May 04, 2011

POD SECRETS REVEALED: You Pay... But THEY Own the Rights?! | printable version

It's disgusting but it's true. Some POD publishers will do anything to make it financially and logistically impossible for you to switch to another POD publisher if you are unhappy with their services in the future. We call this a "forced marriage." One way they might do this is to include verbiage, buried in the middle of their contract (or multiple contracts as some POD publishers offer different contracts for each service), that states they own all rights to the materials you have paid them to create. This can include cover design, custom illustrations (for the cover and/or the interior of the book) and even the final edited and formatted copy of the interior of YOUR book. Can you imagine paying someone hundreds or thousands of dollars to edit (or format!) your book but not getting a copy of the final, edited version for your own use? Why should any author pay for something they will not be able take with them and use elsewhere?! The sad fact is most authors don't read the fine print and don't realize that they have signed over all their production file rights to the POD publisher...until it's too late.

I thought we'd have a fun little quiz this week. I'll quote portions of REAL POD CONTRACTS below and you try to guess which POD publisher you think they're from. Okay? Here we go!

A. YOU PAY THESE GUYS $1022 BUT IF YOU WANT TO USE YOUR FILES ELSEWHERE LATER, YOU'RE OUT OF LUCK!

"We may agree to provide you a file containing an image of the cover of your Title ('Cover Image'). Contingent upon your receipt of such Cover Image, we hereby grant you, during the term of this Agreement, a worldwide, royalty-free right to use the Cover Image for any lawful purpose related to promoting your Title."

This means you can't use the cover you paid them to create if you move to another publisher in the future. You can only use it to promote your title while they're publishing your book and, per the wording above, they aren't required to give you a copy at all. If you use one of their templates, they own the rights to that file, too.

B. YOU PAY THIS PUBLISHER $1517 FOR COVER DESIGN AND INTERIOR FORMATTING...AND THEY THEN OWN YOUR FILES!

"We will retain in our possession all of the materials submitted by you. We will have no obligation to provide to you any submitted materials or production files at anytime or for any reason."

If I were a new author reading this contract, I'd run screaming away!

C. YOU PAY THESE GUYS $1972 BUT THEY OWN YOUR FINAL FILES!

"The Author acknowledges and agrees that (publisher) retains all property rights and all ownership of all data, files, and materials that (publisher) prepares for the publication of the Work, including but not limited to production data, files, and materials, whether or not completed, in the possession of (publisher) and/or on (publisher)s' computers and servers. This means that files and data that have been generated by (publisher) (i.e. design files), are the property of (publisher)."

That's right. You pay for it. They own it. End of story.

D. PAY THIS PUBLISHER $999 AND THEN PAY THEM $300-$1500 **MORE** FOR YOUR PRODUCTION FILES!

"Author shall have the right to purchase the text and cover digital production files of the Work in PDF format upon the effective date of termination of this agreement."

You pay them once to create the files, and you pay them again to get possession of them. In our opinion, this is one of the most ridiculous and greedy contract clauses in the entire POD industry!

E. PAY THIS FIRM $1324 AND NEVER GET YOUR PRODUCTION FILES!

"We will retain in our possession all of the materials submitted by you. We will have no obligation to provide to you any submitted materials or production files at anytime or for any reason."

Look familiar? Yes, this is the same clause as B. above. Both companies are owned by the same firm.

F. PAY THEM $1131 BUT...WHO OWNS THE RIGHTS?!

"You can resell physical copies of Content (printed books, CDs, DVDs) that you have purchased at your discretion and at whatever price you want;" and "You may not resell any other Content or otherwise profit from its use or display on the (publisher's website)..."

This publisher doesn't specifically state who owns the rights to files their produce so they could argue the clause above deals with buyers of books on their site. However, the content section of their membership agreement is the only part that refers to the author's and the publisher's rights so they could also argue this applies to production files. This publisher may refer authors to third-party service providers and you would need to check the contracts of each of those to determine who owns the rights to your production files. Good luck getting answers from this publisher. There are lots of complaints about their customer service online.

READY FOR THE ANSWERS?

A. CreateSpace - claims ownership of YOUR production files
B. AuthorHouse - claims ownership of YOUR production files
C. Xlibris - claims ownership of YOUR production files
D. iUniverse - charges $300-$1500 extra for YOUR production files
E. Trafford - claims ownership of YOUR production files
F. Lulu - Appears to claim ownership but their agreement is vague and confusing

We pulled samples from the most popular POD publishers. But, others are grabbing rights from authors, too, in an attempt to make it difficult or impossible for disgruntled authors to switch services later. What other reason could there be for this greedy rights grab?

Sadly, many of these greedy clauses not only apply to the cover design and interior formatting, but can also apply to editing you paid the publisher to do, and/or interior graphics, charts, and more you paid them to create. There's seemingly no end to the way some POD publishers will make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to get out from under their thumb.

WHO'S DIFFERENT

BookLocker.com (which is owned by the author of this article) claims no rights whatsever to an author's work. If an author orders original cover design ($200), they then own ALL rights to their cover, and can use it wherever they choose in the future. And, yes, BookLocker provides the author with the high-resolution version of their cover. Authors also own all rights to their interior files and BookLocker gladly provides copies of those as well, both the word processing file and the final pdf file. Authors can even list and sell their books on their own website, as well as others, including ebook files created by BookLocker.

HOW MUCH TO PUBLISH WITH BOOKLOCKER?

New Books:
$317 ($299 setup plus $18 first year annual POD file hosting fee)
$200 original cover; $150 template cover; or submit your own cover at no charge.

Returning Authors:
$149 setup fees on an author's second and subsequent books published through Booklocker.com

That's it. Booklocker doesn't have any hidden fees, doesn't charge extra for photos/graphics, etc., and doesn't upsell authors on a bunch of worthless products/services that will never produce enough sales to pay for those expensive items.

UNHAPPY WITH YOUR CURRENT PUBLISHER?

BookLocker.com offers a special ($149 setup fees) to authors who want to move from another POD publisher to Booklocker. Email Angela (angela - at - booklocker.com) for details.

Please remember to ALWAYS read EVERY contract in its entirety!

Angela Hoy is the Publisher of WritersWeekly.com and co-owner of the POD firm 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."

Angela's P.O.D. 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.


Follow BookLocker on Facebook to keep track of self-publishing news and marketing resources.

 




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