Author Sandra Hobson (Image: NC)
The 79-year-old’s main concern was that the unvarnished truth of her account was not doctored and that her reversals of fortune, cancer battles and charity work were documented so they might inspire others, especially disadvantaged women, to achieve success. However Xlibris, the US company handling her self-publishing venture wanted her to use a pen name and disguise the identity of the angels and demons she had encountered.
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“But this is an autobiography, not a fairy tale. The people I refer to are dead so cannot be libelled,” Sandra protested to Crusader.
In principle she had been sanguine about calling it quits with Xlibris when it first raised concerns.
The only problem was she had paid some £1,600 up front for the service which included creating copies and marketing. As the debate dragged on for several months she became increasingly anxious as to the fate of her investment.
While self-publishing is easier than it has ever been and now a creative outlet and even a source of profit for lots of people who would not have the chance otherwise, it is also notoriously thorny territory.
Disappointment when the published work does not come up to expectations or an author feeling they have not had value for money do happen.
“From Virtue to Reality” by Sandra Hobson (Image: NC)
This is an autobiography, not a fairy tale
But Sandra’s experience and lessons learned add new dimensions it is worth other hopefuls bearing in mind, especially if they use their holiday time to embark on a creative move.
Sandra, a pillar of the community in Bradley Stoke, Gloucestershire, published her first autobiography, From Virtue to Reality, charting her flamboyant life and years in showbiz without problem over a decade ago.
“It sold over 1,000 copies and people asked me to extend it,” she says, but admits:
“Xlibris offered all the right things like keeping my rights and maintaining control, I was so happy I did not really think it through.
“It was only after I paid did I receive the contact which I signed, but I trusted them. The identity issues only came up after that.
“Had they said before I signed that this format would be a problem, I wouldn’t have agreed.”
Xlibris’s contract does indicate in the event of terminations from either side refunds with reductions are included depending on the service.
Crusader did not receive a response to its email asking Sandra be reimbursed, but that has now happened with a £320 deduction.
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It sold over 1,000 copies (Image: NC)
“Crusader certainly helped, thank you,” she told us and vowed: “I’m not giving up. I will find a publisher right for me.”
HOW TO AVOID SELF PUBLISHING CONTRACT PITFALLS
Always see a contract before paying any fee. Be very careful if you are asked to pay everything up front.
Remember if a publisher is based overseas (check where they are headquartered and registered as just having a UK address does not mean they are based here) it is more difficult if a financial dispute occurs.
Autobiographies deal with truth so they are potentially more legal pitfalls compared to fiction.
Check your copyright and royalties position before agreeing any deal. Who owns what and who gets what.