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Category Archives: Writer Beware

How New Writers are Taken in by Author Solutions and Penguin

ebooksinternational:

How Author Solutions / Penguin Squeezes Newbie Writers
Customers are captured through a variety of deceptive means – such as fake “independent” websites which purport to review all the self-publishing options available to writers (but only compare the various Author Solutions imprints); fake social media profiles pretending to be writers or “publishing consultants” (who only recommend Author Solutions companies); and, a “bounty” to various unscrupulous parties to deliver Author Solutions fresh blood.

Obviously, Author Solutions needs to use such deceptive measures because authors who have used its services aren’t recommending it to their fellow writers. Instead, they are warning them away.

Once Author Solutions has a writer’s contact details, it moves fast – endlessly harassing them by phone and email until they cave and purchase an overpriced publishing package…. read more:

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

PRHGrupoASIPenguin Random House is speeding up the international expansion of its vanity press operations, while also seeking to integrate them more closely with the traditional side of the business – hoping to counteract flat growth for Author Solutions at a time when self-publishing is booming.

Author Solutions launches a new self-publishing service company for the Spanish market next Tuesday – MeGustaEscribir – which contains the usual mix of crappy publishing packages and ineffective, overpriced marketing services, as well as some extremely questionable practices such as reading fees (more on that below).

The way the Author Solutions scam typically operates is detailed exhaustively in this post, but here’s a brief summary.

How Author Solutions Squeezes Newbie Writers

Customers are captured through a variety of deceptive means – such as fake “independent” websites which purport to review all the self-publishing options available to writers (but only compare the various Author Solutions…

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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Writer Beware

 

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Author Beware: Why Trusting Literary Agents…

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costly-error
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Since the advent of self-publishing not only trade publishers, but also agents got into hard times. Desperate, literary agencies suddenly started to ride on the self-publishing wagon. However without having a clue about the business of self-publishing – or publishing for that matter.
For some of them the solution was to turn to Argo Navis, who call their services: “Agent-Curated Self-Publishing”. They don’t work with authors directly and accept only manuscripts that are submitted to them by contracted literary agents.

Read more:
http://www.savvybookwriters.com/why-trusting-literary-agents-can-be-a-bad-idea/

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How to Get Individual Publishing / BookMarketing Consultation

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Publishing-Advice

Get Publishing and Book Marketing Advice

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THE most often asked question by writers and would-be self-publishers in Google searches: “How to publish a book”.  This prompts to show up 348 Million answers – many from Vanity Publishers, who lay out their traps… but also some useful tips.  However not every advice is suitable for every book and every author.  Only the manuscript, the authors goals, their marketing knowledge (often zero) and the potential readership for the upcoming book is known, publishing advice can be customized – not one size fits all.

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Over the Phone / Skype Consultation
It’s a budget-friendly way to get started with your publishing process, building your platform and marketing your book(s). Consider discussing your book with an experienced (30+ years) publishing and book marketing professional, in a personalized conversation. This valuable, yet very inexpensive package includes a meeting of up to 3 hours – or two meetings of 1,5 hours via phone in North America or Skype (worldwide).
A very affordable fee of only $79 allows every author to get professional advice and help.  Order secure and conveniently via PayPal.

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Great Benefit for You:

  • Are you thinking about publishing your own book?
  • Do you have a book you think will sell but don’t know how to market it?
  • Do you want to start seriously publishing in POD (Print-on-Demand)?
  • Do you want to learn all the in-and-outs of navigating Social Media?
  • Do you want to avoid costly mistakes and time-consuming “trial and errors”?
  • Do you want to do it right from the beginning, publishing in a professional way?

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How it Works:
As better you are prepared as more you will get out of our “meeting”.  Write down all your questions you might have in regards of publishing and book marketing.  Prior to our conversation, you’ll fill out a comprehensive questionnaire, designed to familiarize us with your opportunities and audience.  We will buy and read your e-book or go through parts of your manuscript if it is a print book only and study / evaluate the questionnaire, once it is filled out and returned to us.
After the consultation session you will get an analysis of your book or your concept.

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Practical, Results-Driven Steps
Your consultation will focus on your most effective strategies for your book marketing and will help you prioritize practical, results-driven steps to best promote you and your book.  If you haven’t published before we will help you to become familiar with all the possibilities available and their pro’s and con’s, so that you can make an informed decision.

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Topics We Will Discuss
We will provide a comprehensive introduction to book marketing as well as more targeted feedback on specific concerns and questions, including but not limited to:

  • Evaluating your cover art, cover copy, author bio, and pricing strategy
  • Ensuring that your book looks professional, not self-published
  • Having your book in print, e-book and audio format
  • Building your platform and author brand
  • Social media opportunities such as Google+, Goodreads, Twitter, FB, Pinterest etc.)
  • Working with a traditional publisher or POD
  • Where to get an ISBN, find editors, e-book formatters, lay-outers, cover artists
  • Selling through Amazon and other online retailers
  • How to get book reviews – before and after your book launch
  • Book Distribution and direct book sales
  • Public Relation and media campaigns
  • Possibilities of translations or foreign right sales
  • Getting bookstores and libraries to carry your book – worldwide
  • How to avoid traps at “self publishing” and “vanity publishers”

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After your consultation, we’ll send you a follow-up guide with hundreds of tips and links as a guide for your future publishing and book marketing activities. This way you don’t have to get distracted by taking notes while we are talking, and you will always have a “blue print” for future book publishing.

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Our publishing and book marketing consultation and coaching is appropriate for and can be tailored to writers who are going the traditionally or the self-publishing route.  A very affordable fee of only $79 allows every author to get professional advice and help.
To get started go to http://www.111publishing.com/consultation-via-phone-or-skype/

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Stop: Vanity Publishing aka Subsidy Publishers

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Stop-Vanity-Publisher
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99% of All Manuscripts Will Be Accepted
Within half an hour I was asked today about two different “Self-Publishing” companies who had the authors’ manuscripts accepted. Both writers had tried to find a trade publisher and after receiving numerous rejections, they were glad to get an “offer” – as long as the authors are willing to pay totally inflated prices for printing, editing and cover art. It took me only one minute, using the word “complaint” along with the companies name to find long lists of complaints on author websites, blog posts and “Writer Beware” on Google.
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Vanity publishers are often working under several names, change addresses and their websites. Some trade publishers, up to at least one of the “Big Five”, affiliated recently with subsidy publishers and also directs authors, who’s manuscript they had previously rejected, to these companies. The main goal of these vanity publishers is to have their printing company busy, so they are not really into executing the work of a traditional publisher. A background check reveals in almost all cases that they are either printers or affiliated with a printing company. Even one of the best Canadian book printing companies went into vanity publishing a year ago.
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You often might have seen these small ads in literary magazines or on the internet: “If your book deserves publication, send your manuscript now to …”. And authors do not have to wait long for a response to their submission.  A real publisher doesn’t need to advertise!  They are overwhelmed with queries from authors.

