I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. I’m just someone who’s been in the publishing business for 18 years, and has seen pretty much everything when it comes to unethical publishers.
On the ‘Ex-Tate Publishing Authors and Artists’ private Facebook group, many have asked if there’s a pending class-action lawsuit against the disgraced and defunct publisher. One author said she contacted several law firms and none were interested in taking the case. And, that’s not surprising. At BookLocker.com, we filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon and we won. So, we have a bit of experience in this area. It was a two-year process and we learned quite a bit during that stressful time.
Why were class-action law firms interested in suing Amazon? And, why are law firms NOT interested in suing Tate Publishing?
It all comes down to basic economics.
IS THE NUMBER OF (ALLEGED) VICTIMS A FACTOR? NOT ALWAYS…
When we sued Amazon, there were 4300 publishers like us who were potential class victims. Tate Publishing is alleged to have more than 30,000 authors. However, just because there are more victims doesn’t make Tate Publishing the tantalizing subject of a class-action lawsuit.
IS THERE IS A RISK OF BANKRUPTCY? AND, HOW MANY JUDGMENTS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED BY PREVIOUS CREDITORS?
Amazon was and is not at risk of going bankrupt, despite their debts. Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people in the world. When there is a possible bankruptcy, and when there are numerous victims, the ones with the largest amounts owed are usually the companies and individuals that get some money in the end…if any is available.
Tate Publishing owes Xerox $1.9 million. Tate owes Lightning Source $1.8 million.
These are actual judgments that have been ordered by the courts. There have been other past lawsuits against Tate as well.
If the Tates have any assets worth liquidating, it’s likely those will be grabbed by Xerox and/or Lightning Source long before a class-action lawsuit could be organized, filed, and litigated on behalf of authors.
I doubt the Tates have much more than a few nickels to rub together at this point – certainly not several million dollars. Class action law firms don’t file lawsuits against individuals who might be on the verge of bankruptcy.
IS THERE LIABILITY INSURANCE?
Even if Tate had liability insurance at some point in time, they may have stopped paying their premiums when they stopped paying their lawyers, their employees, and their vendors.
IN A NUTSHELL, IS THERE ANY MONEY FOR THE VICTIMS AND THE ATTORNEYS?
Amazon has deep pockets. They get sued all the time because lawyers know, if Amazon has truly done something wrong, it has plenty of cash to make it right.
Tate Publishing is small and, based on all the bills that didn’t get paid, its owners likely don’t have any money left, and likely won’t make much money in the future (unless they change their names). Who wants to hire jerks like that?!
Class-action law firms work on a contingency basis. That means they only get paid if/when there is a judgment and only when that judgment is collected. That process can take years and the legal fees associated with it can run into the hundreds of thousands to millions. Amazon had to pay our lawyers $300,000.
The longer the case takes to go to trial, the more fees will accumulate. A class-action law firm WILL NOT take a case if:
1. They aren’t almost completely certain they’ll win.
2. If they don’t have the resources to fund the ongoing cost of litigation themselves prior to the judgment.
TATE PUBLISHING’S WELL HAS LIKELY RUN DRY
If a bad business (like Tate Publishing) stopped paying authors’ royalties long, long ago, stopped paying their employees, stopped paying their lawyers, stopped paying their vendors, and has two judgments in the millions against them already, it’s doubtful they’re hiding enough money to compensate all of their victims. I doubt they even have enough money and assets to pay the millions owed to Xerox and Lightning.
In fact, I could be wrong, but I personally suspect the Tate’s are about ready for the welfare line.
When all of these factors are considered, it would make no sense whatsoever for a law firm to risk filing a class-action lawsuit against Tate Publishing.
MY ADVICE FOR TATE PUBLISHING’S VICTIMS:
1. File a complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General. The forms are online HERE. If they are able to scrape together any amount of money from the Tates, they’ll distribute it fairly to the victims (but, in all honesty, you probably still won’t get a dime).
2. Lick your wounds and move on. If you want to republish your book, do so with a publisher who has an excellent reputation. Don’t fall for the “we’re a Christian company” marketing tactic again. The Tates exhibited anything BUT Christian-like behavior when they stopped paying their vendors and employees, and when they collected money from authors for services that were then never rendered. There are plenty of business owners out there who are Christians, and yet don’t scream it from the mountain top to win your business.
3. Don’t be afraid to re-publish your book. Just don’t spend thousands doing so! I am continually astounded that authors are plunking down anywhere from $3K to $10K or even much more to get their book on the market. There is NO NEED WHATSOEVER to do that! You can get your book published for just $875 – even less if you’re submitting your own cover! If you have your production files, you can have your book republished at BookLocker for just $78.
Check out the Print on Demand Price Comparison HERE.
4. While I’m all for giving the little guy a chance, risking thousands of dollars with a relatively new firm, or one that has had numerous complains posted about them online, is a huge mistake. Avoid doing business with firms that haven’t been in operation for at least a decade. And, for Heaven’s sake, Google their name to check out their reputation! There were complaints published online about Tate Publishing dating back YEARS! Any author with an Internet connection should have known about their reputation. There are (and were) publishers with better reputations that charge much lower fees.
5. Also, avoid firms that have had lawsuits filed against them. By the time a disgruntled author has filed a lawsuit, they have usually spent months trying to rectify the situation. A lawsuit is only filed as a last resort. If a company has made somebody so angry that a lawsuit was the result, you should avoid that firm. And, if a firm has already had a class-action lawsuit filed against them, run for the hills!
Author Solutions has had two class-action lawsuits filed against them. Author Solutions owns AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford, iUniverse, WordClay, Balboa Press, Palibrio, Archway Publishing, LifeRich Publishing, WestBow Press, Patridge, Booktango. There are numerous complaints about Author Solutions’ firms online and you can even read what their employees are saying about them HERE.
Avoid needing to inquire about a class-action lawsuit in the future by choosing a good, reputable, AFFORDABLE publisher for your book.
Read more columns by Angela here:
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
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