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Tags: apress books publishing
Nearly three years ago, I got involved with Apress to contribute to two books. The experience went disastrously wrong. It was a profoundly unpleasant experience and I want to warn any other prospective authors to avoid this publisher, and encourage readers to buy from other publishers. Warning: this post is non-technical and something of a rant. If that's not your thing, please skip it and come back in a week when technical goodies shall resume their normal course.
My intent is not to air dirty laundry, although that's unavoidable. I initially wrote this post years ago and ended up shelving it and moving on. But Apress authors keep having the same problems, and I can no longer continue in good conscience without making my story public. My intent is simply that anyone considering writing for Apress know what they're getting into, and that anyone considering buying from them know how their authors are treated.
The story is long and involved, and I don't want to bore you with details. Instead, I'm just going to give a condensed timeline of events. Before I do that, let me give the major overall reason why I'm recommending that you avoid Apress: they do not pay their authors! My story is one of being paid months late and only after serious prodding.
Now for the timeline.
- February 2009 - Apress starts feeling me out as a potential author for Pro Objective-C for Mac and iPhone, and a contributor of a chapter to iPhone Cool Projects.
- February 2009 - I begin work on a proposed table of contents for Pro Objective-C, and on my iPhone Cool Projects chapter.
- February 2009 - I am sent a publication contract for Pro Objective-C. As it contains deadlines whose feasibility is completely unknown, I decline to sign it until further progress is made.
- March 2009 - I complete a first draft of my iPhone Cool Projects chapter.
- March 2009 - Work begins on Pro Objective-C.
- March 2009 - I am sent a new publication contract for Pro Objective-C, to reflect a new co-author who has been brought on to the project. As the feasibility of meeting the deadlines remains unknown, I again decline to sign.
- April 2009 - Work continues on both projects.
- May 2009 - I turn in the final version of my chapter for iPhone Cool Projects. According to Apress's standard multi-author book contract, my advance of $1,000 is now due.
- May 2009 - As a result of various communication problems, I terminate my participation in Pro Objective-C with first drafts of five chapters written by me.
- July 2009 - Apress brings in a new author to complete Pro Objective-C, and we agree that I will receive 25% of the payments to compensate for the work already put in to the book.
- August 2009 - iPhone Cool Projects is published. My $1,000 advance is now more than two months overdue.
- September 2009 - Having still not received my "advance" (which by now is very much not an advance) for iPhone Cool Projects, I contact Apress to find out why I haven't been paid.
- September 2009 - As no contract had been signed for iPhone Cool Projects, I am given one to sign now. This contract contains a deadline date that is before I even began work on my chapter, and a table of contents which bears no resemblance to the finished product.
- September 2009 - I sign the contract despite these problems and am assured that payment will be made soon. The payment is now four months overdue.
- October 2009 - Still having received no money, I contact Apress again. My contact is surprised that I have not been paid, and assures that it will be processed "as soon as possible". The payment is now five months overdue.
- October 2009 - A week later, still no money, I inquire again. I am told that the payment is "being processed with Accounts at the moment."
- November 2009 - Two weeks later, still no money, I send a somewhat nastier inquiry.
- November 2009 - A week after that, I am assured that I will receive my payment within one week.
- November 2009 - The week passes with no money or explanations. The following Monday, a $1,000 check arrives from Apress. This payment is six and a half months late.
- November 2009 - I contact Apress again to start the ball rolling to get my advance for my part of Pro Objective-C.
- December 2009 - I am given a contract to sign for Pro Objective-C. Like the contract for iPhone Cool Projects, it contains deadlines which have long since passed. It contains milestones required for the advance which I do not believe apply to me, because my work on the project is at an end. I refuse to sign, and suggest changes to the contract which will make it acceptable to me.
- December 2009 - I am told that my proposed changes will take some time to discuss, which will delay my payment. I am assured that the contract is "just a formality" and that if I sign it as-is, they will pay my advance in full immediately. I refuse this suggestion.
- December 2009 - After two weeks with no contact, I inquire as to the status of the contract. I am told that the editors are still discussing it. It is now over six months since I ended my work on Pro Objective-C.
- February 2010 - After another author kicks up a serious fuss, I receive a modified contract to sign. This contract still contains postdated deadlines and obsolete milestones. I request further changes.
- February 2010 - I am told that my concerns "simply do not matter", that "we don't modify the standard contract", and I am requested to sign it as-is. I refuse.
- February 2010 - Apress accepts my proposed changes to the contract, and we sign it.
- February 2010 - I receive a check for my full $2,000 share of the advance for Pro Objective-C, nine months after I finished work on it.
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