My Publisher Owes Me Thousands in Royalties! What Can I Do???

Hello Angela,

Remember me? I miss you. You are by far the best publisher I’ve met so far. You answer e-mails, you keep promises, and you pay royalties on time to your writers. My current publisher doesn’t do any of that, and that’s why I’m contacting you. I plan to enter a complaint into your Whispers and Warnings section, but I want to touch base with you before I do it, and explain.

(My other publisher) started off as a dynamic, responsive and very active publisher when she initially persuaded me to sign on. In September 2011 she did the royalty accounting and paid me a big check for the months up to and including May 2011, which covered the first month of my sales surge. I sold over 17,000 e-books on Kindle that May. In June, I sold over 19,500, over 10,000 in July and over 6,000 in August. I don’t have exact figures because she never sent me exact figures after May.

The problem is that she has not paid me royalties covering the period June 2011 to the present. And, she stopped sending me monthly sales figures around the same time. Also, she stopped answering my e-mails, except for very occasional one- or two-sentence responses that never mentioned royalties. It has now been 14 months without a royalty payment to me.

Her other writers I am in touch with have similar problems with her, all centering around a lack of communication, missed deadlines and royalty problems.

What else can I do?


What your publisher is doing is illegal and, if I were you, I’d get my books out of her clutches ASAP. She is stealing from you each time a book sells. If she had any intention of paying you, she’d have responded to all of your emails in a timely manner and she’d have been at least sending token payments. As it is, she’s getting paid by Amazon and she’s keeping the money, and spending it herself. It’s been over a year now and it’s clear she isn’t going to pay you. People who ignore emails and keep an author’s money are thieves.

You’re getting played and each month it gets worse. You should move your books to a reputable publisher, and then report her to the authorities. It looks like she’s running an elaborate scam.

Unfortunately, there are lots of snakes in the industry who watch the new releases of their competitors, and then go after those authors with grand promises (that turn out to be empty) – if only the author will move their book to the scam publisher. This is probably what happened in your case. One POD publisher in particular contacts new authors whose books have just gone on the market, and feeds them lies in an attempt to get them to terminate their contract with their original publisher. Only after they’ve done that do they realize they must pay the new publisher several thousand dollars to republish their book.

If an author is contacted by someone with big promises right after their book is published, they should beware. They’ll very likely end up paying all over again for what are essentially the same services they got from their first publisher, and most of the P.O.D. publishers use the same printer so they’ll end up with essentially the same book anyway.

We call these outfits bottom feeders. They can’t get business the good old fashioned way so they muck around trying to get victims with false promises. Unfortunately, sometimes it works. We hear about these scams ALL the time. It’s so sad when authors who have fallen for these false promises come back to us, admitting they’ve been had, and asking us to relist their book. 🙁

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. 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.”

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