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Ebook difficulties

edited November 2012 in Writing
All I can begin with is...oh dear :-( I was seduced by an advert to have my book made into an ebook and because I am quite a positive type of person, encouraged the chap to create my ebook and when it was finished...I didn't like it! Now he wants almost £400 for an ebook I could have created myself with pictures that look straight out of clipart. I tried to tell him that as writers, if an editor doesn't like our work, we don't threaten to take him to the small claims court if he doesn't pay up, we simply try again or try another editor. In our line of work, it is the nature of the beast. So, as you guessed it, he wants to take me to the small claims court for non payment. He doesn't have my address though and what gets me is his advert said he could do the ebook for £150! Hmmm, guess he didn't want to mention any extras! I'm not paying him, incidentally, on principle. It took him no time at all to put it together (and our faithful writing mag tells us exactly how to do the same) and was only worth £150 in the end if that!


  • Hello Purple Haze.
    Did you sign a contract?
    If you did, what were the terms- you may have agreed without realising to the extra costs.
    His advert could be misleading if he didn't make it clear that not everything was included in the £150, so do check this out, and if you're in any doubts contact your local trading standards.

    But dependent on the above, you may have to stump up- he has done the work, and you can't just say I don't like it so I'll find someone else...

    And please, in future, make sure you are clear about what you are paying for, look at the person's previous work, and give them your ideas about what you want for the cover.
  • Hi Carol

    I didn't sign a contract, no. He didn't supply examples of previous work which I now realised he should have done but I don't agree entirely with just because he has done the work, you have to pay! Would you pay a builder if the house he built fell down? Or a plumber when you realised your pipes have sprung a leak? If you aren't satisfied, then you shouldn't have to pay; or at least not all of it. On his website, he states that he requests payment upfront. Obviously he should have done this and he didn't. And like I said, when we write for editors, we can slog for hours but if they don't like our work, they don't just automatically pay us just because we were good enough to do it (unfortunately!). His advert was deliberately misleading but then, I should have said no from the start, so I'm not blameless :-)
  • If you asked him to do the work (which you did by supplying your mss and encouraging him to create your book) and he agreed to do it (which he has done, though not to your liking) then you have entered into a contract.

    [quote=Purple Haze] when we write for editors, we can slog for hours but if they don't like our work, they don't just automatically pay us[/quote] No, but they haven't contracted us to do the work, we've chosen to do it on spec. If we were contracted to write for them then they'd have to pay.

    If he didn't tell you about extra charges beforehand you shouldn't have to pay them as that's not part of your contract. If he did tell you and you allowed him to proceed then you'll have to pay them too.

    If his work isn't as advertised then you might not have to pay, but it doesn't seem as though he or you specified any particular type of artwork.
  • Actually, no, Phots Moll, if an editor has asked us to write a piece and we write it and they don't like it, they don't have to pay for it, and they won't pay for it. They would ask for amendments and then only pay if it is good enough. You don't just pay for work that is sub standard, of course not!

    If the work really isn't good enough, why should you just pay for it? That's just crazy. Even if you did agree with extra charges and he comes back with work that isn't what you wanted, you'd obviously complain and not just meekly pay. Well, I wouldn't anyway.
  • I wouldn't pay if it was sub-standard.

    Surely, if it's an e-book, it's all stored electronically and can be adjusted to your requirements. Did you state your requirements, Purple Haze?

    I think you'll need to look very closely at the claims of the advert and any emails/correspondence that has passed between you so that you can look for proof that the brief wasn't followed. If you don't have any evidence, it looks as though you will have to cough up and put it down to experience.

    If you can get access to the formatted mss, perhaps you could tinker with it yourself to get it up to scratch.
  • Hi Tiny

    The ad was in a magazine we know and love and did state quite clearly an ebook could be created for £150. But, I am such a softy, and I say something is nice when I'm not very happy...lesson learned there, eh?! The images, which he said were top standard, were very clipart and I should have said but I'm the type of person that would always get taken in by a sales person. Saying all that, right or wrong, I won't pay him, he'll have to take me to court! He may have a problem there though as he doesn't have my address.
  • Seems like you've both made mistakes here:
    You - for not checking his previous work, not making your requirements clear, making assumptions about artwork etc
    Him - for not making his charges clear and not getting at least a deposit upfront.

    You can't really compare it with leaking pipes - he has produced an ebook, that, presumably, meets the technical requirements of such. You just don't think it's what you expected. But did you agree upfront what you were entitled to expect?

    Hopefully you will both learn from this for the future, but on this occasion I would suggest, as others have, that you detail to him what you are not happy with and ask him to make amendments, subject to which you will pay any charges you agreed to (£150 plus any extras you knew about.) As long as you are not being unreasonable, he may well agree.

    I don't think it's reasonable to say 'I don't like it' and not pay after you have asked him to do the work.
  • The problem I see is that he's done one production of the book, which you don't like: surely you have the right to ask him to make amendments within the original contract, until you are happy? Otherwise he is asking you to take what he chooses to produce with no quibbles, which is unreasonable. He could churn out anything, if that were the case.
    I would suggest that you tell him that, when he has produced the book to your satisfaction, within the terms agreed, then you will pay his fee as asked. Otherwise, try to negotiate for the flat £150, take your book, and make the changes yourself - you don't have to put it out as he has supplied it.
    An editor doesn't pay for work that is substandard, but will ask for revisions until it fits the brief. If they don't specify the brief,as you seem not to have done with this publisher, then how are you to write what they want?
    Do you have any written correspondence with the publisher, which states what you get for £150? Does that, for instance, only cover text documents, with more charged for illustrations (whatever the quality)? Does he say where he will source those illustrations? It does sounds as though you have gone into this blind, PH. The good thing is you won't do it twice!
  • PH whispered the company's details and I've looked at their very impressive website.

    It's a limited company, incorporated earlier this year - so no figures to look at.

    The important thing (for me with my number crunching hat on) is that they're VAT registered. That means 20% is added to their fees. I'm surprised at this because they appear to work from home and I doubt they have much they can re-claim VAT on.
  • Well, you have to register for VAT if your turnover is more that £77k, whether you can reclaim any of it or not.

    That's quite a hign turnover though, so it doesn't sound like one man and his dog.
  • You can opt to register for VAT even if the turnover is lower.

    It's important for us all to be aware that with VAT being so high, 20% on top of stated fees is a lot of money.
  • I didn't even know it was 20% until a few days ago.

  • Maybe it's not where you live?
  • edited November 2012
    My tuppence is that I would have thought it would be worth retaining your goodwill, rather than creating an unhappy and vocal ex-customer!
    Have you discussed with him a compromise? eg, I'll gladly pay the £400 if we can get the book up to *this* standard, with better pics.
    ^-- as Mrs B said only a few posts ago, sorry.
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