AIRLEAF VICTIMS UPDATE APRIL 5, 2008
Dear Airleaf Victims and Friends,
Welcome to our two new members. We now have reached 429 members of our group.
On the legal front, I feel confident that some legal proceedings are progressing. Please be patient as action is happening. You can be sure that I am checking on a regular basis with the various authorities. So far, I feel assured there is movement in our direction.
I'd like to start off this week with something to amuse you. I am Jewish. We have a word in our language which is "Chutzpah." Even if you're not Jewish, you may be familiar with it. But in case you're not, it translates into "gall," or excuse my language, "balls." This concerns Carl Lau, Airleaf fraud perpetrator, as we are trying to get our books being held hostage by the thousands in the Airleaf building. Bob Denton has kindly offered to retrieve our books back for the cost of the postage. However, some authors were getting notes from him stating that Carl wants to be paid $1.00 per book in order to release the books. So I called Bob to see what's up with that.
Bob explained that Carl said he, Bob, can return books to authors if the books were paid for and just being stored at Airleaf; however, if the authors paid for the Airleaf publishing services and received their 25 or 50 books as was agreed to in the contract, they have to pay to get any additional books that might have been printed because Carl claims they belong to him.
Now, quite frankly, I have some deep, severe philosophical disagreements with this kind of thinking. Carl Lau claims these are "his" books because we didn't pay for the additional books that are sitting there. He hasn't considered the additional monies that we paid for marketing services that were never performed or the royalties that were never received. But then I started thinking some more about this, and I called Bob back. I told him to please let Carl know that if anyone is in that situation, we want to know the name of the printer. I have had several printers come to me telling me why they stopped printing for Airleaf—namely because Carl Lau owed them thousands of dollars. So I suspect that many of our books that Carl wants to charge authors for were never paid for anyway. But you can be sure I'll be checking this out with the printers.
If you are an Airleaf victim in this situation where your books are being held for ransom by Carl Lau, please let me know immediately so I can work with you to see if we can locate the printer and whether or not your book was one that was never paid for. If so, we will have new charges to report to the federal government—which would be excellent.
Please remember—this has nothing to do with Bob Denton who is really trying to help authors by retrieving our books, discs, and materials. Bob is doing all the labor for free including finding materials, packing them, and shipping them. This was not his idea, and he has given Carl Lau his opinion backing us.
One of our Airleaf authors, Gertrude, wrote to me about a book company she used, Dorrance, located in Pittsburgh, PA. She told me that she was charged "by the word." This is something new to me. Several others have written to me about this company. Here's what she asked me to ask you:
I found one statement of my account dated for 9/25/2005. They did charge me by the word. They also charged me $480.00 for alteration fee when they deliberately changed some of the words and I had to get them to change the words back. I think they really took advantage of me because I was not familiar with the publishing business. From the statement of 9/25/2005, I paid them a grand total of $13,780.00. I don't know if there is anything that I can do about it now.
Yesterday, I found a blog site under their name. I didn't know that this blog site was there when I was dealing with them. I don't know whether I should add a comment to the blog site or not. I don't know if there is anything I can do about this situation, if they are the only publishing company that does this. I don't know if they have charged their other authors the same as they did me. Do you think I should add a comment on the blog site about the way that they charged me?
Please let me know if you have had any similar experiences with this company.
One of our author's, Anita, asked the question about ownership of the ISBN number. I referred the question to my new publisher, Paul, from CCB Publishing, and here was his response:
Thanks for passing along Anita’s question. The answer is that the Publisher owns the ISBN number, not the author. If the author wishes to have their book re-published by another author, a new ISBN number is required.
When re-publishing books as a second edition, CCB Publishing provides a new ISBN number free of charge.
Hope this helps! Paul
Since last week's update, I received a number of comments about copyrighting. I had several dozen people panicked when they wrote to me after seeing that their books with Airleaf and others were not copyrighted at all, even though the books had that imprint.
Here were some of the responses. The first is from my POD guru, Victoria Strauss:
Just wanted to address this, from the last Airleaf update:
Take a moment to check your book in the link below to find out. If it's not there, your book is unprotected and anyone can copy it and say it is theirs.
This isn't true. By law, authors have copyright from the minute they
write down the words. Their work is fully protected from that moment,
and they don't need to take any action to ensure that.
