Beware Damnation Books

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.

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About Tim Marquitz

Grave digger turned horror author
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18 Responses to Beware Damnation Books

  1. Bryce says:

    Wow, that’s just ridiculous. I wish I could help you, but I’m not a certified lawyer yet though I’m working on that at the moment. What I can do is at least make it known on my blog. Sorry man.

  2. Tim Marquitz says:

    No worries, man. I understand and appreciate you spreading the word. :)

  3. Mr. Veenstra is not just claiming to represent Damnation Books LLC–he IS representing us. Tim, you know the terms of the contracts and the early termination penalties are in there so don’t pretend to be surprised.

  4. Majanka says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re having these problems with your publisher. How long will yours book be under contract? It seems like it would probably be best – at least it seems that way to me – if you kept them there till the end of contract duration. Then you can do with them what you want, and you won’t have to pay the outrageous fees.

    I’m not that familiar with US law (since I live in Belgium) but it’s a basic principle that termination fees have to be explained. As in, they have to give you a list of all expenses leading up to the supposed $1000 and then possibly distract the money they earned by sales from that.

    I understand you want to walk away with your rights, but I fear no other publisher will accept these books until they’re absolutely sure the rights aren’t still with Damnation Books. You could always self-publish them of course, but if you’re looking for another publisher, this may cause some trouble.

    I wish you good luck, and I hope everything works out!

  5. Micheal Grin says:

    I’m wondering what it is that made you decide to pull your rights back from DB. It’s your right to share or not and I can understand that. There must have been something that triggered this decision though.
    I have my own regret with DB, have since almost a year ago, but I’m just going to ride out the contract on Princess Nonomi and continue working on other projects. You, however, have way more books through DB and I can imagine the frustration you’re in. Good luck, Tim. I’m rooting for you and I hope it works out. You have my support.

  6. Tim Marquitz says:

    Majanka, Micheal,

    Thanks for the support. It’ll all work out.

  7. Francis Kennedy says:

    Mr. Marquitz,
    How can one contact you directly? There are issues of common interest I believe we can discuss as regards Damnation. I’d prefer to have your email address. Hope to hear from you soon.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps not relevant but the contract states:

    “Upon removal from distribution, the ISBN number and art work are no longer available for the Author to use and must be removed from online and printed venues maintained by the author.”

    Perhaps this is standard practice, but since the ownership of the ISBN and artwork appears to revert to the publisher, why is the author still required to pay for it in full?

    • Tim Marquitz says:

      Because that’s how they get by. All the costs ultimately end up on the author while DB continues to make money and claim they’re out the costs of doing all the hard work.

  9. Tim,
    I feel your pain. I’m with said company and it is truly frustrating. I have two author friends who have requested their rights and both were denied or ignored completely. I want mine but feel i will be wasting my time and resources trying. Kim is out and out going to make it impossible to do so and with that means I’m stuck for another 3-4 years for both novels.
    Thank you for sharing

    • Tim Marquitz says:

      I’m sorry you’re stuck with them. It’s business as usual for Kim to ignore the complaints and emails. She does it to me as well. She shits on her contracts and authors by doing so. What could have been a golden opportunity to earn goodwill and future business has turned into a situation where she would rather piss off authors and damage her reputation. As if the dozen or so authors I’ve spoken to privately and publicly are all making this up. She’s going to ignore the problem until it bites her in the ass and then act offended. It’s too bad, but for what it’s worth, I’m not done making an issue of it. I ask that you and your friends make a big deal of it publicly. It’s the only way to affect change, and if you or they are worried that Kim can do anything to hurt your career, don’t. There is no magic blacklist she can add you to. All your effort will go to helping authors avoid the mistakes we made.

      Good luck.

