Dear Publisher…

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Blogging, Business Talks | 25 comments

I’m writing this letter to you after much hesitation. I thought “let me leave it behind me and move on”. I thought “nah, what good does it do anyone to read this?”. Well. I reconsidered.

Because you’re still putting out calls for designers to submit to you. If they don’t yet know what they’re about to get into, I will be the one to tell them – unfortunately, I wasn’t told, and I got caught in this mess. So please, dear publisher…

—-

When I publish with serious, professional, down-to-earth, proper-prompt response companies, I get my cheque on time. Interweave pays when the issue is due to hit the newsstands. Vogue Knitting pays within receipt of the garment and pattern.

You pay when you feel like it, IF you feel like it.

Or when it’s so obvious that hundreds of people are spreading your names on twitter as a source of no-payment. I got paid. I know of several people who haven’t, yet.

Please pay your designers – on time.

When my contract says they’re keeping the sample and it’s with a hefty payment, I don’t mind. When I have to source my yarn, make my sample, and my contract says the sample is to be returned to me, I expect you to do so.

Please return their samples when estipulated on their contract – like mine. I’m still waiting for your response.

When we sign a contract that mentions there may be re-use of the patterns and you will get a percentage of the profits that your publishing company receives, we expect to get that percentage in the mail, pronto.

Do you believe we don’t know what you’re doing? (link)

Reselling your crochet patterns that designers worked hard and got paid (if they got paid) a pittance for, failing to notify the designers that this situation is about to happen and failing to reply to them, is wrong.

Please stop trying to make money on the side with our hard work.

This is sad. It’s sad and pathetic. You meant good, opening up a new set of magazines originating from Britain without the stairlift ads. You did. But you got lost. You changed Technical Editors like tissues, and failed to compensate them on time, or appropriately. You paid a pittance for designs – which some of us put up with when we were starting out.

Like me,when I first started out I was grateful to have a non-dowdy UK publication to submit to, get my first foothold into the industry that could lead me to the bigger publications. I wanted to support a local business. I trusted a good British business to not make a mockery of good business practices, especially if they planned on being an international name.

If you can’t afford to compensate accordingly, maybe it’s time to reconsider. You already had a failed business behind your back, take the blindfold off.

I expect my sample back soon. Please.

If you are a new designer, I would highly recommend you don’t submit your ideas. While I don’t wish misery or bankruptcy upon anyone, I believe this publishing house needs to accept their shortcomings and acknowledge publicly that they have failed to pay people. That cheques are late. That they withhold samples. That they are re-selling our work without our permission or appropriate payment. That they refuse to answer emails, regardless of how polite they are. In short – they cannot manage their business according to good legal practice.

Designers, tech-eds and knitters need to stand together for a reason – to preserve the quality of our work.

 

You, knitter, want quality patterns, edited by quality technical editors.

 

We, designers can’t produce quality patterns without appropriate timely compensation.

 

This publisher needs quality patterns to keep up their production.

 

Don’t give them what they want until we get what’s due.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you! This is such a brave post to make but so very, very important so this behaviour doesn’t continue

  2. I remember when this initially broke – my constant questioning on their Facebook page caused them to remove wall posting privileges after one day.  I never did get a response but I got their attention and hopefully to those who saw my words before the company deleted them, I got theirs as well.  I was in process of submitting to them but thankfully, you and several others got my attention and I was saved the heartache.  If possible, join a class action lawsuit – go to the local media with your stories as well.

    Designing is difficult (and often times thankless) work.  Technical Editing is the same.  Those who do it should be paid and paid well.  This company’s fraudulent and unethical business practices need to be stopped.  I will stand with you to do all I can to help – our work is unique, talented and should be shown the respect it deserves… that we deserve.

  3. Are we bad payers? 

    • Goodness no – I was very surprised at the way you pay your designers, your communication was clear, helpful, and I will work with you again in a heartbeat.

      Unfortunately… this publishing house, All Craft Media, not so much!

