An Open Letter to Packt Publishing



wordpress-3-ultimate-security-book-cover-small

An open letter to Louay Fatoohi (Founder) and Douglas Paterson (Publisher, OpenSource) at Packt Publishing.




Dear Louay and Douglas,

Having not heard from Louay regarding the negotiations I had with Douglas, in over eight months, I have launched the agreed website, wpCop.com. I am happy to provide Packt with whatever site revenue, Louay, that you can prove had been negotiated between he and I.

You are welcome to send me a copy of the e-book for WordPress 3 Ultimate Security, again as agreed between Douglas and I, for inclusion on the site. It is becoming out-dated in various areas and you can expect me to be honest about that with my community.

As for future editions of the work, you should understand that I have no interest in further partnership, for want of a better word, with your company and, given the grossly dishonest, serially unprofessional, highly insulting and, ultimately, the stress-inducing conduct of Packt Publishing, over what now amounts to approaching three years, I cannot accept that your company continues to capitalise from my work.

Having admitted a “catalog of errors”, Douglas wrote that Packt would consider releasing copyright for future editions – which I do not accept is yours – and I feel you should consider that reasonably, responding now, please, to this point. To this end, I propose that the current edition is dead-filed six months from now, although sooner or immediately is far preferable to me.

I look forward to concluding my agreement with Douglas, which I may remind you remains the sole reason I have not pursued the terms of my letter dated 26th January 2012, and to a relatively amicable outcome of this matter which, as I say and given the history, must result in my freedom, formally, from Packt Publishing.

In the interests of transparency, and of the Open Source community, all further correspondence relating to this matter, from whatever quarter, will be published here at Guvnr.

Sincerely,

Olly Connelly.

Note to vpsBible and Guvnr folks: You're probably wondering what all this is about, and how and to what extent it fits in with my lack of attention, unfortunately, to both this blog and to vpsBible.

This morning I've sent a heartfelt email to the vpsBible community, explaining things, and have also published that here. Of course, Packt is free to dispute whatever I say, althought if they've got any decency at all they'll simply apologise and – to be polite – walk away.

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About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at guvnr.com, polices WordPress security at wpCop.com and helps noobs build web servers at vpsBible.com, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.

Discussion

  1. Olly  October 28, 2013

    Thanks for the note on Google Plus, Jonathan.

    “For several reasons we are unable to do what you have asked above.”

    Query 1: And those reasons are, please?

    “We can, and have, however, already given you permission to use the content on your own website”.

    I do not consider that I need your permission for anything. My requests are not about seeking Packt’s permission. They are about trying to bring about reasonable closure to this matter.

    Let me remind you of the relevant paragraph in my Open Letter:-

    “Having admitted a “catalog of errors”, [Packt’s Publisher/Open Source] wrote that Packt would consider releasing copyright for future editions – which I do not accept is yours – and I feel you should consider that reasonably, responding now, please, to this point. To this end, I propose that the current edition is dead-filed six months from now, although sooner or immediately is far preferable to me.”

    Without resolution on this point there cannot be any agreement on my side and I refer you to my letter dated 26th January 2012.

    I have another query, please, and again I would be grateful if Packt would deign to respond to this …

    Query 2: How can Packt justify it’s stated position, given that:-

    1. Packt breached the contract;
    2. Packt’s editorial process was grossly negligent;
    3. Packt’s marketing was grossly negligent;
    4. Points 2 and 3 have been admitted by your own Publisher (“We have managed to make mistakes at every imaginable turn”);
    5. Packt’s royalties cannot be trusted given your affiliate scam (also acknowledged by the Publisher)?

    Otherwise, I see that Packt’s marketing hype remains unchanged at http://authors.packtpub.com/marketing. I have another query, please.

    Query 3: How does Packt continue to justify enticing authors, such as it had me, with the nonsense written on this page, and particularly given that your own Publisher of Open Source acknowledged the inaccuracy of this page to me almost two years ago? For instance, your marketing page states:-

    “6. Slashdot review. Slashdot is a very important website for any publishing house and a review up there not only receives a lot of attention but also has a good impact on sales. The marketing team tries their level best in finding Slashdot reviewers.”

