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Old 08-16-2011, 06:25 PM   #1
Wrider
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Making sure my contract ends?

[Edit: Update a few posts below. Book is apparently free from PA's clutches. Woohoo.]

I know this has been discussed many times here, but rather than spending time trying to find the threads, I hope you don't mind I'm starting this one.

My first book's contract with PA is supposed to be up next year. I've heard that some authors have needed to be proactive in the process and that the contract may not be dropped automatically. I don't want PA to have my book for another 7 years. What should I do? I don't want to fight for it before the contract is up - it isn't worth that much to me. But I do want it back at the end of my contract so I can do what I please with the manuscript.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:28 PM   #2
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Send them a letter (snail mail, not e-mail) saying you are not renewing the contract; make sure they have to sign for it.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:44 PM   #3
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I second what Cyia said. Also, it never hurts to email, and email and email until someone responds - with any luck on teh back of the email you sent. Then keep that too as proof that someone read it and responded.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:11 PM   #4
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Also, double-check the language in your contract. Some have an automatic renewal clause and some don't. But yeah, protect yourself by sending a letter and keep records of all your correspondence.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:22 PM   #5
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Thanks, all. At what point should I send a letter? I'll have to look at my actual contract, but say it ends September 15th 2012. When should I begin contacting them?
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:41 PM   #6
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Thanks, all. At what point should I send a letter? I'll have to look at my actual contract, but say it ends September 15th 2012. When should I begin contacting them?
Now. Again, read your contract language. INAL, but it would probably be best to send in your request so it gets there well before the end date.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:32 PM   #7
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And don't let PA scare you into keeping the contract in force by trying to convince you that you won't remain a published author unless you do.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:52 PM   #8
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Thanks.
No, I won't let PA scare me. They've got three of my books and I'll get them back one by one. In the meantime, I'm self-publishing other books, very content with that and proud to be a published author withOUT PA's support.
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Old 08-16-2011, 11:58 PM   #9
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In the meantime, I'm self-publishing other books, very content with that and proud to be a published author withOUT PA's support.
Oops. Did I say, "support"?
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Old 08-17-2011, 02:59 AM   #10
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Just found my contract for my first book. Was disheartened to realize that it was signed earlier than I thought and it's now past the 7-year mark. I checked all the wording and it clearly says that mutual consent, in writing, is needed for renewal. So I went online. Lo and behold, the book has been removed from the PA store! Looks like at least that book got in early enough in the game (and so few have sold in the last couple years) that they let it go. I'm going to go do a happy dance now.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:27 AM   #11
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Wrider, congratulations! You still may want to send a letter to PA stating that, as per your contract, it is your understanding that all publishing rights for your book have been returned to you. Have PA send you a written letter stating that fact. It never hurts to have a back-up or to have it in writing (just ask Judge Judy!).
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:46 AM   #12
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How, exactly would I get PA to send me back a letter?

I'm embarrassed to admit that it's been so long with my first book and not until recently had I been concerned with all of this. As a result, I thought the contract was up this year. It wasn't. It was last year. Which would explain why I hadn't been receiving royalty statements from PA. I was fed up enough with them that I simply didn't want to bother trying to figure that out at the time. So, apparently, my book has been abandoned by PA for quite a while. I'm feeling pretty safe, at this point, to do what I want with my manuscript now. However, like you said, it never hurts to have a back-up.

My second book's contract apparently ends next month. Again though, its contract states very clearly that mutual consent, in writing, by both parties, is needed for any contract renewal. To me, it's pretty safe, legally.

My third (and last with PA) book is different. That one's contract isn't up until 2014 and has an automatic renewal unless I decline prior to the 7-year mark. I'll have to be on top of that one to make sure the renewal doesn't happen.

But as far as those first two... I'm feeling pretty good about moving on without worry of PA being able to do anything.
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Old 08-17-2011, 10:21 AM   #13
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I would just ask them. I asked for one and received it. They may not comply, but it's worth a shot to ask. You have your contract as back-up, which is good. It would just make it perfectly clear to any new publishers that you might submit your work to if PA sent you a letter saying the publishing rights have been returned to you. Good luck!
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:37 PM   #14
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Thank you!
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:13 PM   #15
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Wrider, since you say you have/had three books with PA, you need to check the terms of each contract. The renewal part is definitely something that changed several years ago. At first (and possibly for your first book), the contract automatically expired after seven years unless it was actively renewed. Then they changed this so that it automatically renewed unless it was actively terminated.

It sounds like your first book might've been from the 'automatically expires' era, but you'll want to check the other two contracts to see which terms apply. I'd suggest that you read the renewal terms of all three contracts very carefully.

And congratulations on getting free of PA, even if it's just one contract at a time.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:40 PM   #16
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If I recall correctly there was a period when PA contracts lasted forever.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Wrider, since you say you have/had three books with PA, you need to check the terms of each contract. The renewal part is definitely something that changed several years ago. At first (and possibly for your first book), the contract automatically expired after seven years unless it was actively renewed. Then they changed this so that it automatically renewed unless it was actively terminated.
You're exactly right. I checked the contracts on my first two books and they are worded the same and are very clear (surprisingly) about automatic termination after 7 years unless both author and PA sign a new agreement. It's clear enough that I'm pretty confident about those two (and the fact that the first has already disappeared from their store).

My third book's contract, however, is worded differently and does have an automatic renewal unless I decline prior to the 7-year point. At the time, I had a pretty good handle on the reality of the situation and knew it wasn't great to be with PA, but I wasn't educated enough to realize even if I couldn't snag a good publisher within my preferred time frame, that there were other options. It was after that, PA increased their prices again and began their little campaign of different versions of books to make more money and that's when I started getting mad. Unfortunately, they already had my third book.

So... full circle... it will be a while yet before my third book's contract is up. 2014 I believe. But yes, with that one, I will have to be proactive and getting those rights back before the automatic renewal.

Thanks for the congrats. At least I'm getting out from under PA slowly. I'm also enjoying self-publishing more than I thought I would, and I've reevaluated and reset my publishing goals. So I suppose if it took me going through this with PA to realize these things, then there is some good in the situation... Some.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:43 PM   #18
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Why not send them a letter now stating that you are not renewing it? Then it's up to them to remember to remove it so they won't be liable.
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:48 PM   #19
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Why not send them a letter now stating that you are not renewing it? Then it's up to them to remember to remove it so they won't be liable.
Would they actually return a signed letter this early on? I guess the legality of the issue is what I don't know about. If I send a letter to them (signature required upon receiving so I have proof they got it) and request non-renewal but they don't respond... Then what? I'm afraid they will deny reading it and prolong it until past the date due and then "oops" it's under contract again, sorry. (Should I post this somewhere else?)
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:52 AM   #20
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Quote:
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If I recall correctly there was a period when PA contracts lasted forever.
I think you're right. IIRC, tlblack's contract had that wording in it.
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:57 AM   #21
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My contract was for the life of copyright. Something like my life plus 75 additional years.
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:21 AM   #22
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My contract was for the life of copyright. Something like my life plus 75 additional years.
That pretty much seems like forever, doesn't it? PA is ** insert the most vile words you can think of here **.
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