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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.

Author: 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.

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This Post Has 28 Comments
  1. Stevan published two of my poetry books without problems, The Time of Your Life (2020) and Years Later (2021). In August 2021, we entered into a contract for four more books, all of which were to be published in 2022. The first of the four, The Five Notebooks of Zhao Li, was published but only after much proofreading and correcting on my part., a process that lasted many weeks. The second book is listed on Adelaide’s Calendar for February 2022. Nothing has happened. No PDF, no nothing. The third book is listed for March 2022. Ditto. The fourth book is listed for May. Same story. I have emailed several times, most recently this morning. I have called. I even sent a Certified Return Receipt letter. I got back the signed Receipt but no response to the letter itself. The one and only response I ever got from him was that he accused me of insulting him for asking a question about my book. The man is clearly a sociopath. Or worse. All I want to do now is submit the three unpublished books to other publishers.

    1. Revisiting this site and Writer Beware, I would like to know very much what happened or what did the authors do after posting these comments. It’s good to have a place to vent, but it would be very helpful for all AB authors to know what’s going on. Many of us have not received any royalty reports or checks for 2022. So, would you all please follow up and shed some light? Thank you. 🙂

  2. Lyn,
    And after a year of failing to produce a single agreed upon step in the publishing process., I pulled my book. Stevan sudenly offered to have the book in print within a month. Since he had not followed through on any previous commitments, I declined. He offered a refund, which I have not seen.
    No matter how busy a vendor is, a reputable vendor, in this cas a publisher, should at least communicate. Most books published by Stevan contain errors, suggesting that he is not doing the promised copy edits. When he is called to task, he simply disappears and does not communicate. That’s unacceptable, and grossley unprofessional.
    Reading your comments, you describe a mediocre performance by an overwelhemed vendor. There are so many better options.
    I’d let you know if I ever receive a refund, I doubt that I will.
    Small price for his integrity.
    Ron Farina

  3. Dear John- I think there is another side to this story. My novel, The Aftermath, was published by Adelaide Books in 2020, and I never paid anything in advance for this. The Aftermath contains many small errors and I recently had a proofreader go through and correct them. I wrote Stevan and offered to pay for the corrections. He wrote back that Adelaide Books would pay for the corrections, since they benefitted both of us. (I haven’t yet received the corrected manuscript, but I am hopeful I will. (It’s only been a month or so.) I met Stevan at the Frankfurt Book Fair. He published a book of my translations of Georgian poetry, a book in which other publishers didn’t seem interested. The book has a nice cover and is nicely done. It’s true I haven’t seen much in the way of royalties, but I did get a statement and told Adelaide to reinvest the pittance I received. I think Steven is trying to do more than a person can. But I can’t fault him very much for that. These are disheartening stories and comments; all I can say is my experience is somewhat different.

  4. HEY EVERYONE, HERE IS SOME NEWS. If you made the payment to Adelaide through Payoneer, there is some potential of recovering your monies. I’ve been in contact with them (Payoneer) they don’t want to be complicit and have promised to investigate my complaint. The mentioned that the mre people who contact Payoneer with a simillar complaint, the better chance they have of reversing (refunding) the payments to Adelaide. there number is 1-646-658-3695

  5. John,

    What about the payment processing service that Adelaide uses, Payoneer? Aren’t they just as complicit in Adelaide’s fradulent dealings as the publisher?
    I’ve reached out to them to complian , make them aware ,and ask them to reverse the charges since Adelaide failed to deliver the promised product, but as of yet they have not resolved the issue one way or the other.

    Ron

  6. I wish I had read all of these comments sooner.

    Same boat as many of you. Here I am 14 months later and Adelaide has not met a single deliverable, has not produced anything at all as agreed to in the contract. And now, when asked to explain, he simlply refuses to reply.

