Putting Out a Contract (on a Writer) Part I

April 10th, 2015

WARNING:

This page is about the business of doing business. Please fasten your seat belts and keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times.

CONTRACTS

Going about the business of life generally requires the signing of various contracts. From the complexities of mortgage agreements to the presumed ease of buying a SIM card for a cell phone, it remains a toss-up whether or not one party or another might fail to meet the agreed upon terms. I’ve already written about what might happen when a simple purchase contract moves into the realm of the surreal. While traveling in Greece, I insisted a SIM card contract be translate into English and learned that I would be legally liable for any ill intent on the part of the ‘party’ on the other end of a phone call in that locale. I rewrote that contract and kept a copy with me, at least until a pick-pocket relieved me of that Alcatel model open phone in the Athens underground. I published the details of that contractual snafu on my blog here, http://www.armchairactivist.us/?p=1392

When I replaced the phone and sought another SIM card, I learned the contracts were now a single page instead of four and much like any other phone contract elsewhere in the world.
In law, putting out a contract is supposed to generate the terms of a business deal that offers benefits to all parties involved. As the author of a novel written in 2013, I sought out a publisher who would knock it into shape (editorially speaking), and assist through the marketing phase of book selling. The following posts (2 parts, under the pages) detail the almost full story of that aborted contract for the publishing of my novel.

You will find no recriminations here, epithets or rage. You will read all of the many emails detailing how a contract was negotiated, signed, nursed for a year and finally dissolved for cause. The loss of time was far more injurious to myself than the loss of $499.00 in editorial fees and additional monies for legal assistance.

I redacted email addresses and web pages – everything else is the same -including the name of the representative of this company who declined to provide the names of others I might work with when our own exchanges became unworkable. My personal narrative provided between emails will appear in bold for the ease of the reader to distinguish between the records of this business and the review offered herein.

The purpose of this Blog entry? Hopefully, my losses will translate into gains for future authors who are approaching the mysteries of publishing their work for the first time.

____________________________________

The long awaited letter from a publisher-

From: Raiderpublishing

To: Barbara
Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 12:07 AM

Subject: Your Submission

Dear Barbara,

I have the pleasure of informing you that we have looked over your submission and we have decided to accept your work for publication. We have attached our Acceptance Packet to this email, which includes all of our contracts and relevant information.
While you’re looking over this information, we highly recommend that you click on the link below, which contains valuable information about the partnership you are being offered.
(Website offered here)

Please feel free to get back to us if you have any questions or if you’re ready to proceed at this time. Thank you again for your time and interest. We look forward to working with you in the days to come!

Best Regards,
Adam Salviani
Raider
Raider Publishing International

Please look under this page for the rest of Part I

Raider Publishing International
 Acceptance Packet

Dear Author,

Thank you so much for deciding to publish your book with us here at Raider Publishing. In a few months you will become one of the few writers in the world to become a published author!
As your publisher we are honored to be representing your work and presenting it to the world. Through our extensive printing and distribution system which reaches all around the world, our dedicated team of publishing professionals we will help you every step of the way through the publishing process!

Please send us your signed contract and an email containing the answers to the questions listed on the book information sheet. From there we will start the process that we have laid out on the timeline page also contained in this packet.

We are looking forward to working with you over the coming months. Thank you for choosing Raider Publishing!

Sincerely,
Adam Salviani
Raider Publishing
____________________________

This was the kind of letter that any new author craves but it was of even greater import in my case. Disabled by toxic chemical exposures while teaching in a NYC private school in 1999, the loss of my career had been devastating. The handicap was detrimental to my writing skills but the terms of the contract included professional editing services that would remedy my loss of grammatical expertise (partial dysphasia). A diagnosis of breast cancer in 2010 was also a spur to extend myself beyond the borders of my present world. Upon recovery from surgery, and still in deep mourning following the sudden death of my father, I bought a plane ticket and began to see the world, one check at a time. I’d arrive at a destination and base myself at hostels while slowly seeing the sights that were free of charge until my next check came in and I moved on by plane, train or bus. Those many months resulted in an enlargement of my world view and I wrote a book during my six months stay in the Middle East. Truth in the guise of fiction, resulted in two novellas that would be the start of “The Escargot Series”.

