Update From Piers Anthony

"October 2014 update: a complaint about their imprint Wee Cree Press. Shoddy covers, late deliveries, refusal to fix errors, incorrect statements, and ignoring complaints."

The Sale Went Through

"Start Publishing Buys Whiskey Creek Press
A week after adding 795 titles in a deal with Mason Crest, Start Publishing has acquired Whiskey Creek Press and its main romance imprint, Torrid. The purchase includes 775 titles, all available as e-books with some also released in print editions through print-on demand. With its purchase, Start said it will beef up WCP’s marketing initiatives, including expanding its social media and online presence. Start has also promoted Jan Janssen from executive editor to publisher of Torrid Books. In other personnel changes, Melanie Billings and Marsha Briscoe are now senior acquisition editors for WCP and Angela Archer is senior art director."


WCP Authors In Limbo

Not all WCP authors have received the letter of agreement and it leaves them in limbo. All attempts to contact the Womacks have been ignored.

WCP Author, Pamela J Dodd

Yet another WCP author reports bad editing, poor to zero sales, and her emails were ignored. Sound familiar?

"What few royalty reports I received indicated low sales, and even lower royalties. At one point, I was getting seventeen cents per ebook sale, and a typical quarterly check was about five bucks."

"Just to get Amazon to list it, WCP required that I purchase two copies at full price; then, initially, the title was misspelled on Amazon’s website."

"After years and years of zero communications regarding sales, I can only conclude that either there were no sales or WCP kept all of the royalties. I will never know which. I’ve maintained a website, with promotional materials, links to vendors, and so forth, at my expense, and I finally came to the conclusion that WCP was never going to pay me anything ever again. Anyway, I did ask to have my rights back at the end of last year, via email, and there was no response."

WCP Author, Elizabeth Imus-Zero

"My lawyer friend read it and advised me not to sign it. Whiskey Creek press has given me unprofessional bogus invoices as to how many of my books have sold. They’ve paid me less than $100 this year since my book was published last August 2013. Now they want to give me $200 to sign this contract? I don’t think so. There’s no professional accounting from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble from them as to how many books have sold. I’ve spent $12,000 on PR website and travel and been on hundreds of radio stations across the country and a few television stations this past year and I have a hard time believing I’ve only sold a few books. Not in the position to go after them to find out what’s going on at this point but the new company and whiskey Creek have refused to answer my requests for more accurate accounting. I think they’re all crooks."

A Lawyer's Opinion Of The Contract: "...it's the worst sort of rights grab..."

Re: The Writer Beware article: Start Media Buys Whiskey Creek Press, Imposes New Contract Terms

"Writer Beware is an excellent site and provides insightful analysis and warnings concerning publishers and their contracts. However, PG disagrees with WB’s defense of life-of-the-copyright contract terms. Ultimately, it’s the worst sort of rights grab and, in PG’s unceasingly humble opinion, is always unreasonable.

Additionally, as they are typically written, out-of-print clauses are seldom a reasonable solution to the problem of ridiculously long publishing contracts.

First, the typical OOP clause is extremely complex and difficult for an author to navigate. Having to pay an attorney to help figure out whether a book is out of print and work through the OOP administrative process is ridiculous.

Second, the typical OOP clause gives the publisher all sorts of ways to avoid reverting the title with no material benefit to the author.

Third the typical OOP clause is set to such a low trigger point – WB mentions 50 copies per year or 25 copies per year – that the author has probably experienced years of absurdly small royalties before the OOP clause can be triggered."


From Writer Beware

Start Media Buys Whiskey Creek Press, Imposes New Contract Terms

"WCP's contract includes this clause:
If the Publisher sells its assets to another publisher who does or plans to market and promote books of the type and genre of the Work, the successor publisher will be bound, as a minimum, to the same terms delineated in this agreement.
In direct contradiction to this, however, the letter of agreement Start Media is asking authors to sign imposes some substantially different terms. WCP's contract term is 3 years from publication; Start Media's is life-of-copyright. WCP's ebook royalties are 35% of the net download price; Start Media's are 25% of net ("all monies actually received"). There's also a troubling gap between April 30, when WCP ceases to pay royalties, and July 1, when Start Media's new royalty rate kicks in. What happens to books sold in May and June?

Understandably, WCP authors are upset and angry. Many are refusing to sign--despite the fact that no explanation has been provided, either by Womack/WCP or Start Media, of what will happen to their rights if they don't. (I've contacted Ms. Womack to ask this question; I haven't heard back yet, but if I do I'll update this post.)"

