After dozens of its members lodged complaints about the publishing practices of Adelaide Books and owner Stevan Nikolic, the Authors Guild was able to extract promises at the beginning of 2023 that Nikolic would begin to act on some the most serious charges. Those included lack of royalty statements and royalties, pre-order payment requirements, and refusal to revert rights, as well as delayed publication dates.
Following a lengthy conversation with Guild representatives, and after a story ran in PW, Nikolic promised that all authors who are owed royalties would receive a royalties report/statement and any outstanding royalties by the end of February. He also told the Guild that he planned to refund money to authors who never received copies of the preordered books they purchased by the end of May. In addition, Nikolic agreed to revert rights to any author who wanted to terminate their contract with Adelaide and provide any digital files that he has to the authors.
According to recent discussions with the Guild, however, after reverting rights to an initial group of authors, Nikolic has not returned rights to any of the additional authors who made complaints after his first meeting with the Guild. Likewise, he has not provided royalty statements, royalty payments, or the digital files.
According to a Guild spokesperson, Nikolic told representatives from the organization in a March 15 meeting that he was unable to meet his self-imposed deadline to provide royalty statements and payments as well as other promises because he was waiting to receive information from an accountant who he had hired to help him sort things out. But In an April 17 Zoom meeting with the Guild, Nikolic said that he knew that he missed the new deadlines, again blaming his accountant.
After Nikolic missed several scheduled meetings, the Guild was finally able to meet with him on June 12, during which, he offered many of the same promises—promises that turned out to be empty. “He promised us that he would revert rights to any author who was seeking a reversion and had not received one already. He promised us that digital files would accompany those reversions and would be sent out the next day. Likewise, he promised that all refunds and payments would occur by the end of June,” the spokesperson said.
Shortly after agreeing that he would send files to authors on the Guild’s original list as well as to authors on an updated list, Nikolic skipped a June 16 meeting, explaining he was finishing up the files and the reversions and that they should be sent out by June 21. It wasn’t until the Guild’s legal department sent him another email on July 21, however, that Nikolic began to distribute digital files and reversion letters to some of the Guild’s members. According to the Guild, at least 15 of its member authors still need files, reversions, or both. Furthermore, beyond saying that he was continuing to work on the issue, Nikolic has not addressed the outstanding royalty payments, royalty statements, and unfulfilled pre-purchase book reimbursement payments in his emails to Guild members.
Nikolic did not return requests from PW for comment.
The story is much the same for authors of a Facebook group formed to compare notes about their Adelaide experience. Richard Wise, who operates the page, said most members who have requested their rights back have been ignored. A few did receive responses with promises after the publication of PW's previous story on Adelaide and after the Guild’s meeting with Nikolic, but most were not fulfilled. “Making promises and not fulfilling them is pretty much [standard operating procedure] with Stevan Nikolic,” Wise said. “We are now up to 130 members. Every week, someone new joins with the same old story.”
For its part, the Guild is losing patience with Nikolic, especially after becoming aware he published his own book in August, In The Beginning was the Wood: Musings of the Incurable Bookaholic.
“Over the past seven months, we have encountered repeated delays, missed deadlines, and unfulfilled promises in our attempts to get reversions and reimbursement,” the Guild said in a statement. "Adelaide promised to revert rights to any of the authors who had been affected as soon as possible but has yet to revert rights to at least six of our members. Adelaide has yet to reimburse authors for money it owes them for books that were paid for and never delivered—in January it promised to do so by the end of May. While there have been occasional bursts of reversions here or there, it has been haphazard, leading us to question the integrity and intent behind these actions. Our primary concern remains the well-being of our members, and we continue to work for a resolution that addresses their grievances.”