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Category Archives: All things Legal

What Every Writer Needs to Know About Copyright

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Justitia- Copyright

Justitia Copyright

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It is not required for an author to register your work or even provide a notice. But… there are reasons to protect yourself and what you created.  Copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work in any form. And in most countries, a work – such as literature, music or software – is automatically protected as soon as it is created. Excluded are ideas, titles, names, facts and short phrases.
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On the other side: proving your claim can be a very difficult matter without proper evidence. Often it boils down to a case of “their word against yours”. Without proper protection, work that you have created, could end up making money for someone else.
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Whenever you write something on paper or typed on a computer, it is copyrighted and protected under U.S. copyright law.  If someone steals your work and presents it as his own, the burden of proof falls on you to show that you created it first and that you own the copyright – which can be difficult.  For better protection, consider to officially register your work for approx. $45 per manuscript with the US Copyright Office.  So, if anyone steals your manuscript, you will not only have proof of copyright ownership, but  you are also able to sue for Statutory Damages and attorney fees.
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Claims in US Courts:

  • If you have registered your work before infringement, you can collect Statutory Damages plus attorney fees.
  • If you registered after infringement, but before filing suit, you can only sue for Actual Damages – which you have to demonstrate.
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Necessary Content of Copyright Notices in Your Book:

  • The symbol © or the word “Copyright”
  • The year of first publication of the work
  • The name of the owner or creator
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Where to  Register?

Canada:
online to the Copyright Office, Canadian Intellectual Property Office Web site
http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca (fee Can $50)

USA:
online to the U.S. Copyright Office, via the Library of Congress
http://www.copyright.gov (fee US $ 35)

United Kingdom:
online UK Copyright Service
http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk (online registration are £39.00 for 5 years or £64.00 for 10 years per work.)
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An attorney is not necessary at all, to register your manuscript. You can register on-line (which is cheaper) or by snail mail. Copyright registrations become effective the day on which application and payment are received at the office, but it may take months until you receive the certificate. 

Being on the Copyright Register also helps with finding you as the owner when permission to use a work is sought.  This can be very lucrative for the owner of registered copyright because they can easily be found to license their work and can charge fees/royalties for its use.  Even for succession planning it is very important to have copyright registered, as it provides the owner with an easily transferable and valuable asset.
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Check out this blog post, which gives lots of tips what to do in case copyright infringements happen.  The blogger talks about a photograph, that was unlawfully used, but for your blogs or books, the steps are the same:
http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/06/13/the-10-rules-of-us-copyright-infringement/

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More regulatory sources for USA, Canada and the UK:
Copyright Portal
Canadian Guide to Copyright
UK Copyright Law

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in All things Legal

 

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E-Book Publishing: How Do You Decide?

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Do you know the difference between a real e-book publisher who pays an advance and then publishes your finished book and an e-book publishing company which is in reality often vanity publishing and takes a certain commission from your book?  Or an author service company who charge small fees to produce your e-book, in which case you can earn 100% of your e-books’ whole sale price?

Kindle-e-Reader

Kindle e-Reader

In all three variations the e-book retailers (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Diesel etc.) always get a percentage of the e-book sales, mostly around 30%, for providing their sales platform, point-of-sales cost, money transfer fees, online customer service, marketing etc.
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Compare e-book publishing company commission rates.|
E-book publishing companies hook you to have your book published without investing a dime, but as they act now as the official publisher they retain a big portion of your e-book sales to themselves – which is often not a good deal for you.

They offer free ISBN numbers, (in reality an amount which is only a negligible: $25 for one ISBN, if you buy a block of ten ISBN’s).   And then these so-called “publishers” how they call themselves wrongly, take an average of 15% commission from the net sales.  If your book becomes successful you can lose out on a lot of revenue! Another problem might occur when you decide to offer your e-book for free through the KDP Select program: it has to be free exclusive at Amazon for these 90 days, which means that you must remove your e-book (NOT the print version) – not an easy job.
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Genuine E-Book Author-Publishing
Your investment in self–publishing will not be more than $500 and $900 if you do your homework and research for professional, yet inexpensive editing, cover design, ISBN number ( which is free in Canada), book formatting and uploading.  Author service companies, such as BookBaby.com, offer all these services, but don’t act as publisher and don’t take any commission from the whole sale price. You receive 100%.
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Read the fine print; know your contract.
Before you commit to publishing an e-book with any company, always read the fine printContact a lawyer who is specialized in publishing contracts / copyright issues, who can check your contract before you sign!
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Research copyright details
Every publishing company plays by a different set of rules. Make sure that the e-book publisher you use, allows you to retain all other rights to your work, such as print, foreign rights, audio books or film rights. This is another reason why you need to let a lawyer screen your contract.
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Screen the e-Publisher
E-publishers can be anything, from very amateurish to very professional:

