If you’ve read my two previous posts about All Classic Books, you already know this story. If you haven’t, here’s the gist.
Cheryl Lee Nunn of notorious vanity publisher American Book Publishing (one of Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down publishers, also featured in an alert at Writer Beware) attempts to expand her author-fleecing operation with a network of bogus organizations and publishers. Outed on this blog, she cuts her losses and folds the scheme–but, eager to make money on the back end, she holds authors’ rights for ransom, threatening to give their contracts to a “transfer agent” unless they pony up a buyout fee of $695.
Authors with All Classic Books (the only one of the bogus publishers to issue contracts) have just received another email demanding even more money (all errors courtesy of the original).
From: Rebecca Reece Winslow
Date: Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Subject: [Name redacted] Your Author Legal Notice Your Book Contract Transfer Agent Instructions
To: [Name redacted]
Cc: “legal @ allclassicbooks.com”
Per terms of our book contract with you we are in the process of exercising our option to assign your book contract to another book publisher effective December 4, 2013. The transfer agent that is working on our publishing company merge or sale and book contract assignments is The Names Company, a publishing industry business broker specialist.
The Names Company will oversee that all our book contract obligations are performed on. For example books remain in print and production and royalties are paid by required contract dates so that we are in full and complete legal compliance. This to make sure that our book contracts remain legally binding to all parties.
The Names Company will not however be providing a publisher staff to answer your book publishing and book selling questions and other book marketing assistance as we have provided you. They will only be responding about questions related to book contract company assignment or your book rights buyouts.
It is important to be aware that just listing a book title for sale today with ten million other book titles that book sales almost always occur because of an author interview, book review or other author promotional activity. If the author is not professionally promoting their title effectively, then it is highly unlikely the author will earn any royalties during the period either with The Names Company or a subsequent publisher assignment.
Instead we have been recommending and helping our authors doing buyouts upload their book files to Amazon’s book publishing companies Creative Space (printed books) and Kindle Direct Publishing (e-books) for free.
[Redacted: several paragraphs extolling the virtues of “Creative Space” and KDP.]
We have instructed The Names Company to continue our full book rights buyout offer with our permission and and files for authors to use our edited content and book covers.
However, because of the added expense of the transfer agent, beginning on the first of each month the Full Book Rights Buyout will increase $100 per month. Therefore, buyout offers will be raised from $695.00 to December 3, 2013 with us and can use their credit cards until but after December 4, 2013 the buyout will increase to $795 and $895 on January 1, 2014 and so on. Their website is at http://thenamescompany.com/ and e-mail contact address is info @ thenamescompany.com
Only wired funds will be authorized for those authors doing buyouts after December 4, 2013 through The Names Company will be accepted from that point, instructions are below.
Once fund wires are confirmed, The Names Company will provide authors their book content and cover files, letters of full rights return and authorization to use our editing and design. Then they will remove any current sales listings.
Authors then can legally re publish their book titles with another publisher or self publish it.
[Redacted: wire routing information.]
Warning- Beware of anyone giving false legal advice. We are aware that there has been some false information about us rumored by a fantasy fiction volunteer writer giving our authors bad legal advice that would actually cause them expensive legal damages if they followed it. She does not disclose that she is not an attorney while providing legal advice, and that she is not a professional or unbiased journalist. She is simply a writer we rejected for employment and a book publishing contract about a decade ago, seeking to damage us and our authors with a smear campaign and false information.
Rebecca Reece Winslow
Acquisitions Editor, All Classic Books
info @ allclassicbooks.com
Taking this in order:
* I have several copies of All Classic Books’ contract. Nowhere in any of them is there any language giving the publisher an “option to assign your book contract to another book publisher”. Not that that’s even relevant, because…
* The Names Company isn’t a publisher. It also doesn’t exist. Have a look at its website. Is it me, or does it seem a little odd that there’s zero information on the company or its staff? Or that the only properties shown “for sale” are Nunn’s bogus companies? Or that Googling “The Names Company” brings up nothing?
Not quite what you’d expect from a “a publishing industry business broker specialist” (if there were such a thing, which there isn’t). The Names Company, in other words, is fake–a Nunn fiction in aid of her scheme to extract cash from her authors.
* As of November 5, when I wrote my last post about All Classic Books, it had published only a handful of public domain titles. But when I checked today, I found that it has begun pushing out original titles, all with pub dates of November 20 and later (five days beyond its announced November 15 closing date). It looks as if Nunn is punishing writers who don’t fall for her buyout demand by exercising the rights she holds, even though the publisher that contracted them is supposedly defunct.
