I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Consult with your attorney for any legal questions you may have.
If your publisher has gone out of business, and if you’ve reviewed your contract, you’ve likely discovered that you’re (bleep)-out-of-luck with regards to any protection. It’s unlikely there’s a statement in their contract that details your protections in the event they have gone out of business.
And, your book is probably still on Amazon, and still selling. Yes, your publisher may very well still be having copies printed and shipped to Amazon. Those funds are being sent to your publisher and that publisher is not sending royalties to you. Worse, if you try to complain to Amazon, they’ll tell you that only your publisher can remove those books from Amazon. If you release a new edition of your book, and if you don’t rename it, customers are going to get confused and some will order the old edition. And, your publisher will continue to pocket YOUR money.
That puts the victims of that publisher (the authors) in quite a bind.
However, there is a way to get Amazon to remove your old book.
If my publisher has gone out of business, and has stopped sending me my portion of the royalties, they are violating the terms of my contract. So, I have every right to cancel that contract, and to withdraw any and all rights I gave to that company, right? In doing so, they no longer have permission to sell my book. If they do, that’s COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
If you own the copyright to your book, and if your publisher is no longer responding to you, you can rescind the rights you gave them to publish your book. Send them a certified letter stating such. It will probably be returned to you as undeliverable. Keep that. Email them as well, and copy yourself on the email. If their website is still up, send them a message through their contact form (if they have one), and take a screenshot of that before clicking the send or submit button.
Name of Publisher
City, State, Zip
[Name of publisher] has ceased primary business operations and is no longer responding to my correspondence. This is a violation of my contract terms with your company.
This letter serves as written notice that I am rescinding all publishing, distribution, and other rights previously given to your firm with regards to [insert book title(s) and ISBN(s)]. You are hereby ordered to cease and desist listing and selling my title(s), and from collecting monies from any entity from any sales of my book(s).
If you continue to list/sell my title(s), this will constitute copyright infringement.
City, State, Zip
Then, contact Amazon’s copyright infringement division. Don’t go into detail about how your publisher went out of business, how they screwed you over, etc., etc. That will only spur them to respond with a generic note about this being between you and your publisher, that they are under contract with your publisher, that it’s a civil matter, etc., etc.
Simply tell them this:
I am the sole copyright owner of [title of book and ISBN]. It is on Amazon at [insert Amazon link for your book]. [Name of publisher] is selling my book on Amazon.com without my permission. This is copyright infringement. As the sole copyright owner of this book, I am requesting you immediately remove this title from Amazon.com since it is being sold illegally.
Amazon’s instructions on how to submit a copyright infringement claim.
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