Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lyrical Press Inc. behaving very badly!

Who the hell died and left Renee Rocco empress of Small Press? I'd like to know. Not only is she the 'empress' but WTF to her contract. Here's the skinny for those of you who know it takes a lot for me to lose my cool.

A sneak peek at LPI's convoluted contract.

10. REVISIONS - If the Publisher considers it necessary in the best interests of the Work, the Author agrees to revise the Work on request of the Publisher. The provisions of this agreement shall apply to each revision of the Work by the author as though that revision were the work being published for the first time under this agreement, except that the manuscript of the revised work shall be delivered in final form by the Author to the Publisher within thirty (30) days after request for revision. Further, no initial payment shall be made in connection with such revision. Should the Author not provide a revision acceptable to the Publisher within a reasonable time, or should the Author be deceased, the Publisher may have the revision done and charge the cost of such revision against royalties due, or that may become due, the Author, and may display in the revised work, and in advertising, the name of the person, or persons, who revised the work.

So if you die – don't worry about it. LPI will publish your little gem and NOT pay your heirs. WTF! Oh and don't worry if you are planted six feet under – LPI won't put your name on it – they'll put their editor's on it. It's rather funny and completely hypocritical that they have a clause in their contract should the author want out:

20. RIGHT OF TERMINATION This agreement may be terminated at the Publisher's discretion so long as written warning is provided to the Author within a thirty (30) day timeframe and a valid reason is provided. The terms of this agreement may be terminated for conduct unbecoming of a representative of the Publisher.

In the event of Author requested termination of this agreement, Author will compensate Publisher and Editor for monies invested in the Work in the sum of no less than one hundred and fifty dollars ($150.00) and not to exceed two hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00). Author termination of this agreement relies solely on Publisher's discretion.

But they don't give the author/heirs the actual cost of editing should Ms. Rocco, Supreme deity that she is, decide your story doesn't meet her fictitious quality standards in the aforementioned contract clause #10. Remember, it doesn't matter if your pushing out stories or pushing up daisies. Don't you just love how that happens? "I'm sorry, Dear Author, but you should pay hand over fist just cause I have decided you are unworthy". Begs to question why she contracted the book in the first place? This conduct should be along the lines of that which is unbecoming a publisher in good standing with her authors.

The trump card in these two clauses is Ms. Rocco can kick you off your book should you make waves and she has already done this to one author I know of though I suspect there are more. It's your story! Who does she think she is raping it like this and then charging you for it?

Lovely. So, what's an author to do? Copyright your work. With publishers now pulling this stinking mountain of crap, we all need to be on our toes. The fact is, no publisher can take your work and completely revise it without the author's input. This would be copyright infringement. That Ms. Rocco and the other nimrods at LPI think they can get away with it shows just how badly some publishers can act.


 

I could go on and on about Lyrical Press Inc and probably will in future 'special' blogposts. The fact is no author should ever have to put up with this shite. Not only is it demeaning, it's illegal.


 

Be very aware!

30 comments:

Angela Guillaume said...

About time these rogue publishers get their comeuppance. The culture of secrecy and silence must end and it's good for authors and good publishers to stand together against such trash.

Angela Guillaume
Proud to be a Royal Blush Author

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

This is totally insane, wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it happening with me own two eyes!

You're so right - time to bring those pubs-who-give-all-a-bad-rep down! Who do they think they are, also preying on small authors and using their dreams to twist and play with as they wish???

Aasiyah Qamar/Nolwynn Ardennes
Proud to be a part of the Royal Blush Authors too!

Romy said...

Sounds like it's worth a mention at Preditors and Editors or one of those other industry watchdog sites.

Thanks so much for the 'heads up' on this.

Kelly Moran said...

Wow. That is nuts. I've been telling people for years to pay attention to fine print.
Following you now. I have all things books on mine, if interested in following.
~K
xo

Crazed Poet said...

Thank you very much for the heads up...

Sandy said...

T.J.,

It's absolutely maddening that people who are pursuing their dreams get duped by people like this. What a shame. Thanks for letting us know. Not that I plan to leave my great publisher.

M Barnette said...

Not all publishers have such draconian clauses in their contracts. I could name any number of reputable ebook presses--big and small--who do not seek to rip off their authors.

Renee Rocco said...

