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Adelaide Books: A Watchdog Advisory

Adelaide Books: A Watchdog Advisory

Recently, the Watchdog Desk has received a flurry of complaints and reports about Adelaide Books, a small press located in Flushing, New York, and its owner, Stevan V. Nikolic. The Alliance of Independent Authors Watchdog has written before about the “small publisher death spiral”, and why authors should heed the warning signs of this all-too-common collapse. In this Watchdog’s opinion, Adelaide Books is exhibiting many of those signs, and its authors have cause for concern.

Self-Publishing Services Watchdog

ALLi’s Watchdog, John Doppler

Red Flags at Adelaide Books

The single most vital obligation a publisher has is to provide timely and accurate statements, and to pay those royalties without delay. Authors have consistently complained about late or missing statements from Adelaide, and in several instances, no payment was ever received. Correspondence mailed to Adelaide’s listed address — a rented maildrop in Manhattan — is met with silence. Email replies are often vague deferrals, or an inappropriately defensive response dripping with hostility.

Although the agreement with Adelaide spells out various benefits and services the publisher will provide, nearly all of the complainants stated that some of these services were of unusable quality or were not delivered. None of the authors I spoke with had received the marketing services and materials outlined in their publishing agreement.

And the complaints continue to pile up. Unfulfilled promises. Missed deadlines. Missing statements and unpaid royalties. Unprofessional, evasive, and defensive communication. We’ve seen these complaints all too often: they are the hallmarks of a publisher that’s about to implode.

An Impossible Workload

Mr. Nikolic has stated that Adelaide Books publishes more than 140 titles per year. He also operates a monthly publication, Adelaide Literary Magazine, which authors are encouraged to submit content to without compensation.

For a publisher with a large contingent of employees, this is a daunting number of titles to publish with any measure of professionalism. For a two- or three-person staff, it’s an impossibility. Unsurprisingly, many of the complaints about Adelaide have mentioned its sloppy, slapdash work, especially with regard to numerous editing errors that were not corrected until the authors stepped in to provide their own corrections.

Hidden Fees and Questionable Schemes

Adelaide Books is a hybrid publisher that claims to charge nothing for publication. In reality, it cloaks its fees by requiring that authors purchase a stack of their own books. This requirement, slyly phrased as a “token of support” in emails from the publisher, is undisclosed until authors receive the proposed terms of the contract.

The publisher also charges authors to participate in exhibitions and book signings at book fairs, an “opportunity” which requires the purchase of books and fees in excess of $1,000.00. Authors who attended these events complained that no marketing was done in preparation for the event, and as a result, they received little to no exposure.

At least one author alleges that the review copies obtained for these events were later sold as new copies, but without compensating the author for the printing costs they had already paid.

A Checkered Past

It’s easy to chalk these myriad problems up to a well-meaning but overwhelmed publisher who simply took on more than they could handle. However, a search of New York’s court system turned up more than a dozen cases involving Stevan Nikolic: evictions and unlawful detainers, unpaid obligations, liens, and more.

In light of this frightfully long string of judgements and defaults, it’s difficult to ascribe innocent motives to Adelaide’s failures to meet their contractual obligations.

You can read more about Adelaide Books in Writer Beware’s analysis from earlier this year.

Right of reply was offered to Adelaide Books and Mr. Nikolic, but a response was not received before the publication deadline.

John Doppler

From the sunny California beaches where he washed ashore in 2008, John Doppler scrawls tales of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror -- and investigates self-publishing services as the Alliance of Independent Authors's Watchdog. John relishes helping authors turn new opportunities into their bread and butter and offers terrific resources for indie authors at Words on Words. He shares his lifelong passion for all things weird and wonderful on The John Doppler Effect.

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Hello John,
    My experience with Adelaide Books and its publisher Stevan Nikolic 100% conforms with what you say here and what numerous writers have posted on Writers Beware. Thank you for the work you are doing and in particular your article warning writers about Adelaide.

  2. Do you think you are doing a good thing by presenting information that you have no guarantee is 100% true? Is it fair to crucify all the staff because you have a problem with Mr. Nikolic? If the contract is violated, solve the problem in court, get proof and then ask someone to write an article like this.
    Believe it or not, many clients are often unbearable to the people who work with them, unable to remember that sometimes they need to check the spam folder in the inbox before they start repeatedly attacking and accusing people of lack of communication.
    There are hard-working people in these companies, and they do not deserve to be exposed to such attacks. On the contrary, they deserve as much or more respect as you.

    1. Hi Vicky,
      We research our articles carefully. If you feel any statement in the advisory is untrue, I’d be happy to address those concerns.

      As for settling contract disputes in court, that should be the last resort for dispute resolution, not the first. And when there is a consistent and egregious pattern of behavior, unwary authors should be alerted to the problems so they are not caught in the same snare.

      That is the purpose of the Watchdog Advisories: to advise authors of danger.

      These are not attacks; they are the facts. Mr. Nikolic has yet to respond to any of my right-of-reply offers, but he has a standing invitation to present his side of the story here in the comments.

  3. I signed up with Adelaide books two years ago. My book was supposed to be be out in February. After sending Stevan an edited copy I Received my copy back with numerous mistakes added. I had to do all the editing again in a very laborious manner identifying page number and line for each page of errors and there were many. This happened 4 more times over the past 7 months. Stevan rarely answers my emails and though he promised to send me 50 books when pressed he avoided this. Also he pretty missed a launch. My book was supposed to be out a week ago but so far nothing. I did sign a contract and paid him 600 but he has not lived up to his end. What recourse do I have?

    1. Hi Angela,
      I’m sorry to hear that your launch did not go well. Have a look at these two articles, as you may find them to be a helpful starting point:

      When Your Publishing Relationship Sours
      https://selfpublishingadvice.org/when-your-publishing-relationship-sours/

      Recovering From a Bad Publishing Experience
      https://selfpublishingadvice.org/bad-publisher-experience-republishing/

      You can also reach out to the Watchdog Desk through the Contact menu above for further advice.

      Good luck!

  4. I was walking around in a fog, feeling lost, confused and frankly, stupid about my rights as an author. Granted, I’m a newby, and that gives me some comfort, but it wasn’t enough until I communicated my problems to John Doppler that my life as an indie author began to make sense. Wow! Did he ever take charge! I’ve been a member of ALLi over the years, and I’m from Texas. My first short stories were actually published in London. Yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for the UK. I’m sorry it took so long for me to dig into the depths of what ALLi has to offer. John, Orna, all of you rock! Keep the faith, and thank you!

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