Thursday, October 31, 2013

How much will "free" publishing cost you?
What about those "free" books?

In Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

Some self-publishing companies tout free publishing programs that are not really free.

Amazon subsidiary CreateSpace has run a Google ad with the headline, “Self Publish for Free.” The only free things I could find on its website are “free tools to prepare your content for publication” and an ISBN number that identifies CreateSpace as the publisher.

You don’t have to pay a penny to upload your book’s files into the CreateSpace computer and make it available for printing when orders are received. HOWEVER, each time a book is printed, you do pay a fee.

Despite the popularity of ebooks, the actually printing of books is still an intrinsic part of publishing books. Therefore, I have to conclude that the claim, “Self Publish for Free” is bullshit.

Installation was free, except for the installation.
It reminds me of radio commercials that AT&T ran back in the 20th century promising FREE INSTALLATION for their Merlin phone systems. The fine print of the deal revealed that they had a unique definition of “installation,” because it did not include installing any wire — which could cost thousands of dollars.

Lulu has run online ads with the headlines “Publish Your Book – Free” and “Free Self Publishing.” Their website promises “free book publishing,” but their publishing is free only if you don’t want any books to be published!

A 250-pager with decent paper will cost $9.50 in quantities from one to 24, and shipping is additional. That doesn’t seem like "free" to me. The price of a Lulu book is often higher than prices from other services, so to make an adequate profit you’ll probably set a higher retail price than you would otherwise, and this may cost you sales, unless your book is unique and important. Keep in mind that unless you choose one of Lulu's more expensive plans, your book will be sold only on Lulu’s website. People can buy the book if you send them there, but it’s less likely that people will find the book through normal online searches. It ain’t Amazon.

Author Solutions' defunct Wordclay said, “You can sign up and start publishing your book for free. There is no cost to register with our Web site and create your account. There is no cost to use our publishing wizard to turn your work into a published book. Once your book is published, you can purchase it if you wish, but there is no obligation. We have additional goods and services that you can also purchase through our Services Store, but again, there is no obligation. The basic publishing experience of getting your manuscript into a finished book is entirely free.” Here too, the “free” publishing doesn’t actually include publishing any books.

Every package deal that I’ve seen from self-publishing companies includes some number of allegedly free or complimentary books.
  • With Outskirts Press, the initial charge for a publishing package can range from $199 to $1099. You’ll get as many as 10 “free” books that you actually paid for as part of the package.
  • Holier-than-thou Thomas Nelson, "the world's leading Christian publisher" is full of shit, too. Nelson recently formed a partnership with "the world's leading self-publishing company, Author Solutions, to launch WestBow Press -- a Christian self-publishing imprint." Its first book was overpriced and under-edited. WestBow functions like a typical self-publishing company with a bit of implied holiness. Its publishing packages cost from $999 to as much as $6,499. Like its competitors, WestBow lies about providing from 20 to 100 "FREE" books with its publishing packages. They're not free if author-customers have to pay thousands of dollars to get them. The Thomas Nelson staff needs to go back to the seminary and take a course in morality and ethics. Liar-in-chief of Nelson is paranoid hypocrite Michael Hyatt. He seems to have a Jim Jones-like domination of his sycophantic disciples who frequently defend him in comments on this blog.
  • Wasteland Press doesn’t promise free books, but it does promise “FREE shipping” of from 5 to 500 books, and FREE ISBNs and FREE booksellers return plan. However, since you’ll have to pay the company from $195 to $3,100 to publish a 250-page book, the alleged freebies are being paid for with YOUR money.
  • Lulu says, “After publishing and once you approve the work, we will send you a complimentary copy of your finished book for you to review and enjoy.” That “complimentary” copy may have cost you hundreds of dollars.
With publishing, as with almost any business, nothing is free except the abundant hot air. Be careful when doing business with liars. If ten books are free, ask for 20, or 100. 

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