Update: Author Complaints at Adelaide Books

Adelaide Books logo

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.

UPDATE 2/2/23: Here’s the PW article on Adelaide, which recaps authors’ complaints and describes Adelaide as a “hybrid” publisher. Per the final paragraph, Nikolic claims that he plans “to honor his commitments to the Guild, and…to accept new manuscripts once he resolves all outstanding issues with his current contracts.”

The bad news here is that Nikolic doesn’t appear to plan on closing down. Even when it was running relatively smoothly, Adelaide’s business model was terrible for authors–the extra-contractual book purchase requirement, the net profit royalties, and the insanely overstuffed publishing schedule being just some of the problems. Nikolic may manage honor his commitments to the AG and resolve the outstanding issues–frankly, I’m skeptical–but if he ramps Adelaide up again under the same business model, the problems will only recur.

UPDATE 9/1/23: To the complete un-surprise of anyone who is an Adelaide author or has been following the Adelaide story, Stevan Nikolic is still not fulfilling his promises to the Authors Guild, and is not reverting rights or providing royalty payments or statements. (You can see another update–including Nikolic’s unannounced move to Portugal, where he set up a new Adelaide–here.) This has earned him another article in Publishers Weekly–not, apparently, that he cares.

To add insult to injury, Nikolic published his own book in August, which he describes, without apparent irony, as “the book that will forever change your understanding of writing and book publishing”. I think most Adelaide authors would agree that their understanding has already changed–and not in a good way.


  1. John Steinbeck aside…Taxes are due and many Adelaide Books authors have not received royalty statements for all of 2022 and to this date of 2023. Is Stevan Nikolic paying the taxes on our book sales accounting for the money we earned yet have not received? How does that work? AB is still in business, still publishing and still making promises it can’t keep. Some authors like myself have managed (with legal threats) to get our book rights back. Others are being ignored. The Authors Guild with good intent have not been able to light a big enough fire under this publisher. What’s next? A lawsuit? I believe that is our only choice.

  2. Is my IP dependent on my device, or is it dependent on my location? I can freely travel as the law is not prohibiting me. I travel with my son wherever and whenever he wants me to be with him and his family. My son says geolocation (IP) tracking is inaccurate when you can ask for my whereabouts via email, or we can talk via zoom. I wish I have met you in my younger days. Why am I explaining this when all I did was ask if there WAS ANY TRUTH to it? A simple YES or a NO will do just fine. Is that scammer your former colleague? Or your former friend? John is lovingly remembered and loved as Joseph. Sorry for remembering him as Joseph. Yes, that was the source but NOT the only source; it has some merits, and I am trying to figure out what happened legally. I’ll look more into it and decide for myself in my spare time if I am blessed with more time. Can you call the family, Victoria? Truthfully, I am bemused by your friend Mr. John Blair; where is he now? I miss him here for calling me ODD, Doron.

    1. A new rage-case soon to burst into fireworks has appeared! And so soon. There was the narcissistic lady with the 70+ comments of nonsense not too long ago. Good thing I have snacks ready this time. This person appears to already be winding up with defensiveness, attempts at personal attacks and caps lock.

      Wouldn’t it be better to be direct and clearly express, with links, what the issue is instead of some version of “You made me mad, you go figure out why”? Or consult a therapist over how to express this perceived grievance in a way that doesn’t look so “I’m going to just fall apart, right here, right now”?

  3. Hi Victoria, thank you for all that you do. I’ve read an article, and a tale was told. I’d love to dismiss it as rumors, but the more I read the article, the more I am beginning to believe it, and the more research I do, the more confused I am. I’ll ask you straight, how accurate is the tale about you defrauding Joseph Steinbeck?— Doron

    1. Doron, I’m new to this forum so may come to it with different expectations, but I have to say it is exceedingly strange to drop a line like your last one and then refuse to reply when it’s questioned. I have to say, my friend, I smell a rat.