    Packt publishes, what, 20 to 25 titles per month? And how many books, on average for each month of this year have been reviewed on Slashdot?

    2013 : 2 (to date)
    2012 : 3

    That is not ‘per month’. Those are annual totals. And you’ve published, conservatively what, 250 books? Maybe 400? So a 1-2% Slashdot conversion is a generous statistic.

    I could bring into question the other ‘selling points’ on this page and bring up this third query because “Packt’s marketing machine”, which proved disastrous and even detrimental to the work – to the point of almost entirely negating the project – was the overwhelming reason I ever agreed to ‘team up’ with Packt.

    I ask you again, please, to justify your “several reasons”.

  2. Olly  October 25, 2013

    Update from Packt Publishing’s Jonathan Titmus to Google Plus, 24th October 2013:-

    https://plus.google.com/113862800338869870683/posts/PDVcovR7Sir?partnerid=gplp0

    For several reasons we are unable to do what you have asked above.
    We can, and have, however, already given you permission to use the content on your own website falling under your own selling model. You may also choose to update the content and redistribute it, something that we have no intention of doing.

  3. Olly  October 25, 2013

    Hi Jonathan,

    “We have sent you everything that you have requested”.

    Having read my Open Letter, really, you should be aware that that is not the case:-

    “To this end, I propose that the current edition is dead-filed six months from now, although sooner or immediately is far preferable to me.”

    By not addressing this matter of closure, your proposal skirts around the underlying wrong in this whole episode: Packt’s continuing to capitalise from my work despite its own gross negligence in both key areas of a publisher’s remit, those of editorial and marketing.

    At what stage does Packt propose to remove my work from its website and sales channels, please?

    To prevent any further feet shuffling along the way, I require a clean break immediately, with Packt formally recognising that all copyright has reverted to the writer and with no further legal “sword of Damacles” hanging over me and my business.

    Kindly confirm that you can agree to that, else state your alternative suggestion and reasoning.

    Thank you.

  4. Olly  October 25, 2013

    Update from Packt Publishing, recd by email 24th October 2013:-

    Dear Olly,

    Thank you for your follow up post to my mail and Google+ post.

    I can confirm that we have no intention of updating the content that you have written and that you may do so as you wish.

    We have sent you everything that you have requested and if we can be of any further help please feel free to contact me.

    We wish you all the best with your website and career.

    Kind regards,

    Jonathan Titmus

  5. Olly  October 23, 2013

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for your email, and corresponding comment at Google+, where I see the “Packt marketing machine” is engaged on damage limitation. I guess it has to do something:-

    Packt Publishing modus operandi

    Seeking swift resolution, please, I have responded there as well.

    So let me get this right.

    You’re a Senior Aquisition Manager, huh? What’s that in English, a sales manager, someone who manages a team of sales folks, people that drum up new authors from throughout the blogging community, kind of like the one that lured me, along with your marketing baloney? (That question was rhetorical, no need to answer.)

    Yeah, with Packt, I dealt with one of your ranks for a while, and she struck me as a very lovely woman, I might say, but when it came to answering questions about why Packt was stealing – yes, stealing – agreed affiliation commissions and, more importantly, when it came to getting some straight answers about why Packt wasn’t marketing my book, she stonewalled or just plain ignored my emails.

    Eventually, fed up, and having had the same Packt procrastination from some ‘marketing’ bloke who I hear was eventually sacked, partly over this, I escalated the matter to Paterson, the guy who signed the contract you breached, the Publisher of Open Source, or ‘as was’, anyhow.

    At least Paterson was relatively honest. I think those are fair words: he toed the line between trying to create a compromise and Packt’s evidently cynical business model, in what amounts to a one-way street where you want, want, want but rarely return anything that’s really worth half a shit. With Paterson I thought I could maybe do business but, for whatever reason, at the time we had agreed to reconvene our negotiation he was no longer available and, having already been pissed around by other Packt personnel, that’s when I escalated this matter to the co-Founder, Fatoohi. By now I was very angry at having to deal with so many people at Packt, and then and even more now see this ‘pilar to post’ as yet more stonewalling from Packt. Is it not? Strikes me it’s practically policy, directed at any Packt author cheeky enough to actually want some semblance of value.