  4. Thanks for this. I had heard about this and deduced which magazine was the problem. I’m a new designer, and have been lucky to work with The Knitter and Knit Now, both of whom are lovely to deal with and pay promptly. It would be very easy to get 6 months down the line of magazine submissions, working for a pittance if you considered the hourly rate, only to find that you were not getting paid or having samples returned. I haven’t bought this magazine for ages, as I’m not willing to support a magazine that doesn’t deal with their designers in a reasonable way. It’s good to know that I have been boycotting the right mag!

  5. Thank you for coming forward with this, people need to hear about it.

    • (hit post too soon)
      By the looks of it this company and the person in charge of it have been participating in this kind of shady stuff for years. It’s awful and unless you do the digging it’s not readily apparent. I’m a designer and a member of the sock club – both times I committed just before the non-payment issues started to bubble up publicly. I’m so glad that my dealings with them are nearly over, and I’m never buying from them or working with them again.

  6. Thank you :)

  7. You Rock, Ruth…!
    There’s never any point dancing around these things.
    It needed to be said, and you have said it so well…
    Many Hugs
    S xXx

  8. Kudos! Yes, this exactly this. My experience with this publisher was much the same.  It was an absolute runaround to get paid and only when I spoke up publicly, did it actually happen. 

  9. If patterns are being resold in electronic form without permission… then I have three words: DMCA Takedown Notice.

  10. This is appalling! I’m in Utah less than an hour away from Bluffdale.  I’m tempted to go there myself and give them a piece of my mind!  

    •  The company is actually in the UK. I’m not sure if the if the other magazine re-publishing the patterns is necessarily at fault (beyond the scope of unwittingly distributing the patterns without permission of the copyright holder), but it’s pretty icky all around.

  11. Great post, Ruth. I got all my money owed by September last year after posting about this on Ravelry. I’ve also warned a few new designers I’ve come into contact with. By the time I was owed money for 3 designs which was 3 months overdue, I’d already completed & sent in another 3 designs to them. it’s so easy to get in to a situation where you complete several design before you’re paid for the first one (or don’t get paid for the first one and realise there is a problem). I first experienced this exactly a year ago and can’t believe a year later, they’re still selling mags and getting away with it. Very, very sad.

  12. Hi – someone’s just sent me this link and I don’t know which magazine you are referring to.  I did some designs for Inside Crochet, didn’t get my samples returned, and only got paid when I got a high court enforcement.  And then they emailed me to ask if I’d like to send them further designs!  They’ve lost me as a subscriber, because very soon they’ll run out of people to design for them if they carry on like this; no point in subscribing to a magazine that is unlikely to see the year out.  Will carry on designing but will stick with Interweave who are more professional…

  13. Thank you so much for posting this! Still waiting (ha, ha, ha) on payment and a sample back from this very unprofessional organization. Definitely drawn in as a fledgling designer. I have had absolutely no luck with my last design and really am not expecting to see payment or the sample they say they have “misplaced”. What a dismal first publishing experience. :-(

  14. A few other designers and I are beginning legal action in a last-resort attempt to get paid for our several months long-overdue invoices from All Craft Media (formerly called KAL Media). It’s encouraging to hear that another commenter found success through that route. Any advice from your court experience? Also, any other designers wishing to join us in a group appeal, please contact wildbirdsong on Ravelry (that’s me), and we’ll add you to our list.

