An author that I saved from the grip of one of the undesirable publishing
companies on the Web later submitted
article on his satisfactory self-publishing experience with Lulu.com.
also my discussion of Lulu and other recommended POD printers and publishing services in
"Your Self-Publishing Options with POD (Print-on-Demand) Printers
and Publishers." (This article also names several self-publishing
companies with shady reputations that you'll want to avoid.)
Copyright © 2000-2014 by Barbara Brabec. All rights reserved.
Author-Publisher Contracts from
Internet Book Publishers and
Do not sign one of these contracts until you have done
diligent research on the Web and/or consulted with someone who understands the legal and financial implications of
every clause it contains.
by Barbara Brabec
IF THE BOOK CONTRACT you've received is from one of the many Internet book
publishers or self-publishing services that are trying to get the attention
of first-time authors today, I urge you not to sign the contract until you've
done careful research on the Web or consulted with
someone who understands how to interpret all the book publishing legalese and
financial pitfalls it
may contain. A regular attorney is not recommended here; instead you need someone
who understands how the book publishing industry works and how authors can
control of their work or receive diminished royalties because of one confusing
clause or another.
Understand that there is a big difference between the publishing contracts being
offered by traditional trade book publishers and those being offered by Internet book publishing companies that
merely offer a variety of SELF-PUBLISHING PACKAGES for authors, some of
which can cost $5,000 or more. For comparison, consider that authors can
through LightningSource.com for less than $200 and have their book on Amazon
sites all over the world a couple of weeks later, and soon after in all the databases of
bookstores, libraries, and book distributors such as Baker & Taylor. (Read his article on my site for details.
It links to many other articles on the Web that are related to getting a book
in this article lists several shady companies you'll want to avoid.)
From reading some of the contracts being offered by Internet book publishing
companies, I know how easily a new author can be seduced by a
less-than-desirable "publisher" that may actually be just a printer or vanity
press in disguise. Most of these companies operate legally, but some have racked
up numerous complaints from dissatisfied authors. A few have renamed themselves
as a result and gone on to operate in the same old way, while others have simply
gone out of business, leaving authors with a legal nightmare and their books
stuck in limbo. I've read and heard some sad stories that made me want to cry.
Like traditional brick-and-mortar book publishers,
the Internet book publishers and publishing services work on a royalty basis, but
their contracts are very different from traditional trade book publishers.
Instead of offering an advance, copy editing, cover design, and direct sales to
bookstores as traditional publishers have always done, the Web-based publishers charge the author
for each service while offering royalties that may be ridiculously low given the
publishing fee they're being charged. And the contract may lock them into a long-term arrangement that may be almost impossible to
These publishing companies emphasize they'll market your book by getting it into bookstores,
but the fact of the matter is that they will be publishing a POD book, and no
bookstore will put a POD book on their shelves. All these self-publishing
companies and services can do is get your book into the computer databases of
bookstores and libraries and set up product pages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,
and other online booksellers.
But every author who publishes independently can
accomplish the same thing for less than
$200 when they publish through LightningSource.com.
that I'm not saying all these companies are bad—some appear to be excellent, in
fact, if the testimonials from satisfied authors are any indication. I'm just saying that you may
have better and less expensive and more profitable publishing options than the
one you've just been offered.
If you're interested in working with one of the self-publishing companies on
the Web and still have questions after reading this article and the other one
I've linked you to, I'll be happy to critique the contract you've been offered
and bill at my regular
hourly telephone consulting fee for
reading the contract and pointing out any problems I see in it. I'll also tell you anything I happen to know
about that company from my own research, or what I've learned from
other authors who may have worked with them. Believe me when I say I have no agenda here other than to
help my fellow writers get published the best way possible. To me, that means getting
published at the lowest cost and highest profit potential possible while also
getting a great-looking book you'll be proud to have your name on.
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