I’ll offer a description of that book in my next post but the initial rough pages had already been sent to friends in the States as a Quality Assurance test. Believing it worth the effort, these kind and patient individuals helped with matters of content and organization, giving me the self-assurance to offer the manuscript up for professional viewing. Researching publishers in the university libraries of Israel, I came across a company called Raider Publishing International with offices in New York and London. A Mr. Adam Salviani believed it worth his time and offered to perform the following services.
_______________
Timeline

Below we have listed exactly what will begging on in the months ahead. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact us!

1. Receiving your signed contract and book information.

2. We will proof read your novel (non-stylistic editing).

3. We will create a cover for your book (based on your suggestions).

4. We will email you both the edited manuscript and the cover for your approval.

5. The book will be submitted to the printer and subsequently received by our distributors.
6. You will be the first to receive copies of your book (free of charge).

7. Your book will become available through the vast majority of major bookstores in the entire world.

8. We will pursue book signings and contact media outlets through press releases and preexisting industry arrangements.

9. Your book will be promoted through TV and radio advertisements (depending on package selected).

10. Promotions will continue through our BroadcSting Network, our Literary Magazine and through continued press releases.


Main Packages – (my selection below):

Steel Package $499 (USD)
– 51% of Your Book’s Royalties
- Quarterly Royalty Payments and Sales Reports
- World Wide Availability
- ISBN Number Registration
- Text Design
- Book Layout
- Printing Around the World, Including the US and UK
- Binding (paperback)
- Cover Design
- Review Proofs of the Cover and Book Interior
- 1 Free copy
- 20% Discount on all Raider Publishing Titles
- Distribution to our Network of 25,000 Retailers
- Three Years of Distribution
________________________________________

Next came the terms of our agreement. In my previous business life, I had learned to read and write contracts. Applying that ‘eye’ to the contract sent to me via email, the negotiations began to alter clauses with the potential to unbalance the scale of benefits this contract was to offer both parties. You are hereby invited to peruse the original contract terms offered before viewing the alterations I proposed, and were agreed upon by Raider. Which terms seem unduly risky to you?

_____________________

Raider Publishing International

Agreement made this ___________ day of _______, between party of the first part,________________, hereinafter called the Author, and Raider Publishing International a company based in the State of New York, party of the second part, hereinafter called the Publisher.

    Witnesseth

:

Whereas, the Author is Proprietor of a literary work known as ___________, which work the Publisher agrees to produce in book form on the terms and conditions specified hereinafter;

1. The Author grants and assigns to the Publisher during a period of three years from the date of the signing of this agreement by both parties thereto the exclusive right to produce, publish, sell or export, or cause to be produced sold or exported, the above work in book form and enoki form in the English language, in the United States of America, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Canada and the exclusive right to arrange for the publication of the above work in all foreign countries. If the Author decides to withdraw from this agreement before the end of three years, then the publisher must relinquish its exclusive right to the publication of the literary work, provided the Author gives the publisher here months notice. If the Author decides to withdraw from this agreement, no refund of the initial publication fee will be sent.

2. The publisher agrees to produce the said literary work in book form, in such format, type and style of paper, jacket and binding as will make the volume attractive and substantial looking. It is specifically understood and agreed, furthermore, that the said volume will contain all manuscript pages as submitted by the Author (unless otherwise determined), and will be printed on good quality paper with the bound size to be, approximately, 5.5X8.5 or 6X9 inches, or any other size as the market demands.

3. The Publisher agrees to cause all copies of the said literary work to be printed as the market demands, and agrees to cause the copies to be bound, from time to time, in sufficient quantities to supply purchasers of said literary work therewith.

4. The Publisher shall pay the Author, fifty one percent of all royalties for every copy sold of the literary work in the United Staes, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

5. The Author shall be responsible for obtaining a copyright for the said literary work, if not already done so by the Author, and if the copyright is requires based upon the location of the Author.

6. If the work is authored by more than one individual then the profits received shall be divided equally, depending on the amount of authors involved.

7. The Author retains all media rights of the said literary work, excluding the publishing rights of which this contract pertains to.

8. The Publisher agrees to deliver to the Author one copy of the said literary work at the onset of the work’s availability. The Author receives a twenty percent discount on the price of the book when ordered directly from the Publisher.

9. The Publisher agrees to provide the Author with quarterly reports on the sales of the literary work. Royalties will be paid to the Author at this time. If there are no sales of the pertaining work during the quarterly period, a promotional report will be available upon a request from the Author.

10. The Author agrees that all matters dealing with the design and production of the said literary work shall be at the discretion of the Publisher.

