Friday, February 12, 2010

Beckham -- the Pegasus of Publishing
(updated from last year)

Some types of publishing are like the Pegasus, Unicorn, Loch Ness monster, or Big Foot.

“Joint venture publishing” and “co-publishing” are so hard to find that they may not exist.

Beckham Publications Group is the self-proclaimed "Leader in joint venture publishing and self publishing assistance" and  brags that is "UNIQUE AMONG BOOK PUBLISHING COMPANIES."

The company says it provides joint venture publishing, where “two parties decide to invest in a project and share in the profits generated. The investing partners are the author and the publisher.”

Authors pay Beckham a fee to design, edit, manufacture, and deliver a specified quantity of books for the author to resell. Beckham also prints copies to go to booksellers and pays a royalty on each book sold. The company can provide extra-cost promotional materials and services such as press releases.

Beckham says, “Larger houses take 12 to 18 months to produce a book… However, your joint venture self-published book can be produced in half the usual time commercial publishers take.” If Beckham takes six to nine months to put books on the market, it’s slower than most vanity presses and MUCH slower than REAL self-publishing.

Beckham is pathetically honest about the prospects of its writers, and the advice applies to most customers of vanity presses: “Do not expect to receive reviews in national media; your book probably doesn’t have so large an audience. [Said even before seeing the manuscript or knowing its title or subject.] Most of our joint venture publications will not attract a large reading audience. [i.e., if you want Beckham to publish your book, you are admitting that it is crap.] Therefore it is unlikely that it will attract the interest of the big chain buyers.”

  • Based on that dismal disclaimer, the only reasons to publish with Beckham are vanity, or a strange compulsion to throw money away.
Beckham’s fees are determined by how much work needs to be done, book size, artwork, and number of books printed. The author MUST buy some books to sell or to give away.

Company boss Barry Beckham said that an author who might collect $2 per book in royalties from a traditional publisher could collect $9 from his company. But since the author makes a big investment, he will not get back his investment until about 500 books are sold (which may never happen).

The Beckham website says, “Our editors are prepared to correct textual matters like grammar, punctuation and spelling.” They may not be adequately prepared.

  • The website misidentified Virginia Woolf as “Wolf” and Stephen Crane as “Stephan.” Virginia with the extra “o” was a writer. Virginia with just one “o” is a sculptor. The site also says “trims size” instead of “trim size.” My own websites are imperfect, but I’m not trying to impress publishing prospects with my editors’ abilities.
The site also says, "Just the other day a New York publishing house announced that it was accepting manuscripts only from writers who have agents." Since there was no date to indicate when the sentence was written, there's no way to know if the unfortunate announcement was made last week or five years ago -- and if the situation has since changed.

And the site says, "NOW YOU PUBLISH YOUR OWN BOOK: Quickly, Professionally, Inexpensively." If "you" are publishing, you don't need the Beckham Publications Group to publish your book. If Beckham is the publisher, the author is not the publisher.

And the site says, "we print copies at our expense, sell to retail markets and pay you a royalty on each copy sold" and says that the company will "pay for your Library of Congress copyright." In truth, the printing and copyright costs are being paid for by you, and unless you sell a HUGE number of copies, your royalties are really some of your own dollars making a  delayed U-turn.

Beckham says, "We give you one of our pre-assigned International Standard Book Numbers." That's the smoking gun, the de-facto evidence that if you are a customer of Beckham, you are NOT "publishing your own book."

Following Beckham’s instructions, I submitted 10 sample pages of manuscript to find out if I was good enough to meet their publishing standards and how much they would charge me to do a joint venture with them.

After nearly four weeks I received this email: “Attached is our estimate of $4,555 that includes our services and 100 copies delivered to you.” That price is so high it seems like the investment formula for the “joint venture” is 100% for the author and 0% for Beckham.

Beckham provides a lot of services, but their price is thousands of dollars more than what a real self-publisher would pay. I estimate Beckham's profit to be at least $3,000. And in order to make back my investment and earn a tiny profit, I’d have to sell those 100 books for about FIFTY BUCKS EACH.

How many would you like to buy?

I wouldn't like to buy any books from Beckham.


1 comment:

  1. Barry (NOT Barry Beckham)February 12, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    I'd love to hear Beckham specify what percentage of the cost of publishing they pay.

    With a huge $4555 author's cost, it appears that Beckham pays nothing, the author pays 100%, AND provides a healthy profit for Beckham.

    The author will probably lose every penny invested, and Beckham can't lose.

    Co-publishing is a great deal -- but only for the publisher.