  • Is their website professionally designed and easy to navigate? Is the text well-written and formatted? The website is the publisher’s shopping window, and should reflect professionalism.
  • Does their staff have publishing, editing, or marketing experience? Beware of publishers that don’t provide this information on their websites.
  • How long has the publisher been in business?  Are there any complaints about the publisher or its staff? A web search on the publisher’s name (and words such as “complaint”, ”issues”, “problems”, “caution”) will sometimes turn up information–often on authors’ websites or in their blogs.
  • Are other writers happy with the publisher? Contact a few of them, and ask.
  • Order a couple of the publisher’s books. Are they of good quality? Professionally presented? How’s the cover art? Do they show signs of having been edited? Have they been proofread? What’s the caliber of the writing? Bad, poorly formatted, and/or sloppily-edited books do not encourage readers to return for more.
  • For print books, if the publisher produces them, the royalty rate will be lower, but shouldn’t be less than what print publishers pay for trade paperback books–7%-10% of list.
  • What’s the optimum price for an e-book? There’s no consensus, and prices are all over the map. The big print houses charge as much as $14.99, while independent e-Publishers tend to stick to the $4.00 to $7.00 range.
  • How does the publisher market itself and its titles? As noted above, e-book authors are expected to shoulder a lot of the responsibility for marketing and promotion, but a professional e-Publisher will actively support its books–for instance, investing in some form of meaningful advertising to attract readers to its site, sending out press releases and advance reading copies, and attending and present your book at conventions and book fairs.
  • How forthcoming is the publisher? A reputable e-publisher should be willing to answer your questions about things like sales figures and formats, give references, make its contract available for your review, and in general to provide information about itself and its publications (preferably on its website).
  • A publisher who charges a fee or requires you to buy something as a condition of publication is either a vanity publisher or a self-publishing service, no matter what its claims to the contrary.

These points are not only helpful to find an e-publisher or an e-publishing service company / aggregator, but also when you have to decide on print publishing.  EPIC, an association for electronically-published authors, has a helpful list of contract clauses to watch out for. Explore their “Red Flag List” to find clauses that could become an issue with your future publisher.

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 760 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, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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Do You Know How Much Royalties You Will Get?

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Royalties

Royalties

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What are your royalties?  10%-30% from the list price, 10% of the wholesale price, 20% of the payments received by the publisher, 30% of the price as it’s listed on our website, 50% of net receipts, 45% minus printing costs, 60% from gross…  One of the most confusing aspects you must face when choosing a POD service printer, is trying to figure out what they mean when they speak misleadingly of “Royalties”.
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POD printers that are paying a percentage of the retail price as “Royalty” are straight forward and you have the advantage of knowing where you stand and what to expect. You get what they say, usually 10% from wholesale sales, 25-30% from retail sales – hopefully more…
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There are other printers who are a little less straight forward. For example, they might pay you 20-40% from your retail price, but they won’t pay you any royalties at all for the first three copies sold each quarter. Is this a fair “hidden” charge? It depends on the number of copies you are selling each quarter. If you sell less than 10 books, then it’s very high, if you sell 1,000 it becomes almost negligible.
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Don’t Lose Money
You might get an offer for a fixed percentage of the retail price that seems to be extremely attractive (30-35%)… before you jump on board, make sure that they work through Ingram, Lightning Source and other distributors. If they can afford such royalties because they only sell their books through their site you could end up losing money…

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POD Direct Book Sales
Some POD printers offer you a percentage of your retail price, but only for direct sales. When it comes to wholesale sales they give you a percentage of the wholesale price. Infinity Publishing is such a company, they will pay you 20% of your retail price on direct sales, and 10% of the wholesale price on books sold through other channels.  For a $15.00 book with a 40% wholesale discount it would be $3.00 on direct sales and $0.90 on wholesale – not acceptable!
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Other Charges
Even if you can buy your paper book at a discount in order to resell it, you’ll still have to pay other charges, and how can you offer it for a competitive price to bookstores?  But why do you have to buy your own book? You already paid for the printing, didn’t you?  It means you pay TWICE for your book… and on top of that bookstores can return books if they are not sold within a certain time.
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CreateSpace / Amazon
offers do-it-yourself publishing packages for free upload of your paper book but you need to create your own cover and interior and submit it correctly edited to CreateSpace. CreateSpace recommends its free do-it-yourself packages for people with design experience (or you just hire a graphic designer).  CreateSpace offers packages that are similar to publishing packages offered by other self-publishing / POD companies, but starting for only $299.
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CreateSpace eStore
20% of list price per sale, this means if someone orders it from CreateSpace’s e-book store on your authors page, you will receive 80% (minus the production / printing cost, mines tax and shipping).
40% of list price per sale means: you will get 60% of the list price per sale (minus the production / printing cost, minus tax and shipping).  Expanded Distribution Channel:  60% of list price if ordered by bookstores, libraries etc.

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But as with almost all POD companies, you pay for printing and then you have to give them a percentage of your sales for the distribution and the rest that is left is wrongly called a “royalty”.
Read how you can cir-cum-navigate this and become your own publisher without (or with less) Print-on-Demand / “Royalty on Demand”.

