Sunday, March 14, 2010
It is clear that at least one author is not happy with Eternal Press, specifically their use of a "kill fee" that an author has to pay of withdrawing their manuscript after it has been accepted. Piers Anthony sounds a cautionary note possibly based on reports by the same author. The contract specifies an oddly specific kill fee of $152.80 -- and correspondence I have seen shows a willingness to insist on this fee even when they services it is mean to compensate the publisher for do not seem to have been provided.
There is evidence of more widespread discontent in discussion threads at Absolute Write and Writers.net where complaints are made about a refusal to provide free author's copies and extremely low sales--sometimes bordering on non-existent. Also raised in these threads are several different reports that Eternal Press certainly responds quickly to submissions, but perhaps indiscriminately. (I would encourage Eternal authors to submit sales figure to EREC.)
This raises the potential that they are the epublishing equivalent of an author mill. Print based author mills are publishers that sell their books predominantly to their own authors. In epublishing the same term tend to refer to epublishers that acquire a lot of content and make their money by selling a relatively small number of copies of each title, but acquiring a large number of titles. To some extent, most epublishers do benefit from this phenomena, but when per-title sales sink to single or double figures that takes it rather too far.
Also Eternal blurs this line somewhat in a recent email reported saying, in part: "As you can see below on the chart You are really screwing yourself and all the staff out of royalties by buying Print copies of your books direct from Amazon. Sad to say but I have several authors who this quarter lost out on quite a bit of money by going this route, as did all the staff who is also paid a royalty based on EPs net income.Thus I humbly ask that you please purchase any print copies direct from us. I have lowered the minimum order to 5 books so that those with higher priced titles can afford to order from us. I only limit it because we simply do not have the time to place one by one orders and shipping costs for one book would end up leaving you with no profit at all. The more you order the less the cost of shipping. As you can see below the cost of shipping for an order of 10 books still leaves you with a nice profit per book."
Thus, deliberately or not, Eternal does seem--in my opinion--to be moving in the direction of being an author mill, if they are not already there.