Several articles appeared last week about well-known traditional publisher, Simon & Schuster, starting a self-publishing division. Called Archway Publishing, it’s actually run by Author Solutions, a vanity press in business for some time. As Victoria Strauss reports in WRITER BEWARE, despite the S&S name, it’s the same old game, milking the author. With prices starting at $2000 and “services” that can add up to as much as $25,000, Archway promises to do what Amazon can do almost for free.
S&S is only the most recent of big New York publishers starting a new line to capitalize on the Indie publishing revolution going on. Instead of opening their doors to all authors--not just those with agents--and offering advances and decent royalty rates for e-books, they start a company with a different name. This is apparently a ploy to fool newbie writers that, although they won’t be paid the same as titles self-published with Amazon, they have the prestige of a big name to make it seem legitimate.
I sincerely hope this won’t lure the unwary into wasting time and effort, only to end up with a contract that will hurt them in the long run. Because authors who have seen these contracts are warning writers not to fall for the scam.
Okay, I get it. Not every writer has the time, energy or desire to self-publish, but he/she needn’t feel that it’s an either-or world. There are plenty of small publishers--many having been in business more than a decade--who can do a fine job of producing your book, and won’t require the equivalent of giving up your first-born son to do it.
On my desk right now are two contracts, from two different publishers regarding two different books. True, they pay no advance, but the royalty rates are excellent, they offer a time-limited contract (for a few years, not the life of your copyright) and have none of the deal-breaker clauses authors and bloggers like Kristine Kathryn Rusch warn about.
The second contract had a Non-Compete clause, the first time I’ve ever seen one, although, of course I knew about them. I suggested a change to the wording in that paragraph to make it fair to both of us, but the publisher simply removed the entire clause. Any contract is negotiable. Ask for what you want. It really works.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch