23 March 2014 - AUTHOR SCAMS


AUTHOR SCAMS

G'day folks,

Welcome to a guest post from Savvy Book Writers about author scams.

The reason I started http://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. 


Vanity Publishing

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.
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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?”





Clancy's comment: Many thanks to Savvy Book Writers. 

Over the years I've met heaps of travellers who should never have left their home, let alone their country. The same applies to writers. Many are not dilligent enough. Trust me. This industry is like any other. There are sharks out there, but it's your work, so do your homework. Amen.

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