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Money Upfront
Authors are certainly surprised when they encounter a “publisher” who wants money up-front. It should be the other way around shouldn’t it? After the author, having signed a hefty check, eventually learns that paying for publication is no guarantee that a single copy of his book will appear in any book shop, not even the local ones.
Many vanity publishers will charge somewhere between $8,000 to $20,000 (or even more) to publish a book depending upon its length. Why would an author pay $20,000 when he or she can have the same book printed for $2,000?
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Contract Full of (Empty) Promises
Nevertheless, the contract will be full of promises, it will state what exactly will be paid to the author for subsequent reprinting, subsidiary, for audio and e-books, mass-market paperback rights, for TV & Radio rights, merchandising and commercial rights and even film and foreign rights – to make the author believing that his “publisher” actively solicits his manuscript in Hollywood.
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Free Copies
Vanity contracts include usually a certain amount of “free” copies for the author; sometimes even as much as 10 books and if he/ she require more, they have to be paid.  Which means, that the author is paying for them twice…  I also have never met an author who goes into the print shop to watch his or her books manufactured or to see them stored in the warehouse. In most cases, only a certain number of copies (I suspect not even this will happen) in an edition will actually be bound; the rest will remain in the warehouse as flat printed sheets until required, which is probably never.
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Reviewers are Wary of Vanity Presses
Vanity / subsidy publishers are not concerned with editing, promotion, sales or distribution – unless the author pays additionally. For most vanity books, neither exists, and should review copies really being sent out: Reviewers are wary of vanity presses because they know that little attention is paid to the editing of the book. Unless the vanity house has a proven distribution and sales organization, authors will have to sell their printed book themselves and usually it will sell fewer than 200 copies.
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As seen in a Vanity publisher contract:
“In the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of the publisher for any cause whatever, the author shall have the right to buy back the publications at fair market value to be determined by agreement or arbitration.” (That means, die author has to pay a second time for all his unsold books). “If the author does not purchase remaining copies of the book, the representative of the publisher shall have the right to sell same at the best obtainable price without payment of royalty to the author.”
Unbelievable! Unethical! Criminal!
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Beware of These Signs:

  • Don’t trust flattering letters concerning your manuscript.
  • Be suspicious of vague promises of quality production. You will not get it in writing…
  • Be wary of promises to sell television and film rights, serial books and other money-making options.
  • Read, read and read once more the contract.
  • Don’t pay a dime, get a copy of the contract and show it to a lawyer that is specialized in contract / copyright law.
  • Watch out for contract clauses, that allow the publisher to renegotiate his initial pitch, and also where the “Publisher shall have the right to license the rights set forth”.

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Bound to the Vanity Publisher for Life!
Beside their over-the-top printing prices, Vanity publishers might cheat you in a contract that expires only 50 years after your death and with worldwide rights, even universe rights – a contract that a friend of mine signed in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada (and paid dearly) stated:

“The author hereby grants the publisher, during the full term of copyright, the sole and exclusive right to manufacture, print, publish and sell and to otherwise use, as set out further in this agreement, including, but not limited to, acting as agent and/or exercising any or all subsidiary rights, throughout the universe the work.” And: “The copyright remains with the author, until fifty (50) years after the death of the author. All covenants and grants of the author shall bind the author’s successors or assigns.”
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Vanity Publishers / Subsidy Publishers are not actively promoting books. Their business is not publishing, but printing and selling authors all kind of over-priced services. Despite so many warnings all over the Internet, there are still writers who fall into the trap of vanity / subsidy / self-publishing. And as soon as one vanity publisher stops his “business”, another fills the gap.

Please read also a comparison of Publishers – Vanity Publishers – and REAL Self-Publishing here:
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/comparison-of-trade-publishing-vanity-author-publishing/

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $159 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars Or visit http://www.e-book-pr.com/book-promo/
to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 980 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing

http://www.111publishing.com

http://www.e-Book-PR.com/

http://www.international-ebooks.com/

http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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Best and Worst About Literary Agents

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Literary-Agent-Search
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Most US writers have to go through an agent – over 80% of all publishing deals are made through a literary agency. Publishers in the USA don’t want to deal directly with authors. In Canada, only ten percent of authors / books are agent-ed. Aspiring and established authors successfully submit the majority (10,000 plus) of the titles published every year directly to editors at publishing houses.
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IMPORTANT:
Study the agents’ website and submission guidelines carefully and learn how to write a query.
Be prepared when meeting for the first time with the agent for questions like this, that can make or brake your contract:

  • How are going to market your book?
  • What’s your platform
  • Why do you want to be published?
  • What’s your next book about?
  • What else are you working on?
  • Where do you see this series going?

