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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is A Book's Mind really serious about publishing books?



Just as new technology -- especially print on demand and Internet marketing -- has made it much easier for an author to get published, it's also easy to form and operate a self-publishing company to serve authors. (It can be done in an hour.)

New entries seem to pop up every few months, and older ones fade, get remade, are merged or are bought by other companies.

Yesterday I heard about the strangely named A Book's Mind ("ABM"), which calls itself "the smart way to publish" and "a smart publishing option," and touts "progressive self-publishing" and "alternative publishing."

Most companies seem to manage just fine with merely one tagline, like "Think" (IBM), "Better Living Through Chemistry" (DuPont) and "Shift" (Nissan) -- but A Book's Mind thinks it needs four.

I'm not sure that ABM needs four taglines, and I'm also not sure that the world needs ABM.

Despite its claims, ABM doesn't seem to be any better than its competitors which have just one tagline, generally claiming to be the "leading" something.

Actually, ABM wants us to know that it "is quickly becoming recognized as a leader in customer satisfaction and superior cover designs in the publishing industry." It is unclear who has recognized it as such.

ABMs main pitch is that its author-customers will make more money than if they used another publisher: "you are able to buy your book at cost, not wholesale or at an 'Author Discount,' and sell your book yourself and keep 100% of the profit." If authors keep 100%, how will ABM stay in business?

The ABM website emphasizes book sales through author's own websites -- which often get somewhere between zero and no visitors -- rather than through traditional online or terrestrial booksellers.

The chart below (left-click to enlarge) entices hopeful authors with apparently higher profit than two competitors can provide, and shows absurd sales figures of 500, 3,000 and 12,000 novels sold "from your web site or by hand." It could take five years to sell "only" 500 novels by hand.



The header of the first column says, "Quantity of Book's Sold." A company that wants to sell editing services for $1250 should have someone who knows that the plural of 'book" is not formed with an apostrophe!

The ABM "Print Cost Calculator" shows that printing a common 6-by-9 paperback will cost $1.75 plus a penny a page. Therefore, a 300-pager will cost $4.75. ABM says, "We are a smart publishing option that can generate almost twice the amount of money per book sold as other publishing companies." The price for a 300-page paperback from CreateSpace is $4.45, providing 30 cents more profit than ABM. OOPS!

ABM wants us to know that "As an independent author, getting your book into local stores might be easier than you think, [actually, it's often quite difficult] and you receive 100% of the profit." If the author receives all of the profit, how will the store (and the printer) stay in business?

There's lots of sloppy thinking, typography and writing on the ABM site -- such as "Your web site and online storefront allows" and "have the ability to chose." Where is the ABM editor?

One ABM printing cost comparison includes Lulu, AuthorHouse and BookSurge. BookSurge was bought by Amazon in 2005 and absorbed into Amazon's CreateSpace in 2009. The chart is three years out-of-date.

ABM offers four packages priced from $1,500 to $4,600. The incremental features reveal some very high prices, such as $1200 for a press release. Many services and products are available a la carte, such as $900 for cover design. OUCH! 

The company will set up a blog for its authors, but the company doesn't seem to see much value in blogs. Its own blog had three posts in 2010, four posts in 2011 and not even one yet in 2012. That's not a good sign.

ABM has 23 followers on Twitter, compared to about 4,500 for AuthorHouse and nearly 9,000 for CreateSpace. Most of the ABM Tweet addicts do not seem to be authors:
  • My name is Frank Waszut and I'm a narcissistic ginger that use to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
  • I live in Republic of Korea is a middle-aged man. Love music, poetry, and good for the usual.
  • i am lesbian and like to be with my partner all the time and i am a freak but that is ok, i like myself that way
  • My way to anonymously share with the world the ridiculous shit my roommates say. And sometimes my neighbors. You're welcome.
I doubt that any of these folks are the next Hemingway or Rowling.

There's a lot about ABM that indicates that it is simply not ready to compete in the publishing business. The company's phone number is answered by a man who announced "This is Floyd." I had to ask him if I had reached A Book's Mind. He said I had.

The phone number and Floyd Orfield are not exclusively devoted to book publishing. The same toll-free number is used by Par For Par -- an advertising program/game aimed at golfers.

Competition is good for people who buy products and services. I like to see lots of companies providing services for authors. Sadly -- as I've said about other recent entries in the field -- there just doesn't seem to be any good reason to use A Book's Mind.

7 comments:

  1. Mr. Marcus, you are funny but you certainly provide an education in publishing that is no laughing matter. Thank you. A few weeks ago you critiqued an author’s book that apparently he did not appreciate. IF he truly wanted to improve as a writer he would have thanked you. I have learned a lot from reading you.

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  2. Where did you find this info? I almost took your word for it but decided to go to their site to see how bad it really was. I have to say, on top of not finding most of what you mentioned, after seeing who A Book’s Mind really is, your article sounds more like an article written by a jealous competitor than a journalist reporting on a company. In my view, if you are going to self-publish, investing in a company that does great design work is the way to go.

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    1. Dianne -- the blog post was written more than eight months ago, so it is certainly possible that some links I published and comments I made are no longer up-to-date.

      I just took a look at the site. It still has bad English and is out-of-date. The company still doesn't have a business phone listing. The prices are still noncompetitive. The online "store" is poorly done. In sum, I see no reason to use the company or to recommend it.

      I am not a competitor, and certainly not jealous.

      I agree that it is important to use a company that does great design work. Some of ABM's covers are terrible, some are OK, some are very nice -- just as with any publisher.

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  3. You’re an owner or publisher at Silver Sands Books, which makes you a competitor. This makes your article a little more than bias. I had a great experience with A Book’s Mind, they worked with me to use my grandson’s illustrations to create a book I love, it might be one you found terrible but it is something I cherish. I was also able to get my book into local bookstores. Another point you bring up is their contact number, it’s on the bottom of every page of their site.

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    1. Dianne --

      (1) If you knew anything about Silver Sands Books you would know that it is not a competitor and I am not "a little more than bias" (your sloppy wording ).
      (2) I'm glad you're happy.
      (3) How many books did the bookstores sell? Did you make any money from publishing with ABM?
      (4) I wrote about ABM nearly two years ago. Its phone number was NOT at the bottom of each page back then. The company has made a little progress since then, but not much.



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  4. My personal experience with ABM was good and bad.

    First the good, I enjoyed the cover and formatting choices, and the overall experience of publishing a book.

    The bad began to percolate after the book's release. ABM's big marketing strategy is to send its authors to WINS meetings, basically to plug the company. They tell the authors WINS gives them a chance to show/sell their books to potential clients. I have yet to sell a book at one of these conferences. Another negative aspect is they don't have a clear picture of what marketing entails; it’s like the Idiot’s Guide to Marketing, or a “learn as you go” approach.

    Oddly, the “publishers” (sales people) are authors too, and competitively market their books against other authors. I find this to be a conflict of interest when they are marketing themselves instead of their clients.

    Floyd is the unknown/unseen Wizard behind the curtain. He doesn't interact with any of the authors, only through emails using the "publishers" as go-betweens.

    EBook sales are kept secretly by Floyd who set-up the accounts under ABM. To this day, I have no idea how many eBooks were sold.

    Their website and Facebook statuses are rarely updated. I have kept an eye on another self-publishing company that consistently market, introduce, and announce their latest news and authors. ABM does not do this.

    I wish I could have faith in them to publish again, but I find myself leaning toward a more professional company.

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