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czahar
03-27-2007, 03:49 AM
Ok, first of all, I admit that this was pure stupidity on my part. I was a new author, and I was so excited that someone was actually willing to publish my work that I didn't bother taking any precautions.

Anyway, please bear with this rather long winded anecdote and give me your advice. Back in January of 2006 PublishAmerica accepted my book for publication (surprise surprise). Being so elated with the possibility that I might be the next Hemingway or Baudelaire, I signed the contract and sent it in.

Over the next week, however, I began to do some research on this scam company and realized my mistake. Not wanting to get caught up with this company anymore than I already was, I never sent my finalized manuscript in for them to put into book form. Having already given them a phone number that I had since canceled, it was simply a matter of filtering out all of their emails to get them out of my hair permanently - or at least I had thought.

Just today, however, my mother received a letter from them (they sent it to my old address) threatening me with "breach of contract" over not having received my manuscript yet.

Anyway, here are my question. From what is known about PublishAmerica and contract law in the United States, can they, and/or will they do anything about this besides continue to harass me? Can they take me to court and, if so, what types of punishments could I be prosecuted for if found guilty?

I am particularly looking for the advice of people who have had direct contact with this scam corporation.

Thank you in advance to all who respond to this.

Popeyesays
03-27-2007, 04:00 AM
Send them back their dollar~in a check so you have the receipt in hand.

After that they should not have a leg to stand on.

Regards,
Scott

Ol' Fashioned Girl
03-27-2007, 04:18 AM
Damn. How desperate can they get, tracking down people who don't want to have anything to do with them? Aren't they still getting 'thousands and thousands' more 'happy authors' every day?

zizban
03-27-2007, 04:40 AM
You could also just send in a joke MS, ala Atlanta Nights, and refuse to buy any copies of it.

Arkie
03-27-2007, 05:22 AM
CZAHAR: For whatever reason, PA issued only 59 new titles last week. I don't believe they can survive on that small number, or wouldn't want to. I can understand why they are chasing down all leads.

Type a letter, business block format and tell them that you decline to continue the publishing process. (Don't give a reason and keep it professional and short). Return any money received and mention that in the body of the letter.

Place your signature block on the left margin four spaces under last paragraph. Two spaces below on the left margin type Atch (see below)

Skip one space under Atch and type in Cpy To: (see below)

It should look like this:

CZHAR

Atch: Check #1111, $1.00.
Ltr, Publish America, dated (date)

Cpy to: Editor, Publishers Weekly, (address)




Make three copies. Notrize and date all three. Send original to PA, copy to Editor, of Publishers Weekly (Check Google for Address) and keep one copy for your files. Note: You can find a Notary Republic at your local bank or insurance office.

Gillhoughly
03-27-2007, 06:12 AM
Or you can do what one of their zombies--uh--fanatic supporters--uh--writers did (twice!) and fake your own death.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9607

KIDDING!!!!

MMcC
03-27-2007, 06:32 AM
I faked my own death when I changed pen names:

http://christineolinger.blogspot.com/2006/07/cassidy-careswell-rip-1965-2006.html

I sent her off well, though. LOL

brianm
03-27-2007, 07:06 AM
czahar,

Send an email to PA advising you wish to cancel the contract, and that you will not be sending them the final draft of the ms. Advise them you are returning their $1.00 advance via snail mail. Print out your email, and send that by snail mail, together with a check for $1.00. There is no reason to have your signature acknowledged before a notary public.

You have a contractual obligation to PA until they cancel your contract.

Wait one week, and then follow up with another email. Keep doing this until they release your contract. Save all responses from PA. Be persistent. Be polite. Eventually, they will release the contract.


Note: You can find a Notary Republic at your local bank or insurance office.

Notary public, Arkie, not a notary republic.

Arkie
03-27-2007, 07:13 AM
czahar,



Notary public, Arkie, not a notary republic.


OF COURSE. MENTAL SLIP. THANKS FOR THE CORRECTION.

Rolling Thunder
03-27-2007, 07:22 AM
I believe the PA contract requires third party arbitration. Correct me if I'm wrong.

But, given that they send their authors a $1.00 advance and they decided to go to court, imagine what a judge will say if they ask for more than $1.00 in damages.

One of these days, this is gonna bite PA on the ass.

James D. Macdonald
03-27-2007, 07:56 AM
PublishAmerica isn't going to sue anyone. They may huff and puff, but a courtroom is the last place they want to be.

Gillhoughly
03-27-2007, 04:53 PM
You could also just send in a joke MS, ala Atlanta Nights, and refuse to buy any copies of it.

Ooooooooo! I LIKE that one!

You're out the copy & mailing costs, but I'd love to see their reaction at getting 300 pages of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

You can frame their contract for your office as a trophy.

Use a pen name.

BWAH!

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-27-2007, 07:19 PM
Send them A manuscript. But send them utter crap ... maybe your first three attempts at writing a novel when you were 16, with all the chapter ones together, twos together.

It's experimental fiction.

OR:
Scavenge the porn newsgroups for about 300 pages worth of craptastic porn and send that in. They will rescind the offer,

PattiTheWicked
03-27-2007, 07:31 PM
Find a group of seven year olds. Ask them each to write a story in crayon, complete with illustrations. Bundle those together and send 'em off.

Saundra Julian
03-27-2007, 07:55 PM
Please send the 1.00 advance back in pennies!

TracySutterer & GaryRogers
03-27-2007, 08:21 PM
I have been chomping at the bit as to what advice I could render in this situation. This is truly a tough one to sort out. “Breach Of Contract” is a serious deal. A person would have to contact a expert in Contract Law - I believe the word they use in law school is “Torts”.