If your book is or becomes one of these, don’t send money to Nunn. Instead, use that cash to seek legal advice on how to get the books taken down and your rights returned to you. (There’s a Legal Resources page on the Writer Beware website that may help.) Draw your lawyer’s attention to Paragraph 21 of your contract,which provides for automatic termination and return of rights “in the event of the Publisher’s insolvency, bankruptcy, or assignment of assets for the benefit of creditors.” Cite the first email you received from “Rebecca Reese Winslow,” which clearly states that All Classic is closing down because it’s losing money–i.e., insolvent.
* If you haven’t guessed, the “fantasy fiction volunteer writer” mentioned in the final paragraph is me. Nunn has been telling that lie about me being a disgruntled would-be employee for years, ever since she trumped it up for a lawsuit she threatened Ann and me with in 2003 (we called her bluff and the suit was never filed). If I needed any further proof that “Rebecca Reese Winslow” is Cheryl Lee Nunn, that would do it.
I was accepted last year – encouraged to sign their attached contract and accept their advance of $100.00. I had a lawyer friend look it over who pointed out many red flags – like giving up all rights to characters story lines and future film or tv rights.
I was still so thrilled by my first contract offer, a feeling I am sure they prey on, I was willing to negotiate. After emailing a few questions, I heard nothing back. I am so relieved that I never signed or took the trap advance because now I have my full manuscript out to three reputable publishers for consideration.
This would be hilarious, if not for the fact that there are authors who got suckered to publish through this publisher. =/
I can just imagine Nunn reading the previous Writer Beware blog posts. "Oh, she's saying there are no such things as 'transfer agents'? Well, there is now!" (*creates The Names Company website*) "MUAHAHAHA! Oh, better add a few paragraphs vaguely discrediting WB, because that has totally not been done before."
This is great stuff. I love to see con artists get their schemes shoved down their throats. All author contracts become null and void as soon as the publisher violates the contract by going out of business, especially if the books have not been published. I'm sure she hasn't paid the writers anything. How many times have these type scammers used the angry employee or rejected writer theme? I hope no one has fallen for this scam.
Desperation . . . lack of understanding how publishing works . . lack of patience. There are tons of reasons why authors continue to sign up with undesirable agents, publishers, editors, publicists, and so on.
I think one of the biggest reasons is a lack of patience. A writer spends so much time working on that first novel and when they hit "the end", there's a rush to get someone to read it and validate all that time. Some authors just don't want to go through the effort to get an agent or find an appropriate publisher, especially with "web gurus" pointing out how easy it is to do it yourself these days.
Which is and isn't true, but that's a different post.
No website as such there anymore, just a slider of logos titled "companies for sale" which acts as a handy reference for which companies authors (or investors, no doubt) should avoid.
There are so many of these scammers around. I'd have thought the ease of self publication, these days, would mean there were less of these around because we don't need others to get our work seen by readers anymore AND it's easier to check up on such businesses now. Why are we writers still such easy targets, I wonder? 🙁
They rejected you for employment and a publishing contract? Uh huh. There's no irony in that section of the email at ALL.
Michael–good catch. I did look at the Whois data for The Names Company, but I didn't check the IP addresses.
Inkling–the problem with "publish and be damned" is reader confusion. You can change the title of the re-published book, but unless you also change your name you risk readers searching on you, finding the All Classic version, and mistaking it for a different book/realizing it's the same book and wondering what's up. You could explain the situation on your website, of course–but will people find that first? IMO, better to take steps to see what can be done about forcing All Classic to take the book down.
TheNamesCompany.com also happens to share the same IP address at Bluehost as all her other sites.
Some brave author should adopt a legal technique called "publish and be damned." Republish through Smashwords or the like and dare this Nunn and her company to sue.
Attract a lot of publicity and set a deadline a week or so in the future. It'd help to be in a federal circuit far removed from these clowns. Force them put up or shut up and make it painful
Also, Nunn's mention of Creative Space (apparently her term for Amazon's POD CreateSpace) and Kindle Direct suggest another way to apply pressure.
Amazon is very lawyer-centric. I was recently surprised to discover how many of their upper executives have law degrees. Send letters to Amazon warning that dealing with the various fronts for American Book Publishing could get very messy for Amazon. Authors are fleeing the publisher and it could become bankrupt.
Having been warned, Amazon is in danger of being drawn into disputes about copyright and missed payments. Offer to help Amazon sort the situation out, determining which authors are OK with continuing to be published through ABP and which are not.
A quick search of Amazon found 669 hits for "American Book Publishing." If ADP has to convince that each is legitimate, it could be in big trouble.