Author Topic: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors  (Read 33745 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline DS

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« on: July 28, 2008, 06:37:51 AM »
Attention all those who have contracted to write books for Sports Publishing LLC:
I am told by Peter Bannon, the publisher and managing partner of Sports Publishing, that the owners are trying to sell the company, which could have an impact on any advances due to you or future royalties. From discussions with a few of my fellow authors, it appears not everyone is aware of the sale.
My last two payments on my advance are overdue from April and November, 2007, respectively. I was asked to settle for one-tenth of what is owed to me for a book that was published in November, 2007. I was also asked to sign a waiver releasing the current and future owners from paying the balance. I was also told the future owners would be responsible for paying any future royalties but this was not specified in the waiver. Nor have I seen anything from the future owners acknowledging this. Indeed, I have not even been told who these future owners might be.
I was told if I did not sign this, the company could declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy and if that happened I would get nothing if I sued.
It might be prudent for all authors to combine to hire a lawyer experienced in the publishing field for some advice.
- David Shoalts

Offline In Exile

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 531
  • "When the water runs cold, that's it" -J. Kerouac
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 07:16:45 AM »
Sorry to hear that - that's often the issue with second or third tier publishers - they'll always screw you first.  And also the reason you want to have an agent represent you, because then the fight over $$ is the agent's battle, not yours, and they are often in a much better position to do so.  When I do anything with a second or third tier publisher, I always ask for the bulk of the $$ first, none of this spreading out the advance crap.

Word to the wise, any publisher that skips payments, as you described above, is already in it pretty deep.  Better to have taken action then, I think.  Now, compared to their other creditors, you'll be way way down on the list.  Consult an attorney, by all means, but don't expect much, and by all means, don't spend much.  They've had their attorneys working on this stuff for months already.  If your book hasn't been published yet, you might be able to get them to assign the rights back to you, and perhaps even if it has been published.

Nice how the company has been in financial trouble for well over a year but has still been signing people up to write books that will now probably not be published.

Good luck.


Offline Blue_Water

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 326
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 10:21:00 AM »
Sorry to hear that - that's often the issue with second or third tier publishers -

Given the two Sports Publishing LLC books I've read, I'm guessing third tier at best. I still haven't decided if I'm more disgusted with the author or the company that printed the books given the number of typos/factual errors.

Offline Ben_Hecht

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 24,941
  • " . . . never a lovely so real . . "
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 10:24:29 AM »
They have a pretty extensive list, but it's hard to conceive of a deep paying readership for many of their more recent releases . . . bad business, all around.   Too bad.
"I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like them myself.  They are pretty bad.   I grieve over them  long winter evenings."

    -- Philip Marlowe

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross".

    -- Sinclair Lewis

Offline Logan

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2008, 11:27:02 AM »
I live less than three miles for Sport Publishing LLC.  I can tell you that they have been in trouble for way longer than a year.  It took almost three years for a photographer friend to get paid for photos they used in several of their books.  He no longer does work for them or licenses image to them. 

I wouldn't sign the documents without talking to an attorney first.  You and the others may be better off letting them slip to bankruptcy.

Offline Clerk Typist

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 1,847
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2008, 11:31:13 AM »
Sports Publishing was shorting its writers (and photogs, I'd imagine) when it was still Sagamore Publishing. I think it reorganized to avoid Chapter 7 or 11 a few years back.

Offline clutchcargo

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 1,166
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2008, 11:34:03 AM »
When a book publisher is in this state, dollars to donuts their biggest nut owed starts with their printers. Individual authors, or even collectively in a class-action suit, are a bit down the rung of secured creditors. Investors and banks also in the top rung(s).

On the other hand, their best assets in a sale are the rights to those authors' books, even moreso than the inventory.

So, they aren't going to pay the authors, but they sure as heck want to hang onto the publishing rights to those authors' titles. Either way, that doesn't bode well for authors---they make 10 cents on the dollar, maybe, but don't even get their rights back, let alone copies of the book.

All this is covered in the author's contract reviewed (presumably) and signed upfront.

Offline BYH

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 53,220
  • IJAG (left), me (right)
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2008, 12:46:13 PM »
You mean Tales From The Minnesota Twins Dugout by Kent Hrbek isn't selling a million copies?

