If you give a quick glance at the websites of the companies that provide services to authors, you might think they’re all pretty much the same. They’re not.
If you study their offerings, you’ll find obvious differences in the prices they charge, and if you do some research you’ll probably find varying opinions about the quality of their books.
There are other differences that may not be immediately apparent and it’s important to know what to look for and ask about before you sign a contract and send money.
Beware of companies that do not provide proper support for book publishing and marketing.
Blurb specializes in photo books but also does more conventional books. The books are very nice, but the printing cost may be much too high for you to be able to sell the books at a profit.
Despite its bookish name, Café Press specializes in T-shirts, mugs and posters.
Beware of publishers with limited distribution
DiggyPOD can produce excellent books and will ship cartons to you or to any place you specify. However, the company has no system to make your books available to booksellers or to the distributors that supply books to booksellers. In a comparison webpage, DiggyPOD claims that CreateSpace charges extra for laminated covers and it’s hard to find a phone number for support. Both claims are untrue.
UniBook says, “Your book is instantly available for purchase worldwide in the UniBook online bookstore.” Unfortunately, like DiggyPOD, UniBook has no way to get your books to stores or online booksellers, and its books are very expensive.
Blurb has no distribution to booksellers.
InstantPublisher has a helpful website, but no distribution to booksellers and its minimum order quantity is 25 books. Other companies—such as CreateSpace—have no minimum.
Infinity Publishing charges an extra $249 for broad distribution to worldwide booksellers that other publishers don’t charge extra for.
Beware of companies with limited options
Infinity Publishing says “Most other book publishing companies can produce only a 5.5" X 8.5" book and many of them do not offer an 8" X 8" book.” Actually, those sizes are much less important than 6 by 9 inches, which Infinity does not print.
AlphaGraphics advertises on Google in searches for “self-publishing” and says it “is Your Local Full-Service Book Printing and Self-Publishing Partner.” AlphaGraphics charges much more to print books and has no distribution to booksellers. It’s OK to use the company for sell sheets—but not books.
e-booktime can’t print color books and it’s ebooks are available at Amazon and B&N—but not the Apple iBookstore.
Mill City Press wants to ship cartons of books to your house. It says, “We strongly believe that the best strategy for selling books is to sell directly from your website, at events, or in eBook formats.” There is no way in hell that your own website will get the traffic that Amazon and Barnes & Noble receive.
From my just-published How to not get Screwed by a Self-Publishing Company.