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Thread: Cook Communication / Authorme.com / Reservebooks.com

  1. #1
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Cook Communication / Authorme.com / Reservebooks.com

    I met someone who told me their first novel was published by Cook Communication, Authorme.com and Reservebooks.com. Yes, all three names show on the publisher page. They never signed a contract and the book is printed through Lulu. He pays them, Cook Communications, $15.00 for each copy he orders from them. His book does not have an ISBN nor do they offer to get one. Apparently, he was told it would not affect his sales. His book is offered for sale on Authorme.com and Reservebooks.com.


    I’ve looked at the sites and for the life of me I can find nothing about who holds what, when or where. Reservebooks.com appears to be a book review/order site and has nothing to do with the publishing of any books.

    I’m posting and asking for any information because I found it very strange that no contract was signed, etc., and wondering where this group might be headed in the future. (Nice way of saying… I’m concerned. )

    Any info?

    Links:

    http://www.cookcom.net/

    http://www.author-me.com/

    http://www.reservebooks.com/




    EDIT: Lulu was down for a time so I just got a look at his book. It only shows Cook Communication as the publisher. The two websites are on the same page, but after the copyright blurb.
    Last edited by brianm; 08-17-2007 at 11:05 AM. Reason: clarification of $15.00 paid to Cook Comm.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  2. #2
    Dunno what you mean by him paying them $15 for each book. He paid $15 for them to set it up for him, he pays them $15 for every book sold to a customer (reverse royalties for the win!), or the book costs $15 and that's what he has to pay to get a copy?

    And, if he never signed a contract with them then I don't see how they could legally distribute the book.

  3. #3
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Sorry, I'll be more clear. He pays them $15.00 for each copy he orders from them.

    By Cook Communication's name being shown as the publisher of the book, I would think that at least infers they hold the publishing rights?

    I found the entire thing to be very strange, that's why I started a thread.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  4. #4
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Requiescat In Pace Popeyesays's Avatar
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    Well, a tradeback costing more than $15 at the book store is a book you can't sell to the book buying public.

    Regards,
    Scott
    [B]Okay, damnit, I blog [URL]http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/[/URL][/B]
    [B]Sword of the Dajjal[/B] e-book, [SIZE=2]Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 [URL]http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages/sf_07/sword_dajjal.html[/URL][/SIZE]
    Out in print early 2008 from Blu Phi'er[URL="http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook47261.htm?cached"][/URL]
    [B]Jars of Doom[/B] out mid 2008 from Blu Phi'er
    [URL]http://www.bluphier.com/[/URL]

  5. #5
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Apparently, he was told it would not affect his sales.
    ISBN, no ISBN -- it probably won't affect his sales. Either way I expect they'll be "almost none," and those he does make will be face-to-face (where ISBNs don't matter).

  6. #6
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Iíve received more information from the author I referenced when I opened this thread, but he has not authorized me to share the emails in this public forum. Iím hoping he will join AW and share his experience with this publisher.

    Cook Communication is a pay to play outfit. Hereís the page that shows what they can do for you!

    http://www.cookcomm.theshoppe.com/

    Additionally, the owner, Bruce Cook, does not believe in written contracts. However, when the author advised heís going elsewhere with his book, Mr. Cook decided he had verbal publishing rights to the book. At this time, he will not provide the author with a written release of rights, and it appears the author will need legal counsel to get out of this mess and get his rights back.

    It would seem not having a written contract would dissuade anyone from going with this publisher, but a number of writers have their books with Cook Communication via submission to the sister site, authorme.com. Itís frightening what people will do in order to see their words in print.

    I do not know the legalities of a verbal publishing contract, although the author claims he never gave any rights to the publisher, verbal or otherwise. The fact that his book was published through Lulu, and it shows Cook Communication as the publisher, does infer some sort of publishing rights agreement, IMO.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  7. #7
    A verbal contract is legally binding but difficult to prove. I won't speculate any further since it'd really need to come from a legal authority.

    But I wouldn't think that it would need to come to that. If the guy publishes the books through Lulu then have your friend contact them and tell them that the publisher does not have the right to publish the book. I'd think that would be the best route to start with, and I imagine Lulu is pretty quick about resolving things involving copyright infringement.

  8. #8
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havlen View Post
    A verbal contract is legally binding but difficult to prove. I won't speculate any further since it'd really need to come from a legal authority.

