Friday, March 29, 2013

Picking a publishing services provider

I recently posted this on the AuthorMingle page on Facebook in response to a newbie's question. It seems right to post it here, too.

Four important warnings:

(1) Lulu charges MUCH more for printing than other companies, particularly CreateSpace and Lightning Source. To make an adequate profit you’ll probably set a higher retail price—which could make your book uncompetitive.

(2) Beware of companies that don’t provide distribution to booksellers.

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.

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.

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.

Maverick Publications says it provides “full-service book printing” and “self-publishing.” Its prices are MUCH higher than Lightning Source or CreateSpace, it takes MUCH longer, and has no distribution.

(3) Smashwords provides broad distribution of ebooks but is difficult to work with. Books sometimes get badly mangled. 

(4) I’ve heard good things about BookBaby  and I was going to try it for an ebook. Then I read: “In about four to six weeks, your eBook is up for sale..." That delay was a deal breaker. 

And some recommendations: 

(1) If you will format your own ebook, Amazon's KDP is fast, easy and free.

(2) If you want a company to format your ebook and provide broad distribution, eBookIt is fast, competent, supportive, responsive and inexpensive.

(3)  The two companies that provide most on-demand printing and book distribution for self-publishers are Lightning Source (“LS” or “LSI”) and CreateSpace (“CS”).

LS can provide more income per book. However, it’s less expensive to start a book and make corrections with CS—and CS is easier for beginners to work with.

CS is owned by Both companies can provide automatic book availability to, Barnes & Noble and many other booksellers.

You’ll probably encounter online criticism of both LS and CS. Each one has enthusiastic supporters and detractors. I’ve used both companies and can’t say that one is consistently better than the other. Most books from both companies are good enough, and both companies make occasional bad books.

(from my new book, 1001 Powerful Pieces of Author Advice)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

One way to save energy is to use fewer words

Since the end of the last century, many words have been written and said about minimizing the use of vehicles, fuel, heat, power, water, food, packaging, building materials and more. We are supposed to SAVE vital resources.

I think it's time to say a few words about using fewer words.

The archaic phrase "Inquire Within" has been pissing me off since I was a teenager.
The sign shown above does not display a phone number or a web address. If the sign did not say "Inquire Within," and you wanted to get hired, exactly what would you do but open the door, walk in and inquire?

Insecure bureaucrats, lawyers and bankers are often responsible for the excess verbiage that infests our world.
In a previous life I was an advertising copywriter. I won a big-deal award from the Advertising Club of New York, had mostly good cli­ents with inter­esting products that I enjoyed writing about, and only one absolutely idiotic client.
That was United Jersey Banks, where marketing was con­trolled by castrated dullards in the legal department. (If anyone from that miser­able bank is reading this, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! I still hate your guts.)
One time I had the brain-numbing assignment of writing a boring ad about savings account interest rates.
The head guy on the bank’s marketing team, a government-intim­idated ball-less dullard, insisted that I write “a minimum deposit of at least $500 or more.” I tried explaining to this testosterone-depleted wuss that all this was repetitive and redundant and superfluous and unnecessary, and that we did not need to say all three!
The pathetic castrato would not give in and neither would I. I told him to write his own fucking ad and I left the room. My only regret was that I didn’t shut off the light and slam the door and leave the asshole sitting in the dark, crying and caressing his empty scrotum!
It would have been worth getting fired for.

A sign on this gas pump says, "Product Contains Up to 15% Ethanol." If the first two words were deleted from the sign, would the message be less clear?

The same principle applies to writing. Almost any page can easily shed a word or ten or more -- and be improved by the pruning.

I tend to be pedantic (a trait I inherited from my father). I naturally give lots of examples to prove a point. I recently self-imposed a rule to limit examples to THREE -- and my arguments are no less forceful.

Print-On-Demand and ebooks are certainly efficient. But if every writer would eliminate two pages out of every 100 pages, book printers would use less paper, ink, toner, glue, energy and time; the trucks that move the books would save fuel, the UPS driver's knees might last longer -- and readers would save time.

AND... the books would probably be better if they were briefer.

In an electronic medium like a blog or ebook where paper isn't purchased or stored, writers have unlimited space to spew all of the words they want to and the lack of limits encourages sloppiness.