    Anyway, now Packt is asking me to deal with another sales guy, and I’ve no reason to believe that you’re not a decent guy, and maybe your “kind regards” are sincere but, aside from the fact that I doubt you’re a decision maker, guess what, I have zero trust for your arsewipe of a company and I refuse to be pissed about any more.

    So here’s what we’re doing.

    Firstly, I’m going to make it perfectly clear to you and to anyone else who is interested as to why I have grounds not to trust anyone at your company, detailing the lies, deceit and general social engineering bullshit that I’ve experienced with Packt Publishing. You’ll see a post on this blog within the next few days which, done, I’ll also link from here:-

    “Write for Packt Publishing (Again!) You Must Be Joking”

    Second, I’m going to wait for either Fatoohi or, preferably, Paterson to assume some responsibility and to try to close our negotiations. Essentially, I need closure, I want you guys formally to agree a date for standing down gracefully, and I need to know that you aren’t going to try it on (for example as did Fatoohi over the final straw 50% site claim, as has Packt over your affiliation scam and marketing drivel) by having my work re-edited by a third party, which is entirely out of the question yet this is a pertinent point given that I will never again write for Packt, a proven dead weight parasite of a ‘partner’. Kindly excuse me if I’m repeating myself.

    I want that agreement by the end of this month.

    I am not prepared to have your games dragged out beyond that. All this time, under false pretenses, it is Packt that claws 84% from my work and talent and, as I say and will explain in the accompanying blog post, having provided a net benefit that falls massively into negative territory.

    Alternatively, even better, as I said in the Open Letter, just walk away now. “Walk away”, what’s the pejorative for that? Precisely.

    Your call.

    Ciao.

    Olly

  6. Olly  October 23, 2013

    Update from Packt Publishing, recd by email 21st October 2013:-
    (Note, name printed here as this guy’s using it himself at a corresponding Google+ thread)

    Dear Mr Connelly,

    Thank you for your response posted on your site.

    As you requested in your post, I can confirm that the colleagues that you have mentioned in your original message have not left the company.
    However, I must re-iterate that I will now represent Packt in trying to find an amicable resolution to the displeasure that you are currently experiencing with us.

    I can appreciate that you may feel that we have not dealt with you or your book in your desired manor, and this is the reason I write to you again.

    I would like to help you in anyway shape or form that I can to help resolve at least some of this displeasure that you are experiencing.

    I would greatly appreciate if you would consider allowing me to help you here and if you would provide me with some information on how it is, you feel, we can go about repairing even at least a small amount of the displeasure that we have caused to you.

    As part of this, please also find attached, as you requested in your first message, an ebook copy of your book which you may use on your website.

    I look forward to your hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    Jonathan Titmus

    Senior Acquisition Manager
    [Packt Publishing]

  7. Olly  October 9, 2013

    Reply to Packt Publishing’s email dated 9th October 2013:-

    Dear xxxxx,

    While it may be in the least bad interest of Packt Publishing to continue to draw out this matter – as indeed your unethical, two-bit excuse for a publishing company has successfully done to date – your suggestion to continue the practise of what amounts to Chinese whispers is not in my interest.

    Have the above left the company? If not, kindly stop messing me about with your pilar to post which, in my experience, is a much used tactic at Packt Publishing where you prefer to wear down a writer, rather than to bear responsibility for your own ineptitude, lies and deceit. I can cite various examples of this cynical corporate behaviour, some of which are summarised here:-

    http://guv.li/packt

    No disrespect to you personally, I realise the job market is depressed. I am, however, not willing to play Packt’s games and note that the company has already had sufficient time to address this matter in a professional manner.

    I refer you and your colleagues to the above letter.

    Sincerely,

    Olly Connelly

  8. Olly  October 9, 2013

    Update from Packt Publishing, recd 9th October 2013:-

    Dear Mr Olly Connelly,

    My name is xxxxx and I am a Senior Acquisition Manager for Packt Publishing.
    It has been brought to our attention that you have posted an open letter to us regarding your book, WordPress 3 Ultimate Security, on your website, (http://guvnr.com/web/business/an-open-letter-to-packt-publishing/).

    After a series of discussions with the persons that you have explicitly mentioned in your letter, it was decided that we felt it would be more appropriate for me to discuss this issue with you.