    But I wouldn't think that it would need to come to that. If the guy publishes the books through Lulu then have your friend contact them and tell them that the publisher does not have the right to publish the book. I'd think that would be the best route to start with, and I imagine Lulu is pretty quick about resolving things involving copyright infringement.
    I would think he's in need of legal counsel.

    He allowed the book to be published in the first place and he's bought copies from the publisher. Telling Lulu that Cook Communication doesn't have the right to publish the book, this late into the game, could land him in hot water, IMO.
    Last edited by brianm; 08-28-2007 at 09:48 PM.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by brianm View Post
    I would think he's in need of legal counsel.

    He allowed the book to be published in the first place and he's bought copies from the publisher. Telling Lulu Cook Communication doesn't have the right to publish the book, this late into the game, could land him in hot water, IMO.
    If there isn't any agreement as to what rights Cook Communications have then I would think they would be at the whim of the copyright holder. I'd think at the very least Lulu would contact Cook Communication and if they can't provide a written contract, I don't see Lulu keeping the book up there based on a verbal contract. Hell, they might take it down after being provided proof that he's the author under the idea that simply contacting Cook Communications would cost more money than they'll ever make with the book.

  10. #10
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, we don't know what transpired between the author and Cook in the beginning. I wouldn't want to tell him to do something that could result in problems in the future. As it is, the book has been published and I would think any publisher considering second edition rights would want to be assured Cook has no claims to the book's publishing rights. The best assurance would be if it were in writing from Cook Communication.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  11. #11
    And now, back to Plodding! Duncan J Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianm View Post
    I would think he's in need of legal counsel.
    Truer Words and all'a that. This needs the touch of a professional in the field of IP, Copyright, and Publishing Law and Practices.
    Unfortunately, I suspect that it will be far far easier to just chalk this book up to experience and move on. I doubt if pursuing this issue makes financial sense.
    R/
    Hamster #164

  12. #12
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan J Macdonald View Post
    Truer Words and all'a that. This needs the touch of a professional in the field of IP, Copyright, and Publishing Law and Practices.
    Unfortunately, I suspect that it will be far far easier to just chalk this book up to experience and move on. I doubt if pursuing this issue makes financial sense.
    I agree.

    Unfortunately, this writer is learning the ropes the hard way. He went with PA for his second book.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  13. #13
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Better luck with his third.

  14. #14
    cookcomm
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    Thanks for giving me a chance to explain what really happened here...

    Hello everyone. I am sorry that I was not notified of this thread. (Well, at least I didnít check my g-mail account - sorry!)

    I serve Cook Communication Inc. as publisher, and I feel this writer has badly misrepresented us.

    For example, donít you find it strange that he omitted the fact that our ďfeeĒ is only 10% of profit on Lulu.com? That is 10% of profit, not price, so our ďtake" on one book would be 50 cents if lulu gave us a profit of $5.00 on one sale. Nor did he mention that the few dollars he paid me for books were direct reimbursements, dollar for dollar, for my cost to have lulu print and mail copies to him. All of this is documented. He knows this, but elected not to share it with you.

    I will try to explain as best I can in this forum.

    Author-me.com helps new writers publish their first articles, stories, or books, and every one of the thousands of writers we've served are grateful for the help. This writer, who agreed to have us publish a book he authored on Lulu, is not grateful. And I think we helped him, because soon after working with us he was able to place his book Miami Heat commercially, which does have higher market potential.

    In fact, during the publishing process, he asked us to repeat the prepress process several times for one-word changes in the 408-page text, and, since we do this as a service, for free, I felt upset when he came back earlier this month and asked for still more free changes, and he wanted me to pay for an isbn number, even though he has done next to nothing to promote his book. (As I explained to him, an isbn number gets you into Books in Print, but not into a distributor, and most chain bookstores will only buy through one of the main distributors. Further, it is up to Print on Demand authors to promote their own book. I promised him to do certain promotions, which I did. Instead of promoting his book, he is now attacking me. Go figure!)

    Now, he had agreed to publish the book as it was. But recently he said he wanted me to revise it again (for free, of course). As I explained to him, I had to do something to keep him from asking for unlimited free revisions, which are time consuming when you use professional page layout programs, so I posted rates on the page you have cited in this thread which did make us look bad, I suppose. I apologize for that. But please understand that I must do something to prevent my authors from requiring me to do unlimited revisions to their books. (After all, how many authors are allowed to do this after they have agreed to the publishing of their book, even once?) By charging for this service, I can prevent an author from asking for more and more and more. And, if he or she does, I will have some compensation.

