Authors Legal fund vs Enspire Pub'

£1,010 of £3,800 goal

Raised by 27 people in 1 month
Hi, I'm Jack L. Pyke , a mom of four, with one kid on the autism spectrum. I've already learned the hard way that life's no walk in the park when it comes to looking out for what's yours. I never thought I'd have to apply that same fight for rights when it comes to worker rights, or in my case: author rights.

You'd think we'd be protected, right? That once you finish that first novel and go through the whole daunting process of approaching an agent or publisher, that once that contract's signed, we'd be treated as we would in any other career: go in, get the job done in a reasonable time, get out, be paid. And I've worked many a career in my life, from editing at publishing companies to walking a factory floor that sees that’s usually the case, but with Enspire Publishing , it isn’t that simple.

So what’s gone wrong? Why do we – I’m here with another author, C.L. Mustafic , who also writes for our publisher, Enspire Publishing – need help?

First, a little history on Enspire Publishing, formerly known as Fantastic Fiction Publishing:

Last year Enspire authors were notified that due to Donald Trump taking the presidency, Enspire would be closing their doors to submissions to focus more on activism. But the promise was there that authors who did have work with them wouldn’t feel the backlash.

April 2018, we were contacted again, this time notifying us that Enspire was caught in a legal battle with their home and would only be prioritising urgent mail from authors for the next few weeks. This turned out to be six weeks before I heard from them, then they disappeared off the scene again, not replying to email or formal letter up to this day.

Since then, none of the scheduled releases for any of the authors have gone out (one in June, one in July), and with the releases in April/June, only ebook formats have been made available on Amazon, with no paperback copies. Spam is also filling one of their imprint sites , giving the impression that staff at Enspire publishing aren’t at work.

That’s looking at Enspire from the outside, but now we shift behind closed doors to personal experience:

I signed with Enspire Publishing, a US company, back in 2012. Since then, I’ve come face to face with the following:

1. Enspire said they wouldn’t put my latest unpublished novel (Fractured) through production until they have had other non-contracted work delivered, I.e., story pages for their websites. This is known as ransoming: holding back one script to acquire more work. Delaying production of a contracted script like Fractured could see it delivered past the due-by date on my contract. If Fractured isn’t handed in on time, Enspire is then allowed to keep extending the full length of my contract from 7 years to 8, 9, 10 and beyond. Indefinitely, if needed.

2 I was also told that another of my novels, Ash , wouldn’t be published unless I signed a contract for another novel (Psychopaths & Sinners ). Again ransoming one script to make sure they obtain a contract for another.

3. Because I’m from the UK, Enspire told me that they would withhold 100% of my royalties for tax purposes, despite the IRS treaty between the US and the United Kingdom saying that only up to 30% can be withheld. The likes of an ITIN  (a non-resident code) isn’t a legal requirement: It’s not a TIN or the equivalent of the UK National Insurance number, the latter I do have by law. It just means that I pay up to 30% tax in the US, and rightly so, if I don’t have an ITIN. But Enspire say they are allowed to keep 100% of my royalties if I don’t have one, that it’s in the contract.

I work with American publishers and have never had such an issue like this before, and as I didn’t have an ITIN, nor a passport or driving licence to obtain one, I was left with little choice but to come up with a reason and say ‘keep them’. To be fair, Enspire did say they would hold the royalties for me, and when I obtained my ITIN, they’d give them me back. However, when it came to saying I was ready to claim my ITIN, and I needed Enspire’s supporting letter to send with my passport, Enspire didn’t/haven’t replied. They’re still withholding royalties.

4. Untimely production: I've had scripts 'lost' whilst with editors: one for 6 months, and another for nearly two. Edits have also taken over the one-month stated editing time frame.

5. Despite their blackout periods occurring over the six years I've been with them, I took my first time off for my son's hit and run, only to be cited on contract breach for not... doing a blog tour, the first one in six years that I haven't handled myself.

6. I arranged a blog tour for my novel Psychopaths & Sinners during Enspire's recent blackout period, and despite asking Enspire if they have a list of reviewers they have collected to add to mine, I get no reply, then later get cited for contract breach for not contacting them about the blog tour. Although I did. Twice.

7. Enspire have failed sometimes to provide reviewers with cover reveal details, where I've had reviewers get in touch with me just days before their reveal and ask if I can provide all the details on Enspire’s behalf, potentially damaging relations with reviewers as their schedules are disrupted.

8. My June release (during Enspire’s latest blackout period) saw some readers get in touch to say pre-orders hadn't been received despite them having paid. The wrong cover art was put out across social media by Enspire. Links to work were also broken.

9. I've had final correction lists ignored, where Enspire spelt their name wrong (Enspirke instead of Enspire), and despite the list pointing these out, those errors were still published. I've had proofreaders work with no track changes on, proofreaders not do any proofreading, and also the wrong script be sent for proofreading.

Amongst all this, during all the years I’ve been with Enspire, I’ve tried to negotiate fair rights in the contract to stop all the above from happening. But each time Enspire have held firm to a ‘no-negotiation’ stance. Each contract has to be comparable to the last, so alterations can’t be made by the author. Yet over the years, Enspire themselves have made changes in the contract, specifically around changes to say how authors can’t terminate a contract over the likes of untimely production (and everything above). I’ve even asked to buy my rights back to all my novels, but each time I’m met with a firm no.

It’s now at the point where legal action is the only way forward. I’d love my rights back, but mostly I’d just love for all this to stop. I want to be able to do my job, which means writing. No one can do that with week after week of no communication, of work going out wrong and having to deal with the backlash, and in the end have royalties withheld when the author asks for them to be paid. Enspire wouldn’t work for free. In fact, one of their main reasons for the way the contract is written is because they don’t want authors to steal their editor’s time by breaking the contract early. So why is my time – to write, edit, and promote the book – worthless in their eyes?

I’m not the only Enspire author going through these issues. C.L. Mustafic has experienced the lack of communication, the untimely production, and has been pressured into signing further contracts to get the one book Enspire published out when it was scheduled for release.

We’d also like to encourage any other Enspire authors who are experiencing these issues to contact us if they wish to join in our fight against what is potentially a contract meant to entrap unsuspecting authors into years of a one-sided contractual nightmare.

So in conclusion, with this GoFundMe—hopefully with your kind help—we’d like to raise funds to help get our rights back. We can only do this by hiring a lawyer who specialises in author-publisher contracts. But this is an expensive process.

Could you help us? We understand if you can’t donate, but even a share on social media would be a great help and much appreciated. Thanks.

Jack and CL.
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Raised by 27 people in 1 month
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