11. The Publisher agrees to provide these service(s) after being paid the set fee posted on the company website for the chosen service(s).

12. The provisions of this agreement shall apply to and bind the heirs, executors, administrators and assigns of the Author, and the successors and assigns of the Publisher.
13. Any issues that are not covered in this agreement shall be put up for debate between the two parties and upon agreement, drafted into a second contract.

14. The Publisher agrees to produce the said literary work within 365 days from the date of the signing of this agreement by both parties thereto, provided Publisher is not hindered by causes beyond its own control, or by the Author. If for some reason this deadline can not be achieved, the two parties shall create and agree upon an addendum, as required by clause fifteen.

15. The Author and the Publisher agree to correspond with each other in a civil and respectful manner during the publication and promotional process. If for some reason either the Author or Publisher violates this clause, all correspondence between the Author and Publisher will cease, while the contract is carried out without further correspondence between the parties.

16. All matters pertaining to he execution, sharing of information and services covered by this agreement are strictly confidential and will not be discussed or written about in any public forum by either the Publisher or the Author. If the Publisher violates this clause, they forfeit the right to any royalties via the sale of the work. Equally, if the Author violates this clause, they will also forfeit any royalties resulting from the sale of the literary work.

17. Both parties agree to mediation if any disputes arising from this agreement cannot be resolved amicably. Both the Author and the Publisher waive their right to a trial being brought forth through any issues regarding this partnership, in favor of respectful mediation to resolve disputes.

_______________ ___________________________________
Author Director of Raider Publishing

——————————————————————–

With obvious room for negotiation, but a lamentable ignorance of differences between royalties and profits, the proposed changes were negotiated in the following emails –

Subject: Re: Your Submission (to Raider Publishing)
From: Barbara
Date: Thu, July 18, 2013 6:57 am

To: Raiderpublishing

Dear Adam,
I am most please to review this contract for our possible partnership in the publishing of my work. I am already at work on a sequel to this novel in the Escargot Series. I do have some questions regarding the measures I might take with your approval for the promotion of this book should we agree to the ‘STEEL’ level of services you offer. However, this is relatively easy to negotiate if we agree upon other contractual terms which I find might lead to later misunderstandings in our relationship. Please review these as follows:
Contractual details for mutual review:

11.The Publisher agrees to provide these service(s) after being paid the set fee posted on the company website for the chosen service(s).

My financial situation has suffered several reversals in recent years. Would your group be willing to offer the STEEL package without upfront payment for a reduction in Author royalties from the 51% figure? Over a three year period, this investment by your firm in my work might lead to significantly greater profits. I hope you find the work worthy of that degree of trust.

14. The Publisher agrees to produce the said literary work within 365 days from the date of the signing of this agreement by both parties thereto, provided Publisher is not hindered by causes beyond its own control, or by the Author. If for some reason this deadline can not be achieved, the two parties shall create and agree upon an addendum, as required by clause fifteen.

I understand you need to have this clause in order to give your company the maximal amount of latitude possible. What is the usual timeline for your group? This information will be helpful in my determinations of the most suitable publisher for my personal needs.

15. The Author and the Publisher agree to correspond with each other in a civil and respectful manner during the publication and promotional process. If for some reason either the Author or Publisher violates this clause, all correspondence between the Author and Publisher will cease, while the contract is carried out without further correspondence between the parties.

It is highly unlikely that any of my communications would be regarded as disrespectful. However, should there be an interruption of communication for any reason between myself and your company, I would want interaction to be reassigned to another party working on my behalf. There can be no operational contract in place without communicative interaction between us. Your use/sale of my copyrighted material must be open knowledge between us, even if you wish another party to receive the details.

16. All matters pertaining to the execution, sharing of information and services covered by this agreement are strictly confidential and will not be discussed or written about in any public forum by either the Publisher or the Author. If the Publisher violates this clause they forfeit the right to any royalties via the sale of the work. Equally, if the Author violates this clause, they will also forfeit any royalties resulting from the sale of the literary work.

Given the lack of internet privacy, it is impossible to promise that no one might obtain the details of our contracts or discussions by any methods of communication. They, in turn,may choose to’ post’ it somewhere in the ether of the internet :-)

I would not willingly release these details to anyone but personal advisors assisting me in managing my business including, (but not limited to), lawyers, accountants and tax collectors. As for the last line of this clause, that is an unacceptable addition to any contract that I will sign. This work is my property and you may not profit from it in any manner merely because the details have been revealed to the public. This is not about ‘bad faith’ in your intentions. It merely refers to the fact that I have no control over the actions of your own staff, who may feel motivated to leak such details for the enhanced profit of your group through the process of depriving authors of their royalties in such a manner. Should you cease communicating with me or feel the agreement is breached in some manner which alters the terms herein, I would wish the contract to be terminated in its entirety.

