Any Advice On a Legal/Rights Front?

I’m sure there are others out there that this has happened to. Possibly even other folks in this exact boat. So if anyone has any information, or suggestions on what to do now, I’d appreciate it.

Short form, about two years ago, I signed on with a company called Publishing. They took over the rights to Woken for ebook and paperback distribution, gave it an edit job, relaunched it. They had exclusive rights for (if I remember correctly, and due to several moves and computer issues, I can’t currently locate the paperwork) 3 years, after which it could be “revisited.” I do not remember if there was a reversion clause in the contract.

Fast forward a year to when the book was finally launching, add in a pile of financial and health issues, things got murkier. My contact at, by the name of Amanda Barnett, last contacted me to confirm cover art and seemed antsy to push my other work over to their company. I informed her that, given my health problems, I was honestly unsure of doing anything at this point and would need to mull it over. That was half true. Mostly I was waiting to see how it went with Woken, and the hard sell she was pushing to move the rest over somewhat worried me.

Further emails, mostly regarding how Woken was doing, went unanswered. Then back in the hospital I landed, job shuffle commenced, truck was repossessed, computer landed in pawn shop, medications were changed, increased, and 800 other things fell on my head and honestly, sad to say, I forgot about it.

Until the other day, when I happened to notice Amazon was listing Woken as “out of stock.” Further clicking determined that Publishing’s website is gone and I can’t seem to locate anything on them. (Their name doesn’t help, either; try wading though the Google results that one kicks out, friends and neighbors.) I e-mailed Ms. Barnett again, got a bounceback. They seem to have vanished.

Now, during this whole time, I received no royalties. That isn’t necessarily surprising, though. For all I know, no copies were sold; the royalties from the books I can track from last year were barely in the double digits. But there was no contact or information on the subject, so I don’t know.

Less important than the royalties – since I doubt Woken took off so awesomely that I’m owed a million dollars or anything – is the murky issue of “I can has my book back, now?” I’m still trying to find the contract, but if anyone has experience with this sort of situation and can offer advice or shed light on the likely outcome here, it’d be appreciated. Is Woken still mine? Can I just click over to CreateSpace and toggle it back to active after requesting Amazon to take down the out-of-print one? Is there some higher authority I need to discuss this with, or do I need to hire private eyes and lawyers to track down whatever remains of Publishing and take it up with them? What about sales reports and royalties, assuming such even exist?

Is this even something worth chasing, or should I just write Woken off as an experiment and move along?

Suggestions and commiserations welcome. Direct information regarding even more so. Fellow “victims” – and oh how I hate that word in relation to the situation, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment – who are also in limbo (or have resolved the situation) due to’s disappearance?

Thanks, folks.



13 responses to “Any Advice On a Legal/Rights Front?

    • Oh, I’m sure they’re done with it. It’s just a question of if I can somehow be held liable or be sued or something if I do anything with it at this point. That, and I’d like to know if they actually sold any or anything. But guess we’ll find out, and then hopefully I can redesign Woken (yet again) and slap it back up or find it a new home…

      Thanks for commenting!

  1. That’s a sticky situation. My advice is to follow the trail and find out who has rights. Luckily someone appears to have tracked down the company that owns it now. Contact them and find out FIRST before republishing or touching the book. Legal issues can be very sticky man… and unfortunately this appears to be one of those situations.

    • To be sure. I’ve heard of authors and artists being sued before for doing things with their own work that was still under contract – often to someone completely other than the individual or organization the individual first signed on with – that “I didn’t know!” didn’t help with. E-mails have been sent, so we’ll see what they have to say. Hopefully. XD

      • An understandable position. Alas, if one wants a book published with a place that (on paper, at least) is going to be advertising it, handling the nasty tax slips, and doing all the marketplace posting, goes with the territory. *shrug* It’ll work itself out, eventually… And at least I backed away before I’d turned over the other books and I might even have something new for this year, so not a total loss.

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