Aspen Mountain Press (AMP), a small publishing company in Aurora, Colorado, suspended operations recently after authors began reporting they had never been paid by the company and were locked into contracts there.
Charles Sanders, one of several hundred at AMP, told The Aurora Sentinel he should have started receiving royalties October 1 of this year. However, Sanders has yet to hear anything from the company, despite several attempts.
Sanders's wife, Nancy, told the HuffPost her husband signed a ten year contract with Aspen Mountain Press that now holds the rights to her husband's book. Though the couple has not received any of the royalties, they cannot re-publish the book elsewhere. "My husband's book, along with hundreds of other Aspen books, are literally being held hostage by Ms. Hicks," she said.
Sanders shared steps with HuffPost other AMP authors can take to formally complain and seek redress:
- I contacted the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (1-877-777-4778) who advised me to download "Form 3949A" from the IRS web site at www.irs.gov, fill it out and mail it to the IRS so that they may look into the alleged "co-mingling of accounts" or possible "tax fraud" by Hicks. I downloaded that form, filled it out and mailed it to the IRS. I have not received a response.
- I spoke with the Colorado State Attorney General's Office (1-800-222-4444) in their Consumer Complaint Department. The woman I spoke with recommended two approaches to me. One, hire a personal attorney to address the situation with Ms. Hicks in a Colorado court if we can afford it (not an option). Two, go to the AG's web site at www.colorado.attorneygeneral/complaint, select the "Private Business" link, fill out that online complaint form and submit it to the AG's Office electronically.
- Two days after that submission, I received a very timely phone call from the AG's Office stating that if "enough" authors contact the AG's Office regarding unpaid royalties, they will look into the matter. They did not define what "enough" would be. Additionally, in that response the AG's Office advised me to also reach out to the IC3 Center (1-303-866-4500) at www.ic3.gov, telling me that the IC3 Center is a multi-agency consisting of the FBI, Department of Justice and the National White Collar Crime Center, all of whom are charged with the prevention of cybercrime. I'm assuming this suggestion was made because as Aspen is primarily an e-publisher, non-payment of e-royalties could fall under the heading of cybercrime. I filled out the IC3 online form and submitted it electronically.
- I was told by the AG's Office that the AG's Office works closely with the Better Business Bureau and I should also contact the Denver BBB. I snail mailed the Denver BBB a letter detailing the situation, mailing the letter to 1020 Cherokee Street, Denver, CO 80204.
- Lastly, I spoke with the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office. I was directed to a man by the name of "Mason" (1-720-874-8500). It's my understanding that it is the opinion of Mason that Hicks "hasn't violated any prosecutorial statutes" and that this is, therefore, a civil matter. Mason recommends the authors band together and hire one attorney to get in front of a Colorado judge.