Response from Jarred Weisfeld


"Are the assets all that they appear to be?
An acquiring publisher should investigate the status of the assets being purchased. The primary assets of a publishing business will normally be contracts for books currently in print, the inventory of copies of those books, contracts for books to be published, the trade name or trademarks of the business, and all of the goodwill associated with the business, including relationships with authors..."

"What are the terms of the publishing agreements with the selling publisher’s authors? Do the agreements grant all of the rights that the acquiring publisher expects to receive?"

"Are all of the publishing agreements freely assignable, or will it be necessary to obtain the consent of the authors?"

"Has the selling publisher had disputes with any of its authors? If so, what was the nature of those disputes, and how were they resolved? Are there any disputes that remain unresolved?"

Piers Anthony

"July 2014 update: I am told that this publisher has been sold to Start, and that they want authors to sign away their copyrights. Don't do it." 


Victoria Strauss (Writer Beware)

June 30, 2014: "In my post I stated clearly that I don’t consider life-of-copyright optimum for small press contracts. A limited term is always better. I also stated that in my opinion, Start’s contract is a “beware”, because I consider its rights reversion language inadequate."


WCP Authors To Get Their Rights Back Without Termination Fee (?)

 “For those authors who prefer not to sign on under the new terms, that’s absolutely fine and we’ll continue to honor the terms of their contract as they already stand. When their license has expired they are free to go elsewhere if they wish. They’re also free to exercise their termination clause if they’d like to get out before the end of the license period. (Please be advised there will be no termination fees in the new Whiskey Creek Agreements)”

Response from Jarred Weisfeld

WCP Breach Of Contract

Breach #1: Royalties will be accumulated and paid no later than forty-five (45) days following the end of each calendar quarter.
This did not happen. Royalties were not paid on time.

Breach #2: Publisher will provide a written report of sales with payment and provide any further reasonable information relevant to sales of the work upon author's request.
This did not happen. Written reports were seldom sent out and when they were they were inadequate.

Breach #3: If the Publisher sells its assets to another publisher who does or plans to market and promote books of the type and genre of the Work, the successor publisher will be bound, as a minimum, to the same terms delineated in this agreement.
This did not happen. The Letter of Agreement, changed the terms for copyright and royalty payments.

Breach #4: Audit Accounting. Publisher will keep accounts of all receipts and expenditures regarding the Work, and these accounts will be available for Author's inspection. Author may, on reasonable notice, through his/her designated representative, examine Publisher's records that relate to the Work.
This did not happen. In 2012, authors requesting an audit were stonewalled by silence.

Breach #5: WCP continued to sell out-of-contract books and ignored all requests from the authors to remove them. This is ‘Willful Infringement.’


Jarred Weisfeld, the President of Start Media Publishing is also a manager at Objective Entertainment, which is associated with Author House.

Reports on Objective Entertainment:

Preditors and Editors:
Objective Entertainment: Not recommended. Will "represent clients in book publishing, dramatic writing, and talent, and will develop and produce properties for television and film." Contact information unavailable.

The Digital Reader:

Absolute Write:

Michael J. Maher is the CEO of Start Media Publishing, and a book written by someone with the same name has been published by Author House.

Not An Even Playing Field

As an incentive for signing away the rights to their book forever, some WCP authors are being offered  $1, while for others the sum is $200.00. Naturally, they want to know the reason for this quite drastic disparity. We have also learned that when Salvo Press was taken over by Start Media, the Salvo Press authors did not have to sign anything. So why are WCP authors being asked to sign a highly controversial second contract that will rob them of their copyright forever, take a 10% decrease in royalties, and agree not to receive royalty payments for six months?


If the following clause in the WCP original contract has not been adhered to by the publisher -- and it hasn't according to our sources --  it constitutes a breach of contract, and all rights revert back to the authors.
"Royalties will be accumulated and paid no later than forty-five (45) days following the end of each calendar quarter."

Signing Away Copyright For A Dollar

WCP authors should be aware that the new agreement is not asking for copyright for the term of the contract, but for the lifetime of the author, plus 70 years. One of the most famous cases of signing away copyright was the Superman author in 1938. The publisher paid him $130. This deal was upheld by a court in 1948. There's no need to point out that $130, although not a lot of money, was worth a lot more at that time than it is today. It's certainly not in the same low league as the dollar WCP is offering.

