Barbara Brabec’s Author-Publisher
Book Contract Consulting Service
Contracts from Online Book Publishers
and Self-Publishing Companies
Give me the opportunity to critique your contract from an online book publisher or self-publishing company so you’ll understand exactly what you’ll gain or lose by signing it. (Certainly, doing so will not only cost you a bundle, but restrict the control you’ll have over your book and limit the profit you’ll realize from its publication.)
I KNOW HOW EASILY a new author can be seduced by a less-than-desirable book publisher that may actually be only a service provider or vanity press in disguise. Book publishers that offer online publishing services are a totally different breed than the traditional trade book publishers that sell to brick-and-mortar bookstores, libraries, and other markets.
For several years my books were published by the trade, and I learned so much about contract clauses and negotiating with publishers from my agent that I decided to offer an Author-Publisher Book Contract Consulting Service. Thru the years I helped many author clients get better trade book publishing deals, but for many reasons I’m now limiting my book contract consulting services to authors who are thinking about working with an online book publisher.
In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of online book publishers that are posing as “real” publishers, when in fact they are merely selling a basket of services to help authors self-publish a book. You’ve probably heard some of these companies advertising on radio, TV, or the internet proclaiming, “We’re looking for authors! We’ll do everything for you . . . and we’ll get your book into bookstores!” They don’t tell that they’re not talking about bookstores you can walk into, but online print and eBook sellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book distributors. Of course, trade book publishers never advertise for authors, and they don’t charge them anything to be published.
I’ve done extensive research on these web-based book publishing companies and read several of their contracts. None of them offer terms I could ever accept in a contract of my own. So my goal now is to help authors understand the reality of how limited such contracts are, and how expensive they are in comparison to the cost of working with freelancers who specialize in editing, cover design, and marketing.
While most online publishing companies are reputable and operate legally, some have questionable ethical practices and some have racked up numerous complaints from dissatisfied authors. A few renamed themselves as a result and went on to operate in the same old way while others simply went 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.
Both trade and web-based book publishers work on a royalty basis, but their contracts and royalty terms are different. A trade publisher covers all expenses related to publishing a book and may give authors a nice advance against royalties. Compare that to the up-front fees that online book publishers charge. They might start as low as $2,500 for a basic package of services, but an author may end up paying between $3,500 and $5,000 or more by the time the book is published, depending on how many “extra services” they think are needed.
A contract from one of these publishers will have clauses with little or no wiggle room for negotiation, although the better publishers may consider author requests for changes in some of the general contract terms. Much depends on how the author approaches the publisher.
Understanding Contract Clauses
BEFORE YOU HIRE an expensive attorney, let me help you understand the pros and cons of the book contract you’ve been offered. I’ll translate the legalese in it and tell you what you’ll gain or lose by signing it, pointing out its pros and cons. I’ll also tell you anything I know about the company from my own research and what I may have learned from other authors I know who have worked with them.
Understand that I am not offering legal advice here, but knowledge gained from decades of experience in studying the clauses in many book publishing contracts—mine and others.
No Charge for a Short Introductory Call
I live in Illinois (Central Time Zone). Call between 10 and 5 to discuss your particular publishing situation and the publisher you’re dealing with. Once I confirm I can be helpful to you, we can get started quickly.
The fee for this service is $175,
payable in advance through PayPal.
After you email a copy of the contract, I’ll study it, write a critique, and send you a PDF copy of it within a week.
Once you’ve studied my critique, I’ll answer any questions you may have in a complimentary follow-up telephone consultation of up to 20 minutes. Believe me when I say I have no agenda here other than to help you 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.
NOTE: If you’re currently exploring publishing options and trying to decide between using an online self-publishing service or self-publishing your book, set up a paid telephone consult with me. We can discuss your situation and I’ll help you decide which is the best option for you and the kind of help you can get from free-lance service providers. (See client testimonials for my telephone consulting service.)
Online Self-Publishing Companies to Avoid. This article names several book publishing companies with bad reputations; also cautions against using vanity publishers.
What Authors Need to Know before Self-Publishing. Introduction to Barbara’s four-part article series with a link to her “Crash Course in How to Self-Publish a Book” [PDF].