  15. Hi – I filed my CCJ on line – google HMCourts and Tribunals Service Money Claim which is based in Nottingham and sometimes referred to as the Bulk Centre.  You are entitled to add compensation and interest under the Late Payments of Commercial Debts Act 2002 and ensure you note in your claim that you want interest added up to the date of payment (currently 8.5%), plus add in all the costs of the non-returned samples.  This filing on line costs £60, which can also be added to what they owe you.  If they don’t respond (they didn’t with me) and your claim is over £600, you can “up” it to a high court enforcement once the CCJ is issued.  Even if it’s less than £600, you can pay to send in bailiffs, who will recover all your costs plus what was originally owed, as well as their costs.  If it’s over £600, the bailiffs have more rights (I think they can turn up unannounced, for example), so if you can legitimately get your costs over that threshold, with the compensation, interest, costs etc, that’s more likely to get your money back, although you have to go through the hoop of getting it upped to the high court first.  I then used CN Gaunt to do the high court and actual debt recovery, and they were very good – a further £60 for the HC fees, and the rest they recovered from the debtor.  My original invoices were for £420, but with all the added costs, I ended up getting ~£750 back, so it must have cost the magazine a lot more as they’d have had to pay the bailiff’s fees on top of that.  If enough people take this route, maybe they’ll work out it’s actually cheaper for them to pay people on time.  If the worst happens, ie you go for a CCJ and bailffs but they can’t recover the debt, you can at least deduct any unrecovered costs against tax.  
    It’s a pity as I would’ve liked to continue  designing for a UK magazine, but they need to stop being so amateur about it.

    •  May I ask if the debts were owed by KAL or ACM? Just wondering what my chances are.

      • Hi – it was ACM.  My original contract was with KAL but when they closed down I was asked to invoice ACM and so I demanded new contracts.  HOWEVER, at no point in the process through the court was I asked to produce the contracts or even copies of my invoices, I just had to confirm that the money was owed.  I think it was Feb 2011 that KAL was wound up (sorry, have that info somewhere at home; not currently at home) so if you invoiced ACM then I would go ahead now and sue them.  If you invoiced KAL, you may not have much chance because that company doesn’t exist and their debts were written off (note: the director of ACM is the husband of the director of KAL – unfortunately as they’re a ltd co you can’t sue the director).  BUT if your work was *published* by ACM, I’d re-invoice ACM, wait until they’ve not paid you, and then sue them.  Hope that helps

        •  That’s good to know. I was asked to re-invoice all unpaid debts to ACM (and didn’t receive payment for them), so I may have some recourse there. Thanks so much for the info.

  16. … sorry, meant to add – I didn’t have to go to court, I didn’t have to speak to anyone at KALMedia/AllCraft Media, I just did it all on line,  There was a bit of phoning up but that was mainly around my misunderstanding of the timescales for each step (if you file on a Saturday, they treat it as the Monday – yes, I know, obvious really).  Still a bit stressful having to keep noting when you need to take the next step, and then promptly doing it, but I got my money in the end, so it was worth it.  Should have been paid in June, got paid in January.  Recommend anyone who’s not been paid as their contract states to do this; I suspect it’s the only way these people will learn.  If people don’t fuss, they’ll just carry on until they run out of designers.

  17. This is super helpful, thank you so much!

  18. Hi, I’m a designer who has been dealing with KNIT magazine too. It looks
    like they are turning over a new leaf. Naomi has been very responsive
    and pleasant to work with, and I’ve received payment promptly (it
    arrived Feb 27 2012 for a design published Jan 1 2012). I’m willing to
    work with them in future based on their current behavior.

    I’m so sorry about what happened to everyone in the past.

  19. I’ve now seen comments whereby they are threatening to not pay if the designer discusses the situation on line.  Er, legally they can’t do that unless it is specifically mentioned in your contract with them (which I bet it isn’t).  If you post something on line and it’s not true, they can sue you (separately) for libel, but if it is true that won’t get them very far – you’d win that case.  And you’d still be owed the money for the work you have done and you can still sue them for it.  They are not allowed to offset being written about on line, even if untrue, with the money they owe you; they have to pay you and sue you seperately.  Discussing it on line is hopefully saving other people falling into the trap of sending them their hard work and them enjoying the fruits of publishing it but not keeping up their side of the contract ie paying for it.  It would be nice if they could realise this, and start paying all their backlog of invoices.  It will be cheaper for them than having to pay the higher charges once the debt has gone to court; if enough people start suing them, maybe they’ll work this out for themselves.

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