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Dagan Books (Carrie Cuinn)

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VivianU

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Last October, Carrie accepted my flash fiction for her anthology, Fish. I was thrilled about this at first, as it was my first semi-pro acceptance and I would be in the company of writers I had actually heard of before! However, things took an unfortunate turn when I failed to receive my copy of the signed contract. Carrie told me she would send me a pdf, but never did. After a month had gone by and a reminder email was ignored, I decided I needed to write another email and word it a little more strongly to get her attention. After all, my earlier, walking-on-eggshells attempts had failed.

Carrie found my email so offensive that she dropped me from the anthology, one scant month before the book was to come out.

I think she's treated me very shabbily. She seems to think I'm the one who's at fault. So I'll post the emails here in their entirety and let everybody decide for themselves.

Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 16:10:28 -0400
Subject: Re: [FISH] Contract update and FISH interview
From: Vivian Unger
To: Carrie Cuinn

Hi Carrie,

I haven't received the copy of the contract signed by you. Did you
mail that yet? Since the book is supposed to come out pretty soon, I
thought I'd better check on that.

Thanks,
Vivian

Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2012 11:39:31 -0500
Subject: Re: [FISH] Contract update and FISH interview
From: Carrie Cuinn
To: Vivian Unger

Vivian,

I did mail it to you, did you ever get it? Would it be all right if I send
you a pdf of the signed/scanned copy?

Carrie Cuinn

Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2012 14:48:59 -0400
Subject: Re: [FISH] Contract update and FISH interview
From: Vivian Unger
To: Carrie Cuinn

Hi Carrie,

I never got it (maybe it's still on it's way; the mail can be slow
here), and it's fine if you send me a pdf of the signed copy.

Thanks,
Vivian

Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:25:21 -0400
Subject: Re: [FISH] Contract update and FISH interview
From: Vivian Unger
To: Carrie Cuinn

Hi Carrie,

I still haven't received the contract. How about that PDF copy?

Thanks,
Vivian

Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 22:22:19 -0400
Subject: STILL NO CONTRACT
From: Vivian Unger
To: Carrie Cuinn

Carrie,

A month ago, you offered to send me a pdf copy of the signed contract,
since I'd not received a print copy, and I agreed to that. Two weeks ago,
having still received nothing, I sent another email, asking for the pdf
copy, and received no response. This concerns me. I am losing confidence in
your intention to pay me and provide contributor copies as laid out in the
contract, because I still don't have a copy of the contract with your
signature, the book is due out at the end of the month, and you have
ignored my last two emails on the subject. Please respond. It doesn't have
to be a pdf, if that's too much trouble; a jpeg or other image format would
do.

Thank you,
Vivian Unger

Subject: Re: STILL NO CONTRACT
From: Carrie Cuinn
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 21:48:24 -0500
To: Vivian Unger

Ms. Unger,

While I don't know why you didn't receive a copy of your contract, since none of the other authors have had this problem, I can get you a PDF scan of it.

However, because I did not get it to you in the last two weeks, you now tell me that I won't pay you or give you contributor copies?

There's no need to be so insulting.

I'll scan the contract tomorrow.

C. Cuinn

Subject: Re: STILL NO CONTRACT
From: Vivian Unger
To: Carrie Cuinn

Not two weeks. A month. Two emails and a month. It's just plain rude and
disrespectful to ignore people like that. I'm sorry you don't understand
that, Ms. Cuinn.

Vivian Unger

From: Carrie Cuinn
Subject: Re: STILL NO CONTRACT
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2012 12:53:08 -0500
To: Vivian Unger

Yes, I was delayed in getting you a digital copy of a contract that I had already sent you, you already signed and returned to me, and which I mailed you a hard copy of. That's true, and that's my failing.

However, that's a far cry from deciding I plan to steal your work, publish it, and refuse to compensate you for it.

At this point, Dagan Books will not be publishing your story. All rights are returned to you, your information will be removed from out website, and your story will not appear in FISH.

Carrie Cuinn
 

Saanen

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Wow, that's harsh. Not sure if it's okay to post personal emails in total like that, but...yowch. I subbed to the Fish anthology; glad I didn't get in now.
 

thothguard51

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I got to tell you, while I think Carrie dropped the ball in getting you the copy of the contract, I also think you overstepped your assumptions in that she was not going to pay you and use your work anyway.

