Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Publishing with Terri Bruce Part 4

We've been talking about Eternal Press and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Publishing with Terri Bruce. Eternal Press had a questionable P&E rating, and Terri had answered as to why she still went with them. To read that first click here.

Join us on Dean C. Rich's blog The Write Time for more on Terri's thoughts.  

Okay, but what about predatory practices such as charging "kill fees," not paying advances, and paying royalties on "net sales"?
Publishing is a funny business. A small press that doesn’t pay an advance is labeled as predatory while an entity like Random House, which is currently involved in litigation centered on its claims that older publishing contracts, written before the advent of e-books, include the right to publish e-books of those works (without additional compensation to the authors), is not. Some things that have been labeled as “predatory” practices simply are things that vary from the large press way of doing things or do not favor the author. Small presses operate on a narrower margin than a big publisher and by necessity have had to institute some business practices to protect themselves. I cannot stress enough that authors need to be educated as to what various publishing and contract terms mean, know their goals and values, and know what they will and will not do to support their book being published. 

A kill fee is simply a fee the author has to pay if the book has entered the production process but has not yet been published to cancel the publishing contract and get the rights returned to him/her. This fee helps the publisher recoup money that may have been invested in your book—such as editing and cover art costs. Small presses operate on a small margin and can’t afford to spend a lot of time and effort on a book only to have the author pull it from them before it goes on sale. When considering a contract with a kill fee, always focus on the worst case scenario. If you need to cancel the contract because something isn’t working out with the publisher, can you afford the kill fee? If you can’t easily afford it, then don’t sign that contract. Also, look at how many books the publisher has released: if they have released very few, then it’s likely they’re running a scam—they make all their money from kill fees. They drag their feet on releasing a book, let their authors get fed up, and then reap the kill fees. And again, this is where talking to people who have published with the company is critically important. Are the authors who have worked with them happy?

Paying royalties on net sales is a very misunderstood term because there is a lot of different (and tricksy) language such as “net sales,” “gross receipts,” and “net revenue” (net revenue is the one that can be scary). Always, always, always have a lawyer look at the contract and be sure that the contract defines everything in minute terms. There’s a saying in contract law—assume the worst. The contract should be written so that all worst case scenarios are covered and the remedy in each instance is made clear.

Authors should keep two things in mind: large publishers engage in plenty of predatory practices—such as tying up rights for years and dropping authors after releasing their book (and thereby making the book unsalable anywhere else)—and the trade off for slightly less favorable contract conditions is a wider window of opportunity to be published and generally more favorable conditions in another area (i.e. more input into the cover art and/or higher royalty rates). Again, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Create a matrix, list the pros and cons of each opportunity, and evaluate each opportunity objectively: is this a good opportunity for me and my book?

Now, some actually predatory practices include registering the copyright in their (the publisher’s name), charging reading fees, buying all of a book’s rights—including ones they never intend to use, and having no mechanism to revert rights to the author (especially in instances where a book goes out of print or never goes into print). I would urge extreme caution in working with a company that engages in any of these practices!

Great thanks Terri, now I've got notes on this...

Ok, now I need to clean this up. Join me tomorrow for the final installment in the series The Good The Bad and The Ugly of Publishing with Terri Bruce.

Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. Her first novel, HEREAFTER—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife—will be released by Eternal Press later this year. Visit her on the web at

Coming August 1, 2012 from Eternal Press
Thirty-six year old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night of bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on Earth as a ghost, where food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the only person who can see her is a fourteen year old boy-genius who can see dead people, thanks to a book he found in his school library. This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The problem is, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option…

Connect with Terri:


  1. Great blog, great information. Does anyone know how often Eternal Press pays authors? Is it monthly, quarterly, or yearly?

  2. LOL - great question, Ruddy! The short answer is that, like most publishers, Eternal pays quarterly.

    But...(you didn't really think I'd stop with the short answer did you??? :-) )

    As with any publisher, you get paid when the publisher gets paid. Eternal, like most small presses, uses third party distributors, some of which pay the publisher quarterly. Some distributors also have minimum payout amounts - meaning they won't cut royalty checks that are less than a certain amount (those royalties get held over until the amount is large enough to meet the threshold for a check to be cut). So an author whose book sells one copy in February may not see the royalty on that book for six, eight, twelve months. That's the extreme, of course. Generally an author who sells a copy of his/her book in February will probably get a royalty payment from the publisher in June (the distributor will most likely cut the check at the end of the quarter, March/April, which then would be paid out by the publisher at the end of the quarter in which is was received(June)).

    I'm a grant write for a non-profit and the idea of managing programs around when money is actually likely to come in (versus when it's promised) is pretty natural to me, but I know this can be confusing for those who don't have any experience with finance/accounting. Because it may be hard to match up sales numbers to royalty statements because of the time lag, it's imperative that authors work with a company they trust/that is reputable, but also, have the option (stated in their contract) to have an independent audit conducted of the company's books if you feel any funny business is going on.

    Hope this helps, Ruddy! Thanks for the great question!

  3. That was a great question Ruddy, and great fully informed answer Terri. Thanks! :D

  4. Appreciated your informative answer, Terri. Thanks for the compliment on my question, E.M. LaBonte. Another question: Hear-ye, Hear-ye Eternal Press authors. Have any of you been paid in 2012?

  5. Ruddy, I published a book in November of 2011 with Eternal Press but have not received any royalty checks. I have tracked sales and have also bought paperbacks myself. Author are supposed to be paid quarterly. I haven't given up hope.

  6. Hello Terri, Ruddy, and other authors. Wanted to let you know that I received my second quarter payment from Eternal Press. The report start date was March 1st, and the end date was May 31st. Hurray, this is good news for all Eternal Press authors. My novella, Deeds of Deceit, was a late December release.
    Thank you, Eternal Press.