More on royalties:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royalties#Book_publishing_royalties

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2009/11/how-book-royalties-work/

http://www.shawntellemadison.com/book-royalties-calculator/

http://writerunboxed.com/2011/11/28/11-frequently-asked-questions-about-book-royalties-advances-and-making-money/

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are 750 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, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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Pros and Cons of Print-on-Demand

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Book-Staple

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“Currently unavailable.” When you read this on Amazon’s website you can be sure it is a POD Book.  Amazon assigns many of those out-of-stock books an availability status of 2-3 weeks. And no one wants to wait that long when ordering on the internet…
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POD (Print on Demand) services call it “self-publishing” – but there are important differences between a POD service and true self-publishing. They are in fact VERY EXPENSIVE PRINTERS – NOT PUBLISHERS!  POD printers are producing the book only when ordered. What are the differences?
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Rights
TRUE self-publishing:  all rights remain with the writer, who has full ownership of her work, including the ISBN number.
POD services:  mostly owns the ISBN and the author has a very limited claim on digital and/or electronic publishing rights.

Control
TRUE self-publishing:  the writer controls all aspects of the publishing process, cover art, print style, pricing etc.
POD services:  choices are typically limited to their service package

Book Sales
TRUE self-publishing:  the author keeps all proceeds from sales.
POD services:  they keep most of the sales proceeds to cover printing costs, and pays the author a small percentage of royalty, usually from the books NET price.
The POD Cons:

  • Books from POD services are expensive and may be of poor physical quality.
  • There are lots of extra fees, such as renewal fees, distribution fees, extra charges for non-template cover designs, charges for proof corrections etc.
  • Royalty income may be less as it is mostly based on the books NET PRICE,  the retail price less discounts and/or all the publisher’s overhead.
  • Your book will receive only wholesale distribution, and mainly sold online, Booksellers don’t like dealing with POD services.
  • You do not get an advance – YOU have to pay an advance to the POD company, it just doesn’t make sense economically
  • Marketing consists often only on listing on the company’s website and with various online booksellers, sometimes in a wholesaler’s catalogue.  Many POD services offer “marketing packages or media kits” for an extra (high) fee – a total waste of money!

POD Pros:
It is only recommendable if you:

  • need galleys, or for short-run publishing and specialty markets
  • want to print small non-fiction projects such as lectures or workshops
  • want to create a recipe book, a family memoir, genealogy etc.
  • bring back out-of-print books into circulation
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Who is the publisher?
It is the one who owns the ISBN for a book. If the author applied for and paid for the ISBN in his or her own name, then no matter who produces and sells the book, the author has become the publisher of record, an authentic self-publisher!
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Listen to the truth behind POD “publishing” or read more articles about this topic:

http://www.writersandeditors.com/self_publishing_and_print_on_demand__pod__57417.htm

http://beforeyoupublishyourbook.com/2011/07/22/the-truth-about-print-on-demand-publishing/

http://www.writergazette.com/content/pros-and-cons-self-publishing-print-demand

http://fonerbooks.blogspot.ca/2005/08/printing-offset-vs-print-on-demand.html

Do you have any experiences with POD publishing and how much was each soft cover book you ordered from them?

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 740 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, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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How to Sell Foreign Book Rights

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RockofCashelIreland

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It is not that easy to sell your foreign rights without an agent or a publisher, but it’s not impossible. Women’s fiction author Kay Raymer did the whole agent query routine in 2000, but nobody would look at her novel, Hannah Street. So she sent the manuscript to her attorney, who happened to know someone at Bertelsmann / Germany. Bertelsmann made an offer on the book, and her lawyer helped arrange the contract. As a result, Raymer’s first novel appeared in Germany in 2001, a paperback original called Das Rosenhaus. Read more in Gwen Ellery’s article.

Most agents charge 20% (or sometimes even 25%) on foreign sales (including British and translations).
This 20% rate is justified because normally two agents are involved (the second one being in the foreign country), and they end up splitting the commission.

You should never agree to be paying over 25% commissions for any type of sale.
Note that your foreign sales will likely be subject to a local withholding tax (10% is common), and that all of that tax burden will be borne by you (that is, the agent will take his or her commission off the pre-tax gross).

If you are not represented already, why not try to find agents or even publishers yourself in other countries, especially if you speak more than one language?
I just found a blog post from a successful writer, who did just that: searched the internet, found contact addresses of agents in other countries and contacted them. He wrote:

“How does one sell rights in the international marketplace?
My first foreign rights sales occurred as a result of Book Expo America, where for a small fee my book was displayed in a co-op booth.  Although the book didn’t take Book Expo by storm — as I somehow thought it would — it received interest from and I sold translation rights to publishers in Mexico, Poland and Nigeria.  If publishers in such diverse countries and cultures wanted the book, I was sure publishers in other countries would also want it.”   
Read the whole article here: http://axiomawards.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/selling-foreign-rights-around-the-world/

Morris Rosenthal gives also great, detailed tips in his article about book contracts.
http://www.fonerbooks.com/contract.htm

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If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/seminar

Please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 730 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, Chime.in, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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MUST READ for Authors to Avoid Pitfalls

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Writing is an art. Publishing is a business. If you want to sell your book(s) and not just write for your own fun, better get a thorough understanding of the publishing business and what to look out for when making decisions how to get your book to readers.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a fantastic blog – a warning to all authors, who are thinking about having a service provider (who call themselves publisher) to handle e-book formatting and posting the e-book to all online retailers – for 10 – 15% of your royalties.

Seems convenient to the author… So convenient that they don’t even bother to read the agreement, which can be VERY COSTLY in the long term.

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The essence of her warning: “If you don’t have the time to self-publish and you don’t have the
money to pay someone up front, then don’t do it. That’s so much better than signing with one of
these scam artists.”