That's not a knock on anyone who has authored or co-authored one of those books...but it always blows my mind that they'd try to churn out those wafer-thin hardcovers and expect them to go for $20 or so.
Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle & then you choose. You can live in the wreckage & pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.--Veronica Mars

Offline Ben_Hecht

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 24,941
  • " . . . never a lovely so real . . "
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2008, 12:50:27 PM »
You mean Tales From The Minnesota Twins Dugout by Kent Hrbek isn't selling a million copies?

That's not a knock on anyone who has authored or co-authored one of those books...but it always blows my mind that they'd try to churn out those wafer-thin hardcovers and expect them to go for $20 or so.


Pre-cisely.
"I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like them myself.  They are pretty bad.   I grieve over them  long winter evenings."

    -- Philip Marlowe

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross".

    -- Sinclair Lewis

Offline Smasher_Sloan

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7,783
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2008, 01:20:40 PM »
Rotten bastards offered some of the worst deals in the business, then don't even live up to them.

Afraid of rap.

Offline Smasher_Sloan

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7,783
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2008, 01:25:08 PM »
You mean Tales From The Minnesota Twins Dugout by Kent Hrbek isn't selling a million copies?

That's not a knock on anyone who has authored or co-authored one of those books...but it always blows my mind that they'd try to churn out those wafer-thin hardcovers and expect them to go for $20 or so.


Actually, it's not a bad strategy on a limited basis. You start by paying the author shit to keep costs down, borrow photos from the team to keep costs down, then set up a royalty deal so the author can't make any money unless he pimps on every talk show and in every bookstore, to the point where he's competing with kids who have sidewalk lemonade stands.

If they can sell 5,000 of them, they can make money. That's not impossible, given the number of hardcore fans and gift-givers who will buy a $20 gift because it has Twins or Tigers or whatever content. And if you can somehow get a team to buy boxloads of them as season ticket buyer premiums, you've hit the jackpot.
Afraid of rap.

Offline Moderator1

  • SJ Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 28,330
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2008, 01:34:59 PM »
My book sold more than 5,000 and I got all my advance and my first royalty.  Since then, nothing.  They owe me a good amount.  I'm not optimistic.
I had a second contract with them and said no thanks - I had no confidence I'd ever get paid. 
Go out of your way to make good memories. At some point, these memories may be all you have left. May God bless you all.

"Some people are so busy learning the tricks of the trade, they never learn the trade. - Vernon Law

www.si.com

Offline Clerk Typist

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 1,847
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2008, 01:42:56 PM »
Moddy, I hope you don't mean you signed a contract for a second book. I hope you mean they offered and you said no.
As an aside, I know some people with no book experience who have been offered three-book deals from SPLLC. Some took it, some did not.)

Offline BYH

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 53,220
  • IJAG (left), me (right)
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2008, 01:55:28 PM »
Actually, it's not a bad strategy on a limited basis. You start by paying the author shit to keep costs down, borrow photos from the team to keep costs down, then set up a royalty deal so the author can't make any money unless he pimps on every talk show and in every bookstore, to the point where he's competing with kids who have sidewalk lemonade stands.

From what I've heard, SPLLC's marketing department is all but non-existent. So you'd have to line up most of those appearances yourself.

If I'm wrong, someone let me know.
Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle & then you choose. You can live in the wreckage & pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.--Veronica Mars

Offline Moderator1

  • SJ Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 28,330
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2008, 02:10:33 PM »
Actually, it's not a bad strategy on a limited basis. You start by paying the author shit to keep costs down, borrow photos from the team to keep costs down, then set up a royalty deal so the author can't make any money unless he pimps on every talk show and in every bookstore, to the point where he's competing with kids who have sidewalk lemonade stands.

From what I've heard, SPLLC's marketing department is all but non-existent. So you'd have to line up most of those appearances yourself.

If I'm wrong, someone let me know.

A. To the earlier post, I signed a contract.  We mutually agreed to nuke it.   They got no words.  I got no money.  They offered to pay what they owed on book 1 when I delivered 20-some percent of book 2. I said, uh, no.  They were separate contracts. I met every deadline and did what was required on book 1.  It sold.  Pay me. No conditions.    I wasn't about to crank out 20,000 words on the hope I'd get paid.  What pissed me off the most is I'd done almost all the work on the book and was ready to write.   But I'm not writing for anybody without some cash in hand.

