My Publisher Died Now What?

On May 17, 2022, I received a message from a friend asking if I’d heard the publisher of White Bird Publications, LLC died on May 6, 2022. I can’t explain the shock and sadness of losing my friend and publisher.

I pulled out my contract and learned a horrible truth—it did not include a
clause for the release of rights if she went out of business or died.

It did include the clause protecting her and the company from class action lawsuits. A hundred plus authors were left homeless with no ability to receive a release of rights letter. Her company is a Zombie Company and therefore her authors flew into action learning how to gain access to our titles and or stop royalties from going into her account.

A private, hidden Facebook group spang up called WBP Author Support.

Here is a summary of the steps we learned and shared with each other. I know there are many handy-dandy books available on Amazon from other authors and publishers, but I learned most of the following by listening to videos and contacting with the companies mentioned in the steps.

*If you are published with a publisher, go back and read your contract and or consult a lawyer if there is not a clause for them going out of business or dying.

Steps for Reclaiming Your Book Titles and Royalties

  • Go to copyright.gov.
  • On the home page, find and click on the Search Copyright Records
  • On the gray toolbar, click on Research
  • Choose Search Public Catalog, then put in the title of your book/s
  • Have a copy of the page emailed to you
  • Send a digital copy to KDP and IngramSpark
  • *If your book is not showing here, go to the Library of Congress website and search
  • Library of Congress.
  • Choose Library Catalog on the toolbar
  • Use your Library of Congress number in the book
  • Have the record emailed to you
  • Snap a photo of the information so you can send it as an attachment
  • Create accounts with IngramSpark and or KDP or whoever you want to distribute your books. Inform IngramSpark and KDP of the publisher situation and, therefore, your need for the title transfer (removal from KDP). Give them your account number. Attach the following documents.
  • Copyright proofs.
  • Titles with ISBN (Copyright page of book) or ASIN (ebook) numbers.
  • With KDP, start with their Copyright Infringement Form against the publisher. This is where you’ll attach the above forms. Ask them to remove the titles. THEY CAN NOT TRANSFER to your account. All they can do is remove the titles because they can’t transfer from the publisher’s account, and you don’t have access to the account. You’ll have to upload new files for the ebook if you use them. If you have your own ISBNs, you can also upload your file for a print book. IngramSpark transfers the titles into your account, and royalties go into your bank account. They will continue distribution of your titles from the former publisher unless you remove them from distribution.

Steps for Self-publishing

  • Purchase ISBNs from Bowker unless you want to keep the White Bird Publications imprint and numbers with Ingram Spark. *You will need a number for each title’s paperback, hardcover, and ebook. Research your production company requirements for audiobook.
  • When your new ISBN are available from Bowker’s you can assign your titles and fill out the required information for each book.
  • With the ISBNs you can do a Google Search for: library of congress preassigned number. Go to that site and follow the instructions there so you’ll have the number on your copyright page in the book before they are published.
  • While you wait for these numbers, find your final clean manuscript from Evelyn. The Word document must be formatted for publishing, then converting into a PDF for print books or EPUB for eBook. You can hire this out or use a formatting software like Attius or Vellum. Evelyn used Adobe InDesign. If you like FREE, IngramSpark, KDP, and Draft2Digital have formatting tools.
  • Decide which company/companies you’ll upload your PDF and EPUP files to for publication. You will need a PDF for the print book and a EPUB for the ebook. Your final files and book covers must adhere to the print company’s requirements.
  • After you re-publish your current books, you can seek a publisher for new work if you choose. The new publisher can take it from there.

Comment and share more knowledge for others who experience this terrible trauma.

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