Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Raider Publishing

A few weeks ago, I received a request from someone who had come across the popular Review: Westbow Press post. This reader requested that I look at Raider Publishing. After asking this reader a few questions via e-mail, I learned that she had used them to publish a book and was disgruntled with them. One of her complaints was that Adam Salviani was not responding to her e-mail and he was “unavailable” when she called his office in New York. This was brought on by her concern because she had not received an advance copy of her book and found that it had been published without her being informed. In her e-mail, she stated that she had been in contact with other customers and they had received the same treatment.

I did what I normally do when I receive a request like this concerning a company I don’t recognize. I looked for as much third-party information as I could find on the web. Interestingly, I did that search before I realized she was disgruntled and I found relatively little to tell me that they were to be avoided. There were hardly any complaints to the Better Business Bureau. That doesn’t always mean much, but some of the other subsidy presses have several complaints recorded. I didn’t find much in the way of bloggers who were complaining about them.

But I did see a few things that caused me to question whether they should be used. Primarily, their own website it what raised questions in my mind. In looking at the services they provide, they look very much like other subsidy presses, but the website itself looks cheap and some of the statements they make don’t ring true. For example, one of the first things they list in all of the packages is the amount of royalties the author receives. For Bronze and Silver Packages, the author receives 51% of the book’s royalties. For the Gold and Platinum Packages, the author receives 61% of the book’s royalties. My assumption was that what they really mean is that the author receives 61% of the suggested retail price of the book, which tells us that Raider Publishing makes all of their money from the setup fees they charge, rather than book sales. But the statement itself also tells us that they don’t understand the concept of royalties. Royalties are a license fee charged by the copyright holder to anyone who wishes to make copies of copyrighted material. To say that the author receives 51% or 61% of the royalties doesn’t make sense. The nature of royalties is that the author receives 100% of the royalties.

Another thing that caused me concern was what I saw in Adam Salviani’s statement on why he started Raider Publishing. “…my publisher did nothing to help. As it turned out my novel was quite a success in several places, but I only earned eight percent of the royalties, while my publisher walked away with ninety two percent of the profits…” The tone of his statement is that of a disgruntled author who doesn’t understand how the publishing industry works. Here again, he is using the term “royalties” incorrectly. The 8% he received is somewhat typical for a traditionally published book, but you’ll notice that he conveniently classifies everything else as “profits”.

Given that the bookstore gets 30 to 40 percent of the price of the book, the most profit a publisher can hope for is 52 percent, but it isn’t really profit when you consider that you have to pay someone to edit the book, do the typesetting, design the cover, etc. So, it began to look like a clear cut case of Raider Publishing being yet another company to avoid.

Maybe that is still the case, but I sent Adam Salviani an e-mail and he responded. He stated that all authors receive a copy of the PDF before it is sent to the printers. The authors are told that the book will be available three weeks after they sign off on the PDF. He stated that they have always fulfilled their contractual obligations and have been involved in no legal disputes during the five and half years they’ve been in business. Only six of about 500 authors have received refunds during that time. They had some problems with formatting and some problems with book orders, but Adam Salviani believes they have resolved those issues. They have a broadcasting network that reaches 20,000 people and a magazine with distribution to 30,000 people, presumably to help market their customers’ books.

He also states that they offer a 50% discount to booksellers, which causes me to question his math again. As you recall, the author is receiving at least 51% and may get 61%. That adds up to 101% and 111% respectively. Most likely what that means is that the 51% is applied against a different number than the 50%.

I’ll have to say that I remain on the fence with this one. Adam Salviani did respond to my e-mail and Raider Publishing does appear to be trying to do what is right, but they also have the appearance of not knowing very much about the publishing industry. My gut feeling is that if you decide to go with them that they will attempt to provide you with the services they are advertising, it just isn’t very clear what they are offering.

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Mother Not Wanted Book Cover

Mother Not Wanted