Advertising is very different.

Despite the banking horror I described above, there is usually a limit on words.
  • If a copywriter writes too many words to fit in a one-page ad, he shouldn't use tiny type and can't assume that the client will pay $30,000 extra to run a two-page ad.
  • If she writes too many words to fit into a 30-second commercial, she can't decree that the actors must speak faster, or that the client must pay for more air time.
Impose some limits on yourself. It won't hurt, and may help.

Help Wanted photo from I forgot where the gas pump photo came from. Delete key illustration from

Bank story from my Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults). Available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How can you tell if a book cover is gay?

[above] Book cover type may have implications you’ve never thought about. Here are two book covers showing men in frilly shirts. If not for the typefaces, could you tell that one book is intended for straight women and the other for gay men?

Either illustration could appeal to people of either gender and orientation but the type makes the difference. The Cross Bones type could be used on a book for straight men, but not with a guy in a frilly shirt.

[above] Here are two cowboy romance books. The huge letters used for Linda Lael Miller’s name and the curlicues and script typeface used for “Country” indicate its for women. The simpler typeface on the book at the right hints that it’s for men.

[left] Both of these books are in the lesbian romance genre, but the title type styles are entirely different Could one be femme and the other butch?


[above] And, finally, books written by a lesbian woman and a homosexual man -- with asexual typography.

(Adapted from my The Look of a Book: what makes a book cover good or bad and how to design a good one)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supreme Court, please read this

I am getting really annoyed by religious right-wingers who view marriage equality (i.e., same-sex marriage) as a threat to "traditional marriage" as sanctioned by the Bible.

I fail to see why a thousands-year-old, inconsistent, error-ridden document of dubious origin should set the standards for civil law in 21st-century America.

Sure, the Bible mentions monogamous heterosexual marriage, but it also says that:
  1. Rape victims should marry their rapists.
  2. A man can have multiple wives, and concubines.
  3. Male soldiers can capture female virgins and have sex with them.
  4. A slave owner can be a matchmaker for his slaves, and female slaves must have sex with their appointed mates.
In 2001, Holland became the first country to approve same-sex marriage. In the United States, although same-sex marriages do not have federal approval, same-sex couples can marry in nine states plus the nation's capital, and approval is pending in other states. (So is disapproval.) Some states that do not allow same-sex marriages recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Thousands of same-sex marriages have occurred, much to the horror of organizations such as the American Family Association and Republican politicians that seek to defend "traditional marriage."

I hereby challenge them to identify even one heterosexual marriage that was damaged by a gay marriage.

There are millions of married straights. Did any of them divorce because gay married people moved in next door, or live in the next state or 2,000 miles away.

Being married is no big deal
(except for people who are not allowed to marry).

The institution of marriage is not a particularly exclusive club. It's not like winning a Harvard scholarship or a Nobel prize or being admitted to Phi Beta Kappa or Mensa.

When I wanted to get a marriage license back in 1971, I had to pay a few bucks and prove that I was at least 18 years old and did not have syphilis or gonorrhea.
I've been married to a woman for over 40 years. I would not be any less married if Jane married Louise, if Pedro married Waldo, or if a chipmunk married a frog -- and a flashlight.


Why the hell should anyone care who else is married?

There is not a limited number of marriages available. If Ted and Sam get married, there will still be marriage licenses available for Cynthia and Ira. It's not as if Ted and Sam ordered the last extra-crispy wings at KFC, and there were none left when Cynthia and Ira walked in.

"Pro-family" organizations and politicians should be pro-ALL-families. Republicans and other conservatives who want to minimize government involvement in citizens' private lives should keep government out of our bedrooms.

In an ironically named 1967 case, "Loving v. Virginia," a unanimous Supreme Court Decision said, "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man." And men. And women.

(left-click to enlarge for easier reading)

(Chipmunk photo from  Powerful Intentions. Frog photo from National Geographic)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Today's post has three titles:
(1) A book about book covers shouldn't be ugly.
(2) Even a flawed book is worth more than zero.
(3) Keep evangelism out of books for a general audience.