Please, please, people. Be smart. Don’t sign with any company to design your e-books and handle
your social media for a percentage of royalties. And please, please, read all the agreements that concern your books before you sign or click “agree” on anything.

Make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to, and if you don’t understand it, ask an
un-involved third party like a lawyer to help you understand. Don’t call the e-service and ask them to
explain their agreement to you. They’ll tell you not to worry your pretty little head about it. And if you
listen to them, the mistake is yours.”

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Read her blog post and if you have signed up with any of these “service” companies, take out your contract (if you printed it out) or go to their website and read it line for line to learn what you gave con sense to – and self-publish your next book by yourself – real self-publishing by you, the author!  Get more help in reading publishing contracts from us in individual book marketing sessions with you.
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Kristine wrote a lot more articles, each one giving authors insights into the publishing world, along
with lots of warnings:

Trust me – Whenever you hear this – RUN

Royalty Statements

Use common sense

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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! 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 970 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.
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Don’t Let it Happen to You… Literary Agents Scams

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Dollar-Sign

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Third in the “Scam Series”: Literary Agents Fee Scams

Don’t let it happen to you…

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. US writers have to go through an agent – 80% of all publishing deals are made through an agency. Publishers in the USA don’t want to deal directly with authors.
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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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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

For those writers who might think they need an agent – have a look at the do’s and don’ts of both sides:

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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Never under any circumstances should you pay expenses or any fees up front: the agent only receives money by deducting his or her 15% commission from your eventual earnings. An agent telling 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 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.
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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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More of our blog posts regarding Literary Agents:
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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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How Agents work and How to work with Agents
https://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
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What Literary Agents Want to Know From You
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/what-literary-agents-want-to-know-from-you/
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100′s of Links to Publishers and Agents
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/100s-of-links-to-publishers-and-agents/
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Which Literary Agent is Right for You?
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/which-literary-agent-is-right-for-you/
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How to Use Photos on the Internet

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Antique Rolleiflex Camera

Antique Rolleiflex Camera

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My largest visitor stream I ever got on any blog was via Google Image Search. People were looking for a certain image on Google and found my website. The photo had the right size, motive and it was named with the right keywords.
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Improve SEO through your photos
There is more to it, than just placing attractive photos on your blog or website. Here are some tips how you can optimize your photos to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and to get more traffic to your website or blog.
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Reduce the file size of your photos
NOT the dimensions of the image, but the pixel size. When you re-size a photo manually in WordPress (for example) you only change the dimensions, and the amount of pixel stays almost the same. A file size of 1.8 MB can be easily reduced to 300 Kb without compromising the quality for the viewer. Adobe Photoshop or Adobe “Lightroom” software can be used to re-size the photo’s pixels – not the dimension! Important: Make a copy of your original photo BEFORE you re-size. Otherwise it would be lost forever and you would keep only the lower pixel version. There is no way back!
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Name your photos
File593730.jpg or DSC_8405037.jpg is not helpful to you and totally meaningless to search engines. Keywords in the photos name should be separated by hyphens, NOT underscores, and shouldn’t be squeezed into a single word, e.g. Antique-Leica-Camera.jpg.
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Always use ALT tags
Wordpress makes it easy for you when adding photos to your text. The fields for Title, Description, ALT and caption are build-in, so you can fill them out easily. Search engines can’t “see” photos, but “read” keywords, that describes your image. Keywords that you use on your web page should work together with the keywords you use for your images.
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Where to find inexpensive photos?
You might be an avid photographer, just like me, taking often several hundred images a month. However, from time to time the need for a certain motive arises, and the question is, where to turn to for inexpensive images for a blog or a web site? A lot of research brought up a handful of online offers that I like to share with you.
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Find websites in these articles that provide good deals on royalty-free photographs or even free ones. If you don’t know the difference between royalty-free and free photos, take the time to read these articles thoroughly.
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Where to find free photos and illustrations?

Part II of Free Image Sources

Part III of Free Image Sources

Part IV Free – Inexpensive Photo Sources

Why Steal When You Can Get it for Free ?

5 Laws Writers Should Know to Avoid Getting Sued

10 Rules of USA Copyright Infringement

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How to Slice Your Book into Pieces

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…. and sell each separately

This advise was given to me by a very successful writer.  Here in a nutshell his ideas:  Think of your writing like you bake a cake. And what do bakeries and confiseries  do with a cake? They divide it into tiny slices and sell each piece separately.

In your case, your book is like the cake and has a secret ingredient that is called “Copyright.”  Every story you write, every novel, is a cake full of copyright.
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You can sell parts of it to:

  • one publisher
  • other parts to another publisher
  • some parts to overseas markets
  • other parts to audio
  • others as e-Books or Singles
  • to game companies
  • maybe to Hollywood’s film industry
  • or to web publishers …

The list goes on and on and on. But what you need to do:

  • learn all about copyright to really understand this
  • each piece can be a cash stream for you
  • you don’t even have to have the same name to use, get a pen name or even several

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Each story, each novel is a piece of your writing business. If you spread them out over a number of names you have a pretty consistent cash flow streams working. You just need to offer them to people who will buy them.
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For example:
You sold German Translation Rights, and your contract with the German publisher limited your book to trade paper only. Now you can sell:

  • German hardback rights
  • German audio rights
  • German mass market rights
  • German film rights

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Your German publisher will have advances like your Canadian or American publisher, and there will be royalties. And then comes your Spanish sale. Your Russian. Your Italian. And so on and so on. Hundreds and hundreds of pieces of your work can be sold. Each piece is a cash stream. You just need to sell it. You create the inventory, your book, just once, but you can sell it for your entire life and your heirs can keep selling these pieces for seventy years past your death.

