Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another publisher to avoid

Mill City Press is one of many vanity presses that improperly use the term "Self Publishing Company." There is no such thing as a self-publishing company. Just as no one can eat lunch for you or have surgery for you, no one can self-publish for you.

Like most vanity presses, Mill City is not completely truthful. The company says you'll get "10 complimentary books." They're only complimentary if you ignore the fact that you'll pay Mill City as much as $3,798 to get the free books.

The price for their basic publishing package is $1,497. That's about $500 more than you'll pay if you hire your own editor and designer.

Mill City's royalty chart is deceptive. The company says you'll make $10.05 on each $13.95 book. That big royalty applies to books sold on your own website and "fulfilled" by Mill City. Your royalty is reduced by a $1.50 handling fee and a 3% credit card processing fee.

How many people are going to find your website and order books from you? How much will it cost to drive traffic to your website. What happens if nobody shows up?

If you become a real self-publisher and use Lightning Source for on-demand printing, your book will be available on Amazon.com. BarnesAndNoble.com, and many other online booksellers, and can be ordered by any bookstore.

If you set a 20% discount, Amazon pays you $11.16 per $13.95 book. You pay Lightning $3.90 for printing and shipping to Amazon's customer, so your gross profit is $7.26 per book, compared with $8.13 "royalty" from Mill City.

So, since you will "lose" 87 cents per book by selling through Amazon, B&N, etc. instead of selling on your own website, you have to calculate which sales path will sell more books.

The Bookseller websites have MILLIONS of customers who spend MANY BILLIONS of dollars each year. The Amazon website attracted at least 615 MILLION VISITORS annually in 2008 (according to a Compete.com survey).

How many potential customers will find your website?

There is probably no good reason to do business with Mill City.



  1. Indeed, we are not a self-publisher in the strictest sense, but for people who need a little hand holding through the process of publishing their book, Mill City Press is a great choice. Here is why:

    1. As you note, companies like Lulu are impossible to get a hold of. At Mill City we have a large team of people (like me) operating on a strict policy of answering calls and emails within one business day. In the case of my position, or the position of our author coordinator (her entire job is to deal with author's questions and issues all day, every day), the bulk majority of our days are spent doing customer service. It's even part of my job to respond to Google Alerts about the company (hint, hint).

    2. As you also note, every author needs a website and at Mill City, every author gets one. We create a 5 page website for every author we publish and offer search engine optimized websites that are custom designed. We do encourage people to use our order fulfillment on these sites, yes, but some opt to just link to their Amazon page OR for maximum return on each purchase they can sell through a PayPal account. We offer order fulfillment so that authors don't have to complete the very time consuming task of packaging, recording, printing labels, shipping, etc. involved in fulfilling your own orders. We also deal with returns and pre-orders so that authors don't have to take the financial risk involved with those services. The fulfillment service also helps authors eliminate the problem of storage. Not everyone has a garage where they can put 1,000 books only to have them potentially get damaged.

    3. Authors still have the control but not the liability. I liken it to renting vs. owning. Of course there are benefits to both but when something goes wrong with your house, it's your own problem whereas if you're a renter and something springs a leak, your landlord has to deal with it. Lots of people don't want to fix all their own leaks and that is why companies like ours are really successful. Kudos to you for being a REAL self-publisher, but we exist for authors who need a little help navigating the world of publishing.

    Emily Weiss
    Director of Publicity

  2. Mill City are theives and liars. I know.

  3. Thieves and liars are very harsh words. I need some particulars since I am ready to choose a company that would work with me to publish my work. I agree that using the phrase "self publish" is a misnomer, unless you are willing and able to perform all of the tasks involved in publishing, which includes using the right printer, marketing, editing, packaging, mailing etc. Self-pub is not an easy task by any means and to publish correctly you would have to know all the "ropes" so to speak. Which, I do not have. Not yet. Eventually. But, I appreciate all in put regarding putting my "book" out there. You can reach me at angelsay@ptd.net

  4. I used MCP to publish my first book: DON'T DARE MISS THE NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER! I made money -- not a lot (the subject was rather obscure), but some. The book had a few typos (mine, not theirs), was in an 81/2 x 11" format. My daughter did the cover. No complaints; they did what they contracted to do. I am about ready to publish again -- a novel, this time. I would like it to cost less than the MCP prices, but I sure don't want to pay by having the experiences I read about other publishers/

  5. I'm using MCP now for publishing a novel. They are professional, helpful, and incredibly knowledgeable about the industry. They deliver exactly what they say and they have great attitudes. "Thieves and Liars"? That's either a competitor who is being deceitful or someone who wants all the MCP expertise for free.

    The perfect analogy is to real estate: You can have an agent sell your house and do everything (traditional publishing); you can totally do it yourself (self-publishing); or you can use assist-to-sell where it's a joint effort (MCP). If you hear something bad about them, call them - I guarantee they'll discuss it with you. That in and of itself, tells you where their customer service lies. They're a solid company - just call them and you'll see.

  6. I have had a TERRIBLE experience with Mill City Press, 2016-17. Do NOT recommend this company at all. Stay away from them.

    1. If that is your response, then who do you recommend in their sted, for a novice, inexperienced author to get his/her material out there in a, hard rocks, market of publication.

  7. I would like to hear more from Mill City publishing in defense of their work. How many books does Mill City publish each year? What is the average author outlay in dollars for editorial workup and graphic packaging? What is the average first print run? What is a rough average for sales? How many authors' books go into a second printing? What is the trade experience of Mill City's top people? What is Mill City's policy for responding to author complaints? Does Mill City ever give rebates due to editing and/or printing mistakes for which Mill City is responsible?

  8. If Mill City is so easy to get ahold of, why did I have a recent appt but not get a call? This was after receiving a confirmation email. Which I still have it and can prove! I have left a message since then to no avail.