(Number One) Charity Milan's How to Make a Kindle Book Cover: Step-by-Step Instructions to Make High-Impact e-Book Covers with Photoshop Elements 11 has excellent -- and needed -- help for using Photoshop Elements. 

Sure, we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there's no accounting for taste. However, I think the cover of this book looks like shit and I doubt that I'm the only one with this opinion.

The author (whose name is not really Charity Milan) says, "A good cover is your book’s calling card." It seems like she's calling on me to throw up.

With unintended irony, she tells us that books "that purport to teach me how to create covers for Kindle devices and have crappy covers themselves, those I skip."

Maybe "Charity" deliberately tried to make the worst-looking cover possible, possibly to attract attention and elicit comments.

Here's one comment from someone on a Facebook group for authors (the prime audience for the book): "A dreadful cover, too busy and relies on very poor Photoshop techniques."

Message to authors: a books about graphic design should have good design.

(Number Two) The book has a "Digital List Price" of $2.99. I paid zero dollars and no cents for it. It's been available for free for several years.

I'm human. I like to save money -- but I have mixed feelings about free books.

Lots of authors have used freebies to build readership and to achieve high positions in Amazon sales rankings. I think free books are appropriate to elect a candidate and maybe to convert 'heathens.' Jehovah's Witnesses have apparently achieved success by giving away millions of free publications.

However, I think that free books generally demean their authors, and maybe authorship in general. My books have sold for prices ranging up to $29.95. I sell a group of small "samplers" as buck books. I also offer a couple of samplers at 99 cents each. I hope they'll entice readers to buy other books I've written. 'Selling' for zero just seems too pathetic and desperate to me. I'm not that desperate, yet.

There's at least one serious error in Charity's book. The author says that Amazon doesn't want hyperlinks in Kindle books. My Kindle books have lots of links, and Amazon has never complained. Linking is a great advantage of ebooks over pbooks. Charity provides links for and her own author page on Amazon. Maybe she intended to delete them.

This book apparently was not edited by anyone other than the author. That's not good for a book about publishing. The author says she spent $128 for a stock photo. It would have been better if she bought an $8 photo and paid a college journalism major $120 for copyediting.

There are some easily fixed page formatting problems, too.

And there was a silly problem in the Amazon promotional text. The author said she has "printed plenty of Kindle books under a plethora of pen names." Publishing Kindle ebooks does not mean printing them.

The book is worth much more than the free price, and even more than the regular $2.99 price. It's certainly worth $4.99 -- but it needs to be cleaned up a bit.

If authors think that people won't complain about books they got for free, they're wrong.

Message to authors: a good book doesn't have to be given away, but make good books.

(Number Three) The author says she is "a God-fearing Christian." That's OK, but not not all readers want to hear preaching about the power of the Holy Ghost or Christ Jesus while learning how to use software.

It seemed creepy and made me uncomfortable. I want to get more out of Photoshop Elements. I'm Jewish. The strong subconscious message is that this book is NOT FOR ME.

Message to authors: if you want to attract readers and get good reviews, eliminate  religious and political preaching that may turn people off.

For what it's worth, Charity Milan's other book includes her history as a masturbator and has lots of links. Maybe "Jane Jerkoff" would be a more appropriate pseudonym for that book.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A printing primer


While most of the current excitement in book publishing involves ebooks, most books are still DTBs (dead tree books) and are printed on paper. Here's a primer on printing.

1.                   Print on demand (and ebooks) remove much of the risk from book publishing. Because POD’d books don’t exist until demand has been demonstrated, there is no danger of spending money to print books that will not be sold. With POD, potential reading material is stored as digital files in computers, not as complete books in cartons or on a shelf.

Books cost more to print this way compared to conventional offset printing, but there are few or no unwanted books to be stored, shipped or disposed of. In the early days of self-publishing, it was common for authors to have hundreds of unsold books getting mildewed or becoming mouse food.
2.                  Offset printing presses are generally used for print runs of hundreds or thousands of books. It was not economical to print just one or a few books at a time until the recent development of high-speed laser printers which print and bind hundreds of pages in a minute.

A book manuscript that is going to be offset-printed requires fairly complex preparation including the production of printing plates. Offset presses use ink that can be printed on a wide variety of paper types. Digital printers use toner that bonds to pages with heat and will adhere to fewer types of paper.

