Harper’s Bazaar has a proud tradition of publishing the very best in original literary fiction, including stories by Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, Ali Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Continuing this legacy, we are happy to launch our annual short-story competition once again, inviting published and non-published writers to follow in the footsteps of these literary greats.The winner of this 2,500-word short story competition will receive a two-night stay at Brownber Hall, Yorkshire, along with "the chance to see their work published". The theme is "Liberty." Entry is free, and the competition is open until midnight on March 15, 2019.
By entering the competition and in consideration for Hearst publishing your entry, you assign to Hearst the entire worldwide copyright in your entry for all uses in all print and non-print media and formats, including but not limited to all rights to use your entry in any and all electronic and digital formats, and in any future medium hereafter developed for the full period of copyright therein, and all renewals and extensions thereof, any rental and lending rights and retransmission rights and all rights of a like nature wherever subsisting.In other words, merely by entering this competition, Harper's was asking you to surrender your copyright, and all the rights that copyright includes (which meant that you could never sell or publish your story anywhere else), for zero financial compensation. Moreover, there was no language in the competition guidelines to ensure that the grant of rights would be released if you didn't win.
...but this morning, when I re-read the competition guidelines just to be 100% sure everything I wrote was accurate (I always double-check in this way before I publish), I discovered that...guess what? The copyright language was gone. Poof. Harper's guidelines for this competition now include no grant of rights--or indeed any language addressing rights at all.Woah. If you enter the @BazaarUK short story competition, you assign Hearst "entire worldwide copyright" to your work: https://t.co/1gL8Idvues— Sian Meades 💫 (@SianySianySiany) January 9, 2019
Like AS, the clones rely on misleading hype, hard-sell sales tactics, and a lucrative catalog of junk marketing services. Even if authors actually receive the services they've paid for (and judging by the complaints I've gotten, there's no guarantee of that), they are getting stiffed. These are not businesses operating in good faith, but greedy opportunists seeking to profit from writers' inexperience, ignorance, and hunger for recognition. They are exploitative, dishonest, and predatory.The clones share a distinctive cluster of characteristics that makes them relatively easy for an alert writer to identify.
Capstone, which registered its domain in August 2018, claims a prestigious address: 14 Wall Street, Manhattan. It has no business registration in New York State, however, and per this exhibitor list from the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair, it is actually located in...surprise! the Philippines.WARNING: Capstone Media Services are cold calling authors with highly questionable marketing packages of dubious quality costing thousands of dollars. Of course, one of the suspect packages is a @PublishersWkly one because they will take money from anyone. @VictoriaStrauss pic.twitter.com/PHbOJ6wrwc— David Gaughran (@DavidGaughran) August 20, 2018
In its filing, the publisher listed assets of $100,001 to $500,000 and liabilities in the same range. It cited between 200 to 999 creditors.
Under a Chapter 7 filing, a trustee will liquidate a company’s assets in order to earn as much money as it can to pay creditors. According to court documents, a meeting of creditors is scheduled for November 13, in the DuPage Courthouse in Wheaton, Ill.
[PW] says literary agents have been working to retrieve the publishing rights of their authors from Medallion. Unless the agents have retained competent bankruptcy counsel, that isn’t going to happen. Medallion no longer controls the publishing rights. Upon the filing of the Chapter 7 petition, which has already occurred, the bankruptcy court controls the publishing rights and all other assets owned by Medallion. Whoever may answer the phone at Medallion can’t do anything with publishing rights, regardless of how persuasive a literary agent may be....A few examples: when digital publisher Triskelion declared bankruptcy in 2007, its contracts were eventually sold to Siren Publishing (which promptly released all rights back to the authors). Byron Preiss Publications went into Chapter 7 in early 2006, following Preiss's sudden death the previous year; its assets, which reportedly included more than 2,500 mostly fiction book contracts, were sold in December 2006 for less than asking price to nonfiction publisher Brick Tower Press. The assets of UK-based Black Dog Publishing, which went into liquidation in January 2018, were sold the following August to a company looking to expand its trade division. Things were messier for authors with indie publisher MacAdam Cage, after the publisher's 2014 Chapter 7 filing--they regained their print rights after a struggle, but not their e-rights, which had been sold some years earlier to a different publisher that was still in operation at the time of the bankruptcy.
[T]he publishing agreements between Medallion and its authors are assets that the bankruptcy trustee will try to sell for the best price possible to whoever will pay that price. Any claims for unpaid royalties owed to authors will likely be rolled into the pile of unpaid debts of Medallion and cash resulting from sales of assets will be divided among the printer, the utility companies, UPS, the bookstores that have returned Medallion books for a refund and not been paid, etc., etc., etc., and the authors.
The other point, the killer is that as soon as bankruptcy is declared, all assets are frozen. Since author contracts are counted as assets, that means the contracts do not tick down until they'e disposed of, i.e. sold. So if you are one year into a seven year contract, when the contract is sold, you still owe six years on that contract, even if it took a year to sell.The same reader also provided a correction: I'd written that Triskelion assets were acquired by LooseID (which did consider a bid), but in fact the buyer was Siren Publishing. I've revised my post to reflect this.
What we at Triskelion were thinking of trying was to show that author contracts were of little use unless they had the goodwill of the author - that if the author wasn't prepared to promote and acknowledge the work, then it could easily turn into a liability, since cover art, formatting etc had to be redone. But fortunately the contracts were sold to Siren, who gave all the books back to us.
The 20 clients, two of whom co-authored a book, all signed contracts with Green Ivy between October 2014 and January 2017 and agreed to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000, with most people paying around $3,000, according to the complaint. Although some of the clients paid off the fee in monthly installments, most eventually paid the entire amount, the complaint said.Law360 also describes the complaint as alleging that the Green Ivy operation was an adaptation by Gray, a patent attorney, of an "invention-promotion scheme" in which he was involved, which led to disciplinary action from the US Patent and Trademark Office and ultimately got him excluded from practicing before the USPTO. Gray ran something called The Independent Inventor's Program, through which he provided legal services to the US Patent Commission Ltd., a company that purported to help inventors protect and patent their inventions--for a high fee, of course (you can get a sense of how such predatory schemes work from this BBB complaint as well as this lawsuit brought by an unhappy USPC client; the FTC also provides this warning). According to the final order in the USPTO's disciplinary action against Gray, he "engaged in numerous conflicts of interest with regard to accepting USPC-referred clients" (among them: allowing USPC to use his law firm's name as inducement to purchase USPC's services, thereby assuring a supply of clients for himself), as well as "conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation".
In exchange, Green Ivy was supposed to edit, produce and market the books, according to the complaint. However, some clients found major flaws in the editing and graphics during production, and clients typically had a hard time reaching employees or getting answers to their questions, the complaint said.
Green Ivy also did not provide many clients with sales figures or royalty checks, according to the complaint.
Eventually, Green Ivy allegedly stopped responding to clients and shut down. The state of Illinois currently lists the company as “not in good standing.”
Good morning,FSP authors, who'd been concerned for several months about problems at the company, began contacting me. Complaints included missed pub dates; delayed (by months) royalty payments and statements; absent royalty payments and statements (one author told me they had never been paid); royalty statements missing sales the authors could prove had been made; failure to register copyrights, even though FSP's contract (unusually for a small press) requires the publisher to do so (I confirmed this myself via the US Copyright Office's registration database); and difficulty getting firm answers to their questions. When challenged on the payment delays and lack of sales numbers, for instance, Williams blamed Ingram; at other times she claimed to be ill, overwhelmed with email, or "working on it."
I wanted to take a moment and send an update on many things happening here at Fiery Seas and hopefully put some of you at ease.
Due to the many different events that have taken place and sales numbers not being where they need to be, Fiery Seas will be restructuring our business.
We have had major issues with our distributor and they are issues that are out of my hands. While I have had to explain this many times in the past little while. I want to make sure that everyone is aware. I have been going around and around with them for not replacing damaged books, messing up orders, not getting orders out on time, and more. We have had some issues with retailers not uploading and making our paperbacks available when all of that information is available to them. We could have all of them up on all other sites, but one and they have the same information sent from Ingram. These are things I can’t make them do. I call and I complain until I’m blue in the face, but I still have to wait to see what will happen. So, for this reason we will make some changes to the way we do things.
First, we will no longer do paperbacks until a threshold is met, at that time we will look at print runs. This WILL NOT affect the books that are coming out this year or those that are already out. However, we will be changing our distribution channels starting now and slowly move all of our titles to the new channels.
