Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just what the world needs: yet another sleazy pay-to-publish company

(Black text is the company's press release. My cynical/snarky comments are in red bold)

Self-Publishing Company MindStir Media Offers Book Publishing for $199

Author’s paperback is published and then distributed through, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million [Not impressive. "BAM" uses phony, inflated, “retail prices” and then offers alleged discount prices that bring the purchase price to just a few pennies below the cover price. BAM prices are typically a few bucks higher than Amazon's.] , B&N, or, and more for less than $200. [But the company would much rather sell you its $8,899 publishing package.]

Hampton, NH (PRWEB) January 18, 2011

Fresh [maybe not so fresh] and innovative [maybe not so innovative]  self-publishing company MindStir Media, publisher of bestselling books [maybe not bestselling] “Unconventional” [Amazon rank: 861,139] by J. J. Hebert and “Contingency: Book One: Covenant of Trust Series” [Amazon rank: 266,528] by Paula Wiseman, is now offering a self-publishing and book distribution solution—the Design It Package—for $199. [Other companies already offer packages for $199, and even $195. We need a $59 package!] The publishing package includes a unique ISBN and barcode, Library of Congress Control Number, U.S. Copyright Registration, fast book printing, advertising at MindStir Media's website [Which approximately four people will see] and via the MindStir Media Facebook page [Which approximately five people will see] , U.S. distribution, a high royalty, and low printing costs. [If you want to buy a copy of your 251-page book, you pay a buck more than if the book had 250 pages. YIPES!] The package makes self-publishing—the fastest-growing segment of book publishing—easier and more cost-effective than ever. [That's true -- if you ignore the other companies providing similar services. $199 doesn't even get you ONE copy of your book from MindStir. Wasteland Press provides five books with its $195 package. Aachanon provides four books for $195 and Outskirts Press provides one for $199.]

The author simply purchases the Design It Package for $199 [The price is $700 more if you want a cover designed, and $2,600 more if you want proofreading. If you want to be able to set the price and have books sold outside the USA, you pay at least $1,899.], signs a non-exclusive contract (which means the author retains all rights to her work), designs her book cover and interior with easy-to-use guides and templates provided by MindStir Media, and then her book is published and available for sale through, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and many more U.S. retailers. The author earns a high royalty for each book sold and also has the option to buy discounted copies to sell on her own. The author can expect to pay $5.25 for a 200-page book [GOOD -- that's a quarter less than CreateSpace or Lightning Source charges -- but you pay much to much if you add one page.], and the price per copy increases as the page count rises.

MindStir Media also provides professional services in the Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Platinum premium publishing packages. Some of those services include custom cover (front & back) design, comparable to the quality offered by major publishing houses; editing; e-book format and distribution on Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and more; audio book production and distribution via iTunes,, and other sites; author website design.

MindStir Media, a self-publishing company utilizing print-on-demand technology, supplies authors with Mind-Stirring Publishing Solutions to help them successfully self-publish and distribute books. Authors retain all rights and receive royalties up to 100%.

Some more comments:
  1. MindStir "bestseller" Contingency: Book One: Covenant of Trust Series has exactly ONE review on It's a five-star review, and says "With divorce rates at an all-time high, Contingency -- a story packed with wise marriage advice and solutions -- should be required reading for every adult Christian. I highly recommend this God-centered read!" That might be impressive, if you don't realize that the review was written by the guy who owns the publishing company! That's sleazy -- and even sort of incestuous. The reviewer makes money on every book bought by people who are influenced by his review. What would Jesus say?
  2. The company offers the usual gamut of absurdly overpriced add-ons, such as $799 for a website (PLUS the cost of hosting and domain registration), $1299 for a press release, $1299 for "copy-editing" (MindStir strangely hyphenates the term), $599 per month for online advertising and $499 for a Foreword/Clarion review -- which you can buy for $305.
  3. The company uses strange math to calculate royalties ranging from 30% to 100% on the "net sale", depending on the package you buy. If you want to earn more, you have to first pay more. There's something weird about that, like maybe you're getting back your own money! MindStir can easily afford to give you 100% if you've paid them nearly NINE GRAND for "Platinum" publishing. They make a nice profit even if you sell no books.
  4. You get to set the wholesale discount on the more expensive packages, but have to offer at least 30%. Amazon and other online booksellers will gladly accept 20%, so Mindstir forces you to waste money.
  5. The company's online bookstore offers exactly TWO books for sale -- not an impressive lineup after two years in operation. Prices on the MindStir website are higher than on Shipping is free, which may or may not be the case with Amazon.
  6. The $8,899 MindStir package includes 50 "free" copies of your book. $8,899 is not free. The $1,599 package includes one "complimentary" copy. $1,5999 is not free, either.
  7. The company's Facebook page touts a "FREE publishing consultation" which may be useful, at The company will also sell you a $599 three-page critique of your manuscript prepared by "inspirational" author J. J. Hebert. It's unclear what you get in the critique that you don't get in the consultation. Critiquer J.J. just happens to be the president of MindStir, and says he studied at the "University of Self-Taught." It ain't Harvard, or even Northampton County Area Community College.
  8. MindStir Media seems to be a "virtual company" employing freelance editors and designers as needed (which is not necessarily bad, but may not inspire confidence). Its mailing address is a Post Office Box. Competitor Outskirts Press is more creative. It has what seems to be a real address, but it's in a UPS store.
  9. MindStir doesn't seem to be much better -- or much worse -- than the competition. Apparently its only unique offering is a critique by J. J. Hebert. Mindstir does include an ISBN, copyright registration and a Library of Congress Control Number even in its least expensive package, unlike some competitors who charge extra. Xlibris charges $249 and Schiel & Denver charges $250 for copyright registration -- more than a complete package with copyright from MindStir. Wasteland Press offers five books and a custom-designed cover for four bucks less than the bottom MindStir package, but no J. J. Hebert or copyright.
  10. MindStir has a web page titled "Publishers, Are You Looking For More Freedom?" It says, "Publishers can now take advantage of our POD printing and global distribution services. Ideal for publishers wanting to maintain an active, always-in-stock backlist and/or frontlist while avoiding large and risky print-runs or warehouse fees." Since it's quite obvious that MindStir -- like most of its competitors -- has books printed and distributed by Lightning Source, I can't see why any publisher would need MindStir to act as paid intermediary with Lightning.
  11. The $199 MindStir package offers some things that you'd have to pay a lot for if you used other self-publishing companies. However, since you'll have to format your own text and design your own cover and don't get international distribution, you may as well use CreateSpace or Lightning Source.


  1. Mr Marcus:

    Who do you suggest for a children's book publisher? I have written a book, and had several psychologist look at it. They gave it wonderful reviews. It is a book designed to help children recognize and report child abuse. Thank you for your help, you seem to know what you are talking about, and I do not want to have to pay for and get scammed by a sleazy pay to publish company.


  2. Mr. Marcus - Thank you for your tip off on "Mindstir." If someone wants to e-publish, is not looking to make a living off of it, but just wants to get a book out there so it has some chance of being read. what should one do and is there some way it will not cost money?

    1. You can publish a Kindle ebook for zero dollars and no cents. I've done it many times. If you're willing to invest $2.99, this book will help: