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March 2, 2021

Publisher Cautions: Riverdale Avenue Books, Breaking Rules Publishing, Adelaide Books


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®


Riverdale Avenue Books was founded in 2012 by literary agent Lori Perkins of the L. Perkins Agency. Riverdale, which describes itself as a "hybrid" publisher even though, as far as I know, it does not charge fees, boasts a whopping 13 imprints, covering everything from erotica to mystery to sports and lifestyle titles.

It also, apparently, has trouble providing royalty statements and author copies.

Writer Beware has received a number of complaints from Riverdale anthology and book authors who cite publication delays, poor copy editing, late or missing royalty statements, non-provision of contractually-promised print author copies, and poor communication (for instance, authors finding out about to-be-published stories only when other authors spotted the stories in proof copies).

I've also seen royalty statements for several RAB anthologies, which appear to sell in miniscule numbers (for example, several years into its five-year contract term, one anthology had sold just 35 copies in total, according to correspondence from RAB). RAB has a policy of not paying out anthology royalties at all until at least $50 is due; this benchmark is stipulated in most of the RAB anthology contracts I've seen--but not in all, and even where it's not, the $50 benchmark has been cited as a reason for not providing royalty checks.

Lori Perkins' previous publishing venture, Ravenous Romance, was the focus of similar complaints before it shut down in 2016 (some examples can be seen in the comments thread on this post from the Dear Author blog). In particular, it stirred conflict of interest concerns, in part because of Perkins' dual position as owner of an agency and part-owner/editorial director of Ravenous, but also because Perkins Agency agents and Perkins herself were placing clients' manuscripts with Ravenous. Similar concerns exist for RAB--something that is explicitly acknowledged in at least some RAB book contracts:


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Breaking Rules Publishing (BRP) bills itself as "an open and inclusive publishing house" that was founded "to help writers break down the system."

Indications at its website, however, are not auspicious. Founder Christopher Clawson-Rule had no professional publishing or writing experience before starting BRP in 2018. BRP covers leave a lot to be desired (to put it mildly). It runs a large roster of high-entry-fee (read: profit-generating) awards (such awards, with no name recognition, are a complete waste of writers' money, especially where, as in BRP's case, the primary prize is "exposure"), along with no fewer than 15 different writing contests that, while not as expensive to enter, are clearly also designed to generate a profit. To complete the picture, BRP sells a range of paid services, including editing and cover design (always a signal for caution, as this poses a potential conflict of interest; Duotrope declines to list BRP for this reason), and hawks ads to writers:


All of the above would be sufficient reason to be wary of BRP. But there's more.

Writer Beware has received multiple complaints about BRP, from both authors and staff. These include: late payment of royalties; non-payment of royalties, staff salaries, anthology flat fees, and story fees for publication in BRP's magazines; failure to provide author copies; failure to provide books ordered and paid for by authors; problems with online orders; confusing or inadequate contract language (for instance, anthology contracts that are really only lightly-adapted book contracts, and magazine contracts that don't include rights language or grant terms); and rude and aggressive responses to questions and complaints.

These financial problems and logistical snafus will probably sound very familiar if you're a regular reader of this blog, as they often precede a publisher's abrupt demise. Even if BRP isn't on the brink of going bust, the complaints suggest that there's considerable disarray behind the scenes...possibly because BRP--which offers not just book and anthology publishing, but magazines, awards, contests, workshops and classes, and a recently-established European branch--may have expanded its offerings considerably beyond the capacity of what (I'm guessing) is a tiny and not-necessarily-very-experienced staff.

(If Breaking Rules rings a bell, that may be because of its encounter with supertroll Gary Kadet, about whom I wrote last year. Briefly, BRP agreed to publish Gary's novel, Ogre Life (giving it a cover of typical BRP caliber), but Gary's reputation caught up with him when, apparently, he was mean to people in one of BRP's author groups. In response, BRP "downgraded" and then booted him. Drama ensued: Twitter insults, angry Yelp reviews.)

UPDATE: I've received an email from Christopher Marry Hultman of Breaking Rules Europe, who says this:
In January of this year, I and two other authors took over the European and Australian wing of Breaking Rules Publishing, calling it Breaking Rules Europe. This does not mean that we are a part of Breaking Rules or are governed by Christopher Clawson, we are an independent entity and do not engage in or offer the services that BRP provides.
However, things are not quite as arm's length as this statement would make it appear, as Christopher Clawson Rule has published posts in the BRP Europe Facebook group seeking contributors for BRP USA's "Write to the Point" blog.