    2. Um, that last sentence seems a little. . .odd, Doron. Also seems odd that you didn’t reply to Victoria’s perfectly legitimate demand to know WTF you’re talking about. You wouldn’t be connected to one of the presses being discussed, would you?

      1. LOL. Based on their IP address, Doron is probably part of one of the Filipino scams I’ve covered on this blog; they sometimes leave me little love notes, but they never respond to questions.

    3. My friends, was it a day ago or 24 hours since I posted a friendly question? I was trying to get an honest, undiluted answer from Victoria. Why was it hated? My life is not confined to these hollowed grounds of the internet and blog posts. Victoria and Mr. Blair, if it took me a while ( more than 24 hours ) to answer your WTF ( wow, that’s fun ) reply, please understand. You—Mr. Blair should have easily googled it with these keywords: Victoria + Joseph Steinbeck + Fraud case, and viola! You’ll find some interesting articles. Forgive me for being such a moron and not being too quick to answer, but I didn’t get any prompt or email stating, ‘please reply to Victoria .’Honestly, your phrasing elicited something. Now, please try the keywords Victoria + Joseph Steinbeck. Yes, the Joseph Steinbeck! Or best call the family—can you do that? Can you call them? Please don’t be too arrogant. Mr. Blair, to demand time from me when I was only asking a question is arrogant in my culture. I am from Israel; Mr. John Blair— Doron is my birth name; do you find it odd? You have a beautiful name, John Blair. The article is available on Goodreads. If a 72-year-old Doron can find it, why can’t you Mr. Blair? Victoria, you can follow the trail, and would you mind emailing me next time if you want an immediate response?

      1. Are these posts a case of a red herring? If you don’t know what that means, or can’t muster to initiate a research Mr. John Blair, begin by educating yourself. Don’t you find it amusing that you’re thinking and feeling superior to someone because ‘you’ find it odd? ‘Doron’ Who the heck are you? I was brought here because of the article about Great Writers of America and then the Adelaide article! Educate yourself and begin reading real articles, Love, Doron.

        1. Why can’t you reply, immediately, Mr. John Blair. Do you find it ODD now? Lots of love, Doron. Opps, MEA CULPA, trying to have a funny dialogue with you, but seriously, google it, visit goodreads, research, read, educate yourself, and call the family. Victoria, if my curiosity has brought back some not-so-good memories and unnecessary stress back to your life, you can delete my posts.

          1. Gosh, Doron, aren’t you coy (I see you’re posting from a different IP address–your first post gave away the game though). I get it now–you’ve stumbled on a scurrilous screed from The Write Agenda, published as a book with a rude parody of one of my book titles (it’s John Steinbeck, BTW). The Write Agenda was a hate site that harassed Writer Beware and other anti-scam activists with lies and insults for several years but eventually ran out of steam. We figured out that it was run by a scammer we exposed (who later launched, and soundly lost, a defamation lawsuit against us). Read all about it here.

  4. So it’s a hybrid publisher as the ALLi article states. That doesn’t excuse the poor editing, late royalties or lack of communication. But hybrid is a different set of rules. The expectation is the author will be paying to get published.

    1. Although “hybrid” is usually interpreted to mean a somewhat more reputable fee-charging publisher (i.e., not just a sleazy vanity)–with, as you say, a different set of rules–it is actually a meaningless term, because it’s been so extensively abused by bad actors.

      What it’s supposed to mean is a publisher that charges a fee, but otherwise provides a service equivalent to a traditional publisher. However, very few publishers that call themselves “hybrid” fit that description–certainly, Adelaide doesn’t, and wouldn’t even if it answered emails and paid on time–and most publishers that use the term are really vanities or scoundrels or jumped-up assisted self-publishing services that are trying to sanitize their money demands by bamboozling authors with euphemistic terminology. Any time you encounter the term, it’s a caution sign. ALLi should know better.

  5. I deeply enjoyed everything until I read and heard about Joseph Steinbeck??? Not from the internet but straight from friends and families. How do you reconcile this?

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