As Lyrical Press has removed the early termination fee from our contract after the reccomendation of Victoria Strauss, that much of this post no longer pertains. As for the remainder of Lyrical's contract, it has been reviewed by Mrs. Strauss months ago, and in fact, has earned an approval from her personally. Mrs. Strauss is one of the founders of Writer Bewares.

If anyone else would like to discuss our contract, please feel free to contact us at publisher@lyricalpress.com.

Frank Rocco

Belladonna said...

Thank you for clarifying the obvious, Mr. Rocco. Unfortunately the buy-out was not in question. It was the charging for editting should the author die or not perform.

Would you care to put a monetary value on this item? Would you care to retract your statement above and clarify the clause which is the issue?

Thank you for responding.

Silke said...

Interesting article.
I don't like the editing clause either.
I've run an epub, and I'm sorry, if you commit yourself to publishing a book, then you have to believe it is a viable venture.
Not, it's a viable venture after someone else makes edits with or without author approval. If it's not good enough to be published, then why contract it at all?
It seems to me LP needs to be more picky in what is contracted, not make the author pay for edits.
Because if you're not taking the best of the best, then why should I, the reader, bother to buy it?

Victoria Strauss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victoria Strauss said...

First of all, I'm not part of any official body, so I don't have the power to "approve" anything. Second, here's what I actually said about Lyrical's contract changes (from a thread on Lyrical at Absolute Write).

I said something very similar to Frank Rocco in private correspondence. I was genuinely impressed with Lyrical's willingness to make changes (if you go through the thread, you can find some of my original objections) and although they didn't implement all my suggestions, I do feel they made the contract much more author-friendly than it was (though I did note my continuing objection to the kill fee). But that hardly constitutes an "approval," or a blanket endorsement of all the contract clauses.

As to the Revisions clause quoted above--it's intended to cover subsequent revisions of a published work--not ongoing revisions to an unpublished work (that's covered by the Editing clause). It's standard in nonfiction contracts (where works may need updating from time to time, and can stay in print for decades) but does not belong in a fiction contract (in fact, I told Mr. Rocco that I always advise authors to strike such clauses). If Lyrical is invoking it to justify charging an author for editing an unpublished work, then they are completely misinterpreting it.

Anonymous said...

I'd simply like to point out that the vast majority of Lyrical's authors are totally content with their contracts. Whether to sign or not sign a particular contract is the decision of each individual author, not one that others should make for them.

Certainly, it seems a little unprofessional to be referring to a legitimate publisher as "trash" and its authors as "dupes". I for one read all contracts extremely carefully, and take time to consider them before signing.

I understand that you're trying to do a good thing here by "saving" unsuspecting authors from a contract you perceive to be unfair. However, I can only say that in the end, all of Lyrical Press's authors are grown adults and capable of making their own decisions. This is a Lyrical Press issue and should be handled internally.

Anonymous said...

Flim-flam artists are able to be flim-flam artists because there are people who WILL sign the contract!!! It's as simple as that. Although I'm typically on the side of the authors when it comes to shady publishers, I have no sympathy for authors who willingly sign anything and everything just for the sake of getting published. Warnings about this publisher (owner) appeared on numerous blogs even before they released their first books, yet authors flocked to them anyway. Sorry, but if they signed such a crappy contract, it's their problem.

Anonymous said...

So we've got two or three blogs complaining about a clause in the contract, we've got Lyrical Press saying Victoria Strauss Ok'd their contract (probably not the smartest thing to say in a public forum) and we've got Vitoria Strauss clarifying (rightly IMHO) that she isn't t the final arbiter of all things contractual in the publishing world. (Though I wonder why she didn't question this clause at the time the whole "kill fee" thing happened.) We've got Lyrical saying "get a lawyer before signing" after the fact as opposed to just saying "hey we'll just drop the clause all together and make this go away" and pointing to on unhappy author for having started all this in the first place.

A couple of observations:

1) Unhappy author aside, the clause probably should be removed from Lyrical's contracts despite assertions that Lyrical needs to cover it's financial ass when it comes to setting up a publishing house and the cost associated with producing en eBook. The last time I looked, that's called "the cost of doing business" and you generally recover your costs from the consumer by marking up the price of your goods - you don't charge the producer of the goods, namely the author, for revising a manuscript. It simply looks like you're purposefully trying to take advantage of authors and really, this whole "controversy" points to a lack of experience in the management at Lyrical Press because anyone with half a brain would have realized the kill fee and now this contract issue aren't standard in the publishing industry.