You could send the contract back with a real dollar bill, by Certified Mail - and state in a letter that you discovered that your submission was filled with grammatical errors, inconsistencies, and libelist remarks that would cause legal actions by others. You can also state in your letter that you are trying to protect yourself and PublishAmerica from costly legal complications if the book is printed. If the above is true, then you may have a qualified point for argument. I can’t stress this enough, get the advice of a expert in Contract Law. I would also suggest that you apologize profusely and ask politely that your contract be voided.

Make copies of everything that you send, even the dollar bill. Make the effort and see if it pays off. I fully understand that the PublishAmerica Police monitor this forum. So, I ask, on behalf of this author - to please void her contract and let the matter rest. After all, right now - there are plenty of other submissions to review. One of them could easily replace this author’s submission.

Gary Rogers

PVish
03-27-2007, 09:38 PM
Since PA's contract says they don't want anything that's been published on the Internet, you could copy some pages of PA's website and send those in.

I was going to suggest you send in copies of all the Nigerian email scams you get, but PA will offer a contract for those. At least they offered a contract to my elderly dog when he, uh, copied and pasted those into a manuscript.

I don't think PA cares what you send in as long as they can sell it back to you.

Other suggestions: A note from your mother saying that you are only 12 and didn't get permission to send in the manuscript. Notes from all your friends and relatives saying that you have libeled them in your book and threatening legal action.

DaveKuzminski
03-28-2007, 03:44 AM
Change the names of all the main characters to Willem, Larry, Vic, and Miranda. It's even better if they can be villains. ;)

Insist on those names when you send in the proofs.

xhouseboy
03-28-2007, 03:27 PM
[QUOTE]Can they take me to court and, if so, what types of punishments could I be prosecuted for if found guilty?


What would they do in court? Claim the ethical high ground? UJ's 100% correct. This mob do not, under any circumstances, wish to see to see the inside of a courtroom, and neither does their legal representative, the infamous Victor Cruella. He probably wakes up in a cold sweat at the thought of the last time PA dragged him screaming and kicking into a courtroom where he then based part of their defence on an interpretation or witchcraft or devil-worshipping, or whatever the hell it was that was going through his mind at the time.

Just tell them that you aren't happy with the editing, and that you don't want your book looking like a dog's dinner. You intend to edit the work in a professional manner, and due to other commitments this is going to take you the best part of the next forty years. When it's ready, you'll resubmit the work.

James D. Macdonald
03-28-2007, 03:48 PM
Scavenge the porn newsgroups for about 300 pages worth of craptastic porn and send that in. They will rescind the offer.

Are you 100% sure? Bet you the buck advance that they'll print it.

spike
03-28-2007, 04:33 PM
Of course, if you send them a junk mss, it will cost them $300 (CMIIW), and just don't buy any books.

Joke is on PA.

ccomer
03-29-2007, 12:42 AM
I got my rights back this week. Does this mean I have to send my$1 back?
I spent it on a stamp.

Ken Schneider
03-29-2007, 01:09 AM
Lucky you. The first of us to scam them out of something.

I find it quite funny that they are crying about losing a dollar.

How's it feel to get the other end of the stick, PA. You only lost a buck, the rest of us lost plenty at your hands.

Tell your mom to throw the letter away, and forget about it.

DaveKuzminski
03-29-2007, 02:37 AM
Advances typically are not returned to publishers. Those represent the number of sales the publisher expects to make. When a book fails to earn out, the publisher eats the loss, not the author. In this case, the publisher has returned the rights of their own volition. You still get to keep the dollar.

For PA, it's a very inexpensive lesson that they'll have to repeat until they learn better and get it right.

Sassenach
03-29-2007, 02:59 AM
It appears that they're returning rights without a fight these days.

aka eraser
03-29-2007, 03:40 AM
It appears that they're returning rights without a fight these days.

Maybe somebody finally found a battery for the calculator and they did some math - figuring that returning rights without fuss = fewer ripples in the malcontent pond which meant less bad PR and even more customers.

Ken Schneider
03-30-2007, 04:01 AM
It appears that they're returning rights without a fight these days.

Phil Dolan saw to that.

CatSlave
03-31-2007, 07:35 AM
Find a group of seven year olds. Ask them each to write a story in crayon, complete with illustrations. Bundle those together and send 'em off.
They'll probably accept it, now that they claim to be accepting submissions for *picture* books.

benbradley
03-31-2007, 08:25 AM
I got my rights back this week. Does this mean I have to send my$1 back?
I spent it on a stamp.
Tell them you spent all of your "advance" on your share of the marketing for the book, and you cannot afford to pay them back.:)

robertmblevins
07-19-2008, 08:44 PM
They may be returning rights because some people have been filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission...

Mac H.
07-21-2008, 06:56 AM
Whatever you do, I would suggest you always ensure you are acting in good faith. Even if you don't like them or their methods, you don't want to murky the waters by being anything but 100% professional.

Just send the advance back to them, thank them for their time and terminate the relationship. Perhaps indicate that it isn't yet at a professional level so they would be wasting money to publish it at this time.

Just as a minor note, there is a track record of publishers getting the advance back when the author decides not to continue with publication - and it seems only reasonable. (I'm thinking of a case earlier this year of a tell-all expose book that theauthor backed out on, leaving the publisher high and dry. In that case, the publisher had done a heck of a lot of work on legal fees, ARCs editing etc ... and all they did was get the advance back. I felt sorry for the publisher.)

Mac

brianm
07-21-2008, 07:24 AM
You are aware that this thread was started by the OP in March 2007 and after the one posting the OP never came back, right?

Just saying... :)

Bartholomew
07-25-2008, 11:49 AM
That dollar has probably circulated through all of our hands by now. Twice.

cethklein
07-27-2008, 07:42 PM
PA wouldn't let this go to court because they'd then have to admit they only pay a dollar in advance to all authors.