Be Careful About Publishers


Update: Author Complaints at Adelaide Books

Author: Victoria Strauss
Categories: Small Press Complaints


In early 2021, as part of a post about several troubled small presses, I wrote about mounting problems at New York-based Adelaide Books, as evidenced by an increasing number of author complaints about delays, poor editing, terrible communication on the part of Adelaide's owner, Stevan Nikolic, and lagging royalty payments.


Also problematic: Adelaide's extra-contractual demand for a book purchase as a condition of publication, royalties paid on net profit, and a seriously overstuffed publishing schedule that even a large house with a big staff (neither of which describes Adelaide) might have trouble managing.


The problems at Adelaide have only expanded since, leading to a Watchdog warning from the Alliance of Independent Authors and the establishment of an Adelaide authors' group on Facebook where authors have been sharing their experiences, including their largely fruitless efforts to get Nikolic to respond to questions about delays and mistakes, queries about royalties, requests for rights reversion, and more. Most recently, Adelaide authors have been enraged to discover that Nikolic and his wife (for whom Adelaide Books is named) are living not in the US, as they believed, but in Portugal, where they run a large and well-stocked bookstore that was the subject of several glowing news articles in 2022 (the articles, which describe Adelaide Books as having "expanded" to Lisbon, do not mention any of the publisher's difficulties).


Last year, Adelaide authors approached the Authors Guild for help. Initially, Nikolic was no more responsive to the AG than he was to his authors--but a few days ago, in the Adelaide authors' group, the AG reported some success. AG reps met with Nikolic, who pleaded financial distress (if I had a dollar for every problem publisher who has blamed financial problems for non-performance, I'd have a nice nest egg by now) and an overstocked list (as noted, that's not a new issue for Adelaide, which has always had an absurdly huge publishing schedule), and agreed to a series of remediations, including reverting rights for authors who want to get out of their contracts, providing the digital files to those who request them, paying all royalties currently in arrears, and refunding authors who paid for books but never got them.


The Authors Guild can assist with this process, but only for members (it is inviting authors who aren't yet members to join). Authors who aren't eligible to join, or who don't wish to, should follow up with Nikolic directly (possibly a challenge, given his track record of not responding to emails).


Reportedly, PW will be reporting on the Adelaide situation in an upcoming issue. I'll post an update when that happens.


Time will tell if any of Nikolic's promises are fulfilled. Adelaide authors, please leave a comment here or email me to let me know.


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