    It amazes me that someone you help get into print, when they couldn't on their own, is so ungrateful. We do not simply upload a Word file; we do design, indexing, and various prepress and design helps on the manuscripts we receive, and I believe we are justified in keeping 10% of profit. Is that so much, really? Why does he object. I wonder? Any author will tell you that 90% of profit is a really great deal, and he did agree to it.

    So far we have never needed to charge for prepress work because everyone else is professional (and grateful) enough to appreciate the free work and advice we give them.

    I don't know why there is so much concern over having a contract template here. A contract is an agreement, and we do secure an agreement from the writer before we help them with their manuscript. Since we only have a profit of 10%, there is hardly enough to pay for IP attorneys, etc., and I believe it is not fair to require new writers, who are often poor, to have to pay for such legal fees. Would anyone suggest that we have such a review and charge them $500 so we could pay a bevy of lawyers, and, if so, how would we be helping them?

    Gosh, if you guys had any idea how much money and time I have donated to these writers and these websites, since 1999, there would be no question about who is being served, and who is being ungrateful. For many years I was paying $200 per month to EarthLink to run author-me.com. I have never made a profit on my activities. "Pay to play", sir, I am not. I spend several hours every weekend, plus several hours during the week, supporting the websites. I do not make money from it. Just ask my wife, who tolerates all of this!

    I hope this will help to clarify the situation. I am certain that this personís account has seriously misrepresented my help to him, and I hope this will not deter other publishers and websites from helping new writers.

    Thank you for your kind understanding.

  15. #15
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    G'day Cook,

    It sounds like a bit of a mess, doesn't it !?

    The problems may stem from the way that you are doing this as a favour (and so not having a written agreement, not charging rates that would make it worthwhile) but other people are viewing it as a real business arrangement.

    In a business arrangement, there isn't really such thing as 'grateful' or 'ungrateful'. When I change channels on the TV, I'm not being ungrateful for the entertainment that was offered on the channel previously - I'm just making a simple decision to jump to another ship.

    So the author is doing the same thing - you've provided great value up until now, but now that you aren't continuing the updates, the author is making a simple business decision to go elsewhere. As a business, it is a natural thing to do.

    I'm not sure I see the downside of a written agreement compared to a verbal agreement. With a written agreement, both sides know what the agreement was. With a verbal one, both sides will be convinced that they are in the right.

    If you want to treat a verbal agreement as enforceable (such as not returning full rights on request) then how is it different? Because with a written agreement you'd need a lawyer? Why does that argument not apply for a verbal agreement?

    If you want this to be a business, then you'll need to treat it like a business.

    If it isn't a business, and you are just helping people as a hobby, then good on you ... but you'll need to make sure that your authors realise that is just a hobby, and you aren't being business-like in the way you approach your publishing.

    Good luck - it's great to see people helping each other,

    Mac

  16. #16
    It's perfectly understandable not to keep making edits for free, but there is a big gaping hole in what you are saying: If you aren't in this to make money and just want to help authors then why wouldn't you give him a written letter releasing his book? The only reason you wouldn't do that is to make money (or out of spite).

  17. #17
    cookcomm
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    But we have invested lots of time

    Quote Originally Posted by Havlen View Post
    It's perfectly understandable not to keep making edits for free, but there is a big gaping hole in what you are saying: If you aren't in this to make money and just want to help authors then why wouldn't you give him a written letter releasing his book? The only reason you wouldn't do that is to make money (or out of spite).
    I see your point, Havlen. Actually, I simply feel that, after investing at least 60 hours in his project, I deserve the right to offer the work as part of the few selections we have produced so far. At least for a reasonable period of time.

    Please remember, I have evidence of written agreements throughout this process. And he has misrepresented information about these agreements in coming to this public board, and I feel this is unfair. My mom always taught me to honor agreements!

    The author knew it would be published on Lulu. The author had decided not to buy an isbn. Now, however, after requesting to buy one from me, he decided I should pay for it. Etc. etc.

    Had he ever shown any respect in his dealings with me, my reaction may well have been different. Instead, his communications have been typical of the "flame" messages that get in the way when someone asks for technical support. And, as we all know, a "flame" message does not receive priority attention.

