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Unlimited Publishing, LLC

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victoriastrauss

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An author contacted me about Unlimited Publishing (the author's complaints included unpaid royalties and unfulfilled contractual promises), and sent me some documentation and a contract. Here, in part, is the response I sent:

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It's interesting that UP is located in Bloomington, Indiana--home of AuthorHouse, one of the biggest POD self-publishing services in the world.

The contract is time-limited with an out clause for the author, which is good. However, it commits the publisher to do very little--there isn't even a time period within which the book must be released or the agreement terminated--and the liability provisions are punitive to the author (you have to hold UP harmless not just from damages and liability incurred from the agreement, but from "obligations"--which conceivably might include the obligation to publish) but extremely favorable to UP (among other things, you have to agree that UP's total liability "shall not under any circumstance exceed 50% of UP's net profits from retail sales"--which makes it hardly worth suing, even if you'd sold thousands of copies, since "net profit" can be manipulated so that it appears to be nearly zero).

The contract is overly greedy, in that it claims all rights, not just electronic and/or digital rights. However, it doesn't state how revenue will be divided between publisher and author if any subsidiary rights are sold. In UP's supporting material, it's claimed that authors will receive "up to" 50% of subrights revenue--which might mean you would get considerably less (a straight 50/50 split is standard). It might also mean you get nothing. Since a subrights income split is not specified, or even mentioned, in the contract, there is no obligation on UP to actually pay you a cent.

I would bet that author-purchased books make up a major proportion of UP's sales--but there's nothing in the contract about author purchases or author discounts. Even disreputable publishers that profit mainly from author sales will contractually guarantee the author's right to buy books at a discount. UP's supporting material claims that authors can purchase at 40-50% discounts--but if it's not in the contract, there are no guarantees.

The royalty provisions are nonstandard as well--they should provide for authors to get a specific percentage of the book's sale or retail price, but instead they commit the publisher to pay "no less than" $1.50 per sale (which could well mean they will pay no more than that). This amount could be further reduced by "reserves and returns."

Yet another concern: UP doesn't provide any distribution whatsoever until authors sell a minimum of 50 books per month for 6 months. Books are available only on the publisher's website. By limiting availability this way, UP is making it nearly impossible for authors to sell books other than those they buy themselves. UP claims that "Bypassing middlemen during initial release will greatly improve our earnings (and yours) from early sales. It will also provide a factual basis to determine the potential for broader distribution" but this is crap. For POD-pubbed books, which rarely make it into physical bookstores, online availability through Amazon and other vendors is the main sales channel. Cutting it off severely restricts an already severely restricted sales situation--and as you've discovered, all but guarantees that there will never by any potential for "broader distribution."

Basically, with UP's contract and business model, everything is stacked against the author. I would guess that the few subsidiary rights sales mentioned on UP's website were accomplished by the authors (and remember, there's nothing in the UP contract about subrights income splits, so did these authors even get paid?). Ditto for any book reviews or blurbs--or else, since UP republishes out of print books, they were acquired by the original edition.

The owner of UP is Dan Snow. Snow's and Dan Poynter's book about self-publishing, U-Publish, has been re-issued through Borders' partnership with Lulu.com, but it was originally published by AuthorHouse (then known as 1st Books Library). I'm almost positive that Dan Snow was involved in 1st Books/AuthorHouse's startup, though I can't swear to it and I can't find anything about this online. Again, I think it's no coincidence that both UP and AuthorHouse are located in Bloomington, IN.

- Victoria
 

JulieB

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The owner of UP is Dan Snow. Snow's and Dan Poynter's book about self-publishing, U-Publish, has been re-issued through Borders' partnership with Lulu.com, but it was originally published by AuthorHouse (then known as 1st Books Library). I'm almost positive that Dan Snow was involved in 1st Books/AuthorHouse's startup, though I can't swear to it and I can't find anything about this online. Again, I think it's no coincidence that both UP and AuthorHouse are located in Bloomington, IN.

Odd that you should mention this. I dropped in at the new Borders concept store today and saw a stack of those books at the digital publishing station.
 

kzmiller

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I'm curious about this too. I have someone who's very excited to be published out of this outfit and I'm not sure what to say to her. When I googled, it appears that Barnes and Noble does carry some of their books. Anyone have any ideas/answers/experience with these folks?
 

victoriastrauss

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I'm sure the books are available at Barnesandnoble.com, as most POD self-pubbed books are--but I tend to doubt they're actually in any physical B&N stores, unless the author him/herself persuaded the store manager to put them there.

- Victoria
 

veinglory

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At the borders website you can do a store search to see if there are any physical copies shelved in a store near you.
 

MacAllister

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For the record:

I got a certified letter today (on rather questionable letterhead) from someone purporting to be an attorney for Unlimited Publishing LLC. (A bit of Googling suggests he's also apparently a client of theirs...)

The writer of the letter seems to be laboring under some fairly serious misapprehensions about who I am, how the Internet works, and how message boards work, in particular.

We won't even discuss the fact that he seems to be laboring under the illusion that I, at some unspecified point in the past, published a book with this company.

The letter makes some fairly vague threats, if I don't immediately remove this thread, in its entirety.

Ah, well. I hadn't gotten a single lawsuit threat in the New Year, until now.

Mr. Bachmann, if you're reading this, I strongly suggest you brush up on the US Communications Decency Act, specifically section 230.
 
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CaoPaux

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Site stagnant, last book pubbed in '15.
 

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