    Bad Business

  7. Here is my story. Received a contract with Adelaide Boks in September 2021, paid about $600 at signing. The book is scheduled for release in May 2022.
    but the editor has not been able to show any progress on this project and has not responded to my numerous emails. I doubt he ever opened my manuscript.
    I think I have to revoke Adelaide books’ license to publish my work and request full refund.

    1. ron farina
      June 7, 2022 at 1:52 pm
      HEY EVERYONE, HERE IS SOME NEWS. If you made the payment to Adelaide through Payoneer, there is some potential of recovering your monies. I’ve been in contact with them (Payoneer) they don’t want to be complicit and have promised to investigate my complaint. The mentioned that the mre people who contact Payoneer with a simillar complaint, the better chance they have of reversing (refunding) the payments to Adelaide. there number is 1-646-658-3695

      1. Ron, since your last post, how has that Payoneer refund worked for you? Many more AB authors have joined the Facebook Forum and we are working to get answers. You’re welcome to join up and share.

  8. John,

    Many thanks for your investigation and report. Adelaide Authors, if you’re feeling lonely I suggest you join Adelaide Books: Author’s Forum at the link above. The forum is open to any writer has has published with Adelaide or has a contract for future publication.

    However, I’d like to extend a personal invitation to “Vicky”. If you’re interested in the truth, you will find a lot of it on the author’s forum..

    Richard

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    2. I am one of the unlucky ones who paid for the 45 books I was to receive and never did. Mr Nikolic claims to have sent the books but refuses to give me the tracking info. I have sent many threatening emails but gotten no response . I have never received a royalty report or check. I must conclude that Adelaide is another scam.

    3. Vicky,

      suggest you consider joining the Adelaide Books: Author’s Forum on Facebook. There you will read literally dozens of posts by the forum’s 87 members. From there, I believe you will be able to discern the truth.

    4. Vicky,

      I suggest you consider joining the Adelaide Books: Author’s Forum on Facebook. There you will read literally dozens of posts by the forum’s 87 members. From there, I believe you will be able to discern the truth.

    5. Mr. Nikolic personally “screamed” at me in email about my audacity in pestering him with emails (i even dared to send one ON SUNDAY!! Horrors!) and the only thiung he did wring was slip a contracted release date by MONTHS with no notice, and no reply to my dozens of emails trying to find out what had happened! According to ones who think like you, I must have been such a horrible person! I think you, ma’am, are an—well, it starts with an i and ends with a t.

  11. 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!

    2. Richard and Angela,
      I have a similar tale of woe to relate. I never received a royalty statement nor any royalties from Adelaide Books on the book I published with them. I paid more than $500 in advance for copies of a projected second edition of the book that was never even published, yet alone delivered. In response to Vicky’s comment, Adelaide Books is a one, or at most a two person company. Mr. Nikolic is solely responsible for the way the company treats its authors. And it has nothing to do with mail going into spam folders. As far as recourse, I threatened Mr. Nikolic with legal action unless he removed me as one of his authors and that worked but I still did not get my money back.

      1. The saga continues today as more authors speak out. Denis, what has happened since January with your issue with AB? There is a private group forum on Facebook with many voices if you want to share. YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE!

        1. Libby, nothing has happened with the purported issue of my book with AB and I don’t expect that anything ever will. A while back I gave up on AB and found a much better publisher for my book, run by a man who actually honors his commitments. Thanks for your advice RE the private group forum. I am definitely not alone here, it seems that SN is screwing over just about everybody unfortunate enough to have business with him.

    3. Angela,
      rron farina
      June 7, 2022 at 1:52 pm
      HEY EVERYONE, HERE IS SOME NEWS. If you made the payment to Adelaide through Payoneer, there is some potential of recovering your monies. I’ve been in contact with them (Payoneer) they don’t want to be complicit and have promised to investigate my complaint. The mentioned that the mre people who contact Payoneer with a simillar complaint, the better chance they have of reversing (refunding) the payments to Adelaide. there number is 1-646-658-3695

  12. 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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