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Gatehouse Press

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Oothangbart

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About 8 months ago, I entered a writing contest that was looking for two winners. It had none of the rules or requirements that are usually connected with writing contests. I was one of the winners. After a brief announcement about the winners on their website, we heard nothing for the next seven months and then only after I contacted them on Twitter. I’d been concerned about what they intended to do with our stories because mine was part of a collection that I was hoping to get published this year.
We were told that the publishing house didn’t use contracts because they were ‘restricting’ but that we would get a percentage of the book sales. But if a writer wanted a contract then, they would produce one. I asked for a contract. A few weeks passed with no contact, and then the second ‘director’ took up negotiations with me.
The contract stated that the publisher wanted the right to print, publish, distribute, sell and license the rights to any and all editions and or formats of the book in the English language throughout the world indefinitely, and that although the rights they were asking for weren’t exclusive, if the story was to be published as part of a collection by someone else, that publisher could not have exclusive rights to the winning story.
In my last emailed conversation with the second director, he told me that the prize wasn’t really a prize, although the word prize is used and is blatantly there across all references to this publisher on the net.
I haven’t signed anything. But I’d just be interested in how this story strikes you?
 

Maryn

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Don't sign it. Even if it means returning winnings already paid and spent, don't sign it.
 

mrsmig

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So the prize was a bait-and-switch, in eight months the publisher hasn't done anything with the story but wants worldwide English language rights in all formats in perpetuity, they're reluctant to use a contract and they won't tell you how much they're going to pay you in royalties.

Tell them you're withdrawing the story and say goodbye.
 

DanielaTorre

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Your first red flag is advertising a contest and prize that don't exist, second being their extended disappearance, third being their nonchalance over contracts, and finally, indefinite rights.

Run away, and equally important, please share the name of this publisher if you can. It would help others avoid them too.
 

Polenth

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This sounds like a submissions call dressed up like a contest, to get more writers to submit. It uses the promise of a prize... which turns out to be a poorly-paid publishing deal. Royalty-only payments are not a good deal for anthologies, as they tend to have low sales. You'll be lucky to see anything. Add in poor communication and not having a standard contract ready, and it sounds like this is going to be a lot more pain than it's worth. You don't want to have to be chasing them for royalty statements, so you can get the $1 they owe you that year.
 

frimble3

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Contracts are 'restricting'? That's their whole point - so that both sides know what's supposed to be happening and when. So no-one can just wave away something the other side deems essential.
If they don't use contracts, what's their alternative? The pinky-swear?:roll:Trusting random strangers with your work? :ROFL::sarcasm
These ones have already lied about the prize; they have no contract, but they sure want a lot of rights; and they're hard to get in touch with.
And this is before they've got you signed up. This is as good as it will ever get.
Withdraw your story and run swiftly away.
 

Aggy B.

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I would withdraw your story and avoid these folks in the future. Anthologies or short fiction markets should have clearly defined rights - including how long they have the right to publish your work.

I will add though, that any time a piece is published in more than one place then, by default, no one can have exclusive rights. Unless the rights are being split by format. (I.E. One publisher has print rights, the other electronic rights.)
 

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Run. Now.

Tell them you're withdrawing your story, return any money they've given you, and don't have any further dealings with them.

This is the second time in the last few weeks I've heard of a publisher refusing to use contracts because they claim they're restricting. I wonder if they're the same publisher.

I wish you luck.
 

Oothangbart

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thank you all for your thoughts on this publisher. This morning I drafted my 'resignation' to them. A lawyer looked at the contract they produced and pointed out all the holes in it to me. I haven't signed anything with them, so I'm safe. Interesting idea that no one can have exclusive rights if two publishers have the same piece, Aggy. It reminds me that they also said they were 'leaving the copyright' with the authors, to which I replied that they can't take the copyright away from me in the first place. That got them flustered and made them defensive. I think we have here a combination of arrogance and ignorance. They were at pains to tell me that their publishing house was for 'literary' writing, not genre writing, by which they meant that the same terms don't apply. I haven't sent off my quitting letter yet, I'm going to see what transpires and I might yet reveal the name. It's such a very serious thing to do, that I hesitate, but I will make a decision. It's a publishing company that also runs a magazine and it's based in the East of England. I might say more later.
 

