A group of 11 authors, in coordination with the Authors Guild, has filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Florida, alleging that a ‘predatory’ publishing company is withholding "thousands of dollars" in unpaid royalties.

Filed on January 6, the complaint claims that Authors’ Place Press and its owner, Tony Ferraro, have failed to fulfill their contractual obligations and to pay or properly account for royalties. The suit also names the company’s predecessor, Motivational Press, and its CEO, Justin Sachs, as defendants. According to court documents, Motivational Press was acquired by Ferraro in early 2019.

The case was spearheaded by lead plaintiff Karyn Schoenbart, the former CEO of the NPD Group and author of Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next. With help from the Authors Guild, Schoenbart organized 10 more authors to join the action, which alleges that Authors’ Place Press and Motivational Press have repeatedly denied the authors’ demands for redress.

"This action is brought by a group of book authors against two predatory publishers. Defendants Authors’ Place and Motivational Press systematically failed to pay royalties to authors and for years delayed providing royalty statements to their authors. Over the past severa years, Plaintiffs demanded on numerous occasions unpaid royalties, royalty statements, and after reaching the limits of their frustration, a reversion of the publishing rights in their books," the complaint states.

It continues: "Defendants Ferraro and Authors’ Place, which is a successor-in-interest to defendant Motivational Press, at various times employed different tactics to stymie their authors. Sometimes they simply ignored the authors’ requests. Other times, they refused the requests. Still other times, they threatened authors with the destruction of their works or the discontinuation of purported efforts to market the authors’ works. Ferraro and Authors’ Place also demanded arbitrary payments from the authors to maintain the status quo. When authors demanded a reversion of the publishing rights in their books, Ferraro and Authors’ Place often demanded payment—even where they owed royalties to the authors. These amounts were arbitrary (and inconsistent) too."

The suit claims copyright infringement, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, and seeks a ruling that the authors’ book rights have reverted to the authors, as well as an accounting to determine the amount of unpaid royalties owed. “This lawsuit should send a message to any publishers who think they can get away with underpaying or not paying authors, or otherwise taking advantage of them,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger. “We will fight energetically for the rights of authors under the law.”

The website for Authors Place Press states that the company is no longer in operation.