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Modified Book Contract Via Pub's E-mail Valid?
Posted - 2/6/2013 12:59:44 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
I'm dealing with a difficult situation. Per signed contract, I accepted a book deal for a small advance. The publisher sent me the third payment for acceptance of project.
Six months later, she sent me the e-mail below. I was told by attorneys, that her e-mail (which I agreed to) is a modification of the signed hard copy contract she mailed to me and allows me out of the agreement.
Question: Is this true? Now the publisher is demanding the partial advance for the completed/accepted work or will publish the book without my permission.
Here's the excerpt from 9-22-2012; entire is below.
You are an excellent writer and you do deserve the best of the best.
If I have let you down and you want out on both books, just say so and
keep the money paid and I'll cancel the books for you. I don't want
you hating me and what blocks have happened are only that.
Posted - 2/6/2013 2:24:08 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
Worse, the publisher said I must go to court in their state if I don't refund the 3/4 advance for the completed/accepted project. Pub wants to edit published articles that cannot be touched, per publishers requests.
Going crazy here. I do not want to return advance because I complete the work and went beyond call of duty. Never have been in this situation.
Please advise. If I hire an attorney it will cost more than I was paid.
Posted - 2/6/2013 8:17:51 PM | show profile | flag this post
Contracts can be amended by emails if both parties agree. So since she made this offer and you accepted, your position seems pretty strong.
If you don't want to go to a lawyer, you could try writing them back and saying:
"After consultation with an attorney, I have been told your email of 12-12-12 amended our written contract. In that email, you said you would cancel the books and let me keep the money paid. I agreed to that contract amendment. Pursuant to that contract amendment, I am not obliged to return any of the advance. In addition, pursuant to the contract amendment, you have no rights to my material, and if you published it be warned that you are using my copyrighted material without permission."
I am not a lawyer, so don't construe that as legal advice, but I'd probably do that. They could still sue you, of course, and demand return of the advance, and then it would be up to the judge if he agreed the email amended the contract.
Posted - 2/7/2013 3:40:01 AM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
Hi Dribble, Ty for your response. It's turning out to be a nightmare.
These stories are close to me and all were cover stories for major animal mags. The publishers gave me permission to reprint, not the small no name book publisher.
We agreed NO edits. The articles are edited, published, and cannot be touched, per publishers' request.
The book publisher said she is taking me go to court (across country) all for an advance for less than 2000. I don't want to return the money because I did everything she asked and so much more. She flip flopped so much I was going insane. And that is when I finally accepted her offer of backing out of the deal.
Can she really win? She never paid the fourth payment. She said she was going to hire a writer to edit the articles. I told her if she does that--I will sue. What a mess. I've never encountered such drama with a publisher in 30 yrs. of writing. She has a track record of not paying royalties, flaking, etc. (when things starting getting crazy I found a website from other authors who went down the same path as I am).
Not sure what to do. Four attorneys (free consults) told me to forget it. They said the e-mail modified the contract.
Posted - 2/9/2013 4:23:46 AM | show profile | flag this post
Sounds like you have a couple of choices.
You can negotiate with them to return part of the advance to close the issue.
You can tell them to sue you and see what happens.
To me, it depends on how much time and aggravation this is going to be,
Posted - 2/9/2013 3:20:11 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
1. I worked SO hard doing EVERYTHING she wanted me to do...What seemed like an easy project, weaving my cover story articles into a cohesive book with chapter/part transitions turned out to be a nightmare.
2. She wanted a foreword/blurbs from high profile authors; she wanted factoids put in bubbles; she wanted certain topics covered...I did everything. She only paid 3/4 advance but the 3rd payment was for acceptance of ms.
3. I've blocked her e-mails...Last time she said I would be going to MN for $1800? Again, her record of being flaky goes back to 2010 (due to a online thread from other disgruntled authors who never saw royalties). In one e-mail to me she said God, family, work go in that order for her.
4. I earned every bit of the advance. If she takes me to Small Claims Court and I don't go (hardship to go 3000 miles for this) she could win by me not being there. But if she publishes the book I will sue her. Count on it. The articles cannot be edited and the publishers gave me permission to use--not her.
5. So now what? The attorneys told me most likely she's calling my bluff and will drop it. Remember, on Sept. 22 (e-mail which I have) she modified the contract and said I could keep the advance, resume ownership of books. She had me working on three books at once!
Let it go?
Posted - 2/25/2013 5:07:46 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
No word from this individual. Do u think it's over? If they were to take me to Small Claims Court...could I have received a notice by now?
I still can't believe she had me do so much work and demand the advance back after she said to keep it.
The entire ordeal has been a nightmare. I wish I would have found the 2010 thread about her work ethics.