Even more in your favor will be when you are already working on your second book and have at least the outline for the third. Your manuscripts don’t have to be a part of a series but should be in the same genre as the book the agent will pitch.This will show both the agent and publisher that you have the potential of becoming a career author. Have a sense of how long it takes you to write a book, including all of its editorial stages. This way, you will know what kind of delivery commitment you can make.
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Agent’s Fees
As an author trying to find a literary agent you have heard or read from, is not an easy task. And you might find an agency describing itself as “non-fee-charging” but then nevertheless wants money up-front. Most professional agents’ associations adopted policies prohibiting members from charging fees, called “reading fees” or “evaluation fees”.
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Reputable agents will NOT charge you a fee up front to represent your book. They earn their living by selling your book to a publisher and gaining a commission. That commission is a percentage of the proceeds your book earns. For one thing, this gives the agent an incentive to actually market your book around to various publishers likely to buy it for publication. This is another reason why many agents pick submissions carefully. They know what publishers are looking for and they will not accept anything which is not ready for submission or close enough that a few days of editing will make the difference.
Most agents these days charge 15% commission on domestic sales (North America).
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A literary agent gets his commission AFTER the book contract with a publisher is signed and the first money flows. If they charge reading or evaluation fees or any of the following fees – author beware:

  • marketing fees
  • submission fees
  • travel fees
  • legal fees
  • advance fees
  • or “per hour” fee
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Have a look at the do’s and don’ts of both sides:
Never under any circumstances should you pay expenses or any fees up front: Agents only receive money by deducting his or her 15% commission from your eventual earnings. Should an agent tell new writers that she/he was charging 15% commission plus expenses — that’s a rip-off; don’t agree to it. The Association of Authors Representatives (professional organization of literary agents) also forbids the charging of “reading fees.” If an agent asks you to pay a fee for his or her “evaluation” of your manuscript, refuse!
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So, what could you encounter?
Some agencies pressure authors into various additional services and charge fees for websites, sample cover mock-ups or illustrations or social media listings.
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AgentQuery (Database of Literary Agents) wrote on their website: Industry Red Flags:
“Be wary of any literary agent that contacts you out of the blue, especially if you have not queried that specific agent and do not have a public platform or presence. Fiction writers should be particularly cautious unless the agent has a logical reason to contact you, like you’ve recently won a prestigious writing contest, or they’ve seen your blog or read your published stories, etc..”

“Beware of agents that offer representation for a fixed fee, offer representation only if you pay them money to edit your manuscript, or charge you up-front fees in the range of thousands of dollars to off-set the cost of submitting your manuscript to publishers. These are all warning signs—unethical behavior from an unprofessional scammer. Scammers will tempt you, especially if you are desperate and inundated with rejections. They will tell you how fabulous your manuscript is and you will want to believe them.”

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WRITER BEWARE notes: 
“Not all agents who charge marketing fees are dishonest. Some are simply inexperienced or inept. But scam or amateur, the bottom line for the writer is the same: a lighter wallet and no book contract.”

Remember, that many of these publishers operate under more than one name and as “in-house” referral services. This means they always find a reason to refer you to another company which they also own… Editors Nielsen-Hayden summed it up: “Writing may be an art or a craft (or both), but publishing is a business. It’s best to know the business before diving in.”
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Resources and More blog posts regarding Literary Agents:
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How Agents work and How to work with Agents
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/how-agents-work-how-to-work-with-agents/
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Must-Read Blog to learn more about agents and how to approach them
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents

Database of Literary Agents
http://www.agentquery.com/
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What Literary Agents Want to Know From You
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/what-literary-agents-want-to-know-from-you/
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How to Write a Query Letter
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/5-tips-for-successful-book-submissions/
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100′s of Links to Publishers and Agents
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/100s-of-links-to-publishers-and-agents/
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Which Literary Agent is Right for You?
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/which-literary-agent-is-right-for-you/
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Association of Author’s Representatives (lists agents)
http://aaronline.org/

Lynnette Labelle Editorial Services
www.labelleseditorialservices.com
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Visit often and get the latest alerts from WRITER BEWARE:
http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/
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Comparison of Trade Publishing – Vanity – Author Publishing

