August 08, 2007
POD Secrets Revealed: Upselling Authors On Expedite Fees, Photos/Images, Indexes, Endnotes, And More! By Angela Hoy | printable version
Last Week, we compared list prices, royalties and author discounts.
This week, we're going to look at how some POD publishers upsell (nickel and dime) authors on products and services that should already be included in their outrageous setup fees.
When authors are researching POD publishers, they often just look at the setup fees and assume those include everything. And, honestly, they should! If you're going to charge an author several hundred to a thousand dollars or more, offering an entire list of "options" that any normal person assumes would be included in their book isn't really fair or ethical, in my opinion.
For example, let's talk about publication time. Basically, this is how it works. The author signs up for the publishing service, submits their manuscript, and then discusses the book text formatting and cover design with the POD service. The process isn't that hard. I format books for authors every single day. I often format a manuscript within 24 hours of it arriving on our server or in my inbox. And, when an author orders a cover from us, he/she starts talking to our designer about their cover also usually within 24 hours. If an author submits their own cover, I usually check it and place a barcode on it, again, usually within 24 hours.
I send the manuscript back to the author for any final changes. They then send it back to me where I finalize the formatting, convert it to pdf, and send it to the author for approval. In the meantime, I send the final spine width and barcode information to the cover designer. Once the interior formatting and cover design are approved by the author, I upload the files to the printer. About a week later, the print galley is enroute to the author. This entire process usually takes less than a month. Why it would take anyone else any longer than that I have no idea. Perhaps they're understaffed? Maybe their staff is in a third world country? (Yes, some of the large POD publisher outsource overseas!) Maybe they're just in over their heads?
Would it surprise you to know that you can pay a POD publisher way more money than you should to get your book into print...and then have to pay them even more just to get your book on the market in a couple of months instead of several months?
PUBLISHED TURNAROUND TIMES
Here are the published turn-around times of the major POD publishers:
Booklocker.com (which the author of this article owns): 1 month
AuthorHouse: 6 months
xLibris: 4 to 6 months
iUniverse: 3 to 4 months
Lulu: ??? They refer authors to a number of third party service providers.
What if I told you that some authors are paying extra to get ahead of you in line? Yes, that's right. In addition to the high setup fees charged by some POD publishers, you can pay plenty more to get pushed to the head of the pack. How much?
Booklocker.com: Zero - Publishes book in approx. 1 month with no expedite fee.
AuthorHouse: $500 extra for 30-day turnaround (instead of 6 months)
xLibris: $349 for 2-month turnaround (instead of 4 to 6 months)
iUniverse: Zero. Publishes book in approx. 3 to 4 months with no expedite fee.
Lulu: ??? They refer authors to a number of third party service providers who may or may not charge an expedite fee and who have different turnaround times.
Some authors just include text in their books but many authors include photos, artwork, charts, or other graphics in theirs. Would it surprise you to learn that, on top of their already expensive fees, some POD publishers charge authors extra to include photos and other graphics in their books? How much?
Booklocker.com - Zero and no limit on the number photos and other graphics
AuthorHouse - $10 per image after the first 10
xLibris - $10 per image; $20 per table
iUniverse - $100 for 1-25; $200 for 26-50, etc.
Lulu - ??? They refer authors to a variety of third party service providers who may or may not charge authors for interior graphics.
It is unfortunate that many authors don't even think to ask how many weeks or months it will take for their book to be published, or if they'll be charged extra for photos and graphics. Some POD publishers also charge extra if authors want to include an index (xLibris even charges you $100 extra if you create the index yourself!), endnotes, footnotes and more! The list of items authors are nickel and dimed for seems endless!
It is imperative that authors read their contract and the publisher's price list (some call these "add-on services" or a similar term) thoroughly before sending in their money! You'll never know what you're getting, OR WHAT YOU'RE NOT, unless you do!
Next week, we'll talk about the "hard sell" tactics of some of the POD publishers. Think you can just send them a question by email and walk away? Think again!