When You Pay to Publish the Royalties Are All Yours

There’s no shame in paying to have all the technical aspects of getting your book to publication done by others if you feel that you really don’t want to tackle these things, just as there’s no shame in paying for formatting and print runs of your book from publishing companies who do this if you can afford it. With new Indies arriving online all the time without knowledge of how these businesses work, it’s probably wise to post a reminder now and then of what to avoid with this. I was speaking to a blogger friend by email the other day, and he mentioned that he was considering one of these companies. Of course I zoomed right on over there and had a look. The first things that jumped out at me were “The cost to you will be….” and “We will pay you royalties……”.

There should only ever be two totally separate choices here. You either pay a publisher to print runs of your book, which you then sell, or they pay you for your book, which they then sell, as well as paying you future royalties. You must never, ever, never – seriously – never, ever pay to have anything at all done to your book as well as signing any contract involving copyright and royalties. It’s one or the other. I know that there is a lot online about these unashamed scammers who will charge you for everything from cover design to paying for copies of your own book – which you would then have to sell yourself anyway, all the while owning your copyright for years and paying you a small royalty percentage for any sales, but it’s clear that they’re still doing great business. If they do advertise it would really be minimal, and they load your books for sale on the very sites that you can load them up to yourself for not a cent. They set the book’s price – you have no say in this. This situation benefits only them, and never you.

It’s exciting when you’ve just finished your first book to let everyone know that you’ve been “signed” by a publisher, especially if said publisher appears to be large and impressive. Signing deals with these “publishers” is really not a good idea at all. They will take on all comers, regardless of talent anyway. It’s not the quality of your story they’re interested in – it’s the size of your bank balance. So take care if you’re about to go zooming out there with your first book, seeking a publisher. Google any of them that take your fancy, research properly, and look for anything that involves the kind of “deals” above, and if they are there, then run away sharply.

If you’re not sure, then ask. There are lots of seasoned published scribblers around on the internet, on their blogs and writer’s groups as well as on forums, both Indie and traditionally published. They’re generally a helpful bunch, so don’t be shy to seek their help rather than finding your copyright signed away and you getting royalties for the book that took you years to write, and which you have to pay your “publisher” to purchase from and sell yourself anyway.  Don’t hand your hard work over to these unscrupulous shysters.


Author: jorobinson176

South African writer.

15 thoughts on “When You Pay to Publish the Royalties Are All Yours”

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Great advice as always from Jo Robinson. Too many self-publishing companies are playing fast and loose with that expression. Each component of the process can be completed by individual specialists from editing, formatting, design and cover so shop around. At the end of the day the rights to your book and any royalties should come directly to you rather than through a third party. Also be careful of commission rates if you are being hosted on a bookstore. You are the self-publisher and should have control of the process from start to finish. Read Jo’s post and do your own research.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some time ago while looking at my own options in this regard I stumbled across one of the so called “vanity publishers”. There are so many sharks out there. the best would be to check them out on Predators & Editors. http://pred-ed.com/
    and keep an eye out on other author’s blogs about possible scammers. I’ve found many wonderful things on other writer sites, such as this one. Great post.


  3. There are way too many flaws and outright wrong representations in this posting to be able to begin addressing them all. Yes, there are two extremes as described, but myriad choices in between abound–ranging from excellent to scam .Most of the subsidy publishers I know don’t take copyrights, give full control to the author over every aspect–including pricing–and for a small percentage (the vast majority going to the author) handle ongoing publicity, marketing, providing website pages and other online presences, handling the admin from compiling monthly reporting to paying out royalties, and more. When a publisher charges just a portion of the upfront pre-production costs, it is usually way lower than actual costs, and doesn’t begin to cover ongoing costs, which MOST authors expect–that handling of all the business aspects for years and decades to come. The options and various configurations are too complex to paint with such a simple brush. This does disservice to people who should be warned about the downsides of some kinds of deals so they know how to recognize the right ones for them. Dismissing all in-between options does not help a writer navigating the complex and daunting landscape of structuring the best possible arrangement.

    –Stephen Geez — GarySGwords(at)gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him.

    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


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