    Also, at 10% of profit on just a few sales, it is hardly fair to conclude that I will make any money here. So far he has sold one copy on lulu for profit, and has received and accepted my payment of 90% of profit to him. My "profit" was less than fifty cents.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookcomm View Post
    Actually, I simply feel that, after investing at least 60 hours in his project, I deserve the right to offer the work as part of the few selections we have produced so far. At least for a reasonable period of time.
    It doesn't matter if you 'deserve' to or not - the only question is if the author agreed in the contract that you could.

    If not, then you don't have the right to do it - even if you deserve to.

    Good luck,

    Mac
    Last edited by Mac H.; 08-30-2007 at 03:17 PM.

  19. #19
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Hi, cookcomm, and welcome to AW.

    cookcomm:
    I don't know why there is so much concern over having a contract template here. A contract is an agreement, and we do secure an agreement from the writer before we help them with their manuscript. Since we only have a profit of 10%, there is hardly enough to pay for IP attorneys, etc., and I believe it is not fair to require new writers, who are often poor, to have to pay for such legal fees. Would anyone suggest that we have such a review and charge them $500 so we could pay a bevy of lawyers, and, if so, how would we be helping them?
    Just to pick up on this - you don't have to pay a fortune in legal fees to come up with a standard form contract. Certainly in the UK, there are a number of template contract websites that offer free downloadable contracts that can be customised by parties and I would assume that the same is true in the US.

    The whole purpose of having a written agreement is so that each party is clear from the outset as to what their respective rights and obligations are with regard to an enterprise and what happens in the event that one party decides that it wants to leave. A written contract could set out precisely how many free edits you're prepared to offer (if any), how remuneration is calculated and split between the parties, who takes responsibility for purchasing an ISBN and what (if any) obligations you take to promote the book.

    Verbal contracts are binding, but they can be very difficult to prove - even if you do have written correspondence on particular points. In any event, it can be a false economy to try ans save money by not having a written contract if in the end you have to hire a lawyer to get out of something.

    In addition - do any of the US posters here know whether contracts relating to IP have to be in writing? I know that under English law, exclusive licences of IP rights have to be in writing if they are to have effect, but don't know if this holds true in the US.

    I appreciate that you do not see this as a money-maker, but if you're going to at least try to minimise your costs then a written, standard form contract would be in your best interests.

    MM

  20. #20
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Requiescat In Pace Popeyesays's Avatar
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    MM,

    We have a strong tradition of verbal contracts in the United States; however, the common wisdom is that is that a verbal contract is only worth the paper it is written on.

    Most people come to grief when they think a verbal codicil to a written contract has any weight. The fact is that any written contract voids ALL verbal agreements.

    That's how Publish America survives.

    Regards,
    Scott
    [B]Okay, damnit, I blog [URL]http://cscottsaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/[/URL][/B]
    [B]Sword of the Dajjal[/B] e-book, [SIZE=2]Published by BooksForABuck.com May, 2007 ISBN: 978-1-602-052-2 [URL]http://www.booksforabuck.com/sfpages/sf_07/sword_dajjal.html[/URL][/SIZE]
    Out in print early 2008 from Blu Phi'er[URL="http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook47261.htm?cached"][/URL]
    [B]Jars of Doom[/B] out mid 2008 from Blu Phi'er
    [URL]http://www.bluphier.com/[/URL]

  21. #21
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    Popeysays:
    We have a strong tradition of verbal contracts in the United States; however, the common wisdom is that is that a verbal contract is only worth the paper it is written on.
    Yeah - we have that same common wisdom over here. Most of the case law on verbal contracts turns on evidentiary issues and if it's one person's word against another it can be tricky (to say the least!)

    Most of the UK contracts that I deal with clearly state that any amendments have to be in writing and signed by the parties, although in some cases email correspondence has been used successfully to prove a variation based on verbal communication (i.e. a verbal amendment or variation can be binding if you've got the evidence to back it up).

    I've been a lawyer for nigh on 10 years now and the idea of anyone entering into any kind of arrangement concerning money without getting it written down first just fills me with horror.

    MM

  22. #22
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Mr. Cook,

    Welcome to AW. Let me clear up a few things.

    The author in question is not a member of AW. He did not ask me to start this thread nor has he had any input into this thread. I started this thread after communicating with him via email. My initial communications with him were in regards to his concerns about his second publisher, the infamous Publish America. During those communications, he told me about his first book and Cook Communication.

