Lawyer Helen Sedwick monitors so-called “self-publishing companies”, aka vanity publishers or subsidy publishers, through a legal lens and wrote another great article for BookWorks. She explains that too many writers are intimidated by the self-publishing process or simply don’t have enough time. Many of these companies grab too much control over the author’s work.
An Expensive Mistake for Authors.
These self-publishing companies own the book cover, interior design, and ISBN. Helen Sedwick explains that authors are often bound to outrageously high retail prices which can kill their book sales. Other companies are tricking authors into contracts that give them audio and translation rights, even though they don’t provide those services. If an author manages to get out of a contract somehow or the company bankrupts (think Booktrope) then the author has to start book production from scratch: they have to buy their ISBN, have to get a new book cover and book layout etc. – a very costly departure from the predator…
Read the Contract.
Lawyer Helen Sedwick advises to read the contract, the Terms of Service (TOC), especially the License or Grant of Rights. If that section gives the company exclusive rights, turn away. Self-publishing contracts should be non-exclusive. An exception here is KDP Select, because the author is in control in this 90-day exclusivity agreement.
In her article, she shows contract clauses and provisions that are favorable for authors and on the other side those that should be avoided under all circumstances. She “translates” the legalese for authors, and explains the implications. Her mantra: an author-publisher always should maintain control over how and where the book is sold.
Read Helen Sedwick’s article and study carefully the contract examples she provides for authors.