You know, spending time surfing the Internet isn’t always a waste of time. On the weekend, I decided to search for the non-de-plume I used way back when I started submitting short stories that were not, shall we say, regular Family rated fare. We’re talking 1999-2001 when I was still living in Booneyville and had a lot of time on my hands when I wasn’t gardening like I was being paid to do it or decorating my house. Lo and behold, the name did pop up on a couple of websites.
Back then, the first erotic short story I submitted was accepted for publication. They paid me what seemed like a great deal of money back then – $240USD for the right to print. I signed contracts, did a few edits, agreed to a name change for the piece and waited. A year later, I wrote to ask what was happening because the projected publication date had passed. I received an apologetic letter from the editor telling me that the theme of the anthology had caused a firestorm of controversy and that they would not be publishing. And, by the way, I could keep the advance and all of the intellectual property rights reverted back to me. I thought that was the end of that. Almost published…..
But wait! The anthology was, in fact, first issued in 2002, then in March 2003. There was some kerfuffle about the publishing house being sold or maybe not, editors being let go, etc. I searched Amazon and discovered the anthology was still for sale. It’s ranked #321,596 on Amazon’s Bestseller Books list, so it hasn’t been a sales dud by any stretch of the imagination.
After I got over being flabbergasted, I searched some more and confirmed that my story is one of twenty-six in the anthology. I found the Table of Contents and listings for all three editions on a site called Worldcat.com, a library repository of published books. Yes, it’s in libraries. How legit is that? I ordered a copy from Amazon.com and it’s being shipped. Barnes and Noble carries it, for heaven’s sake, as do bookstores across the States.
The thing is, I haven’t received a cent in royalties. They had my real name and my pen name. It’s not like I dropped out of sight – I’d given them an email address back in 2002. That email is still in use.
I’m researching U.S. Copyright Law and as far as I can tell, the publishers have done me wrong. I’m not sure if any of the other contributors have been compensated for publication. I’ll do some sleuthing, but unless we’re all going to join in some sort of class action, they’re problems are not my problems.
What’s next? Well, since I’m not a schlep and I know my rights, I’ll compose a polite letter reminding them that as the producer of the intellectual property, I hold the copyright. They have to pay for the use of my original material. With interest. Should be an interesting adventure.