If Random House pulls up to your house with a U-haul filled with millions and wants to buy your book, maybe you’d consider giving up rights forever. But, let’s come back to real world. In real world, many authors find that best way to launch a writing career is to essentially self-publish by using a print-on-demand (POD) publisher.
The problem is that POD buffet is filled with equivalent of healthy choices (publishers who charge low or no publishing fees and allow authors to terminate contracts at anytime) and unhealthy choices (publishers that charge exorbitant upfront fees and lock authors into contracts for years). Often writer’s eyes are bigger than her stomach – she makes a move for first publisher who tells her that her work is great.
Signing a POD contract impulsively is always a mistake. Unless you are trained as a lawyer, deciphering a POD contract can be tricky since many POD publishers have paid some hefty legal fees to have attorneys sculpt contracts that could easily crush an unsuspecting author.
If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer to review your POD contract you need to arm yourself with some knowledge before signing one. In my book, The Fine Print (www.book-publishers-compared.com), I take legalese commonly found in most POD contracts and explain it in terms that will actually make sense. I also tell you types of clauses in a POD contract that should cause you to run away from a publisher as quickly as possible.
If you don’t want or can’t purchase The Fine Print, here are some three tips that may help you avoid a bad publishing experience.
1. Never pay more than $500 in up front POD publishing fees.
The most reputable POD publishers charge between $300-$500 for publishing package which should always include customized cover art, formatting, placement of your book on Amazon, etc.; and ISBN number, bar code, and a sales page on publisher’s website. If you are paying more and not getting at least services mentioned above, you are getting taken.
2. Only Sign a Contract That You Can Terminate When You Want
The best contracts are those you can terminate at any time (usually by giving 30-90 days notice). Some POD publishers that don’t charge or charge very little for their services require a longer commitment on your end (1-2 years) before you can terminate. Because they have money invested in you this is understandable. Never sign a POD contract that you can’t get out of easily. Some POD publishers require that you give them rights to your book for term of copyright. When you see this run fast! The term of copyright is for life of author, plus another 70 years – basically forever.