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Adelaide Books presents itself as "an independent publisher dedicated to publishing literary fiction and creative non-fiction." In fact, it is pay-to-play, requiring authors to purchase 45 copies of their finished books.

Shifting fees to purchases, rather than book production, is a tactic some fee-charging publishers use to try to make their fees more palatable. You're not paying the company to publish your book--just buying books once the process is complete! But whether you pay upfront or on the back end, the bottom line is that you are giving your publisher money in order to be published. That's vanity publishing.

Adelaide does not mention the purchase requirement on its website, nor is it included in the sample contract. Writers' first indication that they will have to pay comes with the offer email:


Naturally some writers, having assumed they were submitting to a non-fee-charging publisher, aren't too pleased to discover they are in fact expected to "support" the publisher by handing over a large amount of money. Here's Adelaide's rather snippy response to the concerns expressed by one of them:


Okay, then.

The 45-book fee may not be all authors wind up spending, either. At the 2019 Book Expo, authors were given the "opportunity" to buy 100 ARCs for $1,100, to be exhibited for sale at Adelaide's booth. I've also heard from writers who paid even larger sums in "partnership" arrangements, and were not satisfied with the results.

Additional concerns: royalties paid on net profit (net income less printing and shipping costs--not quite as "generous" as claimed), very high cover prices (at least for print, likely an indication that Adelaide uses KDP and/or IngramSpark for production), an eyepoppingly huge publishing schedule (Adelaide published more than 120 books in 2020, with a similar number planned for 2021--an enormous list for a small press even with a large staff, which I could find no indication Adelaide has); and a range of author complaints, including inadequate (or no) editing, poor proofreading (books published with errors), little in the way of marketing, and, recently, difficulty getting the publisher to respond to emails.

19 comments :

Irving Le Rosa said...

Woof. I get author copies through Amazon for 5.50 a pop. Granted, there are other issues with that (mostly that my books are - for the moment - majorly distributed by The Forces Of Darkness Incarnate In The Mortal Realm) but still: 100 copies for 1100 dollars is basically you paying retail on a book YOU wrote. Not to mention the other issues; that's the double whammy. Thanks for the heads up.

Unknown said...

So where do I go. I want to publish.

Marie said...

Hi Unknown.
You have a book, You want to publish. Buy a batch of ISBNs and create a publishing name for yourself. They do not cost a lot. If you buy in bulk they are much cheaper. In Australia Thorpe Bowker sells ISBNs. You can also purchase Bar codes if you like.
If you want a paperback you can publish for free at KDP Amazon, Lulu.com
Other places want a small fee: Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital (free)
If you want digital books, publish at Smashwords.com free
KDP free, Lulu.com free.
You can also get free interior templates from Amazon.com, and Lulu.
Cover templates are also free from these online publishing houses.
Also, ISBNs are free at KDP Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords (some conditions)

Dan Woessner said...

My experience with Breaking Rules Publishing mirrors the observations above other than I didn't really have any rude experiences with the editors. What I did encounter was the reality that they accept every manuscript they receive for publication without reading them. Thus, they have no editorial standards and that is also probably why they got themselves into the mess with one of their writers. All they seem to do is accept a manuscript, put it into a PDF for publication and then take part of sales for doing not much. They offer marketing, which seems to consist of marketing to everyone else that publishes with them. I backed out once I realized that they hadn't read my manuscript, even just to scan for typos. I am usually better at sniffing out these things quicker than this.

Anonymous said...

Adelaide Books; The Where Your Dreams Go To Die.

Getting a book published is tough, but the work of writing one is even tougher. Your manuscript is the receptacle of your hopes and your dreams. If you sign a contract with Adelaide Books, they will send you a monthly production schedule which lists all the preconditions necessary for your book to have any chance of success. Editing, sending ARCs to reviewers, press release, book trailer, etc. It's a good schedule. Only problem, they never planned to do any of it. By the time you figure it out, your book has been published, full of errors, and it's too late to send ARCs to prepublication reviewers. Your book has entered a death spiral.

You try to call. You send emails, but the editor, Stevan Nikolic ignores you. In the book business, the average time from publication to the remainder pile is 18 months, and already you're half way there.

Adelaide is scheduled to publish 120 books this year. Thats one hell of a lot of stolen dreams.

Anonymous said...

This was my experience with Blue Deco Publishing as well:

"All they seem to do is accept a manuscript, put it into a PDF for publication and then take part of sales for doing not much."

The owner, Colleen Nye, publishes your book through Amazon the exact same way you would do it yourself, then tries to duck out of paying royalties whenever she has money problems. I had to get the Authors Guild involved to get my royalties and then luckily, she was so angry with me that she ended our contract herself.

Anonymous said...