B. With me, it was a mix.  They set up a bunch of interviews during the times I gave them.  I was on radio shows coast to coast and it seemed to work. I set up my own signings.  One Barnes and Noble had me out three times.   I also did a chain of local grocery stores and sold more there than I did in any bookstore.  I think, though, that SP had a much bigger staff then than now.  Sounds like a damn newspaper.

Go out of your way to make good memories. At some point, these memories may be all you have left. May God bless you all.

"Some people are so busy learning the tricks of the trade, they never learn the trade. - Vernon Law

www.si.com

Offline swenk

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 304
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2008, 02:18:43 PM »
For some reason, really intelligent and talented writers sometimes buy into the two biggest lies in publishing: 1) You'll make money on the back end, and 2) It's your first book so pay your dues, you don't deserve to be fairly compensated for your time and expertise.

I really hope the Bannons can sell that company to someone who can sell their backlist (ie, books that are already out there and should have long and happy shelf lives). 

In most cases, when a publisher sells its assets, your contract is assigned to the buyer.  Major publishers detail this in their contract. Many of the very small publishers have contracts that are briefer than the list of ingredients on a box of Twinkies, and I would guess the Sports Pub contract makes no mention of this.

Very few Sports Pub writers use agents, because the advances are so small, so there are probably a lot of bum deals out there.  I know their business model was to offer very little upfront, then spread out the rest of the money over a long time. Good money management for the publisher, but for the writer? Would you take any other job that way?

Just some free advice, fwiw:  Don't sign ANYTHING unless you are getting all the money already owed to you, AND your book rights revert to you.  Best case, they sell their list and you get a new chance. Worst case, you're no worse off than you were before, they've possibly breached the contract by not paying you, and you can take your book elsewhere. Lawsuits likely won't work here, they can't pay what they don't have.

I'm sad to see this happen; with all the big publishers focusing on the big-name "big books," the smaller houses really do fill a nice niche, especially in sports where most books are regional.  The Bannons have tried for years to keep their business alive, I hope there's a reasonably happy ending to this story.
Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent. --Wm. Shakespeare, who died penniless.

@shariwenk

Offline Smasher_Sloan

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7,783
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2008, 03:39:12 PM »
Very few Sports Pub writers use agents, because the advances are so small, so there are probably a lot of bum deals out there.  I know their business model was to offer very little upfront, then spread out the rest of the money over a long time. Good money management for the publisher, but for the writer? Would you take any other job that way?

No, but the idea of doing a book is seductive, especially if you've been laboring in newspapers, where your best work is on the floor of the subway by noon.

Think of how many people pay to have books published, knowing they'll never make their money back. Someone offers you a crappy deal, it's tempting just to have something between hard covers that you can put on a shelf.

It's hard to fault someone for accepting a bad deal, because the temptation is significant. Publishers know that and prey on it. Way of the world.
Afraid of rap.

Offline swenk

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 304
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2008, 03:52:43 PM »
Very few Sports Pub writers use agents, because the advances are so small, so there are probably a lot of bum deals out there.  I know their business model was to offer very little upfront, then spread out the rest of the money over a long time. Good money management for the publisher, but for the writer? Would you take any other job that way?

No, but the idea of doing a book is seductive, especially if you've been laboring in newspapers, where your best work is on the floor of the subway by noon.

Think of how many people pay to have books published, knowing they'll never make their money back. Someone offers you a crappy deal, it's tempting just to have something between hard covers that you can put on a shelf.

It's hard to fault someone for accepting a bad deal, because the temptation is significant. Publishers know that and prey on it. Way of the world.

Believe me, I understand. I'd be the first to say you don't write a book for the money if you really want to write the book.

But:  Somewhere between "I don't care about the money!" and "What do you mean they don't have any money??" the reality can be tough.

As long as you go into these things with your eyes open, and expectations realistic, you can walk away with a book to your name, which is a pretty cool thing. Otherwise, the disappointment can be crushing.
Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent. --Wm. Shakespeare, who died penniless.