    Having never heard of Cook Communication, authorme.com or Researchbooks.com , I began researching your company in order to determine what kind of publisher you are. This particular forum in AW exists to help advise new writers about publishers and agents in order that they may make sound decisions in seeking representation and/or publication of their works. Part of my research included opening this thread in order to find out if anyone had heard of you or if anyone had any experience with you. My initial concern was the lack of a written contract.

    Because the author has not authorized me to share our emails, which include copies of emails between you and the author, I have not done so. However, you disparage the author in this thread and for that reason I will state that his correspondence with you of late has been that of a concerned, slightly naÔve writer who only wishes to see his work receive more exposure than you can offer. He does not flame you in those emails.

    Like you, he works a fulltime job. He is slowly learning about the publishing business and what to expect from a publisher of his works. Recently, he has learned that his works will require more than placement on Lulu and your sites in order to garner attention. He has also learned about ISBNís, and what they can and cannot do for his works. He is also learning what to expect from a publisher and what duties a publisher should perform if his works are to be given any chance of reaching readers.

    You questioned my calling you a pay to play publisher, yet in looking over your site you do require payment for services that other publishers offer free when they accept a manuscript. Editing, for example. Because it is not clear on your site, are these extra services offered to writers who are not being published by Cook which are included when an author chooses to publish with you?

    You claim this is not a money making venture on your part, and that you are doing this solely to help new writers. If this is true, I would urge you to return the authorís rights in writing. As you say, only a few copies have sold and you wonít make any money off this particular work. So, what possible benefit is it to you and your company to hold the rights?
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

  23. #23
    cookcomm
    Guest

    I have deleted the "Publishing Services" pages you disliked

    OK, I deleted the pages in my store relating to isbn and preprint. I only placed them there (2 weeks ago) to prevent the author from continuing to request them for free. I have never had a sale from them. Visitors to my store are very few.

    Sorry about that. As you have may have neglected to consider in your judgment against me, I had to set a charge because the recipient of my free services kept on unabashedly asking for more.

    Gosh, as long as you give the author a cloak of anonymity for some reason, I can't quote his "flame" e-mails, so I guess everyone has to take your word for it that he did not flame. If I were in tech support, I would take his last email as a flame, to be sure, and so would any supervisor. But then, I believe he has not given you all e-mails, and very likely he has not told you the truth about key things like money he paid to reimburse me for my expenses. So I certainly understand why it must be difficult for you to really know the truth. It seems very much like he is quoting me out of context, and perhaps you are accepting it.

    Now, I do have to wonder why someone would give the complainer a cloak of anonymity and not even do fact-checking with me, even though my website is named, for I never received any communication from you directly. (I learned about this through an "alert" system that reports to me on my g-mail account.)

    Further, in response to other comments in the thread, am I getting the impression that authors have rights but not publishers, and that whatever someone agrees to in an email doesn't mean anything? I'll have to try to explain that one to my mother under the topic - you don't have to do what you agree to. Or perhaps you do share my feeling that the situation is not so black-and-white as all that?

    I have not yet made a determination on what to do about this client and his book. I am certainly willing to listen.

    In summary, although I invested 50-60 hours on this production, and although the author agreed to have me publish it, you feel that I have no right to keep it available online. Is this correct?

    As far as helping writers, if you truly do this, you might work with your client on the proper way to deal with a publisher, or any business contact for that matter. And naturally all of us would do well to remember that, when someone does something for us gratis, we should show gratitude and respect. Or perhaps we have abandoned integrity too, right along with violating our agreements and misrepresenting those who help us?

    Further, in all fairness, we have to assume that, when you help a new writer, you do not charge for services you may render. I imagine I'm correct on that, since you certainly seem to feel that I shouldn't charge new writers for anything. I do hope you will clarify that too.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW BrookieCookie777's Avatar
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    Hi guys. Just curious. Are we talking about www.cookministries.com? Very weird indeed. I thought this was a royalty publisher. I've never sent anything to them - but I always thought they were legit. Hmm - learn something new every day I guess!
    "Cowards die many times before their deaths,
    The valiant never taste of death but once."


    - Shakespeare

  25. #25
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    No, they are not related.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

    "Opera singers have resonance where their brains ought to be." Anna Russell

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