Home » Contracts, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Self-Publishing » How to Misunderstand a Contract

How to Misunderstand a Contract

28 August 2011

Passive Guy was going to allow a wildly misleading blog post about CreateSpace float by, but he’s seen various authors repeat some of the erroneous information contained therein, so he’ll talk about a few of many problems.

The post is by Kristin Eckstein, former (and maybe current) vanity publisher and “Ultimate Book Coach.” PG could be wrong about the current vanity publisher thing (Kristin’s website is less than a model of clarity), but when he clicked around, all the ways Kristin talked about helping authors get their books published were closely associated with logos for Mastercard and Visa so he concluded she’s looking for upfront money in the tradition of vanity publishing.

As you might expect, Kristin doesn’t look kindly on CreateSpace, which does at least some of what Kristin does. Instead of receiving checks from authors, CreateSpace sends checks to authors. This is a shocking change from vanity publishing.

What drew PG’s particular interest is Kristin’s interpretations, complete with lots of bold type, of the CreateSpace contract.

The headline? The Ultimate Book Coach is no lawyer and does not do a convincing job of portraying one on her blog.


Red Flag #2:
The first line of “4.2 Pricing; Legal Title” reads, “We or our affiliate will be the seller of record for each physical product of your Title” which means you are NOT the publisher of record, even if you supply your own ISBN.This also means they take your distribution rights, and if you sell your book to a traditional publisher, they will have to fight CreateSpace for the distribution rights, which traditional publishers are usually not willing to do. By using CreateSpace, you essentially give up your rights to be traditionally published in the future. CreateSpace has touted itself as an “independent publishing” solution, but taking control of your distribution rights and slapping their name on your book is everything but independent.

Let’s see, “seller of record”, you mean, like Barnes & Noble? A seller of record is not a publisher of record.

The statement that CreateSpace will be the publisher of record if you supply your own ISBN is simply, totally inaccurate. All you have to do is check a CreateSpace book on Amazon, like the one recently published by Mrs. PG, to see who shows up as the publisher. (Hint: Whoever bought the ISBN from Bowker.)

“Publisher of record” means nothing with respect to an author’s rights to a book. If you choose a free ISBN from CreateSpace, you can always publish a new edition and use your own ISBN or one provided by another publisher in the future. CreateSpace clearly lays out your ISBN options with costs and conditions.

they take your distribution rights, and if you sell your book to a traditional publisher, they will have to fight CreateSpace for the distribution rights

You grant Createspace non-exclusive rights to publish, distribute and sell your book (Paragraph 6.1 of the Createspace Services Agreement) and you can terminate your contract with CreateSpace at any time (Paragraph 10).

By using CreateSpace, you essentially give up your rights to be traditionally published in the future.

Nuts. See your termination rights under Paragraph 10. See the indie authors who have used CreateSpace in the past signing up with traditional publishers. Flat wrong.

Red Flag #7:
Nowhere in the entire contract do they say the exact percentage in “royalties” you will be paid. They do link to their royalty schedule, but unless it is written in the actual contract you sign, they are free to change that royalty whenever they feel like it. This means you have no control over the amount you will be getting paid.

How much royalty will you be paid? Because you are the publisher (see earlier in this post) and not a helpless author under a long-term contract to a publisher, you decide on how to price your book and how much money you want to make from each sale. With detailed royalty calculators, you can find out exactly what your royalty will be and if you’re dissatisfied, you can either change your price or terminate your contract. At the bottom of this page you will find a royalty calculator.

The twaddle about the “unless it is written in the actual contract you sign” is more idiocy.

In the first place, you don’t sign. It’s a unilateral contract accepted via click.

In the second place, anything referenced in the Services Agreement, like the Price List, is part of the contract between an author and CreateSpace.

If you want your book printed for a fixed price, go to a printer, write a big check and wait for cartons of books to arrive. Whether you sell them or not is your problem. The printer doesn’t care and neither does the bookstore. If you order more books, the printer will give you a new price. It may be more or less than the old price because the printer is free to change its prices, just like CreateSpace is.

CreateSpace only prints your book after someone has purchased it. CreateSpace can change its prices and you can change your prices. If you don’t like CreateSpace’s prices, you can always terminate your agreement and take your business somewhere else. You won’t, however, have a garage full of unsold CreateSpace books.

PG was tempted to continue his discussion because Kristin’s errors are many and varied, but he’s tired of shooting fish in a barrel. At least publishing and agency contracts provide a little sport.

With many regrets, in the interest of fairness, he will link to the rest at The Ultimate Book Coach

Contracts, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Self-Publishing

7 Comments to “How to Misunderstand a Contract”

  1. Go PG!

  2. Goodness me. Did you also the notice the link at the bottom of her page where she will review your contract. That’s scary.

  3. Can’t help but wonder if Eckstein’s statements will catch the attention of Createspace and their lawyers?

  4. Her tag line is “Let me suck that book out of your head and get it into print?”

    Really? Suck that book out of my head?

    Oh yeah. She’s the person I want involved in my creative process.

  5. Terrifying. and horrible styles on that page too. nearly unreadable.

  6. But, I`m sure if she keeps telling people she can teach them to be real independent publishers she will reel the uninformed in …

    I mean, with her I am published kit you can get 100 pages edited and she`ll take care of those nasty ISBN and Amazon registrations. Not to mention an hour on the phone with her and a signed copy of her book (well, some of those things you can only get if you pay more than $5,000 and up to 10K).

    true independent, er vanity, publishing at it`s best.

  7. My new book “Arboregal-The Lorn Tree” is being prepared for publishing this fall with CreateSpace. I supplied the ISBN number under my own publishing company’s name. I also asked CreateSpace to add in the contract that the PDF file of my manuscript is mine to own and do as I please, like getting the book printed elsewhere if I choose. It was understood, that CreateSpace will sell what they print for me and that’s part of the deal. If I want it differently I can always sell through Amazon, at more cost and work on my part. I haven’t found anyone else than CreateSpace making it easier for authors to self-publish and sell their books.

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