Sometimes, writers with the very best intentions find themselves stuck in bad situations with the self-publishing companies they hired. The frustration and stress of being in a working relationship with a disappointing partner can be overwhelming. A bad publisher can also hurt your book’s odds of success. In these circumstances, you might want to get out of your contract, or at least ensure that your grievances are addressed and fixed. But how should you proceed?
Self-Publishing Relief Reveals The Most Common Self-Publishing Fails:
Failure to publish/execute as promised: Your publishing deadline slips by and still your finalized book is not available to the public. Or you paid for fifty books but only got fifteen. Or your publisher’s royalty calculations seem dodgy, and you’re worried that you’re not getting your fair share.
Failure to communicate: Your emails and calls go unanswered for days—if they’re answered at all.
Failure to use the agreed-upon cover artwork: Perhaps you paid for high-quality cover art and instead got a mediocre “similar” image that wasn’t quite what you’d approved.
Failure to produce a product to promised standards: Maybe the proofs that you digitally approved didn’t print out as nicely as you’d expected. Or your printed book’s paper quality is embarrassingly thin.
Failure to proofread and format to professional standards: It could happen that the proofreader you hired missed a number of typos in the final draft.
Failure to stick to agreed-upon costs: You may have signed a contract based on a firm price quote—only to learn that the “final cost” didn’t include shipping and handling costs or other miscellaneous fees.
What Can You Do When Your Self-Publisher Doesn’t Live Up To Your Expectations?
Check your agreement or contract. If your publisher has clearly broken the terms of your self-publishing contract, it may be relatively easy to part ways. Check your termination clause: It may state that failure on the part of the publisher to stick to the contract’s terms gives you the right to terminate, so you may be able to switch to another publisher.
Ask nicely for the problem to be fixed within a specific time frame. If your contract does not entitle you to jump ship, make a phone call to very nicely state your problem and request that it be rectified. Remind your publisher of what was agreed on in the contract and make your expectations clear. It often helps to try being friendly before you start threatening legal action.
Write an email stating your intentions if the problem is not fixed within a certain time frame. Putting your grievances in writing can go a long way toward making them heard. Though email may be a less friendly medium than a call, you can ratchet up the pressure with a clearly stated list of your problems and expectations.
Send a certified letter declaring breach of contract. If your publisher has violated the terms of your agreement, a certified letter might be enough to grab the publisher’s attention, show that you mean business, and prompt them into taking action.
Get a lawyer. When all else fails, consult a professional. An attorney—especially one with experience in the publishing industry—will have recommendations and can help you develop a plan to recover your investment.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense
You can save yourself a lot of heartache by understanding how self-publishing contracts work BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Learn more about red flags in self-published book contracts .
Question: Share your experience. Did you ever have trouble with a self-publishing partner? What did you do?