Signing with a book publisher is every author’s dream. But beware of book contract nightmares.
Never sign a book contract with a publisher without doing your homework first.
There are so many small publishers nowadays offering publishing agreements.
While some are good, there are many that are not so good, or worse.
Even among some well-known small publishers, problems have arisen with overdue payment or no payment of royalties to authors.
In recent times, Ellora’s Cave has experienced financial difficulty, and it seems as if it is now taking legal action against the RWA, who asked Ellora’s Cave to pay overdue royalties.
Throughout Ellora’s Cave’s ongoing financial problems, the RWA has been pressuring the publisher to pay authors overdue royalties or release the authors from their contracts.
The RWA has banned Ellora’s Cave from conferences and forbidden the publisher from contacting RWA chapters to recruit new authors.
While the problems at Ellora’s Cave have been reported on many writer blogs, problems with smaller publishers often go unreported.
I know by some of the messages I have received from authors that quite a few have either not been paid, or in some cases, the publishers went broke yet retained the book rights.
Being offered a contract by a publisher, no matter how big or small is always an exciting opportunity for new authors especially, but beware. Take your time when negotiating a book contract.
Signing away your book rights is for (almost) ever, and if things go wrong, especially if the publisher fails, your book is gone.
An author friend of mine lost one of his best works to a publisher, who made a lot of promises but failed to deliver.
If you have the opportunity to go with a publisher or literary agent, don’t rush to sign a book contract without doing your homework first.
Do your research on the Internet and check with other authors and always ask questions of your potential publisher.
How long has the business been running?
What are the net royalty rates being offered?
Are author royalties always paid on time?
How many titles has it published?
What do the option clauses mean?
What happens to your book rights if the publisher ceases trading?
As with any commercial contract you should take legal advice before signing a book deal.
Spending a little money to check with your lawyer or contract review services before signing is highly recommended.
Publishing nowadays is not an easy business, and there are more and more publishing scammers around, who prey on an author’s dream of being published.
So, author beware of rushing in and signing a book publishing contract.
Related reading: Is This Publisher Legit? How You Can Make Your Decision
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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