A nice lady contacted me wanting to exit Xlibris, and by revisiting the contract I discovered they have a new one. This new contract has more meat on its bones, and it’s not good. An already bad contract has only gotten worse. To view the contract click here.
Things have changed a bit since I have done my time within the Evil Galactic Empire which Xlibris is just one member. The contract that I remember was pretty author friendly except for the one clause about them owning the original production files and will not sell them to you no matter what. That one clause is what made the whole thing dirty-rotten aside from all the non contract related nightmares I experienced.
I guess they figured that “heck, we can be even more mean and hawk even more money,” and added in some more deadfalls in the contract. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The Guarantee is Gone
Xlibris used to have a guarantee on their site if you terminated your contract before signing off on the physical proof you would get a full refund. Now that has gone bye-bye. Now they have come up with to decrease the money refunded as the publishing process progresses. In addition to that they pinch off an ADDITIONAL $150 for some arbitrary fee called a “set up fee” which (which is some of the BS fees Mark Levine says keep a watch for) applies to any refund request. When you get to the galley stage, you’re only getting 25% of your original fees back still minus $150. The point of no return appears to be the same after you sign off on the physical proof. Chances of receiving higher percentages of your money back are slim since the contract must be terminated before interior design starts. This is strategic in that most authors that terminate do so here since they notice the problems (or at least the ones I’ve spoken to that have cancelled out before the point of no return). This really sucks given that the package prices have gone up considerably since my time there, and all are filled with smoke-and-mirrors magic tricks that don’t work or grossly inflated stuff you can do on your own for free or low cost.
Are We Getting Our Production Files Back Now?
In the contract there is a clause that you can purchase your print edition files as PDFs for $150 and $50 for your ebook files. Are we getting original files back? Nope. I had sent a copy of the new contract to my esteemed colleague Mark Levine and statement that mentions “files as pdfs” are NOT the Indesign files which are production files–only a publishing professional would know information like that–no new author would. Noticed the statement seems to be worded a little funky? It’s that way for a reason–to be misleading. So you are paying for something you think you’re getting which you are not. The interior is practically useless unless you hired your own editor; if you used Xlibris’ editors your work is probably an editorial train wreck. If you like your cover, maybe you can use it.
The ebook files aren’t a good buy either since chances are they have formatting problems. AS companies including Xlibris are known to have the worst ebook conversion. Chances are you’ll have to have it reformatted.
So they are gouging you for ANOTHER $200, and all the while they still own the stuff you bought. There isn’t much left after they get through. An already bad situation just got worse, and they are still trapping authors by the scores with their “once in a lifetime” deals. Unless people have the lifespan of mosquitoes, this isn’t true. They always have some kind of a deal and they hand them out like candy. It’s candy with a cyanide center. It’s a once in a lifetime miserable experience.
If they come knocking, run the other way!