Adelaide Books is not only misleading in the ways described in this article, it is worse than that.

Fake 1) Their so-called New York (244 5th Ave suite D27) address is a virtual address/mailbox (http://www.nymail.com/ ) rents for less than $50 a month.
Here's a list of actual tenants at 244 Fifth Ave: https://homemetry.com/house/244+5TH+AVE,+New+York+NY
Of Course Adelaide Books is not among them.


Fake 2) Their Lisbon address is also a virtual/mailbox address available for a few euros a month. Check it out.

Fake 3) Their Internet connection is just as crooked, based in Lisbon and done through a server in Denmark, almost impossible to trace.

Fake 4) Adelaide Book's telephone number, its NYC 917 area code is perhaps MR.SVN's finer trick. Try to trace who owns the line, I dare you. It's again a fake number, not unlike the fake robo calls and counterfit accounts of telephone scammers. He's cell phone with the Mineola NY area code is another but similar story. His personal residence, the man's moved from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan to New Jersey, probably conning his way through the city as he has into the book business.

Fake 5) Try to find Adelaide Books' owner in the NY State register of corporations. Good Luck.

I must recognize what Mr. SVN is doing at Adeliade Books might be one way to break into today's publishing business, which is dominated by a few monster companies. He has created a functioning publisher out of thin air. With a facade of legitimacy, he has faked his way into becoming a "New York" book publisher, and published many writers for the cost of 45 books. That's an art. Mr. SVN is not a heartless con artist, but a con artist he is. I, for one, appreciate the distinction.

Anonymous said...

So, my experience with AB is consistent with those narrated above. It sounds like what is being described is a mere tip of the iceberg. It sounds like there's a whole lot of people who know a whole lot of stuff about this operation. It should come out. For example, what about AB's stable of headliner authors featured prominently on its website? They appear to be a small circle of NY personages who do the book fairs and then they shill for each other on online reviews for each others' books. And other stuff. So, what about these people? They are complicit. I mean, how soulless do you have to be to aid in the stringing along of earnest beginning writers who have been conned into "believing" and then bilked of their money in a pandemic?

Dr. G. said...

Adelaide published two of my pieces and later asked me to send a book manuscript. I did. Then one morning in March three years ago they offered me a contract. I noticed that I would have to pay some money. I contacted one of the AB authors, who told me she was happy with them. I contacted the head of my local writing group, who told me not to pay them any money. That evening I received an email saying they were canceling their offer. I wonder why. Had they heard from the satisfied author that I was asking questions? Had they sent out numerous emails that day and reached their quota for the month? In 2020 I sent them a third piece, never heard from them, and recently withdrew it. I see that Duotrope has "delisted" Adelaide.

Unknown said...

My experience with Adelaide Books mirrored what has been described here in many ways. I also discovered that the 5th Avenue "address" is a fake. This address is actually a mail forwarding service. I know this because I actually stopped by there once when I happened to be in NYC.

Anonymous said...

I've published with AB, the experience hasn't been good, and I basically agree with what's been written here. One thing not mentioned, however, is that the fee they ask for buying your own books is not really large. I don't see how the $400 one forks over (at least, that's what it was in my case) could enable them to be a vanity press, since publishing a book, even if they do it on the cheap, costs a lot more than that. And since none of their books sell well (at least, I've never seen one with decent numbers on Amazon), there's still a mystery as to how and why they're doing this--seemingly it's not because they make big bucks from it or even cover their own costs.

Anonymous said...

Following up with info re: RAB - Circlet Press became an imprint of RAB sometime in 2019 and as a Circlet Press author I wasn't informed.

I was already not impressed with Circlet, having had a massive royalty payment snafu. I also needed to hound them for Statements annually. We had originally discussed (though not contracted) a trilogy, and after the frustrating experience of putting out book one with Circlet Press, I declined to provide them with any further manuscripts.

I was therefore already preparing to end my contract with Circlet when I learned, quite unexpectedly, that RAB now held my rights when I began my annual months-long campaign to get my sales statement for taxes. I was told, much to my surprise and dismay, that I should stop bugging Circlet and reach out to RAB instead.

I did, and I had one phone call with Ms. Perkins regarding her plans for the book in early 2020. She talked a big game about a re-release with a new cover in late 2020. Since then, no contact that I didn't initiate myself. Each email I sent requesting followups to our phone conversation was met with a request to be patient, and a promise that she would get back to me. Obviously, the re-release never happened.

In her defense, Ms. Perkins is going through some serious personal health concerns. However, it worries me that one person's absence from the team means that the whole publishing house grinds to a halt.