We will be working on more promotions to get our books in front of readers. We have new outlets we are working on for this to spread our reach. We will work on doing more genre-related promos, as well. We are working on these things already, but will hit them full force come 2019
Our royalty statements structure will change to make it more updated and correct the current issues we have run into this year. Yes, we have seen the problems and only want to fix them and KEEP them from happening. This will be completed by the end of this year and everything will be ready for the New Year.
We understand that many will be unhappy with our decisions and may decide to leave the company. We completely understand this and will do what we can to help the process or help with whatever you may decide to do. We will ask for 90 days to finalize everything and all proper accounting to be done, if you decide to leave us.
We are starting this process now and plan to have it completed by the end of the year. This means things will be delayed, but we are working very hard on everything so it doesn't happen again.
This doesn’t fix what has already been done, but it will make things better. I started this company because I love working with authors and love the publishing industry. This is not an easy business and it takes dictation [sic]. Like many of you, I too work outside of Fiery Seas, but I pull more hours on than you know, even if you don’t always see my actions. I know I have a ton of emails to go through and that I will have more after this email. I think some of them get lost at times because I have so many. It is not because I’m ignoring anyone or that I don’t want to answer you. It is because I’m trying to get through them all. Working on issues along the way. So, just know that I will respond to you ASAP and I am listening to everything you say.
There will be more updates over the course of this restructuring to keep you all informed. Questions will be addressed as quickly as possible.
All the best,
Fiery Seas Publishing
ANOTHER UPDATE 8/11/18: Fiction War continues to respond. Note the reference to "bullies."Thank you for your feedback and thoughtful analysis — we’d like to give your followers $10 off Fiction War Fall registration with this Promotional Code: WRITERBEWARE https://t.co/LsvWui76do— Fiction War (@fictionwar) August 11, 2018
#Fictionwar update: They have published Spring 2017 & paid some of the authors, but the 1st place writer was not included & hasn't received payment. She's contacted them multiple times about this & is ignored. She didn't withdraw, but had previously reported them to #writerbeware— Meagan Noel Hart (@MNHart) October 2, 2018
Turns out @fictionwar is not publishing and not paying *some* of their winners, and are making this decision without any correspondence to the winning authors. When said authors try to contact FW to see what happened, they are ignored. #writerbeware big time. Not #amwriting there— Meagan Noel Hart (@MNHart) October 20, 2018
The ASA noted that [United P.C.'s] ad used the terms "publish" and "publishes" and stated that that service would be free of charge. We noted that the complainant reported being asked to pay for corrections, designing the front and back covers and the additional cost of publishing an e-book. We asked United Publisher to comment on that and for details of the proportion of respondents who kept to the free of charge contract and the proportion that chose to pay for additional services, but that information was not forthcoming....Because United Publisher had not supplied information that showed other respondents had not incurred similar costs, we concluded that the claims that United Publisher published books free of charge were misleading.Online complaints that post-date the ASA's finding suggest that United P.C. hasn't changed its ways.
Note that neither of [Hopkins' trademarks] is, for example, “a trademark on the word ‘COCKY’ as used in book titles.” The registrations cover a book series, and this is made evident if one looks at the 9-page specimen of use she submitted to the Trademark Office to support the registration: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn87604968&docId=ORC20180416120311#docIndex=9&page=1. Note that “Cocky” appears in each of the titles in a manner that connotes that the book is printed as part of the “Cocky”-brand book series. Indeed, without the fact the word is used as part of a book series, it is unlikely Hop Hop Productions [Hopkins' company] could have obtained the registrations.Most legal commentary that I've read on l'affaire Cocky seems to agree that Hopkins' trademarks wouldn't stand up to a legal challenge. But authors who receive her threats--which admittedly are scary--may not realize this, or be able to afford legal counsel (at least some authors have already re-titled their books). Also, more concerningly, Hopkins is sending takedown requests to Amazon, which appears to be complying in at least some cases. Once Amazon takes down your book in response to a challenge, getting it reinstated is a nightmare.
This is because--and this is critical--in order for a trademark to exist and be registrable and enforceable, it must perform a “source identification function.” Here, Hop Hop was able to convince the Trademark Office that it has, since June of 2016, used the word “Cocky” to indicate the SOURCE of a series of romance books, and thus it was able to get it registered. There likely had to be a series of books for Hop Hop to convince the Trademark Office that the word “Cocky” performed this source identification function—one book with “Cocky” in the title would likely not have been enough to convince the Trademark Office, especially given that Hop Hop has ostensibly used the mark for less than two years. Just like when people see “Harlequin” on a book, they think of Harlequin Enterprises as the SOURCE of that book because “Harlequin” indicates more than just a book title. It indicates the SOURCE. See http://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn72184920&docId=ORC20081030112630#docIndex=10&page=1.
