Article on PD Publishing: a lesson for all writers
By Anne Brooke
I agreed to sign a 10-year contract with PD Publishing (www.pdpublishing.com) in 2008 for my crime novel, Maloney’s Law. During the last couple of years, I regularly asked them when an ebook version would be available, as readers, and indeed other publishers interested in the e-rights, had queried that with me. The response from PD was both very slow and unsatisfactory and so earlier this year I took the decision to extricate myself early from the contract. Maloney’s Law was given a $200 advance in 2008, it gained no royalties in 2009 as PD Publishing clawed back the advance and then apparently made $160 in 2010, although I have never received any statement to that effect.
When I asked what the termination fee would be, they quoted $10,000 for lost income, legal and admin charges, as set out below:
$1125.00 Direct PD expenses (editors, artist, anything directly in book prep of M.L.)
$318.00 Direct printer charges (set up cover, text, annual fees, ISBN, anything specific to M.L.)
$475.00 Direct lawyer charges (specific to A. Brooke communications)
$180.00 Direct bank charges (specific to A. Brooke checks, stop payment charges)
$4317.36 estimated book print income loss for the next 8 years
$4317.36 estimated e-book income loss for the next 8 years
This included lost income for the ebook version even though the ebook has never been produced. In addition, the $180 bank charges (which related to the 2010 royalty cheque allegedly sent to my then agent but never received by him) figure was not necessary as the cheque was out-of-date by the time the error was uncovered and so could never be cashed by anyone. It is also interesting to note that PD Publishing did not include any note of whether the income they gained from Maloney’s Law was taken into account in these calculations.
However, they quickly reduced the original sum to $5000 "due to generosity and fairness". After my protestations at this still over-inflated sum they reduced it to $1938 (which included, apparently, a subtracted amount for my 2010 royalties), and, in desperation to escape, I offered $1650 in order to bring the whole unfortunate matter to a negotiated settlement. PD Publishing refused to negotiate further, and it was at that point that I decided to ask for help.
I contacted Preditors and Editors (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/) with information on the matter, and they added PD Publishing onto their list of Not Recommended Publishers due to the exorbitant termination demands. I also contacted Writers Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/), who have asked for full details of the matter and will be looking into it over the next few days. Whilst replying, Writers Beware advised me to contact a US lawyer, preferably one in the same state as PD, so I have also sent an introductory message to the North Carolina Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts association (http://www.ncvla.org/) and await their response.
At the same time, and bearing in mind that PD Publishing had now been named at Preditors and Editors, I decided to bring the issue more into the open on my Facebook and Twitter pages (I had already been blogging about it throughout, but without mentioning the publisher’s name or details). The response to this has, on the whole, been very supportive, and it was through this means that I made online contact with Alexandra Wolfe and also Sara Bell, the latter of whom has contacts within the Romance Writers of America organization (http://www.rwa.org/). Both Alexandra and Sara have been given sight of the documentation concerning PD Publishing and are forming an opinion on their claims on my behalf, an act for which I am very grateful indeed.
In the meantime, and before responses starting coming to me, I had become increasingly desperate and agreed to pay the $1938 termination fee demanded by PD Publishing, although I had not signed any of their termination documents. Alexandra and Sara asked me to hold fire on this and to wait for a response from them and the NCVLA. When PD contacted me to request a cheque and the signed documentation be sent to them, I therefore notified them of this delay while I sought legal advice.
PD’s response was today (Sunday 19 June 2011) to send an email to me, which cc’d most of my other publishers within it, and with some of our email correspondence attached (although none showing PD in a poor light …), advising me that their offer was now withdrawn and they waited to hear from me further. They advised me (and my other publishers they had also emailed) that they intended to hold me to the contract, pending my response.
I responded thanking PD for including my other publishers in their email as it would indeed be useful to get a wider business view on the $10,000 or $5,000 termination fee costs. So far I have had no response and I doubt this will have a happy ending for me as I will eventually be forced to pay $1938, and probably more now (for the crime of speaking out). However I wanted to warn other writers of this sort of practice so they don’t find themselves in the same position, with publishers similar to PD Publishing. It’s certainly proving an expensive and complicated lesson to learn …
Anne Brooke is a well respected British author from Surrey. We at The Rainbow Post wish her well and would like to issue a full and strong warning to all other authors seeking to or considering working with PD Publishing to seriously think again. Not only do they break their own contracts by not sending royalty statements, non existent royalty cheques, inaccurate sales figures but they also want to change a vastly exorbitant extraction fee. It would appear they can not be trusted.