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Comparison

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Every writer, no matter if they author-publish (self-publish) or if they have sold their manuscript to a publisher, has to do their own marketing. But how can you promote your book, if you are at the mercy of a publisher – trade or vanity?  What if you don’t own the ISBN and if you have no access to the retailers’ publishing / author pages, such as Amazon, B&N or Apple?  We had clients whos publishers were not able to properly set up the Amazon page, did not choose the proper category, took weeks to make changes to a wrong price and months to add the images and text the author had provided for their Goodreads or Amazon page.
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This is a huge problem (among many others) that authors face after they have given away their work for a pittance – or worse, have paid thousands of dollars to a vanity publisher. So, what’s the difference between both, beside the fact that they make it difficult for their authors to market their books?
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TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS

  • Author needs to have a platform
  • Trade publishers accept very few submissions (average: 4%)
  • Authors might have to pitch dozens or hundreds of puplishers / agents
  • Authors receive a small advance and even smaller royalties
  • They do not use POD (single or few books), rather print large quantities
  • Authors have barely any say to cover image, publishing date etc.
  • Authors cannot decide the sales price, e-book prices are often un-competitive
  • It takes very long until the book is published (12-18 months average)
  • Publisher pays for printing, editing services and cover image
  • Distribution services are covered by the publisher
  • Professional marketing services available – but only for celebrity writers
  • They own the ISBN for the book

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VANITY PUBLISHERS

  • Author needs to have a platform
  • Accepts almost ALL submissions
  • Author never receives any advance in this “partnership
  • Author contracts are often worse than those of trade publishers
  • Author pays for printing or ebook-formatting, editing services, cover image
  • Authors have barely any say to cover image, publishing date etc.
  • Authors cannot decide the sales price
  • Mostly Quick turnaround and Print on Demand (POD)
  • Barely any distribution services, compared to commercial publishers
  • Vanity publishers don’t live from book sales, they live from printing/author services
  • No professional marketing services
  • Very few royalties – if any at all
  • They own the ISBN for the book
  • Your book has only 3 months time in bookstores to sell – before being discarded!
  • Bookstores generally are wary of vanity books (except maybe local writers)

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AUTHOR-PUBLISHING

  • Authors needs to have a platform in order to build a brand
  • Needs to learn about the publishing / book distribution industry
  • Needs to plan the publishing / marketing process
  • Authors have to find / compare author services (POD, distribution, formatter, designer)
  • Authors pays for printing or ebook-formatting, editing services, cover image
  • Authors can decide everything: cover image, publishing date, retail price etc.
  • Authors can do their own or hire marketing services
  • Authors get up to 70% from the books retail price (or 100% if sold from own website)
  • Authors own their ISBN – which is FREE in Canada! and low-cost in other countrie
  • Bookstores generally are wary of author-published books (except maybe local writers)

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Conclusion:
If an author has all these challenges, waiting times (or costs to cover, in the worst scenario) – and cannot even do the necessary marketing without huge problems, what is the point in having or even paying a publisher?  Why not author-publish / self-publish in the first place, and be totally independent when it comes to your marketing?
Whatever you will decide, take your time, don’t rush in anything and don’t let you sell any services, before you have thoroughly evaluated them. It does not matter if your book launches a month or a year later – important is that you have a platform as a writer and that you find a way of publishing that suits you and that gives you the freedom of your own decisions. If you decide to go with a publisher, don’t forget: Real publishers sell to readers – vanity publishers sell to writers!

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites:  We offer all this and more for only $ 179 for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
Or visit http://www.international-ebooks.com/book-promo to advertise your new book, specials or KDP Select Free Days.

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 900 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing

http://on.fb.me/TvqDaK

http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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The Traps in Publishing Contracts

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Traps-in-Publishing-Contracts
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Traditional Publishing Contracts – Part Two of a Series 

There should be a large neon sign that says: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign a contract without having your contract lawyer going over it and explaining it to you in detail – sentence for sentence. The contract clauses described here in this blog post are the “norm” in publishing. It is difficult to see how your publishing agreement will play out in the long term, what you sign today could have profound, long term consequences.

