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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2003, 10:14 pm 
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Joined: November 22nd, 2003, 9:53 pm
Posts: 2
I know there's probably nothing to be done about this, but I felt as if I had to
write someone about this situation.

To make a long story short, at the end of last year, I received an offer to write
a book for second grade readers from Compass International, somehow affiliated
with Lake Street Publishers. The money wasn't great - $500 - but the subject
matter was. It was on manatees, and why they're endangered. I love writing for
children, have published numerous other children's books, so I went ahead with
what I considered an important topic for kids.

Well, the book was turned in on time. I received two-thirds of my contract
payment, after practically having to threaten to send God after them. First
Warning Sign. In May or June I received a disjointed e-mail rambling about how
their "business model has changed," and how they're going to try and sell the
book to another publisher. Second Warning Sign.

As far as I knew, the book was still in limbo somewhere between being sold, being
reviewed, and being edited. Now today I accidently learned that the book was -
surprise! - published in September. It has an ISBN number (158417207x) and was
put out by Lake Street Publishers.

I never received the last third of my payment, but that's not really the point.
The point is that they obviously had no intention of ever telling me about the
real status of the book. I don't even have a copy of it, and I worked
exceptionally hard on it, so it would be nice to be able to hold it.

And that's the real point. Most writers work very hard, all for the goal of
seeing their labors get into print. I am so tired of scams perpetrated by sleazy
quick buck artists who just feel as if they can take advantage of freelancers. I
have seen too many in my 15+ years of writing. Just because a writer isn't
represented by some smooth-talking sharpie who spends more on clothes in one day
than most writers earn in a year, doesn't mean that they are any less important
than Mr. Big Shot Writer who earns huge bucks. Freelancers toil in obscurity,
just for the chance to see their material in print. To have to constantly fight
people like Lake Street Publishers wearies the spirit and sickens the soul. It
saps your will to write and will to keep on, in the face of impossible odds.

I know there's nothing to be done about it. Whatever or whoever Lake Street
Publishers is is probably congratulating themselves on having tricked another
group of freelancers. Good for you, Lake Street. You must be so proud.

Sincerely,

Russell Roberts


------- End of forwarded message -------=====================================
~Are you waiting to hear from me?~ You can see what
I'm up to today by looking here: http://www.angelahoy.com
=====================================
**NEW!!**


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 Post subject: Compass International
PostPosted: December 2nd, 2003, 9:19 pm 
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Joined: August 1st, 2003, 9:52 am
Posts: 1866
This was submitted via email to WritersWeekly.com:

Like Russell Roberts, whose letter appeared in last week's Whispers &
Warnings column, I got the merry-go-round treatment from Compass Books.
There, unfortunately, our resemblence ends. I wrote two books for them,
and they still owe me $500.00 for the second one. I haven't been able to
find any evidence that my books were ever published anywhere by anybody,
but if they were published under different titles or under another
author's name, how would I ever know?

All this time, (I sent in the ms. in March, haven't heard from them since
July) I have been waiting patiently -- and probably foolishly for payment.
Now, inspired by Mr. Robert's example, I am turning up the heat at last. I
just hope I haven't let it go too long.

One of the many born every minute,

Bill Stephens


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: December 11th, 2003, 5:28 pm 
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Joined: December 11th, 2003, 5:13 pm
Posts: 2
Just as the two others, I was approached by Compass Books about a year
ago. I received 1/3 of the payment and in June was told that the company
was experiencing hardships, but that they would honor all contracts.

For me, it's not necessarily about the money, but about seeing my written
words up in print. There is an ISBN number associated with the book, but
the book is not available for purchase.

June was my last contact. Since then, I've sent numerous emails, with
no response. Recently, my email was bounced back due to a nonexistent
account. I guess they have officially closed up shop.

My question - and perhaps someone can answer. When does the contract
become null and void? In other words, even though the book was a
"work for hire", at what point is the contract terminated and I, by default,
become owner once again of my written words. I think the book is good, and
I would like to pursue publishing it on my own.

Also, does anyone know how to contact the company? Perhaps another
push can be made.


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 Post subject: Compass nonpayment
PostPosted: December 17th, 2003, 1:40 pm 
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Joined: February 11th, 2003, 12:53 pm
Posts: 17
I wrote two books for Compass. I did not receive payment for the second book, and had to threaten a lawsuit to receive my payment.

I have the owner of the company's cell phone number. If you were stiffed by Compass, please contact me and I'll give it to you.

Stephanie
kcwatson@mindspring.com


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PostPosted: January 5th, 2004, 3:29 pm 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 3:16 pm
Posts: 4
Hello,

I have written 12 books for this publisher now. I have not been fully paid for the last five books I wrote - they still owe me approximately $900 yet. It has been well over a year since I was supposed to receive this money. I too, was given some vague e-mail about a reorganization of their business model and promised I would be paid as soon as possible. I was told to submit an invoice to the person who handles their money. I did so - three times - with no response. I guess I would not suggest writing a book for this company if you are counting on their payment as part of your depended income because it took them awhile to pay me in full for the first seven books.

Also, can anyone give me any legal advice? If they did not honor their contract and pay me in full for the books, I'm assuming that I did not legally offer my full consent of their copyright to my work, correct. So I could take them to court if they are selling the books?

One final note, out of the 12 books I have written, I have only ever received TWO complimentary copies total. And they made a big deal about how much of a stretch that was - even when my first couple of contracts spelled out that I would get FIVE copies of each book.

Any help and additional contact information for the company would be appreciated. Thanks!