Because source identification is necessary to create and register a trademark, in order for there to be trademark INFRINGEMENT, as Hop Hop has apparently alleged in certain cases, the allegedly infringing “thing” must also be performing a source identification function. Thus, not all uses of a word perform a source identification function, and if there is no such use, there likely can be no trademark infringement.
For example, imagine I titled my book, “The Apple Tree and the Pheasant.” Would a consumer realistically believe that Apple Computer was the source of that book? No. Or, imagine I titled my book, “The Harlequin Pleased the King.” Based strictly on that use of the word “harlequin,” would a consumer think that Harlequin Enterprises was the source of my book? No, and thus no trademark infringement.
This is supported by what is called in trademark law the “classic fair use defense.” It is well-settled that you may use a third party’s trademark in the ordinary, English-language sense of the word, and as long as it was not performing a confusing, source-identification function, there is likely no trademark infringement. For example, if I wrote a story about King Neptune and his trident and I titled it, “King Neptune’s Powerful Trident,” if I got sued by the owner of the “Trident” trademark (see http://tsdr.uspto.gov/documentviewer?caseId=sn71653425&docId=ORC20110315095116#docIndex=18&page=1), I would have a very good classic fair use defense in that lawsuit since I am using the word “trident” in its normal, English-language construction (see https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trident) and NOT TO INDICATE THE SOURCE OF THE BOOK.
Thus, if you have one book and it is titled, for example, “The Gardener was a Cocky Lad,” I invite you to ask: is your use of the word “cocky” performing a source identification function such that people would be confused into thinking that Hop Hop was the source of your book? Is it being used only in a classic fair use sense to describe the gardener in your story as cocky, as defined by Webster? (See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cocky)
Now, trademark law is very fact specific, and each case must be decided on its relative merits. There may be some cases in which use of the word “Cocky” in a book title does create a likelihood that a consumer would be confused into believing that Hop Hop was the source of that book. But that is the test. Without that likelihood of consumer confusion, proving trademark infringement is very difficult. But please consider these factors if you receive an allegation of trademark infringement as to your book titles.
And two lawyers at a prestitious IP law firm have offered to work pro bono on a legal challenge.Below is a link to my challenge to the "cocky" trademark. #CockyGate— Kevin Kneupper (@kneupperwriter) May 7, 2018
The highly respected Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO now has the issue before it and will decide whether the trademark of "cocky" should be invalidated!https://t.co/iNKCzPEtNR
UPDATE 5/30/18: Hopkins is doubling down: she has filed for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders against Jennifer Watson, Tara Crescent, and Kevin Kneupper, claiming that Watson and Crescent are infringing her trademarks (Crescent is an author who uses "cocky" in some of her titles, and Watson is a member of the Cocky Collective, a satirical group that is producing an anthology called Cocktales: The Cockiest Anthology) and that Kneupper's petition to the USPTO to cancel the "cocky" trademarks is without merit.Amazon has responded to our request to say that they will not be removing titles from sale until this matter is resolved and have reinstated those they previously removed. We are still in discussion with counsel as to next steps and will report more as we are able. https://t.co/MCheapueye— RWA (@romancewriters) May 9, 2018
Jennifer Watson and the Cocky Collective are happy to announce a settlement has been reached in Hop Hop Productions, Inc. v. Kevin Kneupper, Tara Cresent and Jennifer Watson. The plaintiff has surrendered her trademark registrations for COCKY and has withdrawn the lawsuit.Authors can now use "cocky" in as many titles as they please, without fear of harassment from Hopkins. Good news indeed.
