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Where to go for legal advice

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by JGCully, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. JGCully

    JGCully Scribe

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    an awkward question for you guys, kind of publishing-related.

    basically, I'm finally published and this is a great thing. my book is out, it's selling and I'm happy with the final product.

    but the Hybrid publisher has sent through their final value fee...and it's not taken into account the fact that the book is literally 3 full years late.

    now likely, there is nothing I can do about this but I would like to know, do any of you know an individual or organisation whom I could send the contract to, to get a bit of advice? any assistance very much appreciated.
     
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    >Hybrid publisher

    That was mistake #1.

    Once a contract is signed, it's pretty hard to get out of it. What you NEED to do is re-read your contract. There is probably some clause saying that the book could be delayed due to "extenuating circumstances" or whatnot, which COVID sure as hell is. I can tell you from my day job that there has been huge issues with getting books out as of late, part of that is the lack of people working at both print shops and warehouses. Ingram (massive distributor) is warning stores to get the holiday orders in early, as they expect big difficulties getting things out in time. So there's at least 1 year of that time that can be explained away due to COVID-based difficulties.

    That does mean there's still 2 years to account for. This is why reading your contract is important. I'm certain there's a clause in there saying that they have the ability to push back the sale date of your book in certain circumstances. If that's the case, then there's not really much you can do.

    Also what's the name of the publisher? If you can find other people who are dealing with the same struggle, you could pool your money together to have a lawyer look this over and advise you.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I fully agree with Chasejxyz--step one is for you to read the contract yourself. Read it carefully. Read it as if a friend of your brought you this contract, having the exact same problem, and asked you to look it over to see if they had any basis for legal action.

    I'm sure having the book so much delayed is painful, but that doesn't mean it's illegal. It's very possible the company dragged its feet or neglected your book more than they ought. That again is not illegal. The only illegality here is breaking the contract.

    So, you would need to point to a specific clause or stipulation that has been broken, in your opinion. It's rarely a good use of money to ask a lawyer to "look over" a contract--after you've signed it. Before signing, sure, great. After signing, the best use of your money is to say you believe a particular condition has been abrogated and how much would they charge to examine the contract in that context, and to make an assessment about the wisdom of going forward.

    One final item. Lawyers are expensive. You want to ask yourself this: is the prospect of gain (or loss) likely to be greater than the legal fees? You can never know for certain, but it's usually possible to estimate. If you might get, say, ten thousand in damages (which would likely take years actually to collect, and remember that that ten grand will get taxed), the key question is whether the legal fees will be greater or lesser than that. It's not unusual to find you've spent six thousand, still can't get a judgment, and the lawyer recommends you take the company's offer of five thousand. You win! And you've lost a mere thousand dollars and countless hours out of your life.
     
  4. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    The only place to get actual legal advice is to contact an entertainment lawyer, who works in the jurisdiction specified in your contract as being the one where legal matters are settled. There's too many unknown's for anything else. That said, I do agree with the others that you should read your contract first and make sure you understand all the clauses listed there and how they actually related to stuff here. If there is nothing about a specific timeline mentioned then you're probably out of luck. And if there is a timeline mentioned, but no penalty clauses are included then again, you're probably out of luck.

    From what I've seen about contracts is that most of them don't actually have specific timelines listed. They will specify royalty payment moments like "on signing of contract" and "on publication". But most publishers know that stuff happens and timelines shift.

    Something else to keep in mind: from the sound of it, you didn't actually publish with a publisher. If you pay someone then they are not a publisher, they are a vanity press.
    - A publisher is a company which pays an author for the right to publish their book.
    - A hybrid publisher usually is a company which only takes very limited rights (usually print rights, leaving the ebook rights with the author).
    - A vanity publisher (though they probably call themselves something else) is a company which charges an author to publish their book.

    It is almost always a bad idea to go with a vanity publisher. They have no incentive to actually make your book a succes. They make their money by charging authors, not by selling books. As such, they will charge you money and try to spend as little of it as possible on stuff that actually makes your book worth reading. With a real publisher, money always flows TOWARDS the author.

    The best advice I've usually seen for people who used a vanity publisher is to cut your losses and forget about the book. If there is something in your contract which lets you get your rights back, use that, otherwise, simply write something else. And whatever you do, don't give them more money for aditional services. Do pay what you promissed them though (again, unless there is something in your contract which lets you get out of it).
     
    Chasejxyz likes this.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    If you are a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) they might help you themselves (at least dish out advice) or point you in the direction of a good lawyer. Otherwise, lawyer up if you can, a good many lawyers will give you a free advice session. I’ve never even heard of a “hybrid publisher” so I’m of no use there.
     
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) offers advice to indie authors. I'm not sure whether that would be of any help, but they do have some free resources even if you're not a member.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Oh yeah! Totally forgot about them… that would be worth a shot.


     
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