Early POD books were inferior to offset-printed books, but quality has improved continuously. Today’s best POD books look as good as offset books, with the possible exception of photograph reproduction. But POD is generally good enough and getting better all the time. 

3.                  Prep­aration for POD is much simpler than for offset, but per-book cost is higher; and there is not much saving as the quantity increases.  With offset, preparation cost can be amortized over varying quantities of books, so the per-book cost goes down as quantity goes up. A 300-page paperback printed by offset could cost $1.84 each for 1,000 copies or $1.17 each for 10,000, or even less for 100,000. With POD, one copy could cost $5.40. There’s usually a 5% discount for 50 or more and higher discounts for larger quantities—but POD prices never match offset prices. 

4.                  The two companies that provide most on-demand printing and book distribution for self-publishers are Lightning Source (“LS” or “LSI”) and CreateSpace (“CS”). LS can provide more income per book. However, it’s less expensive to start a book and make corrections with CS—and CS is easier for beginners to work with. CS is owned by Both companies can provide automatic book availability to, Barnes & Noble and many other booksellers.

You’ll probably encounter online criticism of both LS and CS. Each one has enthusiastic supporters and detractors. I’ve used both companies and can’t say that one is consistently better than the other. Most books from both companies are good enough, and both companies make occasional bad books.

The worst production error I ever saw was so funny that I kept the book rather than return it. The cover of my book was wrapped around the pages of another book, from another publisher.

Fortunately, errors like this don’t happen often—but be alert. 

5.                  It’s common for self-publishing authors to have their books printed on demand as orders come in. However, if you are reasonably certain that you can sell hundreds or thousands of books per year, you can pay much less per book with offset printing. Offset can be good if you have a way to sell lots of books yourself (such as from your website or after seminars or speeches).

Lower printing cost will let you charge less for your books, make more profit per book—or both.

Lower price is not the only reason to print offset. Here are some more:

·      Wider choice of book sizes

·      Wider choice of papers

·      Better photographs

·      Better color

·      Fancier covers and jackets

·      Inserts such as special paper or CDs

6.                 Some offset printers can provide distribution to booksellers; others will ship books to you, only. Bookmasters provides a wide range of printing and distribution services, and author service packages. Aeonix maintains an extensive online list of book printers. Jon Kremer has a large list, too.
7.                  If you need a lot of books, you may save money by having them printed in China or India. If you do, you probably should hire an experienced expert to oversee the project.
8.                 Even if your books will be printed in the USA, a “print broker” may steer you to printers you never heard of, offering a wider range of services. Even though brokers make a profit, they may generate so much money for the printers they work for that they may save you money. Some brokers are listed here. A broker can help you prepare a “request for proposals” (RFP) and evaluate the bids you receive. Some brokers are shady. Check references.
9.                 Keep in mind that although your cost of printing each book is less if you order 5,000 at one time, they’ll have to be transported and stored. Freight companies and warehouses have to be paid. You can’t put 5,000 books under your bed or in your car.

Book printers, distributors and wholesalers often provide storage services and will ship books to booksellers or to you as needed. 

10.              (The following is an example, not an endorsement.) Here’s what Mill City Press says about storage fees: Each quarter pallet of space costs $4.50 per month. As your inventory diminishes, your books will occupy less pallet space, and your storage fees will be reduced accordingly. Each pallet is 4’ x 4’ x 4’. In order to determine how many books will fill up a pallet, you’ll need to determine your “carton quantity” (how many books fill a carton). Each pallet holds about 48 standard-sized cartons of books. If your carton quantity is 25 books, you’ll be able to store 1,200 books per pallet.
11.                Many companies that do printing—even copy centers—want you to think that they can print books. Some merely send the work to other companies and tack on a percentage for being a matchmaker. Others print out a batch of 8.5 by 11-inch pages and staple them together like a term paper. If a company says it prints “books,” examine some samples.

A nearby branch of Alphagraphics (not really a book printer) quoted me $1,300 to produce 100 copies of a 300-page paperback. That’s about three times what I can pay to a POD book specialist. 

