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. (A PDF copy of the letter can be found HERE)
Dear Mr. Marquitz,
This letter is to notify you that your request for return of rights is denied because the time length specified in the contract terms has not been reached. When each contract expires naturally, you will receive a return of rights at that time.
Signed: Kim Richards Gilchrist
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 term listed below. (A PDF copy of the complete contract can be found HERE)
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.
As per the contract, I have complied with the terms and will consider Armageddon Bound to be released on July 14, 2012. (Nothing in the contract stipulates agreement or acceptance of the release required by Damnation Books, nor does any verbiage claim the right to refuse my request as they have done)
Further still, on May 8, 2012 (received by Damnation Books per USPS Delivery Confirmation on May 11, 2012), I sent $200 as payment in full of the minimum, early termination fees listed in the contracts for Resurrection, At the Gates, Skulls, and the Temple of the Dead: $50 for each. (A PDF copy of the contract* can be found HERE)
Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty 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.
At the time, Damnation Books had chosen not to set a fee, deciding rather to deny the release of my rights without discussion or consideration of their own contract terms, so I sent the minimum fee for each contract, as it is more than sufficient to cover the costs associated with my works even without factoring in profits made by Damnation Books through the sale of my books.
The covers for the above listed books were $50 each, totaling $200. Fees for editing (as shown HERE in the editing contract for Damnation Books) are set at 10% net royalties, with no minimum or set amount promised the editor. There is also no minimum or set amount claimed in any of the contracts. As such, Damnation Books has no legal right to claim editing fees above and beyond what has been paid the editor through sales, regardless of amount earned. Given this, I had every intention of walking away with my rights on June 11, 2012, having met the terms of the contract release triggers in the following paragraph, present in all four contracts of the disputed books.
Upon receipt of a written termination request letter and the fees from the Author, the Publisher has thirty (30) days in which to remove the title from distribution and disable the ISBN numbers associated with this title. Rights to the work return to the author at the end of that thirty (30) day period.
Note: there is no stipulation in the contract requiring the approval or acceptance of either the fees (or even the amount of the fees paid) or the release of the rights by Damnation Books. There is also no verbiage anywhere in the contract that allows them to refuse the termination request or reject the payment.
However, today, June 8, 2012, I received a letter from a lawyer claiming to represent Damnation Books. While DB now acknowledges they have no claim to Armageddon Bound, per my original argument, they have chosen to set a fee for the remaining books: $1,000 for each, making it $4,000 for me to buy my way out.
Now, since each cover cost $50, single ISBNs cost $125 (and DB buys them in bulk so the cost is much lower), there’s no minimum fee for editing, and promotion is part of the cost of doing business, Damnation Books is charging me more than $825 for the formatting of each book (one of which is only 42 pages), all while ignoring any and all money they’ve made off the sales of the disputed books. And to top it off, their lawyer didn’t even provide me with an itemized list of the charges associated with my books or credits earned, making this nothing more an attempt to pressure me into submission.
So anyway, as I said earlier, I hate having to take this public but I want people to know exactly what they’re getting into when they sign on with Damnation Books. I was their first author, and I’d been nothing but loyal and supportive since the beginning and look where that got me.
This is, amongst the many, just one more cautionary tale for those seeking publication. I went into this with open eyes and still ended up having to fight for what is rightfully mine. So, be careful, and be absolutely certain you can abide the terms of the contracts you sign, and be ready to fight for what is yours because there’s always someone out there trying to take it away.
*While this contract is specifically for At the Gates, the terms are the exact same for all of the disputed books.