    In an endeavor to come to an amicable agreement in how to proceed and hopefully resolve the displeasure that you are currently experiencing with ourselves, I feel that we should start this discussion by asking you to help me to understand what it is, and how, you would like, to see this issue resolved.

    There have been in the past, to my understanding, several different threads of conversation between yourself and my colleagues here, the most recent of which was in examining the possibility of a channel agreement with your website.
    I would like to make you aware that these options still remain.

    I look forward to your hearing from you and look forward to being able to help you in this matter.

    Kind regards,

    xxxxx

  9. Shaunak De  October 7, 2013

    un·scru·pu·lous
    /ˌənˈskro͞opyələs/

    Adjective
    Having or showing no moral principles; not honest or fair.

    That is exactly what packt is. Thanks for highlighting this.

  10. Olly  September 25, 2013

    No word from Packt Publishing. Doubtless immune to Google Alerts.

    This is past time for closure, one way or the other. It’s just a highly tedious waste of life.

    Above letter today extracted/linked at:-

    * Packt Authors LinkedIn Group – http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Packt-Authors-3998701
    * Packt Personnel LinkedIn Group – http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3793079
    * Packt Open Source LinkedIn Group – http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=3948437
    * Packt Enterprise LinkedIn Group – http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Packt-Enterprise-3910132
    * Packt Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/PacktPub
    * Packt Authors Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Packt-Authors/146867485392878
    * Packt Enterprise Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/PacktEnterprise
    * Tweet/@the_guv: “An Open Letter to Packt Publishing” .. #Packt ignoring this? (Again.) .. http://guv.li/pp .. @packtpub @packtauthors @packtopensource

    As well as by email to Fatoohi and Paterson:-

    “Do not underestimate my determination to bring this matter to a formal conclusion, Louay. I do not much care for having been socially engineered, I do not like unfinished business and I am not prepared to put up with a parasitic business continuing to profit, insidiously, from my talent while also damaging my career, at great personal expense and in various ways.

    “I take it, this time, that the following letter has been served:-

    “”An Open Letter to Packt Publishing” – http://guvnr.com/web/business/an-open-letter-to-packt-publishing/

    “Kindly have the modicum of decency to let me know whether Douglas was being genuine, else paying lip service, as I must otherwise conclude, in a cynical attempt to diminish my legal position. Given no reasonable outcome, as I have been careful to state all along, I refer you to my letter dated 26th January 2012.”

    So I think it’s safe to say the letter will be seen. If you see me raising legal fees on crowdfunding sites you’ll know why.

  11. Olly  September 23, 2013

    @Tomas, PJ, Javier, Kalen … thank you, appreciated. Very much.

    @Packt … no response yet? Cat got your tongue?

    Having exposed Packt Publishing as a parasite on the Open Source community, I’d have thought you’d want to respond to that. Presumably just too busy at the sausage factory.

    In the meantime, of course, as I see from the empty royalty check, you at least are continuing to make money from your lies, so that’s all fine and dandy :).

  12. Kalen Johnson  September 23, 2013

    It’s too bad to hear about how a single person get’s taken advantage of by bigger companies. I know there are always two sides to every story, but unfortunately it’s not like it’s common for a single developer to take advantage of large corporations, that’s pretty hard to do.

    I just signed up at vpsBible after seeing the link in the book being discussed. Since I just recently moved to my own VPS’s for my production and dev sites, I figured I could use some extra guidance. I was curious as to why images weren’t loading, but I definitely can understand why now.

    Sorry to hear about the crap you’ve received from Packt. I don’t know if it’s a relatively isolated case, but I will be more careful about shopping for their books now.

  13. Javier  September 16, 2013

    Thanks for sharing Olly. I bought the book. I love it. I hate to have paid for it instead of paying you.

  14. PJ Brunet  September 14, 2013

    Packt contacted me to write a WordPress book a couple of years ago. Now I’m glad I turned them down!

    BTW, this blog and wpCop look fantastic.

  15. Tomas  September 14, 2013

    Honest, hard worker, brilliant… A truly Renaissance guy this Olly the Guvnr, @the_guv… All the best for this new site wpCop.com and thanks for sharing all the insight above

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