I got this email today:
I am thinking about submitting my mystery/romance/thriller to Hilliard & Harris. What can you tell me about them?
In my opinion, Hilliard & Harris are essentially a Print-On-Demand vanity press that gets you to pay on the backend rather than upfront (if you don’t include what you pay to buy copies of your own books). Here’s how they do it: they load their contract with an enormous number of egregious charges against royalties so that in the highly unlikely event that your book does make money, you won’t see much of it.
For example, they deduct from your sales the cost of returns, cost of printing, cost of shipping, sales transaction costs, cost of insurance, commissions, discounts, cost of promotion, collection costs, taxes, as well as "other reasonable costs," just in case they left anything out, like maybe their electric bill and the pizzas they had for lunch.
None of their listed costs, with the exception of returns, are "reasonable" charges against royalties. But since they are primarily a POD publisher, the cost of returns is a moot point anyway. No reputable, legitimate publisher charges authors for printing, shipping, insurance, collections, promotion, commissions, taxes and "sales transaction costs" (whatever the hell those are)…but vanity presses do.
That’s only one example of the many objectionable terms in their loathsome contract, which an author would have to be insane to sign. Run away screaming.