The reason I started https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com initially, was to warn authors of traps they can fall in, after a friend of mine has been deceived by a so-called vanity publisher. Well, she was very naive and did not seek the help of a lawyer, specialized in contract law, nor the advice of her well-meaning author friends or her writer’s group. After having her manuscript sent out to several dozens of publishers and receiving only rejections, she was so eager to get published, that she did not want to hear any warnings and signed her rights away for 70 years after her death! Not only this, she also paid more than $6.000 to have her print book published. Until now (3 years past the initial launch) the vanity “publisher” failed to format it into an e-book, despite his many promises.
For those who do not know what a “vanity publisher” is: These companies take on almost every book authors pitch to them, without concerns if the book is marketable, they charge authors outrageous amounts for editing, book cover and printing or e-book formatting. Many of these companies are printers who get their machines running this way. Others are just agents for author services, who receive healthy commissions from their sub contractors.
“Vanity publishers” don’t make money selling a book, they only make money producing it!
Now it seems that reputable, traditional publishers step into the foot prints of these “vanity publishers” and go into the business of deceiving authors. Many jumped on the bandwagon of the success of e-books and created imprints for digital books, such as “Hydra”, “Flirt” or “Alibi”an imprint of Random House, or “Blackfriars” an imprint of Little&Brown in the UK.
They ask writers for a life-of-copyright contract that includes both, primary and subsidiary rights! (See the story of my friend above). No advance. Only the NET proceeds (means, after all costs of the “vanity publisher” is deducted) will be split between both sides. Deductions for e-books include, among others: the overhead and administrative costs of the “publisher”, costs for editing, cover art, formatting plus a publicity fee of 10% etc. – so the author pays for all these in the end.
Publishing – but not under these conditions!
And if there is a print version, printing and binding costs,” plus 6% of GROSS sales revenue (NOT the NET sales!) to cover freight and warehousing costs. One has to do the math, calculate all this and realize that it makes absolutely no sense to sign up such an unfavorable contract. There is only one who makes money with the authors work: The “vanity publisher”.
Yes, the authors don’t have to pay upfront costs, on the other hand they don’t know what they will earn per book, while the publisher is assured that their expenses will be paid for as soon as the book sells.
See what John Scalzi wrote in an open letter to Random House on his blog:
“Dear Random House: It’s clear you’re targeting new, un-agented authors here because no agent who is not manifestly incompetent would allow his or her client to sign such a terrible contract. But here’s the thing: New authors don’t actually need you to sell their work online. They can do it themselves — and are, and some of them are doing quite well at it. You are working under the assumption that these newer authors are so eager to be with a “real” publisher that they will suddenly forget that publishers are no longer a bottleneck to being published, or that you are offering nothing they can’t do themselves (or have done for them) and offering them nothing for the service — indeed your business model appears predicated on sucking as much as possible from them in fees and charges while offering as little as possible in way of compensation. Hydra is a vanity publisher, in sum.
Do you genuinely believe these new authors are that stupid? And if so, do you genuinely want an entire imprint of your publishing empire populated by such people?”
We will cover more examples of unfavorable ways of publishing in the next days – and can only warn you: Author beware, beware, and beware even more. What’s the benefit of Google? You can type in the name of a company and the words “complaint” or “complaints” and see what comes up. Read these posts carefully!
Find out more about this topic in our former blogs, and spread the word, re-blog the articles, so that other writers can learn about the publishing industry and make informed decisions:
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Warning for “Self-Publishing” Authors
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:
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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Posted by ebooksinternational on July 29, 2012 in All things Legal, comment on posts, join the conversation, Marketing, Self-Publishing, Social Media Book Marketing, Writer Beware
Tags: Author House, Author Solutions, Authors Beware, Emily Seuss, iUniverse, Marcia Yudkin, Penguin, POD publishers, too many writers fall into their traps, Trafford, vanity publishing, Writers Beware, Xlibris