claim that books that precede electronic publishing nevertheless catch those rights and if Woodfield want to be difficult then they will be.

    4. what the contract says about termination, how it can be triggered and whether Woodfield is entitled to a termination fee. I haven't read your contract, but usually contracts are silent about being able to terminate which generally means that you can only terminate by agreement and Woodfield would be within their rights to charge you a fee if they want to - note that there would be no requirement on them to make this fee reasonable.

    Being honest with you, I doubt that you're going to have much luck here. My suggestion (once you've taken legal advice) is to get a definitive statement for how many copies you have sold. Woodfield won't let go without a fee, so my starting point if I was in your shoes would be to offer to pay the cover price equivalent of the remaining books up to £200. This is a small company (a husband and wife outfit) and they're running the company out of a residential address (albeit a very nice residential address according to Zoopla). If you're not willing to give up on the book, then it's worth paying them off but given that it's a POD operation so their costs will be negligible and they've made virtually no money from it in 10 years, I wouldn't agree to pay something extortionate.

    MM

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks to all of you - I appreciate it!
    I think my best route would be to find a lawyer.

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