Based on her past experiences, I think she would understand that if she did so, she would be facing a possible lawsuit and as a member of the SFWA she could be banned...
 

Saanen

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I thought the OP's emails were pretty polite under the circumstances. It's not like she said "obviously you're not going to pay me, you scamming scammer," she was concerned that her failure to receive a contract after multiple requests meant that there was no contract to be honored. And that's precisely what happened, actually.

I'd be interested to know if other Dagan authors have had delayed contracts.
 

veinglory

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I don't see this as a "beware" just a mutual failure to communicate effectively.
 

Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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I always keep a copy of the contracts I sign in case the publisher is late getting me the countersigned copy. It does seem to happen fairly frequently.

I'm surprised that they were able to reformat the antho after removing the OP's story so close to publication date. However, the accusation that the publisher wouldn't honour the contract or might withhold payment seemed OTT to me, so their decision that they didn't want to work with the OP author isn't wholly surprising. Did they offer a kill fee, or was payment on pub rather than on acceptance?

I have to admit I've never heard of Dagan before. Their cover art is lovely though!
 

Aggy B.

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If I were an editor I think the accusation of (potential) theft of property might be enough to make me think twice about working with you.

Especially since you had SEEN and SIGNED the contract.
 

Brigid Barry

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I think the jump to "you aren't going to pay me" was a little much.

It was a month from asking for the .pdf, two weeks from the reminder e-mail. She offered to get a copy to the author and at that point it DID go unnecessarily over the top.

I think this is an agent (publisher?) that dropped the ball on getting back to a client that escalated further than it needed to go.

I have read several agent blogs that agents will refuse to work with someone they don't think they'll get along with.
 

Paul

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I don't see this as a "beware" just a mutual failure to communicate effectively.
And I thought the British were the masters of understatement... :)

yeah, big jump to accusation territory OP. Waiting is a headwreck, but vividly clear politeness (where negative tone interpretation is not possible, or is highly improbable) and very careful wording is a must in this game.
 

Polenth

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I'd be interested to know if other Dagan authors have had delayed contracts.

I have a story in FISH and I haven't had any issues. I sent a scan of my signed copy, and I was sent the countersigned contract by snail mail back in November. Carrie's been polite and professional in emails.
 

Filigree

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Yep. I'm impatient at best, but even I recognize when not to cross the line into accusation. Dagan's been okay for some of my friends, and I wouldn't hesitate to send them something if I had work that fit.

This business moves at a certain speed. Writers at early stages of their careers probably can't speed that pace, at risk of derailing their future success.

I'm active in the art world. I have sales reps who get me wonderful sales with museums and university special collections, through contacts which I simply cannot match. Many institutions have budgets. They may want a piece, and put it on hold, but can't pay for it for three or four months until their quarterly budget opens up again. Am I going to have a snitfit over immediate payment, and lose a sale to Yale or the Getty? Hell, no. I'm going to tell my agents 'keep the customer happy, so they'll buy more, later!'
 

LaneHeymont

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This concerns me. I am losing confidence in
your intention to pay me and provide contributor copies as laid out in the
contract, because I still don't have a copy of the contract with your
signature, the book is due out at the end of the month, and you have
ignored my last two emails on the subject.

Yeah, this reads highly accusatory, and I'd be insulted. I found myself gasping "what!" at this point
I am losing confidence in
your intention to pay me
 

VivianU

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I got to tell you, while I think Carrie dropped the ball in getting you the copy of the contract, I also think you overstepped your assumptions in that she was not going to pay you and use your work anyway.

Based on her past experiences, I think she would understand that if she did so, she would be facing a possible lawsuit and as a member of the SFWA she could be banned...

But I didn't have a signed contract. How could I know she was going to pay me if I didn't have anything to show I had an agreement? Isn't that what a contract is for?
 

eternalised

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I think what people are trying to say is that, while you were right about asking for the signed contract, you handled things unprofessionally when you added that this gave you the idea that she would not pay you for the anthology. It's one thing to ask for a contract and another thing to jump to conclusions like that.

I can understand that you're frustrated about not having received the signed contract yet, and you were right to keep asking about it, but simply assuming that Carrie's plan all along was not to pay you anything, and simply steal your work, is overstepping the border.

As for not receiving the contract back, this could be an email problem. I send .pdf and .doc files to people on an almost daily basis, and every now and then, the files aren't sent either, although I uploaded them, and in my sendbox it shows the mail with the files attached. It doesn't happen very often, but it gets annoying with it does. On the other hand, it's also possible that Carrie simply forgot, but even then a month and a half is not that long in the publishing industry.

