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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Can you tell me please whether online book publishing company

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Can you tell me please whether online book publishing company SBPRA - Strategic Book Publishing Rights Agency, Houston, Texas are a scam?

My name is ***** ***** I am a US lawyer.

While not a scam in the strictest sense of the word, this business's reputation in the industry is not a good one. You can read its history here. The most recent alerts about it are here.

It would appear that the company did publish your book. You need to look to the terms of your contract with them and determine whether they did what they said they would do for you or if they breached their contract and/or made false or deceptive promises on which they never delivered.

From there, you'd need to contact the company and see if you can get them to address your concerns. You don't indicate whether you've done that.

If they refuse to work with you, the next step would be to contact a Texas lawyer to write a strong letter to the company, listing the various ways they have breached their contract with you and misrepresented their services and telling them that if they are not willing to resolve your problem or refund your money then you will have no choice but to take the to court and sue them for breach of the contract and for their fraudulent and deceptive trade practices.

You can do this for yourself without a lawyer, though it has more teeth when the letter is on a lawyer's letterhead. This company already has a spotty reputation in Texas, and something like this might be all you would need to do to get them to work with you. A successful suit involving fraudulent and deceptive trade practices would entitle you to an award and damages that should make them think twice.

Meanwhile, you can file complaints with the US consumer protection agencies we have, as they are free. Go to the Better Business Bureau's site and lodge a consumer complaint against them. You can do that right on the BBB's website. As a non-profit organization committed to protecting consumers, the BBB will try to intervene on your behalf and to resolve your problem if they can locate the company and the company is willing to work with them.

From there, you want to file one with the Texas State ATtorney General's Office. Again, you want to emphasize that the company has breached its contract with you and engaged in fraudulent, unfair and deceptive marketing practices.

Finally, you can involve our Federal consumer protection regulatory agency, the Federal Trade Commission by filing a similar consumer complaint with them also. These government agencies will not usually intervene on any one person's individual situation. But when they get enough complaints to see a pattern and practice of unethical or fraudulent business dealings they can, and do step in. They haul the company into Federal court where the companies usually settle for enormous fines and heavy government sanctions. The money the government collects is distributed among those defrauded by the company. So even if it takes a while for you to recover, you want to be file these complaints.

You also can hire a Texas consumer right's lawyer and sue for fraud and/or breach of contract, and one might be willing to take the case on contingency, meaning that you would only pay the lawyer if he wins your case or gets a settlement you approve of. Then he gets about 40% of your award. If you were in the US you can sue in Texas Small Claims court for up to $10,000 and do it yourself without a lawyer. Unfortunately, however, that would not be something you could do from overseas.

Alternatively, in your own country, you can, of course, contact a local solicitor and see what you can do from the UK, though if you bring suit from there and get the judgment, you still would need to take legal action in the US to ensure that the US courts would enforce your winning judgment. That the court would do that is not always a foregone conclusion.

You can also report the business to Trading Standards.

I will be the first to recognize that none of the above provides a perfect solution, as I am sure you want your money back sooner rather than later, and this is going to be a slow head-banging-against-the -wall process before you can get anything back even under the best of circumstances.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Zoey, thank you for replying to my question regarding SBPRA - it appears they do not have a very good reputationFrown My experience with them thus far had not been all bad - I did get my book published, ie. I have received a hard copy and the book is listed on many major online sites and even had some 'help' with marketing (which I had paid for). But I would have expected some reported sales numbers within the last 4 months, apart from 2 book right at the very beginning.

I have to say this is a grey area because they entirely hold all the data in this respect as all sales proceeds are made directly through them and this is the area that could potentially then be exploited.

I have a very large google+ profile and facebook and have sold previously with Amazon under my own steam - therefore, I am very surprised there are no recorded sales.

I would like to try to challenge them on this - do you have any suggestions please? - I have already broached the subject on two month ends previously and been told 'it can take 90 to 120 days for sales to be recorded' or '6 to 9 months to achieve strong sales'. I think I would have expected some record in 4 months and don't believe this is good enough back-up. Any help/suggestions here would be appreciated please

As you can't demonstrate that your book has actually sold and that they are withholding money or that they are doing anything wrong, I don't see what else you can take at this time. I will, however, opt out and open it up to other legal experts both in the US and the UK and see if someone else an idea.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will try and help.
Did you have a contract? If so what does it say about jurisdiction please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Alex, thank you for trying to help...unfortunately, the 'Contract' states that there is no guarantee of any number of sales...

Therefore, my feeling is that when you add the initial query about SBPRA publicity of being 'fraudulent' or a 'scam' even though they publish the book, which incidentally, is the most cheapened option and not expensive to print and you trust them with royalty payments, there is the opportunity not to (legally from their viewpoint) have to pay any royalties... and it is that area they appear to be exploiting in my case?

Thanks. But what does if say about jurisdiction please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Alex, I have copied below hopefully, the relevant section from the Contract:

f. Applicable Law and Prevailing Parties

The validity, interpretation, construction, performance, enforcement and remedies of or relating to this Agreement, and the rights and obligations of the parties hereunder, shall be governed by the laws of the State of Texas (without regard to the conflict of laws rules or statutes of any jurisdiction), and every legal proceeding arising out of or in connection with this Agreement shall be brought in Houston, TX. Each of the undersigned parties hereby consenting to the exclusive jurisdiction of said courts for this purpose. The prevailing party in any suit brought by either party hereto to enforce the terms hereof shall be entitled to recover from the non-prevailing party all of said party's reasonable costs, distributions and attorney's fees, including all costs and attorney’s fees incurred in attempting to collect any judgment hereunder.


Thanks. What is it you want to achieve ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I simply do not believe that I have blanket no recorded sales in 4 months, especially as I have 4000 online followers on google+ and I have carried out promotions etc (one even helped by SBPRA)(except 2 book sales at advent) - I would like more transparency and feedback from the company.

By the law of averages it seems unlikely there would have been 'no sales' at all during this period - I am not expecting fantastic results but even 1, 2, 3 etc would be more indicative than a blank sheet.

I cannot help feeling suspicious especially when I see 'bad' reports and mentions of scams about the company - it then makes me think I am working for them, and they are taking ALL my profits.

It seems to me the actual book sales which are regulated entirely by them can then be open to manipulation.

I feel, having already paid nearly £1000 for the publication of the book, which as mentioned, already had a recognised public profile should have recorded some sales at least.

Ok. Sadly any complaint would need to be in the USA, this is because the agreement you have states Houston, Texas,
Therefore any complaint must be brought in the USA. There is a scheme like trading standards called better business bureaux. They may be able to take up the complaint.
But sadly if you want to sue them that would need to be in Texas. As a uk lawyer I can't tell you about the law in Texas nor the procedure as I do not know. I can only tell you sadly you can't sue in the uk.
I am sorry if this is not the answer you want and it is certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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