Self-publishing companies sell relatively few books to readers, so the bulk of their income comes from selling publishing packages, plus add-on services and trinkets to writers. (Outskirts Press no longer offers sneakers with book cover images on them.)
Much of what self-publishing companies sell is unnecessary or overpriced, or worth less than they indicate.
One typical example was Infinity Publishing's "Premium Marketing 301," which sold for $275. Shipping was included. Infinity has discontinued this packages and provides others priced from $695 to $2,995. The purpose of this blog post is not to criticize Infinity (which has made some big improvements recently), just to provide an example.
The package included "10 free copies of your book, 250 postcards, 500 business cards, 125 bookmarks, 10 posters, and two highly acclaimed marketing books: Dan Poynter's The Self Publishing Manual ($19.95 value) and John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Book ($27.95 value)."
- Of course, the 10 “free” copies are not really free. Infinity’s normal price for a 300-page 5.5” x 8.5” paperback was $9.15 each for a 10-book total of $91.50. However, since Infinity owns its own printing presses, I’ll value the 10 books at $2.50 each, or $25.
- 250 postcards can be purchased from VistaPrint for about $20.
- 500 business cards can be purchased from VistaPrint for about $30.
- 125 bookmarks can be purchased for about $35 from iPrint.
- 10 posters will cost you about $100 from El-Co Color Labs.
- Poynter’s book sells for $13.57 on Amazon (not $19.95)
- Kremer’s book sells for $18.45 on Amazon (not $27.95)
If you're going to send out 250 postcards, you'll need to spend $80 for stamps ($82.50 in 2013), assemble a mailing list, address the cards and apply the stamps. Of course, there's a very good chance that most of the postcards will go right into recipients' wastebaskets, or might be used to scoop up crumbs on the kitchen table or to swat flies.
You probably don't need both business cards and bookmarks.
It might be nice to have a giant book cover poster in your house, but unless you're going to be making public appearances, you don't need 10 of them.
Study carefully and spend carefully.