Chuck


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 Post subject: Screwed by Compass
PostPosted: January 5th, 2004, 6:43 pm 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 6:37 pm
Posts: 2
I have been screwed to the tune of $2,250 by Compass/Lake Street Publishers. What confuses me is that I know the production editor and several of the in-house editors personally (all ex-coworkers at a more reputable children's book publishing house). They almost have to be legit...don't they?

I signed into the contract with Compass when I was 8 months pregnant and banked on that money to get me and my husband through my maternity leave. My son is now a year old. Sad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 5th, 2004, 8:38 pm 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 3:16 pm
Posts: 4
That stinks. I believe I worked for the same publisher and know those people as well. That's what makes it even more crappy. That's tough especially when you needed that money on maternity leave. I hope that you eventually get it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 7th, 2004, 3:11 pm 
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Joined: January 7th, 2004, 2:49 pm
Posts: 2
My friend, who is owed tons of money by Lake St./Compass, forwarded me this "Whispers and Warnings" link, since I wrote one book for the company. After reading through the comments, I decided to check amazon.com for my book. AND THERE IT WAS!!! I have been paid the total $500 (after SEVERAL requests), but I haven't gotten my free books. Much worse than that is I don't understand the summer letter documenting financial woes when my book was published anyway, and I gave the company all my rights! I'm checking into this MUCH further. Stay tuned.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 7th, 2004, 4:13 pm 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 3:16 pm
Posts: 4
What I did to finally receive copies of all my books was to contact the final publisher - if there was a separate one that ultimately published the books. In the company's earlier stages, it sold these books to other publishing houses. Contact that publishing house and they may send you free copies like they did with me. Just start with customer service.

As for Amazon, I did notice some of the books I haven't been paid for are out there, but they appear to be special order and don't show a price, which leads me to believe they must not actually be out yet - even if they do have ISBN numbers, etc.


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 Post subject: What Now?
PostPosted: January 20th, 2004, 9:15 am 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 6:37 pm
Posts: 2
My husband and I tried to contact the new (?) owner at the phone number provided by the poster above, and the number was not in service. My husband then tried to contact the owner we are familiar with --- no luck.

Am I just out my two grand or what? At this point in my life, that is a lot of money and a lot of hard work down the drain.

What bothers me even further is that they were not easy to work with in the first place.

:evil:


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 Post subject: the former Compass Books
PostPosted: January 24th, 2004, 4:18 pm 
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Joined: January 7th, 2004, 2:49 pm
Posts: 2
Here's the scoop on Compass Books/LakeSt. Publishing. I spoke with Craig, the "accounting manager" who told me what's going on. A venture capital company offered Compass/Lake St. $3 mil. to make books. When the pres. of the co. quit, the venture capital company pulled its offer. Compass, at that time, had only received a fifth of the $3 mil. The company has had no money since April 2003. Therefore, Compass/Lake St. is filing for bankruptcy. What does this mean to those of you who are owed money? Unless there is some sort of settlement where EVERYONE gets money distributed evenly ten cents to the dollar (so if you're owed $500 or $2000, you get the same amount), you don't get anything more.

There are no more employees of Compass; Craig is the last one, and he's trying to sell the books he has. I asked him if I could get the rights back to my book to try and publish it elsewhere. He said yes; since there isn't a company anymore, there really isn't a valid contract. I wrote up something that basically says the original contract is null and void effective today and that I am getting my rights back to the book. I'll be waiting for his signature to have in writing what he told me over the phone. I sent my book to another pub. today and explained my situation.

As for my book title appearing on amazon.com? When the info was given to amazon.com, the book was still in the works. I tried to order my book off amazon, and I was told the book is unattainable, my order canceled. A friend told me that if another pub. publishes my book, it's easy to get the Library of Congress to change the ISBN.

Because Craig is the only employee left, if no one has contacted him (and he said I was the only one so far), he wasn't able to do anything more.

If you want more information, post a reply on this site with your contact info, and I'll get hold of you.


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 Post subject: More Information
PostPosted: January 26th, 2004, 2:01 pm 
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Joined: December 11th, 2003, 5:13 pm
Posts: 2
rota1130 -

If you can send me more information, my contact email is
dsthoward@netscape.net

thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 28th, 2004, 4:24 pm 
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Joined: January 28th, 2004, 4:15 pm
Posts: 3
rota1130

Please send any current contact info you have regarding Lake Street. I've been trying for months to locate someone who still has an active phone or e-mail.

I want my books back!

Thanks,
Tamera Bryant


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 28th, 2004, 4:27 pm 
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Joined: January 28th, 2004, 4:15 pm
Posts: 3
rota1130

Contact info might be helpful to you:
tbryant@columbus.rr.com

Thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: February 9th, 2004, 11:33 am 
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Joined: January 5th, 2004, 3:16 pm
Posts: 4
I wouldn't hold my breath on getting my money back if they're filing bankruptcy. By law, secured creditors get anything that's left - which in this case is probably nothing much - and everyone else gets zilch. You can try to get your book back so they can never again use your manuscript if they do ever get back on their feet and veil their reputation under some new name, but don't count on it being an easy sell for another publisher to pick it up. Many of the topics Lakestreet was working on are already done by most reputable publishers. For instance, I finished some early reader books on US Presidents for Lakestreet that I was not fully compensated for. Lakestreet needed these books as they were a brand new publisher but most other existing publishers have already been there and done that. Why should they pay me for something they've already done? And why should they buy a book written to pre-defined guidelines that don't match their own. It's sort of like creating a custom piece of art for someone with very specific tastes who couldn't pay for it anymore. Good luck trying to find someone else who will like it. Just my two cents.


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