The online publishing world was all aflutter last week when Apple announced their new “publishing platform.” Textbook authors can now use Apple’s software to publish their ebook. The din died down quickly, however, when people actually read the contract. I won’t tear apart that contract because it’s already been done numerous times online. One of the best is from GeekoSystem.com HERE.
I, personally, am surprised that so many others were shocked by Apple’s rights grab. They did a similar thing to apps developers using their software.
It seems to me that Apple wants to corner the market through force, and squeeze more out of everyone, just like Amazon’s been doing for years. How better to increase your income than to claim rights to others’ creations, and force the creators to use your store when selling those creations, all the while further increasing your take?
One blogger stated online that it’s okay for Apple to take all rights because traditional publishers do so, too. Hold on right there. That is NOT the same thing – not by a long shot.
Traditional publishers take rights because they have employees and departments working on a book to get it to market – editor, designers, printing, etc. The author doesn’t have to front any money but they must give up certain rights in the process. Apple is NOT a traditional publisher – far from it. Sure, they had to invest money to create their new platform (trust me, they can afford it) but they did NOT invest money in YOUR book. They aren’t going to edit it, nor design it, and they certainly aren’t going to promote it.
What do I think about Apple’s rights grab? It’s hogwash, plain and simple. But, really, how are they different from all the rest and where can you go to ensure you keep your rights, and can sell your book wherever you want?
Almost all of the major Print on Demand and ebook publishers (*NOT* BOOKLOCKER!) take rights from authors. From the covers they design, to the manuscripts they edit, their contracts state they take rights to all those files.
WARNING: Most of the POD publishers are also now offering ebook conversion services. The prices for some of these services will make your head spin but, if you look at their contract, you’ll see some are also taking rights to the formatted ebook files. Imagine spending $400-$1000 or more to have your ebook properly converted to sell on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even Apple, and learning that the publisher, not you, owns the rights to the files YOU paid them to create.
What happens if you sign the contract, pay their fee, and want to move to another firm later? You’re screwed. You will have to pay another company all over again to create your ebook files from scratch. Why would you want to leave? We see it all the time. Authors get fed up with high-priced, rights-grabbing, poor-quality POD and e-publishing services (especially when they don’t pay the author’s royalties as promised) and they know they need to bolt to save their book.
If you bolt, and then try to use the files YOU paid to have created, you’re putting yourself and your new publisher at risk of a lawsuit.
Why do these POD and ebook publishers take all rights to files they create? You’ve heard me say it before but I’ll say it again. It’s a forced marriage.
If they make it financially impossible for you to move to another firm, you must continue to use their services, where they can change their terms and prices anytime, without approval from you.
BookLocker.com has never taken rights to authors’ production files. Authors own their interior and cover print production files and, for authors who register for epub and mobi conversion along with a listing on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple, they, too, own their production files (the epub and mobi files). If an author pays for it, they should own it!
Companies that keep the rights to files authors have paid them to create are greedy. Unless a firm is going to front all the production costs, and guarantees a specific marketing budget (at their expense!) for your book, you should steer far clear of any contract that forces you to give up any rights to your book and your files, no matter who created them.
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.com 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.”
Read a price comparison of the most popular POD publishers HERE.