2) There is a gang mentality when bloggers smell blood in the water and everyone wants to jump in to rip a piece of flesh from the wounded party. There will be those foaming at the mouth, pointing and screaming in a shrill voice "cheerleader!" or "sock puppet!" should anyone dare try to defend Lyrical or should one of their authors (stupidly) come forward and say "they along with most authors are extremely happy at Lyrical Press".

Belladonna said...

Thank you for your clarification, Ms. Strauss. I agree that this clause is necessary in non-fiction contracts.

Whether or not you think the author made a stupid move, I would think authors would run in fear away from this publisher once they learned they kicked an author off her book and then are intent on charging for the edits they did without her input. That's the WTF of this post.

Personally, I would have let the author go and dropped the clause because although it is necessary in non-fiction that doesn't constitute what LPI is doing. You can't arbitrarily kick an author off their book because you can't get along or see eye to eye and then do with it as you see fit. You can't even do that in non-fiction.

Sandy said...

In my opinion, it all comes down to ethics. Those who have ever taken a class in ethics will know this company, Lyrical Press, acted unethically. There have always been those who take advantage of others, so we have to be more vigilant than ever.

Thanks to the cheerleader.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know the particulars of the dispute between this author and Lyrical Press, but it sounds like the author’s contract fell through because of editing conflicts. That author – very unprofessionally – decided to publicly air his/her grievances and now many people who don’t know what they are talking about have joined in, Lord of the Flies style.
Let’s clarify one thing: a publishing contract is just that, a contract. A legal and binding document, boys and girls. Which means if either the author or the publisher fails to uphold their end of the deal (breach of contract), there will be repercussions. Publishing is a business, no matter how artsy fartsy some writers try to make it and the bottom line is, if you can’t deliver a marketable product, then you’ve got problems, and will continue to have problems regardless of what publisher you work with. For everyone crying “unfair”, please realize all publishing contracts have an editing/revising clause. Every book needs editing. Yes, every book. Even yours! And obviously if you are dead, you can’t do revisions. Probably neither can your heirs, and while we’re on the subject, who the heck came up with the idea that the heirs would not see any income from said book? Can we say “convoluted hoopla”? As usual, if people had their stories straight and only posted truths, things like this just wouldn’t be as interesting, now would they?
For those claiming LPI preyed upon authors… pardon me, but I’d bet my library card that the author in question came begging Ms. Rocco to publish his/her book, not the other way around.
If you think it’s wrong for a publisher to charge a fee for authors who refuse to comply with contractual obligations (it’s standard in the business, by the way – I’ve had 5 contracts and every one of them has the pullout fee provision), you probably have no idea how much work has already gone into getting a book ready for production, by numerous parties, not only the book’s editor. Authors who dillydally and play with contracts, then back out of them claiming artistic principles or whathaveyou should face consequences.
Bottom line is, unless you truly know what’s going on here, it’s simply unethical to be going around calling other people/businesses unethical.

kt bishop said...

If i have to go thru them, I can go without being published. What a rip-off!

Sandy said...

Since, Anonymous, know so much about what is ethical I'm surprised she's not willing to sign her name to her comment.

Angela Guillaume said...

And what a lengthy comment it is, Sandy. Could it possibly be someone who is heavily invested with LPI? The comment in question seems too heartfelt to be simply an objective one. Frankly though, can comment with no name to it be deemed an opinion? That said, the contract clause remains what it is - one designed to rip off an author. And the reason so many e-pubs have been getting away with this is that nobody would speak up. Finally someone with balls (figuratively speaking) to take this on publicly. About time. I had a bad experience with one of "those" publishers myself in the past, and everything was pushed under the carpet. Not sure in my case if it was purposeful bad behavior on the part of the publisher or simply lack of business sense. This attitude of "say nothing and take it" was due to change one day or another. Why shouldn't an author who was ripped off talk about it in a public setting? Isn't that what discussion groups are for? To educate is to impart the good and the bad news, and help authors grow and make wiser decisions. Should the author have shut up and said nothing after the publisher threatened to steal her manuscript? I am surprised that Anonymous would suggest this, being that she/he has 5 published manuscripts - and that would make she/he an author with supposed interest in what is going on in her/his industry....or not?