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Are You an Eligible US Author?

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yosemite_27_bg_090604_SourcePDPhoto.org

yosemite_27_bg_090604_SourcePDPhoto.org

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Starting in January 2013, some famous authors become eligible to reclaim their work, such as Stephen King, Judy Blume or John LeCarre.  US publishers face the loss of their back lists as authors begin using the Copyright Act to reclaim works they assigned years ago, for example these New York Times bestsellers from 1978:
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  • Jackie Oh  by Kitty Kelley
  • Illusions  by Richard Bach
  • Chesapeake  by James A. Michener
  • Robert Kennedy and his Times  by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
  • A Time for Truth  by William E. Simon
  • Fools Die  by Mario Puzo
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Section 203 of the 1978 Copyright Act allows authors to cut away any contract after 35 years. It was set up to protect young artists who signed away future best sellers for a pittance.
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In many cases, before Section 203 came into law, the author had signed away their rights. The new law has fewer such loopholes and will also mean that nearly every book published after 1978 becomes eligible for termination. These new options mean authors have more leverage to walk away from their publishers altogether.
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Authors have a five-year window to exercise the right but must also provide advance notice at least two years but no more than 10 years beforehand.
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Many authors are simply unaware of their options, others may prefer to seek a sweeter deal with their publishers, rather than fly solo or risk a lawsuit. The Authors Guild and copyright lawyers can help with plain English explanations.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are almost 600 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, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

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What’s Going On with Amazon Reviews?

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During the last three months the independent author scene was full of complaints, rumors and even petitions due to Amazon’s book review removals.  Amazon’s recent removal of book reviews has become a hot topic among authors and readers alike.

  • What happened?
  • Which books where compromised?
  • Who is behind it all?
  • Who is paying for reviews?
  • What can independent publishers and authors do about it?

With all of the attention brought about by possible “fake” reviews a group of authors got together and sent a message to Amazon called “No Sock Puppets Here Please”. They claim that authors were misusing the review process by using multiple accounts to leave good reviews for themselves. Another reason could possibly also be the fact that Fiverr.com has several offers from people who write book reviews for $5 (most likely without reading them…).

The New York Times even wrote about it in early August. The Times mentioned: ” it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews. A New York Times article appeared: “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy”. Although indie authors were reporting that they were losing reviews before the NYT article went public.

If you want to thank or comment, here are some names of the more than 400 writers who brought Amazon to remove your reviews:

Linwood Barclay, Tom Bale, Mark Billingham, Christopher Brookmyre, Declan Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Tania Carver, Lee Child, John Connolly, Michael Connelly, N.J. Cooper, David Corbett, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stella Duffy, Jeremy Duns, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, Meg Gardiner, Lee Goldberg, Gordon Harries, Joanne Harris, Mo Hayder, David Hewson, Charlie Higson, Susan Hill, Peter James, Paul Johnston, Graham Joyce, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Roger McGough, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby, Stuart Neville, Jo Nesbo, Ayo Onatade, SJ Parris, Tony Parsons, Sarah Pinborough, Ian Rankin, Shoo Rayner, John Rickards, Peter Robinson, Stav Sherez, Karin Slaughter, Andrew Taylor, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Martyn Waites, Tim Weaver, Neil White, Laura Wilson etc. Barry Eisler, indie author, signed first, but then opted out.
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Are they authors, published by the “Big Five”?
For sample Lee Child is published by Random House Publishing Group, Stuart MacBride published by Harper Collins, Stella Duffy published by Thomas Dunne, Steve Mosby, published by Orion, Karin Slaughter published by Random House, Helen FitzGerald published by Faber & Faber, Laura Wilson published by Minotaur Books NY, Jeremy Duns published by Simon & Schuster – not really indie authors indeed… Could it be that they or their publishers feel threatened by independent authors that are successful on Amazon? Was it all an organized move? We will never know for sure…
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Very interesting!
While randomly picking names from the above list to check if they are indie authors (I found almost all published by Random, Harper Collins and other big names) I discovered something disturbing: one author from the above list wrote a glowing review for another author in this “No Sock Puppets” list !!! Clearly a violation of Amazon review rules!  And they have the nerve to sign a petition to Amazon and point fingers at other authors!
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What Amazon did, is not just ousting someone found guilty of bot reviews, they are assuming all are guilty until proven innocent. Instead of going after these accounts, Amazon pulled many, (mostly) legitimate reviews in an effort to get rid of the possible suspicious ones – while this move by Amazon will not affect bestselling authors from the Big Five Publishers due to the sheer number of reviews they have, yet it can be devastating to indie authors.