The worst part about the ending of this story is what feels like unprofessional and disrespectful behavior of the company towards me and the other writers. They've been ghosting the entire group....I'm so sad that what started as a grand adventure has ended with me feeling like I have an especially lousy ex-boyfriend who didn't have the balls to end it properly and let us both move on.UPDATE 1/8/19: Publishers Lunch has picked up the CQ story (a subscription is required). They contacted Eugene Teplitsky by email:
[C]o-owner Eugene Teplitsky has confirmed to PL that the publisher is behind on authors' royalty payments and temporarily shutting down print operations with the exception of middle grade novels, citing "month after month" of dwindling sales as the cause. All authors now have the option to terminate their contracts, "no strings attached" (including the waiving of their contractual "termination fees"), Teplitsky wrote in an email. Authors who wish to terminate should "simply email us at email@example.com and we will revert rights to all who ask for it, no questions asked," he wrote. He is also giving authors the ability to shop their own subrights, "greatly relaxing" existing terms.Teplitsky says he is focused on building "a leaner, more effective business model." He denies that CQ is shutting down.
To cut costs, a content strategist, marketing assistant, social media marketer, and acquisitions manager have all been let go. The remaining core team includes Vicki Keire (marketing), Tanya Yakimenko (production), Hans Tjakra (production), and Vladimir Makarov (development).This all sounds very similar to what Teplitsky told me more than 8 months ago, when I first put this post online, and I don't imagine it will inspire much confidence in the many authors I've heard from who've been waiting weeks or months for payments or reversion letters promised to them. Or to the authors who found that their audio rights had been sold without notice--or payment--to them.
Disaffected clients claim they handed over sums ranging from $2000 to $12,000 since 2013 and as recently as late 2016 to entities including Love of Books Brisbane and Books Publishing Services Australia. The projects have ranged from historical research and commercial fiction to travel guides.And that's not all.
Another complainant is a Queensland debut novelist who unsuccessfully claimed a partial refund when the deadline for her fantasy fiction "was exceeded, my manuscript edited with no permission or tracking to show where the edits took place, no finished product and then I had to pay someone else to edit it again from scratch".
The writer says she is still owed $4000 and has not heard a word from McGregor since she was promised the refund in August 2016. At that time, she was not advised that McGregor was a bankrupt.
McGregor...dealt exclusively with a Melbourne high school whose parents spent $10,000 to produce a cookbook as a Christmas fundraiser in 2016.Several of McGregor's authors have won judgments from the Queensland Civil Claims Tribunal, although only one author appears to have been paid (and only partially).
The school, which does not want to be named, paid a $4000 deposit raised from local sponsors plus a further $6000 to McGregor's business, Love of Books Brisbane, to print 1000 copies of recipe favourites.
To date the fundraisers say they have not received a single copy of the book, which was to have been delivered four weeks after the supply of artwork and content in September 2016.
[A] Southport magistrates court convicted [McGregor] of three counts of dishonestly gaining thousands of dollars from three restaurants using fraudulent credit cards. She was handed a nine-month suspended sentence for what the prosecution said was a "calculated, fraudulent activity, not once but three times".In 2016, McGregor transferred the Love of Books website and client list to Ian Lewis, who is currently operating the business under his own business number and a slightly different name: Love of Books Australia-Wide. According to McGregor, this change was spurred not by thousands of dollars owed to multiple authors, but by "high continuous bullying in many forms...lasting over 3 years by a sacked employee and his associates, along with the take over of the businesses clients and personal details by a greedy commercial operator in conjunction." (You can read a much longer and even more self-serving version of this screed here.) According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Lewis has disclaimed responsibility for reimbursing McGregor's clients.
Acting magistrate Gary Finger described McGregor as "certainly naive to say the least" for her role in the complex fraud, in which she booked restaurant functions on fraudulent credit cards and then persuaded the restaurant owners to pay for non-existent florists and limousine services. A sobbing McGregor was told she would face jail time if she came before the courts again.
Participating teachers who submit their students [sic] work are eligible for one of three “Teacher’s Bonus” awards worth $500.00 apiece! Ballots are earned by the number of submissions made, so the chances of winning keeps [sic] going up!Each "ballot" represents 10 student entries, and teachers can submit up to 19 ballots. How to get lots of kids to enter your vanity anthology contest? Give adults an incentive to steer students your way.
12. Payment. Artist acknowledges that Company does not itself provide royalty payment. However, if accepted to one or more book, Artist will have the option to join Company's affiliate program, which is administered and run completely through the third-party site Refersion.According to the Affiliate Program FAQ, affiliates earn "approximately 25% of each sale you make (this includes 25% of the shipping fee as well)." Z suggests posting affiliate links on social media, websites, etc. (you can see a bunch of these pitches on Z's Facebook Community page), but it wants prospective affiliates to know that the best method is spam:
|LitFire employees celebrate hitting their latest sales target|