Contract attorney Ivan Hoffman explains in his blog:
“In the US, many contracts that consumers commonly sign, such as for mortgage or auto loans or to
obtain a credit card, are subject to statutory requirements for fairness, clarity, etc.  If some of the clauses and drafting techniques commonly included in publishing contracts used by publishers were found in consumer contracts, those provisions would be deemed void and unenforceable. In some cases, they might even constitute consumer fraud and would subject publishers to fines and penalties.”
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My advice: Before you even have a publishing contract meeting, do your homework and google the publisher, adding the word “complaint”. You might be surprised what you will discover!
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Publishing contracts are not negotiated from the ground up between the author and the publisher. They are prepared by the Publisher and delivered to the Author as though ready for signature.  And many authors sign without understanding what the contract contains or what rights they are giving up. They focus only on the royalty rate and the advance, if there is any. While those points are important, they might be far less important than some other provisions in the agreement. Authors should not assume a “standard” contract will be fair or equitable. Nor should authors assume they will be able to easily get out of that contract if found out later to be unfair.
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Samples of unfavorable publishing contracts

Duration of the contract and Territory:
“Author grants and assigns to publisher the sole and exclusive rights to the manuscript throughout the
territory, (which means the World – I have seen contracts that state “throughout the Universe” ….) during the entire term of the copyright and any renewals and extensions thereof.”

What is means: This contract is for the life of the author, plus 70 years after her death, plus renewals and extensions, binding to your heirs as well… Have you ever seen or signed a contract that extends beyond your lifetime? Pretty unfair and one-sided! It also should have a clause, that you get the rights back if the publishers doesn’t exploit it in a given time. For example: if they don’t translate your book into French, Spanish or Cantonese, they should state in the contract to return the rights for those countries to you, say after 2 or 3 years. Most likely they will refuse to …
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Rights granted by the author to the publisher:
“The Publisher has the exclusive rights to:

  • Magazine or newspaper before and following publication
  • Publication of condensations, abridgments, and in anthologies
  • Book club publication
  • Direct sale and mail order”

What it means: In their contracts, publishers will almost always seek to obtain ALL rights to the
manuscript. No author should give up all rights. If the author is in a stronger bargaining position, the
author may be able to withhold electronic rights, foreign rights or any other of the rights. If for any reason the contract terminates, there should be a clause, dealing directly with what happens to the rights in the book in those events. Do the rights revert to the author?
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Manuscript delivery and unsatisfactory material:
“If the manuscript for a book is not, in publisher’s sole judgement, satisfactory in all respects, the
publisher may terminate this agreement upon written notice.”

What it means: the Publisher can end the deal for pretty much any reason it sees fit, or for no reason at all. This clause has no single criteria to determine if a book is satisfactory – and it doesn’t give the author equal power to terminate the contract if she/he is not satisfied by the book the publisher created, for example if the publisher did not edit the book properly, priced it to high for the market or choose a terrible cover or a ridiculous title?
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Advances and Royalties

What is an advance
An advance payment is not a signing bonus. Instead, it is money the publisher is paying the author to live on while the book is being written. The publisher will be paid back this money once the book starts selling. They will take the advance money right off the top of your earnings. Depending on the size of your advance and how well your book sells, you may not receive any royalty payments for a long time. Maybe never. When a book sells enough copies to cover the cost of the advance, it means the book “has earned out.” Now your royalties can start rolling in …
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Royalties:
“Hardcover: 10% of the invoice price for the first 5000 copies, 12.5% thereof for copies from 5001 to
10,000, and 15% thereof for copies in excess of 10,000. Mass Market Paperback: 8% of the invoice
price for the first 150,000 and 10% thereof for all copies thereafter. On Ebooks: 25% of the amounts
received by Publisher, excluding taxes and handling charges.”

