“The indie author insurrection has become a revolution that will strip publishers of power they once took for granted.” - Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords
If you’re a self-publishing author, you have some important choices to make. Here is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to know about:
Do you really want to “self-publish,” or should you use a “self-publishing company”?
Real self-publishing is simple, if not always an easy process. Here’s how it works: you complete your book, purchase an ISBN in your name, prepare the book files and send them to a printer and/or an online store. You do what a publisher does: publicity, marketing and distribution. You maintain all rights to the book and retain all profits from its sale.
Many authors new to self-publishing say, “That seems like a lot to do. Is there a shortcut?” Google self-publishing and you’ll find plenty of “self-publishing companies.” Author House, Balboa Press, iUniverse, Stafford Press, and XLibris are among the subsidiaries of the Author Solutions, they trawl the web along with America Star Books (formerly Publish America) and Outskirts Press. These companies all offer one-stop shopping “publishing packages” attractive to inexperienced authors who know little about the their choices or the quality of editing, book design, cover design, publicity and marketing. Author House promises on its website, “You set your book publishing goals. We’ll help you reach them.”
Experienced authors know better than to use these “vanity” and “subsidy” publishers, both because of quality and cost. Publishing packages come with a high price tag (often for services the author doesn’t need) and with a number of strings attached. Authors who are dissatisfied with the publisher’s results often cannot take the book elsewhere.
If you are considering any assisted self-publishing company, first read Mark Levine’s book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.
Also, take a look at the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of authors against Author Solutions charging that, “Most of Author Solutions earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing services. These services, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and opportunities for authors.”
You can look up an individual publisher to learn whether they are a legitimate publisher or a self-publishing company at the AbsoluteWrite site, in the “Index To Agents, Publishers, And Others” http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792 and the section Bewares http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22
Our recommendation? Don’t throw your money and your rights away on a self-publishing company; focus on making the best book for the least cost possible by publishing it yourself. Not only will you save money in the short term, by becoming your own publisher you’ll save yourself from “beginner’s mistakes” and have a shot at better profit in the long term.
How? We will talk about how to do that in the next installments of this series:
Is self-publishing as a DIY project?
How to hire self-publishing experts without the costs and problems of using a subsidy publisher.
How authors can market their books online without technical skills.
Is there help for self-published authors to increase sales?