Diana Castilleja said...

Annon 6:58

Regarding your 'please realize all publishing contracts have an editing/revising clause. Every book needs editing. Yes, every book. '

The editing was not what was in question. The forced payment is.

Belladonna said...

Hi Anon - nice of you to drop by, but the fact of it is - this publisher is holding the author's story hostage and then charging them against future royalties for the edits they had no say in.

All your this is this and that is that doesn't adress that problem. And, don't blame the author because I've talked to five LPI authors who have it in there contracts -- all of whom now realize the clause stinks.

Sandy said...

To Anonymous,

I remember when an editor at Harlequin was fired because she edited and author's book, and it was published without the author okaying the edits. That editor messed with the wrong author. This woman was far more knowledgeable about business than the editor. She went to the main offices in Canada to the top man.

It was not proper behavior or Harlequin's business practice to do what she did.

If e-presses want to play with the big boys they better damn well obey the rules.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous on 8/25 at 12:11 said,

we've got Vitoria Strauss clarifying (rightly IMHO) that she isn't t the final arbiter of all things contractual in the publishing world. (Though I wonder why she didn't question this clause at the time the whole "kill fee" thing happened.)

As I said in my first comment, I did question the clause (if you're referring to the Revisions clause quoted above). I let Lyrical know that such clauses don't belong in fiction contracts, and told them that I always recommend that novelist strike them when they find them. This is just one of several of my contract criticisms that Lyrical chose not to take on board.

Clauses such as this one have nothing to do with pre-publication editing (that's covered in a separate Editing clause). They are intended to cover revised editions of already-published books. They don't belong in fiction contracts, but they are not "designed to rip off authors." In this situation, the problem arises not because the clause is rapacious or nonstandard, but because Lyrical appears to be completely misinterpreting its language and intent. I've never before heard of a publisher doing this.

Anastasia Rabiyah said...

Ugh, what a mess. I get so saddened when things like this get tossed around. Gives all e-pubs a bad name, and they're not all bad. The best advice to any author is to really read your contract and make sure you understand it. If you don't understand or don't agree, don't sign it. Question it until you do understand and agree or go elsewhere. It's okay to say no and run away. It's okay to ask questions. It's okay to have faith in yourself and your work enough to try a different publishing house.

Anonymous said...

I just want you to know from personal experience that Renee Rocco is a miserable bitch who is trying to reinvent herself she is a deceiving looser who was a stripper from the age of 18 and did for over 10 years. She is a cheat and will screw up anyone who she encounters she also is a "Closet" case now on her blog she talks about her her perfect life...please it's all for show

Anonymous said...

From Piers Anthony's Internet Publishing (http://www.hipiers.com/publishing.html)- one of the primary sources online to find out the reputation of e-publishers:

"September 2009 update: there have been ugly reports on other sites condemning this publisher. As far as I can ascertain, they are fallacious, a hate campaign."

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late in the game, but I had to add in my two cents.

I was accepted by LPI but read their contract carefully. I walked away and felt sorry for anyone who would agree to a few questionable terms in their contract, not only the one in question here.

You don't need to get nasty about this issue, but keep in mind that you need to educate yourself and, like negotiating for a fair price on a new car, you need to be willing to walk away from a bad publishing contract and look elsewhere.

C. M. Albrecht said...

Actually Ms Rocco was always very good with me. When she agreed to publish one of my books, the contract may have been as nasty as the one mentioned. Okay, I'm a dope, but I seldom bother to read contracts. The plus side is that I was assigned an editor who worked very closely with me for some time until we got everything just right.
Two little problems: First, my book was scarcely erotic in nature and it appears that most of their works is, and probably for that reason, problem 2 came up: no sales.
After about 3 months, Ms Rocco sent me a very nice sympathetic letter telling me that she felt it wasn't fair to either of us to continue to offer the book and she returned my rights to me.
I wasn't thrilled at first, but now I feel she did the right thing. I found another publisher and we're all happy.
One other thing: Almost before I could react, I was presented with a cover I didn't like but when I tried to discuss changing it, I was told it was too late to change at that point, so I was stuck with it.
In summation: Far as I could see, they're honest in their dealings if you offer the sort of stuff they publish. My experience was a mistake evidently on both sides and I have no hard feelings.