12.               Bookbinding is the attachment of covers (“binders”) to book pages. Binding of hardcover books is a specialty. Some book printers bind their own books and some printers use other companies for binding. 
Choose the appropriate binding for your topic, audience, book length and price.

1. Most how-to books, and many self-published books of all genres, are perfect-bound paperbacks (soft covers).

2. If your book’s price is $24.95 or higher, many people will expect a hardcover book, probably with a dust jacket. Hardcovers cost more to manufacture than soft covers. You can select special cloth or paper, embossing, see-through cut-outs, foil, metallic ink, glued-on holograms, leather, fur or feathers (well, maybe not fur or feathers).

3. A casewrap is a less-expensive hardcover binding without a dust jacket.

4. Instruction manuals and cookbooks are more useful if they can lie flat when open and are often constructed with a comb or spiral binding. Unfortunately, these two binding methods are fragile and pages may become detached if the book is used frequently.

5. Thin books up to about 48 pages are often saddle-stitched. These books have no spines and the pages are folded and then stapled at the fold, through the cover.

13.               If you are comparing prices for book printing, you need to understand how paper thickness is described. has a good explanation: “The basis weight of a paper is the designated fixed weight of 500 sheets, measured in pounds, in that paper’s basic sheet size. It is important to note that the basic sheet size is not the same for all types of paper.”

A common size for cover stock is 20 by 26 inches. A common size for interior pages is 25 by 38 inches. Many papers are available in rolls as well as sheets. Heavier paper is thicker paper. Unless a special deal is available, thicker paper costs more. A typical cover stock for POD paperbacks is “90 lb.” A typical white page stock is “50 lb.” The “lb” is often expressed as “#.”

POD authority Morris Rosenthal wrote: “There are two standard systems for determining paper weight. One is used for the standard bond papers you buy for your copy machine or laser printer, the other used by printers. To translate the familiar 20# or 24# weight you are familiar with to printer weights, multiply by 2.5. The 20# weight is equivalent to a 50# printer weight, the 24# weight is equivalent to the 60# weight. Either weight is fine for trade paperbacks. Mass market paperbacks often use much lighter weight recycled paper, earning the name ‘pulp fiction.’”
This page is adapted from my 1001 Powerful Pieces of Author Advice.

Old printing press illustration from iStockPhoto. Binding illustrations from Thanks.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another reason to avoid Author Solutions book brands

I have frequently written about the expansion of Author Solutions, Inc ("ASI").

It has become the pay-to-publish behemoth by gobbling up and combining former competitors such as Wordclay and Trafford and doing deals with traditional publishers including Harlequin and Hay House, and even Writer's Digest magazine. There are many complaints online about ASI from its author-customers and I wrote a detailed commentary about a particularly shitty book published by ASI's "top" Xlibris brand.

The ASI brands are distinctive for charging a lot of money for substandard work, and pressuring authors to spend more and more money.

Last fall I wrote about formerly respectable publisher Simon & Schuster doing a deal with the devil by setting up Archway Publishing, a pay-to-publish brand operated by ASI. Since then, ASI was bought by Pearson (owner of Penguin and other traditional publishers) for $116 million -- at about the same time that Penguin was merging with competitor Random House. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about being offered a bribe to send customers to Archway.

Yesterday, on a website where authors hang out, an author publicized a recent book with a link to a press release. I took a look and almost puked on my keyboard.

I don't want to embarrass the author, so I have redacted portions of the release shown above. (If you feel like playing detective, you can find the original release.)

So, what's wrong with the release?

(0ne) The headline ("Author Writes Story about an ...") is pathetic! Unless your last name is Obama or Clinton, the mere writing of a book is NOT NEWS. 

ASI press releases seem to be constructed to impress author-customers. That's the wrong audience. The releases are supposed to impress journalists and reviewers so they will help the author to sell books.

Only the most desperate small-town weekly would publish an article with the headline: “Local Woman Writes Book.” Your release needs a news hook. The hook is the main point of your release. It can be a theme, statement, trend or event on which you “hang” your news release. It’s also a hook with delicious bait on it that you hope will attract the attention of writers, reporters and editors.

