My Response to Entangled Publishing’s Threats

Yesterday I received an email from Liz Pelletier, the publisher at Entangled Publishing, whose contract I reviewed in an earlier post. Ordinarily I wouldn’t share an email without the other party’s consent, but considering what Ms. Pelletier has to say, and its connection to my review of Entangled’s contract, I’ve made an exception. Here’s the email in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Mehalic:

Since you state in your own words on your own blog that you are aware that the contract you had previously posted was never used by Entangled, you have twenty-fours to remove your latest reposting of the contract from your website. Given this false attribution, your dissection of its contents as relates to Entangled are also false and therefore libelous and must be removed as well. Yes, libelous. I have an attorney and know what it means, and since you are using your blog to drum up new clients for your new legal endeavor, one can attribute intent with the hope to profit from your posts. If you ask me nicely and with a public apology of your previous post, I’m happy to provide you with a copy of our real contract. I have no fear of you, but lies for the shock factor simply because you need clients is shameful, Mr. Mehalic. I do hope you treat your clients with more honesty and ethics than you’ve shown thus far.

Please do not bother replying to this email as our earlier emails were a waste of my time. I’ll have my assistant simply check your site tomorrow and forward the information to our attorney should you not retract your statements. If you do however post an apology, I’ll have her send a copy of our real contract immediately.

Sincerely,

Liz Pelletier, Publisher
Entangled Publishing, LLC
http://www.EntangledPublishing.com

I’m not sure where to begin. In this post from last month, I explained that Ms. Pelletier had emailed me after my review of Entangled’s contract had been published at Pitch University, and informed me that the contract I had reviewed was six months old and had never been used. As I noted in my post and as I informed Ms. Pelletier, I didn’t know either of those things when I published my review, and they aren’t apparent from the contract. So contrary to Ms. Pelletier’s first statement, I never stated that I was aware that the contract I posted was never used by Entangled — she told me that.

In that same post, I explained that I had invited Ms. Pelletier to provide me with Entangled’s current contract and/or post a comment about my review, so that we could have a discussion, but she chose to do neither. In fact, I’ve extended that invitation to her at least twice. But all I’ve heard from her in response is the email quoted above.

So here’s my question: why play games? If Ms. Pelletier is as troubled by my earlier post as she claims to be, then why not send me Entangled’s current contract and ask (she doesn’t even have to ask nicely) that I review it and publish my review? Or why not post a comment pointing out what she disagrees with in my review? Those would seem to be more effective ways for her to accomplish her goal of correcting my supposed misstatements about Entangled’s contract than the approach she’s chosen.

I don’t do well with ultimatums (who does, really?), so for the record (and Ms. Pelletier’s edification), I’m not going to ask her — nicely or otherwise — for Entangled’s current contract, nor am I going to apologize for or retract my earlier post. I stand by what I wrote.

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9 responses to “My Response to Entangled Publishing’s Threats”

  1. tiffhelmer says :

    Wow. I sure wouldn’t want to do business with anyone who flies off the handle like this. Will be watching to see what happens.

  2. TechGuy Jay says :

    Hi Jeffrey, thanks for posting the letter and keeping on this. I’m with you, giving me an ultimatum is about the worst thing anyone can do to get what they want with me. I kick into an even more obnoxious gear than usual.

    Come on Entangled, be smarter. This isn’t helping your cause. Your company is new to the industry and has great potential. Instead of sending a letter making you look unprofessional at best and crazy at worst, admit your first contract stank and release your new one.

    The goodwill created from having a fair contract will result in more authors wanting to sign with you and you being able to publish more books.

    -Jay
    @techsurgeons

    • Jeffrey V. Mehalic says :

      TechGuy Jay,

      Thanks for your comment. I have thought throughout this episode that the most logical thing for Entangled to do is to provide me with its current contract so that I can review it and compare it to the earlier version. I upload any contract that I review so that, separate from my comments, readers can form their own opinions about the contract language (and determine whether they agree with my opinions).

      I understand that no publisher wants its contract to be scrutinized, but I’m not picking on Entangled (and I think they know that). I’m trying to educate writers and authors about contract language so they’ll be more informed during their negotiations.

      Thanks again, and take care.

  3. carol says :

    Bad form to publish emails with out the senders permission. It doesn’t cast you in a good light regardless of content.

    • Jeffrey V. Mehalic says :

      Carol,

      Thank you for your comment. I also read your comment on Jami Gold’s blog about this situation.

      I realize that some people disagree with my decision to publish Ms. Pelletier’s email, and I pointed out that it wasn’t my usual practice to do so. However, I think the contents of her email are more significant than my decision to publish it.

      Thanks again for commenting. Take care.

      • Linnea Dayton says :

        Doesn’t your publication of her email constitute a violation of her copyright? If you think not, why not?

      • Jeffrey V. Mehalic says :

        Linnea,

        Thanks for your question. My publication of her email didn’t violate her copyright because she sent the email to me.

      • Linnea Dayton says :

        RE: “Linnea,

        Thanks for your question. My publication of her email didn’t violate her copyright because she sent the email to me.”

        I think you might be wrong about that. I understand that the rights reside with the writer. For instance, if I send you a manuscript, or a blog post I’m planning to post tomorrow, you can’t assume you have the right to publish it because I sent it to you. Or, for example, if I want to publish a number of letters you’ve sent me over the years (hypothetically; I have no such letters, of course) as part of a book I’m writing, I think I have to get your permission to publish them.

  4. Peter DeGiglio says :

    I’m a publishing consultant and former executive with over 30 years of experience. I’ve managed contracts and legal departments, and have negotiated hundreds of agreements. I came across your website by accident and found it very interesting. I wanted to comment about your analysis of point #5 on the Entangled contract. BTW – I don’t work for Entangled, haven’t read the entire agreement and have no vested interest whatsoever. But this does not appear to be joint accounting. As the industry uses it, Joint accounting refers only to multi-book contracts under which no royalties are paid on any work until the entire advance paid under the contract is earned out. Whereas cross collateralization (very rare) would refer to the joint accounting of works between two or more contracts. While it looks like Entangled wishes to cross collateralize agreements, I’m not sure this is accurate because according to their website they don’t pay advances. It appears that what they are describing is “right of offset”. So if the author owes Entangled money from one contract (excluding advances if there were any), Entangled can offset it from another. This debt typically can happen because of over payments (as a result of returns), author book purchases that were never paid for, or any other expense incurred by the publisher on behalf of the author with the authors approval. Entangled should have every right to do this, and many publishers no longer include this paragraph in the contract because that right is granted by law. In New York (where all the big houses live) the law is quite clear. If you owe me a dollar and I owe you a dollar, we don’t owe each other anything. It could simply be that the Entangled language needs to be tweaked a bit, but as I said, I haven’t read the entire agreement. But if they don’t pay advances, this is not a joint accounting issue.

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