Your book is finally on the market. You’re printing business cards, updating your website, and sending out press releases. You know you’ll get higher royalties when someone buys your book from your publisher’s website so you send people there. But, wait! What does your publisher’s homepage tell your readers about your book?
If your book was published by AuthorHouse, people going to the AuthorHouse.com homepage don’t see a list of books for sale. Instead, they see one ad after another for AuthorHouse’s expensive publishing and marketing services for authors. Almost the entire homepage is a pile of flashy graphics and marketing blurbs designed to gather more authors into their fold.
Publishing packages, services, “50% off”, photos of pretty people, and more – and they have a “spotlight” on what? An author? Heck no. On themselves! They say, “This month, the spotlight’s on three of our most innovative services.” Further down, they have five featured books and a book of the month. After all the blurbage on their website dedicated to upselling authors on AuthorHouse’s incredibly expensive marketing services, why aren’t they doing more to promote their authors’ books on their homepage? Heck, that’s free real estate! If they use that space to promote themselves instead of their authors’ books, it seems pretty clear they’re far more interested in drawing in more authors than they are in selling their authors’ books.
The rotating top banner ad appears to be an ad for some books but, if you click to read the “ads”, you find they’re actually even more ads for AuthorHouse’s services. “If Irene could achieve her literary goals, why shouldn’t you be able to do the same?” They then ask you to fill out the form so they can send you more information about their expensive services.
Xlibris is owned by Author Solutions, which also owns AuthorHouse (above), and iUniverse and Trafford (below) as well as other P.O.D. publishers. (Note: Author Solutions was sued by authors last year.) So, it’s no surprise that the Xlibris page is also laden with promotional material about Xlibris’ services and NOT about their authors’ books. There’s a tiny link at the top that says “Bookstore”, there’s a small ad on the right that says Xlibris Book Search, and there are two small items at the bottom that say “Featured Books” and “Author Spotlight.” Aside from those small items, their homepage is a large advertisement designed to attract authors, not to sell their authors’ books. Anyone coming to this website would also know you paid to have your book published.
If your book was published by iUniverse, people going to the iUniverse.com homepage see terms like “Packages” and “Services” and “A finished book can be in your hands in a matter of months.” (HINT: BookLocker is MUCH faster – usually taking no more than four weeks to get a book to market – sometimes faster.) iUniverse is just another site (like AuthorHouse and others here) that has shoved the “bookstore” link to the right on their homepage, appearing after links promoting iUniverse’s own expensive services. Like the sites above and below, the iUniverse homepage is clearly designed to draw in authors, not to sell their authors’ books.
Lulu has sunk to the level of their competitors here. Back in 2011, they were using most of their homepage to promote their authors’ books. No more! There is now a small cover for one of their books further down on the page and a small “bookstore” link all the way to the right of the homepage. Otherwise, their entire homepage is shameless self-promotion for their own services. There are numerous complaints from their authors appearing on Lulu’s own forum.
This is yet another POD publisher (also owned by Author Solutions) that has a homepage devoted entirely to promoting their own services. Aside from the tiny “bookstore” link to the far right of their homepage, the entire page is an ad for their (very expensive) self publishing services. If your readers go looking for your book at Trafford.com, they’re going to see phrases like, “Make your own luck” (an ad for a St. Patrick’s Day publishing services sale), “Purchase your media air time package today!” and “Your guide to publishing.”
If you send your reader to CreateSpace’s homepage to find your book, they’re going to have a VERY difficult time doing so. The homepage is chock full of advertisements for CreateSpace’s expensive services (“publish your words” and “get in touch with our publishing experts”) but where’s the link to their bookstore?
Think clicking on the “Books” link at the top will lead to book sales? Think again! It’s just another link to their expensive services. In fact, nowhere on their homepage at all is a link to the front of the CreateSpace bookstore. There is a small area further down that has a small list of new releases but that’s it. No other promotion for their authors whatsoever. There are numerous complaints about CreateSpace on their own forum.
This, too, is just another publishing services company using their homepage to promote themselves instead of their authors’ books. Readers looking for your book on their homepage instead see terms like “Self Publishing: Infinite Possibilities” and “Start the climb to authoring success.” At the top, second link from the right, is a small word – “Bookstore.” Toward the bottom, after you’ve seen all their ads, is a small list of only six of their books.
This homepage is a huge self-promotion for their own expensive services. There’s one small link that says “bookstore” toward the right, but, other than that, your readers see ads like “Save 25% by packaging these options!” and “Publishing Packages” and “…get published, earn millions, and become a star.” (HUGE GROAN!!!)
When you go to these sites, the obvious question is…where’s the darned bookstore? Don’t these companies publish books? Aren’t they interested in actually selling their authors’ books? I guess not…because the pages are all designed primarily to attract new authors, not to sell books. The homepages look nothing like online bookstores and it’s obvious to anyone who clicks that their authors paid to have their books published. Gosh, maybe if they make it harder for their authors to sell books, the authors will then want to pay even more money for their pricey marketing packages? I know that’s a harsh opinion but I just can’t figure out any other reason why they’re not aggressively promoting their authors’ books on their homepages. Can you?
WHO’S DIFFERENT? BOOKLOCKER’S HOMEPAGE IS DEVOTED TO *SELLING THEIR AUTHORS’ BOOKS!*
At BookLocker.com (which is owned by the author of this article), the homepage is (and always has been) a bookstore, not a publishing services marketing page. On the homepage, the rotating graphic at the top provides links to book trailers advertising their authors’ books. Please check it out. The trailers, made by the authors themselves, are awesome! Under that, their current best selling print books are lined up next to their best selling e-books. Under those lists are the most recent additions to the bookstore (new releases). BookLocker.com’s homepage is designed to SELL BOOKS, showing book covers and short descriptions, and, of course, providing a link to each.
When your readers come to BookLocker.com, it’s clear the publisher is more interested in selling books to readers than in selling publishing services to new authors. The only clue for new authors is one, and only one, small “publish and sell” link. Everything else on the entire page is for book buyers, including a drop-down menu of book categories and a search box for book buyers to use when shopping. There’s even a wholesale order form link for distributors, bookstores, and other retailers that sell books. You won’t find that on the homepages of other P.O.D. publishers!
If you’re already a client of AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, CreateSpace, or another lesser-known POD publisher, perhaps you should try to convince them to make their homepage look more like a publisher’s homepage and less like a “publishing services” homepage. You can likely find fellow authors to support you in your request in the forums on each publisher’s site. After you and your fellow authors have paid them so much money to publish your books, the least they can do is use their homepage to help you sell some of those books, right?!
Don’t get your hopes up, however. Most of these firms earn far more from authors than they do from the book buying public! They have little to no incentive to help you sell a $12 book when they can use that homepage real estate to sell a publishing package worth thousands!
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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