  10. Karly says:

    Tim, I’m so glad you went public with this. Im furious with this publisher. I’ve gone through the same thing only I don’t even get the common decency of a reply to any of my emails ! Way to run a professional business.
    I was sick of making royalties of $13 and less for a quarter on 4 books! It was pathetic. I had made suggestions for promotional oportunities..having a sale..reducing the ebook prices to compete with other ebooks on the market, repeatedly with my first books I had with them only to be told they felt lowering the price suggested the books were poor quality. THIS came after going through edits 3 weeks before release after they’d had the ms for almost a year..then having it rushed through and published with typos that any respectable publisher would have been embarrassed to have released without fixing. Quality editing? Seriously?
    I was so disgusted by his publisher I decided to self publish and then I realised just how much they were making off me. It was sickening.
    Kim wont even answer my emails regarding buying back my rights, and living in Australia its not worth the time , money and stress of taking this to court.
    I moved on and it was the BEST thing I’ve ever done. I make real money on my books for a change and i’ve never been happier.
    I’ll wait out the 5 fricken years of the contract. I was a beginner writer and hadn’t learnt the ropes, so im not going to keep beating myself up over this stupid decision to publish with them…but I can tell you now…there is no reason for a small press like this to even exist anymore. Authors can do everything a publisher like Eternal can do and ten times better. They’re a dying industry and I suspect they know it, hence why they’ve resorted to witholding rights and treating their authors like crap. Good ridenence when this one finally goes under.

    • Tim Marquitz says:

      Sorry, Karly. It’s the same here. She avoids responding to keep from looking like a bitch and adding fuel to the fire but she doesn’t understand her silence is just as bad. She has more than enough books to keep her operation going but she’d rather offend her authors and potential future clients by disrespecting them and ignoring her own contracts and not letting authors go who want out. In my case, she’s earned her money back and much more yet she continues to ignore my requests for release. She simply doesn’t care. Even after being sued, she ignores the situation and didn’t even bother to appeal the judgment, which shows you how little she cares about her reputation.

      If you want to do something, go public on your page/blog and make your complaints known. I doubt Kim will care but when authors stop giving her books maybe she will then.

      I’m glad things are working out for you. Keep working at it and don’t let this drag you down. Damnation Books is nothing but a pebble in the road. Step over it and keep going.

  11. Bibliotropic says:

    This is truly pathetic. Honestly, the more I read about certain publishers, the more I actually want to pack in my dream of trying to be a published author someday, simply so that I won’t have to run up against greedy companies like Damnation, who won’t even abide by the terms of their own contracts! It’s disgusting that a company thinks they can actually do business this way. And yet from what I’ve been hearing lately, all too common.

    • Tim Marquitz says:

      Don’t let stuff like this discourage you. There are plenty of awesome publishers out there who will treat you with respect and honor their relationships and contracts. There’s always going to be assholes screwing things up, but the good in the system makes up for it. If you want to write and be published, live your dream.

    • Jake Elliot says:

      It is very frustrating, but there are fantastic publishers out there. I am published with Damnation, and I also have issues with them. Although I would not recommend DB to anyone, they did put two of my books into print when no one else would look at me because I was nobody. I’m still grateful for this despite the hardship I’ve endured.

      Because of DB, I’ve met awesome innovative authors like Tim Marquitz, Edward M. Erdalac, D. Robert Grixti, and Jeremy Kline, I’ve met a couple great illustrators and one good editor. (Editing on my second book, not the first.) As upset as I am with the bullshit, DB did put two of my books into print. Critic have generally liked my work and as a result of being published with DB, other publishers are now interested in what I’m doing.

      So I agree with Tim, don’t let other people ruin your dreams. Writing is a hard gig. Art is a hard gig. Good luck.

      • Tim Marquitz says:

        There’s no doubt they’ve done some good, especially early. There was a true interest in putting out good books. Sadly, that gave way to the numbers game and allowed it to become an issue of ego. It’s no longer about the books but the ability to claim they’re successful at publishing, Kim being able to lord her position over authors who don’t agree with her. It isn’t about the money; that’s not why those termination fees are in there.

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