@shariwenk

Offline Bill Horton

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 1,313
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2008, 04:28:17 PM »
hmmm ... I did two books and made money both times. Always got paid on time. Got a few extra books beyond the contracts. Also bought a bunch at bargain price and sold them myself for full price at a few independent book signings. I don't know what to tell you ... but it worked for me.
Bill Horton was a cautious man of the road
He walked lookin' over his shoulder and remained faithful to its code

Offline In Exile

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 531
  • "When the water runs cold, that's it" -J. Kerouac
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2008, 05:29:50 PM »
These things can work for you, but when you are dealing with second and third tier publishers, understand what you're in it for - a foot in the door, a track record.  I got my start with a similar outfit, but along with the lousy contract and (virtually) nonexistent royalty, I got a master's degree in "Getting Screwed by Publishers."  Now, if your goal is a byline on a book, a book on the shelf and just a nice little supplement to the weekly check, that's fine.  But otherwise, if you aspire to more, ONLY deal with them once or twice, and try to parlay your ability to complete a long project, with an agent, and, hopefully, outperfrom expectations, into something more legit.

Swenk's advice is wise, but I'll mildly disagree on one small point.  You sometimes can make dough on the back end, but it takes a special kind of project, one, like an illustrated book, or a continuing series, to make that kind of deal make sense, i.e production for illustrated is high, as is series commitment, so you might take a bit less to get it off the ground - it has worked for me, and paid off in the NEXT project.  But maybe I'm the anomaly.  There are agents who aspire to get so much in an advance that their authors never earn a royalty, and those who think earning out is a good long term strategy - the publisher treats you like a cash machine and keeps coming back for more.  Both have their points, and I've vacillated back and forth according to who I agree with.

Doing books is the best, but the contract end, not so much.  Please, never fall so much in love with the idea of doing a book that you ignore the stuff that is in every "guide to being an author" book.

Reality is, most of us in the book business have been royally screwed at least once, usually on deals that are only a notch or two above above vanity press, by outfits like this.  Two simple rules:  1) If they offer a contract and won't negotiate, walk away, and 2) Never, and I mean NEVER, start to work on a project until contracts have been signed and the check has cleared.  Just recently I signed on to a project, got the go-ahead, and then I said, well, until I actually receive the advance, I don't do any work.  I got the advance, I started to work, less than a week later, through no fault of my own (or, really, the publisher to be fair, but a third party was involved), the project collapsed.  Long story short, (and because I did due diligence with my contract) I got to keep my money.

Offline Moderator1

  • SJ Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 28,330
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2008, 06:39:07 PM »
I had a call from them waiting when I got home tonight.  Eager to hear what they had to say.

I, too, bought a bunch of discounted books and sold them myself.  Made more that way than I did from my advance.

Go out of your way to make good memories. At some point, these memories may be all you have left. May God bless you all.

"Some people are so busy learning the tricks of the trade, they never learn the trade. - Vernon Law

www.si.com

Offline BYH

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 53,220
  • IJAG (left), me (right)
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2008, 06:40:34 PM »
I, too, bought a bunch of discounted books and sold them myself.  Made more that way than I did from my advance.

How were you able to do that? I'm surprised they didn't make it contractually impossible.
Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle & then you choose. You can live in the wreckage & pretend it's still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.--Veronica Mars

Offline 21

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 22,550
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2008, 06:49:40 PM »
I, too, bought a bunch of discounted books and sold them myself.  Made more that way than I did from my advance.

How were you able to do that? I'm surprised they didn't make it contractually impossible.

Easy to do, you just can't sell them to regular bookstore retailers.

Offline HejiraHenry

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 12,143
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2008, 07:02:49 PM »
Anybody in this discussion ever dealt with Indigo Publishing?

I think their stock in trade is repackaging newspaper stories into commemorative books, or some such.
The third-best cooler in the business, after Dalton and the late Wade Garrett.

Offline Moderator1

  • SJ Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 28,330
Re: Calling all Sports Publishing LLC authors
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2008, 07:07:54 PM »
I, too, bought a bunch of discounted books and sold them myself.  Made more that way than I did from my advance.

How were you able to do that? I'm surprised they didn't make it contractually impossible.

It was part of the contract - I was able to get xx number free (20, I think) and I could buy as many as I wanted for 50 percent of the list.  I could, as 21 noted, sell them privately but not to retailers.

They didn't count in my numbers for my royalties.  That's OK. I made about 7.50 per book that way and about 1.12 (yes, 1.12) for every one purchased through a retailer.

Go out of your way to make good memories. At some point, these memories may be all you have left. May God bless you all.

"Some people are so busy learning the tricks of the trade, they never learn the trade. - Vernon Law

www.si.com