What it means: Between 8% and 12.5% for books is a pitance, and a lousy pay for the hard work of the author. And equally outrageous is what the author gets on e-books: 25% royalties – which is equivalent to 17.5% of the list price. However, the publisher gets 52.5% of the list price! Compare it to 70% you get from Amazon for books between $2.99 and $9.99. Do I need to say more?
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Royalty Payments
“Publisher shall provide Author with semi-annual royalty statements showing the amount due to the
Author, by April 1 and October 1 of each year for the six-month period ending the preceding December 31 and June 30th, respectively.”

What it means: These publishers might have never heard from a computer, nor do they use any : ) It does not take 6 months to compile the data for sold books, Amazon shoes your sales in mere minutes, and Barnes&Noble, CreateSpace and Kobo pay monthly. But if the money is withheld for months,it’s to the Publisher’s advantage. The longer, the more interest they can earn on the principal due to delayed payments.
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Most important: What is your royalty based on?
Retail price? Wholesale price? Or net price? Bookstores and other retailers get often deep discounts, up to 55%. If your contract states 10% of net, and the book is delivered at 55% discount to retailers, you might end up with only a couple of cents per book …

  • At a discount of 50%, 20% of net is same as 10% of the retail price of your book
  • At a discount of 40%, 16,66% of net is same as 10% of the lretail price of your book
  • At a discount of 20%, 12,5% of net is the same as 10% of the list price of your book

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Joint accounts – another trick of the trade publishers:
“Books one, two, and three will be held in a joint and open account, and the publisher shall not pay the
author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income on any book of the work until the author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income for all books exceeds the total advance.”

What it means: If you have a three-book deal with an advance of $60,000, you don’t make a cent in
royalties until all $60,000 has earned out – if for example book one earns already royalties, those
royalties go toward paying off the advances on books two and three. This is called a basket account or joint accounting. This way you might not earn anything, even with one very successful book, just
because other books in the basket weren’t as successful, often at the publishers fault – or haven’t been released yet.
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Statements and Payments
“Books one, two, and three will be held in a joint and open account, and the publisher shall not pay the
author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income on any book of the work until the author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income for all books exceeds the total advance.”

What it means: If you have a three-book deal with an advance of $60,000, you don’t make a cent in
royalties until all $60,000 has earned out – if for example book one earns already royalties, those
royalties go toward paying off the advances on books two and three. This is called a basket account or joint accounting. This way you might not earn anything, even with one very successful book, just
because other books in the basket weren’t as successful, often at the publishers fault – or haven’t been released yet.
.

Reasonable Reserve
“The publisher may retain a reasonable reserve against returns in any accounting period. If the author
receives an over-payment of royalties resulting from copies of the work reported, sold, but subsequently returned, the author shall repay such amounts to Publisher to the extent that Publisher is not able to deduct such amounts from monies due to Author at the end of the royalty payment period after the period in which the over-payment is discovered.

What it means: This looks like a Publisher can pretty much withhold money from an author, and it
doesn’t define what a “reasonable” reserve is.

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As contract lawyer Ivan Hoffman wrote:
“However, in the absence of consumer-type protections, the laws governing (publishing) business contracts assume that each party to such contracts will watch out for themselves. If both parties sign a contract, the strong presumption is that each party understood what the contract meant and voluntarily agreed to be bound by it. In extreme cases, if a lawsuit were filed, a contract might be deemed unconscionable and voided in whole or in part, but that is a high hurdle to clear.”
Knowing the problem is widespread, doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Big companies are exploiting artists. They are getting rich, and the creators are getting shafted.
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Stay tuned for number three (final) in the series, and spread the word, RE-BLOG these articles, so that as much writers as possible learn about the tactics of the publishing industry and how to read between the lines.

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Resources:

Great Book Contract Checklist

Book Publishing Contracts: Checklist of Deal Terms

Copyright Termination

How to Read a Book Contract

Author Concerns and Complaints at Crimson Romance Contracts

Blog Posts by a New York Contract Lawyer

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