Oothangbart

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just to add a little more detail to this: Their intention was to publish my long short story as a book in its own right. But the story I gave them belonged to a collection I had built up that I was keen to get published as a whole. So I wanted to know their exact intentions towards that single story of mine. They wanted non-exclusive rights, so that in fact I could've also published it within the collection, but the publisher of the collection was not to have exclusive rights on that one story.
 

mrsmig

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Oothangbart, I'm glad you're stepping away.

Since you've signed nothing, and I assume have no intention of dealing with this publisher again, I hope you'll consider giving the name of the company in this thread.

The BBC&R subforum is, in my opinion, the single most valuable part of the AW site. There are so many scam artists and shady dealers (as well as well-meaning but inept individuals) who set themselves up as publishers. They suck eager but uniformed writers into their vortex, and when these businesses go down the drain (as they inevitably do), they can and frequently do take their authors' books with them.

Our best defense is to do our due diligence and research. When authors have the courage to step forward and recount their experiences, they help all of us.
 

Oothangbart

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Yes, I am honestly thinking about revealing them, but I still need time to consider it. If I get any arrogance tomorrow from the 'director' who is supposed to be 'dealing' with me, he might poke me into it. One of the reasons I hesitate is because I know good and innocent people are associated with the two directors, and I also get the impression that the director I'm talking to now, had not properly realised what was going on. And all these people are writers and poets and journalists... see what I mean? But I hasten to add, they're not people who have published much, much less than I have anyway, ha-ha!
 

Oothangbart

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I told them yesterday that they couldn't have my story after all. I gave them a couple of pieces of advice. I said at the end of my letter that since they felt confident that there was nothing wrong with their publishing house or the way they operate, then they wouldn't mind me telling a group of writers who have taken an interest in the matter who they are. I waited for a reply, and none has come, so I now feel free to reveal them. They are Gatehouse Press. They believe themselves to be quite separate from commercial publishers because they are a literary publisher. However, they have a shop on their website through which they must be selling the work of writers who have no contracts with them. God Almighty!
 

mrsmig

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I told them yesterday that they couldn't have my story after all. I gave them a couple of pieces of advice. I said at the end of my letter that since they felt confident that there was nothing wrong with their publishing house or the way they operate, then they wouldn't mind me telling a group of writers who have taken an interest in the matter who they are. I waited for a reply, and none has come, so I now feel free to reveal them. They are Gatehouse Press. They believe themselves to be quite separate from commercial publishers because they are a literary publisher. However, they have a shop on their website through which they must be selling the work of writers who have no contracts with them. God Almighty!

Rep points and an in-thread thank you for naming them. If you want to change the name of this thread to reflect the publisher's name, you can do that by editing your first post. If you have trouble, a mod can help you.

ETA: That's an odd combo of novels, tarot cards, anthologies and books of poetry they're offering for sale. And none of it seems to be available anywhere but on their website. No Amazon presence that I can see. And the covers are...odd.
 
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akaria

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They claim to be a non-profit which shows some awareness because selling poetry and short stories is no way to make a profit. :rolleyes
 

Oothangbart

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they don't believe in Amazon or Goodreads as a marketing tool, apparently! I believe it when they say they are a non-profit voluntary organisation. But if they're going to allot themselves titles like 'director' or 'editor,' then I think they should have the good grace to introduce the idea of contracts into their 'business model.' They wrote one last email to me, I noticed, but I didn't read it.
 

Oothangbart

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A different person from that publishing house got in touch with me today, to tell me that they were honest people, although I was not accusing them of dishonesty. And just the same as the first person who was in touch with me, this one also has family problems, and also explained that they were voluntary. But of course neither of those things have anything to do with anything. If you're running a company, be it as volunteers or not, you surely have a responsibility to those writers you engage with to keep them informed, quick note, no details, just put them in the know. This I explained, but I'm shocked that I should have to. It's obvious. It's simple and it's courteous. They know I wrote on this site. I hope they appear and get engaged with this.
 

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