In a recent meeting of authors I overheard one of them to talk about his publishing contract, and that he was surprised to find a clause “that the publisher has all the rights for publishing means that come up in the future”. When asked if he signed this, he affirmed: “Well I wanted to be published, seeing my book in stores, and writing is a hobby for me.” I have heard and read similar statements before, and I am just wondering if these authors have not more self-respect for their own writing – and why they are signing these adhesion contracts.
Why Are Writers Signing Just Anything…
The fact that it’s assumed authors understand the contracts just as well as the publishers do shows the fallacy of thinking, “Oh, business is SO complicated! I’ll just sign with a publisher and everything will be taken care of!” WRONG! Publishers are trying to squeeze out every dime of authors. And trade publishing is now in the hands of huge corporations who are reporting to stake holders and are less interested in culture or fair dealings with their suppliers = authors. At a lawyers blog, who is an author himself, one can find lots and lots of info and tips regarding publishing contracts.
Authors: Why Chase the Wrong Goal? Ego?
Why so eager to see your book in stores when 70% of books are sold online through Amazon, Kobo, Apple etc. Do you want to write and sell books for a career – or do you want only “fame”, selling your book for a couple of weeks at B&N or Chapters or Waterstones and working for glory? Publishers know very well from all the queries they receive, and from agents, how much authors want to be “published”. Publishers are in a position to say: “take it or leave it” – if authors start to negotiate or fight for their rights.
These are the Main Issues With Trade Publishing:
1. Contract Clauses
In these former blog posts:
- Minimum Wages for Authors?
- Do You Understand Your Publishing Contract?
- The Traps in Publishing Contracts
we dissected contract clauses – MUST-READ articles for every author! A warning for those who still want to go with a trade publisher and an affirmation for author-publishers, self-publishers or Indie authors, no matter how you want to call it.
“In fact, some of 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”, as contract attorney Ivan Hoffman explains in his blog. The question is: will authors negotiate or fight for their rights?
2. Royalty Payments Are Often Wrong
Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote several times about issues with wrong royalty statements of trade publishers, maybe even screw authors out of royalties. Here is just a short excerpt:
“Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.
The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing), but because the DOJ accountants will dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.”
3. Almost No Marketing
From a trade publishers advice for authors “how to impress publishers“:
- “Be humble, appreciative, and a team player.”
- “Be everywhere online!”
- “Have an impressive platform”
- “Know who your target audience is”
- “Reviews are vital! Make sure you have a substantial amount of reviews”
- “Watch how your competition promote their works”
Well, if an author has already an “impressive platform”, knows the target audience and has lots of reviews, they DO NOT NEED A PUBLISHER. Period.
4. Soon No Editing Anymore.
The same trade publishers advice talks about editing:
- “Have at least one other professional person edit the entire work”
- “Know what CMOS is and understand the rules” CMOS = Chicago Manual of Style
Employed book editors are a rarity these days due to cost cutting in these large trade publishing corporations, so, as an author you have to deliver your manuscript already edited. Why on earth would you take on the costs and then get only 8 – 15% royalty? Spend a small sum for a great cover design, then publish the book on your own and receive almost 70% revenue!
5. No Say in Cover Design, Blurb or Book Title.
Be aware that once you sell your manuscript – for a pittance – to a trade publisher (or even worse to a vanity publisher) you have no say whatsoever how your book will look like, what cover it gets and how it will be sold.
However, in this notorious article “how to impress publishers” the author wrote: publishers want you to “Express gratitude. Be thankful for the publisher’s time”. They don’t have to give you any feedback—or their time… Well, that’s not only the attitude of this writer, but that of the entire trade publishing industry.
Why would any intelligent and self-confident author go with a trade publisher? Susan Brassfield Cogan summed it up in a comment: “My books are my babies. This sounds like selling them into slavery” (to a publisher). And I might add: “People who have no goals work for people who have goals” – or authors who have goals publish books on their own.
If you would like to get a mentor and our support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or 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 / Book Marketing for your success: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”
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