Copyright registration is an additional step that US-based authors can
take (most countries have no formal registration process). It doesn't
confer any additional protection--all it does is to give you the right
to sue in court if your work is infringed. In the USA, you MUST have
previously registered your copyright in order to bring an infringement
However, infringement of unpublished work is so rare as to be
functionally nonexistent, so registration is not necessary for
unpublished works. Many authors are terrified of theft or plagiarism,
but it really should be last on their worry list. There's no need to
register copyright before a work is published.
There's a lot more detail about copyright on the Copyright page of
Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/copyright.html
Should Airleaf authors register? If their books are on the market,
especially if they're selling their own stock of books, it's probably a
good idea (though if they were to republish with any changes, they'd
need to re-register). For anyone whose book was never published by
Airleaf, however, registration is not necessary.
Hope this is helpful!
Personal Website: http://www.victoriastrauss.com/
Writer Beware: http://www.writerbeware.org/
The next note was from Mark Levine at Click Industries (www.Clickindustries.com), a company that helps authors with solutions to many issues as far as publishing. I have been in touch with Mark for over a year and he has always been very responsive and accommodating. He wrote:
Just wanted to let you know that even if a company doesn't register an author's copyright, it doesn't mean that the book is unprotected and can be taken/used by anyone. Yes, if a company tells you it's registering the copyright and doesn't, it's fraud, but the author isn't totally left in the cold.
A writer has what is known as a common law copyright once the work is produced in any tangible form. Registering the work with the US Copyright Office provides other benefits (http://bookpublisherscompared.com/why_copyright.asp). But, if a third-party used an author's book without the author's permission, the author could still sue and recover damages, even if the book wasn't registered with the US Copyright Office. With all of the suffering of the Airleaf authors, I want to make sure they don't have an extra thing to worry about.
The above link provides all the details about why someone should register their work with the US Copyright Office.
And this information came from Helen at Artship Publishing:
Hello Bonnie. Since you are doing such a formidable job distributing advice and information to the authors in the VICTIMS group, I would like to offer some, if you would be so kind as to distribute these clarifications in none of your newsletters.
Books Printed and “In Stock”-- please note that POD means “print on demand”. This means that an author who has self-published can take an order, put in the print order with the printer, receive the book and ship it one-at-a-time, avoiding the necessity for big print order fees and inventory. It’s a good way of avoiding the dreaded “returns” too. In some instances the POD printer will ship the book out to the customer directly, but this is rare.
Re bookstores and other resellers, naturally the author would hope that there are at LEAST 1 or 2 of his/her books on the shelf for customers to browse through— and an author can persuade local stores to carry them in various ways: go preparing to set up a display, talk the store into a book-signing, take a free book and a poster-- and there are dozens (yes, dozens!) of other creative ways to get stores to carry the book. The author should in ALL instances sell the books to the bookstore at a discount (the store needs to make money, too) and guarantee returns after4 a decent period of time. All these rules and ideas are outlined in good books for self-publishing authors, such as the one by Tom & Marilyn Ross-- and NO author should even consider self-publishing without going through this learning curve FIRST.
COPYRIGHT. When Copyright is applied for, the author needs to fill out form TX (available from the Copyright office web site), pay the fee, and provide two copies of the book. If the book has not yet been published (the Copyright office defines “publication” as the date when, and the form in which, the book is made available to the public for purchase), the author CAN provide 2 copies of the manuscript. However the most common practice is to apply for the ISBN and the SAN prior to publication, and to apply formally for copyright when copies of the published book are available.
Incidentally, even if your book is not yet registered with the copyright office, your intellectual rights as author are protected as soon as you write it. There have been many, many cases in which an author was able to win a plagiarism court case proving his ms was written by him first even before it was registered in the copyright office. He who writes it first, owns it. Authors should research this topic thoroughly, and applying for a SAN at the earliest opportunity helps.
Also, don’t expect the Copyright Office to send you that letter immediately. It can take 6 months or longer.
If an author is using a “vanity press” (fee-based) or an independent publisher, that publisher will, if it is legitimate and organized, supply the author with all the registration numbers long before the book appears in print— and will send 2 copies to the Copyright office as soon as it IS in print for registration there. So the offer by Fidel Publishing confuses me a bit. If an author has already had his book published somewhere, the Copyright should have been part of the publishing service. Authors should demand contracts which spell all this out.