To grab the attention of news people, you have to think and act like one of them. You need to be a partner, not just a salesperson. Think like a news writer -- not a book writer. If you were reporting news, what would interest you and your readers? A press release should be newsworthy and read like a news story -- not an advertisement. It should adhere to fundamental journalistic standards, using the five W’s and one H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How).

You have only a few seconds to capture the attention of a busy writer or editor. Make your headline interesting, stimulating and clear. Be sure your first paragraph covers all of the important information -- and makes people want to read more.

Keep in mind that the customary objective of a news organization, or even one writer, is to make money by informing and entertaining readers. (That’s your objective, too.) News organizations do not exist to help you publicize your book, but if you can do something to help them (i.e., provide some news or entertainment), you can work together for mutual benefit.

So, if the actual publication of your book is not the news, what can you say about it that is news? It’s great if you can hang your story on a hook that already exists. If an important person just got married, promoted, fired, elected or killed, a book about that person should be newsworthy -- especially if you have something new to say. If your book takes a contrary view, such as that cigarettes are healthy or bathing is unhealthy, that may draw attention.

(Two) The bulk of the first paragraph has nothing to do with the book. The last sentence in the "graf" does mention the book -- and has a plug for Author House. Publisher plugs do not belong in a news release for a book.

(Three) The release says the book is "sure to resonate with readers." That phrase may be appropriate for a book review or an ad. It is not newsy and does not belong in a news release."  If someone famous said that abut the book, then it's OK to quote the statement in the release.

The hackneyed phrase is regularly used by  ASI's "professional writers" (i.e., people who wrote for school papers in the Philippines) in many press releases.  After being offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax benefits by its home state of Indiana, the company has fired American employees and is building up its staff in the Philippines.

The company needs a copy editor very badly. "Philippines" is spelled wrong in this ad.
How do you say "oh shit!" in Tagalog?

I'm all for full employment and economic development all over the world, but it seems strange that a company "headquartered" in the USA is owned by a British company and most of its employees are apparently in the Philippines.

(Four) The "about the author" section tells about the author's academic achievements and business activities that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the book.

(Five) The final paragraph is blatant advertising for AuthorHouse -- paid for by the author!

(Six) That paragraph refers to something that will happen in September of 2011. The press release was distributed in September of 2012!

(Seven) Authorhouse says it "distributes the press release to more than 30,000 opt-in journalists and more than 250,000 news subscribers through our newswire service PRWeb." The author apparently paid $1,299 for the release. Based on my research of key phrases, in fourteen months the release has been "picked up" by exactly six websites (far fewer than 280,000).

Let's see. $1,299 divided by six equals PATHETIC.

You don't need AuthorHouse to send out a release through PRWeb. You can go direct for $159 to $369. I don't know how much Author Solutions pays, but they might get a nice quantity discount.

If you can research and write a book, you can write your own release for free. For help, read The Complete Guide to Book Marketing by David Cole and The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity by Lissa Warren.  Both books cover much more than just writing a release, and belong on every author’s bookshelf.

And now, my final paragraph is a plug for my ebook about press releases: 

The One Buck Author's Press Release Book.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A "publisher" that should not call itself a publisher brags: "You write the book -- we'll do the rest."

That's bullshit.

Actually, authors do almost everything.

InstantPublisher doesn't do important things you might expect a book publisher to do:
  1. It doesn't edit books.
  2. Its doesn't format pages for printed books.
  3. It doesn't distribute printed books to booksellers.
  4. It doesn't distribute ebooks to Barnes & Noble.
  5. It doesn't provide marketing (other than selling DIY material). 
According to its website, " is the short run book publisher division of Fundcraft Publishing Company, the world's largest personalized cookbook publisher. Fundcraft started as a small publishing house in eastern Kansas in the early 30's specializing in short-run custom cookbooks for groups and organizations across the country. Today, Fundcraft ships millions of personalized cookbooks each year to every state." ("IP") is one of many pay-to-publish companies that demonstrate very few reasons to do business with them. IP is overpriced, inept, boastful and dishonest. 