As I already said, I can understand your frustration, but perhaps in the future think twice before accusing someone of not intending to pay you, and don't post emails like this on public forums.
 

Aggy B.

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But I didn't have a signed contract. How could I know she was going to pay me if I didn't have anything to show I had an agreement? Isn't that what a contract is for?

You could have photocopied the one you signed and sent to her as a back-up (and that's never a bad idea). But the point is, you saw the contract. You signed the contract. When you contacted her, she didn't ignore you. She didn't say "Oh, I don't know what you're talking about" or say anything that might indicate she was denying there was a contract between the two of you. There was just a delay in getting you a SECOND copy. (Since the first copy had been mailed but apparently was lost in the mail. Not unheard of. My MIL received a package last December that had been mailed 9 months previously.)

Frustration over this kind of delay is understandable. Making statements that imply theft of property is not.

Running into a forum where you appear to be a brand-new member and angsting about being "treated shabbily" only adds to the perception that you are new to the publication game and don't know how to behave like a professional.

Aggy, sometimes waits months to hear back from editors
 

Polenth

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I am losing confidence in
your intention to pay me and provide contributor copies as laid out in the contract, because I still don't have a copy of the contract with your signature, the book is due out at the end of the month, and you have ignored my last two emails on the subject.

But I didn't have a signed contract. How could I know she was going to pay me if I didn't have anything to show I had an agreement? Isn't that what a contract is for?

Talking about other publishers, I've had contract delays before. For one, the signed copy arrived after the story had been published. But in all the cases so far, payment arrived promptly (sometimes before my copy of the contract arrived).

Contract delays happen. Both big and small publishers can have their whoopsie moments with getting the paperwork out. You should poke (politely) if they don't arrive, but it doesn't mean the publisher is trying to scam you. Going into all-out insult and accusation mode is never a good idea. It doesn't get the situation resolved. Or at least, not in the way you want... a publisher deciding you'll be too difficult to work with is a resolution, but I imagine you'd have rather had the money and anthology credit.

It's too late this time, but it really is in your best interest not to handle it this way again.
 

Saanen

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Oh, okay, I thought the OP had not received a contract at all. That would definitely concern me if it was only a few weeks until the antho was released. But getting the countersigned contract back is not nearly as big a deal.

Had the edits been concluded at this point? Because I can definitely see an editor thinking, "This author is going to be hell to work with" before edits, but after edits are concluded to a flat-fee anthology (I'm assuming there aren't royalties as part of it), there's very little interaction with an author left.

I dunno, I can see both sides of the problem here. It's too bad the OP worded that particular email so strongly, but it's too bad the editor didn't have the grace to think, "Well, she's probably new to this and maybe she's been burned by a bad publisher in the past, I'll send the damn contract again and that'll be that." Yanking her from the TOC, particularly at such a late stage, makes a huge statement for what should be a trivial issue.

Of course, it's possible there were other issues before this one that made this the last straw for the editor.
 

VivianU

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Contract delays happen. Both big and small publishers can have their whoopsie moments with getting the paperwork out. You should poke (politely) if they don't arrive, but it doesn't mean the publisher is trying to scam you. Going into all-out insult and accusation mode is never a good idea. It doesn't get the situation resolved. Or at least, not in the way you want... a publisher deciding you'll be too difficult to work with is a resolution, but I imagine you'd have rather had the money and anthology credit.

Well, I did poke politely, and got no response, so I poked harder. But I didn't mean to give the impression that I thought Carrie wanted to rob me. It was more that her lack of response made me wonder if I'd find myself in the same situation if anything happened to my payment: running after her and getting ignored. I know editors and publishers move slowly, but I dislike it when my communications are ignored. That seems unprofessional.

It does seem to be the consensus, though, that my email was insulting, whether I meant it that way or not. So I have sent Carrie an apology.
 

VivianU

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Had the edits been concluded at this point? Because I can definitely see an editor thinking, "This author is going to be hell to work with" before edits, but after edits are concluded to a flat-fee anthology (I'm assuming there aren't royalties as part of it), there's very little interaction with an author left.

Edits were never mentioned to me, so I assume that the work was either left as is or the edits were small enough that she did them herself. I can't think that this was pre-edit, given that the book is supposed to come out March 31.
 

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