When these independent authors complaint, they received either: a) no answer, or b) a form letter or c) were threatened to get their books removed from Amazon’s page. Interesting to see how Amazon treats it’s customer / suppliers who give them their book in commission…
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Can You Write a Review for Another Author?
Short answer: According to Amazon’s latests rules: NO

This policy not only hurts writers, but it removes the voice of readers who want to share their views. It is really hard to get reviews, and to have even one removed can be devastating. Everyone who turned to Amazon for answers, received more or less only a form letter – if at all. Bestseller author J.A. Konrath stated in his blog that some of the reviews he has written for other authors have been removed because Amazon is apparently cracking down on authors reviewing “competitors’” books. He believes that the site No Sock Puppets Here Please (NSPHP) a WordPress blog with more than 400 signatures, sent to Amazon, may have initiated it all or at least brought Amazon to over-enforce their review rules. He wrote: “A petition that named and accused three writers of “damaging publishing”, using “underhanded tactics”, and stating other authors are doing it as well. The NSPHP built a carefully constructed case showing how these writers damaged publishing. Oh, wait. No they didn’t. They simply accused and denounced.
But at least they clearly defined “underhanded tactics” and explained in detail how they are illegal and immoral.”

What Amazon did, is not just ousting someone found guilty of bot reviews, they are assuming all are guilty until proven innocent (only they don’t accept authors proofs). Instead of going after these accounts, Amazon pulled many, (mostly) legitimate reviews in an effort to get rid of the possible suspicious ones – while this move by Amazon will not affect bestselling authors from the Big Five Publishers due to the sheer number of reviews they have, yet it can be devastating to indie authors.
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When these independent authors complaint, they received either: a) no answer, or b) a form letter or c) were threatened to get their books removed from Amazon’s page. Interesting to see how Amazon treats it’s customer / suppliers who give them their book in commission…

Some indie authors have complained to Amazon about why they have had reviews removed, Amazon, in at least a few cases, has threatened to remove the author’s book. Why would Amazon do this? Why not clarify why the review was removed?

However, Amazon.com employees are not allowed to answer customers / authors questions.  Really???  Yes, read in an article of a former Amazon employee at the Seattle Weekly how answering customer emails have to be done – via a blurb.  Excerpt from page 2: “One of the first surprises you encounter on the job is that you almost never respond to these queries from scratch. Instead you learn to troll the Blurb Index—a roster of pat responses, or “blurbs”—designed to address practically every conceivable scenario a customer might present. If a genuinely new situation arises more than once, there will probably be a blurb written for it.” They really are about the money, and not indie authors. And books are in fact only a tiny part of Amazon’s business.

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Amazon Creates A New Review Policy
Who can write a review according to the newly enforced policy from Amazon:

  • Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon.com. All we ask is that you follow a few simple rules.
  • If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that you received the product free of charge. However, some authors gifted a book to a reader, it was stated in the review, and Amazon still took down the review.
  • Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package.

Amazon seems to not addressing the Big Five (legacy publishers as J.A. Konrath titles them) in this case who for sure as well paying for reviews for their big authors. Big publishers send out dozens if not hundreds of Galley copies of their books (certainly for free) to book reviewers.

The Amazon Forum provides a clear list of the review rules under “Always Remember”.  And they advice: “If authors must give gifts to Amazon reviewers who are interested in the author’s books, they should do it via another retailer such as Barnes and Noble.”

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Who else pays for reviews? And who offers paid reviews?

In an earlier blog post here at Savvybookwriters I mentioned already Kirkus Reviews (Libraries and Magazines are paying attention to them) and Book Rooster.  J.A. Konrath for sample uses Bookrooster.com. He wrote in his June 25, 2011 blog postInterview with Catherine MacDonald from BookRooster.com:  “As I stated earlier, I always give out free copies in exchange for reviews. That’s the same thing legacy publishers do, giving away galley copies. BookRooster just makes it easier.”

There are many other review companies out there who charge for book reviews: palmettoreview.com, pacificbookreview.com/BookReview and publishersweekly.com/pw/corp/DIY-FAQ.html#2 etc. Others want just two free(printed) book copies, such as http://www.midwestbookreview.com/get_rev.htm

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Comments from authors:

Ciara Ballintyne
“There seems to be no legislation preventing Amazon’s behaviour nor any consumer outlet for complaints. In Australia, a large part of what Amazon’s doing would be suspect, subject to scrutiny, and possibly penalties (Apple got into trouble for trying to play in the Australian market the way they can and do in America), and consumers would have a number of bodies they could complain to for a resolution of complaints. As it stands, it seems no one with a complaint has any hope of satisfaction unless they either sue Amazon (ha ha) or can bring sufficient media or social media attention to bad behaviour.”

Derek Haines
comment on one of the many articles was: “Publishing is tough enough as it is without having to deal with a very large and confused retail monster that changes the rules overnight and then refuses to explain to anyone why it wants to adversely affect the businesses of thousands of authors and publishers.”