If a contract contains a lifetime copyright clause then good reversion terms are essential. The Start contract does not have those. What it does do is limit the author's ability to regain his rights back based on sales minimums, and leaves it up to the publisher to either agree or refuse. This is inadequate and unacceptable.


Where To Turn?

We urge WCP authors to seek legal advice before signing the new contract. This could be accomplished with just one consultation, so the costs involved would be minimal. For those of you who don't have the resources to do so, consider getting in touch with one of the free online legal services.


Email from Start

One of our writer advocates, who has been active in this issue, received an email message today from Jarred Weisfeld of Start. Here are the highpoints, with our responses in red:

"I have received several emails from people who have all gotten an email from you."
Then they must be on our mailing list. We are advising them not to sign the new contract, until they’ve consulted a lawyer, and we will continue to do so.

“THIS IS NOT TRUE.  WE ARE GETTING ASSIGNMENT LETTERS IF WE DONT GET ONE WITH OUR NEW TERMS WCP HAS THE RIGHT TO ASSIGN THEM AT CURRENT TERMS IF THEY SO CHOOSE." Once they sell the entity that the contract was based upon they have given up all rights to assign any kind of terms. You cannot keep authors who refuse to sign the new contract in limbo for years. In similar takeovers, the authors are given a choice. They either sign a new contract, or have their rights returned to them. That's what should be happening here. The majority of WCP authors want out. No need to take my word on that, just ask them.

"EVERY MAJOR PUBLISHER HAS TERM OF COPYRIGHT. THAT IS WHY OUT OF PRINT CLAUSES EXIST" Copyright that lasts for a lifetime is unheard of in electronic publishing. Ditto for out-of-print clauses, as ebooks are never out of print. But when a lifetime copyright term is in a contract, as it is in yours, then a reversal of rights clause is a must for an author. Your contract does not contain such a clause. I repeat: WCP authors should consult a lawyer before signing this new contract.



In the WCP contract it states: “If the Publisher sells its assets to another publisher who does or plans to market and promote books of the type and genre of the Work, the successor publisher will be bound, as a minimum, to the same terms delineated in this agreement.”
Start is not offering the same terms, and the author has no legal obligation to sign the letter of agreement.  

“By signing this letter, you agree that your agreement(s) with Whiskey Creek Press shall be assigned to Start Publishing, LLC (“Start Publishing” and/or “Publisher”), or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, for the term of copyright...”
The term of copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. I’ve never seen such a clause in an epublishing contract before and it raises a dozen red flags. Anyone who signs this contract, is signing away all rights to his book.

Here are a couple of other things that stand out. Re Start, Womack states: “They are highly skilled in e-book marketing, as evidenced by their swiftly accelerating e-book sales over the last year.”

Here are a couple of the books on the Start Media website. Take a look at their sales rankings. Of course, who wants to spend $11.00 for an ebook?

In the past few months Start has acquired Nightshade Books and Salvo Press. Here are the comments from the authors:

The Nightshade Books/Skyhorse Publishing Deal:Why I’ll Take A Pass

The messy demise of Night Shade Books

A sample of Skyhorse and Nightshade books on Amazon: (Note the poor sales.)

Open For Comments

We've been contacted by a number of WCP authors who are concerned about recent developments. It seems that WCP has been sold to Start Publishing and that a new contract has been issued. Some of the terms in this contract are causing concern, and the authors are unsure whether to sign it or not.  They are also unsure of their rights. We have opened the comments section and welcome your input.

More Complaints About The Poor Editing At WCP

"I looked up some reviews on my publisher, Whiskey Creek Press (I should have done this before I signed the contract) and I found out a few things.

Usually the complaints are that the authors receive poor sales in return and that the publisher tends to have a lack of unresponsiveness and that their editors focus more on the romance/erotic romance stories rather than anything else...

The company still pisses me off though, as that is still no fucking excuse.  They should still try to make sure that they did the best that they can since they offered to publish it... with mistakes like these, they will diminish sales...

I can't really do anything, even if I wanted them to change all of the mistakes that they've made to my book, that's going to cost me to fix them.  We'll see what happens.  Either way, the book will still be available for sale through Amazon and Barnes and Noble for anyone who wants to read it if you don't mind some of the errors, otherwise while I'm at work tonight, I'm going to fix the copy that I have of all the grammatical errors that I've caught so far."