The work will always be regarded as my sole property with royalties divided between myself and my publisher for all sales up to the point where the contract is either dissolved or completed. Disagreements which arise post-signing should be subject to arbitration at your expense before any of my rights are terminated for the duration of the contract period. This is in line with the next clause of the contract assuring respectful mediation. Reasonable people are able to manage any issue that arises in business relationships.
Thank you for your interest in my work.

Barbara Rubin
, California,
USA
(presently in Israel)

————————————————————————

From: Raiderpublishing

To: Barbara
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:03 PM

Subject: RE: Your Submission (to Raider Publishing)

Dear Barbara,


Thank you for getting back to us. We sincerely hope that we can work with you as well, once these contractual details are agreed upon. I’ll go through the issues you raised, one by one, below.

Clause 11. I’m afraid that can’t waive our fees in exchange for reduced royalties, as you’re suggesting. The publication fee for this package will need to be paid at the onset of the publication process for the project to move forward.

Clause 14. For Steel Package books, it normally only takes us around four months to publish most books. You are right that 365 days is stated in the contract for legal reasons.

Clause 15. We have never had to utilize this clause. I don’t believe it will be a problem and if you feel that it is necessary to remove this clause, we will agree to that.

Clause 16. We would be willing to remove the last line of this clause, but we’d prefer to have the rest of the lines in as the agreement is confidential and that is important.
Take care and we hope to hear from you again shortly. We’re eager to move forward with the publication of your book, as I’m sure you are. If there are any other questions or issues that you might have, just let me know.

Best Regards,
Adam Salviani

Raider Publishing International
____________________________

Subject: Re: Your Submission (to Raider Publishing)

From: Barbara
Date: Fri, July 19, 2013 4:13 am

To: Raiderpublishing

Dear Adam,
Thank you for your reassurances that the requested changes in contract terms would be mutually acceptable. I would like to sign with your group but will take some additional time to have the book undergo further editing and to raise the needed funds for initiating the deal.

Regards,

Barbara Rubin

________________________________________

From: Raiderpublishing

To: Barbara
Sent: Friday, 19 July 2013, 17:15

Subject: RE: Your Submission (to Raider Publishing)

Dear Barbara,


It’s wonderful to hear that we’ll be working with you shortly. Normally our contracts are valid for forty five days, from the date they are sent. Please let us know if you believe that you’ll be able to proceed within that timeframe. If this is not possible, please let me know and we’ll consider other options. 
Have a great weekend and we look forward to working with you in the near future.


Best Regards,
Adam Salviani
Raider Publishing International

_________________________________________

From: Barbara

Date: Wed, November 27, 2013 5:02 pm

To: Raiderpublishing

Hi Adam,

Well, here it is. The first novel in the Escargot Series in two parts, Escargot to Go and Escargot Gone to go into one volume. I’ll hope it will be popular enough to write a third part called Escargot A La Carte. I look forward to your professional editor taking it apart for any possible improvements I can make in it. Tell him or her not to worry about my ego. I like a hard critical look at my work, not a bedside manner :-)

Thank you for your patience in waiting for the manuscript. I am back in the States now and will be here for a few months at least, certainly in time for the galley corrections. Enjoy your holiday weekend,

Yours truly.

Barbara Rubin

___________________________________

Patience appeared to be the order of the day now, as I awaited an edited version of my book. I was careful to keep Adam apprised of my travels and contact information. Here are some further email exchanges –

From: Barbara

To: Raiderpublishing

Sent: Monday, December 23, 2013 5:04 PM

Subject: Re: Your Submission (to Raider Publishing)

Hi Adam,

and happy holidays! This is a fast email to let you know that my internet access is not reliable. When the manuscript revisions are ready for me to see, please send them but also text a message to me (or call) my current cell number 516 ________. It may change as I travel but I’ll let you know if a phone company decides to give me a new one along the way.

