DISCLAIMER: We own Booklocker.com, and compete directly with iUniverse.
Two things happened last week that disturbed me. First, an author I know wanted to hire a certain cover designer, but the designer refused to design his cover unless he published his book through the designer’s “publishing company.” Second, another author I know wanted to terminate her contract with iUniverse, but learned she’d need to pay them $1500 to obtain copies of her book text and cover files…files that she paid them to create!
Let’s discuss the cover designer scenario first. If you’re a cover designer, call yourself a designer. If you’re a book publisher, call yourself a publisher. If you’re a cover designer, don’t insist you’re also a publisher after someone solicits your services. And, how do you expect to stay in business by forcing authors to use your publishing services if they buy your cover design? I would hope none of our readers is gullible enough to be suckered into a relationship like this. Trust me. If you hire a designer to design your cover and they then try to force you to publish your book through them, they are not a real publisher!
Now, let’s move on to the really ludicrous scenario above.
At Booklocker.com, we publish less than 5% of incoming submissions. We really aren’t interested in publishing books that we know aren’t going to sell and we have absolutely no interest in being an author’s meat-market, which is what many of our competitors are (those that publish everything coming over the e-transom). That said, when I reject manuscripts, it would be nice to have a reasonably priced and professional POD publisher to refer them to. Unfortunately it appears none exist anymore.
I used to refer rejected authors to iUniverse becuase their costs were reasonable (for their most basic program anyway) and because they have a non-exclusive contract. I guess maybe I read their contract a long time ago or perhaps I didn’t study it hard enough. While their contract is non-exclusive, it’s now in effect for three years (and then automatically renews each year).
So, if you want to terminate your contract with them during the first three years, they get to keep selling your book until the contract expires. What does that mean? Well, if a traditional publisher comes knocking on your door, they aren’t going to want to give you a contract while iUniverse is exercising their non-exclusive, three-year right to publish your book. No traditional publisher is going to publish a book that’s also being printed and sold elsewhere.
The author in question signed up for their Premier publishing program.
The iUniverse Premier Contract states:
“Upon the effective date of such termination, AUTHOR shall have the right to purchase the text and cover digital production files of the WORK in PDF format in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 7 of Schedule A.”
If you then pan down to Paragraph 7 of Schedule A, it states:
“If AUTHOR terminates this Agreement pursuant to Paragraph 6 of this Agreement effective less than eighteen (18) months after PUBLISHER