Monday, July 22, 2013

Cheap is as Cheap Does -- Why a $99 Self-Publishing Deal is Not a Deal

Many authors ask questions about self-publishers such as iUniverse or more recently Book Baby or Smashwords. Now before I explain why these "publishers" are nothing more than a "mechanism" to get your book out there, I want to be fair. Some of these services do exactly what they say -- they get your book converted to an eBook and then posted on eBook distribution service like Kindle on Amazon or Nook on Barnes and Noble. A place like iUniverse does a little more than that, but for the most part not much more. 

After speaking to hundreds of authors who have used self-publishing services, I would like to clear up the confusion that seems to follow some of the more popular self-publishers. 

Your book is edited by a professional -- true or falseFalse! Some services provide ZERO editing. Other services provide an editor. Is that editor always qualified? One review of some back cover copies produced by some of these self-publishers suggests a lack of qualifications. Just count the type-os and mistakes. You will be shocked to learn that sometimes these publishers use non-English speakers to edit English books. Why? Cheap labor. Cheap is as cheap does ...

Your book cover design will be excellent -- true or false? Sometimes True most of the time False. When you've paid $100 for a book cover design you can expect to get your $100 worth. Most seasoned graphic designers minimally charge $35 to $50 an hour. So you can imagine that either the graphic designer isn't experienced or he or she is not that talented in the first place to command a professional's hourly rate.

Your book will be distributed into all the major bookstores -- true or false. Again, false. Most of these "publishers" do nothing more than eBook conversion. They take your manuscript (that you may or may not have had professionally edited) and convert it to eBook (Kindle, Nook or iBook). Then they claim worldwide distribution of your eBook that amounts to nothing more than posting it on those sales channels (Amazon, Barnes and Apple). You will get no print copies. You will not get print copies delivered to bookstores. It's an eBook conversion service. 

Your book will be marketed and promoted to the consumer -- true or false. False. Most services if you're lucky will invite you on their in-house podcast to be interviewed and promote this as marketing. The truth is you are unlikely to get any sales from these podcasts. They don't do media kits. They don't do media relations. They don't do marketing of any kind. As the author, you will have to buy marketing services elsewhere. 

You'll get GREAT royalties -- true or false. False. As an author told me just yesterday she paid $4,000 for one of those "service providers" and was paid 10 percent in royalties, which is about the same amount she would have made through a traditional publisher without paying anything. Other authors have reported that they've never been paid a cent despite obvious sales posting on Amazon. I won't point the finger at which "publisher" they were talking about, but this "publisher" falls under the usual suspects.

Want to pick my well-experienced brain? More than happy to help any author avoid the pitfalls of publishing. It actually bothers me a great deal when I hear about negative experiences. It doesn't have to work that way. Getting your book published should be a joyful, happy and exciting experience -- one you can feel proud about. Feel free to call me at 916-300-8012 or send email to I will provide any useful guidance you need. 

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