One of the important things I believe is lacking in the self publishing industry is an honest and objective way to look at how self publishing companies compare to each other. I cannot claim to have a completely objective view (since I own a self publishing company – Dog Ear Publishing) – but I can present an honest overview of how I think self published authors should go about choosing someone to publish a book.
At the Dog Ear Publishing site, I directly compare the services of many self-publishing companies to Dog Ear – AuthorHouse, BookSurge, iUniverse, Lulu.com, Outskirts Press, Publish America, Tate Publishing, Wordclay and Xlibris
All of these companies are very different in “personality” – but for the most part, we share the same business model – provide authors the opportunity to publish their books, and charge a fee for the associated services.
Here is part of my article on how to choose a self publisher – (a great reference site for comparing book publisher contracts is done by Mark Levine)
I liken the creation of a book to the building of a house (except it takes less time to build a house.) You start with a dream – an idea percolating in the back of your mind. Then you plan, sketching rough ideas on paper. Next comes setting the details down – adding substance and depth to the dream. Finally, the day arrives
that you hire the builder to come in and make your dreams, ideas, and hard work a tangible reality.
That’s where self-publishing companies come in – we all bring life to your dreams, creating substance from your ideas, creativity, and hard won words.
Is there a difference in what any of these companies do for authors? Not really, but the words “vanity press” really insults what authors are trying to do when they choose to self-publish their books. Obviously, I believe strongly in the value that self-publishing companies bring to authors, and I also understand
that many authors often choose to take another route and go into business for themselves. For the typical self-published author, however, a significant amount of frustration, time, and money can be saved by using self-publishing companies.
Also known as “subsidy” presses, self-publishing companies help those authors who prefer to hire publishing professionals to perform the “book building” tasks for their books.
Most every author dreams of seeing their book stacked high and deep in the big bookstores, with a shiny logo from one of the worlds largest publishers – and we encourage every author with this dream to try the traditional route. You can’t leave your dreams behind without giving them a fair shot. But, we stand ready to help you bring your manuscript to life – and remember that many self-published books eventually became bestsellers themselves! The majority of books sell because of the author’s skill, persistence, and faith in their story.
Here is what I believe is important in choosing a company to self-publish your book.
My first is CONTRACT – do you keep all your rights and can you terminate your agreement at any time without penalty? The author contract should be short and easy to understand. It should never have a “duration” that locks you into keeping your book with the publishing house. You should be able to leave without penalty at any time. Beware the publisher that pays you a single dollar to have the rights to your book for years.
The second item – RETAIL PRICE. Can you set your own retail?
Does the publisher force you into ridiculously high retail prices? Remember, to sell in retail outlets you need to set your book’s retail price at about 2.5 X your cost… chains, big retail outlets, and wholesalers often want at least a 50% discount, and many times you pay freight. So – if your book costs $4 to print, you need to be able to sell it at $9.95 to pretty much break even… which brings us to…
The third item – your BOOK PRINTING COSTS.
Your Retail is almost always a function of your cost to print the book. If your book costs more to print, you need to push your retail price higher just to break even. Tied directly into this – can this publisher offer OFFSET PRINTING (also called “traditional printing”) services? Going to a “traditional press” is the only way to actually get a great price on a large volume of books.
The fourth item – your AUTHOR PROFIT.
Some call it ROYALTY, we call it a NET SALES PAYMENT. Whatever it’s called – it’s the amount you receive from each book sale. Be careful of any company that gives a huge royalty but forces unreasonable retail prices on your book. It makes no sense to get a “50%” royalty on a book that will never sell. Also watch for royalties that are increased by REDUCING your WHOLESALE DISCOUNT – again, if no store will buy it, what’s the point of a royalty? Final note – on what is the royalty paid? Most often it’s paid on the NET SALE, NOT the Retail Price.
Fifth - can you actually speak with someone who actually knows something about
the book industry? Do you have access to “decision makers” that can make things happen for your book? How long has the person you are speaking to worked at the company (let alone how long they’ve been in the publishing industry).
Sixth - what is their business model? Everyone is in business to make money – and that’s an honorable thing… but watch WHERE they make their money – look for hidden charges, or charges that show up to actually create an effective and salable book for you.
Last, but not least – CREATIVE CONTROL – can you set your design? can you pick your own retail price? can you set your own profit margin? do you control the discount offered to retailers and wholesale accounts?
Filed under: Self Publishing Companies, Self Publishing Company Comparisons | Tagged: AuthorHouse, Book Publishers Compared, BookSurge, iUniverse, Lulu.com, Mark Levine, Outskirts Press, Publish America, self publishing, Tate Publishing, The Fine Print of Self Publishing, Wordclay, Xlibris | 2 Comments »