Derek Blass
has started a petition to request that Amazon stops arbitrarily removing reviews. I urge everyone to sign it here. This review removals not only hurts writers, but it removes the voice of readers who want to share their views – maybe we can get Amazon to listen.
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Joni Rodgers wrote
I can’t help but notice that none of my reviews have been removed from indie authors with whom Amazon has publishing deals, and that raises some very troubling questions about the appropriateness of the world’s largest bookselling entity censoring reviews on publishing brands that could be perceived to be in competition with its own. The potential for abuse of that power is staggering in the context of past to-the-mattress conflicts between Amazon and mainstream publishers. Imagine the outcry if targeted Penguin or FSG titles were suddenly stripped of favorable reviews. Amazon could do this with ease and impunity, the same way they disabled buy buttons on over 5,000 titles earlier this year during a dispute with IPG.

I’ve said in the past and will continue to maintain that the only acceptable filter for Amazon reviews is proof of purchase. If they practice any sort of censorship beyond that, they are obligated to disclose it.

It’s my fervent hope that this damaging and ineffectual practice will stop as Amazon’s decision makers realize it’s not worth the money and effort they’re devoting to it. And I look forward to continuing and expanding a mutually appreciative and profitable relationship with Amazon in my multi-faceted role as author, publisher, reviewer and bookseller.  And as voracious reader.

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Read more at these websites / blogs:
http://dosomedamage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/amazonreview.html
http://tobecomeawriter.com/amazon-reviews-indie-authors/
http://www.salon.com/2012/11/02/authors_cannot_review_authors_on_amazon/
http://mefrancoauthor.blogspot.ca/2012/11/amazon-flexing-its-muscles-reviews-and.html
http://lat.ms/UxJ5yO

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What can you do?
Amazon is clearly going overboard and it will not only going to hurt indie authors, it will hurt themselves as well.  Although they can do on their website as it pleases, even remove reviews.  However their statement that reviews are owned by them – another issue, which is different from the book review debate, is not conform with copyright laws as the writer of the review has the copyright.

  • Always copy every review you receive on Amazon to have a record. Try to take out snippets from these reviews (not the whole review) and add them into your publishers review (book description) for your book or in your authors site.
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  • Do not sell your books solely through Amazon, but also through B&N, Apple and Kobo.
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  • Sell books from your own website. It is easy to sign up with PayPal, if you don’t have a PayPal account already, to copy / paste their code into your website and to sell your books directly to readers. This way you also get to know your readers and you are able to contact them for new books launches.
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My next blog post will show you more choices and a list of online e-book retailers in order to “not put all eggs in one basket”.

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10 Signs Showing You Vanity Publishing TRAPS

. . Here on this blog I wrote several times already about vanity publishers and warned:  “Writer Beware, Beware and Beware Even More!” and I also blogged about POD services “Don’t be fooled by POD Services”. . The “Independent Publishing Magazine” explains their readers / writers in a great  article how to identify a vanity company:

  • Reputable trade and independent publishers don’t advertise for authors in newspapers and writing magazines. Publishers are inundated with submissions. They don’t need to look for authors!
  • Reputable trade and independent publishers don’t ask the author for money, ever, for any part of the publishing or marketing process. However, don’t always expect an advance (or a large one) on royalties from a small or niche publisher. The industry might not like to admit it, but the size of advances is reducing quickly and some small publishers cannot afford anything more than a few hundred dollars in an advance.
  • Trade and independent publishers sell books [mostly!] – not only author services.

The Independent Publishing Magazine helps you to find out How To Avoid The Vanity Publishing Trap  – don’t miss to read it! .

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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 for three months all this and more for only $179 – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 1,160 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? There is also the “SHARE” button for easy sharing at Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

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AMAZON Deletes Readers Reviews

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Bestseller author Rayne Hall originally shared this post on Google+

Petition: “Amazon: Stop Arbitrarily Deleting Reviews!”

“I’m glad someone has taken the initiative and started a petition. Amazon deletes masses of customer reviews, without giving a reason. Presumably, this is to stop the mushrooming of fake reviews (the kind where you pay someone $5 and they leave a gushing 5* review without ever reading the book).
Unfortunately, many thoughtful, sincere reviews get deleted in the process, while the fake reviews from sock-puppet accounts continue to flourish. I have lost many thoughtful reviews from genuine readers.

Some readers have emailed me, deeply unhappy about the deletion of their reviews, not understanding what’s going on. Any requests to Amazon for explanations have yielded nothing but bot-generated unsympathetic uninformative brush-offs. Several readers emailed me to say they will no longer leave reviews at Amazon, because their time and effort has been wasted when Amazon deleted their previous reviews. I can understand their position.

This petition demands that Amazon provides clear criteria for what makes a review deletable, and when deleting a review, gives a reason why. I think this is a sensible, modest request.”
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The Petition organized by Author Derek Blass, Denver, CO Amazon: Stop Arbitrarily Removing Customer Reviews From Indie Author Books

He explains: “Amazon is currently removing customer reviews from books published by indie authors without any notice, and without any explanation. This petition demands that Amazon explain for every author that loses a review (good or bad) why that review was removed, and set forth clear guidelines as to what will and will not be removed in the future.”

“Hi all, I just sent the first email to Amazon, informing them regarding this petition, the success we have had in a short period of time with respect to this petition, and asking that they initiate contact to address the demands made in this petition. I wanted to paste the content of the email in this news update, but posts are restricted to 900 characters. Thus, I have posted the entire email on my blog which can be found at derekblass.wordpress.com
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My own advice: Best thing would be to copy your reviews as soon as posted (just in case) and then paste them in the author page as statements with date and name of the reviewer.

