Welcome to The Writer's Challenge

I'm updating weekly-ish and whenever something exciting happens, so please come back often, browse the archived information,
and use the search feature to find information!
Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Self-Publish Your Book Cheap, not Cheaply

I've been seeing far too many new authors publish with vanity presses and spend huge amounts of money, when they could do it themselves for much less, and end up with a better book.

These "self-publishing houses" which promise to publish you for thousands of dollars are, IMHO (and I'm not alone in feeling this way) such a rip off! 

Why yes, I will name names. I have to, since this post is meant to keep you from getting ripped off. In particular, I'm talking about:

  • Author Solutions (and its imprints, many listed below)
  • Author House
  • iUniverse
  • Outskirts Press
  • Xlibris
  • Trafford Publishing 
  • and if you want to add one in the comments, feel free. There are more than I listed here.


Here's a few articles about the real deal with them:

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/directory/author-solutions
http://accrispin.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-bookseller-takes-stand-no-more.html
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130714/18453023795/author-solutions-rep-people-complaining-about-our-scammy-services-are-engaged-racketeering.shtml
http://killmenow.org/iuniverse/

Let's compare what most of these guys are offering for $999 against what the real cost is when I self-publish. Sometimes these vanity presses offer "basic" packages for paperback and ebook for $699, or packages that essentially just format your ebook and put it up for you, for $499 (or this one that doesn't even offer everything on the list below). I've seen these books and IMO they almost always do a really bad job, and, there are tons of articles about how they don't pay the royalties they should, which you might want to Google around for. Just put the name of the vanity press + Scam into Google).

"All Diamond books include" (for $999):
  • standard interior black & white layout: real cost is $50 for ebooks at Ebook Formatting Fairies (I've used them before and love them)
  • an ISBN number: free at the retailers (Createspace and Smashwords (which distributes everywhere but Amazon), and Amazon, and B&N
  • a price-embedded barcode: free with free Createspace (I use them for all of my self-pub paperbacks.) 
  • and unlimited wholesale printing, fulfillment, and distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Baker &Taylor, Bertram, and others: free with Createspace and Smashwords (to reach everyone on that list plus more, except Amazon), and Amazon, and B&N
  • Paperback formatting: real cost is $50 for print layout for Createspace at Ebook Formatting Fairies or use a company from Mark's List
  • Standard web page: free with Wordpress, or $50 to have one made for you by Winterheart (I've worked with them before I started spending more money) $13 for custom domain name with GoDaddy. Get the domain for even cheaper with these promo codes.
  • Cover (they offer a basic style you add your name to): To do exactly what they offer, you can use Createspace cover creator here for free. For a professional cover, it's $69 - $250 for a one-of-a-kind cover from SelfPubBookCovers.com (full disclosure: I own that company, but you can go anywhere, it's your choice), or even cheaper depending on who you go with. Here's a list which includes cover designers and formatters, too: http://www.smashwords.com/list
  • Press release: they don't appear to even offer distribution! Writing a press release is easy, and that's all they're offering you. So that's free. And at PRWeb, it's $99 with distribution everywhere. http://service.prweb.com/pricing/
  • Audio excerpt: pointless unless you have an audiobook, which you can have made for free using a royalty share with the narrator at ACX.com
  • 10 author paperback copies: costs about $3 per book using author discount at Createspace, so $30. 
In conclusion, they are offering for $999 what would cost you $130 total for ebook formatting and some author copies - the rest of the "package" is just free stuff already available to you if you know where to look, which now you do!

You can get the same things, but WAY BETTER and more professional AND have pros do it all for you, for a grand total of less than $300 plus the cost of a cover (they aren't giving you a cover anyway, they're offering the same tool that you can get at Createspace cover creator here for free), but a pro cover adds anywhere from $50 to $250. So you'd spend a total of $300 - $550 (high end includes highest cost cover), and you'd have all the control, all the royalties sent directly to you, and have a better product.

Hopefully this post will help new writers who want to self-publish and don't know where to start, save over $500.

Hiring an editor is always a big add-on expense at these publishers, but you can hire your own developmental or line editor for much cheaper, and also get a better manuscript!

Even if you don't go with an editor, and instead use critique partners and beta readers, I highly recommend hiring a copyeditor to help you make the actual book error-free. That costs about 2 cents a word. Just google around, I found this one online with good testimonials, but you can find more copyeditors on your own: http://revisionfairy.com/small-business-writing-consultant/copy-editing-services-order/

I wish you all the best. My goal with this post is help other authors keep their costs down and avoid getting ripped off.

Best,
Shoshanna Evers

6 comments:

  1. Totally agree!

    An added perk of tackling independent publishing yourself: You learn the process from soup to nuts.

    That might sound like a lot of hard work, but the knowledge pays off on many fronts. There are plenty of things you might never be good at - designing covers, formatting print versions, etc - but you'll at least know how to get your hands dirty and be able to direct services you engage to polish things. There are also plenty of things you might really enjoy - setting up marketing campaigns, getting involved in blog hops, etc - that might turn out to be a marketable skill you can sell to fellow authors.

    If you do decide to engage a service company then do your research. Ask for portfolio pieces, references, and Google for feedback from other authors. Focus on things that matter: presentation, promotion, and sales. Be realistic about your financial investment because most authors don't produce much income from their titles.

    Leverage analysis from Smashwords like http://www.slideshare.net/Smashwords/new-smashwords-survey-helps-authors-sell-more-ebooks so you can see the real numbers. Some analysis on that same deck: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker/new-smashwords-research-h_b_3278022.html It's incredibly hard to justify $999 on a service when you look at the reality of low yields in the first year of your book. It's money better invested in more writing!

    Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree, went with CreateSpace and ACX - self published, paperback and ebook, as well as Audio Book. Total investment about $400, this included 50 paperback copies (for promotion) I also went with a promotional text creation serviced. Pretty good overall.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 2c a word? Wow. I guess I'm vastly undercharging. Oops. Good to know what the options are, though. I've been working on getting my mom's poetry published, and this post has a lot of good information. :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. The High School Placement Test (HSPT) from Scholastic Testing Service also is used by Powered Essays features parochial schools and other schools for testing eighth graders for placement into high school.

    ReplyDelete