Another tidbit: Don’t use AuthorHouse. They are being sued in class-action for dishonest practices. I personally know one author whose book is being printed in mass numbers by AuthorHouse and sold in the orient at prices so low that he earns pennies on each book. This was not in their contract, either.
Contracts: an author needs a contract which spells out everything. But, of course if an author doesn’t know the pitfalls, it’s easy to overlook or not anticipate something important. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer who is familiar with the publishing field. After all, in addition to your rights to your own intellectual property, it’s money-- perhaps BIG money-- and you do NOT purchase services without a valid contract, any more than you’d buy a house without legal paperwork, that has been ready by your attorney.
A word about ArtshipPublishing: We write contracts and we urge authors to have their attorneys review them.
We also help authors get their books finalized, polished, completely registered (published), designed, printed, publicized, and distributed — often, without an initial cash investment on their part.
For me to take on the publicity job though, I have to be sure that there is a “fit”, that we both might not be better off if that author searched out an agent or other publisher instead— for instance where it comes to children’s books, religious books, teen novels and other very specialized genres where I have less experience than I do in non-fiction, medical, and historical areas. The subsidizing I do puts our company at risk, so I have to be selective as to which books go into print through ARTSHIP at our own cost— we are NOT Random House! But I’m glad to consider them all, give my honest advice, and offer what services which would be appropriate.
For those who — like all of the authors who approached AIRLEAF— are seeking a publicity agent, I have surveyed over twenty of the most prominent book-publicity houses and publicity departments of publishing houses, and the information is contained in a detailed report— it covers who does what, specifically; whether they take your book online and to reviewers, etc, or sell you the tools so you can do it yourself; which ones offer services for flat fees or customize campaigns; and so on.
I also communicate with over 25 printers; I have a report on which ones offer digital vs. offset, at what quantities, their fees, which are P.O.D., and so on.
Either of these reports can save an author literally, weeks of lost time and speed up that part of the learning-curve.
The role I fill most frequently is the book-designer and publishing role. I get the book formatted with fonts, visuals, size, page layouts, etc. as appropriate and in a way that will enhance the content of the book.
Good luck Bonnie, keep up your amazing work.
My best— Helen Compton
So, the bottom line—I wouldn't panic if your book is not copyrighted. If it gives you peace of mind, get it done for the $45.00 fee either by yourself or through Fideli Publishing who is offering to do it free as a courtesy to our victims (just for the cost of the fee).
Also, Helen brought up an IMPORTANT POINT that I will now reinforce. If you do go to a new publisher, MAKE SURE YOU RECEIVE A SIGNED CONTRACT. I hate to tell you how many of us did business with Airleaf without having one. And I'm not trying to make you feel stupid—I'm at the top of the list. I sent them back my signed version of the contract, but never received a signed copy back. Even though I've been told that this still stands as proof of a contract, I would feel much better having the signed copy. So make sure that you ask for this first before anything else when you republish. Interesting—I never had to ask my new company CCB Publishing for a copy. It was sent to me immediately, and after I signed it, a copy was returned to me quickly with the owner's signature.
New book share
This week, our group member Sharon Licht's new book was released. I asked Sharon to tell us about it.
MAGIC MARMALADE A Tale of the Moonlight Fairies by Sharon E. Licht
Magic Marmalade is a new and exciting story about a little girl who wanders into an enchanted woods and discovers a magical world of fairies and elves and a place where dreams come true. This book is perfect for children of all ages. Anyone intrigued by fairies, elves, adventure, magic, and happy endings will adore this story. Description: Soft cover, 84 page book, 7 - 1/2" x 8 - 1/2", written in rhymed verse, with full color illustrations by Artist James Browne.
The book was written by Sharon E. Licht, a local Bucks County, PA writer who has penned this delightful story for the enjoyment of young and old alike.
Books can be ordered on the web at:
http://catawbapublishing.com/ Bookstore, Children's Books or through the author by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Please type book order in subject line. PayPal is the preferred payment method. Money orders also accepted. Price is $20.00 each plus the cost of shipping when ordering through the author.
We all wish you the best of luck, Sharon. All of our authors can appreciate the hard work that goes into producing a book, and when you see it come to fruition, it's a most exciting moment to be celebrated.
If you have a new book out that you would like to share with the group, please feel free to share it with me.
Have a good week, and please feel free to send me any issues or questions you have.
With love and hope,