P.S.  Just read an article, the Guardian wrote now too:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/nov/05/amazon-removes-book-reviews

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Warning for “Self-Publishing” Authors

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The reason I started this blog initially, was to warn authors of vanity publishers including most of the POD service companies who call themselves “publishers” – and are in reality often unutilized print shops.

The statistics are mind-boggling, but still too many writers fall into their traps: the average Author Solutions customers – writers – spend around $5,000 with the company, but only sell 150 books. Even their press releases tell it all: “150,000 writers have used the services of Author Solutions, but they have only published a combined total of 190,000 books.” This comes from Penguin’s press release who just bought Author Solutions including their subsidiaries Author House, Xlibris, Trafford and iUniverse.

$100 Million in annual revenue comes roughly at two-thirds from the sale of services to writers, and only one-third comes from the royalties generated by books sales. Which means that most of the money they made (and unfortenately will make in the future) comes from fleezing writers.

Read more about their schemes and a litany of complaints at IndieReader.com  and on Let’s Get Digital. See also Mark Levines book: “Book Publishers Compared

I just wish that writers read articles like these and study the “Writer Beware” website, Emily Seuss’ blog article or Marcia Yudkins blog “how to sniff out scams”.  There is no shortage of warnings out there!  Read them BEFORE you make decisions about self-publishing.

What steps are necessary in self-publishing a paper book:

  • Marketing
  • Manuscript Editing
  • Book Layout
  • Cover Design
  • Printing & Binding
  • Distribution

Why I put Marketing on top of the list? Because it is the most important one and should start long before you finish your manuscript. When you followed this blog you realized that almost all of my marketing tips don’t need involvement of service providers and are free. They involve only time, but no money.

An example: How much time does it take to write a terrific press release and email it out? Two, five, eight hours? You just saved more than $1,500 plus tax, that’s what Author Solution and the like would have charged you for this task. Being on Goodreads, Wattpad, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, FB, LinkedIn, Tumblr etc. and creating a platform and a name as a writer doesn’t cost a dime. Listing your books on Bowker worldwide is free. The list how you can promote your book for free goes on an on.

Another example: How long would it take to write a query and approach these reviewers directly: Kirkwood, ForeWord and BlueInk? One hour, two or three?  Author Solutions sells these three reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord and BlueInk to writers for a whopping $ 1,155 (or $1,405 for expedited) to a package price including
“evaluating the possibilities” by MVP for $3,000 in total (all plus tax) “for writers to be discovered and have their works optioned for film or TV”.

There is more: To set up four accounts on social media, they charge authors $700. How long does it take to open an account on Twitter, Facebook etc.? Their pricing is just absurd!

You can become your own publisher and not fall into the trap of “self-publishers”, just find information how to obtain and evaluate quotes on these services. The internet is full of advice on how-to…, service provider listings, offers for all of these services – starting with the 500 posts I wrote on this blog. One third of these articles is about self-publishing and two thirds “How to Market your Book on a Shoestring” – which is also the title of an upcoming e-book I am publishing soon for independent authors. Really independent ones!

And to publish a digital version of your book, the same is true: It takes time and dedication and a willingness to put yourself out there, but if you want to write a book there’s absolutely no reason to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars getting it into the e-book market.
If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts (there are almost 500 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.

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Did Harlequin Publishing Deceive Their Authors?

Yesterday I read this article on J.A. Konrath’s blog:

“Three authors have just filed a class action suit against Harlequin publishing, which belongs to TorStar Corp., a Canadian publishing company.

One of them, Ann Voss Peterson wrote a book that Harlequin published, and she made 2.4% royalties per e-book copy sold. One of the reasons for this was:

While most of my books are sold in the US, many are sold under lower royalty rates in other countries.

In this particular contract, some foreign rights and – ALL e-book royalties – are figured in a way that artificially reduces net by licensing the book to a “related licensee,” in other words, a company owned by Harlequin itself.
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Here’s an example: Harlequin has an e-book it lists for $3.99. It sells that to Amazon at a wholesale price of $2.00. The author should make $1.00 for each $3.99 e-book that Amazon sells. But instead of selling directly to Amazon, Harlequin sells the e-book to Company X for 12 cents. So the author only gets 6 cents. Company X than sells the same e-book to Amazon for $2.00, but because they are a sub-licensing company, they don’t have to pay the author anything.

Sub-licensing is common. This is all fine and legal. So why are authors suing Harlequin? Because Harlequin and Company X are the same company!  No publishing company would ever sub-license rights for a paltry 6%, unless it was selling the rights to itself. Does Harlequin really expect a judge to believe that it sells a $3.99 e-book and only makes 6 cents? And according to the complaint, the 6% was not equivalent to the amount reasonably obtainable from an unrelated party, as required by the publishing agreements.

Do publishers have such a sense of entitlement, and do they believe that authors are so beneath them, that this is a fair and honest business practice?” Read J.A.Konrath’s full story and the court complaints. It makes for an interesting reading!

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts (there are almost 500 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.

Follow on Twitter: @111publishing

And don’t forget to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr or StumbleUpon – or other social networking sites of your choice) – other writers might also enjoy this blog and find it useful.

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