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Beware Damnation Books

9 May 2013

From author Tim Marquitz:

While I loathe to make my arguments public, the unwillingness of Damnation Books to act like reasonable adults has forced me to take this step, the next being legal action. I want everyone to know how Damnation Books treats authors who want to leave their house.

On April 9, 2012, I sent a certified/registered termination letter to Damnation Books (received by Damnation Books on April 14, 2012) requesting the release of all rights they held regarding my works: Armageddon Bound, Resurrection, At the Gates, Skulls, The Long Road, and the Temple of the Dead.

On May 11,2012, I received a certified letter in response to my request, summarily rejecting my request.

. . . .

In the specific case of Armageddon Bound (on a different contract than the rest of my works), this response is in
direction violation of the contract tenn listed below.

Either party may terminate this contract for any reason with ninety (90) days written notice, sent registered mail to the current address of the Publisher. Upon termination of this contract, all rights return to the author .

. . . .

Further still, on May 8, 2012 (received by Damnation Books per USPS Delivery Confinnation on May 11, 2012), I sent $200 as payment in full of the minimum, ear1y termination fees listed in the contracts for Resurrection, At the Gates, Skulls, and the Temple of the Dead: $50 for each.

Once a work has gone Into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penally shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.

Link to the rest at The Dark Fantastic and thanks to Bridget for the tip.

Passive Guy hasn’t reviewed any of the contracts involved here, so he can’t give any opinions about whether the quoted portions of the contract are or are not affected by any other portions of those contracts.

However, he has observed that something about the publishing business seems to attract controlling personalities. While PG has witnessed it at all levels of publishing, it seems to be more common with some small presses.

One of the owners or managers of the publisher decides he/she is in control and authors need to be taught a lesson about the power relationships. The dinkier the press and smaller the sales of the book, the more jerkish some publishers seem to be.

Once more, PG advises any author considering a contract with a publisher to check the publisher out before signing anything. He entered: “damnation books warning” into Google and found several complaints by authors. PG’s not going to blame the victim here but, while some small presses are wonderful, others are horrors and authors need to investigate carefully.

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8 Comments to “Beware Damnation Books”

  1. Hey, PG. This post is from June 2012. Tim Marquitz actually has an updated post here.:

    • Thanks for the tip, Dan. I usually check the dates but didn’t in this case.

      • I cheated a little bit. I saw it listed in your upcoming posts and wanted to know what it was about, so I googled it and hit on the newest one.

  2. Surely the publishing house name is off-putting enough? Jeez.

  3. I completely agree about the controlling personality getting even more intense when an author challenges them, PG.

    So, this is terrible.

    I am so glad that the author is fighting this, and fighting it in public. One thing Publishers never worried about in the past is bad press when they screwed over their authors. Authors were afraid to speak out.

    No more. Start naming names, folks. Get the word out. Make Publishers worried about public pressure.

    And I wish this author the best.

  4. I do something similar when researching web hosts. A few searches like this often yield helpful results RE publishers:

    PublisherName sucks
    beware Publishername
    Publishername problems
    Publishername contract

    (I found that when I googled my former publisher with the word “warning”, I got content warnings, as in: this book contains smutty bits.)

    “Sucks” is the best search for finding dirt on potential web hosts. Ha ^-^

  5. I can’t tell if this is simply an autocrat of a small press or a vanity press scam situation. Yet when a publisher demands compensation for editing a book, as well as for breaking a contract, I’ve got to wonder.

    And a glance at the contract he signed with Damnation Books doesn’t make me feel any better. There is a section which touches on terminating the contract:

    This contact grants the publisher worldwide electronic and North American print rights for a five year period from the date of release. At the end of that five year period, the publisher has the option to renew this contract with the author at a payment rate of 40% net royalties on books sold. Either party may terminate this contract for any reason with ninety (90) days written notice, sent registered mail to the current address of the Publisher. Upon termination of this contract, all rights return to the author.

    I’m not a lawyer (although I own an old copy of Black’s Law Dictionary), but that passage doesn’t look well-thought out. One thing is that at the beginning it talks about “worldwide electronic and North American print rights”, & at the end talks about “all rights”; is the author transferring some or all of his print right? And the wording about termination is just ambiguous enough that one could read it to mean that at the end of 5 years, either party can terminate the contract with 90 days’ notice, or either party can terminate the contract at any time with 90 days’ notice. (I’m sure a lawyer would say the second interpretation is clearly the intention here, but a non-lawyer might assume the first is the intention.)

    Regardless, Damnation Books is definitely someone to stay away from. Far away from.

  6. Damnation?

    Thoughtful of them to warn us with their own choice of name.

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