Checking that box to accept terms and conditions has become a routine. How often do you actually read what you are agreeing to…most people will probably answer zero. I have to wonder how much actual time it would take to read everyone of the countless terms and conditions we all agree to as we skip along, through the varied and plentiful gardens of the Internet. So carefree…so preconditioned to accept legal terms….
Stop. Just for one second. Consider: If a publisher you had queried just mailed you a 20 page contract for your latest book, would you sign it without reading a word of it? Without even sitting down for a meeting and asking a single question?
These platforms that are publishing your eBooks are different in many ways from traditional publishers but there is no difference in how legally binding the contracts are that you sign with them by checking that little box. And guess what, they can be just as sneaky as traditional publishers in trying to get all kinds of rights out from under you. You could agree to publish on one online platform and suddenly find your book available in several places you never authorized.
I have heard a couple stories recently of authors having trouble with eBooks distributed to online platforms getting out of their control. Just because you are self published and haven’t signed a big contract doesn’t mean you automatically maintain control of your book–especially not if you click those agree to terms and conditions boxes indiscriminately!
Save your self some hassle, headache, and more by treating these terms and conditions like book contracts. Go over them carefully, watch for places where distribution is discussed. When in doubt limit the distribution, you can always increase it later once you understand a bit more about it. And don’t be afraid to call the customer support lines and ask questions. If they distribute to Barnes and Noble how much of a cut will they take…is that worth it when you could do it yourself. If they can list a book with Sony, and they able to de-list it, and how long does it take to de-list if you decide you want to grant some publishing platform exclusive distribution?
There are probably a ton of other things to consider. You might even want to consult an expert. Just ask yourself: How important is maintaining control over your publishing and distribution to you? How important might it be further down the road, when your book gets successful or you want to make a change to your distribution?
Do you have any advice or experiences to share about eBook publishing?