The page above makes some ridiculous claims:
  • InstantPublisher says it is everyone's favorite book publishing company. It is not my favorite book publishing company. Maybe it's not yours, either. Maybe it's not the favorite of millions of other people. The statement is absurd.
  • InstantPublisher says it is "nationally recognized." By which people, in which nation, for doing what?
  • InstantPublisher says it is "quickly becoming the #1 Book Publishing Service." I'm not sure how IP defines "#1," but since most of its competitors are privately held companies, IP does not have their sales figures or other statistics and can't back up the claim.
  • This page, like others, has errors in English that should not be committed by a publishing company. "10-years" should not be hyphenated. Other terms that the company uses, like "cost effective," need hyphens.
IP tells us that "As a self-publisher, you can receive 50% to 200% profit, when self publishing."
  • That short statement is redundant -- and demonstrates very bad math. It's impossible to receive 200% profit. Profit on book sales is usually somewhere in the 20% to 60% range. If you are able to get a book printed for a dollar and sell it for ten bucks, your (gross) profit is 90%. If you can get a book printed for nothing, and sell it for a penny -- or a dollar, ten bucks or a million bucks -- your profit is 100%. It can never be more than 100%.

The company says that "InstantPublisher simply cannot be beat in the short run book printing industry." 
  • IP gives us an example of "250 copies of a 150 page book, which is 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches perfect bound with a color cover, your cost would be $3.17 per book." The price from CreateSpace ("CS") is just $2.65 per book (even if I order just one copy), with me providing my own cover design (for which IP charges 25 cents extra per copy).
  • The IP chart above shows a total price of $410.72 for 25 books. That is MANY TIMES the price from other printers, and probably eliminates the chance of making any profit.
  • CS provides distribution to Amazon, B&N and other booksellers, but IP has NO distribution.
  • IP requires customers to buy at least 25 copies. CS has no minimum.
  • IP charges $50 for an unbound proof. I can get a bound proof from CS for $2.65 plus postage.
The company says that "any person who writes a book can design the cover and text pages in any Microsoft Windows or Mac based program." The text samples below from IP's own promotional publication, show that the alleged professionals at "one of the top book publishing companies" have a lot to learn about formatting pages. IP's "high quality" work is as bad as I have seen from some first-timers who know nothing about typography. Apparently no one at IP even knows how to hyphenate. A publication that is intended to impress printing customers should not be ugly.

IP says, " does not . . . distribute your books, except for free listings on our web site."
  • Other companies, including CS and Lightning Source, provide worldwide distribution to booksellers -- and charge less. The value of a listing on the IP site is approximately zero. IP expects its authors to become booksellers. Other companies do not.
The IP website provides information on its authors' books -- but does not allow prospective readers to order the books.
  • Competitors such as CS, Lulu and Outskirts do sell books for their authors. 
IP says, "With an extra $0.25/book cost, you can optionally select plastic lamination for your cover finishing."
  • Other companies provide laminated covers at no additional charge.
IP says, "If you already have an ISBN number, . . . can create the barcode for $15.00 during the order process.
  • Other companies will provide the barcode for free.
IP says it "offers two different ISBN options. The first ISBN option retails for $75. This number will list Instantpublisher as the publisher of record and we will be listed as the main contact for your book."
  • CreateSpace and other companies can provide an ISBN for free.
IP says, "By accessing, using or browsing this SITE, you (the "USER") are deemed to have read, understood and agreed to each of the terms, conditions, and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT. In addition, when using any particular content or service on this SITE, USER shall also be subject to and deemed to have read, understood and agreed to any posted guidelines or rules applicable to such content and services that may contain terms and conditions in addition to the terms, conditions and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT.
  • Amazing. If I read anything on the website, IP assumes that I agree to all of its terms, even if I did not see or read the terms.
IP says that "Black and white books will be printed on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Color book proofs will be trimmed to size. If you do want a proof copy of your book before printing, there will be a flat charge of $50.00 for any color book order and any black & white book order that is under 200 copies. For black & white book order that is over 200 copies, the proof copy cost is $30.00. With the proof copy option, you will be mailed an unbound proof of your book and cover." 

  • I can get a bound proof (with proper color cover and proper-size pages) from CS for about three bucks plus postage.

In conclusion, there seems to be little or no reason to use I sent IP an email asking, "Do you have some advantage that I did not see?" I did not receive a response.