I had a not-so-pleasant experience with an author last week. He submitted a revised edition of his book using our returning author discount ($513 instead of $675, which includes interior formatting, original cover design, and basic epub/mobi – ebook – formatting/conversion/listing, as well as an ISBN, barcode, full distribution, etc., etc.).
His references page had broken lines of text. I mentioned it to him and he said to just remove that page. Of course, removing references can lead to copyright infringement and/or plagiarism accusations…and lawsuits. I told him that was unacceptable. Then, he refused to fix his errors. So, I did it for him. By this point, he was becoming belligerent, and starting to act like a jerk. Our website specifically states, “We, unfortunately, don’t work with jerks. If you are a jerk, you’d be better served by one of our competitors.”
Incidentally, what we’ve learned over the years is that really nice authors think that comment is funny. Jerks are very offended by it. So, it’s been a good vetting tool for us.
Anyway, the formatting on this particular author’s book was already finished, and the cover was already designed as well. So, I ignored his attitude-laden messages, and kept working.
A bigger problem was that his disclaimer was not beefy enough to protect him from lawsuits. That was a potentially HUGE dilemma because his book gives investment advice – a lot of it. I provided him with a template disclaimer that was written by a real attorney. I asked him to change the wording of our disclaimer to match his book’s content. Of course, all authors should also ask their attorney to review their materials, especially legal disclaimers. Any book that gives financial, medical, or lifestyle advice can lead to a lawsuit if the author’s advice does not end well for the reader, and if the author has not included an adequate disclaimer.
I sent the manuscript back to the author with his disclaimer, which was clearly not written by an attorney, followed by our professional disclaimer. I asked him to combine the two, or to reword ours. It would have taken him five minutes tops. But, nooooo. He kept sending messages asking me what he needed to do. And, I kept explaining the same thing over and over again. I knew exactly what he was doing.
There’s a certain type of individual who acts purposely difficult (or ignorant) in an attempt to trick other people into doing their work for them. I don’t play that game and, since he’s legally liable for the content of his book, he needed to fix the disclaimer himself. I explained all of that to him, too.
So, what did he do? He sent the manuscript back to me with no changes at all to the disclaimers, saying he’d done it. He clearly had not. Things were starting to get ridiculous.
I sent it back to him, once again explaining what he must do. He got very upset because he didn’t want to do a simple, 5-minute task. I even explained to him, in very clear language, that it would take him about five minutes. He had spent several days sending angry messages to me about it. His jerk status was becoming increasingly elevated.
And, then it happened (and I totally saw it coming!). He blackmailed me, saying we were to publish his book as-is, or he would report us to the attorney general, the BBB, and other places as well. In a nutshell, if we didn’t publish a book that posed a legal liability to him (and to us because he wanted me to remove the disclaimer), he was going to smear us. I wanted to (snottily) ask him to be sure to let the attorney general know, during his complaint, that he was blackmailing us but it honestly wasn’t worth it. I’ve dealt with jerks like this before. It seems they enjoy making those around them miserable.
I honestly think he was trying to force me to personally edit the disclaimer so that we would be potentially liable if he got sued. When that failed, he resorted to blackmail.
I don’t respond positively to threats. Needless to say, we won’t be publishing his book and, of course, he’s been blacklisted.
I did, however, send him a list of our competitors, in order of price. He was likely not happy to learn that using one of those firms was going to cost him $534-$1,883 more than he’d paid BookLocker. And, with us, his book would have been ready next week. With the “other places,” his book won’t likely go live for several weeks to a few months.
Many of our competitors allow authors to make mistakes that can cost them big money later. I don’t do that, regardless of how much of a jerk the author is. I’m not going to stand by with my lips sewn shut while an author makes a huge mistake that may eventually cost them thousands in legal fees. Many of our competitors just want to get as much money as they can out of each author. They really don’t care if an author gets sued later.
If a hot-headed and narcissistic author does not care about violating someone’s copyrights, and/or would rather argue for an hour than spend five minutes editing a legal disclaimer, which would protect themselves and their publisher (me) from lawsuits, that’s not an author I want to work with. No amount of money is worth working with jerks. Life’s too short.
Since BookLocker’s inception back on the last 90’s, we vowed to never become an author meat market. We vet manuscripts for quality and salability. We have no board of directors to dictate our business practices – nobody forcing us to meet sales quotas, or to upsell authors on worthless marketing products and services. I treat authors, their sources, and their readers the way I want to be treated – with honesty and respect. And, if I have knowledge of something they do not, I am happy to share it with them, especially if it’s on a subject that may cost that author thousands in legal fees later!
If an author does not have the same respect for others, they are welcome to spend hundreds to thousands more getting published with one of our competitors.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE