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A Cautionary Tale

Recently, I had the opportunity to get to know a well-known Australian entertainer who has previously published through one of Australia's big five publishing companies. During our chat about her experience with Australian publishers, I learnt a few things that I found quite alarming. It’s got to do with book publicity and marketing agreements.

On receiving a book deal with one of the big five, authors are sometimes required to sign agreements regarding the ownership of their book, their promotional obligations and income expectations. I must mention here that I am sharing this information based on one author's recent experience. I’m not implying that this situation is typical or true of all publishers in Australia, and have heard very good things about others.

This author I met was presenting her new book to a robust and very enthusiastic following of around 150 readers. I was lucky enough to spend time with her, after the crowds had subsided. On meeting her, the first thing I asked was,

“Can I buy a signed copy of your new book, please?”

To my surprise, her answer was, “No.”

Why, you might ask? Here’s the clencher… her publisher didn’t think she was popular enough for a publicity tour (book signings, launch, appearances). You can imagine my surprise to learn then that because of this; she was not authorised to sell her books at any events she organised herself. The books remained the property of the publisher until they were willing to promote the book.

I have to admit, I have heard this before. Authors are left in the lurch, trying to host their own book launches with no or very little stock to sell due to their contractual obligations to their publisher. Crazy, right?!

I was genuinely flabbergasted to learn that even an author with substantial celebrity status was whacked with this clause in Australia. What hope do we mere mortals have when even a well-known entertainer can’t get a publicity tour? The image to the left is of the attendees at this particular book event, looks pretty 'popular' to me!

This has prompted me to share what Bowerbird Publishing offers to its authors.

  1. All the perks of a traditional publisher – logo placement on books, professional marketing assistance, promotion of you, the author and your book through local and national media, my website and social media platforms.

  2. Professional editor, graphic designer, and publisher, all in-house.

  3. Bowerbird Publishing DOES NOT retain any legal ownership of your book.

  4. Bowerbird Publishing DOES NOT earn any money from your book earnings.

  5. Continued support and advice on how to make the most out of your publication.

As a publisher, my motivation is to help other authors share their stories. I started out as a self-published author, so I not only understand the business of publishing but also relate to writers on a personal level.

There is nothing wrong with wanting that dream book deal from one of the big five publishers in Australia.

I, too, shared that dream once.

My message to you today is to look beyond the prestigious façade that comes with the big five and really think about what you want for yourself and how much you are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the publishers ‘label.’ Royalties can be minimal when bound to a big five publisher; they can also expect you to work harder for your earnings. With Bowerbird Publishing, you set your price and earn 100% of the royalties on books you sell.

If you’ve signed with one of the big five in Australia, tell us your story. I’d love to know what motivates authors to return, even when minimal earnings or contracts favour the publisher. This is my cautionary tale, to continue to educate writers on the many perks and disadvantages of the different publishing options in Australia. My book, ‘6 Steps to Self-publishing with Crystal Leonardi’ gives authors the insight they need to make the right publishing choice for them. Purchase your copy through my online book shop…

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