After about a year of waiting to get any news of the plans for my backlisted manuscript, I emailed both Circlet and Ms. Perkins on May 11th, May 17th, and May 25th to request we begin the process of parting ways and a reversion of my rights. I received no acknowledgement of the first two emails.

My most recent email was replied to, acknowledging the receipt of the first two, and requesting for my patience as Ms. Perkins is still ill. It also states that 'multiple departments' need to be involved in a request to invoke the sunset clause, which is what is delaying my response. (Although if there are multiple departments, why is RAB shuttered while Ms. Perkins is away?)

I'm not confident that this process will be as smooth and easy as I hoped. I don't see the value in RAB fighting to keep this title, as under Circlet it sold a little over a hundred copies in six years. I would just like to be quit of both publishers as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Much of what is said here about Adelaide Books, and others on this blog, is grossly unfair, and seems to be from authors with a grudge, newbies who have no idea how publishing works in the real world.
It is not unusual for small publishers (especially of poetry) to request authors buy copies and help promote their own books, no, you're not getting an "advance" or being sent on a book tour. I've been published by three small presses (never Adelaide) and they all do a variation of what Adelaide and others on this blog are being assailed for.
I only ask that prospective authors learn about the publishing world, it's not what you fantasized when you wrote your book, before going on the attack.

Jason M. said...


This is proof of why not everyone can and should be an author. You cannot write a book anonymously and expect someone to treat you as an experienced and well-known writer. The success of the book is primarily your responsibility. The publisher is there to help but no one will and should do all the work for you. Such anonymous comments only show that someone is trying to denigrate the publisher for personal reasons and uses the methods of a spoiled child who does not like something. It would be smarter to focus the time you spent researching someone’s address, internet connection, etc. on promoting the book and looking for ways to make it successful. This is how people who take writing books seriously and professionally do it. If I have something to say against my publisher I will certainly not do so anonymously. Any other way is to undermine the integrity of the listed publishers as well as this site which should help us authors rather than post unverified information and allow anonymous users to share their frustrations in this way.

Anonymous said...

Following up on my above comment re "RAB - Circlet Press". It took a few more emails and prodding, but eventually the former publisher at Circlet Press stepped up and accepted my request for reversion of rights, and took over getting the book removed from all the retailers to satisfy our contract. I have been promised a royalty report for 2019 and 2020 "soon", (and I anticipate that it will show zero sales for the time period), but considering Circlet's track record regarding my requests for one in the past, I won't be surprised if I never see it.

I wish RAB/Circlet the best, and Ms. Perkins good health, but I will never recommend submitting to either.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to discern how Jason's contribution pertains to the thread. If a publisher states it will do X, and doesn't do it: that is the issue. It does not matter if a writer actually aspires to wide circulation or just has a parochial reason for publishing. It does not matter. What matters is a publisher taking a manuscript and its project and abusing it to the point the writer now understands it would have far less injurious to self-publish.

Anonymous said...

You bet we're anonymous! We have no choice if we have a book in the hands of an inept publisher such as AB. I am not interested in destroying this unprofessional company, but I am interested in sharing with other authors who are considering them for publishing the truth so that they can make their own educated decision. Accountability would be nice, too. And the truth is: DO NOT expect to get any form of marketing. DO NOT expect for anything to be done on time. DO NOT expect to hear from the publisher within 48 hours as their automated email indicates. DO NOT expect editing on any level. DO NOT expect an e-book within a month, or two, and currently over 3 months for some authors. DO NOT expect payment (presently waiting over 10 months). DO NOT expect a detailed royalty report, much less readable. DO NOT be surprised when the "Look Inside" on Amazon disappears or the Book Scan showing your book sales in Amazon Author. DONOT expect for bookstores to buy your books as AB's terms are not to their liking. If you send in a beautifully edited book, DO expect a nice copy. If you want only to have a nice book printed and published in about a year and a half (if lucky) and do not care about anything else mentioned above, you have found your publisher. And yes, I will self-publish my next ten books. The industries are much kinder now to Indie authors. My best to you all!

Anonymous said...

Comment dated 7/17/2021 You are absolutely right on with your comment! IF Adelaide Books NY would do as they say, professionally, and CARE about their authors, they could be a class act.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the entities featured on this thread exist in a spectrum of maltreatment which resides widely throughout the publishing industry. Because most writers are rejected much, whatever potential abuse awaiting those accepted doesn't enter the consciousness. Publishing is classist. No matter the public face a publisher knits together, even the most progressive looking, virtue-signaling, are in most cases looking to economically exploit. And that exploitation is fortified, if not rationalized, upon the notion that publishers are some higher life form.

 
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