Thanks for your efforts!
Barbara Rubin
_______________________________________

From: Barbara

To: Raiderpublishing

Subject: Change of phone number 

Sent: Thu, Jan 23, 2014 11:33:24 PM

Dear Adam,

I’m back on the East Coast staying warm in the Carolinas. My cell phone was stolen and the new number handed me 442- __________. Please let me know how things are going on the time line for the editing. In the meantime, I’m working on ideas for the cover such as:
An ivory cover with black lettering for the title; picture ideas are
Milk carton with a map of the USA on it indicating a kidnapped nation, if you think that anyone recalls the old days when missing kids were pictured on milk cartons
or perhaps

The world (as in the Raider logo) squeezed in the middle by a cinch, with strings going up to a white gloved hand over the globe like it is a marrionette.
(this might be best for the sequel I hope to send you as a complete novel but we have to see if anyone likes the first book!)

Thanks,

Barbara
_____________________________________

To: Raiderpublishing

Subject: Fw: Change of phone number
Sent: Fri, Jan 31, 2014 9:04:19 PM

Hi,

Sorry to bother you but I’ve had no confirmation of your receipt of this email – you generally confirm contacts. Please let me know what to expect in the next few months. If your editor really hates the book, please don’t hesitate to tell me and I can work on major, rather than minor, rewrites. Thanks!

Barbara Rubin

(The Escargot Series)

_________________________________

From: Raiderpublishing

To: Barbara
Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 9:45 AM

Subject: Escargot

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for your emails. We have been receiving them, but at this 
stage, your book is not yet ready for your final review. We’re currently in 
the process of editing it and we’ll be sure to send it onto you as soon as 
it’s ready. Take care and we’ll be in touch again when the time comes.


Best Regards,
Adam Salviani 

Raider Publishing International
________________________________.

From: Barbara

To: Raiderpublishing

Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:59 PM

Subject: Re: Escargot

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the update. I now have my own laptop and will be more available now for the work.

Regards,

Barbara Rubin

_____________________________

From: Barbara

To: Raiderpublishing

Subject: Timeslines
Date: Wed 3/19/14 6:40 AM


Dear Adam,

While I prefer not to appear to be harassing you at Raider Publishing, I am very worried about the absence of an update from your company regarding the timeline for publishing my book (The Escargot Series, I and II). I am delaying my plans for travel abroad in order to finish revising the text and aggressively market the book with your assistance. Is there a problem? This is not a lengthy book and I’d be extremely surprised if your editors require months to edit it. Is there something I might help them to do?

In the meantime, I plan to contact translators of books in several countries and have them contact you to find out if they want to make arrangements with you. We haven’t spoken about this option but it would appear to be a natural next step in the publishing process. As it is free of sexual references and harsh language, it might be possible to market it in countries like Jordan and other Middle-Eastern locales.
Please advise as soon as possible. I am presently in Georgia, until the winter weather warms a bit.


Barbara Rubin
_____________________

A potential source for this problem was that I was dealing with a man solely on the internet and it was possible I’d been writing to a fabricated version of the legitimate Raider Publishing website. I called the New York City police department to ask about a fraud investigation to verify if that was the case. Fraud is far from issues pertaining to problems in keeping to a work schedule. However, I was appalled to learn that no investigations were performed unless both a company and a client both resided in New York. An officer stated that my own home state would have to agree to request an investigation and then, perhaps, one might be done. I wrote to the company as if this were the situation.

________________________

From: Barbara 

Date: Thu, May 22, 2014 6:39 pm

To: Raiderpublishing

Subject: Notice of Police Action

To Whom it May Concern,

Due to the absence of a response from the Raider Publishing Company to letters sent via email and by overnight express mail, I must be prepared to acknowledge that I may have been dealing with identity theft in the person claiming to be Adam. As I am unable to be sure that I have not sent money and a signed contract to someone illegally operating under the name of this firm, I intend to call the Manhattan police to report suspected fraud/theft of my money and my manuscript.

If this reaches a valid publishing firm, please contact me by the noon tomorrow, Friday, May 23 so I do not make a formal complaint by mistake about my contract with Raider Publishing International. Otherwise, the police and the Manhattan District Attorney will be formally notified of my suspicions in this manner. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have been unable to publish my book for any reason. Should you wish to refund my money and return all rights to me (cancel the contract), I will honor your request. I am back in the USA and able to pursue any action recommended by the authorities but prefer to learn this was all in error.

Your truly,
Barbara Rubin

Part II of this story is in the next post.

Categories: commentary, Letters, Publish or Perish

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