Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Distribution "Tools" vs. Publishers -- What is the Difference?

I am constantly having my company 3L Publishing compared to what I call "distribution mechanisms" that are not true publishers. Authors think that many of the new eBook distributors are publishers. I try to dispel this misconception. Some of these "tools" include Create Space and Smashwords. Now some of these services will provide what I call rudimentary services such as editing and graphics, but the prices are so low that you have to understand the difference between the perceived value vs. true value.

Create Space is primarily a distribution mechanism for eBooks. You follow their parameters for the eBook formatting and then it's distributed via their systems. Now I am not an expert on Create Space, but also I do caution authors who believe Create Space is their publisher. These groups, and this includes Smashwords, are in the group of self-publishers, but typically don't provide any substantial assistance and real publishing methodologies. For example, Smashwords has listed graphic artists who will "design" a cover for your book. I am being frank when I say these "covers" are no more than an image with type on it. There is no real "design" behind taking a photo and putting type on it.

When you see a really great cover, you may not even realize the depth of skill that went into it. Let me take, for example, our 3L book Vengeance is Now, which has one of the best covers in our catalog. Here is a real surprise for you: that cover is the conglomeration of three different images married seamlessly together. It is NOT a stock photo. Our graphic artist had to know how to merge the images to make it work and then design not only the cover text treatment, but also she put real design into the interior. A service, and I mean these are services not publishers, will not put any design into the book's interior pages. In fact, they will not help with that at all. It will be up to the author to do it or hire someone else to do it.

Now let's talk about the editing services some of these service providers include in their super inexpensive packages. I cannot tell you how many books I've seen from these service providers that have so many type-os it's embarrassing -- and these errors are on the back-cover copy of all places. The sheer incompetence of errors on the back cover of a book astounds me. At the very least, these so-called editors, who are often non-English speaking workers or entry-level English majors paid $10 an hour, should have applied their very best skills to ensure the most-looked-at part of the book (the back-cover copy) was error-free. Yet that is wishful thinking, and when you crack open the book, the errors often become egregious and embarrassing. And while you may not realize these are even mistakes, I promise the experienced book reviewers will have no problem pointing to them -- that is, if your book even has the credibility to get reviewed professionally. Which leads to another important point ...

Professional book reviewers have seen it all. Most reviewers still give little credibility to self-published works. In fact, most reviewers will not look at self-published books. And it is widely known that distributors and service providers like Smashwords or Create Space are mechanisms for self-publishing. So, if you intend to be taken seriously as an author and promote your book, you will be at a tremendous disadvantage with the reviewers, and the reviewers won't even request your book.

And last, let's discuss the well-known phrase, "cheap is cheap" AKA "cheap is as cheap does." When authors brag to me that they bought that $99 publishing package, I realize they don't understand what they bought. A complete publishing package that includes graphics and editing will NEVER cost $99. The skill necessary to edit, design and produce a well-done book will never be included in a $99 special, period. Why? Let's break it down to the lowest common denominator: education and experience. We're not talking about the lowest paid professions (editors and graphic designers). We're not talking about McDonald's workers. Editors and graphic designers are educated professionals. An educated professional is worth something valuable. Do you really believe any company can afford to pay educated professionals to create your book at $99 -- and make money? Even in volume this would be impossible. And when you put it in that context it makes it easy to understand why that great deal an author thinks he or she got probably isn't quite what him or her thinks.

Do you want to publish a book you can be proud of? Do you want to publish a book that reviewers will actually review? Then call my company at 916-300-8012 or send an email to We will gladly review the services and true value you'll receive working with a bona-fide publisher. For more information, visit our website at

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