Monday, May 13, 2013

Cheap self-publishing is getting more expensive.
Free self-publishing isn't really free.

Self-publishing companies sell their services in packages priced from under $200 to many thousands of dollars. A few companies even advertise FREE publishing. It’s very important to know what you need, what you’ll get, and what you won’t get.

Can you really get a book published for less than $200, or for free? Maybe.

Strangely named Aachanon Publishing, which had offered a $195 publishing package, has apparently gone out of business.

Strangely named Wasteland Press has raised the price of its least expensive package from $195 to $245.

Inept and dishonest Outskirts Press still offers a nearly useless $199 package. 

The $199 Emerald publishing package from Outskirts actually provides what looks like a “real” book. The package is notable not for what it includes, but for what it excludes.

Most notable is the lack of an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which means that the book can’t be sold by bookstores. An Emerald book is not even available on the Outskirts online bookstore.

For $199 you are limited to one book size (5.5 by 8.5 inches) and a choice of two cover designs. You get exactly one book which you can read, give away, sell or display on your mantelpiece. You can order more books if you want to. They won’t be pretty, but they are books.

The top package from Outskirts costs $1,099. Some other publishers may charge over $50,000. Be careful. A big investment won’t guarantee a great book, and may kill any chance of making a profit. Be sure of your goals and your budget, and act accordingly.

Some of the websites and ads for self-publishing companies tout “free” publishing programs. What you get for free is hot air. Create­Space, Lulu, UniBook and others will not charge you when you upload your book’s files—but if you want real books, you pay real money. (These companies assume you will do all of the design, editing and promotional work yourself or hire others to do it.)

How can they publish a book for free? They can’t. They’re lying.

Their publishing is free as long as you don’t expect any books to be produced. Every book they print, or distribute as an ebook, is paid for. Their notion of publishing does not include the final product—a book.

CreateSpace is an Amazon subsidiary that says it lets you “Self-Publish a Book-Free.” The only free things I could find on its website are “free tools to prepare your content for publication” and an ISBN that identifies CreateSpace (not you) as the publisher. If you want CreateSpace to do more of the work in designing, producing, promoting and distributing your books, you can pay up to $4,999 for a publishing package. (I sometimes use CreateSpace for printing and distribution, but nothing else.)

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.

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.

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.

Maverick’s online bookstore shows exactly one book—from 2001. After 12 years, it has ZERO reviews on Amazon and a sales rank below 5,000,000. That's not very impressive for a company that promises "Marketing Strategies and Promotional Materials" and "Help with Selling your book on Amazon."

1 comment:

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